By hitching their star to Yash Raj Films, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant have catapulted themselves to the A-list of Bollywood music composers.
They've followed up on this slice of fortune by producing crisp, tight compositions that neatly balance the modern with the (filmi) traditional. Sure, they are are a little awkward composing club songs - which is almost a rite of passage for composers in this zamaana - but they make up for it by delivering hugely moving songs, visceral even.
Consider the stage for the SRK starrer Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Yash Raj Films is a banner in some trouble. At the top of almost every Bollywood Power List, its status has been seriously dented: Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Tara Rum Pum, Aaja Nachle, Tashan and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic were high profile box office failures.
Now, YRF's biggest talent behind the camera, lost in the hustle of running the business, is back. Aditya Chopra is writing and directing a movie for the first time since Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Here he has reunited with Shahrukh Khan.
He's hired Salim and Sulaiman to compose the music for the film. There are five songs on the album - one flagship ballad that is repeated. And Salim-Sulaiman, off all the singers they can pick in Bollywood, give the song to Roop Kumar Rathod.
Happily, this gutsiness pays off. Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai is a genuine melody - it doesn't require any funky music programming to rescue it although Salim-Sulaiman use a cool bass line under the dhol to give the song additional texture. But its in the way Roop sings the song - an octave higher and it would have sounded too hopeful, lower and it would have been too raundu. But just as it is, Roop is able to infuse a loving wistfulness in the song. Its a great way to start the CD - and Salim-Sulaiman build on it to deliver a smooth clutch of songs that, while aligned with very specific situations in the movie, grow you on.
On Haule Haule, Salim-Sulaiman use a catchy peti hook to offset the central melody. Its a trick they employ on one more song later. Sukhwinder sings this song - and as it has been lately with him, he sounds great when he leashes his voice and delivers a restrained performance. Haule Haule is a cute little ditty about letting life (and love) take its time. It also has the briefest interludes of all the tracks on the CD, making it the most accessible composition.
Sunidhi Chauhan is barely recognizable on the early lines of Dance Pe Chance, which is a club track. There are a lot of elements at play on the track - the best of which is a synth hook that plays differently from the main hook. Salim-Sulaiman use backing vocals from Labh Janjua and break the song down a number of times to keep it from getting stale. You could argue that there is too much going on in this song or that the composers are trying too hard - and you wouldn't be wrong. But its a matter of preference - most people I've talked to haven't liked RNBJ, but they've liked this song.
Dance Pe Chance has another version - called Dancing Jodi - which is essentially a remix that sounds like a background score.
The only real disappointment on the CD is Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte - a bit of a stunt song (read: situational) that contains lyrics made up of songs and titles from older movies. In all fairness its hard to get a song like this right - stringing together a bunch of diverse tunes is disastrous in terms of establishing a melody. Salim-Sulaiman take some playful liberties with the tunes in an effort to gel the song together. It works only in bursts. But its interesting to note that they've invited Sonu Nigam to sing the song. Of all the singers we have today, if there is anyone who can sing any song from our past (or will die trying) its him - so its a nice tip of the hat.
The CD will depend heavily on RBNJ's prowess at the box office for its own commercial success. Its not a particular piercing observation to make on my part - most CDs in Bollywood are that way. RBNJ requires multiple listens to get stuck in your ears. And if there is one commodity music releases can't afford these days - its time.
The Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi trailor
The heroine - Anuskha Sharma
What IS the closely guarded plot of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?
Listen to the songs from saavn.com below