Have you ever been at the train station in the middle of the night? It’s deserted; quiet and the most eccentric of people seem to come out at that time. You wait for your train, and hope that it’s not going to take forever. The day has given away to the mystery and timeless quality of the train station at night. There’s a cute girl or guy standing a short distance away from you. You glance once or twice in their direction, but keep to yourself. If you are married, you dream about your wife or husband and worry if they are going to be angry with you for coming home so late. Perhaps you have your IPOD blasting away in your ears, but at that moment, you don’t feel like listening to the standard film music that is propagating the top of the charts. No Himmesh, no Pritam, no Vishal Shekhar or Shankar Ehsaan Loy, just something a bit different to fit your mood. So, go through your album list and select “Ek Challis Ki Last Local”. The music begins and waiting for the train becomes a bit easier to deal with.
Ek Chalis Ki Last Local is unique in the type of music that it presents to the music fan. The movie itself promises to be as different as its star cast: Abhay Deol (whose super heroics in “Honeymoon Private Ltd” garnered him some recognition) and Neha Dhupia (whose “Delhi Heights” dragged her career further down the rabbit hole). The movie is produced by Gurunath (Quartet Production) and directed by Sanjay Kharooni. It’s a low budget film that details one night in the lives of the two lead characters
So, here we are, waiting for our train and just in time we hear the first track, “Laare Choote” begin. Every once in a while we hear a song that captures our hearts and imaginations. This is one such song. It’s not blustery or bombastic, but certainly is melodious with beautiful lyrics. The music, lyrics, and vocals for this song are by the Pakistani group, “Call the Band”. There’s a certain unmistakable quality to Pakistani bands and their lead singers. 1. They are typecast as Sufi rock. 2. Their lead singers have a fragile quality to their voice and 3. Their songs usually work best in conveying a melancholy mood. It’s nice to see this very solid entry into the genre. The song would not have been nearly as good without Xulfi’s vocals. This track is worthy of being replayed and listened to over and over. The music has nice slow percussive beat to it, with a violin solo that reinforces the melody of the song. Rather than a cookie cut ‘n’ paste job, the listener can tell that the band has put a lot of effort into this track. Interspersed between the music at various intervals are what I call dialogue baazi lines by Abhy Deol imparting filmi wisdom to all. I could have done without the dialogue, but somehow it works in tandem with the music and doesn’t take away from the song.
One of the dangers of having such a strong first track leading off the album is that the expectations are raised for the rest of the soundtrack. Upon first listen, the second track, “Ekka Chauka” is a definite drop in quality from the first song. The music is by Sandesh Shandilya with vocals by Alisha Chinai. Mehboob writes the lyrics. This is one a song that has to be listened to several times before it catches on. The music is fairly odd, with an attempt at a synth-jazz fusion. Adding to the oddity is the, “Ekka Chauka” chorus (by Sandesh Shandilya) sung in a deep bass voice throughout the song. It’s an experimental track for sure, and as such is worthy of repeated listens to get a grasp on what the music director is attempting. After awhile it grows on you, and slowly you begin to not mind the wait for that train…
The third track raises the bar again, and reminds me of something I would play while outside on a nice summer day. For some reason the acapella type chorus arrangement reminded me of the theme from “Dil Chahta Hai”. The similarities end there; however, and new music director/lyricist/vocalist Ankur Tewari comes up with a refreshingly fresh tune about the innocence of love. It’s nice to see the return of bongos as a percussive instrument within the song. The acoustic guitar adds to the youthful feeling of the song. The track is a strong showing from this debutante music director, and I hope that we get to hear more from him in the near future. With music like this, who cares if we are still waiting for that train?
It’s at this point that we look around us on this train station and realization sinks in that it’s going to be awhile longer before our train arrives. While we wait, we move on to the next (fourth) track,”Akh (film version) on this eclectic album. “Koo Koo Ka Choo…. Koo Koo Koo Karu”, I thought meaningless funny sounding words were a trend in film songs that died out in the late eighties/early nineties. The music is a different take on the standard item number. Where “Beedi” from Omkara was completely percussion driven, this track is subtler and still quite effective. The techno trance music is offset by what sounds like a single Dhol. Apun ka foreign composer bhai Tknow Frankcorsi has done a good job in adding a different sound to this track. Vocals are by Rashmi and are listenable; she has a voice that is suited for this kind of musical genre. If you could combine the styles of the Pet Shop Boys and Talvin Singh, this is what you would get. Any sign of that train? Not yet yaar, but it’s ok, because we have more music to listen to.
Don’t take a panga with the next track that is titled, “Panga”. Dj Aqeel and Sanjeev bring us this catchy track with smooth vocals by Alisha Chinai and the ever-reliable Sonu Nigam. A more easily accessible track than “Ekka Chauka”, the song immediately grows on the listener. The music by Aqeel and Sanjeev is fast paced and heavily relies on a multi-layered dhol beat. The lyrics by Mehboob are playful and enunciated very well by both singers. Alisha and Sonu both bring playfulness to the song that is infectious. It’s the type of song that will get your feet tapping and make that wait for the train a little more bearable.
There is still no sign of the train as we wait for that last local and continue to listen to this musically interesting album. The next track on the album begins the set of obligatory remixes. First up, “Akh (Dance Version)” remixed by Tknow Frankcorsi with vocals by Anoushka (who sounds just like Rashmi). I give Tknow credit for creating a remix that is just that, a reconstruction of the original song into something a bit different. Instead of simply speeding up the song and putting in more drum machine beats, the music director goes for something different. He gives the track a distinct seventies disco beat and turns it from a techno-village song to a disco dance-village song. This remix easily stands up to the original in terms of originality.
The seventh track is a remix (sort of) of “Ekka Chauka” and is called the “Title Version”. This remix sounds like the title track of a 1978 Bollywood movie. The cheesy horns, violins and old school keyboards swirl around the vocals of Alisha Chinai creating an atmosphere of creepy paranoia. The original song is remixed and reconstructed by Tknow Frankcorsi and you get the feeling that this music director really loves that seventies groove. This one is a bit much, and perhaps not the best song to listen to when you are alone waiting for that train.
We end this soundtrack just as our train pulls into the station with a remix of,” Laree Choote” by DJ Suketu and Aks. They’ve not only sped up the song, and added a faster beat, but also have rearranged the background chorus (sung by an un-credited female singer). There also appears to be more keyboard layers as they turn a mellow track into a techno dance anthem. It’s the perfect track to celebrate the euphoria of that last local train finally nearing the station.
The soundtrack ends, as the train pulls into the station and comes to a stop. The loneliness of the station is replaced by the warmth and comfort of the train as the doors open. Once, inside you grab yourself a comfortable seat. There are a few people scattered throughout the car you are in, but since they look like zombies, you decide to look out the window and watch the train begin its journey to take you home. As you drift off on the train, you reflect back on the soundtrack to “Ek Chalis Ki Last Local” and realize that the music is worth listening to again and deserves to be appreciated for offering the listener something different than most of the music that is currently out there.