Friday May 25, 2018

Milliblog Monthlies – The Music of Mithoon

Posted by Karthik

Episode 5 of Milliblog Monthlies, featuring the music of Mithoon.

I found the music (multi-composer) of Bas Ek Pal promising, in my review (August 2006). I had liked Mithoon’s 2 songs in the film, and had even built my review of Anwar (November 2006) on that foundation. I loved the 2 songs by Mithoon in Anwar and expected big things from him.

I was so enamored by his music that I wrote a rare non-review note on Milliblog in early April 2007 when the promos of The Train started airing, with just a snatch of Woh Ajnabee.

For The Train, this is what I wrote in my review (April 2007) : “Mithoon composes and sings his way through this soundtrack and emerges as one of the most promising musical stars from India, next only to A R Rahman. This kid is on the threshold of superstardom!”

I have been consistently tracking his music since then.

No composer is consistent, there are good films and bad films. This is the case even with Amit Trivedi who I started tracking ever since he composed 4 songs for Abhijeet Sawant’s second album, Junoon. But Mithoon not hitting it big time is particularly depressing. He has become a somewhat consistent multi-composer album staple. Plus, many of his newer songs sound similar and fill a template that is so uniquely identified with him. Here’s hoping we see Mithoon with his high from The Train days again! Here’s my top 20 from Mithoon’s repertoire. I played this at home for almost a week, soaking into the music and I loved every moment of it. There’s so much to reminisce and enjoy here!

Playlist on Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube

Note #1: The Apple Music playlist is missing Samrat & Co,’s ‘Shukr Tera’. Guess Rajshri music hasn’t shared their catalog with Apple yet. Saavn and YouTube have all 20 songs.

Note #2: There’s a surprise song No.21 that is not available in the 3 playlists… at the end of this post!

01. Woh Ajnabee – The Train (2007)
Even though Bas Ek Pal released earlier, this is the second song (after the 2 songs from Anwar, obviously that came before this soundtrack) I fully fell in love with Mithoon music. The music is dramatically different from Anwar. I found Bas Ek Pal promising, back in 2006 when the music released, but this song truly marked the arrival of Mithoon in my view. Incredibly catchy, with a lovely ‘Dhadkan dhadkan’ line, this song, and the soundtrack got a 200 on Milliblog, deservedly so. Mithoon’s own singing, and in particular, Shilpa Rao’s singing are easily the song’s highlights.

02. Javeda Zindagi – Anwar (2007)
I like this song a tad more than the much-more-popular Maula Mere. Shilpa Rao strikes again – in fact, I started associated Shilpa Rao more with Mithoon with this song. The song’s melody is wonderfully serene, with Kshitij hitting the ‘Mohobbat toh ek javeda zindagi hai’ high so beautifully. The way Mithoon adds Kshitij’s humming over the chorus in the first interlude and leaves it out in the 2nd interlude and letting Shilpa’s humming take over is a lovely imagination in the composition.

03. Bas Ek Pal – Bas Ek Pal (2006)
Mithoon has given KK some really great songs. This one sure ranks as one of the best in the combo. Dominique Cerejo’s ‘Bas Ek Pal’ hook is addictive as much as KK’s ‘Tere pyaar mein’ line.

04. Keh Bhi De – Traffic (2016)
This is one of the many overlooked songs of the year (not on Milliblog, though – No.13 in Hindi, in my annual music list) and deserved better recognition considering it came in a period when Mithoon was seriously stereotyped, stuck in a rut!

05. Kinna Sona – Bhaag Johnny (2015)
This could easily be mistaken for a Kailasa song. Sunil Kamath’s incredibly expressive voice is quite like Kailash Kher’s! When Mithoon starts the guitar and tabla combo after Sunil’s Kailasa-like prelude, the warmth in the sound is unbelievable! The serene melody builds steadily and so beautifully that the ‘Kinna sona’ refrain reminds in my mind long after the song is over. The little touches by Mithoon, like that sax note behind ‘Kinna sona’ make the song all that more memorable.

06. Ji Huzoori – Ki and Ka (2016)
I least expected Balki to go for a multi-composer soundtrack given his penchant for exclusive soundtracks featuring Ilayaraja’s music (and much to the delight of his fans, recreations of Raja’s golden oldies). But I suppose the T-series machinery had a defining say in Ki and Ka’s soundtrack, so T-series usuals like Meet Bros and Mithoon joined Raja! Ironically, my favorite song from the soundtrack, even more than Raja’s Foolishq, was Mithoon Ji Huzoori! The repeated use of ‘Mohobbat hai yeh ji huzoori nahin’ is brilliant, as is the small ‘Jee haan’ in the background! Mithoon’s own singing, along with Deepali Sathe’s, props the song very well.

07. Kuch Is Tarah – Doorie (2006)
Atif Aslam’s expansive voice nails the song’s melody so impressively. Mithoon’s tune is so calming and sedate! The song’s main motif (Kuch is tarah) is so powerful and memorable that I can’t even remember, however much I try, the antara!

08. Tere Bin – Bas Ek Pal (2006)
There’s a reason why I added this right after Kuch Is Tarah 🙂 Both are by Atif and it fits perfectly one after the other. This is one track that was literally everywhere during that period! The flow of the melody, ignoring conventional mukhda-antara patterns, is a lovely touch by Mithoon.

09. Teri Tamanna – The Train (2007)
The energetic rhythms that layer the tune builds slowly and steadily, even pausing for dramatic effect for a ‘Teri tamanna’ call-out by Zubeen Garg. Between Zubeen and KK, and a bit of background humming by Shilpa Rao, they hold the song’s engaging melody perfectly.

10. Maula Mere Maula – Anwar (2007)
This is an iconic song, by now. The ‘Maula mere’ refrain is absolutely hypnotic. To many, this is the definitive Mithoon song, marking his arrival with a stamp. The choice of Roop Kumar Rathod for this song is very well thought of. Like many of Mithoon’s songs, this one is incredibly calming too, almost like a deeply devotional prayer.

11. Ke Bin Tere – Aggar (2007)
The song fits into Mithoon’s mid-2000s form and can easily be part of The Train’s soundtrack too! I was really impressed with the song’s unusual structure! The ‘Bheed mein bhi hum…’ part is completely different from what comes next: ‘Aankhon ki talash jo hai…’! And then the call-out – ‘Ke bin tere jeena nahin’. Very vibrant imagination!

12. Tum Hi Ho – Aashiqui 2 (2013)
Unlike a majority of Indians, I’m not a big fan of the Aashiqui 2 soundtrack, and I said so as well. My favorite from the soundtrack is, however, Mithoon’s song. Beautifully expressive vocals by Arijit, soaking in love and this is as good a ballad as it can get!

13. Mausam – The Train (2007)
I confuse between this song and Aggar’s Ke Bin tere a lot. The tunes mix and match and go between each other in my head! The pensive mood this song sets, particularly in Mithoon’s voice, is so encompassing! The keyboard in the interlude is a personal favorite!

14. Shukr Tera – Samrat & Co. (2014)
Mithoon picking Chinmayi for this song works wonders! She brings a certain sense of innocence and serenity to the lead vocals of the song that is so warm and addictive. Arijit does join her mid-way but it is her voice that carries the gentle whiff of a melody so effectively.

15. Aaj Zid – Aksar 2 (2017)
This song deserved more last year. The build-up of music behind the ‘Aaj zid’ refrain is typical Mithoon style. And Arijit, as always, was a phenomenal run during this phase. The change in tunes for the 2 antaras is a neat idea by Mithoon – ‘Kahin khud ko mujhme tu’ flows naturally as an antara, but the way ‘Bepanah tujhpe fida hoon’ flows after a thumping interlude is worth noticing!

16. Beete Lamhein – The Train (2007)
The KK magic! The melancholy in the song is affecting, particularly when Kshitij goes his long ‘Beete lamhein’ refrain! Mithoon’s repeated use of the ‘Dard mein’ lines makes the song quite an earworm.

17. Aawari – Shab (2017)
Breezy song by Mithoon last year that perhaps got missed due to the film’s tanking. I keep imagining Arijit’s voice in the song, though Mithoon sings it (and very well, at that).

18. Madno Re – Lamhaa (2010)
Though Mithoon tries to recreate the Anwar magic (featuring Kshitij again, but with Chinmayi instead of Shilpa Rao), it doesn’t quite reach that high. Still, not to take anything away from the song, the melody is typical Mithoon – very calming and pleasant. Chinmayi is a particularly good choice, as we listen to the song.

19. Phir Mohabbat – Murder 2 (2011)
Sayeed Quadri’s lyrics stand out wonderfully in this almost-spoken song! “Dil… Sambhal ja zara… Phir mohabbat karne chala hai tu” by Mohammad Irfan gets an aptly expansive tune by Mithoon and he uses it consistently to great effect!

20. Kaise Bataaoon – 3G (2013)
The main refrain of ‘Kaise bataoon tujhe’ is used in so many ways all through the song that it remains etched after the song ends. In particular, the melody gets a lovely expression through a chorus as the mukhda ends… and that chorus, oddly and interestingly, ends on an ominous note! Sonal Chauhan’s voice and singing is quite a surprise in the song, though KK’s is not, the fantastic singer he is!

Bonus! Very few people know or remember that Mithoon composed music for a Malaysian film too. Called Diva, the music is not easily available though I had bought the soundtrack long ago when it released, to review it for Milliblog. Here’s the best song from the soundtrack http://bit.ly/2sb0GXy

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