In between listening to the excellent soundtracks to the mellifluous “Slumdog Millionaire”, the haunting “Ghajini”, the cheeky fun filled “Chandni Chowk to China”, the melodic “Luck By Chance” and the bubblegum dance mania of “Billu Barber”, don’t overlook the diamond in the rough soundtrack, “Aasma” by music duo Afsar-Sajid. The album is one that can be easily overlooked amidst the sea of blockbuster soundtracks currently riding the MTV charts, but if you don’t give the songs on this album a chance, you’d be missing out on some of the freshest music out there in Bolly land. The only gripe that I have for this soundtrack is that the cd credits do not include the name of the vocalists for each track. The good news is that for the most part, the voices are unique enough to figure out the talents behind them.
First up, the beautiful and melodic, “Yeh Pal” which is in a similar vein as “Laree Choote” from “Ek Chalis Ki Last Local”. Perhaps that’s because along with the use of violin and acoustic guitar, the fragile vocals are by Xulfi (member of the Pakistani band, Call). What “Yeh Pal” has going for it is the incredible freshness to not only the melody, but also the musical arrangements. About midway through, the female vocalist provides a perfect counterpoint melody to Xulfi. Lyrics by Shahab Allahabadi are rocking the poetic beat. This one will leave you with that minty fresh feeling each and every time you listen to it. Pull apart those curtains, and let the sunshine in with this mighty fine track!
From the euphoric high of the first track, we move to the funky piano with drum ‘n’ bass tune of the second, “Aasma”. The track starts out with almost a jazzy feel to it as Shaan’s vocals breeze in, followed by KK and Mahalaxmi. It just picks up from there with an addictive front and center drum beat. Great melody, interesting instrumentation and singers who sound like they are actually having fun, make this a song that will have you tapping your feet along with it. From beginning to end there is no lag in the energy of this song. Tap, tap, and tap away as you feel the beat. By the time the dhol percussion comes into play towards the end of the track, your heart will be racing. Play this loud and reach for the sky!
Whew. If the first two tracks don’t blow your mind, then perhaps the sheer beauty of the third, “Man Bawra”, will. Sure, on the surface it sounds like any of the quasi sounding Sufi tracks that we’ve heard numerous times during the last couple of decades, but give it a chance and the song will enchant you. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan provides the pitch perfect vocals as he navigates through the wonderful melody of the song. Music is kept sparse with light percussion that includes both synthesized beats and natural rhythms. The sensitive lyrics by Shahab Allahabadi add a welcome depth to the meaning of the music. The use of flute and acoustic guitar is the icing on the proverbial cake. It’s just a wonderful track to listen to while you look at the sky and watch the clouds go by. So listen to this song, take some time and space out, while thinking those beautiful thoughts that make you so melancholically happy!
Don’t get used to the lull, as track four ramps up the energy again with, “Chalte Rahein”. Saregama top dog Debojit makes an excellent Bollywood debut with this song. His smooth vocals are pleasant to listen to, as Mahalaxmi joins him in a vocal jugalbandi. There’s no way that your mood can stay down with this track. The music is fresh, and the melody catchy enough to get your attention. The keyboards and drum playing keep the music energized. Though this one is not the type of song to rush up the charts, it’s one of those hidden gems that deserve your attention. Feel the euphoria and sing along to this happy ditty!
That’s it!?!? Say it isn’t so! Alas, the hard truth is that the album only contains four original tracks. Afsar-Sajid leave you wanting more, and wondering where this mysterious talented duo’s music will appear next. While you go through withdrawal symptoms, there are four remixes that are surprisingly very well done. So let’s move on to the PB REMIX ZONE, and talk about the next four tracks!
The lights dim, the disco ball descends, the baggy pants get baggier, and the short skirts get even shorter as we enter the PB REMIX ZONE. Now playing: “Aasma”. The “Yeh Pal” remix starts out with an Arabic Rai beat before the techno stompers come in. Xulfi’s thin vocals work very well with the hard techno drum beats. You know that you are listening to a good song, when it sounds great even in the remix version. So, shut up and dance already would you!?
The sweat starts to pour and we move on to the next remix, which is of the track, “Aasma”. Starting off almost meditatively, we get a nice trance ‘n’ dance version of the track that will allow you to meditate and gyrate madly to the tune. Worth a listen for the nice beat that doesn’t take away from the original at all, but instead enhances it.
Whew, let’s take a break from the def jams, and move to the lounge version of “Man Bawra” which is funkalicious due to the smooth ‘n’ cool bass playing. Beautiful synth effects are heard throughout resulting in a remix that has more depth than we are used to.
Last call! Who better to ease out of this excellent soundtrack than that talented yet under-utilized singer Kailash Kher? He sings the (sniff-sniff) sad version of “Aasma”. A slow tempo with dramatic violin supports the singers tear infused voice. You’ll be leaving the club, to stare at the night sky, as wispy clouds drift across the face of the moon and you remember the moments in life where you were heartbroken.
So, that’s it my friends, time to hit that repeat button and listen to this soundtrack again. Yes, it’s that good, and a wonderful breath of fresh air in the often stale world of Bollywood film music. Music directors Afsar-Sajid have composed four memorable tracks that will leave you wanting more. So take a break from those blockbuster soundtracks and listen to this album, you’ll be glad you did. Add all the tracks to your MP3 player today and bliss out to the excellent music.