Sanjay Gupta may always borrow from Hollywood when making his movies, but his music is always original. His new production Zinda is no different; it´s a copy of the 2003 South Korean Film Oldboy (directed by Chan-Wook Park), but its music is extremely sexy, funky and original. The soundtrack of Zinda is steeped in lyrics conveying life and death and the music brings those themes alive with a haunting score. There hasn´t been an album this dark since Rakesh Omprakash Mehra´s Aks and Zinda just takes it to another level altogether.
Zinda is split into two CD´s much like Sanjay´s last production Musafir ; he uses the Club/Lounge format once again. After a first listen it sounds like a Lounge/Rock combo, but just go with Sanjay´s vision. The music on both CD´s is amazing. While the Club CD is full of thunderous bass, the Lounge CD is drowning in sea of guitars and drums, and there are several stand-outs. Although there are a couple of situational numbers (remixed to dance beats), one thing stands tall above all other elements. The lyrics on this soundtrack are phenomenal and the main reason Zinda is one of the year’s best albums. Each songs theme comes across so clearly in its words. These are club songs with real meaning!
The first chartbuster is the already popular Zinda Hoon Main sung in a powerful rendition from Shibani Kashyap. The song is composed in three different remixes, each has its own flavor. My opinion is that the Delirious Dance Club version is the best, and it´s the one being promoted with Lara Dutta. This high energy version is a hypnotic bass line wrapped in synth sounds. It´s addictive and an amazing opener to the album. Nikhil Chinapa and Dj Nawed´s music combined with Zoheb and Abhijeet´s arrangements switch the pace and regular intervals, with an awesome breakdown in the middle of the song. Kashyap´s rendition is a great contrast to the music; it has a folk edge hidden under a sexy disguise. When she sings in a higher pitch, the edge is apparent, although it can get a little rough. Virag Mishra´s lyrics are contemplative and fit the songs ambience. This is a strong song with a powerful composition.
The Fun Da Mental Mix isn´t as energetic but still packs a punch. This version is composed and sung by Shibani Kashyap who keeps up the good work. Virag Mishra´s lyrics remain outstanding, a highlight of all three versions. Julius Packiam and Jayant Luthra remix this version and pack it full of more guitar riffs and less trance. Of the three versions this one is the weakest, but it´s still a great listen.
The original version appears on the Lounge CD and is a somber variation. It´s sexy and intoxicating, filled with melancholy. Shibani has composed this version with arrangements from Julius Packiam. She obviously knows how to use her pitchy voice properly as is evident in this song. This version is more melodious and uses a blend of western rock and eastern classical. The mix of drums, tabla and electric guitar is mellifluous. In turn Shibani´s voice and Virag Mishra´s wonderful lyrics are highlighted. This song makes you appreciate the meaning more than the previous dance mixes.
Another standout is the original version of Yeh Hai Meri Kahani composed by musical wonders Strings, with arrangements by Shuja Haider and sound engineering by Muhammad Ishaq Nazar. This song is painful yet uplifting, and its composition is really intense. There is great use of instruments particularly drums and electric guitar (the riffs after the spoken verse are awesome). The violins are used in the backdrop, but act as a catalyst for the symphonic chorus. It´s sung by Strings with additional vocals by Sanjay Dutt (who sings in the opening of the song) and spoken verses by John Abraham. The combination is amazing! All three command attention yet compliment each other well. Anwar Maqsood´s lyrics are the albums best. They´re poetic and vibrant! The poetry in the spoken verse is exceptional. This song is easily the best of the album.
The K Rap Mix is just as mellow with a soft synth bass running at a easy pace making it perfect for driving. Music is credited to Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Naweed with arrangements by Zoheb and Abhijeet. The remix adds a few pleasant production effects (guitar is the most notable) to the song, but the original has much more of an impact. This version may dilute the song, but delivers a decent alternative. Anwar Maqsood´s lyrics retain their brilliant poetry. This version also slows down the rendition by Strings (no Sanju Baba or John here folks), to even out the pace.
Shibani Kashyap´s only other contribution to the album is the soft and soulful winner, Kya Main Zinda Hoon. It´s a little sexy, yet sad, and Kashyap´s soothing voice sets a nice lounge mood. Kashyap has also composed this song; it´s delicate and seductive, brimming with emotion. Even the electric guitar is quietly strumming in the background. The music is used to highlight the passion in Shibani´s voice. Sanjay Gupta´s lyrics are mournful, injected with raw sentiment. This song is definitely amongst the albums best.
The Trapped in Paradise Mix titled Chal Rahi Hai Saanse is rendered by Kailash Kher. It sounds completely opposite to Kashyap´s rendition. The remix is composed by Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Nawed. Kinky Roland gives additional music and Zoheb and Abhijeet arrange the instruments. Fact is this song was composed by Vishal Shekhar, but for reasons unknown it hasn´t been credited to them. This version is very calm and sober, the use of crashing waves and minimal music give it a peaceful mood in the opening. This is a contrast to Kher´s strong vocals which stand out without any music to compliment it. Kher´s rendition is nice, but this remix sounds like filler, the rendition and remix don´t match. Sanjay Gupta´s lyrics still shine through and it has to be said that Kher´s version brings out the pain of the words more effectively than Kashyap.
Har Saans also features in two versions. The Black Mamba Mix is okay. The composition isn´t really compatible for a dance mix. Krishna´s singing is ethnic and hard hitting much like Musafir´s Rabba Dance mix. Krishna´s voice is so eerily similar to the late great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that it´s near impossible not to enjoy his singing. Anwar Maqsood´s deep lyrics are brought to life by Krishna´s over powering vocals. Nikhil Chinapa and Dj Nawed have composed this remix with additional music by Kinky Roland and arrangements by Zoheb. Again it´s a mix of synth sounds and bass, with production highlighting some elements. The music is the best part of this song, it may not agree with Krishna´s rendition, but it´s still a head banger. Yet the song isn´t very catchy and won´t find universal acceptance.
The original version is more fitting to Krishna´s style of singing. Composed by Strings with arrangements by Shuja Haider and sound engineering Muhamed Ishaq Nazir, it´s a bevy of percussion and electric guitars layered over each other. The music is as hard hitting as Krishna´s vocals and Maqsood´s lyrics, setting the perfect mood. That is the reason why this version makes a better impact and stands head and shoulders above the remix, although it is situational.
Maula marks the return of Vinod Rathod after ages on the down-low. The music is once again credited to Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Nawed with arrangements by Zoheb and Abhijeet, yet this is a Vishal Shekhar creation. It´s a fragile and depressing song composed using synth and tabla to offset Vinod´s somber rendition. Vinod´s vocals also bring a lot of sadness to the fantastic lyrics written by Vishal. As depressing as this song sounds, it is beautiful.
The State of Grace Mix of Maula is very relaxed, but peppier than the slow original. Vishal Shekhar recycles a riff from Musafir´s Rabba and combines it into the composition. It fits the song well, and adds to the lounge/pop flavour of the remix. Kinky Roland conjures a soft remix which speeds up the original but retains its sadness. Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Nawed offer additional music and Zoheb lend arrangements. Vishal´s lyrics are still thought provoking and touching.
Vishal Shekhar compose Kabhi Muskura Ke sung by Sanjay Dutt. Sanjay Dutt is not the best of singers, but knows when his voice will fit a song. This song is all about attitude, and the cocky confidence in Sanju´s voice fits the song like a glove. Vishal also wrote the defiant lyrics which match Dutt´s rendition. They are well suited to this songs theme. This is a slow rock and roll song stuffed with awesome electric guitar riffs and drums. It takes multiple listens, but this song really grows on you!
Zinda is the first must have of the New Year; its songs are definitely different from your usual Bollywood fare. Zinda is somewhat like a concept album, each song carries a despondent attitude. That doesn´t make Zinda depressing, but it definitely sets the tone for the film. The real treasure on this album are the lyrics, they are stunning. Even half baked songs like Har Saans and Chal Rahi Hai Saanse have redeeming factors thanks to their lyrics. The real stars of this album are Zinda Hoon Main (all 3 versions), the original version of Yeh Hai Meri Kahani and Kya Main Zinda Hoon. Zinda´s songs will remain alive for eons to come.