Mallika Mehta is a singer-songwriter, performer out of Mumbai. She has been hailed as the ‘Adele of Mumbai’ by leading international media. She is an alumna of Berklee College of Music, Harvard University, Kellogg University and NYU. She has opened for renowned Bollywood artists like Kailash Kher and Shankar Ehsaan & Loy. Mallika Mehta has already released two fantastic singles “Kahan Hai Tu” and “Way Too Long” earlier this year and now she is back with a holiday season present for all of us. Her latest track “Kaafi” is out today, and that’s what we are reviewing here.
There’s an inflection of melodrama in “Kaafi”, which is justified since the stakes are always very high in love. Mallika Mehta sings in absolutes, then rushes to fill in the nuance. The sonic surcharge oozing from the despondent lyrics is nestled between titanic notes that roar over the cinematic piano. “Kaafi” feels grandiose and heavy. But it never lumbers under the weight of all these magnificent melodies slumped atop each other. It marches on strongly as Mallika Mehta is left clutching at the wisps of love that isn’t reciprocating anymore.
The maudlin elements of “Kaafi” feel essential: they enable Mallika Mehta to capture the specific sinusoidal hell of being in love with someone who isn’t loving you anymore. There are refractions of her across the track, a yearning Mallika, a jealous Mallika, a despondent Mallika, and a Mallika who eventually resigns to the fact that no matter what she does, it will never be enough for her to be loved back.
“Kaafi” is more than just Mallika Mehta trapped in the murky shadowlands of a failed relationship, it’s more than Mallika Mehta “rolling in the deep” (come on, how can we not make an Adele reference for a song by the Adele of Mumbai). Acceptance is an important stage of dealing with grief and this song represents Mallika Mehta trying to form agency out of the bleakness of devastation. Does it work? Of course, it does. Gloriously.
Buoyed by her impressive singing ability, and a great understanding of timbre and pitch, Mallika Mehta has crafted a great, mournful ballad through which she has bared her soul for all of us. “Kaafi” will last in people’s hearts and minds for a long time after the final note fades.