Friday, July 11, 2008

The music of Bachna Ae Haseeno

Bachna Ae Haseeno is a movie where the rubber meets the road for a star son waiting to inherit his father's legacy on the screen. With a horrendous flop - Saawariyan - marking his debut, Ranbir has much to prove. So do producers Yash Raj Films - who with disappointing returns on much awaited titles - are now struggling to hold on to their place at the top of the Bollywood power list.

But I digress: the music has been composed by Vishal and Shekhar, at the outset a seemingly good match to provide the soundtrack for the soft, youthful romance projected by Ranbir. And while Vishal-Shekhar try hard on this as always, they come up with a CD that feels safe - like we've covered this ground before.

Since I try looking at the glass half full, we'll talk about the positives here. But its also fair to expect me to explain why I didn't like some of the songs.

First, I love Punjabi music - but these days I'm all Punjabi-ed out. And this theme runs through Bachna, thus leaving me less than feeling fresh. But let's take Lucky Boy for example - the second track from the CD. The song - about a girl making a sales pitch for her reportedly considerable charms - is rendered by Sunidhi Chauhan.

Lucky Boy has a thumping club beat that teeters between house and disco - a bit too much towards the latter for my liking. The song has but a single hook - the chorus - which over a repetitive beat tends make the rest of the song less interesting. Midway through the song V-S employ Hard Kaur to do a rap bit. But because they want to keep the creamy smoothness of the song intact, they muzzle Hard Kaur's spunk. It ends up derailing the song.

I had similar issues with Ahista Ahista. The vocals are given to Lucky Ali and Shreya Ghoshal - the latter of which I'm not sure V-S have figured out how to exploit fully yet. And Small Town Girl (Shankar Mahadevan) - a song that V-S try hard to punch up with musical arrangements and changes of pace -  ultimately falls victim to playing too close to its genre.

But because composers work hard on CDs and also have to produce a steady stream of output - its unfair to dismiss them thus. So on to the glass half full: there are two killer tracks on the CD and its no coincidence that two of the newer female vocalists that I am very enthusiastic about make an appearance on them.

Shilpa Rao (who made her name on Tose Naina Laage Re) sings Khuda Jaane with KK. Shilpa has a luscious voice and a ghost of a lisp that is drop dead sexy. And V-S make her do a delicious little musical sigh throughout the song that sounds terrific. Unlike Shreya, V-S seem to get the best out of KK. His pop range (which I'll have to talk about in a post some day) is on display here. Throughout this CD, V-S work hard to construct catchy background vocals - the payoff comes here.

Himani Kapoor has a small part to play in the other track I dug - Jogi Mahi. I enjoyed the fact that she gets to sing in her throaty speaking voice. Shekhar Ravjiani sings most of Jogi - a part touching, part cracking song about announcing an emergent love to the world - and starts by bravely exposing his voice right away. This deft, quiet start nicely sets up the rhythm on a dafli when it kicks in.

On songs like this V-S use the synth sparingly - which they do here but when they do they make it count. Sukhwinder Singh provides backup vocals and its a matter of conjecture what he could have done with the song. But you can hear the love for this composition in Shekhar's voice and its important to give in to the passion rather than commerce every now and then.

Finally, there is the matter of the title song - a song made legend by Kishore Kumar, RD Burman and Rishi Kapoor in Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin. I remain hugely fond of horns in a song but not bombastic trumpets. V-S have no choice but to reuse the big band signature of the song in order to retain its essence. But the remake strips the original of its over the top drama and ends up delivering tepid nostalgia. To be fair, its hard to see how the situation could have been avoided unless V-S had been left alone to tinker with the song without consequence to the built-in brand recognition. They smartly keep Kishore's vocal track on the CD but their bid for nostaliga with Kishore's son Sumit's voice doesn't have the payback they might have been looking for.

Thanks to Ritha for recommending this album to me



Anonymous said...

Yipee! u reviewed it! Am I glad tht the song and voices tht clicked with u are what worked for me as well.
I liked the remix of khuda jaane as well...esp the way the pitch just changes at the beginning of the stanza...awesome joyride song.
Sadly, as in many cases, I think the picturisation of the song doesn't do much to enhance the effect, they make it soooo filmy with the camera zooms, freeze and release shots...sigh

Unknown said...

Whatever I've seen so far looks like Mr. Magoo. I hope Ranbir is more charming than what he looks like in the promos.

Anonymous said...

Rocking Review ! JMD

Anonymous said...

Fabulously educational review, Drift saab!
Off the cuff observation...You really do like Bips and Himani!

Mahi. J said...

The music of BAH is nice and i like song Khuda jaane.... so I except from the music director keep it up with good music. This comment from Send Rakhi to India

Anonymous said...

Wondering why VS are not promoting this album on JJWS? Did'nt they promote their upcoming albums on SGMP.

Anonymous said...

Aspi - try Singh is Kinng. It's magnificently silly. Ironically Snoop and Shreya Ghoshal are the worst of the lot. Shreya more than Snoop - she chose a frickin' Rahat Fateh Ali Khan song to sleepwalk through and got rightfully stepped upon for it.

Best of the lyrics went to Daler Mehendi -

O suit pehen ke ban gya dulha
Kal tak tha jo nanga
Bhai ghar walon ka naam na laina
Bachhe darr jayenge

Dammit, I now want to watch this movie. Sucker.

PS - I just saw Dilip's comment. I realize he didn't mean it that way but "BAH" pretty much sums up how I feel about it. This is the kind of album that starts up the car, promising an interesting trip, then spends the day idling in the driveway coz it wants to talk.

Pitu said...

Meh the title song is not a patch on the original :-p Same goes for Chintu Jr.

Great music review!

Who wants to bet on the box office fate of this film? Lagi 10 ki? ;-)

Sania said...

Jogi Mahi could have been so much more with Sukhwinder. I agree with your assessment of Shekhar's attachment to it, but bottom line - this needs to be a punjabi's song.

Sania said...

I do like the SR lead-in though, I'll give him that.

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Anonymous said...

Great review.
The title song along with "Khuda Jaane". The rest of the songs are passe. They simply don't add up to the brilliance of the music directors, glimpses of which is visible on Khuda Jaane.
What amazes me most is that except a few music review sites like Planet Radio city, rest are busy discussing the highs while avoiding the lows.

Unknown said...

Hi Ridhima, couldn't agree more about how reviews pan out. Its the halo effect: when you like 1 or 2 things or the entire thing has a positive effect on you in some way, everything appears to be fine. It happens with one or two film reviewers in the US who annoy me as well.

However in all fairness, V-S have a lot of good karma based on the work they do with musicians and how well they engage with fans. And it pays off here. Everyone wants them to win and as such will go out of their way to appreciate their work.

Anonymous said...

OMG. I just today ended up hearing the Ahista Ahista song.

I can't stop listening to it. And it's not because the whole song, but Lucky Ali singing the chorus/refrain (whatever it is)

Yun(dil?) gira gira hai chand ya Teri hai roshni Yun(dil?) udi udi si hai zameen

I swear, I am considering getting that as a ringtone.

@Rakhi Gifts said...

absolutely amazing ,Bollywood songs are great ...