If a soundtrack is worth listening to then you can be sure we will bring it to your attention here at Planet Bollywood! Unfortunately music releases of late have been poor, an ongoing trend that we have discussed previously (see The High Notes of 2009 feature for more).
Sometimes however, music directors just need a chance to make an impact, a serious project that will test their ability. The soundtrack for Paathshaala marks the return of relative new Bollywood composer Hanif Shaikh (up to now he has concentrated on pop music) and brings promise and cheer! After a disappointing debut in Aakhri Decision, Hanif demonstrates that he has the ability to write and produce chart-topping music…and that can’t be a bad thing for an industry that is in decline.
Track 1 is the uplifting “Aye Khuda” sung wonderfully by Salim Merchant. Previously only heard in his own soundtracks, Salim demonstrates his wider talents here and impresses on a different level altogether! On the music front, Hanif uses a tried and tested formula (mainly consisting of pleasant, soothing pop arrangements) to click with the masses but alongside the singing, it’s the lyrics (by Hanif) that really makes this a winner: “Aye khuda mujhe ko bata, tu rehta kahan kya tera patha , hum tho yahan pe musafir hain, jo dhoonde apni manzil ka patha”. This is one of those breezy tracks that sends your mind into the clouds, providing another enjoyable ode on life. Only problem is it finishes too quickly so have the repeat button ready!
“Aye Khuda Remix” can be found at Track 6. Credit to DJ Chetas and DJ Nyk for a decent remix.
Track 2 is the short situational title song “Paathshaala (Khushnuma)”. The music is peppy again but Hanif packs this one with more beats. Vishal Dadlani has truly carved himself a niche with his singing and provides the zing required here. Lyrics by Hanif are about the importance of education which isn’t surprising given that’s the theme of the movie. Whilst not as engaging as the opening track, one expects this one to make an impact on screen.
Expect more foot-tapping music with Track 3: “Bekarar” which leans towards the pop genre again. So although the music is pleasant you have the customary guitar / percussive drum arrangements. As a result, it does sound familiar (actually it's a straight lift from his own personal album called "Indian Brothers" from 2007) but having said that the whole package is so infectious, you will find yourself humming or singing along! On the subject of singing, Lucky Ali is electrifying in parts but not perfect by any means. He struggles with the high-pitched notes in particular but criticism aside he (along with Hanif’s lyrics) does help make this an enjoyable song. Recommended!
“Bekarar Remix” (Track 9) may do well in the charts and is produced by Dipanjan Guha.
Hanif’s philosophy for this soundtrack appears to be based on keeping it fairly relaxed and chilled out with a soft and melodic base for each song. That approach certainly continues in Track 4 for the romantic “Mujhe Teri” which is co-composed by Vijay Lama. The music is uber lounge territory and works really well in tandem with the simple lines (by Hanif) and some fresh singing by Akansha Lama, Hanif Shaikh and Tulsi Kumar. Their soft vocals are likely to pull at the chords of romantics for sure. Give it a try and if it clicks, then chances are you are in love too!
“Mujhe Teri Remix” at Track 8 is an enjoyable alternative by Dipanjan Guha but fails to capture the feeling and emotions of the original.
Vijay Tambe’s beautiful flute greets you at the start of Track 5: “Teri Marzi (Aye Khuda)” and weaves in and out of the song throughout. Hanif then adds the tabla to give the song a more traditional feel and it works well. His trump card however is his choice of singer. With all due respect to the aforementioned singers, they can’t compete with the incredibly powerful and mesmerising vocals of Kailash Kher. The impact is immense but that shouldn’t come as a surprise given his deserved credentials as a top-tier artist in India (fans should also check out his superb and extended singing in the soundtrack for the recent Love, Sex Aur Dhoka). This is a more solemn alternative to the opening track and another ode on this world, its beauty and most importantly, a heartfelt thank you to its creator…makes you wonder how grateful you are and when you last thanked the almighty.
“Teri Marzi Remix” can be found at Track 7 and is well done by Dipanjan Guha because it doesn’t dilute the authenticity of the original.
Track 10 is “Paathshaala Theme” and a nice way to end a soundtrack. It contains vocals from children which is apt given the theme of the movie.
If you have been searching long and hard for a fresh music soundtrack (and let’s be frank that’s most of us) look no further than Paathshaala, a genuine and credible effort from Hanif Shaikh. It won’t get awards for innovation but most songs here are an enjoyable listen and importantly it’s complete along with the remixes i.e. there are no horrible ‘filler’ tracks which are found everywhere these days.