Film soundtracks in Pakistan, like all other music genres in the country, has seen its share of highs and lows.
Pakistan's recent cinema revival, though self-styled, has got one thing right: 2015 saw audiences lapping up film soundtracks, even before the films hit the screens.
Perhaps the last time our country appreciated film music like this was during Noor Jehan or Ahmed Rushdie’s time. Or maybe when Khuda Kay Liye came out and dhakka-started the new age of films in Pakistan, and made songs like 'Bandeya' a hit in the process.
Recently, Sarmad Khoosat’s Manto set the bar high for soundtracks in the industry. Jamal Rehman and co.'s beautiful film score and OSTs were a haunting and sometimes whimsical aural complement to the film. It was a refreshing break from the jarring product placements that sometimes worked their way into the choruses of films' songs.
Ho Mann Jahaan’s soundtrack follows suit with a killer combo: it features 10 tracks traversing genres as diverse as pop and local folk, qawali and bhangra and featuring some of the best Pakistani musicians and composers. Zoheb Hassan? Enough said.
The song that packs a punch in this track list include ‘Ghar Nari’, an Amir Khusrau composition sung by Abu Muhammad and Farid Ayaz; ‘Khush Piya’ by Tina Sani, ‘Dosti’ by Zoheb Hassan and Zeb Bangash and ‘Sarak Sarak’ by Mai Dhai.
If it’s not the vocal powerhouse that overwhelm you in each song, it will be the unique style of composition that will hold your attention.
'Dosti' sounds different from the song that made a home in our hearts decades ago, especially the intro.
After growing so fond of Nazia Hasan’s voice, her fans might not take so readily to this version, but one thing’s for sure: if anyone could have pulled it off with Zoheb, it was Zeb. And she made it work not only with her voice but also with the music direction, smartly incorporating different elements like percussions and the brass section sound.
'Sarak Sarak', composed by Mai Dhai along with Zain Ali and Danish Khawaja, is the kind of song that makes one's heart sigh.
Sameer Ahmed’s bassline really stands out in the intro as the acoustic guitar and drums give way to a very jazz vibe accompanied by desi folk. When Mai Dhai starts singing, 'Sarak Sarak' becomes a perfect blend of the East and West, though in theory, Sindhi folk and American jazz influences don’t make sense together.
Both songs, along with a few others like 'Shakar Wandaan', weren’t made for this film, but might give the film a great boost, if it is lacking in other areas.
The rest of the songs, namely 'Baarish' by Jimmy Khan, 'Mann Ke Jahaan' and 'Dil Pagla' by Zeb Bangash, 'Dil Kare' by Atif Aslam, 'Audition' by Gumby and 'Shakar Wandaan' by Asrar, despite having a formulaic approach, do give us the listeners a refreshing change that keeps coming in waves with each new film release.
Gumby’s 'Audition', a minute’s worth of a drum solo, was the kick we needed all these years when we wondered where the country’s favourite drummer had gone off to.
The soundtrack gives us a chance to see Zeb Bangash’s contribution as a film music director and composer. Zeb worked on the background score for the film with Jimmy Khan, Taha Malik and Danish Khawaja. Prior to this, the only time we got to experience Bangash’s talent was when her debut album with her cousin Hania released years ago. Women taking charge in the music scene is always something to celebrate.
Ho Mann Jahaan’s soundtrack gives our music talent a platform other than Coke Studio and corporate gigs. It might become our reason to embrace our music, reclaim our music channels and radio stations, and tell Bollywood that it was good while it lasted, but we've just changed too much and found someone better.
Ghar nari – Abu Muhammad and Farid Ayaz
Mann ke Jahaan – Zebunnisa Bangash
Sarak Sarak – Mai Dhai
Dil Pagla – Zebunnisa Bangash
Baarish – Jimmy Khan
Khush Piya Waseen – Tina Sani
Dil Kare – Atif Aslam
Dosti – Zoheb Hassan and Zebunnisa Bangash
Shakar Wandaan – Asrar
Audition – Performed by Gumby