âRam Gopal Varma Ki Aagâ has had the odds against it, since director Varma originally announced the project. Ramesh Sippy (the director and holder of the original rights) vehemently objected to the remake and actually took Varma to court to bar him from using âSholayâ anywhere in the title of the film (which was originally to be called âRam Gopal Varma Ki Sholayâ). Sippy won that court case a scant two months prior to the release of what Varma calls his âhomageâ to the original classic. However, letâs be frank here, the movie itself is a complete almost frame-by-frame remake of the original mega-hit.
âAagâ is produced and directed by Ram Gopal Varma. The music is by Amar Mohile, Prasanna Sekhar, Ganesh Hegde and Nitin Raikwar. The movie cast includes, Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Sushmita Sen, Ajay Devgan, Prashant Raj, and Nisha Kothari.
The original âSholayâ, is considered to be the greatest classic of modern Hindi cinema. Anyone who remakes or tries to recreate that magic is trying to capture lightning in a bottle and risks the ire of Bollywood fans all around the world. As if to make matters even more difficult, the music for âSholayâ (including smash hit songs, âYeh Dosti; Mehbooba Mehbooba; Haa Jab Tak Hain Jaanâ) by maestro R.D. Burman is revered to be one of the best soundtracks of all time.
Oh, and least I forget, thereâs one more huge reason that makes âSholayâsâ magic so hard to recapture, and that is Amjad Khanâs portrayal of what may be Hindi cinemaâs greatest villain, Gabber Singh. (For a in depth review of the movie, check out our Planet Bollywood review at: Planet Bollywood Sholay Movie Review)
What, you may ask does all this have to do with the music of âRam Gopal Varma Ki Aagâ â? I think that itâs important to realize the cultural importance of the original movie, and the climate in which the new movieâs music has been released. Most âSholayâ â fans will dismiss the new soundtrack as being nothing compared to the original (something that I initially did), without giving this soundtrack a chance to âliveâ on its own. Does âAagâsâ soundtrack live up to its heritage? No, it does not. Is it a bad soundtrack? No, itâs not necessarily a bad soundtrack, but itâs no âSholayâ.
The music itself falls squarely into the typical RGV Factory music production house. Itâs apparent from the beginning that you are going to hear the standard rage against man and the world songs that are prevalent in most RGV films. The use of RGV mainstays Amar Mohile and Nitin Raikwar gives the listener a heads up as to what to expect.
Ram Gopal Varma is a director that is capable of producing classic cinema such at âSatyaâ, âSarkarâ and âNishabdâ but is also the director whose production house,âthe Factoryâ â, has produced a string of bad movies. Letâs see whether his âAagâ soundtrack measureâs up, while trying to keep an open mind by not expecting another âSholayâ .
No âSholayâ remake would be complete without some version of the song, âMehbooba Mehboobaâ â. Part-time musician and full time dance choreographer Ganesh Hegde re-envisions this signature track for the next generation. Taking a page from his self-titled pop album, he creates a new version of the classic track. Letâs get this out of the way first: It does not hold a candle to the original. In an effort to modernize it, the beginning and middle of the original melody is kept, with changes to the rest of the song. For nostalgic fans, the beginning music and interlude will evoke memories of the original, but the rest will leave you yawning. Fans are already remembering this track more for the video, which features the sexy semi-clad Urmila Matondkar writhing sensuously to the music. Hegde throws in a rapper to modernize the song, who speaks in an over-kill Hip-Hop accent. To drive home the point that Amitabh Bachchan as Babban Singh is much more evil than Amjad Khanâs Gabbar Singh, we have the big B spouting lines of dialogue throughout the song. One such line of dialogue is his famous âKhabhie Khabhie Mere Dil Meâ dialogue from the movie âSilsilaâ, but with an evil twist at the end. Somehow, I donât think that fans of Gabbar Singh need to worry. The one saving grace of this song are the husky vocals by Sunidhi Chauhan as she proves once again to be one of the best female vocalists in recent memory. Sukhwinder Singhâs talents are totally wasted in this track. The lyrics are by Shabbir Ahmed, and are serviceable with what he had to work with. So who wins this contest of âAagâ Vs. âSholayâ? âSHOLAYâ all the way! In the words of the immortal, Gabbar Singh, âJo darr gaya samjho margayaâ.
The second track, âRuk Jaâ should be familiar in sound to all RGV fans (and fans of the original âKoi Haseenaâ track from âSholayâ. Composer Amar Mohile reproduces the sound used in RGVâs âRoadâ to produce another angry at each other but truly in love song. The song was the second track after âMehbooba Mehboobaâ to be used as a video/promo for the movie. Featuring Nisha Kothari as Gunghroo and Ajay Devgan as Heeru, the song showcases their often times tempestuous relationship. To be honest, the song really does not distinguish itself in any way. The melody is ok, the music is good, but the song does not in any way grab the listener. There are two things that raise this song from forget it pile, and that is: The return of Vinod Rathod (âDeewanaâ) to playback singing. The playback singer brother of music director Shravan (of Nadeem-Shravan) fame is back after a long hiatus and sounds absolutely amazing. He sings the track with so much energy and gusto that the listener quickly realizes that this is his song all the way. Sunidhi Chauhan is the second strength of this song as her jugalbandi singing with Rathod creates a scintillating energy. The lyrics by Sajid-Farhad are ok at best. So who wins again in this contest of âAagâ Vs. âSholayâ? SHOLAY all the way! In the words of the immortal Basanti, âKyunke mujhe befuzool baat karne ki aadat to hai nahinâ
Next up, is the track âHoliâ that attempts to recapture the magic of the original, âHoli Ke Dinâsong that is a mainstay of every Holi celebration around the world. Prasanna Sekhar composes the song with lyrics by Sharim Momin. This one was showcased by the third video/promo of the film that featured Sushmita Sen dancing amist all the color. Itâs not a bad song, but sounds too much like a standard folk tune. Vocalists Ravindra Upadhyaye, Shweta Pandit, Farhad Bhiwandiwala, Shreya Ghoshal and Sudesh Bhosle try their best to infuse the song with the spirit of the festive holiday. There really is nothing memorable about the song in melody or structure. âAagâ Vs. âSholayâ? SHOLAY all the way! Immortal words again from Sholay : âKhota sikka to dono taraf se khota hota haiâ
The fourth track, âCha Rahaâ,is composed and written by Nitin Raikwar and is arguably the best tune on this soundtrack. The video/promo for this song had the typical Ram Gopal Varma stamp on it and features a barely clad Nisha Kothari and a topless Ajay Devgan attempting to convey the raw sexual energy between the two characters. Vinod Rathod handles the male vocals, but the star of this track are the vocals of Shweta Pandit whose voice is perfectly suited to songs like this. The track is very catchy and the music is heavy on the techno. Still, itâs nothing that we havenât heard before and is what I would call a typical RGV song. âAag Vs. âSholayâ? SHOLAY all the way! Immortal words again from âSholayâ, â Basanti, in kutton ke samne mat naachna.
The fifth track on this so far less than impressive soundtrack is titled, âHai Aag Yehâ and is an ode to R.D. Burmanâs original soundtrack to âSholayâ. Composed by Amar Mohile with aggressively written lyrics by Sharim Momin, the song succeeds in bringing back that 70âs vibe. Itâs actually more of a background score than an actual song. Amar Mohileâs strengths obviously are within his ability to create riveting background music and he lives up to expectations with this track. Sunidhi Chauhan brings her usual high energy vocals which combine with the music to finally provide a memorable track on this album. âAag Vs. Sholayâ? Sorry, still âSHOLAYâ all the way! Still, this track does make you say, âLag Gaya Nishaanaâ.
The sixth track, âJee Leâ is the worst of the soundtrack. Composed by Prasanna Sekhar with crude ânâ crass lyrics by Sajid-Farhad, this song is a sad attempt to convey the friendship that was so excellently presented in the classic âYeh Dostiâ. Itâs totally forgettable and not worth the listen. Spare yourselves from the screeching vocals of Vinod Rathod and Farhad Bhiwandiwala. âAagâ Vs. âSholayâ? Again, itâs âSHOLAYâ all the way! Immortal words from Sholay: âYeh haath hum ko de de, thakurâ.
Is there any hope for this album? The answer turns out to be a resounding no as the seventh track,âDumâ painfully plays. The music by Amar Mohile (with lyrics by Sharim Momin) tries so hard to be commanding and inspirational, with no luck. The song just doesnât work, and Amar Mohile should stick to his obvious strengths in composing background scores. Even the vocals of Vinod Rathod can not save the day. Save your ears and skip this track. âAagâ Vs. Sholayâ? âSHOLAYâ all the way. Immortal words from Sholay: âTera kya hoga, Kaliya?â
The eighth track is the inevitable remix of âMehboobaâ by DJ Amyth. It has the usual addition of rhythmic percussive beats with techno bleeps added in for good measure. Dance to it, but donât listen to it, is the only advice I can give you. The ninth track is the instrumental version of track five,âHai Aag Yehâand will keep you up at night. âAagâ Vs. Sholay? Youâve got to believe itâs âSHOLAYâ all the way! As Gabbar Singh laughs his way into the sunset, you can can hear him ask the immortal question, âKitne aadmi the ?â
Honestly, the soundtrack to âRam Gopal Varma Ki Aagâ doesnât even come close to âSholayâsâ soundtrack. Even, if you try your best to not compare the two. âAagâ fails on so many levels. Itâs hard to believe that the talented music directors on this soundtrack were not inspired to produce some more memorable tunes considering how much of a cultural impact the original soundtrack has had on fans worldwide.
If you must add any of these songs to your playlist, then add âMehboobaâ, âCha Rahaâ, and âYeh Aag Haiâ which are the only three semi- decent songs on the soundtrack, otherwise steer clear and stick with the classic songs from âSholayâ.
One final note, after suing Ram Gopal Varma, Ramesh Sippy sold the rights to âSholayâ for a cool 100 million Rupees to producer Pritesh Nandy (âJhankar Beatsâ, âPyar Ke Side Effectsâ). The respected producer plans on making a prequel, remake, sequel and animated movie. How good will the music be? Only time will tellâŠ.