Instep lends an ear to the riveting soundtrack of the upcoming Jami film, set for release this Independence day
In today’s fast-paced world, music, unfortunately, is as much about visuals as it is about the audio experience. Our digital nativity has made our attention span shorter as we move from one visual to another. Film songs in particular use our inability to pause and reflect by giving us a consistent supply of star-studded visuals that overload the senses. Picturised on celebrated, popular actors, the songs are lip-synced and feature incredibly captivating voice(s) and so goes the film circle, at least when we think of Hindi films or Pakistani films.
The grandeur of the Moor soundtrack, the upcoming feature from ace director Jami, therefore, lies in its ability to make an impression on listeners without needing any star-studded videos. It must also be remembered that Pakistani cinema, unlike its Indian counterpart, is in an evolving stage and is still finding its cultural and artistic identity. Therefore, films are forgiven for their telefilm-esque cinematography, dishevelled storylines, erratic pace, etc.
Moor, however, manages to set itself apart right from its first teaser. The film’s single, greatest strength is its captivating cinematography that captures Balochistan’s stark beauty in a breathless, gob-smacking manner. Here is a Pakistani film that actually manages to look like a film. Then comes Moor’s soundtrack and suddenly the film’s gorgeous cinematography finds a perfect companion in form of its equally gorgeous songs.
Jami’s choice to rope in Strings (Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia) to produce the soundtrack was obvious and predictable. What no one, perhaps not even Jami, could’ve predicated was that Strings – Pakistan’s most iconic music group (25 years and counting) – would deliver such a stellar, cohesive and melodic musical album. Moor’s songs and music will surely help in boosting the film’s prospects on the box office.
At its heart, a film score is not only about the ability of the musicians it showcases but also about the emotional texture of the film, the various circumstances and characters. In short, it is about presenting multiple layers in memorable fashion. Luckily for Moor, Strings remember all these details and consequently, the Moor soundtrack is a complete album. Genres are experimented upon but there’s nothing garish, out-of-tune or gimmicky about the music here.
The Moor soundtrack consists of eight songs plus thematic music that plays during the course of the film. Javed Bashir, the former front-man of the Mekaal Hasan Band, is in terrific form and sings two songs on the album.On the mournful ‘Jogiya’, Javed channels sorrow but never goes overboard.
The haunting flute, gentle guitars help in building the song in a conscious, deliberate fashion and when you cross the first minute mark, it rises further. The world in the sky comes to life on ‘Jogiya’ once the chorus is hit. The song changes space again as the halfway mark is crossed and has a slight devotional undertone. It speaks of loss, struggle and does so with simplicity and grace.
Javed Bashir’s skill and adaptability is on full display on the Moor soundtrack. His second appearance on the album comes in the form of ‘Talabgaar Hoon’. With its eastern ethos, qawwali-esque vibe, the song is a testament to spiritual solace that can often be found in music. And here, the story is just that. Javed Bashir does the alaaps on ‘Talbgaar Hoon’ with complete command,and without the aggression often found in his rendition of several MHB songs. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Strings present a different side of Javed and that’s a startling achievement because it isn’t easy given the textural motif of Javed’s voice.
The album’s other big number; ‘Eva’ is as electric as it is addictive. Sung by the rich-voiced Meesha Shafi, it’s the song that has all the makings of an anthem: a thumping bass, a singer whose enjoyment shines through, percussive effects and heavy, sexy grungy riffs. ‘Eva’ has this optimistic feel; it’s a song that projects self-belief and makes you groove at the same time. It’s the kind of song that feels good enough for the large screen because of its mighty, mighty singer and a mighty, rich musical landscape.
‘Tum Ho’ and ‘Ku Ku Ku’ stand out because they feature Strings men, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood, in singing mode, respectively. ‘Tum Ho’ is softer and puts Faisal Kapadia’s inimitable voice to great use. Faisal’s ability to project the words with just the right amount of emotion makes ‘Tum Ho’ quite beautiful. This is the other song that uses the instrument of flute to melancholic perfection. ‘Tum Ho’ has that sonorous, romantic ballad quality that you can’t help but notice.
‘Ku Ku Ku’ is the breezy, light melody on this curious, curious album. Sung by one Bilal Maqsood, it’s a nod to the Strings sound that we’ve grown to love so much over these past two decades. In a similarly lighter tone is the Rahma Ali and Noman Faruqi duet, ‘Jeye Jeye Ja’. Both of them are relatively new to the music scene but their inexperience is hardly worth mentioning given their rendition of the song. If there is one song that has the power to grow with every listen, it’s ‘Jeye Jeye Ja’. The track feels like a conversation with oneself, a song that reminds you of an open road, clear, free and full of promise. Rahim Shah’s Pushto effort ‘Gul Bashri’ evokes grief and moves you into a dark space. You don’t necessarily understand the words or even feel the need to in order to connect with this haunting beauty of a track.
Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia, the men who make up Strings, sizzle in their role as film composers/producers because the soundtrack of Moor is neither restricted to their signature sound that we hear on their own albums nor does it fall to the wayside by making a horrific effort of imitating a typical Bollywood album. Instead Strings step out of their comfort zone, step away from the singing limelight (mostly) and rise to the occasion. It’s hard to pick any one song because all the songs offer musical solace. You don’t have to be an expert on music to enjoy the experience of Moor’s music. And in the end, that’s what Moor music is, an experience that you will never forget.