By the early 1980s, it must have been apparent that Kishore Kumar was THE voice for Amitabh Bachchan. Whenever the two remarkable performers came together, there was always a thunderous spark that delighted and entertained audiences.
Bappi Lahiri capitalized on the potential of the two artists in his album, Namak Halaal. He weaved a few songs that have the unmistakable stamp of the collaboration of Kishore Kumar-Amitabh Bachchan on them.
Ke Pag Ghungroo Baandh Meera Naachi Thi, Aur Hum Naache Bin Ghungroo Ke is a track that is interlaced with classical music and is a creative and unique song. Prakash Mehra and Anjaan have worked together to come up with the unusual lyrics. The singing is a challenge that Kishore Kumar took up and he is just terrific. His constant switching to and from various tones of singing is marvelous to say the least. Imagine listening to him switch from a sombre golden tone with, Aap andar se kuch aur, Bahar se kuch aur nazar aate hain to a cheerful and intentionally nasal tone with, Aapka to lagta hai bas yehi sapna, Ram naam japna paraya maal apna. The mind boggles with delight!
Onto something less complex yet something that Kishore must have equally enjoyed singing. Asha Bhosle joins him in, Aaj Rapat Jaaye To Humein Na Uthaiyo. With a catchy tune and the singers in a playful mood, this one is an entertaining tribute to the genre of rain songs. The picturisation is a lot of fun to watch with Amitabh and Smita Patil raising hell in the rain.
Raat Baaqi Baat Baaqi, Hona Hai Jo Hojaane Do sounds like something that R.D. Burman himself would have composed for Asha Bhosle. A compliment, of course, for Bappi Lahiri (who sings the last verse) as Burmanda often chose the best for Ashaji. A seductive song with a mesmerizing disco pop score, only the Queen Bee could have done justice to it. Her rendition is an intoxicating blend of contradictions; angelic but seductive, haunting but sweet and revealing yet mysterious. It is sheer fun to hear Shashi Kapoor speaking and his voice almost being buried by the track beats. Bappi brings an atmospheric ending to it with his rendition of the last few lines. Anjaans words evoke an aura of enigma and romantic suspense.
You will find Kishore saab in nasha mode in Thodisi Jo Pee Lee Hai, Chori To Nahin Ki Hai. A classic drunk song complete with Kishore making hiccup sounds. It is remarkable how Kishores always perfectly mimicked the vocal situations of his star/characters in the songs. Here, he gives an entertaining and effective portrayal of a drunken man trying to deny the fact that he has drunk a lot.
The last number in the soundtrack is another pop song by Asha, Jawani Jaaneman, Haseen Dilruba. This one pales in comparison to Raat Baaqi and is a routine and run-of-the-mill dance track. Nevertheless, Asha applies her usual sassy and infectious approach to songs of this genre.
A lot of music listeners tend to assume that a great album can only be judged by how many songs it has therefore judging by quantity as opposed to quality. With only five songs, Namak Halaal demonstrates that quality (and not quantity) is what lingers in the minds of music lovers.