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ANIMAL and its SOUNDTRACK breaking the new-age multiplex norms, remind us how songs used to add magic to our cinema, ever since the beginning. (Articles on Movies, Music, and Poetry by Bobby Sing)

18 Dec, 2023 | Just In / Articles on Music, Poetry and Life / Articles on Cinema

Moving ahead of the controversies about violence, alpha men, misogyny, and toxic masculinity, already discussed at length on various platforms, this is about ANIMAL’s soundtrack, making a huge contribution to the film’s impactful success at the box office. However, if one wishes to ignore, reject, and condemn everything related to the film, because of its objectionable depiction of women and violence, then that would be another extreme, playing blind to its noticeable musical achievement by choice.
So, leaving that hateful debate aside, I had to write this, receiving some inquiries from both youngsters and mature lovers of music about the film’s soundtrack in the last few days. While there was a huge roar against the film for various reasons, the calls I received enquired, “Whether T-Series would be coming up with official Audio CDs or LP Vinyl Records of ANIMAL Soundtrack and Background Music or not?”
The question was not routine, and I had heard that query after a very long time since the last decade. It was important as well as pleasantly surprising in the era when music had lost all its physical form of existence in the market. In Hindi, it was like “Dukhti Rag Par Haath Rakh Dena” for a true music lover. Conveying the fact, perhaps the saddest part of this new millennium, post the digital and social networking revolution is our Music not having a physical release of any kind, in either Cassettes, Audio CDs, or LP Records form in the market. 
Anyway, keeping the nostalgia for another write-up, the query about ANIMAL’s CD or LP, made me rediscover the way the soundtrack plays a major or perhaps the biggest role in one of the quickest successes of the year 2023. A fact, that was neither to be found in an equally impressive manner in either PATHAAN, JAWAAN, GADAR 2, TIGER 2, or the other biggies. 
Addressing the younger brigade, Indian cinema and songs are like two sides of the same coin, inseparable from each other. And with songs, I mean full-length songs becoming an integral part of the onscreen proceedings in a 140-150-minute film. Besides, there have been numerous instances in the last century, when the films have run majorly because of their soundtrack, with people repeatedly visiting the theatres just for the songs.
Hindi cinema in the past two decades has been largely denying this fact and ANIMAL yet again sends a reminder pointing towards our basic roots. Hence, the present filmmakers still ignoring, avoiding, or thinking otherwise are either ill-informed or have yet not absorbed the right vibe of Indian cinema and its following, to be straight. 
Coming back to the subject, would love to mention the unique points related to the soundtrack of ANIMAL, that strangely remained missing in all the articles, online discussions, social networking forwards, and criticism related to the film.
To begin with, for a moment, just imagine ANIMAL without its songs. 
No doubt, the well-composed and superbly incorporated background score makes a rock-solid impact in the film, but just assume watching ANIMAL without its songs of different genres and feel. It will turn out to be completely flat and largely unimpressive.
Allow me to explain, in a different way asking you a few questions related to our Hindi Cinema.

1. When did you last witness a seven/eight-song soundtrack in a Hindi action film, with all the songs (the complete soundtrack) well incorporated in the script and that too in their good lengths? 
ANIMAL does that brilliantly without any hesitation or holding back. And with this, it simply shatters the new millennium pattern of using just a few songs of only 1 to 1.30 minutes duration each, in the two-hour narrative, just for the sake of it. This should ideally raise an alarm to the ones who still conceive their mainstream Hindi films without the songs.
2. When did you last hear a Hindi film soundtrack with all worth appreciating songs, composed, penned, and sung by multiple composers, lyricists, and singers, presenting a melodious musical bouquet? 
The new millennium started a fresh trend of bringing in multiple composers and lyricists for a film’s soundtrack. The trend had its merits and limitations but it rarely resulted in a winning soundtrack with all hit tracks in a film. ANIMAL delivers probably the first of its kind of soundtrack in this league wherein all the songs leave an impact and that too of different genres (including 3 in Punjabi) composed, arranged, and penned by multiple teams comprising a long list of names as stated below.
Music: Pritam (Composition), Jam8, Vishal Mishra, Manan Bhardwaj, Shreyas Puranik, Jaani, Ashim Kemson, Harshavardhan Rameshwar. 

Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir Shukla, Jaani, Siddharth-Garima, Raj Shekhar, Bhupinder Babbal, Manan Bhardwaj, Ashim Kemson. 

Singers: Sonu Nigam (only this one name makes a huge difference), Shreya Ghoshal, Bhupinder Babbal, Raghav Chaitanya, Pritam, Arijit Singh, Vishal Mehra, Manan Bhardwaj, Ashim Kemson and B Praak.
3. When did you last hear an unadulterated Punjabi Song in a Hindi film, used in its original form/lyrics without any forced insertion of Hindi?

Punjabi music has been an inseparable part of Hindi cinema right from the 1940s with the Punjabi Dholak theka introduced by maestros Husnram-Bhagatram, later skilfully taken forward by geniuses like O. P. Nayyar along with the debut of Punjabi singers led by Surinder Kaur. Since then, songs with Punjabi phrases/words in the lyrics have often featured in Hindi film soundtracks, majorly contributing to many box office successes. While in the last century, the inclusion of Punjabi remained enjoyable and respectful together, the new millennium came up with many awful examples completely ruining the Punjabi words/phrases (like I last remember in a famous song of SHERSHAH)

However, it is probably the first time two Punjabi songs have been incorporated in a Hindi film, without any forced mixed Hindi-Punjabi lingo, with no distortion of the original words or phrases. While the climax song incorporates Hindi as usual, the other two songs used in the crucial sequences are there in the original “Theth Punjabi” form without any alteration.

Certainly, a brave inclusion from the writer-director, very well knowing the fact that the lyrics are not going to be clearly understood by the masses. Irrespective of the risk involved, he went ahead with conviction and the same became the key attraction or rather backbone of his film’s success at the box office.

Here remember these songs are in a film by a South India-based writer-director and I doubt he had any idea about the songs, language, or their themes before an explanation narrated by a resourceful and musically inclined person related to Punjabi music. The discussion must have provided the seed for the idea of incorporating a group of Punjabi boys and folk-oriented original Punjabi songs in the film. So, there must be an associate mind behind this inclusion, becoming a crucial part of the creative team of ANIMAL.

4. When did you last witness people (the whole social network) searching for the original historical context and sources/origin of two songs in a Hindi film?

“If a film/book/play/song can raise a social debate and curiosity among the audience, then it is a success” - That is a famous saying in the world of creative arts.

The scenario was last witnessed when the late Siddhu Moose Wala’s song was released titled SYL. Within the next 24 hours, SYL was one of the most searched phrases on the internet and within a few days numerous videos got uploaded explaining the meaning and political history behind the term. The song showcased how a creative expression can create awareness among the masses about various issues related to our social structure. Sidhu had earlier generated a similar noticeable impact with his song titled “295”.

ANIMAL repeated the exact scenario with its songs ‘Arjan Vailly’ and ‘Saari Duniya Jala Denge’ and they both became a rage among the netizens within hours of its trailer release. In just a few days, the online platforms were flooded with posts, articles, videos, podcasts, and special programs made by leading channels guessing the history behind the songs with their own research and explanations. 

To give you the gist, while Arjan Vailly reportedly has a link to Arjan Singh, the son of Valiant Hari Singh Nalwa and his exemplary brave acts, the term ‘Vailly’ has a distinctive existence of its own in Punjabi music. The word has positive as well as negative meanings as used in various songs in both Punjabi films and music albums. At times it denotes a tough person, friend, or saviour, standing for his and people’s rights, but many times is also used for rowdy and gangster kind of loud characters in the song lyrics or dialogues.
Taking you back in time, a ‘Vailly song’ was a common inclusion in the ‘B-Side’ of Punjabi music albums during the era when cutting an album was a ritual kind of trend in Punjabis living in India and abroad. That said, the “Arjan Vailly” song in the film is not an original composition as falsely mentioned in the credits. It has been earlier sung by various artists (with different lyrics), and the most famous among all remains the one by the legendary Kuldeep Manak.
The second song “Saari Duniya Jala Denge” is based on a Punjabi folk-traditional composition known as “Tappe” (another form is “Mahiya”). It comprises three-line verses sung in the question-answer form in a duet, with the male or female answering the concern/question raised by the other. Traditionally ‘Tappe’ has a light-hearted form of expression, including love, teasing, and flirting, mostly sung in the sangeet night before the wedding, popularly called “Gaun” in Punjabi. It is also played as a game between the group of boys and girls in the eventful night and the team that is not able to come up with a befitting ‘Tappa’ as an answer in time is called the loser. Often incorporated in Punjabi music albums of the last century, it also expressed silent love or the pain of separation as a dialogue between lovers sung by renowned artists.
The “Tappe” composition reached Hindi film music in the 1950s and the person who introduced it was none other than the maestro O.P. Nayyar well versed with Punjabi folk and traditional music. While “Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri” in NAYA DAUR (1952) was one form of the two-liner Tappe, the exact composition heard in ANIMAL was first used in PHAGUN (1958) in “Tum Rooth Ke Mat Jaana”, and both these films had music by O. P. Nayyar. The later decades witnessed many more versions of this composition from the 1950s to the third decade of the new millennium. But the most famous remains the live performances of Jagjit Singh Chitra Singh in their concerts, presenting it in the purest form as a flirting duet. Interestingly, once they performed it in the late 70s in one of their famous concerts abroad, they started getting repeated requests for the same in their live shows, resulting in a tradition of ending their performances with an essential Punjabi song including Tappe.
So, if you have read or heard that ANIMAL lifted it from PHAGUN or any other recent film, then that is an incomplete information written with lack of awareness because the actual source of this melodious composition is the folk-traditional Punjabi music, majorly made popular by Surinder Kaur-Prakash Kaur from 1940s onwards. 
Ironically here too, while the composition is not an original one, it is again falsely mentioned in the credits with a different name, which is a routine act by the music companies, not crediting the original composer or their sources.
5. When did you last hear a Theme Song in a Hindi film, repeatedly played in the backdrop with different orchestration as per the sequences?
One of the key features of our films used to be Theme music or Theme songs, which eventually got lost in the new two-hour multiplex cinema, giving the least emphasis to the songs. For young movie lovers, try experiencing what theme music could do to a film, by watching Subhash Ghai cinema of the 80s. Ghai is one of the best directors of mainstream movies, who always had a theme music playing a significant character of the script. The importance of a particular music playing in the backdrop was duly felt and incorporated by the masters of their art right from the black and white era since independence. Another key example of the same can be seen in Raj Kapoor’s MERA NAAM JOKER and Guru Dutt’s PYAASA. See how a specific piece of music plays every time Mala Sinha appears on the screen in Dutt’s poetic classic.
ANIMAL brings that magic back to Hindi cinema with its theme song “Papa Meri Jaan” infusing life into its emotional as well as tense sequences. Though many would have missed it, next time you watch the film again, just try to catch how the director uses this theme music at various points in the film, even in the scenes of conflict having a different unusual orchestration.
As per the requirement, the song also has the (now rare) soulful voice of Sonu Nigam in a film soundtrack, and Sonu yet again makes you realize how his gifted voice can make a difference to such well composed, written, and arranged track. 
6. When did you last hear a love duet, without any music at all, with just the two voices and nothing else, not even strings, piano, or chords in a Hindi film soundtrack? 
There was a time when directors and composers were daring enough to try some innovative firsts in their film soundtracks supported by equally courageous producers. One of those rare risks was having a song without any beats or heavy orchestrations, just like two characters conversing with each other or one conversing with himself. For instance, try listening to “Yeh Hanste Hue Phool”, “Tang Aa Chuke Hain”, “Gham Is Kadar Badhey” from PYAASA (1957), and “Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho” from ANUBHAV (1971).
ANIMAL dares to present a similar innovation (as a beautifully penned song with no music of any kind), in the present era wherein sound, beats, and music play an even more important role than words. Besides, the track KASHMIR is a superbly composed duet, expressing a frank and bold desire to make love in Kashmir. The absorbingly sung track has the mesmerizing voices of the exceptional Shreya Ghoshal and Manan Bhardwaj, also the composer and lyricist of the rare song.
For me, this is the best love song on Kashmir to date without any second thoughts and an excerpt of the lyrics should be enough to make you listen to it again on a repeat mode.
“ले तो चलूँ मैं तुझको वहां पे, लेकिन वहां पे सर्दी बड़ी है,
कब मैं लगाऊंगा तुझको गले, खुदा की कसम मुझे जल्दी बड़ी है,
ओढूँगी ऐसे मैं तुझको पिया, सर्दी मुझको सताएगी कैसे,
तुझको लगाउंगी ऐसे गले, कोई ग़ुम हो जाता है जैसे”
(Note: If the same song had been there in a film soundtrack of Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar, then many would have written long notes in its praise forgetting everything else.)
7. When did you last witness fight sequences presented along a song, including a sad and slow track in a Hindi film?
Sequences in Indian cinema get uplifted by the right melodious songs coming at the right moments with perfectly fitting lyrics. But ANIMAL comes up with two rare sequences of a violent fight before the intermission and in the climax visualized along with two Punjabi-Hindi songs – based on the folk compositions of ARJAN VAILLY and TAPPE as explained above.
There can be no denial to the fact that ARJAN VAILLY lifted the film both before and after its release taking the project to another level. It is this specific sequence before the intermission, along with the elevating song in the backdrop, that gives you the adrenaline rush, a feature missing in recent Hindi films of the last decade or so.
Here Vanga even uses a Marathi song in his background music and in case you missed it, just check out how the Marathi song’s traditional fast rhythm beats get merged into the pulsating modern beats focusing on the wounded Ranvir holding the gun.
Coming to the second song, as mentioned above the TAPPE-inspired songs have been there in Hindi and Punjabi film soundtracks/music albums as love songs and duets with the expression of painful separation since the last century. But in ANIMAL the track surprisingly plays in the backdrop of a brutally violent finale fight, and that too as a sad conclusive dialogue between two males along with the sound of their punches, starting with minimal music.
Such cinematic visualization of violence with pulsating music in the BGM straight away reminded me of the year 1990 when we witnessed Ram Gopal Varma’s SHIVA with similar innovations on the screen. It was a time when we as students were all on the roads instead of our classes and the country was going through serious turmoil because of the implementation of the Mandal Commission. As far as I remember SHIVA was not blamed for inciting any kind of violence on the college campus or university premises in the film reviews or articles at that time.
For youngsters, if you have not seen SHIVA yet, then watch it as the next thing you do, particularly noticing how background music has been used in its realistic fight sequences like never before in the history of Hindi Cinema. No doubt RGV still continues to influence the present filmmakers, irrespective of his downfall in the later years.
8. When did you last see a music company being forced to release the audio-video of two tracks from the film’s Background Music, post its box office success, not included in the officially released soundtrack?
In the last two decades, there have been hit songs getting more popular post a film’s release increasing its views on YouTube and downloads on the online portals. But ANIMAL comes up as a rare case in which the audio company was forced to release the audio used in the background music of two sequences in the film, not there in the officially released soundtrack. They had to release them online, post a massive demand in social networking posts, and discussion among the people who liked the film and watched it multiple times.
The first audio was of the music used in the entry of young Ranbir Kapoor on screen. It had the medley of A. R. Rahman’s songs from ROJA played differently by a popular band. The second was of the music used in the entry of Bobby Deol (based on a traditional Irani song), which eventually became an online rage among the fans of the actor and the film together. 
While the first music was officially uploaded with the title “Ranvijay’s Entry Medley”, the second was uploaded as “Abrar’s Entry – Jamal Kudu” on YouTube and all other key portals. These rare uploads should be enough to prove how the music got accepted among the masses post the film’s release.
The above was a detailed account of ANIMAL soundtrack being an exceptional work of many talented artists and the writer-director, breaking all the norms of the present multiplex era.
However, if one is still not ready to accept these unique features of the songs remaining in a deaf denial, then I have nothing more to say and the loss is all yours……… as stated in these words from my favourite song:
"उर्दू के जैसा यह इश्क़ मेरा, नासमझ तू समझेगा कैसे”

Bobby Sing

Tags : Animal Soundtrack breaking the norms by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Articles on music movies and poetry by Bobby Sing, Articles on cinema by Bobby Sing, Rare features of Animal songs.
18 Dec 2023 / Comment ( 1 )
Gobindpreet Singh Gupta

Sat Sri Akal Bobbyji,
I must say I agree with you in this case, music of this movie became a rage from the teaser itself which released almost a year ago.
Your observation and detailed explanations are an eye opener for sure
Keep up with the good work, looking forward to more such insights besides the movie reviews.

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