If there were one music director who has rarely (if ever) let me down, that would have to be Vishal Bhardwaj. I’ll even go so far as to say that I look forward to his music more than even A.R. Rahman’s. Now, I know that many of you will scream bloody murder at me for making that heretical statement, but hear me out. Let’s take a look at Vishal’s album list. “Ishqiya”, “Kaminey”, “Haal-E-Dil”, “U,Me Aur Hum”, “No Smoking”, “Omkara”, “The Blue Umbrella”, and going back further to “Maachis”. 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, “7 Khoon Maaf” featuring lyrics by his frequent partner, the legendary Gulzar. The movie features an unusal storyline headlined by star Priyanka Chopra. Let’s see if this is another feather in Vishal’s already feather filled hat.
The album starts out with the immediately catchy “Darling” which is based on the Russian folk song “Kalinka” (which most have probably not heard). It starts out with the return of the boisterous Usha Uthup (known for classic tracks like, “Ramba Ho” from “Armaan” and “Shaan Se” from Shaan). Usha Uthup’s voice shares the center mike with Vishal’s 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 “Darrrrrrling” and dance like a Russian high on vodka while listening to this track (the second best on the album)!
The rambunctiousness of “Darling” is followed by the sublime smooth tranquility of “Bekaraan”which features vocals by Vishal himself. From his youthful sounding voice, you wouldn’t believe that this is a fifty-year-old man. Raindrops give way to trailing percussion drips ‘n’ drops. The music is kept sparse, and the refrain throughout the track is sung as if within a hypnotic trance. Gulzar’s 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 you’ll be taken to another world!
Now, that you’ve been lulled into a state of tranquility it’s time to WAKE YOU UP with some good ole fashioned rock ‘n’ roll! “O’Mama” takes vocalist KK back to his rock roots in a grandiose way. It’s classic rock, which brings the house down once the guitar licks and drums get going. KK’s howling of “O’Mama” will send a chill down your spine. Play that air guitar and rock on!
The fourth track is my favorite of the soundtrack. “Awaara” has the kind of riverdance beat with drums ‘n’ 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 brain’s 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. “Awaara” indeed!
A voice from yesteryear returns to show us that he still has what it takes with, “Tere Liye”. 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. “Tere Liye” is a wisp of a song that is worth a listen or two.
“Dil Dil Hai” shows Vishal taking the listener back to the world of rock ‘n’ 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. It’s an interesting track, but I’m not sure if you would want to listen to it over and over again. Blast it and drive your parents insane, as you shriek “Dil Dil Hai” over and over until you lose your voice!
The seventh and final original track on the album is the dark disturbing “Yeshu” 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 you’re in a certain kind of mood). This is one that’s probably best listened to while watching the film to understand the context.
The album is rounded off with “Doosri Darling” 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, “O’Mama (Acoustic)”. Instead of the raucous rock ‘n’ roll of the original track; we get KK accompanied solely by an acoustic guitar straight out of MTV Unplugged. It’s soulful and well worth a listen or two to appreciate how good KK sounds unplugged.
All in all, “7 Khoon Maaf” is another strong album to add to Vishal Bhardwaj’s already impressive list of soundtracks. It’s 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 “Darling”, “Awaara”, “O’Mama” and “Tere Liye”. Spaciba (thank you) Vishal and dosvidanya (good-bye) till next time!