In the middle of all the dhishum-dhishum, a heavyweight musical score tunes thoughts to lots of sex, says Aditi Saxton
Think of something so familiar that when you pay attention to it, it feels strange. Sneha Khanwalkar’s compositions for GOW are authentic, original, seminal even, especially true to the root of that word, and yet on a first hearing they are intimately known. And on a closer listen, they emulsify into an already adored lilt shaken with a saucy, succulent tilt.
The promo plays the obvious jingle, I Am A Hunter, with its single jejune pun on gun. But the tap-swoosh of Vedesh Sookoo’s reggae fun would have been limp without the hard knock beginning, a yokel yodel of “high-low, hey-lo, hai-law”. Lionel Richie just lost his subcontinental stranglehold on how to say hello. Mixed with mostly English lyrics, the Bihari bits, “Daily goli nikle, automatic, tun, tun” shouted or twanged rather than sung, have meaty beats, and yes, the penis jokes keep suggesting themselves. In a graveyard of Bollywood mashups where the spectre of imagination is scared to loom, this short import from Trinidad & Tobago mated with a plainspeaking Patna lives and thrives.
With all its frequent, obvious, drilled-in allusions to sex, the songs of Wasseypur are the antithesis of porn. Porn as a failure of the imagination, with its agglomerated anatomical moving parts in repetitive, mechanical detail is somewhat like pop. It’s at the distant end of the dial from soft, hot, subtle suggestions of sex, the deeper desires which these melodies stir. Khanwalkar and Amit Trivedi’s Keh Ke Loonga duet has her hoarse, soaring voice, slamming into his planted, playful one, both dripping with the stunningly penned words by Piyush Mishra: Ras bheege saude ka ye, khooni anjam— the bloody spoils of juicy trades — keh ke loonga. When Khanwalkar’s sustained screech melds into the high notes of a shehnai, it dispels that firmly lodged songworm, the “pe-pe-pe-pain” of the shehnai in Chance Pe Dance. There is scarcely a musical risk that Khanwalkar won’t take. Raw is the most readily ascribed attribute to her harmonies, but she has sandpapered these songs to get exactly the grain she wants. And her style of unfinished has more élan than any shabby chic aesthetic masquerading as pretty.
O Womaniya gets into the nooks of the Bhojpuri panghat, where the womenfolk stay. The “haveli ki hava” was recently done well with Genda Phool, but this has a more brazen, feminist feel with what begins to be a requisite amount of raunch. The ooos of the back-up chorus are a rustic rendering of any number of the golden era of Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar and it’s one in Sneha’s plethora of merged ‘a-ha’ and ‘ha-ha’ moments. In massaging material everyone knows — Ik Bagal, Mishra’s poetic anthem has half an air of Jaag dard-e-ishq, jaag Hemant Kumar — the melodies manage to be both a tribute and a subversion. Or perhaps, perversion? What they are is decidedly different and possibly best listened to in the privacy of your own head.
Aditi Saxton is Features Editor, Tehelka.