“It’s such a strange life being a film composer because you are not living in reality at all. You are forever in that dream world that a movie is.” – Hans Zimmer
Academy Award winning German composer Hans Zimmer, in an interview, said these words as a way of explaining what it means to create the sound of films and how it affects his life outside work.
Zimmer’s words couldn’t be truer and certainly apply to films that are being produced right here at home and across the border. Film music, simply put, has a significant role to play in a film’s identity, especially in the subcontinent.
When one thinks of Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, A.R. Rahman’s breathtaking soundtrack comes to mind. When one thinks of Jami’s Moor or Sarmad Sultan Khoosat’s Manto, we are automatically deported to the part-melancholic, part-ominous world(s) created by music group Strings and Danish Khwaja/Jamal Rahman, respectively.
Similarly, when one thinks of the James Bond film Skfall, Adele’s title track instantly comes to mind. The list goes on… In a way, the music is also telling a story that is deeply personal and providing layers to the ideas explored in a film.
With that in mind, as we explore the soundtrack of the upcoming Wajahat Rauf film Lahore Se Aagey, a spin-off of the 2015 film, Karachi Se Lahore, it’s obvious that this soundtrack album is meant to push the film’s story forward.
Of the five tracks featured on the record, four have been composed and produced by Shiraz Uppal, who seems to be having a terrific year. Having made an imperfect stint on Coke Studio in its recently concluded ninth season as one of the six music directors, Uppal is fast becoming the go-to composer for filmmakers. He is also behind the soundtrack of the upcoming animated film, 3 Bahadur and the Revenge of Baba Balaam.
Anyway back to the album, since the film features Saba Qamar in a musical avatar or to quote the director “a rockstar wannabe”, the songs picturised on Qamar have all been sung by Aima Baig.
Our story begins with ‘Kalabaaz Dil’, a song that the film’s lead star, Saba Qamar has defended by saying that it has no vulgar element. Featuring Aima Baig alongside Jabar Abbas (who also featured on Coke Studio 9), the song is very perky and is brought to life by a thumping melody; it certainly has the potential to become a shaadi-type favourite come wedding season. For commercial filmy pop fans, this song should do the trick. But beyond that, it holds no real value.
‘Befiqriyan’ featuring Aima Baig is definitely superior to ‘Kalabaaz Dil’. Though it’s palatable pop, it is effective because it’s not attempting to do too much. Lyrically, it alludes to a happier world, which I suppose is in context with the story, the free-spiritedness of the character(s). It magnifies the spirit of the film.
‘Ehl e Dil’ is darker and grittier with a grungy riff running through it but this one too features Aima Baig. And though Baig has the kind of voice that does fit the mould of playback singing and does provide a kind of consistency, it also means that after a while, you grow tired of the same voice. It doesn’t provoke, it doesn’t create conflict, it just floats by.
Rescuing this album from eventual oblivion is a song called ‘Zara Si Laga Lo’ that is sung by Shiraz Uppal himself and is the real surprise package of this otherwise slightly over-peppy album. Uppal is a pretty good singer as has been proven by his own studio albums in the past. Here too he makes a strong appearance while the song, a captivating mix of electronic and pop permutations, does stand out. Most of all, it doesn’t need visuals to make a mark. It’s filmy pop but packs a punch.
‘Tere Bina’, sung by Aashir Wajahat, and composed by Syed Adeel is nothing you haven’t heard before; to me it sounds like a jingle that doubles as a cricket anthem and could’ve been done away with.
All in all, the LSA soundtrack is a mixed bag because though lively, many of these songs will depart from memory once the film is over and done with.