‘Begum Jaan’, starring Vidya Balan in the titular role of a Brothel’s madam, is a period drama set during the India-Pakistan partition of 1947. The movie has been directed by National Award-winning director Srijit Mukherji, which is a remake of his own Bengali movie ‘Rajkahini’. The movie stars an ensemble cast including actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Ila Arun, Gauhar Khan, Rajit Kapoor, Ashish Vidyarthi, Chunky Pandey and others.
The music for the film has been composed by Anu Malik, while the lyrics have been penned by Kausar Munir. The full music album of ‘Begum Jaan’ has been released under the label Times Music. It consists of five tracks and two additional songs that were released later.
Prem Mein Tohre: It is a love song with a melancholic feel beautifully rendered by legendary singer Asha Bhosle. It is a semi-classical track composed with slow music of tanpura, sarod, sitar, tabla and ghoongru (anklet) sounds.
The song has a reprise version in the vocals of Kavita Seth, who sings it in her trademark deep and intense vocals. Both the versions are equally good.
Aazaadiyan: This one is a poignant song that powerfully conveys the pain of partition. The song brings together two accomplished singers from both sides of the border – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sonu Nigam, who sing it with the required emotion. The prelude music of bells, drum beats and shehnai, along with the hard-hitting lyrics, adds to the pathos.
O Re Kaharo: It is a haunting track that has a sense of sadness and joy at the same time. Kalpana Patowary and Altamash Faridi have given their vocals to the song. Anu Malik’s orchestration is beautiful, lending the song a folkish tune, while Kausir Munir’s poetic lyrics tells are in the form of a story of a new bride.
Holi Khelein: As the title reveals, this one is a happy, light-hearted song about the festival of colours. Composer Anu Malik brings in his daughter Anmol Malik and saccharine-voiced Shreya Ghoshal for this semi-classical duet. The arrangement is a blend of traditional and modern, and the lyrics, which have mythological reference, are excellent.
Who Subha: This is a reprised version of the classic track ‘Who Subha Kabhi Toh Aayegi’ sung by Asha Bhosel and Mukesh, and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by Khayyam, from 1958 film ‘Phir Subah Hogi’. The song retains the original composition and lyrics, with only a slight change in one line. ‘Who Subha Kabhi Toh Aayegi’ is changed to ‘Woh Subah Hum Hi Se Aayegi’, and has been rendered by Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal.
Murshida: This song is touted as the ‘bonus track’ and was released on April 12. It has been sung by the Arijit Singh, whose melancholic voice brings out the pain, struggles and sufferings of the song penned by Rahat Indori. Anu Malik has arranged the music in sufi-style with tabla, strings and lots of claps.
The soundtrack of ‘Begum Jaan’ has strong traditional influences and the composer has cleverly included modern elements to suit the present times. The album is relevant to the characters and the period setting of the movie.