Having worked together on Life in a… Metro, director Anurag Basu must have had a hunch Pritam would be the perfect composer to create the soundtrack to Barfi!. As the award-winning maestro behind Bollywood hits like Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail, his ability to produce catchy tunes and high-energy beats are in no doubt.
But would Pritam be the right choice for a musical featuring an unconventional lead character that lives in a vibrant, noisy world, but who happens to be deaf and mute? On a film influenced by the likes of The Artist and Amélie, his involvement could have been a risk.
Pritam is fond of loud, clubby remixes, borrowing riffs from Western pop classics. Fortunately, with Barfi! he holds back from obvious mainstream influences to create an inspired collection of tender, sweeping melodies that could melt the coldest of hearts.
You only have to listen to opener Main Kya Karoon to appreciate the quality of music on offer. Newcomer Nikhil Paul George brings Barfi’s inner voice, and the picture, to life. Having previously worked as a backing singer for Pritam on soundtracks like Mausam, his soft solo number and Aashiyan, a duet with Shreya Ghoshal, are superb.
Arijit Singh’s rendition of Phir Le Aya Dil is also a joy to behold. The romantic lyrics and gentle ghazal-like arrangement are a refreshing change from the high-pitched, pulsating compositions dominating Hindi film music. The same can be said for the nursery rhyme-style Saawali Si Raat.
Mohit Chauhan’s Ala Barfi, plus Papon and Sunidhi Chauhan’s nuanced performance of Kyon, add to the uplifting, magical experience. A part of the feel-good factor is due to Pritam’s humorous use of French accordion and acoustic guitar, which complement the movie’s charming vibe and 1970s Darjeeling setting.
The fact that Barfi! has been nominated as India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards is testament in part to Pritam’s creative vision, but also Swanand Kirkire, Sayeed Quadri and Ashish Pandit’s beautiful lyrics. This is easy listening fit for both world cinema and music-loving audiences.