Friday, June 26, 2009

Anu Malik, lift teri band hai! Here's how to get it going again

Is Anu Malik important in Indian filmi music? Yes! The reason is that he combines a certain brashness, a little bit of crazy, a fierce sense of competitiveness and undeniable talent in one package that is hard to find among music composers.

Is Anu Malik still relevant in Indian filmi music? Increasingly less so! We've discussed Anu's choppiness before when reviewing Love Story 2050 - his last major studio release. His long awaited soundtrack to the Kareena-Akshay starrer Kambakkht Ishq provides another data point.

Its a hugely interesting one - because Anu comes to the party armed with a bunch of gorgeous tunes. Yet they all sound average when laid to music. The reason is simple: Anu's production and musical arrangements sound forced or dated or both.

Take the signature track of this CD: Bebo. Anu has a great tune at hand. He's hired Alisha Chinai to sing the song and by all accounts she sounds flirtatious, fresh and hugely tuney. But it's all laid over pumping, plastic disco beats with little or no variety. This happens again on the title track - Kambakkht Ishq (KK, Sunidhi). The production tastes like a pop tart - throwaway breakfast food with way too much synth sugar.

So what can Anu Malik do to regain his mojo back? I have some phaltu Drift advice to offer.

Listen to RDB's track Om Mangalam on the same CD. It's not exactly a barn buster, but its still interesting. It's important to break up a tune in parts and divert it to a different hook. Straight tunes that play end to end can be done only once on a CD, the days of Laxmi-Pyare are long gone now. Also please note, rap isn't the only game in town when trying to spruce up a song.

Stop composing songs on the keyboard. Use a guitar or get someone who can play one. This will help get some string instruments into the composition. You know the usual suspects - guitar, flutes, violins, heck even a cello? They can make a song sound organic, fresh and uncluttered. Can you imagine a few of these on the gorgeous Kyun (KK, Shreya Ghoshal) and how it would have made the song fly instead of making it sound like it was straining at the leash?

Construct your percussion carefully. In other words, get rid of the programmed drum machines, programmed maracas and programmed claps and have people actually beat some skin (or hit on some tin maybe). Whenever you are lost for ideas - combine a few sounds! Vishal-Shekhar's Tashan remains the landmark CD in terms of diverse and interesting percussion. Spin it a few times and take notes will you?

Now, get to work Anu - I want you back!

You can listen to the Kambakkht Ishq songs on Dhingana

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