Monday, January 20, 2014

How Sohail Sen blended 70s and contemporary to make the blockbuster songs for Gunday

The title track of the director Ali Abbas Zaffar's upcoming movie Gunday starts its journey with a Blue Grass riff, then a Rap, then roots rock before settling into what sounds like a devotional chant. It takes you by surprise and against all odds, sounds really good. To pull something like this off requires creativity and craziness in equal measure. The man responsible for the blockbuster songs of Gunday is Sohail Sen.

Sohail has been a music director since 2008 and has composed terrific songs as a standalone director for five movies in five years. By all standards, his career has wound up slowly. But what a wind its been! His epic set of songs for 2009's Ashutosh Gowarikar's What's Your Rashee mirrored the challenging nuances of Priyanka Chopra's thirteen roles in the movie. Teaming up with Gowarikar again for the Chittagong Uprising biopic Khelein Hum Jee Jan Sey (2010) Sohail crafted songs of delicacy and patriotism - including the gorgeous, kinetic title track where he used students from Suresh Wadkar's singing academy. Both movies fared poorly at box office and that's always tough for the music director because your songs get limited exposure.

2011's Mere Brother Ki Dulhan changed that downward trend. Working with Ali Abbas Zaffar on his directorial debut, Sohail produced five crackerjack songs including the rock anthem Dhunki (Neha Bhasin), the soulful Isq Risk (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) and my personal favorite Choomantar (Benny Dayal, Aditi Singh Sharma). Mere Brother Ki Dulhan - which starred Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif - was a huge hit and marked Sohail's arrival as an A-list music director.

Sohail's next big hit soundtrack was for Kabir Khan's spy-crossed lovers action movie Ek Tha Tiger. That movie had Salman Khan, set all kinds of records and earned Sohail his second hit platform.


So what are the songs for Gunday like? The movie is set in 1970s Kolkata. Ali Abbas, who has a great personal equation with Sohail, asked for the songs to be set in that era but have a contemporary feel. He wanted the songs to have attitude in the melody and singing. "I always work according to directors vision as he is the captain of the ship and knows what is best for the film. But at times [directors] do give me freedom to experiment" says Sohail.


It took a while to get the songs right - almost a year. Especially the cabaret Asalaam-e-Ishqum, which Sohail tells me took the longest time to compose. For that and the wink-wink Tune Maari Entriyaan, Ali had the inspired idea to bring in Bappi Lahiri (who Sohail refers to endearingly as "Bappi Uncle"). No one bring the nuances of the 70s to songs like the great Bappi Lahiri! (Just listen to those two awesome lines Bappi sings to kick off Asalaam-e-Ishqum about 23 seconds into the song)


All through the CD, Sohail maintains a certain level of muscular grittiness. You can hear it very obviously on the rousing Jashn-e-Ishqa, styled with classic rock guitar riffs. But you'll also hear it on the simmering Jiya (one of Sohail's favorites) which is built around the winning vocal burr of Arijit Singh. Sohail always uses interesting new singers. Shahid Mallya (who sang the awesome Kukkad from Student of the Year) gets a chance to showcase his soulful vocals on the crushing heartbreak ballad Saaiyaan.


Working with new singers is part of the plan to not get pegged with a certain style, says Sohail. "I take it as a compliment for a composer [to sound different on each CD]. It's always important to explore different genres, styles and sounds so it's a conscious effort from my side not to sound the same and may be that's the reason I work with new singers all the time."

With his career flying high right now, how does Sohail keep this kind of momentum going? "Hard work" he says. On Tune Maari Entriyaan, there is a line that goes: "Peechhe meri aashiqon ki, poori poori countriyan". That's going to happen to you soon, Sohail. Get ready!

Gunday opens in theaters on February 24th
Sohail connects with his fans on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sohailsen.official

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Abhishek Bachchan's Temple of Dhoom 3

In the second major sequence in the year's last big Bollywood release Dhoom 3, Abhishek Bachchan - who plays a supercop called Jai Dixit - rams a ricksha through a wall and lands right in the middle of a bunch of goons. He and his buddy Ali (Udai Chopra hamming for the preteen demographic) then take on the gundas while still in the ricksha. The vehicle takes a pounding - the top cover comes off, the wire frame gets knocked off, the wheels come off and the steering pops out.

Amusingly, the ricksha turns out to be a metaphor for the movie itself - an un-ingenious movie with great intent and such poor execution, that the wheels metaphorically come off in the end.

I would like to say for the record that I enjoyed the movie immensely. There are some cool things in it - that I marveled at - and a bunch of lame things in it - that amused me greatly. As in major Bollywood studio movie these days, one must make one's own entertainment because the filmmakers cannot be relied on to do that for you with any modicum of consistency.

I could list all the lame things in Dhoom 3, but that would be a little like going to Kebab Factory and complaining about too much meat on the menu. So instead let's focus on the one character who fascinated me in this movie, shall we?

Supercop Jai has a penchant for stating the obvious. He's called in all the way from India to solve a crime in Chicago. Why? Ostensibly because the thief (played with conviction but a surprising lack of imagination by Aamir Khan) leaves messages in Hindi and you need a native desi to interpret it.

What a great way to bitch slap the Indian community in the US!

As he moves to trap the thief, Jai makes one amateur mistake after another. Failing miserably to stop Aamir's rampant thievery, he gets fired from his job. But on the verge of returning home, he turns back. See, he wants to solve the case so no one thinks less of desis in the US. 

Now at this point I got really worried. How on earth is this nincompoop going to catch Aamir Khan, I wondered. Surely the reputation of desis will turn to dust in Chicago!

Indeed Jai Dixit seems to get even more screwed with time in the movie. Because he's messing up all the time, the filmmakers make Jai do a lot of slo-mo strutting to make him appear competent. Jai glowers and scowls all the time. He starts looking increasingly constipated and gassy. His hair starts to look bizarre and develops a personality of its own. His entire character gets marginalized. (On the other hand, he does slightly better than Katrina Kaif)

At one point he gets tied to the tracks of a roller coaster and helplessly awaits the severing of his body via an incoming high speed gondola. His partner Ali has to pop out of nowhere (this sort of stuff happens all the time in Dhoom 3) and rescue him. Jai can't even save his own life! (This is also applicable to Abhishek's acting). Adding cunning subtext, Ali unties Jai's feet first and his head next - thus telling us indirectly what's more important.


Things get nuttier after that: towards the end,  Aamir gets away on a bike with a jet pack (yes! believe it!). Ali throws up his arms and says "They're getting away!" Jai glowers and scowls and says: "Don't worry. The night belongs to the thief, but the day belongs to the police!"
Having delivered those lines on a boat on a marina in Chicago, Jai Dixit against all odds tracks down Aamir Khan at dawn right as he riding his bike over Hoover Dam. (Hey, it was a bike with a jet pack!) Having caught his man, Jai Dixit restores the reputation of desis in America. 

What a guy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

With his brand new single, Meiyang Chang reflects on a life less ordinary

Here is why Meiyang Chang is one of my favorite Next Gen Multi Hyphenate entertainers: he is talented and tireless, he'll give anything a shot, he aces everything he tries. He's funny, loyal, socially connected and maintains a direct line to his fans. Getting back to what made him famous in the first place, Meiyang has two  new songs out called Kuch Dino Se (his first single) and Hanju (a Punjabi collaboration with Neha and Tony Kakkar). Go listen to them first by clicking on those links. Then come right back here and read what he's been up to since we last spoke to him on the Drift way back in 2008.

Hi Meiyang, it's been a long time since we caught up. Since then you've hosted TV shows, gone on tour with Sunidhi Chauhan and Shahrukh Khan, won Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa, made your film debut in the hit Badmaash Company, run the Mumbai Marathon, acted in commercials and have a new single. 

And life has come full circle on the Drift, hasn't it? I remember being here in 2008 when I'd been drafted by Sony Television to host Indian Idol 4, the very beginning of my career after dentistry. You've always been a great support

I need to hear from you: is there anything you can't do? How about something really wacky like running the marathon or dentistry? Wait, you can do both actually. Cooking maybe? 

The universe probably conspires to make me explore every aspect of myself. I was recently invited to be part of the Indian adaptation of Come Dine With Me. As exciting as it could have been, I politely declined because even making tea is not my cup of tea. So there are plenty of things I can't do...yet!

Let's start with your most recent work. You have a new single. Tell us everything about it: what's it called, what is it about, what type of a song is it, is it part of a collection, who worked on it. 

I'm very excited about this song! It's called Kuch Dino Se: my first independent single released by Sony Music India and it's a breezy, part-mush part-philosophical number, composed by Ajay Singha (Miko) as part of his for-the-road album Inn Raahon Mein. He's an old acquaintance who I've worked with on the F4 album in 2008 apart from Amit Trivedi (in his pre-DevD days) and Leslie Lewis. It was unfortunate that Ajay's catchy original score for that album wasn't heard much. Years later, we met again and he had this song for me and conviction in my voice. The lyrics are simple yet meaningful and have been penned by Pinky Poonawala.


The video for the song was shot with the children from Smile Foundation and they really add a soft, human touch to it. And I consider it a gift to myself since it released in October, my birthday month. It is a labor of love and the goal is to have as many people hear it and love it, share it and shower bouquets as well as brickbats on it.

I'm also excited to introduce Hanju, my Punjabi collaboration with Neha Kakkar (also incidentally from Indian Idol) and her brother Tony Kakkar with Times Music. This is my first Punjabi song; a love ballad with an underlying hint of pathos. I remember having a tough time holding a serious expression when we shot the 'intimate' music video for Hanju with Neha, that too with Tony as the cinematographer. Talk about pressure! Having said that, Tony has done a wonderful job of single-handedly producing the track as well as the video.

Of all the things you have built your career and life around, what's the one thing that is most precious to you and wouldn't give up? 

My reality checks: my friends and family, mostly those who knew me before or during my Indian Idol days. They keep me grounded and let me live life without taking myself too seriously.

Indian Idol 3 really launched you. What was the original intent of participating in Idol? And at what point did you start feeling that you could have a career in entertainment? 

I won't lie; I had never harbored dreams of becoming a professional singer nor, if you can believe it, watched a single episode of Indian Idol before the auditions. Cocooned in my extremely hectic Dental School life in the South of India (where mainstream Hindi shows do not have a massive following), I did not know how insanely popular the show was or how it could change one's life for the better. I have a natural affinity for music, thanks to my father and my music teachers in school and it was my friend and sister Archana who egged me on for the auditions.

Once I cleared the initial few rounds, I started taking the competition seriously. It was not until after Indian Idol 3, however, when I was offered an album deal by Sony Music that I genuinely contemplated a career in entertainment. I was all set to head to the US for further dental studies if Indian Idol had not happened.

You came back to host Idol for Sony. How did you prepare for it and what was the feeling like? 

Elation and euphoria don't adequately describe how my emotions on bagging the Idol host's mantle. I was going through a personal and professional low back then due to various stifling restrictive clauses in the contract and even though I knew I was meant to fly, my wings had been clipped. To that end I have to thank various people in Sony TV and Miditech (who produced Seasons 2, 3 and 4) for trusting me with a gargantuan responsibility and relaxing certain clauses by sister concern Sony Music.

Once on-board, I had to follow the show backwards: DVDs of seasons and anchors gone by (punishment for not having watched the show before perhaps?), mock interactions with the general public, look tests. I have a great rapport with Deepali, so the auditions were an adrenaline-pumped blitzkrieg. It was on my extension for the Piano and Gala Rounds that I had to strike a rapport with Hussain, who is a great guy but also my senior and a veteran. I'll always be indebted to him for treating me as an equal and showing me the ropes.

I remember seeing pictures of you with the stars who came on Idol. Of all the celebs you met, who do you think was: 

The most down to earth? John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor
The most strikingly good-looking? Deepika Padukone, without a shadow of a doubt. This lady makes my jaw drop every-single-time! I met her again during an SRK event in Dubai and she really is a girl next door. I guess the mix of her on-screen hotness and her off-screen vulnerability makes her all that desirable and respected.
The most different from their on-screen persona? Unless they're being snooty, I've found most of them to be very close to what they are on screen on vice-versa. Natural actors, yeah?

Have you kept in touch with the show that launched you? Or with the people who you've met on it? 

I will always passionately follow Indian Idol whether I'm part of it or not. For me, it's not just a singing talent show but a sentimental journey. Many from the production and creative teams have moved on to other shows, channels or professions altogether and as expected, even friends fall out of touch with each other over the years.

I'm still in touch with most of them. Among my own batch mates, I'm in touch with Abhishek, Emon, Ankita, Deepali, Harshida, Bhavin, Shantanu, Charu, Prashant, Amit (that's pretty much all of them!). And from the other seasons I've been in touch with Abhijeet Sawant. Mini Mathur, Hussain and I talk often and bump into each other once in a while. A get-together has been on the cards for a long, long time though.

Ok, you've acted in a hit movie - Badmaash Company - with some pretty cool people. Did you have to audition for that part and how did you prep for that role? 

I was just about to embark to South Africa for the Indian Premier League (IPL) when I got a call to audition for the character of Zing. Like any other starry-eyed boy who'd never imagined he'd be called for a Yash Raj film, I'd decided to say yes even before I knew who the director and my co-stars were. When I was headed for the audition a couple of days later, I let better sense prevail and told myself: read the script, see what it has to offer. That Parmeet Sethi was directing the film; Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Vir Das were my co-stars and that the role was interesting, meaty and gave me a lot of dynamics to play with convinced me to take on Badmaash Company.


Of course, I had no personal experience to fall back on to play an alcoholic, so I drew from my memories of college in Bangalore where I always had drunk people around me. I found genuinely nice people in Anushka and Vir and an extremely focused and disciplined actor in Shahid. I learned so much from them. It goes without saying that the experience of filming Badmaash Company was a landmark one for me. As Indians, we fantasize about acting in movies. I am fortunate to have lived that dream.

Any lessons in dancing from Shahid and Anushka? 

I was terrible at dancing during the film so no, I did not ask for any dancing tips then. Perhaps, Jhalak was the lesson I was meant to learn on my own. However, when we were shooting the song Chaska, Shahid and our choreographer Ahmed Khan played a prank on Vir and me. They made us believe we had to do this extremely complicated 15 second routine for the song! So you had the two of us, grave and struggling to perfect the steps, and you had to see the relief on our faces when the prank was broken to us! We have fond memories of that incident and the film in general and keep performing together when we can.

I recently did a commercial with Chris Gayle where he hints at giving me cricketing lessons in exchange for singing lessons. Now THAT I wouldn't mind!


Moving on to Jhalak 4. You know I love you, man but even I didn't think you could win that show until about the fifth or sixth episode. Holy Hannah! What a risk taker you are. At what point did you start believing in the final destination yourself? 

Hahaha! Well, Anushka and Ranveer came to encourage me on Jhalak and taught me a trick or two. But as you've mentioned, it was not until a couple of episodes into the show that I realised I could dance at all. I was kicking myself after the first two episodes as Marischa and I had been preparing those routines for weeks. To see it crashing and to score so low was demoralising! I can definitively say that the Tamma Tamma performance for the Madhuri Dixit Special was the turning point where, not only was I in a do-or-die situation but I also realized that nothing is impossible.


Jhalak sure looks like the most difficult thing you did in your life. Was it? 

God, yes. I don't remember a time in my life when I've ever physically exerted myself for 13-16 hours at a stretch for a continuous period of 4 months! They say that when you work out and dance continuously, you get used to the pain. That never happened! The benefits though, were immense. I could touch my toes without bending my knees for example! Just kidding.

My stamina, core strength, posture and muscle memory saw a quantum leap for the better and I'd never felt fitter and more game for life! And I saw myself do things I'd told myself I'd never be able to do. Jhalak played a big role in instilling self-belief and the lesson that if you put your mind and body to it, no-bloody-body can stop you from succeeding.


Do things get tense between competitors on these reality shows? I mean, do you part as friends or do people leave all bitter? 

We may or may not keep in touch but so far, I've only made friends on reality shows. If at all, we become frenemies during the course of the competition, which is but fair. There have been instances of people bitterly fighting each other on many reality shows but I've been fortunate to never come across that. Also, in music and dance shows, despite the intense competition and prizes up for grabs, we understand what we're collectively going through and empathize with each other. We give no quarter on the battlefield, but off-screen we're super cool! 

Your singing and hosting has taken you all over the world. Some questions related to that… 
Most fun you've had on a show: I've had some very memorable moments on stage across the globe but nothing beats the Indian Idol 3 Top 10 concert in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2007. It was a scorching hot day and well-wishers in excess of 50,000 came to watch us perform live. The ground AND the hills were overflowing with people. I've never seen such a sight in my life!

 And the Temptation Reloaded Tour with Shah Rukh Khan in Australia and New Zealand: it's taking me to many corners of the world! The scale of production and SRK's power over the audiences is definitely something to experience! I get to host and sing on these gigs and to be so close to this humble superstar is a learning experience in itself. Add to that my gracious Jhalak judge, Madhuri Dixit and one of my favorites Yo Yo Honey Singh! We've just finished Australia, New Zealand and Dubai and will be traveling to Kuala Lampur, Fiji and Sri Lanka soon.


Most talented singer you've shared the stage with: Sunidhi Chauhan. What a powerhouse she is!

Most memorable city you've visited: Braccianno, 30 km northwest of Rome. I've performed in palaces and castles before but the Castello Orsini Odescalchi was special!

Strangest fan experience you've had: Some overenthusiastic, albeit drunk fans accosted me after an IPL match in South Africa. I've never been asked for an autograph with so much aggressive love. My ears still ring from their "request".

You recently ran the Mumbai Marathon to raise funds for Concern India. What was that experience like and would you do it again? 

I've used this term before and I'll do so again. Running the marathon was a cathartic and humbling experience. Imagine running alongside thousands of Mumbaikars as one team towards a common cause! And to not have a single untoward incident!! Running was just a healthy excuse; the prime purpose was to raise awareness about various charities and causes and to help raise funds for the same. For this I had fellow Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant for company

Would I run the marathon again? Absolutely! I ran the Dream Category (7 kms) this year. I intend to train harder next year and attempt the half-marathon (21 kms). However, I'd request everyone to give their time and efforts over money to a charity or the causes they support. Yes, funds are required to run things but nothing can replace the personal touch. This is an advice I intend to follow myself. To that extent, for the first time ever I lent my support by way of my music to a new political party for the elections just gone by. The Indian populace is fed up of the corruption across governance and I believe that the people in this party deserve a chance to affect a positive change

You once wrote about Sunidhi Chauhan that every conversation with her was a learning experience. You've gotten to watch her up close. What do you think makes her so special? 

Sunidhi is, without doubt, the most successful female singer and performer we have today. She saw success of gargantuan proportions at a very tender age and yet, never let it go to her head. She is a perfect example of how not to take fame and success too seriously and just focus at bettering your craft. Add to that her genuine nature and her mischievous streak, she's a really nice person to hang out with You've talked a lot of being a big dreamer and how it's an essential fuel for life.


These days, what are your dreams about? 

I'd say that I'm maturing with age. Haha!! What I mean is that after the initial fun and games and dabbling with many things, I know what I want to be ten years down the line. I definitely want to devote most of my time to music and acting. Television has obviously been a big part of my life but I don't see myself hosting for that long, even though it will still remain an integral part of my live profile. To this end I recently tweeted, “Man with many faces and man donning many hats. I strive to be both”. With the interesting things coming my way, whether they materialize or not, I see my path very clearly. I will be better at what I do, have only myself to compete with and leave no room for insecurity.


OK I normally don't do this but since you are so personable, I'll ask personal questions. Anyone special in your life right now? 

That's my heart crying out in pain. Although I am interested in someone, until it works out the way it is meant to, I am still single. Hey, that sounds cool: "Single man releases new single!"

What do you look for in your partner? What's a deal-breaker in a relationship for you? 

She's got to be drop-dead gorgeous, with curves in all the right places!!! Haha!! These qualities are a bonus, but she must be a great conversationalist and a strong woman with an unchallenged zest for life. I love women with a happy light in their eyes who make the world a better place just by their outlook towards it. Of course, with the kind of timings and travel I indulge in, she would also have to be extremely understanding!

I'm sure you have been on great dates. Any horror stories of bad dates? I'm asking because they are cathartic to relate and interesting to read. 

I wouldn't call it a disaster but it surely knocked me out. Back in Bangalore, I took this Jordanian colleague out for a date. There was a definite spark between us but at the date all she would talk about was how dedicated to Dentistry she was and how she dreamed of being an upright, brilliant dentist. I'm not sure if it was just nervous chatter but after spending 9 hours in the clinic everyday for six days a week, dentistry was the last thing I wanted to discuss! That night, I cursed myself for being a good listener. I'm still working on not being one to this day!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Shuddh Desi Romance and the rise of Sachin-Jigar

Like their song Slowly, Slowly from their breakthrough album Go Goa Gone, Sachin Saraiya and Jigar Sanghvi have been carving out a niche in the world of filmi music. Unlike fellow new khiladis Ajay-Atul and their song Chikni Chameli which ignited their career instantly, Sachin Jigar have not had a zeitgeist hit yet. Their rise to fame has been on the backs of a steady stream of high quality songs.

Their sublime set of tunes for Shuddh Desi Romance is unlikely to change this mode of operation - I don't hear a monster hit on this album (and I sure hope I'm wrong here), but I can't stop listening to those songs either.


Sachin Jigar started off arranging music as part of Pritam's crack production ecosystem. They gradually branched out to arranging songs for other composers before breaking out as music directors in their own right. All through their early journey, they credit Pritam as being a constant source of support and encouragement.

Sachin Jigar's first big piece of work was composing for F.A.L.T.U. They delivered a set of jangly, mischievous songs. (If you haven't rolled your eyes and shaken your hips to Char Baj Gaye Lekin Party Abhi Baki Hai, you haven't lived). But on early display was the ability to deliver foot tapping arrangements, soulful tunes and generate something interesting (O'Teri). Since then, their journey has been similar to that of other rising composers - compose music for a lot of small movies and try to make most of those opportunities before a quality project lands in your lap. And boy, did Sachin Jigar maximize those opportunities. Their songs have made me sit up and take note - Hum Tum Shabana (Hey Na Na), Kya Super Kool Hai Hum (Dil Garden), ABCD (a personal favorite - Man Basiyo), and Go Goa Gone (Slowly slowly, Khoon Choos Le, Babaji Ki Booti).


Shuddh Desi Romance arrives at the right time for Sachin Jigar, when instead of getting typecast as youngistan, masti party composers, they get to deliver an exhilarating mix of art and commerce. Its a bravura album full of fine tunes and a heady tweaking of Rajasthani folk cliches. I loved how playfully Sachin Jigar took something like "ararara" - which shows up in bazillion songs - laced with distorted vocals and rock guitars and then tailed it off with the word "Random" on the hugely entertaining Chanchal Mann Ati Random (Divya Kumar). I also liked how carefully the flirtatious Tere Mere Beech Mein Kya Hai (Sunidhi Chauhan, Mohit Chauhan) is allowed to develop.


There are five instrumentals on this song - the best and most evocative of them is Mujhe Kiss Kar Sakte Ho, which goes from delicate to soaring and captures the emotions tied to the title. All through the album, Sachin Jigar's ability to provide fresh, catchy twists to songs really stands out. Its not consistent in their music yet but there are sparks of Pritam's no-holds barred tuning and Amit Trivedi's inventiveness.

Because they pay close attention to the music programming, Sachin Jigar sound modern. Take Jatin-Lalit as a contrast who still under-program their songs and have an old-school focus on vocals. Jatin-Lalit's songs for Besharam are a good example of what I'm referring to here. (Ironically Jatin-Lalit are Sachin-Jigar's idols)


Sachin Jigar are both my gujju brothers. I know this sounds terribly regional but I'm really happy to see Himesh Reshammiya (who I still love), Shekhar Ravjiani and Amit Trivedi all showing some superlative Humanities prowess. Bollywood music, the Gujju Invasion is here!

Shuddh Desi Romance opens in theaters on September 6

If you'd like to trace their journey, here is Sachin-Jigar's work in Indian films in chronological order:
2013: Shuddh Desi Romance, Issaq, Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Go Goa Gone, I Me Aur Main, Jayanta Bhai Ki Luv Story, ABCD - Anybody Can Dance
2012: Kya Super Kool Hain Hum, Hum Tum Shabana
2011: Shor In The City, F.A.L.T.U.
2010: Krantiveer
2009: Teree Sang

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun with a gun on Zanjeer's Mumbai Ka Hero

Sure, India is a young country - the average age is just over 25. But given the music videos these days you'd think everyone in India is young and horny. And this catering to a certain target audience is reaching ridiculously entertaining heights.

Let's take a look at the catchy club song Mumbai Ka Hero from Zanjeer. The original Zanjeer (1973) marked a turning point in both Amitabh Bachchan's career and Hindi cinema. It was the first time we saw a grumpy, smoldering, not-so-hot looking leading man with enough oil in his hair to fast track a Dabur Amla ad. The movie's success gave birth to the angry young man archetype in films and kick started Amitabh's legendary career. The remake - produced by original director Prakash Mehra's son, Amit - stars Ram Charan Teja and Priyanka Chopra. I enjoyed Ram Charan (RCT) so much in 2009's rebirth epic Magadheera that I'm really looking forward to seeing him in Hindi films.


The songs starts with clips of some iconic Amitabh Bachchan dialogs from the original film. These don't sound as dhaasu as they did back then. But it's a good way to acknowledge the source (given that the writers didn't get paid anything.) Then Mika Singh starts singing. Now it could just be me, but anytime that Mika sings, he sounds completely inebriated. His voice epitomizes the words "sloshed" and "party". RCT dances with a bunch of chics dressed in camouflage outfits that are designed to show, not hide (points for ironic comedy!) RCT is already flashing a gun, setting us up for the fun to follow.


At just under a minute, Priyanka shows up in a cop outfit that would stop traffic in all 28 (or was it 29 - I can't keep count) states in India. I think PC is a terrific dancer and if not her work, I've always admired her career choices. Talia Bentson does a terrific little rap for Priyanka and begins by declaring "cop in the khaki uniform/you turn me on". Then RCT whips out his revolver causing PC to palm her cheek and exclaim: "Oh my God!/Is that your gun!?"


Now you know what the gun represents, right? Right?! Ok. So PC begs to "hold it please". Then RCT proceeds to - get this - twirl his gun. Is your imagination firing here? Good. PC sings "Tu lage sexy off-i-cer/jab taane apna re-vol-ver" and then goes down on her knees and pulls RCT's gun to her face, mimicking an activity that would turn Leela Samson blue and instantly convert any PG-13 rating into a straight R.


Then there's more innuendo although that could just be me looking for further entertainment. I'll let you be the judge. PC admonishes RCT for stealing her dil ka chayn and suggests that he "kar complaint mera register" which I think is by far the best line in the song (no, I'm serious - I loved it).

Then RCT and PC indulge in some awesome dancing. RCT pulls out a really big gun and moments later threatens to yank his pants down by furiously jiggling his belt. But by that time, the video has become considerably more tame - and hence not as much fun.

Mumbai Ka Hero is composed by Chirantan Bhatt (who dazzled me with his songs for 1920 - Evil Returns).