Music Review: Ra.One (Vishal-Shekhar)

by Srikanth Mantravadi

The score opens with the by now popular Chammak Challo which starts of on an admittedly awkward note before finding its groove in the kaisa sharmana aaja refrain. This is when Akon finds his range even as the song becomes more fluid and truly international in its appeal. Further the song comes in a catena of remixes which one can try out at one’s own leisure. Also a note on Hamsika Iyer’s singing – It’s absolutely stunning. I have been a great admirer of her voice since the serene Chanda Re (Eklavya) and her seraphic vocals should ideally get more recognition. Akon’s other song Criminal melds pop influences into Vishal-Shekhar’s templatized desi tune to good effect while Jiya Mora Gabhraaye inverts the process, to a lesser impact, by overlaying quasi classical vocals onto a somewhat techno-trance base. It seems like one of those middling Midival Punditz efforts; nothing less nothing more. Right By Side is extremely Vishal-Shekhar’ish for comfort – although it feels like comfort music – invoking bits and pieces of their upbeat numbers from Dostana to Break Ke Baad. It is still held up by some sprightly singing and orchestration. If you take comfort in the commonplace then this is for you. But in my opinion the soundtrack takes a turn for the better from hereon with three exquisite numbers which form the mainstay of this soundtrack. Vishal Shekhar channel the same frenzied spirit that probably seized Vishal Bharadwaj when he was creating Dhan Te Nan in the sensational Raftaarein. Right from the seedy opening burst of music to the sinister B-movie singing topped by the repetitive Veera hook, everything about this song reads pulp. Although it could have ended up being a corny re-take of the blaring 70s era it has enough originality and ballast to hold its own amidst a sea of derivative efforts. It also helps that Vishal helms it with his characteristic gruff vocals. In Bhare Naina, Vishal Shekhar create a fabulous song, blending Hindustani classical singing into a soft rock orchestration. A couple of gothic chants are thrown in to create a brooding atmosphere. It is a song that thrives in this captivating atmosphere too with the orchestration, that keeps shifting gears, merely aiding it and letting the vocals breathe. The soundtrack comes to an splendid conclusion with Dildara (Stand By Me). Shafqat Amanat Ali has been my favourite singer since his Fuzon days and here he is in sublime form, extracting nuances out of words that no other singer would have or even could have and sings with that rare transcendental quality that uplifts a song from being a purely aural experience to a metaphysical one. Vishal Shekhar’s sparkly tune changes shades intelligently and gorgeously while Kumaar’s mix of sufi platitudes hardly matter as Shafqat’s inspired singing takes over. Ben E King’s Stand By Me almost becomes unrecognisable except for the lyrics which remain intact and the same seems to have been incorporated as a rallying pitch for the protaganist. The three instrumental scores are aptly grandiose and rousing in nature with strains of Raftaarein predictably finding a mention.     

Ra.One has a smashing score from Vishal-Shekhar with enough variety to keep a listener engrossed.

My Picks – Dildara (Stand By Me), Raftaarein, Bhare Naina, Chammak Challo