The man who had his hands full of major assignments as a music director and a guest composer during the last decade, is today assigned to compose for barely a few ones. The bad phase for Anu Malik has resurfaced again. Let’s get this straight: He is not getting work mainly because his music suffered terribly in terms of quality during the last few years. Leaving aside all the plagiarisms and back stabbing episodes, Anu Malik is no more the Anu Malik whose melodic tunes were bathing music lovers’ ears.
In a recent interview, he says;
“I believe my talent has been ignored. I tried to analyse why. I heard the music of other composers, some of it was good and some defied logic. I didn’t find anything wrong with my music, it’s melodic and updated. I’ve worked very hard on Umrao Jaan, Jaaneman and Zindaggi Rocks, jo likha hai woh hokar rahega.” (Source: dnaindia.com)
His competitive spirit is not to be underestimated either as he has just enrolled in a new course in music to keep up-to-date with technology. With cut throat competition, will there be a new phase in his career? Zindaggi Rocks is a real test as he had plenty of time to compose and polish the soundtrack. Music plays an important part in this movie as Sushmita Sen is a singer. So Malik has a good theme to explore all the beauty of melody, the techniques of orchestration and the exploitation of talented singers. Can he do it?
Ek Din Fursat will probably have to be one of the finest songs Anu Malik has composed in the recent years. The soothing piano notes open the track, which instantly create a charming mood. The piano piece is extended where it is dragged from a romantic atmosphere to a somber one. Within the same music segment, the female chorus adds another sweet dimension to the piece. Gradually the background music shifts to a heavy use of the electronic strings. The excitement is building up as the voice takes time to arrive. The music played till now has been dreamy and it continues again with the keyboard sounds marrying the crispy romantic guitar. Sunidhi’s voice then makes a gentle entry, which is beautifully accompanied by the piano and gentle beats in the background. After the voice has been introduced, all the instruments – guitar, keyboard and piano, are played simultaneously in harmony. Sunidhi Chauhan sings in finesse in a low tempo mode.
The antaras are backed by the heavy guitars, which further enhances the mood. With the low tempo still prevailing, the second interlude kicks up the music with the full orchestra playing the drums and the guitar with vivid energy. The second interlude witnesses an additional sound which is the electronic flute and it gels perfectly with the mixture of the two moods- romantic meets haunting. The ending spells magic where all the musical instruments are brought into action. Mudassar Aziz takes care of the poetry and English words are fortunately absent. However, on the issue of originality, the tune has shades of old Malik’s songs. Overall, a beautifully and meticulously crafted gem. Well done Anu!
Jatin Sharma comes with one of his best remixes till date! He changes the whole tempo of the song and succeeds in a big way. Emphasis has been extensively placed on the voice effects and electronica- groovy techno sounds. Jatin goes an extra mile by working harder on the catchy and simple keyboards sounds. He produces replicas of the main tune which are dispersed in the track. The introduced English lines also contribute to the quality of the remix. The remix is more of a lounge-pop song than a dance number. An aside: Bappi Lahiri composed a similar type of song in Classic – Dance of Love (2005) where Sunidhi rendered the groovy ‘Aa Mujhe Dekh’.
Signs of Anu Malik updating his music (which is badly needed!) is evident in Rabbi and he presents the number as his new sound to date. Rabbi is infectious with a catchy tune which is superbly rendered by Zubeen Garg. Sunidhi Chauhan amazes as usual with her rendition. The classical Indian pieces and high pitched renditions are effectively assured by Malik’s favorite Krishna. The music is a potpourri of different genres but is mainly based on Middle East music. The ever changing tempo adds more zing to the raging track. The interludes are bombarded with techno beats and rap pieces. Furthermore, the excellent keyboarding works and the catchy electronically filtered chorus provide the song with a more trendy edge.
The remix by Jatin Sharma has a good mix of techno beats but it is definitely a Middle East-Trance fusion. A place in the play list of nightclubs and on the shelves of DJs are expected to follow.
Meri Dhoop Hai Tu opens with regular beats and a catchy female chorus. Javed Ali contributes from the prelude itself and goes high pitch later in the song. Tulsi Kumar seems forced to render her lines. The track is heavily supported by Malik’s female chorus of the ‘90s. Progressing with the stale melody, the tune fails to impress. The interludes have been cared with guitar sounds. The talented Malik is running out of good tunes! Desperately, Anu Malik resorts to his bad habit or his incurable addiction – rehashing his own tunes; past hits or unpopular songs. Here Jise Tu Na Mila from Refugee is dissected and soaked into the same old formulaic rhythmic arrangements. The outdated female chorus chanting the tune gives away the hint so easily.
Nikhil Chinapa> rescues the song at last and prevents it from drowning! The DJ receives one of the biggest assignment to turn ‘Meri Dhoop Hai Tu’ into a good remix or at least a hit. He knows that the task is immense, taking into consideration the poor tune and orchestration. But Nikhil did it! His ear goes spot on the nuisances of the original and he deletes the unnecessary fat to produce a polished and rocking version! He uses the remixing technology creatively and exploits the voice effects in a trance mode. A furious tempo is introduced to amplify the rage. And yes the outdated female chorus is deleted to make space for more funky beats.
Now coming to the voices, a lot of work has been done to extract the best out of the voices. The brilliance in Javed Ali’s voice is given more attention with his voice taking the lead in the remixed version. Tulsi Kumar surprisingly enters in fashion where her high pitch rendering is now the scoring point! Nikhil Chinapa puts in an extra effort with the new keyboard sounds and he uses an array of groovy beats which act as a camouflage to the rehashed version of ‘Jise Tu Na Mila’. Just listen how he ends the remixed version- amazing manipulation with the voice effects! Kudos Nikhil!
Paul Oakenfold’s familiar techno sounds give Zindaggi Rocks a rocking start! Anushka Manchandani (of pop band ‘Viva’ fame) interacts with the crowd in the prelude while the rock guitar builds the rocking rhythm. Anushka doesn’t wait long to start stretching her vocal chords while the female chorus accompanies her in the antaras. Malik’s arrangements are simply fantastic once again. He amalgamates a plethora of instruments without creating a cacophony. With the standard beats in the background, the rock guitar is the lead instrument and the flute is also in the spotlight. There is a sudden change of tempo in the second interlude. However, the song appears to lose steam before the second interlude itself! Overall, the tune is average but with neat arrangements and the rocking voice, it dives right into the soul harmonics of the album.
The most favorite prelude (used a zillion times) of Anu Malik is back again in Humko Choone Paas Aaiye. Starting with some nice guitar work, the song progresses with the use of the female chorus supporting Sunidhi Chauhan. She shows innocence in her vocals while being naughty at the same time. The first interlude carries a beautiful piano piece of music before the rock guitar emerges. The tune is dry at times but Sunidhi’s lively and very operatic voice compensates it. The rest of the song is too outdated although the accompanying piano is pleasing. This is pure Anu Malik stuff and is a product of the last decade.
Malik uses live performance music with more drums, bass and guitars in Hadh Ko Adab Ko and the format of the song is totally different. In the league of soft rock numbers, this one is quite situational with Sunidhi improvising with the music at places. Malik makes up for the average tune in the orchestration. He uses a wide range of instruments but it’s the piano and the electric guitar which dominate the most. The tune has shades from his excellent Hai Hai Hai Jata Hai (Anu Malik, Hema Sardesai) from Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain. The remixed version is beefed up with greater use of the saxophones and better voice effects. The additional funky female chorus trying a Latino style is stylish. It has been said many times before that Sunidhi can easily make a place in the West. It holds true!
In a nutshell, the soundtrack of ‘Zindaggi Rocks’ excels in areas of orchestration and singing but is quite weak when it comes to the quality of tunes and melody. Ek Din Fursat is the only quality tune while the remaining ones are in sync with the theme of the movie. Meri Dhoop Hai Tu and Rabbi are saved by their foot tapping remixes which are better than their original versions! Zindaggi Rocks, Humko Choone Paas Aaiye and Hadh Ko Adab Ko make an excellent use of female singers’ different vocal ranges and should work on screen as they appear situational. However, the soundtrack doesn’t retain the edgy excitement of his work from the past because of the familiar tunes – which he can’t get out of his head and which sound quasi lethargic!
With over 25 years of experience as a music director, Anu Malik should now be able to make the distinction while working on 25 assignments to only 5 per year. The change is seen with more care allocated to the orchestration and sounds. Once over worked and now under worked, he proves that he can deliver if he concentrates on his music only and nothing else. The process of updating his music will take time but he will do it! The game is not yet over for Anu Malik.