Rabbi Shergill shot to fame with his solo release titled, “Rabbi” which contained the smash hits “Bulla ke Jaana” and “Tere Bin”. With his first release he established himself as an artist that can stretch his musical talents beyond the standard bhangra/indi-pop scene, and came up with beautiful music that appealed to listeners from all backgrounds. The songs on that album were soulful, catchy and meaningful. For the follow up to his smash hit debut, Rabbi has surprised his fans by choosing to enter the Hindi Film Music arena instead of releasing a second private bhangra/indi-pop album. Released on the Saregama music label, the soundtrack to the movie, Delhi Heights features Rabbi Shergill as the music director, as well as the lyricist. Let’s see if he can maintain the soulful quality of his music, and please not only his established fans, but also reach out to a larger audience.
Rabbi makes his filmi debut with a relatively modest movie. Delhi Heights is produced by South Indian film producers, Sivaji Productions and directed by debutant Anand Kumar. The star cast includes Jimmy Shergill (no relation to Rabbi), Neha Dhupia, Rohit Roy, Simone Singh ,Om Puri, and Kamini Khanna. The film focuses on the relations between disparate people within an apartment complex in Delhi.
Rabbi usually incorporates a lot of guitar riffs in his music in ways that other musicians (certainly not apna filmi music directors) do. While growing up, he was part of the hard rock music scene and you can tell his music is influenced by the guitar work of Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. So let’s put this cd in the player yaar, grab our air guitar, revisit our fond memories of “Dilli” and see if the soundtrack will take us to any heights.
Before I begin the review of the songs on the soundtrack, I must mention that Saregama has put some effort into the packaging of the cd. The insert contains all the lyrics in both Hindi and English for each song on the album. It’s nice to see some effort being put into the soundtrack packaging, as most film soundtracks are released with a single page insert with no additional information. Interesting to note, is that Rabbi plays all the electric guitar in addition to his writing the lyrics and composing the music.
The first song on the album titled, Dilli starts off with a guitar riff that sounds like some kind of broadcast signal and right off the bat you know that this soundtrack is going to be different than other recent releases like Honeymoon Private LTD. and Namastey London. The music is soothing and when Rabbi’s vocal comes into the track it’s like a breath of fresh air. I am not even from “Dilli”, but the song made me feel like I am right there. The promotional video for this song shows Rabbi riding his motorbike through Delhi, while singing this track. The lyrics and music are written as a love song to the city. It’s refreshing to hear such a sweet tune and I have to give Rabbi credit where credit is due. This one is a total FRESH TRACK that has a lot of replay value and should become the theme song for Delhi.
The second song on the album, Tere Bin sounds so familiar. Wait a minute! It’s the exact same track from Rabbi’s debut album. Being the meticulous reviewer that I am, I played this track from Delhi Heights, and immediately played the same track from Rabbi’s debut album (just for all you readers out there).
Let’s see, the same musical arrangements, vocals and lyrics. The same production value and sound level seem evident. My dear reader, in my humble opinion, this track is the exact same track reused from his debut album. We interrupt this regularly scheduled review, for an excerpt from the review of Rabbi Shergill’s “Rabbi” album:
Tere Bin is a wonderfully romantic and soothing song with excellent musical arrangements. Rabbi’s vocals elevate the track into something imminently memorable. This is what music is all about. Soulful and moving, this track is an INSTANT HIT!”
We now return you to our regularly scheduled review. I have to say, this track is an amazing track, but it’s a bit of a disappointment that it was added to this soundtrack instead of a brand new composition. It must have been done as a marketing ploy, as the song was a big hit and is immediately recognizable; however, it leaves the listener feeling an immense sense of déjà vu. The promotional trailers for this movie, all feature this song in the background and I am sure it will get some people to buy this soundtrack as well as see the movie. I would say that the track was a FRESH TRACK on the original “Rabbi” album, but on this one, I have to say it is only a SEMI-FRESH TRACK.
The third track on the album Kabhi Aana Na starts out with a crazy cool guitar riff that leads you right into the dhols ‘n’ bass, building up the excitement for when the singing will actually start. The song about the highs and lows of friendship and what happens through life, is sung by Rabbi Shergill and Indian Idol runner-up Amit Sana. Rabbi lends his smooth vocals to the song and is ably assisted by Amit, whose voice sounds like a cross between Shaan and Babul Supriyo. The music and lyrics are in interesting contrasts, with the music fairly upbeat and driving, yet the lyrics are soulful and almost brooding. Rabbi makes excellent use of not only the electric guitar but also the dhol beats, making this a funky little tune that will get your spirits up at the same time as it makes you think about the depths of friendship. A true FRESH TRACK that is another winner for this soundtrack.
For the fourth song, Kitni Der Tak, Rabbi reaches into his musical paghri to pull out a bona fide country music song. This song would be at home on any country music station in Texas. Picture this: It’s a beautiful summer evening and you have your best cowboy hats/boots on. You’re heading to the nearest country club to meet your special cowgirl who you are longing for. Then when you enter the club, you hear this song playing in the background, and see the one you are longing for. That’s the best way to describe this truly beautiful song that will make you long to ride off into the sunset with your beloved. Rabbi has passed the mike over to Sonu Nigam for this song. Sonu performs it to his romantic best with a breathtaking interlude featuring the brief vocals of Rabbi himself. The more you listen to this song, the more it will grow on you. This song is romantic, soothing, soulful, with excellent lyrics and guitar work that will make you swoon. This one is a total FRESH TRACK and it’s nice to see a music director willing to tackle other genres of music rather than just sticking to club and dance music.
Now that we have ridden off into the sunset, let’s get back to apna desh again as Rabbi brings you an authentic Punjabi bhangra tune that doesn’t rely on hip hop or club beats. At first listen, Aaja Nachiye, with vocals by Salim Shahzada (who sounds uncannily like Kailash Kher at times), seems like a standard folkish bhangra melody; however, the more you listen to the song, the more you will enjoy the freshness of the song. For a long time, there seems to have been an unwritten rule that there has to be at least one bhangra song on every Bollywood soundtrack. Music directors are aware that some listeners have begun to get some bhangra burnout, and have resorted to combining hip-hop beats and suggestive lyrics in an attempt to present something new. Rabbi has gone back to the original well for inspiration and created a straightforward bhangra track that is sung with such jubilance by Salim that you can not help but get up off your chair and shout, “ADIPA”! Another FRESH TRACK and winner for this album, further sets this soundtrack above the norm.
The momentum of this soundtrack is not lost with the sixth and final track on this album. It’s that time of the year to throw some color into your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rabbi gives us a joyful and colorful holi track in the form of Ae Gori, with vocals by Kailash Kher and Sonu Kakkar. Kailash channels the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan while Sonu Kakkar brings a nice rustic feeling to this track. Full of youthful energy to celebrate the colors of love, I am sure this song will be played at many holi festivals throughout the world. Musically, Rabbi again starts out with some excellent guitar playing that then segues into Kailash Kher’s vocals. The momentum of the song keeps building as the song goes on, with frenetic guitar playing as well as a pounding dhol beat. Rabbi keeps the lively atmosphere by putting in harmonium interludes that will have you jumping out of your seats. Another FRESH TRACK from a soundtrack that seems to have the potential to be the best one released so far this year. When this song ends the silence is completely palpable and you will find yourself hitting the replay button.
Just when you think that you have heard it all, a soundtrack comes out that is a breath of fresh air. With just the right mixing of musical genres, Rabbi pulls off something that other music directors should realize. You don’t need to make every song a hip-hop or club song. You can have good music that balances both western and eastern melodies. This is soothing, moving, soulful, melodic music that not only will move your heart, but your body as well. If Rabbi can keep this quality up then he will make it to the top giving our “baseball capped” music director some tough competition. Add this album to your permanent play list and you will hear a soundtrack that will take you to “Delhi Heights”.