For his assignment on the soundtrack Bollywood retool of Big - Aao Wish Karein, Ankur Tewari took his 2002 song Sabse Peechhe and - with some nifty programming from Mikey McCleary - set about recreating the same retro laid back feel on the rest of the songs. He ended up creating an OST that is wistful, nostalgia-inducing and hugely romantic.
So how did Ankur do it? It's not just the compositions - which are simple and lilting. Its the selection of genre and the use of instruments. Sabse Peechhe - sung by Kunal Ganjawala - is structured as a two-step ballroom dance. On the delicate Tum Mere Ho, Ankur runs the song on a waltz rhythm and hires Kunal and Sunidhi Chauhan to sing unhurriedly. This muzzling of Sunidhi's big voice works well against all odds.
All through the CD, Ankur uses the accordion and bursts of doowop backing vocals to imbibe his songs with a retro feel.
On Sab Yahaan Hai (which starts with a East European bar party thump) the pace changes dramatically - but it keeps the 40s feel intact. Sab Yahaan is structured as a rockabilly and swing song with Kunal Ganjawala on vocals. Kunal entirely floored me here because a party lives in that man's voice and its used to great effect here.
There are two additional song inserts on the OST by Xulfi (who is also part of the band Call). These sound too progressive for the CD's theme but do fit in successfully with the overall mood. Kuchh Aisa is a quiet, gorgeous tune with a hugely catchy chorus that is propelled by strummed notes on a guitar. Xulfi's second contribution - Reh Jaane Do - is far more complex and is built like a power ballad. But Xulfi amps down his vocals - something he does quite well - to keep the song simmering and instead builds his drama through a cello and violins.
My personal thanks to Ankur for helping me understand how he approached this project.