Ah, to be young and in love. It’s one of Bollywood’s most frequent clichés and it’s back with a purported twist in the new film, “Jab We Met”. The movie stars what had been one of Bollywood’s hottest couples, Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. Alas, as of the time of this writing, rumor has it that the young ‘n’ in love couple has parted ways and are no longer together. That’s a twist! Usually the marketing department spreads rumors that the lead pair has fallen in love in real life. Of course they usually break up right after the movie is released. Now, in this case, the lead pair have broken up and your last chance to see them make “googie” (The term “googie” is ™ and copyright 2007 by Samir) eyes towards each other. AHA! You Bollywood hype mavens almost had me going!
The one thing in common about any movie featuring these two is that the movie has been a supreme flop (see “Fida, 36 China Town, and Chup Chup Ke”); however the music has been well appreciated and often times a hit. Director Imtiaz Ali (“Socha Na Tha”) hopes to reverse that trend with a hit movie plus hit music. I can’t speak for the former, but for the latter, read on!
Disillusioned that I am with recent soundtracks, I wondered if I would ever fall in love with Bolly music again (notice, dear reader that the writer has gone to great lengths in weaving in tons ‘o’ love in his review just for you). This is why I pressed the play button with bated breath, and the first song began to play.
Pritam resurfaces after his above average album “Dhol” and is accompanied by lyricist Irshad Kamil. To get in the proper mental state for this album, I took a walk to the park and watched all the young couples dancing to the “Jab We Met” soundtrack. Ok, so they weren’t dancing to the music as I was listening to the music on my IPOD, but stick with me here. Amidst the dirty looks and glares from the couples that thought I was some voyeuristic oddball, I realized something very quickly. People in love don’t want to be bothered, and Pritam has made a comeback with this album (more on that later).
The first track, “Mauja Hi Mauja” blasts the listener with its Reggaeton percussion and vocals. Vocals by Daler Mehndi’s brother Mika Singh (who previously had the hit song “Ganpat” from “Shootout at Lokhandwalla”) provides the lively vocals (with deft lyrics by Irshad Kamil) that will get everyone off their seats and on the dance floor. Pritam has a sure-fire chart buster and this is surely one of his best dance tracks in a long time. Get up and groove to a song that will make you shout out loud that Pritam’s back…. to make you say, “Jab We Listen!”
Oh no, please Pritam say it isn’t so! Don’t tell me your inspiration is already lost, and you are back to copying your earlier songs? The third track, “Mahiya”, oops, I mean “Yeh Ishq Hai” is the first disappointing song so far. It’s pretty much a rehash of Pritam’s “Mahiya” song from the film “Awaarapan”. The lyrics are nothing to write home about either. The one saving grace of the song is lead vocalist Shreya Ghoshal, who normally is cast as the “sweet” voice and not the “sexy” one. In this, she does a commendable job in going the Sunidhi Chauhan route, by providing the come hither vocals. It’s still not enough to save the song. It’s not bad by any means, it’s just has a “been there, done that” feel. This one takes you a bit out of the euphoria of the first two tracks and makes you say, “Jab I Wish We Never Met”. (Perhaps that will be the name of the sequel to this movie if it’s a hit).
But fear not my friends, for track four, “Nagada Nagada Nagada Baja” arrives just in time to save the day. Sonu Nigam provides the bhangratastic vocals and the song just doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, it’s the first lively and catchy bhangra song in a while. The bhangra genre itself was totally run to the ground by the unwritten Bollywood rule: There must be at least one bhangra song on each and every film soundtrack with the word “Sohniye” included in the lyrics. For a lot of people, bhangra music is all about the beats, but truly it’s a synthesis of melody, lyrics, music and vocals that really make a Bhangra song stand out from the generic crop. Pritam brings it all together for this one with a driving dhol beat, the right use of synths and the searing vocals by Sonu Nigam and Javed Ali. The adaptation of a traditional Punjabi folk tune in the middle only adds to the wow factor. This one makes you hop on one leg and shout out, “JAB WE LISTEN”! (Just hop on one leg in the park, while listening to your IPOD to ensure some really interesting looks).
The fifth track, “Aao Milo” is the best one on the album, and perhaps the best track in recent memory from Pritam’s talented mind. The lyrics by Irshad Kamil are spot on in detailing the journey of two young lovers. Shaan, who I consider one of the best playback singers in India, provides the near perfect vocals, with a guest appearance by Ustad Sultan Khan to sing the refrain/alaap. The impact is surreal, and this is one track for which you will immediately hit the repeat button. The music softly cushions the vocals with a nice use of the violin throughout the song. This is one that will make you swoon as it makes you say, “Jab We Listen”.
Thus ends the Pritam compositions on the soundtrack, and I would give his compositions an 8 out of 10. The remaining two compositions/tracks are by composer Sandesh Shandilya. I’m not a big fan of changing composers on an album, as the transition between two distinct musical styles can sometimes be very jarring for the listener. Track six, “Aaoge Jab Tum” turns out to be a nice classical based ghazal like song, with vocals by Ustad Rashid Khan. It’s a nice track, but the overuse of synth violins hurts the beauty of the song. It’s a perfect example of how a music director should realize when to use synths and when to use real instruments. No matter what, synth violins do not sound as vivid as the real thing. The song itself is nice to listen to, but you won’t find yourself humming the tune once it is finished. It’s not a drop in quality, but it’s not a high point of the album. Most probably the track will be played in the background of a scene. Makes you kinda want to shrug your shoulders and say, “ Eh…jab we listen or maybe not”.
The remaining three tracks that are interspersed throughout the album are remixes of “Yeh Ishq Hai” by DJ Amyth, which speeds up the song and adds (surprise!) a heavy percussion beat. It’s ready for the club, and in some ways surpasses the original, because it gets slightly away from sounding like a complete copy of “Mahiya”. Then there’s the remix of “Tum Se Hi” by DJ Sunil, which transforms the nice mellow song, into a techno club song. It’s not terribly annoying, which is a good thing as far as remixes go. Finally we have the inevitable remix of “Mauja Hi Mauja” , which pumps up the Reggaeton beats and adds volume to the dhol interludes, but ultimately winds up not as memorable as the original, go figure. Unfortunately, these days remixes are almost added on as an afterthought. It’s become the norm, but I’ve rarely found any remix to truly be classic in any way.
Well, the sun is setting in the park, and the young lovers are leaving. Some will stay together some will break up. Love may be fickle, but music is forever. Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor may no longer be a couple, but the music for their movie, “Jab We Met” will stay on your playlist for a while (at least the Pritam composed tracks). Add “Mauja Hi Mauja”, “Tum Se Hi”, “Nagada Nagada Nagada Baja”, and , “Aao Milo” to your playlist and forget the rest. For me, it’s time to leave the park hand in hand with the girl I love. Now, that’s what I call…music and one of Pritam’s best albums since the amazing “Life in a Metro”.