It seems that after Salaam –E- Ishq, multiple stories are in vogue, since we have now seen the releases of Honeymoon Private Limited and Delhi Heights. Now we have the new movie Life in a Metro to look forward to. The one thing that these multi-storied starrers have in common so far, is that the music has been fairly interesting. What with Shankar Ehsaan & Loy, Vishal Shekhar, and Rabbi Shergill providing some interesting (if not blockbuster level) music for Bollywood fans, musically at least, we have been treated to some of the most innovation we have seen in awhile. It seems that apna desi music directors are trying to move away from the tried and true techno dance formula (with a smattering of rap thrown in ala Himmesh Reshammiya) to expand the genre with rock, folk, country and jazz.
Life in a Metro is the latest release by talented director Anurag Basu, the director of Gangster. He teams up once again with his accomplice in criminally good music….Pritam. Pritam has been everywhere of late and is churning out soundtracks left and right. Again, I must say that it always raises a red flag of concern with this reviewer, when music directors sign on too many projects at once. The quality of the music always suffers as one can only go to the creative well so many times before they descend into copying other songs and fall farther into the final stage of lack of creativity, which is copying their own previous hit music. Pritam has shown some signs of overwork in some of his recent soundtracks, but it will be interesting to see how long he can keep up this workload that he has taken on.
The music of Gangster was well appreciated by a lot of listeners, however readers of Planet Bollywood are well aware that that soundtrack had a lot of songs that were copied by Pritam from musicians outside the Hindi film music scene. Perhaps Pritam thinks like Mahesh Bhatt, and that is that if you have not heard it, then it is new to you. So let’s see if Pritam can provide us with a truly original album, or something borrowed and familiar.
The movie centers around multiple couples or would be couples in a complicated story of love, infidelity, unwanted desires, and the modern age wherein life goes by too fast. Anurag Basu has chosen a talented cast to portray the characters. The cast consists of Kay Kay Menon, Shilpa Shetty, Sharman Joshi, Kangana Ranaut, Konkona Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, and Shiney Ahuja. Ronnie Screwvalla (producer of Rang De Basanti) puts together another potential hit film. UTV which just released the excellent Namesake (and who have signed on to produce/distribute M. Night Shyamalan’s next feature, The Happening) are releasing the movie.
The music for this film has received much buzz in recent months and ranks within the top five of many top ten music lists. This time around, Pritam has dropped the techno, dance, and rap in favor of guitar driven stadium rock (he also steps up to play guitar and provide backing vocals). He has composed the music and recruited some of the best male playback singers to form the Metro Band for this soundtrack.
Special mention must be made of the inclusion of the electric five string Zitar (a more modern version of the twenty string Sitar) played by Zitar creator Niladri Kumar who also happens to be one of the finest Sitar players in India today. Niladri, turned down the chance to patent the Zitar, instead keeping it in the open market so that other aspiring musicians could learn and play it. Pritam must be admired for including this unique artist in this rock themed soundtrack.
The first track on the soundtrack is titled, “In Dino”. It begins with an electric guitar solo intro which seamlessly flows into the smooth vocals by Bangladeshi singer Soham Chakraborty. The poignant lyrics by Syed Quadri. The melodious tune and the vocals are the highlight of this track which speaks straight to our forlorn hearts. The lyrics convey the search for that one true love that we know we will find one day, or remind us how lucky we are to have found that person already. This one is the perfect opener for this album hooking the listener with emotions and music. From the electric guitar, to the use of live drums and even the harmonica, the track is MIND BLOWING.
The second track on the album is titled, “Alvida” and has vocals by Pritam favorite K.K. The lyrics by Amitabh Verma showcase the intense feelings of love one can have towards another until they break your heart and leave. BAND METRO start off the song very low key as K.K sings about love and heartbreak with such intensity helping the electric guitars and drums kick in to bring down the house. While listening to the song, the listener can not help but notice how powerful the one word, “Alvida” is. The best rock songs are the songs written about broken hearts and lost loves. Alvida joins that inner club, and Pritam brings us a track that is truly ROCKING. I have to mention, that K.K. sings very well, but doesn’t have the roughness in voice to properly carry this song. The track has a reprise further along on the album which is performed by James, who truly steals the show by bringing in that gruffness in voice that is lacking in this version.
The third track is titled, “O Meri Jaan” and features the return of K.K to our stage for a soft rock ballad that will move even the hardest heart. Pritam has made the perfect rock balld and K.K.’s soft vocals fit perfectly with the music. The guitar interlude halfway through this song steals the show. If this was performed in a concert hall, everyone would be playing along on their air guitar and standing up to shout out, “Oh Meri Jaan (Ohhhooooo)! This is another ROCKING song for this so far excellent soundtrack.
The man who sung the song “Bheegi Bheegi” from Gangster, James, steps up to the mike for the fourth track, titled, “Rishtey”. From the beginning of the track he brings to light the fastness of life and how relationships (both romantic and friendship) turn from closness to being strangers. James conveys the harshness of the modern world and how difficult it is to find anything but loneliness. This track features well written lyrics by Syed Quadri. Play this one loud so you can hear each musical note combine with emotional lyrics that will make you think about your place in the world. This is a MIND BLOWING track that ends with a piano solo that makes it a highlight of the album. The concert hall lights will dim and lighters will be held up in the air as emotions run high with this song.
The fifth track on this album reminds the listener of MTV-Unplugged and is titled, “Baatein Kuch Ankahee Si”. The focus is on the singer, Suhail Chakraborty’s vocals which are ably supported by a harmonica and guitar. This soft rock ballad sweetly speaks of the realization of love. The lyrics are by Sandeep Srivastava. This deceptively simple song, seems at first not to have the power of the previous tracks, but upon repeated play will have more impact upon the listener. Another winner for this so far outstanding soundtrack, this one is quietly MIND BLOWING.
After the rambunctiousness of “Kar Salaam” we move to the seventh track which is titled, “Alvida Reprise”. This one takes the previous version one step further, with lyrics realizing that this goodbye is truly final. The angry young man lyrics are by Amitabh Verma. The vocals are gruff and rough by James whose voice fits perfectly with the lyrics and music in conveying the anger of the situation. Niladri Varma provides some Zitar solos that add to the swirling emotions within this track. Each time James sings Alvida, he makes the listener feel the hurt, pain and anger that he is trying to convey through his vocals. The album just keeps getting better and better with this ROCKING track.
The romantic teddy bear of India makes his debut as a member of BAND METRO with the eighth track, “Baatein Kuch Ankahee Si”. This is the full blown version of the unplugged fifth track. Adnan Sami who excels at this genre of song, truly shines as his smooth vocals cover the melodious guitar, harmonica, and light drums of this tune. Another winner that is softly ROCKING, Adnan’s vocals are the highlight of this song.
The piano leads the listener to the ninth track, which is a reprise of “O Meri Jaan” with vocals by Suhail. To be honest, this reprise is not really much different than the original version of the song sung by K.K. There is no difference musically, or lyrically. Suhail does an admirable job with the vocals, but I think in this instance, K.K.’s version is superior. Points off for a reprise that is not different enough from the original, yet this is still a ROCKING track.
Gentleman and ladies, BAND METRO has left the stage leaving us with memories of love, heartbreak, loneliness and celebration. What more can you ask from a rock band? But wait, the album is not over yet as the audience shouts for an encore. The band returns with some DJs for three re-mixes of their soon to be classic tracks.
The tenth track is titled, “Rishtey Revisited” and is remixed by DJ Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Naved. James provides the vocals and the DJs provide the techno trance beat which gives the original rock song an extra almost meditative kick for the dance floor. A danceable ROCKING remix.
The eleventh track is a remix of “Baatein Kuch Ankahhee Si” by DJ A-Myth and I dare you not to smile when listening to this track. Adnan’s vocals combine with a euro-dance beat that will get everyone onto the dance floor.
The twelfth and final track is titled, “In Dino Revisited”, remixed by Bunty Rajput. Again, a euro-dance beat takes a soft ballad and turns it into a dance song. A well made remix that is tailor made for clubs.
The music ends, the guitars are put away, the drums are still and the light come up. Pritam has come up with what is arguably his best soundtrack of the year so far. In this reviewer’s opinion, it might be the best soundtrack of his career. The music rocks in the best way possible, and provides soul-ful music that is a pleasant alternative to the dance, rap, and bhangra music that is most common in the Hindi music scene.
This album is a must for your music collection and playlist. It is a refreshing and unique approach to film soundtracks and I must commend Anurag Basu, Pritam and all the musicians who have performed on this soundtrack. Rock on Pritam and BAND METRO!