Commando 2 – Music Review

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The insufferable music of Commando 2 has nothing new to offer.

My review – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/media-39083013

Kailash kher – Ishq Anokha review

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This review appeared first here – https://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/04/08/kailash-kher-ishq-anokha-music-album

You can listen to my music review on B.B.C. here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/04/160407_bbc_music_review

Ishq Anokha

The ‘title’ song is generally something that sets up the tempo for the entire album (and most likely the one that gets the first ‘video’). On the freshness count, the song is not exactly something that would make you want to reach out for the repeat button. Kailash Kher sounds lost and disinterested amidst the maze of confusing arrangement and tunes that sometimes fall short of accommodating words. Forget about splash, the title song here doesn’t even create a ripple.

O Jogi

O Jogi has a jive like sound but the disinterested singing and low energy of Kher in the beginning is just too out there. In terms of arrangement, this is the quietest and the most well behaved song and as a result in the later part, the song picks up but it is just not enough to dazzle you. Foot tapping? Just about.

Meherbaani Teri

With strings being the best part about the song, Meherbaani Teri has a unique tonal structure that doesn’t sound familiar ‘Kher-wise’ and that is refreshing. Not only that, the accompanying members of the band are also not bad on the mic in this one.


This is a good song because Kher is in familiar territory in terms of melody with contemporary fusion and earthy set of words. The sax in the song is really good but the overall arrangement (yet again) tries too hard when this could have been just a good song without the occasional noise that puts you off.

Vaari Vaari

I still cannot understand the shehnai like sound that repeats the first line of antrawith Kher in Vaari Vaari. Not only does it disturb you, it makes no sense because when you use an innovative technique too much in a song, it becomes tiring. There is just so much happening that you are overwhelmed. The electro version of this song is no different. It has a rather funny sound of the other members of the band and just in case you forget that it is an ‘electro’ version, there is way too much ‘electro-ness’ thrown in. Disappointing and disturbing

Siyaah Tara

With the most promising opening lines of the album, this song has a mystic character that gets horribly diluted and turns into a joke fairly quickly. The sheer cacophony of instruments and Kher going at it in the highest pitch fathomable might be mistaken for ‘range of the song’ but as a listener, it irked me because it wasted the fabulous start that the song has.

Guru Ghantaal

What is a Kher album without an ode to the biggest guru of all? The sound of the song has a ‘Kher of the past’ sound to it, which is again (surprise!) mixed and processed so much that it kills the earthiness which the lyrics promise you otherwise.

Turiya Turiya

A contemporary presentation of somewhat traditional lyrics (which is Kailash Kher’s forte) is nice but there isn’t a drop of newness in the song singing wise and add to it a rather annoying ending and it qualifies for a song that is inconsequential

With the body of work that Kher and his band have, we expected much more than what is presented here. A bit too much effort has gone into sounding ‘electro hip’ and interruption was probably mistaken as arrangement. While I try to make out why Kailash Kher sounds so disinterested at most places in all of the 9 songs, give this a try only if you are a Kailash Kher fan. If this is Ankoha, I’d rather have the Mamooli please!

Rocky Handsome – Music review

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You can listen to my review of the music of Rocky Handsome on B.B.C. here –


Bombay rockers are back but the rest of album leaves a lot to be desired.


Review #CokeStudio8 Episode 6


Previous Episode review here – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Ve Baneya  is a song that is fused brilliantly with an old song of Reshma. All of us have a film song for which we have bought an entire album at some stage in our lives. Mulazim Hussain’s part reminds you of that song. He is a good singer and the ease with which he sank his teeth to his part speaks volumes about his talent. Not once would you miss the feel of the song and that is just brilliant. Fizza Javed owns the song  by simply staying close to the classical brief oh her part. It is a part so nice, I wish she got more songs this season. She reminded me a bit of Humeira Channa though. I am surely looking forward to more from her in the days to come. Sajid ali and Arsalan keep the setting simple yet stick quite close to the song and create an armosphere which will have you swaying to this simple yet effective song.

Hare Hare Baans by Shazia Manzoor and Rizwan-Muazzam was the most anticipated song for me for the simple reason that I am yet to get out of the magic of Sakal Bann. (I still feel that is the best song of the season and would remain that way). Add to that the honey dipped voice of Shazia Manzoor and the wait was just unbearable. Fair to say, the song did exactly what I was expecting it to do. The voice and rendition of Shazia hits the bulls eye with ease. Rizwan-Muazzam and party are probably a gift to us listeners who like to listen to pucca music and not get carried over by cacophony. Easily one of the best songs of the season. There is a subtle tribute to piya tose naina laage re I feel in between 5:29 to 5:32 mins in the song, but then I am not a raga knowing chap, so please excuse me if you feel otherwise. Songs like these make it easy to wait for the next season of CokeStudio Pakistan…Thank God for that!

Jiya Karay – Truth be told, I was never a fan of anything except Purani jeans by Ali Haider. I remember while growing up, I used to have serious reservations listening to the voice and somewhat average gayaki of Ali. Still, I remember smiling ear to ear when I saw him in the artist line up. Nostalgia, may be. In this song, he teams up with Sara raza. Age doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong to Ali Haider because he sounds exactly the same (and goes slightly out of tune the way he used to!). Sara raza is the star of the song in my view. What is undoubtedly the star of the song is the arrangement. Be it the splendid Sitar from Shehroze or the harmonica or the flute by Abid ali and Sajid Ali. The song has a beautiful retro feel to it and even if I won’t play it again and again, it will surely become  a song that you won’t skip if you are on a long drive. Not giving a solo song to Ali Haider tells us that Strings learnt from the massive embarassment of getting Zohaib Hassan last year and giving him a lot of songs, including a solo. Old stars look and sound even better when they acknowledge and model their sound/work around the limitations age brings with it.

Kadi aao ni – All the fusion movements in the present day are about bringing mukhtalif artists/sounds and creating something which was not fathomed so far by most of us. With this song, Mai dhai and Atif Aslam came together. The promise of something exciting was always there. Just like Strings avoided the temptation of going berserk with Rizwan Muazzam in a simple babul song in hare hare baans, they have done a good job by keeping the pop feel in tact and keeping the wonderful Mai Dhai relatively subtle than her previous outing in the studio. The song has a pop feel to it but if you ask me, I would probably not listen to it again and again. Part of the reason is below average lyrics (Atif’s part). It is strictly average. Atif is good especially towards the end but somehow it didn’t come together very well for me. That said, I am in love with the first 14 seconds of the song and that wonderful harmonium which very quietly moves along the voice throughout the song.

Over all an average episode with 2 songs making the cut and going on the loop (Ve Baneya and Hare hare baans) and the remaining  two just about hummable but nothing much at that.

Now we have just one episode left and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who all will make an appearance in that. Still, am unable to figure out one name (or several names depending on the line up per song). The probable line up looks likes this

Malika-e-ghazal Mohtarma Farida khanum

Alicia Dias with siege

Malang party 

Who else?

Talvar – artist credits (full)

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Easily the most anticipated film of the year, Talvar will hit the screens October 2. Last year it was Haider that appeared on the same date. Here are the full artist credits, the music is out on iTunes.  You can stream all the songs for free here

Thank you @NotsoSnob and Junglee pictures for the credits



Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA


Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI@ Studio Satya, Mumbai.

Mixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 Artists

Assistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELIS

Mixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS,LondonMastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT@ Abbey Road Studios,London. 





Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA




Percussions:​​​DEEPAK BORKAR 

Music Assistant:​​​MAYUKH SARKARRecorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI @ Studio Satya, MumbaiMixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 Artists

Assistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELISMixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS, LondonMastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT@ Abbey Road Studios,London. 



Singer:​​​​AROOJ AFTAB

Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA

Sarangi:​​​​SABIR KHAN

Choir Arrangements:​​RAJIV SUNDARESANMusic Assistant:​​​MAYUKH SARKAR

Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI@ Studio Satya, Mumbai 

Mixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 ArtistsAssistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELISMixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS, LondonMastered by:​​​ CHRISTIAN WRIGHT @ Abbey Road Studios, London. 






Flute:​​​​PARAS NATH

Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI @ Studio Satya, Mumbai


Assistant Mix Engineer:​​NAREN KAPOORMixed at:​​​Studio Satya, Mumbai

Mastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT @ Abbey Road Studios, London. 

CokeStudio Season 8 Episode 3 #CokeStudio8


You can read the Episode 1 review here and Episode 2 review here

Man Amadeh amGul and Atif give us a folk-pop-routine fused song which is brilliant in bits but cacophonous in the rest. I would have loved a slightly subtle arrangement in the middle portions of the song. Absolutely loved the way the song started and last 2:45 mins of the song. Gul is superb and she should get a solo song soon. I guess the producers weren’t confident that an out and out folk song would fly. I won’t hear this song in repeat but am sure if you do, you will like it more times than the times you will dislike it. Still, could have been better, much better. Meanwhile, while we are at it, please see the inspiration behind the song by GooGoosh (what a cute name!)   (Observe how the arrangement follows the singer and not the otherway round). Also, observe how I didn’t know about the song before this song came out from CokeStudio. So thank you again CokeStudio!

Ali Sethi and Nabeel Shaukat had so so much fun and it rubs off on you when you hear and see Umran Langiyaan. The voice of Ali Sethi opens the song with a call that is so melodious you might not believe. The song defines perfection. Be it the subtle flute all throughout Nabeel’s part in the song, the simple yet effective harmonium or be it the impeccable Ali Sethi. I don’t know about you but the song took me to a village with perfectly combed gardens and a pond and then right about then Ali Sethi added the rock/pop touch to the song. Oh yea, I also loved the way Nabeel took to the microphone. A pat on the back of the producers to merge two excellent songs the way they did.

Neun La LeyaJaffer is much more than a keyboard player and that was established in CokeStudio long back when he mesmerised us with Nindiya re. Here, he gives us a hypnotic song. It is a relief to note that the song is not over produced and lends prominence to the voice because Jaffer has a throw that is quite controlled and doesn’t come across as someone trying to prove a point and yes! he keeps it all melodious, very melodious. His voice touches your heart and you can empathise with the helpless emotions of the song. It took a while for Kaavish to do another song for CokeStudio, and it was worth the wait. So worth it!

Rung Jindri – With the name Arif Lohar comes a tank full of expectations that he would rock the video and the song. In a somewhat poignant presentation here, the tiger from punjab keeps the tune slow and focusses more on the lyrics. A song that talks about life and that too in a somewhat ‘pind meets pop’ treatment. The arrangement is fine and the excellent additional backup singers lend a unique character to the sound of the song which reminds you of Chakwal group, only quieter (because they are in background). The strings section in this song elevates the song without dominating the sound. I especially loved the last few minutes of the song. Don’t expect a ‘jugnee ji’, you will get something similar energy wise but with much more meaning. A good genre for Lohar to touch. Watch out for the clinks of the chimta towards the end. Fantastic touch that!

Overall a super episode which wobbled a little bit in Atif-Gul song but just soared higher and higher post that. The effort is clearly there and the results melodious. A special word for the talented as ever, only quieter and more subtle houseband (when compared to the last year) – Kudos! I love the Aahad Nayani now. For me, he was the star in Atif-Gul Song.

Waiting for next episode of CokeStudio Pakistan is how life is being lived these days and for that, I am thankful to everyone associated with the project.

Main Kurbaan!

CokeStudio Pakistan Season 8, Episode 1 #CokeStudio8


Aankharli Pharookai – A somewhat familiar ring of Mai dhai’s voice immediately transports you to a desert where a lover is singing and calling out to her beloved who is out somewhere on his camel and that camel advances with a rhythmic bustle. The song is just not about the commanding rendition by Mai Dhai. Karam abbas is just as good and so are Tanveer Tafu on Rubaab (oh that solo towards the end and a quiet presence all throughout) and Arsalan Rabbani on Harmonium. Rajasthani music – you beautiful beautilful thing!

Sayon – Finally Mekaal Hasan Band could make it to the insides of CokeStudio, not that they were missed. Sharmistha Chatterjee is a pleasure to listen to and kudos to the band for choosing the song they did. It is hard to not fall in love with the song barring few overproduced bits but by God does Sharmishtha cover those up or what! As with most of Mekaal Hasan’s work, there is a lot of noise and a constant sense of chaos. In this song, all of it works.

Nabeel Shaukat Ali – Bewajah – Trust CokeStudio Pakistan to give a wonderful pop twist to ghazal gayaki. Ghazal as a genre has been on constant decline post Jagjit Singh’s demise. Nabeel Shaukat ali gives a glorious touch to a ghazal that can be sung without all the accompaniments which are present in this version anyway. Sajid Ali brings the traditional stillness to the composition and it is a pleasure to watch his eyes look up while playing the flute. Not enough good things can be written about the beautiful singing and poignant lyrics. If you have loved someone and lost, keep the tissues nearby, this one will make you cry but you will not complain. Also, the correctness of Nabeel’s rendition tells us he is not a new singer. A pleasure to listen to.

Atif Aslam – Tajdar-e-Haram – Touching classics is always a big risk and kudos to producers to present Atif the way they have done in this timeless classic. With CokeStudio Pakistan, you can almost be certain that classics will not be spoiled (Except for that rare case of Komal trying ‘Lambi Judai’). Be it the humnavas Jamshed Ali Sabri, Naveed Ali Sabri, Mohammad Shan, Zahid Akhtar or that excellent Harmonium by Arsalan Rabbani or the master (Tanveer Tafu) himself on rubaab, there is hardly a note about which you can complain about in the song. Too soon to probably come out with this assumption, but this would remain my favorite for a long time to come and would go right up in the list of favorite songs from this season. CokeStudio Pakistan says this is a tribute to Sabri brothers. Sabri brothers would be proud. Jazak allah!

High point of the episode – Maikashon aao aao, madine chalein. Find it for yourself in one of the songs. When you hear something you have grown up listening to in the bylanes of Old Lucknow and that too done so well, you have no option but to go crazy. Take a bow CokeStudio Pakistan!

One couldn’t have asked a better first episode from Strings who appear to be getting in the groove of there being no groove at all…an ever evolving music wonder that is CokeStudio Pakistan.

The house band is top class and thank you strings for listening to us and stopping those distracting over the top theatrics by the supremely talented backup vocalists. Sara, Rachel, Momin – Kudos!

Thumbs up for Coke!

*Goes away singing – Aao madine chalein, isi mahine chalein aao madine chalein*

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