This review appeared first here – http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/music/cd-review/album-review-highway

Unabridged version of the review is here – http://moifightclub.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/highway-music-nashe-mein-ud-jaaye-re-haaye-re/

After Rockstar Imtiaz Ali is back with his latest romance-drama Highway starring Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. With the genius of AR Rahman, Ali presents the film’s nine-track soundtrack.

The first and probably most popular song of the album is “Patakha Guddi”, an electronic track with the electric duo of Sultana and Jyoti Nooran who have given us one of the best sufi-sque film songs in a long time. It’s a typical Rahman song, one that is devoid of any hook and flows boldly and confidently throughout. Watch out, party people, DJs have a new song to ensure everyone attacks the dance floor. There is incidentally a male version of “Patakha Guddi” too and even though Rahman has rendered the Punjabi language with zest, his version has more layers than the Nooran could evoke. The excellent near shred guitar play along with lyrical twist makes his rendition a blast! Next up is “Maahi Ve”  that perfect tune for a long drive. Its excellent back-up vocals, however subtle, truly uplift the track. Jonita Gandhi makes “Kahaan Hoon Main” sound irresistibly exotic despite its serious lyrics. Thanks to a generous dose of keyboards and violins, the song has a lot of character and depth which might not suit the film’s premise of a truck driver and rural Indian roads. The next one will surely surprise everyone. Don’t be surprised if you see “Wanna Mash Up?”  borrowed by a Hollywood producer for a Fast and the Furious-esque film. Kash, Krissy and Suvi Suresh (with the former two penning lyrics) literally bring the house down with this top class composition. This is Rahman at his experimental best with no inhibitions. We can understand why Irshad kamil who has worked on most of rest of the album, didn’t provide the words for “Wanna…”

An adorable hum by Alia Bhatt herself kickstarts “Sooha Saha” which has Zeb croon about the folk music of the hills. Zeb lends the solidity to the song whereas the young actress provides cute innocence, making it a perfect balance. The second track of the album by wordsmiths Kash and Krissy is “Implosive Silence” performed by Gandhi. With a hauntingly simple arrangement, the track’s lyrics are extremely difficult to decipher. However, you actually don’t need to find the meaning of the words here. It is all about the feeling and the atmosphere that the song creates. After this is “Tu Kuja” a traditional song sung by Sunidhi Chauhan that envelops you in its trance. It’s actually an old composition in which Kamil has added Hindi words for a contemporary effect. We honestly felt the track was a bit cluttered and would have been better off with Rahman’s voice. Finally, “Heera” ends the album. Rahman ceremoniously presents saint and poet Kabir’s writing in his  trademark fashion with enough Violins to make anyone cry with pleasure.

The lyrics are top class and the music is superlative. After long, we’ve come across an album where we’re not reaching for the fast forward button.