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Category: Hindi Music Reviews

Talaash (Ram Sampath)

Muskaaein Jhooti Hai reminded me of Shantanu Moitra’s Kaisi Paheli Zindagani with its seductive jazzy appeal. Suman Sridhar does a fabulous job; her girl-woman voice is a fresh change from Sunidhi’s, who any other MD would have preferred. Jee Le Zara, by a small margin, is a cut above the rest; it is easy on the ears and Vishal holds forth fabulously. The remix isn’t too bad either. Jiya Lage Na is fashionable in the way it overlays a semi-classical style over a modern orchestration template. Ravindra Upadhyay is, again, a counter-intuitive choice over Sukhwinder Singh and acquits himself well. Ram Sampath closes out the album with two numbers sung by himself – the portentous Hona Hai Kya which gets the techno sound just right and the hopeful Laakh Duniya Kahe.

All the songs have simplistic yet melodious tunes which can be a good thing and a bad thing; I wonder if this simplicity  will mean that these songs will get assimilated faster and fade out faster as is happening with every listen. Yet I like how this soundtrack retains a thematic consistency, throughout, even while sticking to the one romantic song-one sad song formula. Every song is tinged with a sense of alienation and melancholy and that counts for something. A solid album.

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Jab Tak Hai Jaan (AR Rahman)

Challa is zingy and mint fresh; Rabbi is good and a perfect choice for the song (although I don’t see how his vocals suit SRK). Also the guitar-drums combo is a complete winner. The pathos of Saans is conveyed more in Gulzar saab’s lyrics than in Rahman’s tune which has a curiously time worn 90s sound. Ishq Shava brings the soundtrack back on track; simple tune with a catchy hook which Rahman builds to a trance like effect. Heer is completely Gulzar saab’s song, the poignant meshing of Heer’s story with Mirza Sahebaan to depict the protagonist’s emotional state; Harshdeep sonorous vocals give the song great depth while Rahman is content with composing a simple, folksy tune. Jiya Re is the best song of the soundtrack, easily; Rahman comes up with a terrific tune and the orchestration with the prominent guitar and violin sound is lovely. Neeti Mohan’s singing is spunky and effortless while Gulzar saab’s lyrics capture the joie de vivre of a free spirit to perfection (I especially love the chhote chhote lamhon ko, titili jaise pakdo to, haathon mein rang reh jaata hai, pankhon se jab chhodo to..lines). This is great song. Rahman constructs Jab Tak Hai Jaan like a contemplative, background piece with alaap interludes fusing into each other. Otherwise its a song in the Chopra mould in terms of structure and orchestration. The Ishq Dance instrumental and Poem are passable.

The Chopra-Rahman-Gulzar collaboration does not reach up to the fantastical expectations I had but, again, I should have known; Rahman appears to be at his inventive best when he is freed from Bollywood’ish genre considerations (Read – with directors like Rakesh Mehra, Mani Rathnam, Gautham Menon and Imtiaz Ali). Here he appears to be reigned in by the Chopra tag and does his best within those confines. Gulzar saab has his magical touch intact, not more visibly than, in songs like Challa and Heer where he is at his philosophical best and Jiya Re. Still, a good soundtrack with songs that will last.  

Ishkq in Paris (Sajid Wajid)

I am usually loath to write anything about Sajid Wajid’s work because, let’s face it, there is nothing much to write about. If Salman Khan’s movies are critic proof, so is Sajid Wajid’s music. If memory serves me right they even won an award for Dabanng. Talk about travesty. The only good song to have emerged from this duo’s efforts till date is Caravan from the ill fated Hello. But whenever they have dabbled in melody, they have come up with some interesting results. Jaane Bhi De from this album is one of those. The tune is middle of the road; hummable but lightweight. But the composers are ingenious enough to prop it up with that relentless strumming which gives the song its much needed flesh and character. Sonu Nigam is also a nice choice. The duo almost get it right with Rahat’s Saiyaan also; the inventive mukhda is a triumph but everything else is pretty much clichéd just like the rest of this album.

Student of the Year (Vishal Shekhar)

The original hook of Biddu’s Disco Deewane carries the remix through, which for a while threatens to be all bluster and empty pop sound, and it is still Nazia Hassan’s vocals that stand out. The Shahid Mallya sung Kukkad is straight out of the Salim Sulaiman assembly line. Despite the incongruence between tune and lyrics Ratta Maar is decent. Radha has a moth eaten tune which for some reason reminded me of Rahman’s Jhootha Hi Sahi. Shekhar helms the Punju Vele well but, again, this is no great shakes. The duo, however, hit back with Ishq Wala Love; a soft, dulcet melody with great lyrics (and interesting use of tabla!) that is in the same bracket as the duo’s earlier songs Tooti Phooti and Barish Ki Boondein. Mashup of the Year (I see what you did there) rounds of the album on a pulsating note and makes the job of all the DJs out there so much easier. 

SOTY is a passable soundtrack from the duo who do as much as they can to make the music, that is supposed to be sung by college kids, interesting.  

Heroine (Salim Sulaiman)

Halkat Jawani is catchy but I am tired of this stuff man. They should leave the item songs for the Telugu movies and DSP! Saaiyaan builds on a thousand other Rahat songs to even register. Main Heroine Hoon is better; an edgy, pulsating mix; Madhur will probably have Kareena slash her wrists to this or will it be a montage showing her success? Anyway, the Benny Dayal sung Tujh Pe Fida breezes by and we are left with Khwaishein; a little oddly constructed Shreya Ghoshal ditty that is nevertheless enjoyable. 

Barfi! (Pritam)

Unlike Pritam’s other creations that thrive on a certain muscular, brassy energy – even ones like Tumhi Ho Bandhu with their techno heavy backgrounds or the ones he conjures for the Bhatts with wailing electric guitars conveying the mood of a depressed heart – Barfi! (Lest I sound needlessly excited, the exclamation is something the makers added and not me. Although an album like this does warrant much excitement and attention) has a smooth, feminine grace. The sound is decidedly acoustic and soft on the ears; pleasant bars of music layered with guitars, pianos and harmonicas. Take the title song; Initially I couldn’t believe Pritam had composed it. It signifies a clean break from whatever he has composed so far (The composition duties for such a soundtrack usually go to Shankar Ehsaan Loy. But Pritam’s successful association with Basu must have done the made him a shoo in for this. Who can forget Life in a Metro where Pritam’s ballads burst forth like a Greek chorus?). That said, it is not my favourite from the album; it has a playful charm and the lyrics are a lark (Swanand Kirkire) but tune wise it fails to rise above its own limitations. The same can be said about Aashiyan; the sing along’ish quality enjoyable and amateurish at the same time. The lightness of the tune not helping the lightness of lyrics too well. Main Kya Karoon is breezy; the rhythms mildly reminiscent of SEL’s wonderful Khabon Ke Parindey. The talky structure works well and the Kya Karoon refrain is deliciously overwrought.

The apotheosis of Pritam’s innovation comes, early, in the form of Kyon. Set to a serene and trippy early Kishore Kumar’ish tune, this is a song doused in magical whimsy – at once evoking some dying, etiolated time and tradition in Papon’s timeless, wondrous vocals, a quaint poignancy in the verse – Hai Kya Khayal Bawre or Kya Tera Haal Bawre – and the way it turns. This is also that rare song where the exalted tune smiting standards are matched by a similar genius in song writing. Sayeed Quadri saab, that wonderful lyricist who has mostly been consigned to the fringes of the industry despite writing the saddest heartbreak song you have possibly listened to, writes so beautifully that it hurts. Every line is a gem. My fandom knows no bounds!

Arijit Singh’s ghazal’ish turn in Phir Le Aaya Dil, a song drunk on Vishal Bharadwaj’s musical flavour and fervour, right from the time his voice filters in as if it were wafting from an old gramophone player, is gorgeous. The inventiveness of the tune however means that it turns into an ode and not an imitation and how fitting that another version of the same is adorned with Rekha Bharadwaj’s vocals. Quadri saab shows his pristine touch here too.

Swanand Kirkire (“Khwabon Ki Razai Mein, Raat Ho Teri Meri”) is at his lyrical best in Saawali Si Raat; a quiet, sinuous ditty that is not so much as sung, by Arijit, but whispered.  

Barfi! is a delightful soundtrack; an album to be savoured and cherished; a saturation of warmth, charm and pathos. Halfway through a gorgeous song, I was wondering if this is what happens when all the musical gods are aligned; the synergy of a mad bunch of musicians performing at their peak. Pritam shows a clean break from his past sound and composes a thematic score that almost amounts to a revival and reinvention of a hoary, lost genre. As much as this transformation is astonishing it is doubtful he or anyone will persist with it given that very few films warrant such music which makes this more memorable. Further, Barfi! doesn’t seem to be a period piece like Khoya Khoya Chand; so I am very curious as to how Basu uses this music. Nevertheless, the status of this album is cemented – Instant classic.            

Kill List (Ben Wheatley)

Kill-List-Poster-610x462

Holy mother of god! Ben Wheatley is a certified auteur who is in total control of the medium mixing elements of family drama and hit man movies and then turning it into a bizarre cult horror movie. I say Wheatley is an auteur because of the mastery he shows in building this movie up; it is moodily shot, purposefully edited and smartly written (a lot of gallows humour). There is a confidence in the way things are staged and shots are framed; none of the roughness and wannabe-ness associated with some indie movies. There is a lot of gore; gore that is disturbing and not necessarily cathartic unless one is into sadistic stuff (where most movies cut away from violence to imply it, Wheatley has his camera firmly focused on the action while a man gets his head smashed or his stomach ripped). I did not know what to make of the ironical ending; it is not exactly a thought provoking movie but it is definitely an immersive, enigmatic experience.

I think what Wheatley was trying to show was the horrors of everyday life without any adulteration from genre tropes before, paradoxically, the movie does break into genre tropes. It is a brilliant movie; I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Cocktail (Pritam)

Those who watch TV may, by now, have realised the sheer inescapability of Tumhi Ho Bandhu. Its a little sad that music channels bombarded it so much because by the time I had my hands on the soundtrack I was already full of it; so much so that I had to skip it while I traversed across the OST. Nevertheless it is a wonderful song; Kavita Seth is a fabulous pick; interestingly, I can’t think of anyone who could have suited the song better (Shilpa Rao maybe?). Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are as soulful as they can get in a pop-dance track framework (Jab yaar kare parwa meri….Main hoon hi nahi iss duniya ki). Daaru Desi is infectious and has some nifty guitar work and sprightly singing (by Shalmali and Benny) going for it.

Luttna (Saif Ul Malook) seems straight out of Mausam territory, but, apart from this ostensible incongruity in tone, the edgy techno mash up makes it interesting. The one by Bunty Rajput plays it straight. Tera Naam Japdi Phiran (based on a traditional melody?) is catchy but forgettable. Second Hand Jawani is a competent item song but, again, fades quickly. The soundtrack also throws in Arif Lohar’s Jugni for good measure.

The song of the soundtrack, for me, is Mohan’s Yaariyan. This is one terrific song; admirably Coldplay’ish be it the mesmerising guitar work or the anthemic, hopeful choruses. It helps that Irshad Kamil is also in inspired form (The Marz bhi hai deti part is masterful). The Reprise is a complete study in contrast; the song is shorn of its punchy percussion and is driven by simple, intuitive piano notes and has Sunidhi alternating between the understated and the operatic. It is less appealing on the whole but is still a close second.

Lets be clear, Cocktail is no Love Aaj Kal. There is a lot to like here and Pritam’s overall sound design is superb but there are at least two tunes which don’t work. In the end, Cocktail is essentially three brilliant songs and a lot of likeable bits and pieces. Good enough.

Ishaqzaade (Amit Trivedi)

Aafaton Ke Parinde is a fine start to the album especially when Divya Kumar, who sounds like a freshly minted Sukhwinder Singh, is given free reign over the song in the interludes. Chokra Jawaan is a firecracker of a song that is propelled by the free spirited energy of Vishal and Sunidhi. In times where lead singers record their part of the song separately, the vocal chemistry between Vishal and Sunidhi is something that is true, palpable and exceptional. The soundtrack takes a melodious turn with the title track. A little predictable but pleasant nevertheless. The impish Jhallawallah takes its cues from Kajra Re and Ranaji but fuses them into a reasonably enjoyable cocktail. Pareshaan is an all round triumph of singing and composing and the piece de resistance of the soundtrack along with Chokra Jawaan. It gains immensely from Shalmali Kholgade’s dainty-gorgeous vocals (In the same league as Hamsika Iyer and Aditi Singh Sharma) and Trivedi’s orchestration that ebbs and flows thoughtfully; Thoughtful considering even a dash of heavy orchestration would have drowned out the delicate vocals of the singer. Also notice how her vocals acquire shades of Sunidhi’s tone in the higher cadences of the chorus. A singer to watch out for.

Amit Trivedi’s Ishaqzaade is a thoroughly enjoyable package. It is especially good to hear the early earthy sound of soundtracks like Dev D and Aamir again. It is more refined now but surely as kickass.       

Jannat 2 (Pritam)

The coming together of the Bhatts, Emraan Hashmi and Pritam can only mean good things and Jannat 2 is no different. The sufism in Pritam’s music has progressively increased over time and there seems to be a conscious effort to shun the pop catchiness of his earlier compositions. Tu Hi Mera and Tera Deedar Hua make excellent use of Shafqat and Rahat; Both compositions take familiar shades but with Pritam familiarity breeds contentment. Tujhe Sochta Hoon is the pick of the soundtrack for me – KK’s plaintive vocals and Pritam’s tune conjuring prowess are in complete harmony here. It is stunning how these two manage to churn out so many good songs together. Mohit Chauhan’s downbeat melody, Rab Ka Shukraana, is also a breezy listen. The Anupam Amod version takes even more pensive shades without the softness of Mohit’s vocals. The only sore point is the rehash of Zara Si (Jannatein Kahan) – The sweetness of the composition is supplanted with some perfunctory orchestration and rap portions. The quickening of the pace detracts majorly from the song. Nikhil D’ Souza’s alternate versions seem to falter without orchestral support but they nevertheless carry the goodness of the tunes. Javed Ali’s version of Tera Deedar Hua is quite polished too and worth listening to

Overall, Jannat 2 sees Pritam in cruise control; There is none of the sparkling brilliance of a Tum Mile or even Jannat but it is sparkling nevertheless.