Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola soundtrack shows folk influence

This Bollywood soundtrack is packed with influences ranging from Haryanvi to African tribal music.

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola delivers crowd-pleasers as well as socio-political commentary. Courtesy Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures
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Various artists
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Sony BMG

While his filmmaking might leave a lot to be desired, Vishal Bharadwaj's music is always spot on. Be it Saat Khoon Maaf, Omkara or Kaminey, Bharadwaj can be counted on to deliver something entertaining and unconventional. His work on Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (for which he is music director, composer, director, co-producer and co-writer) is no different. Packed with influences ranging from Haryanvi folk to African tribal music, the album features lyrics by Gulzar and the voices of Sukhwinder Singh, Shankar Mahadevan and Mohit Chauhan.

As he did in Kaminey, Bharadwaj tosses out a killer title track that is catchy from the get-go. Sung by Singh and Ranjit Barot, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola introduces the blend of Haryanvi and African sounds that Bharadwaj will play with for the rest of the album. The energetic beat and folksy feel have already made the song a dance floor hit.

Bharadwaj takes the mic alongside Prem Dehati for the next track, Khamakha, where Gulzar's lyrics come into their own in a mellow, soulful number.

Oye Boy Charlie is the obligatory qawwali number, albeit with a retro twist. With Rekha Bhardwaj, Mahadevan and Mohit Chauhan on the vocals, the six-minute song is the longest on the album and, after the title track, the most popular. Listeners these days want a combination of desi and western, and Bharadwaj delivers it superbly.

The album is not all fun and games, though. Socio-political commentary rears its head with Lootnewale, a song about the injustice suffered by a farmer fighting to keep his land, and Chor Police, a political statement dressed up as a satirical musical snippet in which Pankaj Kapur sings about corruption in the country.

Shara Rara Ra and Badal Uthiya contribute a more traditional folksy sound to the album. The former features instruments typically used during North Indian wedding processions (dhol and a brass band with cymbals) and therefore immediately works as a celebratory number. Badal Uthiya is a new rendition of a classic Haryanvi folk song sung by Rekha Bharadwaj. Her soothing voice coupled with the strains of the sitar make the song one of the most mellow and enjoyable on the album.

The album wraps up with Nomvule, a Zulu track which means "after the rain", sung by Africa Umoja.

While there is nothing on this album to match Vishal Bharadwaj's own Dhan Te Nan from Kaminey, the album still has its moments, particularly for lovers of folk music.