News of a remake of Alibaba Aur 40 Chor has been circulating on various websites for a while, so it may be apt to revisit the music of Umesh Mehra’s 1980 version. This lavish Indo-Soviet production afforded R.D.Burman the opportunity to work with Russian composer Vladimir Milov. The resulting soundtrack boasted of some of R.D.’s most catchy melodies decorated by superb arrangements incorporating Russian and Arabic influences.
The highlight of the album has to be Asha Bhosle’s “Khatouba”! Asha’s vocal accomplishment in this song is simply brilliant. The ear-friendly tune and ‘belly dancing’ music helped to make this song unforgettable. The gorgeous Zeenat Aman swaying to the number on screen didn’t hurt either. A definite winner!
Not to be outdone, Lata Mangeshkar got to wow us with the lament, “Aaja Sar-E-Bazaar”. The 1950’s style composition wedded with Arabic sounds made this number a unique experience. Lata was so practiced at singing for the great
Hema Malini that when you hear this song, Hema’s face immediately springs to mind.
Kishore Kumar is suitably energetic singing for Dharmendra in, “Jaadugar Jaadu Kar Jaayega”. Asha Bhosle joins Kishore and the two singers live up to the song’s title and create magic. The music is filled with a variety of sounds and instruments, including some great percussion pieces.
The dramatic nature of “Qayamat” allows for some loud brass instruments and also sound effects such as swords and knifes being used in battle. The Arabic sounds are ever present and the tabla is used to great effect in some of the musical interludes. Once again Lata Mangeshkar sings for Hema, bringing her expertise to this semi-classical tune.
Lyricist, Anand Bakshi certainly wasn’t shy when he wrote “Sare Shaher Mein Ek Haseen Hai”. The innuendo is quite obvious throughout the track but R.D.’s amazing tune overshadows this aspect. To add to the enjoyment factor, we get to hear Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar sing together (a rare occurrence these days), although Lata’s rendition doesn’t quite manage to reach the same level of seduction as Asha’s.
To round off the album there are two instrumental pieces. The first is the title music which is fast and energetic. The rhythm implies galloping horses and the arrangements are in keeping with the theme of this Arabian Nights tale. The second instrumental piece incorporates weird sound effects and some eerie, ghostly sounds, obviously composed for the background score of the film.
R.D.Burman has so many gems to his credit that Alibaba Aur 40 Chor tends to get overlooked. I hope this review will help listeners rediscover the classic tunes this album has to offer.