The Bollywood strike has ended (interesting numbers quoted here). Normally given the kind of cinematic riff raff that Bollywood puts out, I wouldn't have broken my stride. But afsos, it also affected music releases.
Why, one would ask. Because music plays such a big factor in Bollywood that it kicks off the accompanying publicity junket. If a movie isn't being released, the music is also on hold.
This led to general starvation for someone like me who is more into the music than the movies. On the other hand, it presented an opportunity to catch up with everything else. Thus, I listened to my Gnarls Barkley CDs with more attention than usual. Against all odds, I fell in major like with Mandy Moore's new CD. My player chunked its way through The Ting Tings, The Kills, Metric. I discovered Kanye West. I revisited the ground breaking trip hop of Massive Attack and unique rat-a-tat percussion of Metallica. I marvelled at the manufactured fall from grace of the musicians in Tinted Windows. I even broke out my Jamiroquai CDs which I'd sworn I'd mothball forever.
All this was good - but I did keep in touch with the trickle of releases coming in from Bollywood. These movies tried to squeeze in and take advantage of the strike. Brave, opportunistic producers. I salute them - too bad their product belly flopped. I haven't seen the movies but the music was unexceptional.
However, as per Drift policy, fun must be squeezed out of any opportunity that presents itself. So I decided to hand out the Drift Bollywood Music Famine Humanitarian Award. This goes to the composers of the CD released during the strike that annoyed me the least - heck, after a few spins I even enjoyed it.
The award goes to Sajid-Wajid's work for the movie Paying Guests. This movie is an Indian comedy - yes, that means there are chaatas and cross-dressing (or I could just tell you the flick stars that doyen of Indian comedy - Celina Jaitley).
Sajid Wajid are interesting composers and hence worth a brief discussion. They are very commercial, they are excellent with hooks and they recreate the big baaja 70s era of Laxmikant Pyarelal. In other words, they are today's nod to Bollywood's musical legacy. Often their tunes settle into incredibly catchy but somewhat familiar hooks. A huge fondness for shaadi-baarat instruments pervade their musical arrangements.
It is music that is larger than life - its no coincidence that Sajid-Wajid's career skyrocketed after finding favor with Salman Khan - who projects a king-size life himself.
Paying Guests kicks off with a ditty called Jack and Jill. There are helium vocals - perfect for establishing that the music is supposed to be funny. Its definitely worth a smile after four shots of tequila. This song has two things going for it - some nifty production by Eric Pillai (including cool Island-flavored breakdowns) and the oddity by which Earl D'souza's backing vocals seem to make Shaan sound fresher than he has in years.
Wajid does vocal duties on the title song - best described as a Sajid-Wajid special: catchy, loud, playful. Here let me mention that I completely enjoy Wajid's voice and would love to hear more of it - its like someone took Mika Singh's vocal posturing, Shaan's throw and peppered it with Udit Narayan's unhurried clarity.
Sonu Nigaam - who seems to be a bit of a Sajid-Wajid favorite - sings Ya Rabula Rabbi - powered by a creamy clap percussion and easily the coolest song on the CD. I know this sounds odd to say but Sonu has the ability to inject a few smiles in his voice without compromising its quality. It works really well here. Later, Amrita Kak shows up and sings a terrific verse in a sexy, low-slung voice and pronounces the word "mehjabeen" like someone was referring to a deadly virus. Speaking of lyrics - this song's title is super misleading because clearly Sonu is singing "Yaar abbu lala me" which sounds to me like an invitation to one's father, who also happens to be one's best friend, to sing a lullaby.
Sunidhi Chauhan sings Nazar Se Nazaria - her hundredth song about a flirtatious chick who would like everyone to know how hot she is. There is a bit of rap, an Arabic flavor, plenty of Sunidhi's legendary energy - its all good. In fact, if you are a Sunidhi fan, like me, and tend to follow her work closely - there is plenty to learn here. Particularly the fact that Sunidhi pronounces certain words with a Punju accent in order to make her voice sound more kadak.
Sajid-Wajid, thanks for making this musical akaal a tolerable one!