If there were one music director who has rarely (if ever) let me down, that would have to be Vishal Bhardwaj. Iâll even go so far as to say that I look forward to his music more than even A.R. Rahmanâs. Now, I know that many of you will scream bloody murder at me for making that heretical statement, but hear me out. Letâs take a look at Vishalâs album list. âIshqiyaâ, âKamineyâ, âHaal-E-Dilâ, âU,Me Aur Humâ, âNo Smokingâ, âOmkaraâ, âThe Blue Umbrellaâ, and going back further to âMaachisâ. All these albums showcase a composer who is truly able to fuse classical Indian music with modern music in a way that creates something new. Now, the talented composer/director is back with his latest, â7 Khoon Maafâ featuring lyrics by his frequent partner, the legendary Gulzar. The movie features an unusal storyline headlined by star Priyanka Chopra. Letâs see if this is another feather in Vishalâs already feather filled hat.
The album starts out with the immediately catchy âDarlingâ which is based on the Russian folk song âKalinkaâ (which most have probably not heard). It starts out with the return of the boisterous Usha Uthup (known for classic tracks like, âRamba Hoâ from âArmaanâ and âShaan Seâ from Shaan). Usha Uthupâs voice shares the center mike with Vishalâs wife, Rekha Bhardwaj and the beat just hits the melodic bullseye. Rekha Bhardwaj has that sensuous yet dangerous quality to her voice. Lyrics by Gulzar are spot on (with Russian lyrics by Aditi Singh Sharma). Rrrrrroll your rrrrrrrrrrrrs with âDarrrrrrlingâ and dance like a Russian high on vodka while listening to this track (the second best on the album)!
The rambunctiousness of âDarlingâ is followed by the sublime smooth tranquility of âBekaraanâwhich features vocals by Vishal himself. From his youthful sounding voice, you wouldnât believe that this is a fifty-year-old man. Raindrops give way to trailing percussion drips ânâ drops. The music is kept sparse, and the refrain throughout the track is sung as if within a hypnotic trance. Gulzarâs lyrics are amazing, and the gentle violin by Ganesh-Kumaresh takes the track to another level. Strange to say, but blast this quiet track and youâll be taken to another world!
Now, that youâve been lulled into a state of tranquility itâs time to WAKE YOU UP with some good ole fashioned rock ânâ roll! âOâMamaâ takes vocalist KK back to his rock roots in a grandiose way. Itâs classic rock, which brings the house down once the guitar licks and drums get going. KKâs howling of âOâMamaâ will send a chill down your spine. Play that air guitar and rock on!
The fourth track is my favorite of the soundtrack. âAwaaraâ has the kind of riverdance beat with drums ânâ clapping in a psychedelic flamenco ambience that just makes you drop all that you are doing to swoon to the music. Master Saleem has a Rahat Fateh Ali Khan tone to his voice that just resonates within your brainâs membrane as he vocalizes the powerful lyrics by Gulzar beautifully. Add to this the sitar solo work of Niladri Kumar and you have musical magic. Take a bow Vishal, you have outdone yourself with this one. âAwaaraâ indeed!
A voice from yesteryear returns to show us that he still has what it takes with, âTere Liyeâ. Another director might have taken the flavor of the moment Mohit Chauhan for a track like this, but Vishal made an unorthodox choice by picking Suresh Wadkar. That gamble pays off, as this slow tempo track is memorable for its simplicity. Gulzar proves that you can still transform common words into things of beauty if presented in the right manner. âTere Liyeâ is a wisp of a song that is worth a listen or two.
âDil Dil Haiâ shows Vishal taking the listener back to the world of rock ânâ roll with a pinch of the electro bass thump of groups like The Prodigy. This is for fans of hard rock, with all its screaming and shrieking. The shrieking is by vocalist Suraj Jagan. Itâs an interesting track, but Iâm not sure if you would want to listen to it over and over again. Blast it and drive your parents insane, as you shriek âDil Dil Haiâ over and over until you lose your voice!
The seventh and final original track on the album is the dark disturbing âYeshuâ sung with evil sounding aplomb by Rekha Bhardwaj. The track is probably most notable for featuring strings played by Bombay Film Orchestra. The music is dark, the vocals are dark, and the strings add to that feeling. Not a bad track by any means, but certainly one that does not have much repeat value (unless youâre in a certain kind of mood). This is one thatâs probably best listened to while watching the film to understand the context.
The album is rounded off with âDoosri Darlingâ which basks in Indo-Russian glory. Rekha Bhardwaj gets another chance to shine, with this slightly slower paced version. A nice re-imagining, but I prefer the first original track to this one. The album ends with, âOâMama (Acoustic)â. Instead of the raucous rock ânâ roll of the original track; we get KK accompanied solely by an acoustic guitar straight out of MTV Unplugged. Itâs soulful and well worth a listen or two to appreciate how good KK sounds unplugged.
All in all, â7 Khoon Maafâ is another strong album to add to Vishal Bhardwajâs already impressive list of soundtracks. Itâs one of those rare albums that has music that is fully realized and not half-baked techno jingles that sound like television advertisements. Repeat worthy tracks are âDarlingâ, âAwaaraâ, âOâMamaâ and âTere Liyeâ. Spaciba (thank you) Vishal and dosvidanya (good-bye) till next time!