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'Kesariya Jugni' song: Anjjan Bhattacharya, Kumaar create rare fusion of Sufi and Rajasthani folk


Bhattacharya and Kumaar tap into the 'Jugni' and 'Kesariya Balam' folk hits to give us a filmi version for Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3.

Mayur Lookhar

In 1906, Punjabi folk singers Bishna Jatt and Manda Mirasi created the folk song 'Jugni'. A century later, their creation has seen many versions by singers from both sides of the India-Pakistan border.

Pakistani great Alam Lohar created his version of the song in 1965. His son, Arif Lohar, carried the legacy forward in the new millennium.

In 21st century India, the Nooran sisters Jyoti and Sultana have given an altogether different feel to Jugni with their own version.

The versioning continues with composer Anjjan Bhattacharya joining hands with the Nooran sisters to bring us a more 'Bollywoodized' fusion of the folk song.

Lyricist Kumaar uses a mishmash of Punjabi, Hindi and some English to give us 'Kesariya Jugni'. The song now comes across as a fusion of the popular Rajasthani folk song 'Kesariya Balam' and the Sufi song 'Jugni'.That is why Kumaar calls it 'Kesariya Jugni'.

Lovers of Sufi music and Rajasthani folk music are not likely to be pleased with this fusion. If you listen carefully, you will notice that the song also draws inspiration from the 'Patakha Guddi' track from Imtiaz Ali’s Highway (2014), which was composed by AR Rahman and sung by — who else? — the Nooran sisters. Rahman also could not resist singing a version of his own.

'Kesariya Jugni' pales in comparison to the two Highway tracks or the renditions by Alam Lohar, Arif Lohar, or the stage act by the Nooran sisters. That begs the question: why would the Nooran sisters risk making a mockery of their own rendition? Only they can answer that.

What works for 'Kesariya Jugni', or, more correctly, binds the 'Kesariya Balam' and 'Jugni' fusion, is its music. Bhattacharya has produced a melange of rustic, contemporary and even Indian classical and rock tunes all in one track.

We don’t recall the Nooran sisters ever crooning mishmash lyrics, but the sheer quality and power of their voices lifts the track. They are ably backed by Bhattacharya and Amit Gupta.

If you forget for a while the earlier versions, admittedly a tough ask, 'Kesariya Jugni' does hit your senses. Irrespective of the music, the rawness of 'Jugni' makes most versions enjoyable.

As for the visuals, well, the Nooran sisters will be glad to be in the spotlight. The two foreign dancers are mere eye candy. The song has been picturized on Sanjay Dutt who looks likes a man who has murder on his mind. As seen with the earlier films in the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise, the gangster has a score to settle with the Saheb (Jimmy Sheirgill) and ends up at the latter’s sprawling house. That might be why the lyricist chose to include the 'Kesariya Balam' influence in the song.

The song has its flaws, but you have to admire Kumaar and Anjjan Bhattacharya for the creative thinking that has gone into it. Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 is set to be released on 27 July. For now, watch the 'Kesariya Jugni' track here:

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