Tamasha holds an exceptional place in my heart. I first saw the movie on my very first international trip from India to Canada in 2016. I immediately fell in love with the film; however, it took me a couple of years to completely appreciate its sheer beauty. It is a piece of art; and what complements the great script and seamless acting performances is the soundtrack. The music for Tamasha‘s soundtrack is composed by the exceptional A.R. Rahman, and the lyrics are written by the extraordinary Irshad Kamil. My relationship with Tamasha‘s album does not belong to the era of dating apps. It is not fast or in need of instant gratification. My involvement with the record is slow and profound. It took its time to grow but eventually stayed and became a part of my system. It would be very unfair for me to rank different compositions from Tamasha‘s soundtrack; however, I will discuss every song in the order of me falling in love with it.
Matargashti: ‘Matargashti’ was the first track released from the album. Performed by the outstanding Mohit Chauhan, ‘Matargashti’, in its very essence, captures the idea of a free spirit and a place of liberation. The song has an exotic vibe to it. Its beauty lies in the fact that the piece, both lyrically and structurally, breaks away from the conventional style of music production. The song simulates Ved’s character on a high level: he has multiple shades of different characters in his personality and manages to break away from his stereotypical lifestyle towards the end of the film. The music is arranged so that the melody changes every few lines and adds surprise and spontaneity to the composition. Lyrically also the song breaks away from the monotony of narrating a complete tale in one piece. The mukhda discusses how the narrator feels tricked by life, and his playful storytelling adds entertainment to the composition. The antara of ‘Matargashti’ amalgamates many fictional characters from separate tales stressing that although characters, time, and places change with different stories, the story fundamentally remains the same, which is also one of the themes of Tamasha. Towards the end, there is a portion in the song where Ved’s character breaks into a performance style similar to Dev Anand’s and pays homage to the great actor while being his most authentic self. ‘Matargashti’, therefore, has much more to it than just being a funky Bollywood track. It adds to the story in an unconventionally offbeat style. To the listener, it makes one want to dance on the streets of a foreign land wearing casually glamorous clothes (credit to stylists Anaita Shroff Adajania’s and Aki Narula). The song can take its audience to a place where their life doesn’t feel compelled to fit into the traditional structures of society and caters to them a sense of enjoyment and liberation.
Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai: This is yet another exciting track from the album, performed by Mika Singh. The song is unique in its style of production as well as composition. ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ essentially narrates the story of Tamasha‘s female protagonist, Tara. The song projects Tara as Heer, one of the most popular female characters from the legendary folklore of Heer-Ranjha composed by the great Punjabi-Sufi poet, Waris Shah. In its very arrangement, the song brings home the fact that the different stories are the same, regardless of variations in the characters or space or time. The song describes the agony of true love to be similar for both Tara and Heer despite them being two different women from different dimensions of space and time. At its very core, the composition tells of the suffering Tara goes through after falling in love with Ved; however, it is the maestro A.R. Rahman who succeeds in creating a fun song rather than a regular Bollywood sad number. Rahman manages to add his own Rahman-ism to the composition with the quirky Punjabi music, supplementing his oeuvre with another enjoyable track. The song has also been shot to illustrate a group of Punjabi folk artists narrating the tale of Heer, which somehow resembles Tara’s situation. The song details Tara’s state of mind as it comes at a point in the film where she has rejected the dull love affair that she had and is hoping to get over her obsession with Ved and Corsica. As she later says in the movie, “फिर लगा ठीक हो जाएगा क्योंकि हमेशा ठीक हो जाता है|” The song has a similar effect on its audience. It is a great melody to express and experience the inner struggle of not being able to be with the person you love but not in a way that leaves you hurt.
Safarnama: ‘Safarnama’ is sung by the melodious vocalist Lucky Ali. The word safarnama means travelogue. ‘Safarnama’, the song, is a song of the resolution. The music expresses Ved’s journey through internal and external conflicts to balance his head and heart. The lyrics highlight the significance of settling internal disputes in reaching one’s true destination, both physically and emotionally. The song’s genius lies in Irshad Kamil’s lyrics, which create a dichotomy by comparing Ved’s journey with the morning, calling it as new and as old as the morning. Kamil describes Ved’s journey to a fresh start while conveying that the trip to resolution has always been the same for ages, across different stories for different characters. Likewise, the words “मुहब्बत की मिसालों का सफ़रनामा” stress that the great stories of romance that are the standards in popular culture are also similar to Ved and Tara’s affair. The music by the legendary A.R. Rahman transports the listeners to a place of passion and freedom. There is a prevalent quote by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic, which says, “Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” The quote metaphorically talks about a place of absolute freedom sans societal boundaries. ‘Safarnama’ has the potential to take its audience to Rumi’s field. The song talks about a journey to this field and the sense of liberation upon reaching this place. The listeners can experience the feeling through Rahman’s magnificent composition.
Agar Tum Saath Ho: Considering the highest number of plays on Spotify, one could safely argue that ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ is the most famous composition from Tamasha. Performed by the exceptionally skilled Alka Yagnik and the current king of Bollywood romantic numbers, Arijit Singh, ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ is a soulful composition at its very core. The song is high on emotions and brings back Rahman’s old, sensitive style of music composition. The song in the movie comes when both Ved and Tara are emotionally vulnerable and going through a rough patch in their companionship. The piece elaborates both the characters’ state of mind and expresses the suffering the two are going through. Through Kamil’s lyrics, Alka Yagnik effectively narrates Tara’s emotional situation: at this point in the movie, she seems to have fallen in love with Ved but feels misled, discovering his reluctance towards his true personality. The song touches the souls of its audience and conveys Tara’s emotional suffering and helplessness after she feels responsible for triggering Ved’s emotional crisis. Similarly, the words “तेरी नज़रों में है तेरे सपने, तेरे सपनो में है नाराज़ी” not only depict Ved’s disappointment with his life choices but also provoke a lot of the listeners to contemplate their personal life decisions. Overall, ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ is an excellent track that deals with the difficulties of a broken relationship and the heavy dissatisfaction that forced decisions can bring to one’s life.
Chali Kahani: Sukhwinder Singh, Haricharan and Haripriya perform ‘Chali Kahani’, which is the theme of Tamasha in the form of a song. The absolute beauty of the music lies in Irshad Kamil’s verses. Through its lyrics and music, ‘Chali Kahani’ narrates how popular tales from different countries, languages, and eras are fundamentally the same. Kamil displays his deep understanding of the great sagas and ties one story with another without any difficulty. A.R. Rahman expertly combines these stories and creates a piece that efficiently uses Sukhwinder Singh’s exceptional abilities. The music is powerful enough to keep the audience engaged, and the impulse of the melody has the curiosity of the listeners growing. The overall feel of ‘Chali Kahani’ is of watching an actual tamasha of different stories and characters on stage.
Tu Koi Aur Hai: Sung by A.R. Rahman, Alma Ferovic and Arjun Chandy, ‘Tu Koi Aur Hai’ is a heartfelt song. Irshad Kamil, through the lyrics, asks the audience to examine their life choices. The song talks about how Ved’s character tries to be someone that he isn’t and the struggle that he goes through because of his preferences. The song is speaking to Ved, but it also requires the audience to ponder their personal decisions. The music is arranged to create a sense that it would pick up towards the end; however, the ending is powerful and serene at the same time. The lyrics provoke the listener to contemplate their life choices. At the same time, the ending manages to give you a sense of clarity. ‘Tu Koi Aur Hai’ is a gem that works to create conflict and resolution simultaneously. It is an excellent source of catharsis for the listeners through its meaningful lyrics and soulful melody.
Wat Wat Wat and Parade De La Bastille: Performed by Arijit Singh and Shahshwat Singh, ‘Wat Wat Wat’ is a funky track with addictive beats. The song has the potential to make its audience dance to its unusual yet quirky melody. Shashwat Singh shines in the Punjabi portions while Arijit Singh melodiously sings to the softer parts of the composition. Overall, the song is a fun track with a celebratory vibe to it. Through Parade De La Bastille, Rahman creates a sense of confusion by introducing a bit of Sufi music at the start; however, the composition later is highlighted by the beautiful use of drums, violins, and bagpipes. The melody of ‘Matargashti’ adds to the liveliness of the track, making it a fine piece.
The soundtrack of Tamasha consists of gems that will continue to be meaningful for years to come. Whether it’s Rahman’s experimental yet soulful music or Kamil’s profound lyrics, the album has a lot to offer. It is one of the best records by the trio of A.R. Rahman, Imtiaz Ali and Irshad Kamil, and would continue to grow in its relevance and popularity as the years pass.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.