REVIEW: Kalank’s title track feels burdened by its ambition
By Bryan Durham - March 31, 2019
SINGER: Arijit Singh
LYRICS: Amitabh Bhattacharya
LABEL: Zee Music Company
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The third track from the Varun Dhawan-Alia Bhatt starrer is also the only single from the soundtrack to feature in the teaser. Apart from singing, Arijit Singh has contributed to vocal design and played the harmonium. Features an entire string section manned by Thai musicians.
The actual song is a little over five minutes long, the video version has half that runtime. Let’s start with the intrigue created by the lyrics. The love being spoken of is a passionate one with water metaphors filling the opening verses underlining the eternal nature of unrequited love. Not everyone gets to share Heer and Ranjha’s fate, pens Amitabh, quickly following it up with the line we’ve lived with since the teaser dropped: kalank nahi/ ishq hai/ kaajal piya (Love isn’t a blemish, it’s kaajal/kohl).
Pritam opens with a soundscape that feels a lot like a reprised Hawaayein (Jab Harry Met Sejal) before smoothly moving to a ‘piya piya’ refrain that feels Hindustani classical-ish before moving to a bridge that seems inspired by AR Rahman’s music. What immediately won’t click if you’ve only watched the video, is that the ‘Main Tera’ refrain is a more pronounced qawwali section in the full version and isn’t as subtle as seen in the video.
There’s ambition, scale and the feeling that Pritam has tried to fit in too many influences into one song. While that’s applause-worthy, it also leaves you with a rather vacant feeling because most of Pritam’s oeuvre consists of songs that have great recall value and the derivative experimentation feels a bit unnecessary and burdened by its own ambition. In fact, this song’s hook comes after a whole minute and isn’t as standout as the ‘Main Tera’ portion.
If you really want to enjoy the song and how Arijit has articulated each harkat and stretched his voice to new aspirations, stream the audio version.
The video is almost as good as a trailer as it kinda glosses over the core elements of the film’s storyline. But what we can’t understand is why the best scenes (for example: that striking scene where VD helps Alia onto the boat, for example) come during the least impactful lines and why a throwaway shot (it seems like that at this point) like the daawat thaal scene plays over the hook of the song.
If this is the best track off Kalank’s OST, we’re seriously wondering what to expect next. While the song has distinct woohoo moments, it does have rather curious ‘hmmm’ moments, too. Aah well, can’t please everyone, right?>