Film scores

Soundtrack review: Bhopal – A prayer for rain (Benjamin Wallfish – 2015)

bhopal

„Bhopal: A prayer for rain” is a harrowing tale based on real events that happened exactly 30 years ago in India. Back then the worst industrial disaster in history happened, as poisonous gas from the factory is released into the air following a storage tank explosion, claiming well over 15,000 lives and causing countless injuries. I had no idea about this event until now. The movie follows a family and tells the story from their perspective. This is a heart wrenching story and the music was written by Benjamin Wallfisch, one of the most exciting composers from the past few years.

It’s an interesting choice from the composer to start with “Elegy for Bhopal”. This is our introduction to the story: a heartbreaking piece of music which silences everything else and makes the listener aware of the tragedy. You can’t get over this cue and it tells you what to expect. Make no mistake about this score, have no hope of something happy. Beautiful composition and a worthy prelude.

Once this is out of the way we get the “Introduction” and I appreciate even more the fact that the score started the way it did. “Introduction” is a light and almost jolly at times guitar based track which could have given me the wrong impression about this score. Even when I watch a movie I sometimes prefer this construction where it begins with the conclusion and then shows us how it got there. From the music “Bhopal” sounds like a lovely place. This will make it even more difficult to witness its destruction. Flute and sweet piano grace this theme and an Oriental echo leaves me longing at the end.

“Rickshaw” is a fun ethnic Indian cue with a guy rapping very fast. It suggests the busy nature of India and the wonderful madness of that world. “Prayer” takes us out of there and relaxes us with a Thomas Newman like piano vibe.

“A drop on the arm” must be the moment when things begin to go wrong. The music is intense and makes my skin crawl. There’s no going back after this. It’s a proper horror cue and it will leave a mark. The composer chose to take the thick dark route for the disaster cues and it was a good choice. This isn’t a Godzilla or earthquake type disaster which needs explosive music. This is a slow developing calamity which takes over an entire community step by step. It grows and spreads its ugly and deadly poison slowly and implacably. You get all this from the brilliant cue “Disaster” right up to the poignant conclusion. The doubts start then. “Are we safe?” keeps the darkness and makes it uncomfortable and alarming. “Good boy” makes us care. In the context of the score, even if it’s not the darkest of cues it’s still one of the most depressing.

I get lost in the rich web that Benjamin Wallfisch weaves. It’s a nice feeling to get lost in music like this, even if it will be difficult to listen to again because of how heavy and dark it is. This score could have worked very well for a horror movie and it’s even more effective when you know it’s for a true story. You should listen to this beautiful and meaningful elegy. It’s a composition that will leave an echo and maybe even make you research the incident. The composer did the story justice and treated it with love and care. It would be a shame to miss “Bhopal: A prayer for rain”.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 40

Album excellence: 60%

Highlights:

Elegy For Bhopal

Bhopal

Rickshaw

Prayer

The Disaster

Temple

Aftermath

Epilogue

A Prayer For Rain

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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