How good is the soundtrack for Money Hai to Honey Hai? Created by relative unknowns to the masses, Nitin Arora and Sony Chandy, it is good enough to redefine Bollywood soundtracks.
At the core of this goodness are a bunch of sensuous, languorous beats. Arora-Chandy construct them with the confidence of seasoned professionals. They constantly tinker with their tracks - including terrific turns and changes of pace.
They repeatedly use a construct that pays off big: they tend to use a female vocalist for interludes that give their songs a seductive lilt. In addition the composers cast their singers really well - in particular the female vocals are thrown at some interesting choices that make for very interesting listening.
On a major release like this for them, these risks are nothing short of ballsy.
By forsaking tight melodies for complex tunes, Arora and Chandy make this CD sound very different than what has being coming down the pike lately.
Take the title track for instance. Forget that little Chinese ditty in the beginning or the obligatory boings and toings to inject humor in the song. The song starts with a beat that resembles a car sputtering to a start - which blends into an anthemic clap. The composers use Harshdeep Kaur here - who brings an impish cool to the song by incorporating a simmering chuckle in her voice.
If you thought Arora and Chandy made one brave choice, they bring another delicious mid tempo beat - built with an alternating piano and knocking percussion - to Awaara Dil where they hire Adnan Sami and ask him to clip his warbling. Here Arora-Chandy use Shruti Pathak to provide the interlude. Later on the same track they alternate an Island rap with a Mumbaiya rap - both of which give the song a distinct third act.
Switching gears on Rangeeli Raat, Arora-Chandy use Daler Mehndi and Master Saleem to alternate vocals and produce some cool breakbeats on what is a bhangra dance track. And since the bhangra overload of the new millennium I tend to avoid these. But I had no problems listening to this. Female relief on this song - Sunidhi Chauhan.
On Ta Na Na, the digworthy Kunal Ganjawala sings a seduction song with Rekha Bhardwaj - but its done with such humor over a slow DNB jam with whoops, flutes and a whistle - that it instantly alleviates the roteness of the situation.
There is more worth discovering on the soundtrack - Labh Janjua, so sensational on Soni De Nakhre from Partner sings a stabbing, entertaining song called Chhuriyaan which contains sweet backup vocals from Sunidhi and enough minor digressions in bhangra vocal arrangements that make the song stand out.
Suraj Jagan handles the surprisingly tricky, derivative but hugely catchy power ballad No Big Deal - about a man refocusing on hope to negotiate a particular dark juncture in life - with feel and panache. Once past the initial violin intro - No Big Deal is a spare 3 piece rock track done well. This song is also translated into an instrumental theme titled Hope - where Arora-Chandy notably and successfully employ a rasping electric flute.
Finally Shaan and Shivamani pair up on Dance Master. But enough from me. Go have a listen and hear it for yourself.