Monday, November 10, 2008

The music of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

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 below


Anonymous said...

Hi Aspi,
I have had the pleasure of reading your blogs for a few months now, but never really left a comment.
Just wanted to let you know that you have an entertaining way with prose...It's great to read your thoughts on a wide variety of things.. I was wondering why we haven't seen you review the music of Yuvvraaj yet....

Unknown said...

Hey anon, thanks for stopping by. I'm not a REAL critic - in the sense that I talk about stuff I enjoy. I leave out things I don't connect with.

I didn't connect with Yuvraaj at all - it sounded like a pompous, bloated exercise to me. I don't think its Rahman's fault necessarily - I tend to find Ghai's movies pretentious and oversimplistic.

And I also made the (rare) mistake of seeing the previews before the music. That pretty much did it in for me. Talk about how Bollywood's powerful imagery is hard to shake off for the music!

Anonymous said...

i neither hated or loved rbnj. but i haven't listened to it as long as you think i shud, aspi :)

Anonymous said...

one song by VijayPrakash of SRGMP is worth Listening frm Yuvraj.
Watingfr Ghazani Review by Aspendran !

Anonymous said...

lol aspi you should give yuvvraaj a try.. ARR songs usually take time to build on the listener.
oh and review golmaal returns as well! awesome movie + songs. no plot whatsoever, just those kind of laugh-all-the-way movies.

Anonymous said...

aspinder JI! never heard the album, i cringe just thinking about how corny the movie and songs will be..

i might download ghajini and yuvraaj sometime and have a quick listen even tho they don't appeal to me at all (except for the AR Rehman factor)

OMG how nice will it be if all three movies were box office failures!

Unknown said...

The music of ghajini is out already?

Anonymous said...

Naughty M
Your Wish may humble the players and ultimately offer a better quality to viewers
Ameen !!

Sania said...

Aspi - been AWOL for a bit, but thought of you when I started to listen to this album. Glad we both have the same opinion on Roop Kumar Rathod's rendition of the title song. It's a simple tune, simplistic lyrics, but RKR does an amazing job with it. Brings tears to my eyes, as corny as that sounds! :)