Friday, October 26, 2007

Aaja Nachle: The Music

Mere months ago, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant gave us an album so finely crafted (Chak De! India) that it marked them as music directors of note in Bollywood. Working for Yash Raj Films on a film of seismic importance (Madhuri Dixit films are now a rarity), they follow it up with a thoughtful, delicious soundtrack for Aaja Nachle.

Why is Aaja Nachle so good? Several reasons and not just that some of my favorite singers show up on the CD. But if I had to summarize I would say that Salim and Sulaiman have delivered an old fashioned album with enough new tricks to create a full and luscious sound that feels updated. Here's how they did it.

Given that Madhuri Dixit is a trendsetter in terms of being a working mom mounting an ambitious career in films on her terms, Salim-Sulaiman thankfully refrain from hiring a screechy, girly voice for the title track. On the shehnai-tinged "Aaja Nachle" vocal duties fall to Sunidhi Chauhan, who is instructed to sing at a restrained, comfortable pitch instead of the normal Whitney Houston meets Lata Mangeshkar histrionics associated with flagship songs. The song is carefully littered with background vocals, vocal interludes and flute licks to create that fullness of sound I was referring to earlier.

"O Re Piya" is a simple enough ghazal, but in the hands of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and initiated with a lovely slow-mo reggae-like beat that is couched in a rhumba shaker, it becomes terrific to listen to. Right after the mukhda, Salim-Sulaiman employ a delicious turn of the peti and later yet they throw the kitchen sink at Rahat who responds beautifully.

The music directors also possess enough daring that when they take risks, you go along with it. Thus when on the delirious qawwali "Show me your Jalwa", Richa Sharma essays the titular line in a highly kababi fashion, you chuckle with pleasant surprise instead of groaning in pain. By turning up the bass on the traditional trappings of a qawwali and adding an electric guitar (of all things), a back beat or two - an old genre appears refreshed if not renewed.

All this good work makes you tolerate some of the rote stuff that needs to be delivered with any movie like this that suggests copious melodrama. "Koi Patthar se na maare" is one of those songs. But its interesting to me that although Sunidhi and Shreya often compete in the world of playback, they sound terrific whenever they sing together (check out the gorgeous sisterhood ditty "Imaan Ka Asar" from Dor").

I even liked "Dance with Me" (Sonia Saigal). Sure it sounds derivative but cribbing from my favorite period in the Billboard era (1978-9) is a good way to derive.

There is more good stuff on Aaja Nachle - it doesn't seem to have any fillers. But I'll let you discover those for yourself. Definitely watch out for two tracks by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal: "Ishq Hua" and "Is Pal" and Madhuri Dixit doing a spoken word on Sukhwinder Singh's desi-romeo call for love "Soniye Mil Ja".

Also:

64 comments:

SkD said...

Hmmmmmmmm....not really all dat great...i was all de more disappointed cuz i expected loads of good dance numbers..nupes not gud.

megan said...

i saw the trailor, the movie looks so lame and cliched. I wasn't fond of the music in the promo either. But I might download give it a listen when i feel like it.

ritha said...

Glad you found the soundtrack good Aspi...I rem reading an article in rediff saying it wasnt good. I gave it a listen and was surprised to find some good melodies. Ofcoz not too much of naach kinda music one wud expect.
Its funny u shud talk of "iman ka asar" as i happened to hear it yday and i thot that these two singers sound really good together. Salim sulaiman are nice but i think they try to infuse a lot of melody in every song with the same kinda background guitar/violin arrangement and it seems forced to me sometimes. Nevertheless, like this album just like Dor. Hey, i wonder if its rahat or rafquat for 'O re piya'? Music india online says rahat fateh ali...either case am happy! these guys bring a nice novelty to the soundtracks.
I particularly like "Ishq hua" and thought Shreya changed her voice in a coupla places. Good to know shes trying voice modulation instead of being saccharine all the time!

Joules said...

I use to love Yashraj movies in the old days. The dialogue in Daag, Kabhi-Kabhi, Trishul still give me goosebumps. DDLJ was the last one of their good movies.

YRF these days is such a let down. They have given up on script to get stars who act like american teenagers. Dhoom 2 was the biggest disaster. (Example dialog: Are you like checking sunehri out)

My expectations of Aaja Nachle is quite low. But now after reading your review I got to give the music a look.

Aspi said...

Ritha, you are right about the singer. Thanks for pointing that out. I corrected the post.

I liked Aaja Nachle primarily because I really needed a break from the V-S Hinglish romps which are fun to listen to but not all the time.

musing said...

Hmmmmm.....staid and sombre essays most of the time..Where is the perky stuff when you need it ?

Some nice gaaffeee and good sexy hindi songs like yai re, yai re, jor laga ke nachi re (I hope that's how it goes before I get flamed..forgive me)

Rasam Ki Kasam if this is what we get on fridays, I will go and listen to some good carnatic stuff.

nandri. naalai sandhippom

-musing

Anonymous said...

wait for Tashan, Aspi.Another VS dose on the rocks for you!!

Saritha said...

Why do you think Salim-Sulaiman focused more on melody and not on 'nach' as the title suggests?On a brighter side Iam hoping the track grows on me,for my sake(hey,it's madhuri's comeback fillum)

YRF is going nowhere with a spate of flops leaving 'Chak de'.And for me Aish never acted in D2.No meg,I dont hate for being sexy....

Aspi said...

Musing, I love writing staid stuff. Wait till I do a review of the Dhoka soundtrack.

Saritha, I'd have to see the movie to tell for sure. But given that the story revolves around theater - these songs are imminently danceable to - just not the type of D2 dances we've been seeing.

musing said...

Hey Aspi,

The comment was not for your writing.

I meant the compositions..the songs(compositions = essays also from High School days?)..

Will let you know when I think your driftings turn staid..for now it's good enough to snag me ;)

-musing

Saritha said...

Aspi,D2 dances are forgettable.I liked the whole Ritwik's(I know you dont like this fella)hot look,otherwise I have no clue why I sat thru the whole movie.

I didn't know 'Aaja...' revolves around theatre.Thanks for that info.

Forgot to mention-

"Thus when on the delirious qawwali "Show me your Jalwa", Richa Sharma essays the titular line in a highly kababi fashion, you chuckle with pleasant surprise instead of groaning in pain."
Subah,subah I chuckled at this.

Kanan said...

What's up with Hindi Film Music becoming Hinglish Film Music. It's truly sickening to see stuff like "jab we met", "show me your jalwa", "dard-e-disco", "who's the baap"... who writes this stuff and what in the world are they smoking?

So disappointing!

Bollywood music has gone down the drain now. No quality whatsoever. I miss stuff like Veer Zaara.

Aspi said...

Saritha, you can watch the trailer here. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Kanan, Veer Zaara was an exceptional album. But this Hinglish stuff does seem to strike a chord with my kids. And I suspect with a lot of kids growing up in the US and listening to their parents' music.

Sania said...

I don't think that Veer Zaara had lasting value. I personally wasn't all that fond of it at all.

I'm actually thinking that many of these songs are not for the dance picturizations in Aaja Nachle - but they will be dancing to traditional music. But that's just a guess on my part.

Kanan said...

Aspi, have you watched the New York Life ad that has the Indian American kid rap to the sounds of kakka-barakhdi "aa ee ae aa oo ooo"? That's where this HFM is going. I am yet to listen to Aaja Nachle but with the kinds of titles of the song they have, I don't really feel like it. I know I'm probably missing out on those rare goodies that come in the package with other junk like that "tu jo nahin hai" of Woh Lamhe. That's where yours and other drifters music recos come to my rescue. Thanks!

spruha1 said...

I agree. I think some of the Hinglish stuff allows the music to be enjoyed worldwide. However, their are only a few composers who can pull it off without being cheesy...VS being my fave. I like Aaja Nachle, especially at the time in which it entered the music scene. I'm sick of Pritam's music, I guess because there is so much of it.

Kanan said...

Sania, Veer Zaara might not have had that lasting value but at the same time when you speak of good music and lyrics of this decade, you think of that movie, or at least I do. It's probably in top five I'd say but they don't have that quality in songs any more - be it in the music or the lyrics. Music is still not so bad but lyrics these days are outrageous.. like the "beedi jalaile" or "namak ishq ka" kind. I remember in the 90s when Karisma's khatiya/baby or Madhuri's choli songs were coming out, some people made a big deal, and now it's become norm. Now the standard has gotten to such low level, and no one objects it. It's very sad state.

Aspi said...

Speaking of Veer Zaara, Udit's "Mein Yahan hoon" - one of my priya songs is still one of the few I can listen to without getting tired of.

Kanan, I have seen that ad. Reminded me of Suhit Gosain from II3. Poor guy - I poked endless fun at him, hope he's doing all right. Did see him in an ad in India.

cool_guy said...

veer-jaara was a classical , specially with udit's rendition of mein yahoon hoon. in this decade there is one more movie which was a superhit and had worthy music.. i know i will get the flake for this but " Tere Naam " was really the album of this decade at least closely followed by kajra re...

m said...

i hated veer zaara, the movie and the songs except for that song in the mosque (??) and aisa desh hai mera..

well why is Ash being brought up when talking about music?? did she compose those songs or write the words? umm no..

btw i watched D2 4 times at the movies..and i loved her in it.. to me she did awesome (for the character) and New York Times agreed with me so I am happy.. its not supposed to be an oscar winning role..
well hrithik didn't show any true histrionics either but ppl are lenient towards him cuz he's a male and thats how bollywood works..

m said...

Tere Naam? i find the movie typically bollywood..the songs in it seem so 90's (except for lagan lagi..that was good)..

also in nostalgia things look nicer that is why people of older generation say stuff like "old music is better".. but they have memories etc associated with them and grew up lstening to those songs so they're special..

i can't stand most of old songs (60s to 90's).. specially 90's, they make me cringe..

also some of the lyrics back then if used today will sound very corny and regressive because society has changed, people have changed.. people aren't shy and coy anymore..

like how yashraj used to go "we only fall in love once"
WTF?????? who made that rule? even his dearest son left his childhood sweetheart/wife for Rani mukherjee

there goes that theory

cool_guy said...

actually yash raj means that you find only once, that practically means you can try as many times as you like , but in the end you can keep only one ... or should i say only one can keep you . who want a wife hooh...

Anonymous said...

m What Yashraj means is that you can truly love only one person at one time.:)
I like VeerZaara songs and it was after a very long time such a good combination of lyrics and music was out. I have not heard Naach Baliye songs except for the small promo that comes on Zee. But Madhuri does look different but nice. And I believe each and everyone have their favorites.But wanting their own personal favourites to be everybody's favorites is asking too much.

m said...

but yes random english in songs are very corny.. specially when they are very primary school like

"i love you love you like crazyyy"

or

"you are my love you are my life" or
"just cheeeelll cheeeeel"

i use Audition to edit those annoying bits off my songs and then copy to my ipod.. LOL

cool_guy said...

i use my fast forward on my DVD player each time for 3 seconds .. any takers

m said...

hahah so you can always dump your significant other because they weren't the "one" and that wasn't "love"??... therefore you go after someone else and the cycle continues until you die and the last person ends up being the one you "love".. sounds great!

Saritha said...

hmm,how I knew you would say the exact same thing abt D2? :)

Aspi,thanks for the link.

mrs ranbir said...

Jab se tere naina promo is out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9QDjlnKjEU

look @ the first scene in the video. OMG

Aspi said...

I would like to say that if its Bappi who uses English in songs its totally cool. Like "I am yor cheekin frai" or "I am hey disskko dansur". Everyone else: its getting annoying.

Hey Kanan, you made a comment about the Omkara songs. Are you saying (at least I think) that there is no poetry left anymore in lyrics? Do elaborate.

headmistress said...

gaaahh.... that towel, that towel...

hai rabba.

Kanan said...

Aspi, not all of the Omkara songs but that particular one that I mentioned. The words that come to mind when I think that song are vulgar and cheap. No doubt it has good tune and catchy beat and looks cool when kids sing it without knowing what it means but when you realize it, it doesn't sound too appealing to the ears.

Aspi said...

Ah yes, I know what you mean: someone explained to me on the blog what Namak Ishq Ka might mean. Otherwise I'm usually clueless about lyrical subtext.

m said...

what does namak ishq da mean?

and headmistress I KNOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW ranbir is displaying his family assets by the window. OMG LOL the towel is see thorugh too.

Banshali wants to cast hrithik next, he better give him similar song number.. I'll be watching first day first show front seat baby

Sidekick said...

ritha, i saw the thumbs down fm rediff too and decided against checking out this one (I devour all kinds of reviews!) until aspi's glowing review. so, this album played pretty much all day while i worked.

my verdict: o re piya is a keeper ; another score for the pakistani brigade. not sure it'll become as beloved as the soulful yeh hosla from dor, but it defi stood the test of repeat listening. liked aaja nachle (both versions)- aspi, i too liked sunidhi's rendition, the fact that she didn't go all full throated for the full 5 minutes to demonstrate verve and energy, worked really well for this song. surprisingly, i enjoyed show me yr jalwa despite the cringe worthy hinglish line.... kanan agree with u there. but then it has richa and kailash kher, a fun, energetic melody and aspi's delish description of the song going for it --- saritha that comment stayed with me too :) . the rest of the album seemed std. bollywood. except dance with me sounded like a bad donna summer number and didn't make it past one listen!

joules, saritha... yashraj in the Adi Chopra era seems to have a much different vision fm the 70s-80s entity. This one is a marketing machine relying on formulaic judgments to churn out big hits. seems now that YR is a victim of its own success... only jaideep sahni's skills seem capable of saving YR's bacon this year.

As for D2, neither ritwik nor aish seemed deserving of the acting awards that came their way, although both fully deserved their style awards --- they looked smashing. Meg, if aish came in for more flak than ritwik, i think it was coz she had the cringe inducing 'like' and 3rd person dialogs. not her fault, but then the messenger gets shot! also why isn't aish as much a target here for criticism as rani, vidya or in fact any other actor?

Mind Rush said...

I am intrigued by the preview. At least MD is not pretending to be a college girl in a movie. I plan to go see this one...

Aspi said...

Sidekick, excellent review!

You know whenever someone (like say on rediff, wink wink) does a review where they say "could have been better" and then offer no explanations as to how - you know its a lame review.

OzAngel said...

My parents are big fans of Veer Zaara- the music and the movie. I thought it was nice enough, you need to be in the right mood to enjoy the movie. The songs are pretty nice and relaxing though. So... what exactly is MD playing in Nachle? Her return to the movie industry doesn't seem to be as hyped up as you might think it'd be. Gotta get the music soon, I feel a bit slow in keeping up. And on Pritam, he does seem to make 'manufactured' type songs- but some of the songs on Jab We Met are pretty palatable. I quite liked Mauja Mauja, it had me bopping in the car... but there's one song in Jab we met that sounds so much like another song(by different MDs)- at least the starting bit. Naughty Pritam. Will post on what it's called soon. Is anyone a fan of Anu Malik? (Not that I am but I can't help remember a tv show I once saw that had a rhyme on him...

Uuunchi hai building,
lift teri band hai
kaise bataoon
dil razamand hai

and they kept on saying that again and again and again... it was pretty comical)

Sania said...

OzAngel - Madhuri plays a dance student/teacher who leaves her home town to study in America, and then comes back to India only to find that the dance academy that she had learned to dance in was being demolished. She mobilises the townspeople to save the theater, and teaches them to dance.

I mean, that's what I get from the trailor anyway.

OzAngel said...

thanks for that.

m said...

no apparently madhuri plays an aging actress in the movie and when she realizes that her time is up and other younger actresses are taking over..she kinda starts contemplating life and goes back to her village and then decides to bring some "life" back in the village..or something

i am pretty sure there is a hollywood movie with a similar plot..i can't remember which one

knowing yashraj, this movie has to be a blatant rip off

m said...

madhuri is too much of an auntyji to be playing a student who just returned from overseas being an "international student".

Unless she is one of those "international students" who keep prolonging their student visas and take a new course/degree for like 15 years just to stay in the country.

You know that type LOL

megan said...

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!

it could be CHOCOLAT!!!!!!!!!!!

substitute chocolate shop with dancing (you noe to adjust Madhuri in the role).. that could soooooooo be a Chocolat rip off

they will add dancing, music, cliched dialogues and some really lame ending..

GOD HELP US FROM BUSH AND YASHRAJ.. pls pls

Saritha said...

Wah,Sidekick!
Iam savoring the kabab too.At first the proportions of the spices seemed uneven disguising the main ingredient - Richa's vocals.But the second I placed it in the scenario(thanks to the preview) it looked and sounded appropriate,rather delicious.Iam with you on both the title track and 'O re piya'.'Is pal' is OK too.

Kunal and Konkana are prob providing the romantic angle here.Now,was it a 'Sign one,get one' offer from YRF that they are paired in two of their recent flicks.

anu g said...

Aspi, its Kajol who was the trendsetter in a modern-mum-who-acts-on-her-terms!
The newspaper says Madhuri is miffed with the Chopras cos her role has been reduced and more importance has been given to Konkana-Kunal. So she refuses to come to India for the promos!

Sidekick said...

aspi, thanks for the link to the promos. wow! madhuri looks radiant and simply breathtaking esp in the title song. my only grouse: what's with the mousy brown hair? seems like all the leading ladies have left behind the days of kaale, ghane baal!! anyway defi want to see this movie. anu g thanks for the latest news ---- i'm more and more intrigued by the kunal-konkana jodi esp. since i passed up on LCMD. did anyone see them in LCMD --- verdict? also does madhuri not have a romantic angle in aaja nachle? didn't see anyone in the promo who might fit the romantic lead opposite her.

Sania said...

sigh - I hope I look like her at 42.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cXhfyDDwGxY

actually, heck - I wish I looked like her now! She's absolutely mesmerizing. I don't even care if the movie is good, I'm going to watch her dance.

Aspi said...

anu g, yes, Kajol did it before Madhuri. I suppose I missed that. But its interesting that Kajol needed an Amir Khan vehicle whereas Madhuri is headlining her film. That is a lot more pressure.

Saritha said...

Thanks a lot Sania for that clip.

That's what I want to see-her graceful dance.And I hope Vaibhavi has choreographed something unique,Kathak may be.Madhuri is trained as Kathak dancer.

m said...

akshaye khanna has a cameo in the movie, so i am assuming he will be reenacting his dil chahta hai role.. *swoon*

Joules said...

M, actually Yashraj use to be cutting edge in lot of there scripts earlier. The main lead married to two women in daag, rakhi's character happily married to another man after an affair in Kabhi Kabhi, Amitabh's complex character in trishul, extra marital affair in Silsila.

I think the turn around for them was Dil to pagal hai (another Madhuri Dixit movie) where they moved on the bubble gum romances.

My problem with D2 was the charactes played by hrithik and ash were in the later 20s, the actors playing them were 30+ and they were both acting like they were teenagers.

I have never liked Madhuri as an actress except for her in Devdas but have admired her for she was an actress who lived life on her own terms. Left the industry at the peak of her career and seems happy in her married life similar to Kajol so I hope for her sake that this is a good comeback vehicle for her.

Joules said...

I like Omkara songs. Ofcourse, I am huge fan of Vishal Bhardwaj and my sis is friends with his sis.

But Beedi and Namak they both were so appropriate for the movie. The movie is based in interior UP and the songs reflect that feel of the movie.

m said...

it wasn't peak of her career though.. didn't she leave in her late 30's? there were other actresses getting popular and doing diverse and different roles.

She just realized that she couldn't do same old same old running arund trees roles like in 90's and was too scared to do anything different or arty. She apparently refused Chandni Bar and other good movies. I don't think there is one good cinema in her repettoire.

also her choice of making a comeback in yashraj banner movie just shows her insecurity. She appears like still stuck in 90's, like the mentality where a hit movie is worth more than a good movie.

Apparently shyam benegal, rituparno ghosh etc offered her comeback roles but she refused them to do A.N. I suppose she just wanted a comeback movie that'd be a "hit movie"

m said...

which other movies has Vishal Bhardwaj composed for? I know he did Maachis which is one of my fave movies.

was he a music composer first then decided to be a director?

Aspi said...

At the risk of getting on Megan's hit list, I should say that Ash cracked me up in D2 - so funny was she when she wasn't doing comedy.

And I'm not sure about her looks either - a little too reedy perhaps?! Roundness missing, not cool in my book.

Saritha said...

Lot has been said abt Aish and if I say something now,in Rakhi Sawant's words it'll be "chewing gum ki tarah keech raha"

Having admired Aish for most part of my teenage I cannot hate her even if I want to.In D2 she looked unconvincing and uncomfortable rt from the first scene making me wonder if she wanted to run out of the set at any given chance.Hrithik's role was given more imp and may be that's why Ananya Shroff worked more on his look which was spectacular.And I mean look alone.

Sidekick said...

I think Madhuri looks fabulous - all the qualifiers abt age just seem superfluous to me. Anyway, the discussion abt her had me curious abt her life and times. If Wikipedia is to be believed, she turned 40 this year, was married in 1999 at age 32 (like Ash when she married this yr?), returned to bollywood for Devdas 3 yrs later and yet again this yr, this time post kids for Aaja Nachle.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhuri_Dixit

Aspi, yr comment on uber thinness is interesting coz I thought Madhuri's face looked somewhat angular and had lost that appealing roundness.... but I still think she looks radiant!

Joules said...

Vishal B has give music for Satya, Love ke liye, Hu tu tu amongst other films.

What I like about his music is that it blends in nicely with the theme of the movie. Ofcourse, he has been path breaking with his direction and is getting into production now. Pretty nice for someone with no filmi background.

Since I started the whole Ash bashing thread, I want to say something nice about her (which isn't hard). I really liked Ash in Guru, Raincoat and Choker Bali and admire how she does such a nice mix of mainstream and offbeat movies.


M, thanks for the heads up on Madhuri Dixit. I left India for the US in 1990 and did not watch hindi movies for the longest time. It still amazes me as to what people liked about Ms. Dixit. Even Madhuri lovers can't point out at any of her exceptional work.

Joules said...

I think these days women who take care of themselves look a lot better in their 30's and 40's than in their 20's.

The reason is that you are more comfortable with yourself, know your personality traits that make you attractive and are less insecure at that age.

Ofcourse, most women at that age have more money to spend so buy better clothes, better makeup, better hairstylist which can make a huge difference.

Sidekick said...

joules, i agree entirely.... exhibit A is karisma kapoor who seems to look better now than she ever did in her heyday as an actor. but then 10 years ago i'm not sure i'd have considered laugh lines and lines around the mouth signs of strength and character --- sort of like badges of honor! so i defi think it's also the eye of beholder acquiring maturity :)

Manish said...

As for Vishal Bhardwaj, you need to listen to Blue Umbrella (Chatri chor) and Makdee tracks. Delightful.

Chewingums said...

Interestingly, this week had another song release called "Aaja Nachle". This one from the bollywoodised High School Musical 2. And of course, it's Raja Hasan's playback debut.

Saritha said...

Joules and Siekick,words of wisdom!Iam glad U guys frequent this place:)

chewingums???????????

Sidekick said...

thanks chewingums! i must confess i'm sort of disappointed.... is it just me or does raja's voice sound different? it seems smoother and less distinctively sandpapery! this seems like just another standard issue bollywood bhangra number. somehow i thought SEL would do more with raja's voice!

Aspi said...

Thanks for the link, sticky one. I agree with Sidekick. More of this stuff and Raja is going to get lost pretty quickly among the zillion singers out there.