out of

Director: Khalid Mohamed
Music: Anu Malik, A.R. Rahman & Ranjit Barot
Lyrics: Gulzar, Sameer, Tejpal Kaur & Shaukat Ali

Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram

No, it is not the musical messiah we were hoping for.  Yet Fiza proves a key point I have been aching to state of late; in the long-run, it takes creative, unique and situational lyrics in tandem with pleasant music to make a Classic Soundtrack.  Anu Malik, A.R. Rahman and "long-time no hear" Ranjit Barot are three of our best music directors.  That fact is indisputable.  But to make any of their individual scores immemorable, they also need the complement of great lyricists.   (Can you ever forget Rangeela or Kareeb?)   The vast disparity in song quality between Fiza's different tunes is ample proof of my assertion. 

Give Gulzar the quill in hand, and the score is a winner all the way.  Witness "Tu Hawa Hai, Fiza Hai" (Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik) with all  the necessary novelty and sweetness to melt a million hearts.  The words depict a vast and picturesque landscape of visuals personified in the characteristics of Fiza, the lead character in Khalid Mohamed's directorial debut.   This one could not have been better worded, sung or tuned.

Jaspinder Narula drops her cap of Punjabi folk professional to take on the challenge of "Na Leke Jao, Mere Dost Ka Janaza Hai" and stuns with her aptitude.  It is the most atonal, morbid, depressing and disturbing themed song I have heard in ages, and yet it is arguably the best composition of the album.  One cannot thank Gulzar enough for this novel eulogy set to music.

On the other hand of the happiness spectrum, Udit Narayan & Alka Yagnik's "Aajaa Mahiyaa" is a clear, masses-oriented number.   Forget bowing to convention though, Gulzar would rather we savour the different concept of the hero rubbing sunshine in the hands of his love.  What sets "Aajaa Mahiyaa" apart from the traditional love songs these days are its amazing lyrics.  

Ranjit Barot sneaks in to compose the rock meets the shehnai instrumental track "Mere Watan: Amaan's Fury".  There are no words other than "Mere Watan" for Zubin to croon in this jumpy and impressive track so what words can I critique?   Musically, this tune is awesome and we deserve to hear more of Zubin (sounds a bit like K.K.) in the future.

Fiza's mediocrity is respresented by a quartet of unimpressively worded songs; two of these, not surprisingly, are written by an over-worked Sameer.  For a man who claims he would write 'different' songs if ever given the opportunity, he sure fails to deliver here.  So what was stopping you this time, Sameer-saab? 

An always in-form Asha Bhosle, a perfectly synchronized chorus and a dance beat that won't quit all give "Aankh Milaoongi" a great sound.  Sadly, the words do not match the other talent.   Pay attention to the lyrics, and you'll be left clueless as to the theme of this song.  It appears to be a literal mishmash of lines we have earlier heard in older songs including "Badtameezi Pe Hum Aa Gaye To" from the 1986 Manmohan Desai flop Allah-Rakha.  What an awful source for inspiration.

"Gaya Gaya Dil Gaya Gaya" warbles Sonu Nigam in a Kaho Naa.. Pyaar Hai meets Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega style number.  I have a feeling this is a last-minute addition meant as a stage dance number to cash in on Hrithik's dancing talents .  No character exposition here nor any character to the words except the revelation that our hero is likely once again a playboy.  (Or maybe Sameer could not think of any other personality to give him.)  Boy, that's (not) a stretch from what we have seen of late.

A.R. Rahman and Shaukat Ali should share the responsibility for the mediocrity that is "Piya Haji Ali" with all of Bollywood.  The Arabic tune meets Taal style music is fine.  The problem is religion and commercial cinema do not mix well, and my basic complaint is that this song is pointless to the educated listener.  (There is no excuse for why Hindi cinema insists on depicting monotheistic Muslims as polytheistic grave worshippers all the time.  A producer has no qualms about spending a few crore rupees blowing up cars in his movie so why not also hire a Maulvi, Priest or Pandit to help accurately depict their concepts of worship.  Stop offending the audience with your ignorance.  Most of the Muslims in the world have no clue who this guy Haji Ali is, nor would we request him to answer our prayers.  Muslims pray to Allah (God) alone.) 

Tejpal Kaur tries to show up Sameer's shortcomings by writing "Mehboob Mere" for youngster Sunidhi Chauhan (sounding husky as ever) and aged (?) newcomer Karsan Sargathiya.  Stick to your day job Tejpal cause this Punjabi tune cum "Main Mast" (from last year's Mast) cum Biwi No 1 style track is anything but ground-breaking.  It is passable, yes, but I wonder why Malik would shoot himself in the foot by agreeing to put one of his assembly-line tunes in a semi-commercial film such as this.  If my guess is right, this one has to be a part of Malik's music bank reserves and is hopefully meant as filler on the audio cassette.

Fiza truly is a mixed bag in terms of musical quality.   Represented in part by Gulzar's magnificent collaborations with Anu Malik, the score is pulled down considerably by the mediocrity of the balance of the tracks.   Still a must have for the discerning listener, how is one expected to savour and scoff at it at the same time?  I just hope Anu and Gulzar work together again in the future.