There’s a famous saying that states, “There are eight million stories in the naked city, this has been one of them.” With “Dus Kahaniyaan” it seems that we are getting ten stories for the price of one. Producer White Feather Films (Sanjay Gupta and Sanjay Dutt) are fresh off their super-hit film, “Shootout at Lokhandwala” which had a bit of a disappointing soundtrack.
If it’s one thing that the two Sanjays excel at, it is bringing the Bollywood audience something different than the standard filmi fare. This applies to the movies they have produced (which include “Kaante”, “Musafir”, “Zinda”, and “Shootout at Lokhandwala”), as well as to the respective soundtracks for these films. Sanjay Gupta knows how to market contemporary/catchy soundtracks for the modern individual. This means lots of techno, club, Euro-dance, trance, tribal, and drums ‘n’ bass music for the fast songs (which usually feature skimpily clad girls), and pop sounding slow ballads (such as the brilliant “Yeh Meri Hai Kahani” by the talented Rock/Pop group Strings). Sanjay Gupta also knows how to package his cds (for those that still buy them), by providing multiple cds that feature club and lounge mixes, then adding the text, “India’s first…or World’s first” on the cover.
He’s done it again with the latest offering from White Feather Films, “Dus Kahaniyaan”, which features three (yes, three) cds and the text, “World’s first three cd soundtrack.” The cd inlay features two page spreads with the titles and stars of each of the ten vignettes that make up this movie. It will be interesting to see, whether the movie ties these vignettes together somehow, or keeps them completely separate. Ten varied stories demand ten songs. Ten songs demand the talents of four music directors: Gourov Dasgupta (five tracks), Bappa Lahiri (one track as composer, two as producer), Shafqat Ali Khan (two tracks), and Anand Raj Anand (two tracks). Normally, I am never thrilled when multiple composers work on a single soundtrack, since each has a different style and that results in varying degrees of quality. So, let’s see if this soundtrack is pure musical bliss, or just an overstuffed turkey.
Disc 1 – Dus Kahaniyaan Lounge
This lounge disc begins with the anthem like track, “Dus”, which will get you off your lounge chairs and onto the dance floor! Composer Gourov Dasgupta and lyricist Virag Mishra rock the house with this fast paced track that quickly engraves itself into your mind. I dare anyone to stand still while listening to this song. Dasgupta has succeeded in a very difficult task, and that is to create a unifying song for all ten stories that stands on its own as the perfect bookend to the movie. KK and Anchal sing the song with mucho gusto! The infectious vocals and killer beat combine to create a song that will have you immediately hitting the repeat button. Musically, it’s pure techno all the way, with a thumping electro bass line and driving percussion (pure Euro-Dance style). Add in some vocal choral effects and you’ll be shouting loud and proud, “DUS”!
The second track, “Jaaniye” is one that I am sure you have seen being played on all the music channels. You know the one that features the ladies working out in some rather…umm…sensual positions? Well, that on-screen sensuality would be nowhere without the proper composition to back it up. This one is another winner by Dasgupta (with lyricist Virag Mishra). Once again, like in the title track, we have a thumping electro bass line that forms the foundation for this composition. The keyboard trumpets, synth effects, and percussive beat provide the musical variety here. The music would be nowhere though without the right playback singer. Only one singer is able to convey the sensuous ferocity of this track. That songstress would be Sunidhi Chauhan (who’s come a long way from her winning debut on “Little Wonders”). Playback singer Anchal ably supports Sunidhi, and I say supports because her voice lacks a bit of the power that Sunidhi has, so Ms. Chauhan tends to dominate this track. This one is another winner for this album, and a track that will make you stand up and shout, “DUS”!
The third track, “Aaja Soniye” may arguably be one of my favorite slow ballads of 2007. Dasgupta proves his mettle here, by giving a number that is dripping with romance. You can’t help but dream about the one you love while listening to this track. Lyricist Virag Mishra writes beautifully, and helps us forget that the words “Aaja Soniye” probably have the distinct disadvantage of being two of the most over used lyrics in Bollywood. A mystical synth beginning leads to a slow shuffle percussive beat (and a synth tabla interlude) with tantalizing bits of saxophone add to the romanticism of the song. Shweta Vijay provides some excellent husky vocals that shatter the stereotype that all female playback singers need to sound like they are sucking helium. Her vocals add an underlying level of desire to the track. Sudhanshu Pande (who also stars in the vignette “Matrimony”) provides the male playback and is able to keep pace with Shweta Vijay in a loving vocal jugalbandi. Another repeat track for this soundtrack that will leave you whispering in a husky deep-throated voice, “DUS”!
The fourth track on this so far excellent album is titled, “ Nach Le Soniye” and features the return of Mika Singh. After “Ganpat” from “Shootout at Lokhandwala", we find Mika back to singing within his usual genre, Punjabi influenced techno. Dasgupta and lyricist Virag Mishra compose what may be on the surface standard Punjabi-techno-dhol dance fare, that we have seen/heard many times within the constraints of this genre of music. But, trust me. Give the song a chance and it will begin to grow on you. Mika’s quivering nasal voice that threatens to go out of control at any moment is the strength of this song. I have a new term I’d like to apply here, and that is regarding the percussive rhythm that is used for this track. It’s what I call Reggae-Dhol wherein you have the synth drum beats accentuated by Dhols in a Reggae pattern. The music director puts that technique to good use in this track. Once the track picks up, you’ll be dancing on one leg till you keel over with a leg cramp, at which point you will shout, “balle balle DUS”!
The fifth track on the album, “O Maahiya”, unfortunately does not have the impact of the previous tracks, as it suffers from sounding too much like a “been there done that” song. Shweta Vijay who excelled in the third track “Aaja Soniye” has her voice distorted by what seems to be a vocoder and is relegated to simply singing the refrain over and over. KK’s voice also has a tinge of vocoder distortion as he does his best with the song. The musical arrangement is basic techno 101 with a generic drum beat pattern that just continues to repeat. It’s the last Dasgupta track on the album and I wish I could say he went out with a bigger bang. It’s not a complete wash, but perhaps it will make you shout a guarded, “DUS”!
The sixth track begins what I call, the Suficentric section of the album. This track and the two following are tracks to listen to while you walk by the turbulent waters during a particularly rough time in your life. This sixth track is composed by the son of Bappi Lahiri, Bappa Lahiri who proves to the listener that talent runs in the family. It’s a beautiful song within the Sufi genre of music. The lyrics by Panchhi Jalonvi are straightforward and poignant. What stands out with this track is that it’s not over produced. The music is kept sparse and the vocals by the excellent Kshitij Tare are given a chance to breath. The song scores on the strength of the vocals, the lack of synth use, and the expert use of traditional/modern instrumentation. In short, it’s like a breath of fresh air, and will have much repeat value. Play this one loud, feel the melancholy and shout out in a defiant roar, “DUS”!
The seventh track, “Vichodeya Ne” is composed and sung by the esteemed Shafqat Ali Khan. The beginning of the song features Khan’s earthy vocals over the strumming of sitar. From there the sweet sounds of percussive fingers against a matki (clay pot) resonate for the listener. The lyrics by by Ambar Hoshiyarpuri are another strength of the track. It’s important to note that Bappa Lahiri who scores another winner here and takes this soundtrack to a higher level has produced this track. Deft use of matki interwoven with a soft techno beat really makes this song the perfect to listen to during a melancholic deep thinking mood. Sing it out loud in Sufi style and shout, “DUS”!
The eighth track continues this trek into Sufi territory, with more of a modern twist. This composition is very traditional in stanza and refrain. The song was produced by Bappa Lahiri, who has performed a hattrick with this track along with the two before it. The lyrics by Ambar Hoshiyarpuri add to the ambience of the track. Musically, we’ve got traditional vocals/lyrics layered over a more modern but toned down techno beat. Another winner! Shout it Sufi style, “DUS”!
Dear reader it’s time to leave the “Sufi Zone” and turn the lights back on. Put away those glasses of whiskey, and listen up. The album is now changing gears as the more than capable Anand Raj Anand takes over the composing baton.
The ninth track titled, “Bin Tum” begins with a country like guitar twanging which reminds me of Rabbi’s excellent “Kitni Der Tak” from the “Delhi Heights” soundtrack, but that’s where the similarity ends. This track sounds like Jatin Lalit could have composed it for a movie starring Shah Rukh Khan. Trust me, that is a compliment. Anand Raj Anand has composed a very sweet sounding track (ably assisted by lyricist Panchhi Jalonvi) that is sung sensitively by KK. It’s the type of track that is done in the traditional Bollywood style of yesteryear. Melody, a soft rhythm and a sweet keyboard hook all mix together to create a song that is timeless and addictive. You’ll be hard pressed not to hit that repeat button. Sway back and forth and sing sweetly, “DUS”!
The tenth and final track on disc 1 is titled, “Bhula Diya”. Anand Raj Anand returns for his second track on this soundtrack. This time he not only composes, but also provides the vocals in that quivering emotional filled voice of his. Before we go on, check out his masterful song, “Dil Ne Diya Hai” from the soundtrack to “Masti”. I’ll be waiting right here, go on. Back? Good, now you know what ARA is capable of. So let’s appreciate this new track from this very capable yet under rated composer. The lyrics by Ibrahim Ashq mesh well with the vocals, synth violins and a “snap-pop” percussive beat. Forget everything in love, but don’t forget this magical track as you shout out one more time, “DUS”!
On the surface, “Dus Kahaniyaan” has a lot going against it. Ten songs? Four music directors? Ten different themes? Yet, the soundtrack turns out to be a memorable one, as each song has its own charm and is able to stand on its own without the need for any visuals (too many songs fail to have any kind of resonance on their own). This is a highly recommended soundtrack that is full of energy and emotion. You want dance music? You want romantic ballads? Sufi-pop? Bollywood sweetness? Then check out “Dus Kahaniyaan” and enjoy!
Still here? Most reviews would be done by now, but since this is the “World’s First Three CD Soundtrack” (add echo effects here), I’ll be focusing on the other two discs next. So, go to the bathroom, get something to drink or eat and get right back here. This is sort of like the interval for this review.
Normally, I don’t really focus on the unending barrage of remixes that are now a part of every Bollywood soundtrack, but in the case of this Sanjay Gupta production, I find myself having to make an exception. You see, instead of destroying the original tracks, the remixes on disc 2 of this collection actually improve upon the originals. This is something quite rare in this day and age of the quick mix remix. Six of the ten tracks from disc 1 are remixed, and I have to admit, they are quite good.
The first track is a remix of, “Dus” by DJ Aqeel, who has managed to pump up the jam and pushed the song to another techno-maniacal level. Worth a listen…or two…or three…or four….
The second track is a remix of the very good, “Aaja Soniye”. I’m always apprehensive about remixes of romantic ballads, as the DJ usually destroys the atmosphere by speeding the song up and adding loud ‘n’ fast break beats. I’m happy to say that the music director himself Gourav Dasgupta along with Roshan Balu have remixed this song to perfection. Beginning with the refrain, “Love is all around…can you feel it?” The music director has kept the remix subtle by simply adding a “snap” beat, techno violins, and synth sounds (still too much reliance on vocoder effects). The result is a remix that might not be better than the original, but instead is a good companion piece. Worth a listen, but honestly the original is way better.
The third track is the remix of, “Nach Le Soniye” which starts out with an addictive techno pots and pan “clap” beat. Gourav Dasgupta and Roshan Balu return to take the remixing reigns. It’s a bit funkier than the original and (surprise!) a bit slower. I give kudos to the music director for his willingness to not go the obvious fast bhangra route, but instead to try something different.
The fourth remix is of, “O Maahiya” and this one is by Gourav Dasgupta and Roshan Balu again. It starts out with KK borrowing Pritam’s “Whoah Whoah” lyrics with clapping in the background then progresses to a start ‘n’ stop beat. In this case, I wasn’t too impressed with the original and think this remix is actually better.
The fifth remix is of, “Jaaniye” and is by (you guessed it) Gourav Dasgupta and Roshan Balu. It’s tailor made for some sexy grinding on the dance floor. I think that says it all, don’t you?
The sixth remix is of, “Bhula Diya” and Anand Raj Anand steps up to the DJ booth. It’s remixing a song that to be honest, really doesn’t need a remix. Still, here we have a remix that at least doesn’t destroy the original. ARA has wisely decided to softly speed up the track, with percussion that isn’t intrusive. Nice keyboard flourishes are added throughout the mix, that makes this very listenable. It’s not the best remix of the bunch, but it’s a nice way to finish disc 2.
I don’t know about you dear reader, but this review is beginning to resemble the standard never ending three hour Bollywood flick. Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. There’s more drama around the corner as we move on to disc 3.
Disc 3 – Dus Kahaniyaan Poems – by Gulzar (dedicated to his wife Anu)
I think that it’s understood that Gulzar is one of the greatest poets of this (or any) generation. This disc has the actors from the film reciting Gulzar’s brilliant poetry against the backdrop of sensitive ambient new age music (composed by Bappa Lahiri). This is like the icing on the cake for this wonderful soundtrack and each actor uses his/her vocal dialogue delivery skills to full effect.
Nana Patekar begins this disc by reciting the poetry for 'Tere Utaare Hue Din' (Gubbare), flowing into the gravelly unique voice of Naseerhuddin Shah reciting the poetry for “Der Aayad” (Rice Plate), flowing into Dia Mirza reciting the poetry for “Khudkushi” (High on the Highway), flowing into Manoj Bajpai excellently reciting the poetry for “Khaali Samandar” (Zahir), flowing into Sanjay Dutt reciting the poetry to great effect for “Chaal Chalo Tum” (Rise and Fall), flowing into Amrita Singh reciting the poetry for “Raat Tamir Karein” (Puranmashi), flowing into the excellent Anupam Kher reciting the poetry for “Bauchaar” (Lovedale), flowing into Sudhanshu Pande reciting the heartbreaking poetry for “Talaq” (Matrimony), flowing into the sultry Neha Dhupia reciting poetry for “Hatak” (Strangers in the Night), flowing into Manoj Bajpai (excellent again) reciting the poetry for “Mujhe Talaash Nahi” (Sex on the Beach), and that flows into the final track featuring Naseerhuddin Shah reciting the poetry for “Khuda” (Rise and Fall).
What’s important to note here is that Bappa Lahiri’s ambient background music really adds to the atmosphere and weight of Gulzar’s poetry as the actors are reciting it. Even if you are not into poetry recitals, this third disc is worth listening to.
Yes, dear reader, we have reached the end of this grand review. “Dus Kahaniyaan” is well worth spending your money on. It easily ranks as one of the top ten soundtracks this year, and the three discs offer an enchanting and invigorating listening experience. Sanjay Gupta has once again put together a memorable soundtrack that has unlimited replay value. Go ahead,and enjoy this soundtrack, and don’t forget to shout loud 'n' proud, “DUS”!