Calcutta Mail has been an interesting project for many reasons. Firstly, it is said that the movie took 30 days to complete, but laid idle in the cans for almost two years! Originally, Tips was to produce the music of the movie, however, Zee Records eventually took over. Finally, the most surprising aspect of Calcutta Mail, is that the music of the film (which was not used in the promotions) was released the same day as the movie! To say that it was worth the wait would not be entirely true. The album is dominated by Viju Shah (last heard in the dismal Dhundh-The Fog) with five songs, while Anand Raj Anand has three songs. Overall, there are four solid songs out of the total eight (three of these are by Mr. Anand!). Lyrically, the Calcutta Mail has nothing much to offer, even with lyrcial powerhouses like Javed Akhtar (who writes for Shah) and Mehboob (who writes for Anand).
Anand Raj Anand kicks off Calcutta Mail with Kahan Pe Meri Jaan Jaogi?. This number is as catchy as they come, and with a singer like Adnan Sami, you cannot go wrong with this one! Pamela Jain surprises with her masti bhari vocals, and is a welcome change from her Chitra-wannabe style. You foot will surely be tapping to this one.
Haunting! Alluring! Even seductive! Pyaar Se Dekhle is a song whose foundation is its singers, and Sonu Nigam, along with newcomer Humshika, leave no stone unturned in making this the best song of the album! Sonu Nigam is shines in a completely restrained rendition. Humshika has an elegant quality to her voice. Her voice to the ears is like pure silk to the touch! Beautiful!
Next, Viju Shah comes up with a song like Bheeghi Bheeghi Hawa Hai. Strangely, it seems as though Shaan and Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramanium are singing faster than the music! Musically, the song is 100rademark trademark Viju Shah (the techno background and the extensive use of tabla), which leaves nothing for novelty. With bland lyrics, this one´s a loser.
Alka Yagnik (she seems to have been reduced to only one song in all her albums) tries to breath life into the dead Meri Zindagi Meri Jaana. The beat and music of the song is nice to listen to, but seems like Meri Mehbooba from Pardes with a Viju Shah touch. And what does Nitin Raikwar think he´s doing as a playback singer? Also, the addition of ridiculous noises doesn´t make a song more interesting, neither does throwing in the odd conversation piece. Of course, in a Viju Shah album, there must room for Rakesh Pundit, who makes an extremely brief appearance at the end of the song.
Sadly, Zindagi Hai Kya is Anand Raj Anand´s final contribution to Calcutta Mail. Udit Narayan and Pamela Jain are wonders in this song, which despite not being very demanding, is a treat to listen to. Some part of the song even remind one of Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jaana from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge!
Intezar Hai Tera is another sad attempt by Shah to create a good song. The music is odd, as the bass and traditional Indian instruments don´t gel. Overall, this is another song that seems tried and tested. Sukhwinder Singh needs to find a decent song to bring him back to his Chaiya Chaiya days.
Just when all hope seems lost, Viju Shah delivers his only listen-worthy song in Calcutta Mail. Tum Agar is soulfully written by Javed Akhtar and the depression in Udit Narayan´s voice is sincere. Lyrically, this is the best song in the soundtrack, and, thankfully, is a break from Viju Shah´s usual synthetic music.
Yeh Sahib Ajeeb Hain, regardless of having 100% idiotic lyrics, makes for an interesting listen. Why? Because the use techno beats and sounds actually concur and form a cohesive piece. Moreover, Sujata Trivedi´s vocal have surely matured since her last major input to a Hindi soundtrack (Pukar). If Sujata was given a real song to sing, she could reach great heights. Give this one one listen (for Sujata´s sake) and then forget about it!
The music of Calcutta Mail proves three things: acclaimed lyricists don´t always rise to the occasion, a music director does not need the majority portion of a soundtrack to steal the cake, and Viju Shah will only compose outstanding music for Rajiv Rai and for him only! If you decide not to buy the Calcutta Mail soundtrack (like the rest of the population), you will probably be a happier person.