In the Amar Singh Chamkila trailer, Kumud Mishra’s character says: “Jab duniya mein tanav badhta hai, tab janta ke mann mein entertainment ki bhook aur bhi badh jaati hai.” It goes for cinema, but it definitely goes for music. For the longest time, we’ve been using music as a form of expression – and somehow entertainment comes with it. It’s a big thing, you know, to be able to convey something important whilst somehow making people feel good about it. Amar Singh Chamkila feels like a nice reminder, especially with its very nuanced music album.

When the first look of the film was released for audiences, we knew we were in for an artistic treat. The music of Amar Singh Chamkila is a subject in itself – and it clearly holds true for the film, now that we’ve finally witnessed the songs. Ishq Mitaye is supposed to be an ode to the singer’s life, and it does justice to that. The lyrics follow the life of the Amar Singh Chamkila and his wife Amarjot Kaur. Ishq Mitaye is like this blend of contemporary and old-school music – which is precisely how audiences perceived the singer.

Naram Kaalja is this soulful and bold composition, which feels like something very refreshing. If you look at the music video, while listening to the song, you can easily see it as an anthem. It talks of Amar Singh Chamkila as the flag-bearer of music that wasn’t admired by all groups in a lot of ways. He was supposed to be listened to behind close doors, because his work wasn’t easily acceptable. The song is like his essence captured in something new.

The rest of the album includes Tu Kya Jaane, Baaja, Bol Mohabbat and Vida Karo. Vida Karo is that Arijit Singh song from every Bollywood music album that works as this perfect book-end. You’d want to sit with it, which is true for all songs from the film, but particularly true for this one. Imtiaz Ali and his films almost always come with the best songs, this is definitely one of those – but somehow better. A.R. Rahman as the music director and the lyrics from Irshad Kamil already seem to be making this story a musical journey.

To put it simply: the songs are just emotions wrapped in a soundtrack. They follow a journey, but they talk of joy, love, grief and a lot more. Music already taps into things that people feel. This particular plot, however, makes better sense with songs that do more than that – they have to. Especially when it’s about a person whose music brought him attention.

However, what seems to be refreshing about this one album is the fact that it doesn’t try to work for the trends. It exists to better its messaging. So, if you pick any song from Amar Singh Chamkila, you’d feel like you’re finding something new about the artist, his life or his intent. The songs don’t seem to be something you’re getting just for the reels, or the trends. There’s effort, but this effort is about bettering the songs, and not to make them fit in. Which means that we go back to the initial intent where music is used to say things, while also making people feel good.

When we try very hard to appeal a certain group of people, or make art more saleable, we lose out on the emotions associated with it. It’s normal to miss out on that. Something like Bol Mohabbat is a reminder that if the work is good, it will automatically get people to engage with it. The soundtrack of the film comes with a number of songs, that all add to the plot, and we know that even before the film is here. It’s because they don’t just exist, they are here, leaving people with something to think about. It’s almost like a narrative can be imagined, without witnessing one, yet.

Bollywood has always produced songs that stay with people, they are easily timeless, and for some reason we’ve been lacking that lately. In a lot of ways, Amar Singh Chamkila is bringing that back. So this is not just good music, but a hope to return to the good old days when songs used to mean things.