If a movie happens to be set over 40 years in the future, how do you predict what music will be like then and yet make it sound like a major Bollywood soundtrack? The answer is: you don't.
At the outset the choice of Anu Malik to handle the music of Harman Baweja's much ballyhooed flick Love Story 2050 is a good one. Malik has the right touch of the crazies to pull this off. And he tries hard on the CD to fashion a sound that is like something we haven't heard before. He falls short in several places, but its an interesting effort.
Malik addresses the challenge of creating a futuristic sound by trying to surprise us with the mildly unconventional in the songs. He does this by taking a few chances - and he pulls it off on a number of occasions given current Bollywood song structures.
But here is the problem with Anu Malik these days. He's a much better composer of musical arrangements than he is of vocal arrangements. When he gets both right - its magic. But most often he excels at the former and stumbles with the latter.
Take the treacly Jane Kaisi Hai Teri Meri Love Story (Shaan) for example. Its a mediocre melody accompanied by some rote singing. But Malik throws in that theme tune for this movie that he's flicked from Natacha Atlas' Bond song You Only Live Twice and then adds in a deft guitar. He almost rescues the whole thing.
But let's focus on two songs where Malik tries hardest with different results.
Malik opens Aa Gaya Hun Mein with processed vocals, slides into a disco beat and throws in a bunch of sounds that stop just short of industrial. Most effectively he instructs Kay Kay to sing the mukhda at a flat, low octave. It puts the song deliciously off-key. Yet almost immediately Kay Kay is back to singing traditional arrangements and the song almost unravels at that point. Malik is careful to throw in some Hindustani vocals to seemingly to assure us that it'll be around in the next half century.
Wisely Javed Akthar stays away from Hinglish, which you'd think would be in circulation around the time desi chicks start clubbing in red hair. But does anyone believe we won't be all throwing Mandarin words at each other by then? How about surprising us with Hindarin phrases then? Javedbhai, you just missed a golden opportunity to amaze us.
Fortunately on Milo Na Milo, Malik gets the right combination he's looking for on this CD. A brief tune on an acoustic guitar leads us into a cracking house beat (a touch of R&B vocals), more industrial licks and some well placed changes of pace (at one Malik turns the song on a tabla). Shaan sings and its a good choice because his throw and tonal quality offset the heavy musical arrangements on this song nicely.
Its the solitary winner on this CD and even contains a good lesson for Bollywood composers encumbered with delivering long songs.
This song clocks in at 6 minutes 14 seconds. Its an epic by global pop standards. On long songs, a lot of vocals tend to make the song sound jaded. So some phaltu Drift advice to composers: if you are contracted with composing a long song, keep the vocals shortened to suit a 3-minute-odd version and focus on constructing some interesting music instead. Your song will have a lot more repeat value!
Otherwise risk treading the path that Shankar Ehsaan Loy might be barreling down.