Saturday, May 19, 2012

Selective Hearing

Teri Meri Kahaani
A Music Review by Vishal Oberoi

TMK brings together the music of Sajid-Wajid with the direction of Kunal Kohli, a director with a keen ear for music exemplified by his prior films' soundtracks (Hum Tum, Fanaa and even Break Ke Baad which had an awesome score albeit average in its box office collections). Teri Meri Kahaani is no outlier from such expectations, but one has to practice what I like to call selective hearing. Perhaps I can help.

Let’s start with the traditional sufi number, Allah Jaane, adeptly rendered by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in an unchallenging fashion. Shahid Kapoor mentioned that this song takes him back to his roots (for those who didn’t figure this one out, his mother is of Muslim faith). The song is picturised in a dargah (shrine) and has a nice soulful feel to it.

The nylon guitar that kicks off Jabse Mere Dil Ko Uff catches you off guard. The song appears to pay homage to the quasi-western music from the Bollywood of yore. The unique style that Shankar-Jaikishen initiated and R.D. Burman carried the flame forward. One can almost picture a young and bouncy Shammi Kapoor erupting on screen when you hear this song kick off. Sonu and Sunidhi are adequate. Love the brass work. Not much else to say really. Could be fun if picturised well.

I’d like to take a quick break here and focus on just how drastically fine Priyanka Chopra is? Hmmm. Yes. Ok back to the score.

'That’s All I Really Wanna Do' is a really easy, sweet track that makes you want to spontaneously go on a bike ride through a meadow. Assuming of course, that you live near a meadow, have good weather and well, have access to a bicycle. The smiley Shaan is supported by Shreya on this track – and although she gets a bit shrill in the higher sections, the shriekiness doesn’t take away from an overall pleasant, happy-happy type song. For me, this song would fall in the same playlist as Colbie Caillat and also Big Girls Don’t Cry (Fergie). And no, I don’t admit to having Colbie Caillat on my iPod. Ok fine I do. How can you not like Bubbly? But I digress. Does anyone know who the female singer on the opening notes of That’s All I Really Wanna Do is? Smooth voice.

And now we go a few steps closer towards Sajid-Wajid’s comfort zone – the chhed-chaad (eve-teasing) type of qawwali. As I tweeted earlier: Hello ‘Humse Pyaar Karle Tu”! Humka Peeni called. It wants its catchy hook back. Although remarkably similar to Humka Peeni Hai (Dabangg), another Sajid Wajid track, all is forgiven quickly because it belongs to a genre that one can never tire of, and its flavored with just the right amount of ‘dum’ by Wajid, Mika, Shreya and the Shabbir Brothers. For those who have seen the video, what’s with the ‘ruffling the salwaar’ dance step? Takes Salman’s belt shuffle to the next level.

And then you have Mukhtasar. There may be many naysayers out there who aren’t big fans of Wajid’s voice. It isn’t the most refined voice, I’ll give you that. But his coarseness and range has a unique like-ability to it. The song is paced faster than one would expect for its melody - it almost feels like its own remix. There are elements of I Gotta Feeling (Black Eyed Peas) and a pretty blatant instrumental lift of the “it was always burning” line from We Didn’t Start The Fire (Billy Joel). But it’s a good song – both from the perspective of lyrics and feel. What I would truly love to hear is an unplugged version – guitars and vocals. Perhaps rendered by Mohit Chauhan or even Kailash Kher.

In my opinion, the true winner on TMK’s soundtrack is Prasoon Joshi for penning some heart-rendered thoughts. Prasoon Joshi kicks it old school with some beautiful verses and bringing back some delicate words back into Bollywood lyrical parlance that have been missing for eons. Especially 'mukhtasar' (brief / simple), which is by far one of my favorite Urdu words. The last time I recall hearing this word is in the legendary verse of Tum Pukar Lo (Khamoshi, 1969) - "mukhtasar si baat hai, tumse pyaar hai, tumhaara intezaar hai". Wow.

When you do listen to the soundtrack of Teri Meri Kahaani, do pay a lot of attention to the words. And you’ll notice that selective hearing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How NOT to sample Indian music! Barfworthy stuff!

So for those listening to the track, after you're done gawking in disbelief, this is BKAB by Ethan Stoller. The ending credits track for V for Vendetta. Infuriating how distastefully this song is designed. Badly timed, no sense of melodic blending, rhythm completely out of whack.

This track is almost as bad as V for Vendetta itself.

Hold on to your handlebars

The Fat of the Matter is...

Now, isn't that inspiring? Before and after weight loss stills of Arjun Kapoor, Boney Kapoor's eldest son, who makes his Bollywood debut in Ishaqzaade. Challenging stuff, especially to go from a "khaatey-peetey-khaandaan-ka-ladka" to Bollywood star material. If reports are to be believed, Salman Khan is the driving factor behind this transformation as well. Which leads me to the question - Is Salman Bollywood's official trainer or what? He has been responsible for getting so many people off the fat truck, and right into 6-pack city. Almost like he stands behind them with a Kaleshnikov while they pound the lat machine. Well, as long as he isn't pointing his shooter at antlers (Too soon?). Lol.

But no seriously, stick that on your refrigerator if you're into trimming it down this summer. And while you're at it, stick it on R Madhavan's fridge too. Yeesh, he's ballooning up into a Macy's Thanksgiving float. Rehnaa hai mere kitchen mein?

Stop press: Arjun's character in Ishaqzaade is called "Parma". *snicker*. Parma!!!! You know how many 'is he gonna ham it' jokes I'm holding back right now?

Monday, May 07, 2012

Sum Nai Song

Music Review of Shanghai - by Vishal Oberoi

Riding high on the success of Kahaani, Dirty Picture and Ra.One, the expectations from Vishal-Shekhar’s next soundtrack are pretty lofty. And yes, the title of “Shanghai” does unfortunately remind us of the last Orientally-influenced movie title (“Chandni Chowk to China”) which was quite the musical Hiroshima (yes, I know, wrong country reference. So sue me. This is a music review, not a geography class. Get an atlas). But Shanghai has oodles to offer  – so put your chopsticks down and listen up (FYI - the Asian puns stop here. Serious Lee).

First to the pitch is Bharat Mata Ki Jai. It’s tongue-in-cheek patriotism with references to dengue, malaria and cow dung is balanced by its hyper infectious beat. This leads us to the question - how many ghaati songs can desi audiences handle in 2011/12, from Ready to Rowdy Rathore? While comparisons will be aplenty, BMKJ has a unique energy especially around its chorus hook which definitely makes it a winner. Am not a huge fan of the remix because it doesn’t really add much appeal. The original is where its at.

Ah Richa Sharma! Where’ve you been, sugar? The sultry and ductile tone that we all know and love is back with Imported Kamariya. Unfortunately, Richa's a bit waisted .. err wasted on Kamariya predominantly because the song’s situational and frankly could’ve been rendered by any heavy female voice. The song’s catchy but it doesn’t leave a very solid impression (think: Dil Dance Maare – OST Tashan).

V/S’s homegrown find Raja Hasan renders Khudaaya adeptly. A unique chord structure with crests and troughs in its energy levels give this sinewy composition a lot of character. Shekhar Ravjiani gets behind the mic as well, making his appealing presence felt especially on the song's prelude. Shekhar’s voice has really evolved since Jogi Mahi (Bachna Ae Haseeno) and if you haven’t heard his Marathi track (Saazni), check it out ASAP.

Like BMKJ, Morcha has an energetic, pounding beat – with a revolutionary swing and inspirational lyrics which, one would assume, would make a lot more sense once visualized with imagery that the movie ought to provide. Requisite vocal intensity on board courtesy of Vishal Dadlani and Raja Hasan.

And then, ladies and gentlemen, you have the coup de grace. Every V/S album has one 'blow you away'-type track with light classical undertones which grips you from deep within (Tujhe Bhula Diya on Anjaana Anjaani, Khuda Jaane on Bachna Ae Haseeno). On Shanghai, that title belongs to Duaa. Nandini Srikar’s Carnatic-ish vocals contrasted by the sufi-ish Arijit Singh create a blend that’s matchless. The song’s designed for comfort, with an easy flow decked with some lovely movements that's going to have reach for the repeat button. And when the beats and supporting pads come in at the 3:01 marker – you’re sold. You’ve hit gold once again with Duaa, Vishal-Shekhar! Hats off.

All in all – a diverse soundtrack. If one had to nitpick, one would say that Shanghai’s songs suffer from the same thing that songs on a prior V/S soundtrack (Tashan) displayed - a little bit too much going on, overwhelming the listener a bit at times. But that’s just semantics. V/S are going for a unique sound and with niche benders like Duaa and Khudaaya coupled with traditionals like BMKJ, they’re on the right track. Shanghai's worth the trip.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Tezz Copycats!

Well done, Sajid-Wajid. You've successfully joined the Pritam/Anu Malik clan of 'lifting' music (Sorry! Like them, you probably call it being 'inspired' too). Unfortunately your song sucks while the original is a classic.

For those of you who didn't catch it (yes, all 3 of you), the hook riff of Tezz is copied from Miserlous - Dick Hale and his Del Tones, popularized as the theme song of Pulp Fiction.

Ok Bollywood. Here's the thing. You've grown into a big boy now and people the world over (not just India and nations with NRI populations) are starting to recognize your identity and appreciate the intricacies of what makes your music unique. So its a simple golden rule. Stop ripping s*** off and shooting yourself in the foot!!! That's all.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Double Entendre?

So if you've listened to this track, raise your hand if you thought it was the voice of Shreya Ghoshal. Nope, guess again. This one is rendered by Anweshaa Dutta who also sang Thaa Karke, but is remembered more for her performance back on Chote Ustad. I have issues with the song which is definitely weak on energy, but the girl's voice definitely makes you sit up and listen.

The last time I had such a "double entendre" (hehe) moment, was when I heard Neha Bhasin's Dhunki and could've sworn that it was Sunidhi Chauhan. Neha's another singer who can probably make her presence felt in Bollywood, if she tones down the affected oomph that she's trying to unleash (You got a fine body there hun, but Apple Bottoms? Seriously? No).

Friday, May 04, 2012

This dude...

.. is funny! You may remember him from such crazy songs as Jaa Chudail (Delhi Belly). His simplicity, accent and comedic timing is noteworthy. Plus his material is edgy and quite contemporary. He's got that kind of voice and delivery that makes you want to listen and stay engaged, which is great.

He is one of two people that I think deserve a solid break this year in Bollywood. The other is Prateik (Dhobi Ghat, Ek Deewana Tha). 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Current Tuneage: Dhol Yaara Dhol (OST - Dev D). Bringing back a classic. This one really made me sit up and listen to Shilpa Rao's voice. It has an almost childlike innocence, but such depth. Also loved her verse in Agnee's I Believe (The Dewarists)

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from SmarTone-Vodafone

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Ishaqzaade: The Music Review

It takes a super skillful magician to pull a rabbit out of his hat every time. With Ishaqzaade, there’s no doubt that Amit Trivedi’s just yanked out the Energizer bunny. A chockfull of spunk and attitude, and it just keeps going.

After serving out hot and diverse dishes like Dev D, Udaan, Wake Up Sid and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, its blatantly obvious that Amit Trivedi loves to experiment across barriers of melody, genre and instruments, while yet bringing something widely palatable to the table. His soundtracks have traditionally featured an indescribable element that makes listeners react with the following order of thoughts: “WTF?”, “hmm”, “nice”, “I think I like it”, “No, I love it”, “THIS is the new theme song of my life”.

Ishaqzaade is no exception to that tradition. Let’s start with the title track, where you hear Javed Ali  in a more aggressive avatar than his usual Guzaarish (Ghajini) tone, ably accompanied by Shreya who can do little wrong with her near-flawless renditions. The song has an anthem-like quality in the lead chorus, coupled with rustic beats and a brass interlude that is reminiscent of a Tarantino soundtrack.

Let’s face it. Chokra Jawaan almost seems out of place at first, because it’s probably the most ‘typical’ of the tracks in IZ. Sunidhi and Vishal serve their cause well, and the track will probably make more sense once it’s put into the context of the movie. The same goes for Jhalla Wallah, which brings Shreya out of her light classical comfort zone. Shreya really seems to be doing more such boundary crossing lately (a la Chikni Chameli), and while her sincerity in rendering Jhalla credibly is noteworthy, one can’t help but miss a singer with more “nakhra” and twist in her voice who would be able to do just the right amount of effortless justice that Jhalla deserves (are you listening, Richa Sharma?).

The album is then flipped on its side by a track that takes the listener by storm – Pareshaan. I mean – rock rhythms, timely harmonium work, a brilliantly paced arrangement, and a chorus that just won’t quit. This track’s a winner, and Shalmali Kholgade is quite the find. Watch out for the bass riffs, especially when the rhythm stops and starts.

For those who never thought dubstep would make its presence felt in Bollywood, Monsieur Trivedi gives it wings with Aafaton Ke Parindey. And in his unique style, he doesn’t let it be a cheesy debut. Aafaton is enhanced further by the vocal prowess of Suraj Jagan. Apart from hits like Give Me Some Sunshine (3 Idiots) and Sadka Kiya (I Hate Love Stories), you may also remember Suraj from the track Zehreelay (Rock On). By bringing it into his own, he owns Aafaton Ke. Brilliant!

Both remixes on the album (Jhalla Wallah and Pareshaan) by the talented Abhijit Vaghani are striking and veer far from the expectations of how one would expect these tracks to be remixed. In fact, these remixes have an independent heartbeat and identity of their own.

All in all – if I had to sum up Ishaqzaade in one word, I’d call it ‘ballsy’. Amit Trivedi continues to raise the bar, and once again effortlessly instructs his competitors …. to grow a pair.

So, its been over 3 years...

... since the call of the Revolution sirens wailed across cyberspace. Much drifting has transpired since then, in all respects. Like the header suggests, we never stop evolving and never should. But its time to bring this ish back. You in?