Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani have come a long way in their young careers. And it’s safe to say that in the past few years they have reached heights that some composers could only dream of attaining. Yet, for the number of fans who hold their breaths before a V-S soundtrack in unleashed, a dark cloud seems to be looming in the future…
Their journey started off beautiful with the sensational debut of Shaan in Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999). Alright, people loved Shaan…but Vishal and Shekhar were ignored. Then comes 2003. First it was Supari. No recognition whatsoever. Then came the deliverance of a spellbinding Jhankaar Beats, which to this day remains their number one offering. The music was recognized but Vishal and Shekhar weren’t. What do these young fellows got to do to get the attention that a run-off-the-mill Anu Malik gets by composing mediocrity?
To make a long story short; five years later and after a half dozen releases (all of which were filled with consistent quality), Vishal and Shekhar were recognized and adored for their fusion work in last year’s Musafir. They ended that year off on a nice note with Shabd, but the year 2005 has a different story to tell of these two composers.
This year, Vishal and Shekhar have released two albums, Karam and Dus. The latter went on to become a sterling hit from border to border, whereas the former went forgotten. But it is this writer’s opinion that Vishal-Shekhar are slowly degrading over the past few years. Although Dus was a huge musical success, it’s quality pales when placed next to their previous gems, as does Karam. 2004 not as good as 2005, and 2003 not as good as 2004. Is this trend of decreasing standards a continuous one? Can Vishal and Shekhar be able to regain control of their music? These are all questions that leave their fans frightened yet hopeful.
So we have it. V-S has finally landed the grand-daddy project of them all: A Yashraj Film. The banner is not only associated with commercial box office success but also noted for its fine musical offerings; most recently Dhoom, Hum Tum, Veer-Zaara, and Bunty Aur Babli. The anxiety for such an album is increased by presence of Vishal and Shekhar, arguably the freshest due on the market. The film has a Hum Tumish look to it and stars Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta. Both will be seen in completely different roles from their previous ones (Parineeta and Veer-Zaara respectively). The soundtrack introduces a new lyricist by the name of Jaideep Sahni. Without further adieu, let’s tiptoe ourselves through one of 2005’s most awaited soundtrack…
We’ll start off with the two title tracks. Salaam Namaste is a signature V-S tune with Kunal Ganjawalla and Vasundhara Das taking care of the lively vocals. This should be a pleasure listening to throughout the background of the film. The introduction reminds one of last year’s super-hit Dhoom Machale. The playful nature of the song is reminiscent to the theme of the film and makes for a wonderful title track. Kunal Ganjawalla and Vasundhara Das supply the necessary vocals to blend with V-S’s energized score. Jaideep Sahmi’s lyrics are good but take a back seat as this one is all about the masti. The Dhol Mix also appears. Remixed by Nikhil Chinnappa and Naved, this version is as enjoyable as the first with an additional dhol beat infused.
Next up we have V-S’s take on Ladki Kyon (Hum Tum). My Dil Goes Mmmm is not one of those corny tracks with outrageously stupid lyrics. Quite the contrary, it’s a fresh tune that has “hummability” all over it; not to mention some quirky lyrics by Mr. Sahni. Rendered by Shaan and Gayatri Iyer, this piece talks about the two opposing sexes…why you can’t live with them and why you can’t live without them. Compared to Jatin-Lalit’s Ladki Kyon, this one would have to be a better composition. However, Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics in Ladki Kyon are far superior to those of novice Mr. Sahni.
There is an English Club Mix which is remixed by DJ Aqeel. This is one of the best songs simply because of the addictive line “My Dil Goes Mmmm.” Rendered by Shaan and Caralisa Monteiro, who was featured V-S’s prior album, Dus, the Club Mix has some infectious beats and the mischievous nature of the original is carried over nicely to this version. There is also an instrumental done by DJ Aqueel once again. Not your regular candyfloss instrumental, Aqueel does some interesting things with this one. It’s nothing special.
Although Vishal and Shekhar are known for their addictive club beats and catchy item numbers, they have a way with romantic pieces also. Tu Jahan is a duet between Sonu Nigam and Mahalaxmi Iyer, who were previously heard together in V-S’s Koi Aisa Alam (Karam). At first, this one didn’t appeal to me at all. At times I felt the music was a bit too loud, which was uncharacteristic of V-S. But after a few repeated listens, the composition, along with Sonu and Mahalaxmi’s vocals, slowly began to grow on me. This doesn’t rank amongst their bests but the song is a pleasant one. Tu Jahan is a good light-hearted track that will either be fully rejected or whole-heartedly accepted by the masses.
What’s Goin’ On is the other numero uno song on the lot. And you thought that Sunidhi Chauhan just might not be in this V-S album. Well, here she is in another fun ‘n’ frolic piece. Yes you read it right, fun ‘n’ frolic not hot ‘n’ heavy. Kunal Ganjawalla accompanies her beautifully. The song has a certain innocence to it and the melody is sweet. Lyricist Jaideep Sahni shines bright, as he writes some cute words. The music is up to par with this genre of song.
Salaam Namaste is anything but mediocre. We already knew that when we heard that Vishal-Shekhar are composing under the Yashraj banner. The question was, how good will it be? There is not one song that pales when placed to the others, and at the same time there is no one song that is simply mind-blowing. Coming back to that dark cloud looming in the future. Year by year Vishal and Shekhar’s music is suffering. Why? I don’t’ know, but it is imperative for the two to regain control of their music and get their priorities straight. If I believed that these two men were just regular composers with nothing special to offer, then I would happy with an album such as Salaam Namaste. But no, V-S are not “regular.” They have a unique perspective on Indian Music and I hope that they realize their potential. This album could have been given a rating of 8 out of 10. But it’s not that because they can do much better than Salaam Namaste, and we’ve seen that. I believe that Home Delivery is their next musical venture. As I stated earlier…all we can do is hold our breaths…