For the third time since his iconic partnership began with A. R.Rahman with Lagaan in 2001, director Ashutosh Gowariker goes for a different composer. The last two instances, Whats Your Rashee and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, had Sohail Sen as composer. The latter in particular, was an underrated soundtrack in my opinion. For Panipat, Gowariker has opted for the Marathi duo Ajay-Atul. Given that the movie is about Marathas, this choice makes perfect sense. Alhough the duos recent run in Bollywood hasnt been upto the same high standard as they displayed in their initial few works, Ajay-Atul composing for a Hindi film is always an exciting prospect, especially its a Gowariker film.
Interestingly, while Gowariker has switched composers on multiple occasions, hes stayed loyal to his lyricist, Javed Akhtar. The first song, a paean to the Maratha men (with a brief passage dedicated to the women as well) titled Mard Maratha, belongs to the same mould as heroic songs, except with a Marathi bent in the arrangement (the percussion, mainly). To pick an example, from the Gowariker stable, the number is reminiscent of Azeem O Shaan Shehenshah, which is incidentally a song extolling the man who was involved in the Panipat battle that preceded the one this movie is based on. Coming back to Mard Maratha, its an enjoyable song it is hard not to like those heavy percussions and that rhythm. While the composers lead the singing with a host of singers in tow Sudesh Bhosle and Kunal Ganjawala the one person that caught my attention despite a very brief appearance was Padmanabh Gaikwad, assuming he is the owner of the young voice that appears towards the end of second verse.
Judging by its video, Mere Mann Mein Shiva seems to be this movies attempt at the Bajirao Mastani number, Malhari, albeit dressed up as a devotional piece. The composers however appear to model this on another dance song of theirs, Gun Gun Guna from Agneepath which is still their best Hindi soundtrack by a mile, with entertaining results. Ganjawala gets to the forefront on this one, with Deepanshi Nagar leading the female portions.
The composers get one of their favourites, Shreya Ghoshal, and Abhay Jodhpurkar a singer who debuted in Hindi last year with the same duo to croon the final piece. Sapna Hai Sach Hai is a poignant melody that the two singers ace, but once again the composers seem to channel one of their older compositions, yet again from Agneepaths O Saiyyaan. Not to say the composition isnt effective the quality singing, the minimal yet resonant orchestration that intensifies at just the right moments only to fade away again, and the mantras all come together well.
With just three tracks, Panipat is a surprisingly short soundtrack for a Gowariker movie. And while Ajay Atuls songs are enjoyable, they dont count as particularly memorable owing to their derivative nature. It speaks volumes about the lacklustre year Bollywood has had, and that Panipat still counts as one of the better albums we have had in 2019.