It was quite a tremendous year for Bollywood music. 2008 saw the infusion of new sounds and genres into its mainstream, as well as international music collaborations with big names from the West. The new age sound of Bollywood is so much more mature, evolved and global in its appeal, but it has still managed to keep itself firmly grounded to its traditional roots. While this year saw some incredible soundtracks, which continue to resound in our ears, it also saw some serious duds that ended up flushed into forgetability rather rapidly. Here’s a quick musical flashback at the year that was.
2008’s Paanch with Punch
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
With JTYJN, Rahman brought back the youthful sound that defined him back in the days of Rangeela and Kadhal Desam. The album was replete with emotional ballads as well as fun and frolic dance tracks. The controversy around Pappu Can’t Dance added more masala to it as well, and the other significant highlight of the album would have to be the fizzy and light “Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi”, which introduced light-voiced balladeer Rashid Ali to Bollywood, as well as the jazzy title track rendered by ARR himself. This album definitely deserves top-notch marks for being a light-hearted and enjoyable album, while still being rich in terms of musical flavor.
Singh is King
Ekdum Dhamaal! This crossover album effectively brought the ‘pind’ into the nightclubs of urban India. Could anyone have predicted that 2008 would see the collaboration of our vernacular veteran Akshay Kumar and the notorious rapper Snoop Dogg? The soundtrack also featured the coming together of several global artists of varied experience levels, including Hard Kaur and Jay Dabhi. The best part of Singh is King was the fact that it featured certain songs that went from slightly nauseating to highly addictive in just a few listens – especially Bhootni Ke which has become a permanent fixture at North Indian weddings. Expect to hear similar sounds from Akshay Kumar movies in the future, like Chandni Chowk to China.
Rock On was without doubt 2008’s underdog, which went on to create a rocking impact across the music world. At first listen, Farhan Akhtar’s guttural vocals over Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s solid rock arrangements seemed like an experimental one-off, which would lead it to be dismissed by critics, and restricted to a few cult rock followers. In contrast, the album and every one of its tracks have attained an anthem-like popularity. Rock On has clearly emerged as one of the most appreciated Indi-rock efforts, especially in the uniqueness of the songs themselves (Pichle Saat Dinon Mein, Sinbad the Sailor). In addition to hard rock, the song features some delicate and cutting-edge guitar ballads rendered by Caralisa. This album will clearly open doors for many experiments with rock emerging out of India in the near future, and kudos to the team behind it.
With JTYJN and Jodhaa Akbar, A R Rahman was already on a winning streak for ’08, while he continued to work on several international projects. It is still a wonder as to how ARR manages to juggle all his various initiatives, and yet continues to deliver the same quality of excellence in each of his albums. Yuvvraaj was one such hallmark for ARR, especially because it brought back the Ghai/Rahman combination that created “Taal”. While the film may not have been able to create ripples, Yuvvraaj boasted of a splendid and diverse musical sound, especially with symphonic arrangements and usage of relatively unheard instruments (cello) and sounds. The fusion sound of Manmohini Morey and the anthem-like Dil Ka Rishtaa were the stand-out tracks on the album, while the delicacy of Tu Muskura and Dost were heart-warming.
While the last year saw the emergence of new genres, MDs like Vishal Shekhar worked feverishly through the year to build upon pre-existing sounds of Bollywood, and while some of their efforts didn’t work as effectively as they may have intended (Tashan), Dostana was an accomplished effort, in terms of both critical and popular appreciation. Desi Girl continues to burn up dancefloors, while ballads like Kuch Kum and Khabar Nahi gave the album much more depth and intensity. The album also saw Vishal Dadlani get behind the mic, and saw the duo give their promised and deserving break to SaReGaMa star, Amanat Ali, who rendered the touching “maula” alaap on Khabar Nahi.
2008’s Punched-Up Paanch
Love Story 2050
As futuristic as this movie was supposed to be, with Harman and Priyanka space-dancing with silver foiled aliens, the soundtrack was extremely dated and weak. The failure of LS 2050 fueled the depleting career curve of Anu Malik, who hasn’t come out with a quality soundtrack in eons.
God Tussi Great Ho
A starcast like this one (Amitabh/Salman/Priyanka) may seem like a divine combination. Sadly, the music was not so heavenly. Sajid-Wajid have traditionally delivered superior-quality soundtracks, especially in their compositions and arrangements, but GTGH was a veritable damp squib.
The expectations were towering. Himesh Reshammiya was at the top of his career curve, riding on the success of Aap Kaa Suroor. The stage was set for the recreation of an Indian classic film. Its difficult to admit that a crash landing was in the offing, but its true. Himesh’s nasality and overtly simplistic arrangements could have carried him once or twice, but every one-trick pony has a maximum time-span. And Himesh, its more than evident that your pony is done.
Certain soundtracks honestly make one wonder – “what were they thinking”? Devised to be the launch vehicle for Mimoh Chakraborty, who clearly carried a lot of Daddy Mithun’s dreams, the soundtrack featured some of the weakest arrangements of the year, and failed to carry any weight even with a bevy of heavy-duty singers like Kailash Kher, Kunal Ganjawala and Shaan.
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic
Extremely tragic. This Mary Poppins-esque debacle was a disappointing half-baked effort by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who clearly did not want to devote too much of time or attention to this project. The result was a rehash of some of their older work, and a highly forgettable soundtrack.
Ae Pappi (Kismat Konnection)
Khuda Jaane (Bachna Ae Haseeno)
Ek Meetha Marz De Ke (Welcome to Sajjanpur)
Mar Jawaan (Fashion)
O Re Piya (Aaja Nachle)