To write this review, I took the liberty of grabbing my laptop and watching the worst little league team in my neighborhood play baseball. These little tykes work hard to try and win a game, but never really win. Then I see the coach coaxing, screaming and pulling his hair out. Will they beat their losing streak by winning this game? Let’s see if we can find out by the end of this review….
August 15th is right around the corner and amidst the cries of, “Jai Hind”, the nation will be gripped in the fervor of patriotism. Timed to perfection, Yash Raj Films is releasing their latest magnum opus, “Chak de India” starring king Khan himself, Shahrukh Khan. Yash Raj has had a difficult year so far, losing much ground with critics and audiences alike. Now their well-oiled marketing machine, is releasing this movie that at any other time of the year, would be a bit more difficult to hype.
The story itself is reminiscent of the Hollywood film, “The Bad News Bears” (released in 1976) starring Walter Mathhau. In apna Desi version we have Shahrukh Khan playing Kabir Khan an ex world championship Hockey player who comes back to lead a rag-tag group of girls and forge them into a championship team. The conclusion of the movie is pretty clear, but remember, it’s not the end but the journey in getting there.
The music for the film is by Salim-Sulaiman who are best known for being excellent background scrore composers. The two brothers deservedly earned the Filmfare award for the background score to “Krrish”. They have shown their skill in composing instrumental music, but what about a full-fledged soundtrack with vocals? Well, let’s get on with this patriotic review, celebrate India’s Independence Day, and yell out, “Chak de phatte!”.
Track one, “Chak de India” sets the tempo and mood for the rest of the album and is bright like the sun. Salim-Sulaiman realize that they need to grab the listener and blow him/her away right from the start. To do this, they enlist the excellent but underutilized singer, Sukhvinder Singh. There’s only one man who can “Chaiyya Chaiyya” his way into our hearts, and that is Sukhvinder. With his gusto vocals the song is elevated to another level entirely. In the hands of a less accomplished singer, the track would not have been nearly as good. Kudos are due to the music director duo for selecting the most apt playback singer for this opening track. Take a little bit of “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base and throw in some driving Indian percussive beats and you have this track that will get you off your seat and cheering out loudly for India. The lyrics for this entire soundtrack are by Jaideep Sahni, and his poetry is a breath of freshness compared to the other lyricists out there. All the parties involved bring their “A” game to this track and leave a memorable impression upon the listener. A special mention must be made about the backup singers, Salim Merchant and Marianne D’Cruz (D’Cruz sounds very much like Malin Sofia Katarina Berggren, lead singer of Ace of Base) who ably support Sukhvinder Singh with their vocals. Rise up and shout, “CHAK DE PHATTE!”
Track three introduces the players who will win the game for you and me. “Ek Hockey Doongi Rakh Ke” must have been an interesting challenge for the music directors. Create a song that introduces the team members, use their voices, has Shah Rukh Khan talking throughout, and still make a song that people can listen to without seeing the film. I am happy to announce that they have done it. A song that could have been trite is instead a delight. The beat of the music, and the interesting quirkiness of the characters encourage the listener to find out more. Since SRK can do pretty much everything, but sing, K.K. is brought in to croon the last few uplifting “Chak de India” lines in a blink and you’ll miss it playback. I give a lot of credit to Jaideep Sahni, for rising to the challenge and creating memorable lyrics for a song that can be easily dismissible at first. Kudos Jaideep, you make me want to shout, “CHAK DE PHATTE!”
Track four’s not a bore; it’s something that makes you want to dance some more. “Bad Bad Girls” jumps right out from the eighties and onto the dance floor. Singer Anushka Manchanda who rocketed to fame through Channel V’s “Kiska Band Bajega” provides the pop ‘n’ froth vocals. Salim-Sulaiman add a techno beat with lots and lots of scratches to make the DJs happy. I’m afraid this track sounds a little too much like a background score, and will probably be played in the background during some hockey scenes in the movie. It’s probably the weakest song on the soundtrack. Not bad by any means, but not great. It will grow on you. Still, the song can’t quell the excitement and momentum of a very good soundtrack. So you know you want to make me shout, “CHAK DE INDIA!” Oh and of course, “CHAK DE PHATTE!”
Track five will make you feel alive. In what is arguably the best track on this soundtrack, Salim-Sulaiman along with Jaideep Sahni deliver an amazingly touching song that will truly move the listener. It’s apparent that the song is a wonderful showcase for the music duo’s talents. “Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan” starts off with an emotional punch and just continues to floor the listener throughout. Krishna and Salim Merchant provide the excellent vocals, but I have to make a special mention about Krishna, who sings in a Sufi style that could give Kailash Kher a run for his money. I can’t recommend this song enough. If you want to listen to a song that leaves an impact and takes you on an emotional musical journey, than you need to add this to your playlist right away. Sing it with emotion and your heart will say, “CHAK DE PHATTE!”
Track six goes midival and adds some punditz to the mix. Delhi based remix/electronica group Midival Punditz (who have two excellent albums, “Midival Times” and the self-titled “Midival Punditz”)are brought on board to provide a fresh take on "Ek Hockey Doongi Rakh Ke". This group has shown that they are more than capable of putting together unique remix effects with electronica keyboards to bring their trademark sound/flourish to this track. Kudos to Salim-Sulaiman if they are the ones who chose the Punditz to remix the track. If you are in the mood for something fresh, then get down with this remix. Let’s get a Midival Punditz roar and shout, “CHAK DE PHATTE!”
So, let’s see what the score is here. We’ve got seven tracks, five of which are brand new songs, one is a remix, and one is basically dialogue baazi. Salim-Sulaiman have shown that just like the girl’s hockey team,every underdog has his/her day. The album is a relief from the usual Himeshsonic Pritammatic soundtracks that are flooding the Bolly music scene today. Here’s hoping that the duo get more contracts and bring us some more fresh tracks.
As for the little league team that I’ve been watching while writing this review? They lost, but that doesn’t make them any less of a winner, because they gave their all and played their best. In the end, that’s what matters, right? So, have fun and forget the rest!