Popularity wise, Pritam is riding on a high after a quite spectacular 2007 in which he released pretty much one hit after another, two of which turned out to be amongst the best soundtracks of the year. What’s interesting is that his best scores supported lower budget movies including 'Jab We Met' and his career best 'Life In A...Metro'. However, if you look closely at his music for those movies with a bigger profile it was actually a let down from a purely musical stance e.g. 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa', 'Darling', 'Naqaab', alas that did not curtail his popularity nor sales!
As a result, the producers and directors (Abbas-Mustan) of 'Naqaab' continue to show faith in the talented music director for their latest thriller; Race, which consists of a stellar cast including Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, and Sameera Reddy. So can Pritam produce an early gem for 2008? Or will it be commercialism and hype that sells the music?
Out of the blocks, we get the first of many dance tracks, the ultra loud and in-your-face 'Race Saanson Ki' which has been aired on promos for the movie. On the surface it sounds like a wicked all out entertainer with addictive electronic guitar strings and heavy snyth beats but peel beneath the surface and you will wonder what all the fuss is about. The composition is not a departure from Pritam’s repertoire of rock music and isn’t half as inspiring as it is intended to be. It also sounds heavily borrowed from tracks gone by e.g. 'Dhoom'.
Neeraj provides for some cool vocals, but Sunidhi Chauhan’s talents are pretty much wasted here. Sameer’s mix of Desi-English lyrics are predictable. On the evidence of this track, it looks as though Pritam has stretched this genre as far as he can (remember there is no Band Metro to support him here!) and if truth be told it’s all beginning to sound a little mundane and sadly a promising effort turns out disappointing in the end!
After an unspectacular start, Pritam quickly moves off the dance floor and brings us a light melancholy track in the form of 'Pehli Nazar Mein' and surprise surprise it turns out to be the best song of Race! The soft rock music is gentle and addictive, thanks to some pleasant guitar strumming, but the defining ace up the composer’s sleeve is undoubtedly Atif Aslam - the brilliant Pakistani singer (Woh Lamhe and Tere Bin fame) whose vocals lift this song to a new level. His effortless singing shines through from start to finish as he convincingly expresses the emotions of someone who has just fallen in love. The lyrics by Sameer hold the necessary impact for once. Overall this is a must listen for Atif’s performance alone, just have the repeat button ready for this one!
Of the two remixes (by DJ Suketu), the Club Mix is the recommended one. The Lounge Mix is faster and contains more beats but in truth both pale in comparison to the original.
Fresh from the previous winner, the composer then carries some of his form into 'Mujh Pe To Jadoo' - yes another dance track. No heavy rock music here just catchy traditional tabla vibes backed by supremely confident vocals from our singers, Taz and Sunidhi Chauhan. To add further spice and flavour, Pritam ropes in Apache Indian for a brief appearance and how ‘da man’ rocks! Lyrics are adequate for this type of song. This is the sort of song you find in pop albums i.e. to be enjoyed in the short term and then quickly forgotten after that. So give it a listen and enjoy until it lasts. And then if you need to, try the average remix by DJ Suketu for variety.
(Admittedly the 'Latin Fiesta Mix' and 'Dekho Nashe Mein Remix' (by DJ Suketu) have the necessary oomph factor and are sufficiently refreshing from the original to warrant a listen or two especially if you enjoyed that).
A sweet but seductive voice ignites the final track 'Zara Zara Touch Me'. 'Touch me touch me….oh zara zara kiss ke kiss me kiss me' are the words uttered by the youthful Monali who sounds extremely sexy and talented. No wonder she performed so well in Indian Idol 2! Some eerie guitar strings flow through the soft mystical tune and act as a perfect foil for her vocals in what will surely be a hot number focusing on one or more of the actresses- expect fireworks onscreen! Sameer pens some nice lyrics for one of the best tracks on offer here.
Incidentally the 'Asian RnB Mix' and 'Zara Zara Touch Me Remix' by DJ Suketu are also nicely done (especially with the ‘RnB’ verses).
Finally, 'Race Theme' signs off the soundtrack in pretty mundane fashion, just as it had started!
Although better than 'Naqaab', the soundtrack of Race turns out to be a typical Pritam offering for a bigger profile movie; a few solid tracks that will make the intended impact on screen (especially for the promos) and could well elevate sales for the soundtrack as well. But in all other respects it is unspectacular, unoriginal and uninspiring and apart from 'Pehli Nazar Mein' and a few nice remixes by DJ Suketu, provides little scope for repeated listening. One has to say the number of remixes is overkill as well! Ultimately we’ll have to wait a little longer for Pritam to produce the magic we all know he is capable of. Until then commercialism will no doubt sell this soundtrack.