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Vintage Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. So no surprises, but a really good album.
The trio is back again after Rock On, which was one of the best 2008 had to offer. Melodious and lyrically philosophical (just the basic paths, choices, dreams, etc.) is how I would sum the album. But when your album is called Luck By Chance, you will get some of that thrown around. Apart from that, you can relate most of the songs to some previous track of SEL.
The albums starts with Yeh Zindagi Bhi, a really melodious track. This is sung beautifully by Shekhar Ravjiani (who is a trained classical vocalist and a former Sa Re Ga Ma contestant) of the Vishal-Shekhar duo. The duo have been frequently singing for SEL in the recent past and I am glad they are. This track has a Rockford feel to it, but it really kicks off when the chorus begins. The chorus completely elevates the song to another level. Loy is also credited as a singer, but I am not sure where he was in the track.
The second track is the fast paced Rajasthani folk song Baawre. It starts off with free vocals in true folk style before the folk rhythm sets in. It has a nice melody and fast feel to it and then proceeds to electronic beats with accompanying strings. They have mastered such tracks previously in Kajra Re and we have heard similar arrangements from SEL before but this track might be a winner just because of Hrithik Roshan performing in the foreground. Shankar Mahadevan sings this fine, the Rajasthani Ensemble is actually quite good and I still cannot figure out where Loy was in this track.
Next up is Pyaar Ki Dastaan. I don’t really need to tell that it is a romantic number. Indian Idol 3 contestant Amit Paul is behind the mike for this one with another SEL regular Mahalakshmi Iyer. You can tell the singer is new just from the detailing, effort and singing within limits. But Amit Paul surprisingly has a voice tailor made for such tracks and his voice is smoother. The melody has that hint of retro feel to it, just like Chup Chup Ke from Bunty Aur Babli. Overall decent track.
Sunidhi Chauhan sings Yeh Aaj Kya Ho Gaya. It is easy to tell this song is going to feel great in the movie with the guitar strumming in the background. Again decent track, but falls short of being a masterpiece like a couple of previous tracks.
The next one makes up for all that. Sapno Se Bhare Naina is easily the best track of the album followed by O Raahi Re. I am not sure of the raaga it is set in, but classical vocals accompanied by the bass guitar and electronic beats in most cases makes for a great listen. So does this. But the singing here is truly great.
A word about the lyrics here. Javed Akhtar is a veteran no doubt but after a point when the words are predictable, I personally cannot appreciate the lyrics as much. This album has classic Bollywood lyrics, not many words or phrases out of syllabus. Rock On was a different effort from Javed Akhtar, and was apt in songs like Pichle Saat Dinon Mein but was disappointing in the title track of Rock On.
The last original track is O Raahi Re, a philosophical call to the protagonist. It is quite melodious and easy on the ears with its pace and arrangement. Sung aptly by Shankar M. And I really liked the lyrics from Javed Akhtar here for a change. Sample this snippet of the stanzas :
Aasaaniya Mil Sakti Hai
Tujhko Zamaane Se
Par Zara Yeh Bataa
Jeena Hai Kya Yunh Tujhe
The last is a remix of the only remixable track, Baawre. It is well, a remix. So you know what to expect.
Overall this is a nice soundtrack from SEL, surely not as brilliant as Rock On, but they are themselves to blame for setting the bar so high. But they keep up their track record of consistently giving good uninspired (to be read as music that is not inspired by other sources) music, which in itself is an achievement. I seriously cannot think of a single bad soundtrack from the trio.
But all those times they fall short of outright brilliance.
Musically, this was a typical year for Bollywood, a few good releases by A.R.Rahman, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and some good newcomers.
Best Film Album (OST)
This was a tough one, but I think I’ll go with Amit Trivedi for the music of Aamir. Let me defend now.
Jodha Akbar was complex, grand and multi-layered, Slumdog Millionaire was something different from Rahman, Rock On was one of the best albums I heard in quite some time (and if not for Aamir would have been an easy choice), Welcome to Sajjanpur was really melodious but very situational at times and Khuda Ke Liye was a great album overall.
About Aamir, it was earthy, it was simple, it was melodious. Heck, at some points it was so raw that it would make an A.R. Rahman cringe at the sound ! But it was very good music, it was different, it was experimental. I still listen to the songs of Aamir almost daily. The sufi number Ha Raham, the folk and earthy Chakkar Ghumyo, the fast Phas Gaya, the experimental Haara and of course the philosophical Ek Lau, which assumed great significance in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks (lyrics and translation here).
You might also want to listen to this song composed by Amit Trivedi for the Mumbai victims.
Best Non-Film Album
This was me was a contest just between Sonu Nigam’s Classically Mild and Rabbi Shergill’s Avengi Ja Nahin, and it was easy to choose Rabbi (review here). His first album was undoubtedly more catchy but Avengi Ja Nahin was deeper. Every song in this album deserves a proper listen and understanding !
Best Song : Bilqis (Jinhe Naaz Hai) (review here).
I do not think anyone would dispute this. This song is one of the reasons why music can be powerful yet subtle.
Best Singing Male : Sonu Nigam in Soona Soona (song here).
Sonu Nigam came back with some brilliant singing in a classical album this year and still managed to hold fort as one of the best singers we have.
Best Singing Female :
I really liked Dominique in Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein from Rock On but I think I will go with Madhushree in Ek Meetha Marz from Welcome to Sajjanpur. I haven’t heard a female playback voice sweeter than hers and you just have to listen to the way she sings this song (that too just one stanza).
With due respect to everyone who has posted in every known and unknown website with a feeling of exuberance and pride that they heard a bass guitar in the background (or in some cases just because everyone else was saying so) but saw no bass guitarist in the band, please correct me if I am wrong but Farhan Akhtar once introduces Luke Kenny as the guy “who plays the keyboard and handles the bass section” Edit : when Purab Kokli introduces the band to Prachi Desai he says “aur yeh Rob. Hamare band ka backbone. Sab programming aur bass section yehi karta tha”.
For the record, I am not a fanboy.
As much as I liked the music of Rock On, the movie disappointed me.
Please someone give me your reasons for liking the movie, in case you did.
On the acting front, the movie belongs to one person and it is not Farhan Akhtar. It is Arjun Rampal, who CAN act. And how he can ! Farhan Akhtar again knows what he is doing. Purab Kohli is very likeable and earnest. Luke Kenny brings his character alive, but I am not sure if by bad or brilliant acting. Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami almost steal the show from the guys.
I liked the movie for the characters. You have seen them all. The Anglo-Indian who is just happy to hold the guitar forever, the rich kid for whom music is a privilege, the good-natured guy whose love for music is higher than anyone but never in the spotlight and above all, the Aditya, who is every person whose answer to the question “What would you do if you had a million bucks ? ” is not the same as his job.
Don’t know about you, but I have seen each of them at some point in my life.
After seeing people’s status messages change faster than Ajit Singh’s loyalties in the trust vote, I knew I had to have a suno at this album. In one word, this album is all about .. rock (it would be just lame if it were something else). For the clueless people, rock also happened to be a genre of music before it got busy replacing every verb, adjective and adverb in English vocabulary.
Handling the music are the composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, back after Taare Zameen Par. For a rock album, I cannot think of anyone better in Bollywood (unless of course you don’t mind listening to the songs so long before liking them that you realise you have grown too old for this genre). But to top it all, we do not have Shaan and KK in the credits, and Shankar Mahadevan keeps his singing to himself for this album ! Wise.
This album gets straight to the point and sets the tone from the very first strum of the guitar in Socha Hai. The best song is Sindbad Sailor hands down : good lyrics, melody and singing ! Socha Hai is probably the next best. The biggest surprise in this album was the Zehreelay sung by Suraj Jaggan, who after singing brilliantly must have needed truck loads of Strepsils. This song goes further away from the metalloids in the periodic table, but is a must listen probably for the singing. Rock On and Pichle Saat Dinon mein manage to hold the album tighter, while Tum To Ho and Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein bring in the softer side of rock. Phir Dekhiye loses its way to the Yashraj Camp.
This album is textbook rock, simple riffs, even simpler chord progressions, but the undercurrents of melody is where it wins.
The losses. The lyrics (Javed Akhtar) :
Aasma Hai Neela Kyun, Paani Geela Geela Kyun Gol Kyun Hai Zameen
doesn’t really speak rebellion. Even Koi Kahe from DCH was better. And of course, no self-respecting rocker would croon
Phir Main Aise Josheelay Geet Sunaoon
Mere Geeton Ko Sunke Sab Ye Bolen
And for those of you who didn’t know. This album was recorded in 5 days flat ! Unfortunately, that shows.
Lastly, a few words about the man handling the mike for 6 songs out of 9 in this album. Farhan Akhtar, the person who gave us the great Dil Chahta Hai and the even better Lakshya. Lets just say, this guy knows what he is doing, which in itself is a rare occurence in Bollywood.
This album has Ehsaan written all over it, but Shankar and Loy help translate that to a good album. They continue proving themselves but are still looking for that one masterpiece.
This album surely joins the list of albums coming out of Bollywood recently that I have liked. The other I would recommend are :
Aamir (you have to listen to it to know why it is here).
Khuda Ke Liye (same as above)
A couple of songs from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.
Saawariya (I just discovered this album a few days ago. Incidentally, I also liked the movie. Yes, I have an appointment with a shrink next week.)