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Rangoon – Music review

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You can listen to my music review of Rangoon here  – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/media-38772961 

You can find out the glorious artist line up that is responsible for the music of Rangoon here – https://almostareview.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/rangoon-music-credits-with-a-bit-of-trivia/

There is a soul satisfying thump in Bloody Hell owing largely to the raunchy lyrics. I mean ‘Ishq kiya angrezi mein’ has got to ‘ring bells’ at all the right places, all puns intended. One doesn’t need to think long and hard as to what is being conveyed here. The whiplash and brass section compliment the grunt-ish singing of Sunidhi Chauhan like ropes compliment the ends of a bed. A song perfect for parties where mature adults are having fun — kids not allowed.

I wasn’t too taken in by Vishal’s choice of Arijit in Haider to sing the evergreen Faiz, because any half-good singer can get through these classics with a little help from a master like Vishal. It is for the same reason singers like Ali Sethi are looked down upon by those who argue ‘let him sing something original and we will talk’. Add to that, I always felt khul kabhi was Vishal’s song and not arijit’s and would have sounded better in Vishal’s voice. Cut to – Ye Ishq Hai. The self destructive, post-death experience of being ‘one’ with your beloved is what Vishal has achieved musically. And Gulzar drawing in Tabrez and Rumi completes whatever was left, to strike the fatal blow that leaves you smiling as you know you are about to cross over this life to meet your loved one on the other side. Oh and Arijit Singh is splendid, throughout.

There is a version of this song by Rekha Bhardwaj as well, and that sounds like a ‘Dervish collective’ twirling with Harmonium riffs and claps for company. This version gets a better bass-line at places than Arijit’s version.

Ha ha ha ha ha hahahaha Mere Miya Gaye England has a  tribute to ‘Mere piya gaye Rangoon’ that delights you if you have heard the song I refer to here. With tongue-in-cheek lyrics that oscillate between Eiffel Tower to Bus Stand, and aided with extremely good back up vocalists, Rekha Bhardwaj hits this one out of the park with the ease and twist that reminds you of ‘Ranaji’ from Gulaal.

Tippa stretches an old favourite (tap tap topi topi) to cinematic lengths where it is just not a kid song anymore. This however, doesn’t stop Sukhwinder, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sunidhi Chauhan and O.S. Arun from forming a vocal circle of mischief. Sukhwinder sounds intense, Rekha sounds happy-drunk, Sunidhi is bubbly and O.S. Arun sounds like that decent boy who is busy worrying about whether the elders will catch onto this masti that the kids are having. Sounding largely like a narrative piece, the track focuses on sounding grand, and as a result I couldn’t bring myself to hum it as much as I would have liked. This track is produced by Hitesh Sonik and Clinton Cerejo, and was recorded in 2006.

Ek Dooni Do is a breezy dance number that sounds cryptic to me, or may be I am over-thinking about the setting it invokes. The Spanish vibe isn’t overbearing and leaves ample space for Gulzar to use ‘Pahade’. Is it a good song? Yes. Will I listen to this on repeat? No.

Alvida – is probably the simplest song of the album, and the most devastating. This is exactly what a master wordsmith like Gulzar can do. There is Gulzar when he works with others (AR Rahman included), and then there is Gulzar when he works with Vishal. The Vishal-Gulzar collaboration is the best musical possibility of the times we live in and we must thank these two for drowning us in songs like this. What a treat Arijit is to the ears — my favourite song from the album, after Ye Ishq Hai.

Call it the effect of an overwhelming string section and an excellent ensemble of singers (Vishal, K.K., Kunal Ganjawala and Sukhwinder) who are equally intense in Julia. You feel a bit drained towards the end of the song, and it leaves you with the feeling that it could have been a tad shorter. My favourite moment is every time Vishal Bhardwaj says ‘Julia’; hear it and you will know what I mean. Also, Gulzar sahab draws the family tree of Julia by announcing that she is zalzale ki saali, in whose voice? Vishal Bhardwaj. Splendid! This track is also produced by Hitesh Sonik and Clinton Cerejo, and was recorded in 2006.

A flirty accordion, nadira-sque Rekha Bhardwaj and a vivacious tune greets you in Chori Chori and once again, in addition to a tight music arrangement, what stands out are the excellent lyrics. The use of ‘momfali’ instead of ‘moongfali’ is a touch of brilliance that only Gulzar can achieve — super song!

In what is easily the most criminal injustice of the year so far, we get a cinematic Rangoon theme that is just one and a half minutes long! It is as filmy and deep as one would imagine with VB at play. Strings used right. How I wish it were longer.

Be still and Shimmy Shake are both penned by Lekha Washington. Where Dominique lends depth to anticipation and waiting in Be Still, Vivienne Pocha ticks all the right boxes in Shimmy Shake, which ends with such a flash. Both the songs are in English, because in the time the film is set in, one used to hear a LOT of English songs like these: simple attention to detail that didn’t need an expensive Velvet case to understand.

The thing with Vishal Bhardwaj is — his music is permanent. It doesn’t sound like most Hindi film albums sound today, that can at best be equated with anonymous graffiti we see in toilets and forget about. When his music album is out, suddenly Vishal becomes very present in the room. Same is the case with Rangoon. It sounds grand and cinematic bearing the VB-Gulzar signature, which is equal to governor’s signature on a currency note in the Hindi-film music world. Rangoon doesn’t celebrate the cheerful tastelessness like other albums of today. On the contrary, it is a measured offering of perfectly mixed/rolled stuff. There are 12 songs, pick your poison and then thank God that it exists.

Cabaret + Housefull 3 – Music reviews

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Tiring, that is what these film music albums are at best.

At one hand we have Cabaret that has one good good song and is accused of murdering some really nice classics along the way. My review here http://bit.ly/cabaretbbc

On the other hand we have Housefull 3, the lesser said the better. My review here bit.ly/bbchf3hf3

Sarbjit – Music review

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This review first appeared on Quint – http://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/05/04/music-review-sarbjit-aishwarya-rai-randeep-hooda-richa-chadda-arijit-singh-amaal-malik

You can also listen to my music review of Sarbjit on B.B.C. here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/05/160513_bbc_music_review_vm.shtml

The makers of Sarbjit have a solid subject and a star at the helm to make it a substantial film, however they decided to take things up a notch by adding music that tries too hard to be grand and reflective. Here’s a review of the music of Sarbjit starring Aishwarya Rai, Randeep Hooda and Richa Chadda.

Salamat has a beautiful beginning and its tonal structure is that of a typical 90s love song. What stands out though is the pace and arrangement of the song. Arijit Singh and Tulsi Kumar sound comfortable and that’s always nice.

In Dard, Sonu nigam is at his signature best. The tune doesn’t challenge him enough, yet he is not complacent at all. It’s a treat to listen to Sonu singing a sad song and this song albeit not a classic, will certainly not harm your ears.

Tung Lak is a high voltage composition. In spite of the earthy treatment and unprocessed sound, the song doesn’t have durability stamped to it and that could be due to its lyrics. Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh, Shail Hada & Kalpana Gandharva try hard though but it comes across as a patchy effort at best.

Rabba by Shafqat Amanat Ali sounds hurried and in spite of the vocal depth of Shafqat, you do get a feeling that things could have been a bit slow. The overall sound is cluttered and that’s it.

Meherbaan starts off giving the impression of being a typical filmi qawwali and tries a lot to sound a little different. Having said that, you can actually feel the excessive effort put in by Sukhwinder Singh, Shail Hada & Munnawar Masoom for the song. Meherbaan weighs you down and would perhaps be redeemed on screen because you cannot listen to this on repeat.

In Barsan Lagi although at places Shail Hada does fall short in antras, the overall vibe of the song is beautiful and you will certainly smile at the call of rain that feels like a call for freedom. It is a beautiful song especially the ‘aaj malang nu’ part which actually makes your heart soar.

Allah Hu Allah also sounds cluttered and derivative. It might be composed with good intentions but you get tired barely 1.45 mins into the song and want it to end. Altamash, Shashaa Tirupati & Rabbani Mustafa certainly deserved a better tune to deliver what they are capable of.

Mera Junoon is perhaps the most layered composition of the album. Shail Hada sounds solid yet vulnerable. At his disposal are excellent lyrics and a somewhat neat arrangement and all this comes together rather wonderfully well.

Nindiya not that we are against the million songs of Arijit that have made their way to our ears off late, we do feel the sameness of presentation over a period of time robs subsequent songs of their intended character.  Nindiya wants to be a memorable song but in spite of good lyrics, you will fall asleep at the dullness of the presentation.

Sarbjit is hauntingly composed, the theme gets its ‘hmm, hooo and aaaa’ from Shail Hada. The tune is helped with ample violins and cello which create a resonating echo of gloom and is actually a good effort.

The entire album tries too hard to be serious which is because of the subject of the film. However, not a single song stands out as the one you would end up humming by the time you get through the album. The effort is really good but I would have certainly liked some more investment in melody.

Rating: 2.5 Quints

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 –

http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/03/160318_bbc_music_review_rs

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

 

Music review – Fitoor

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This review appeared first here – http://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/01/20/music-review-fitoor-sounds-above-average-at-best

You can listen to the music review here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/01/160129_music_review_vm.shtml

Once the ‘it’ kid on the Bollywood music scene, Amit Trivedi has matured rather well, thanks to some soulful melodies and a refreshing presentation through varied genres. Every project of his is welcomed by music lovers almost the same way they used to wait for a new album by AR Rahman in the 1990s. In Fitoor, he teams up with Swanand Kirkire for lyrics and some of the finest musicians around.

The title song of a film is generally expected to make a strong point for the album as a whole but I am not sure what transpired into assigning a ‘predictable as ever’ tonal treatment to ‘Yeh Fitoor mera’. Arijit sings songs like these by the dozen and there is nothing new here except the use of ‘parvardigara’, which appears to be an attempt to sound ‘serious’ and pucca, because the album is devoid of any ghazal-like composition and the boring back-up vocals towards the end don’t help either. In the end, it sounds like a formularized Arijit song with elaborate arrangement.

With a rich rabaab running around like an excited kid all throughout the song,‘Haminastu’ is perhaps the best composition of the album. Zeb’s enthralling range is on ample display here. Her subtle throaty variations in the song are reminiscent of someone narrating a story with multiple characters and altering the voice for effect.

The contemporary percussion is subtle in ‘Hone do batiyaan’ and what envelops the composition is playful singing by Zeb and Nandini Srikar along with an unmistakeable Kashmiri charm, thanks to the excellent rabaab play. The sheer congruity between the singers is endearing to say the least and effective to put it mildly. Without doubt, the lyrics for both Haminastu and Hone do batiyaan are the best in the album.

In Pashmina, I don’t think Trivedi’s voice needed the polishing it was subjected to because the sensuous fragility of the song hits a speed bump every time one uses synthetic autotune, that too in a song that’s called Pashmina! Add to this the sameness of Triviedi’s singing and the song doesn’t leave the impact it could have because of its unique arrangement.

 What is possibly the weakest song in lyrical department, Tere liye never really touches your heart in spite of the grand presentation. Sunidhi and Jubin are let down by an excessive sanitised arrangement and weak lyrics which left me unaffected.

Just when you thought the song couldn’t get more laboured, Amit Trivedi joins Sunidhi Chauhan and makes Rangaa re (Hindi version) unbearable although it has few sparks of excellent arrangement. The English version of the same song sounds better largely because Caralisa Monteiro is more in sync with the mood in comparison to a near robotic Amit Trivedi.

The album has 3 songs that put the ‘it’ in Amit but the rest are plain, at times boring like grown-ups with no spark, now where is the fun in that? I give the soundtrack 3 Quints out of 5.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – Music review

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ilahi This song appears twice in the soundtrack. Mohit chauhan’s version has a dash of fun-n-frolic to it with Mohit getting hysterical in bits. All while accompanied by an excellent all kids backup vocal army! Arijit singh’s version is free flowing and scores slightly above Mohit’s version in terms of melody. Both versions however smell stongly of a ‘Phir se udd chala meets gurus of peace meets kasto maza’ arrangement and feel. Still, enjoyable. Immensely.

Kabira also appears twice in the album. One version sung by Rekha bharadwaj and Tochi Raina and the other sung by Harshdeep and Arijit Singh. Tune wise remaining the same, the Harshdeep-Arijit version is arranged more like a wedding song. In fact the start of this song will surely remind you of Ye kudiya nashey diya puriyaa part in the mehndi laga ke rakhna as well as Kabse aaye hain tere dulhe raja part from Kuch kuch hota hai’s Saajan ji ghar aaye song. On the other hand the Rekha-Tochi version tries very very hard to sound like iktaara from wake up sid. Sadly it doesn’t. In fact if you hear closely the parts sung by Tochi you will get a ‘Tere bina’ (Guru) feel. The song isn’t bad. It’s just too out there to please you and get your headtilt ‘Aww’!

Ghagra sung by Rekha Bharadwaj and Vishal dadlani – is wannabe desi at so many levels that it is not funny! Anyway, just hear the initial lines by Rekha Bharadwaj and when she goes ‘Kahan se aaya hai rey tu’ it will remind you of Hum hongey kaamyaab song. Anyway, this song clearly will feature Madhuri Dixit and Ranbir and will probably benefit because of that reason only. It is noise at it’s worst. Didn’t work at all.

Subhanallah – Indian Idol season 5 winner Sreeram gets a chance to sing with Shilpa Rao for this. This track reminds you of ‘Shukranallah’ (Kurbaan) A LOT! Shilpa rao appears for a very short duration in the song leaving Sreeram to own up the song. The song sounds fresh largely due to him, still there is something missing in the song. I can’t put my ear to it. May be you can?

Dilliwali girlfriend – A song that points us to a peppier Arijit Singh (along with the awesome Sunidhi chauhan…can’t get over her ‘Ok Bye..)! Although this would rank very high in the books of those who love artificial mood creation via keyboard sort of beats, the song intersects so many ‘familiar’ songs (for example – Mere haathon mein nau nau chooriyan hai from chandni and Kendi po po po from Partner) and add to that a general LOUD music arrangement. Lyrics are quite interesting though. Would I hear it again? No way!

Balam Pichkaari – Shalmali and Vishal (with a group of very wannabe desi backup singers). No points for guessing that this is the ‘Main rang barse banna chahta hu’ song of the album. A tune that reminds very strongly of Gaaye jaa geet milan ke and a mood that reminds very strongly of this, the song is plain average. Surely to get people dancing on the floor and will fool them to think ‘वाव! आज काफी देसी गाने पे नाच लिया, इंडिया इस फोल्क म्यूजिक आई टेल यू!’

Badtameez Dil – Alas! the song of the album! This was released as a single track before the album hit the stores and has helped greatly in making people believe the overall album is oh so good! The brass bands, the mood, the singing by Benny dayal, the tastier than ‘moori bhaat’ lyrics by Amitabh bhattacharya (yes! and the superlative dance by Ranbir on screen). There is nothing wrong with this song and that’s a rarity for this album. Even skeptics like me can’t stop repeating this song in spite of clear warning by Benny/Amitabh that ‘Mere peechey kisine repeat kia to sala maine tere munh pe maara mukka!’

Special vote of thanks to Pritam for introducing Arijit Singh to us and using him repeatedly. What a find!

Overall just an average album from Pritam that benefits largely by good lyrics (Penned by Kumaar and Amitabh Bhattacharya) and suffers from way too many ‘inspirations’ and noises at times. Nonetheless this album might land Pritam an award or two because it is a Karan johar presentation..! राई के पहाड़ पर तीन फूटा लिल्लिपुट! You see!

माने ना!

My Picks – Badtameez dil, Kabira (Non Rekha bharadwaj-Tochi version), Ilahi (Arijit Singh version of course!)

Ek thi daayan – Tracklist (not officially confirmed)

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Do you know that Lootera music in the teaser has striking resemblance to a Hollywood film? O.K. having ticked the fainthearted self-declared ‘rebels’, now on to serious business.

Googled and Googled about Ek thi daayan songs and the internet threw some song titles as the tracklist, hence sharing it. Am quite sure this might not be true but then I am as bored as a ‘heartbroken’ music composer whose ‘music inspiration’ has been caught, (Another classic joke! uff i am on fire!) here is a blog post, just like that

Ok, here is what internet tells us on Ek thi daayan songs

Tote Ud Gaye
Kaali Kaali
Lautungi Main
Sapna Re Sapna
Sehmi Sehmi Si  Official tracklist doesn’t include this song (Corrected on March 30, 2013)
Ek Thi Dayan
Yaaram

I have no idea on when is the music releasing and I accept no claims of any kind of authenticity of this post.

Ok, Bye.

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