Who doesn’t dream about being a superstar? For the guys it’s dreams of adulation from throngs of women, as well as the lure of money. For the gals, it’s dreams of adulation from throngs of men, and again, the lure of money. We all dream about being a superstar, and many are the Bolly flicks that have shown the rise and sometimes fall of a star (“Halla Bol” and “Om Shanti Om” to name a few), now along comes a movie that is simply titled, “Superstar” directed by Rohit Jugraj (director of the under rated Ram Gopal Varma produced “James”). The movie features current B-List rising star Kunal Khemu in his first dual role. Will the movie be a superstar? Expectations are not very high for this project, but you never know what strikes gold in Bolly land. What about the music, you ask? Well, that’s what we are here for, my friends. I’ll give you the lowdown on whether the music attains superstar status or not. Read on, if you dare!
Before we begin, I’ll jump into my superstar mode. Torn black jeans, black t-shirt, guitar that I don’t really know how to play (but know how to strum just right), and a red bandana. All that, and a last name transformation to KHAN! Now, dear reader, get ready to strum your guitars for we are ready to review the music of, “Superstar”.
We’re at an interesting time in the Bollywood music scene this year. With Pritam scaling back the number of projects he wants to sign (as well as aiming to put more than one hit song on each soundtrack), and Himesh Reshammiya (The great capped one!) in a self induced semi-retirement (He has decided to only provide the music for films which he stars in.), apna music starved directors have to look towards other talent to keep the Bollywood music machine going. It’s great news for us fans, as we can look forward to being treated to new sounds and fresh music that hopefully will break out of the Pritam/HR mold.
Enter Shamir Tandon as music director for “Superstar”. Truthfully the music director has not really impressed in his previous outings such as “Traffic Signal” or “Bal Ganesha”. Does anyone remember songs from those soundtracks? Perhaps going into this with low expectations is really the best way to listen to the soundtrack. Shamir Tandaon has roped in lyricist Shabbir Ahmed who has previously penned tracks for “Welcome” and “RGV Ki Aag”. Let’s get out that electric light bulb jacket ala Amitabh in “Yaarana”, flail those arms madly in the air and listen to the first track.
Next up, is the track that is wisely featured on the promos for the movie and is arguably one of the best songs on the album. “Man Tu Talbat” features the vocals of Hamza. He sings the quasi middle-eastern Hindi lyrics deftly. I can’t help but think this song sounds a bit like, “Dil Diwana” from Emraan Hashmi’s smash-flop “Jawani Diwani” (which surprise-surprise featured middle eastern Hindi lyrics and background vocals by….Hamza). Though the song suffers a bit from the “heard that before” syndrome, it’s still a stand out track, due to the unique melodies and instrumentation that has been arranged by composer Shamir Tandon. Dance like a sheik in heat to this track as it scorches the music charts! The song is oddly followed by three remixes. In case you have not burned out from hearing it once, stick around to listen to the euro-dance inspired remix, the Pet Shop Boys style “Electro Mix”, and the hand clapping “Spanish Mix”. They are all enjoyable and are worth a listen. It’s a bit of overkill, but really, this seemingly is the track the producers are betting on to become a hit. It almost makes it to superstar status, but not quite. Are you feeling more like a SUPERSTAR now?
After the exhausting comprehensive remixes of “Man Tu Talbat” we get an extreme 360-degree turn around, as middle-east/Bolly dance gives way to electro classical music in, “Aankohn Se Khwab Rooth Kar”. This track, in my opinion is truly the best on the album. Shamir Tandon flexes his creative muscles to compose a unique and highly listenable track based on a classical raaga. To bring classical music into the future, lounge like techno beat ‘n’ bleeps are added along with piano and sarangi to make a haunting track that will have you hitting the repeat button. The icing on this cake is the beautiful vocal jugalbandi provided by Rekha Bhardwaj (“Phoonke De”) and the earthy incredible voice of Ustad Sultan Khan. This track is a winner any which way you listen to it. Repeat, repeat, repeat is what you’ll be doing after you listen to this beautiful song. Shamir Tandon shows that he can be creative and innovative. Don't miss the laid back trance lounge remix. Now, this one will leave you saying, “I am a SUPERSTAR”!
My God! S.P. Balasubramaniam has returned!! I’ve taken a time travel back to the early 90’s where Anand-Miland reigned supreme and S.P. Balasubramaniam was king of playback! Ok, maybe that’s not exactly what the next track, “Ajnabi” is all about. Shamir Tandon channels Anand-Miland (Whatever happened to them?) in creating a quasi country track that will be played all over country western bars in India. What!? You say that there are no country western bars in India? Well, there should be now that this song has come out! The vocals are provided by new playback singer Raaj (just Raaj) whose voice sounds uncannily like the son of S.P. Balasubramaniam and K.K. (if they ever had a son that is). The track isn’t as good as the two previous ones, and sounds too much like an Anand Miland tune. Play it in the background as you dream about being a SUPERSTAR!
Finally just as I am getting tired of striking my superstar pose, comes along a one-minute instrumental dance track simply titled, “ Dance Piece”. You’ve got funky keyboards and a percussive rhythm with lots of scratching. It’s over before you know it and really didn’t move me in any way. You can play it loud and dance while you are alone…or simply listen to it as time-pass. Feeling like a future SUPERSTAR yet?
There are rare moments of innovation (“Aankohn Se Khwab Rooth Kar”) and a foot tapping middle eastern tinged tune (“Man tu Talbat”) and the rest of the album falls into somewhere between mediocre and very good. None of the tracks are bad, but Shamir Tandon relies too much on nostalgia and proven melodies. All in all…. it probably won’t be on anyone’s hit list for long. Add “Aankohn Se Khwab Rooth Kar” and “Man tu Talbat” to your playlist. Most importantly, remember, at the end of the day, we are all in our own ways…. a SUPERSTAR.