The original Aashiqui (1990) is widely regarded as one of the greatest Bollywood soundtracks of all time probably ranking in the Top 5 of many critics and fans alike (if not better!). The soundtrack was so good in fact that it gave the film huge commercial success and catapulted the music directors (Nadeem Shravan) and main singer (Kumar Sanu) to fame. The rest as they say is history. Nadeem Shravan dominated the 1990s and most of their soundtracks featured Kumar Sanu songs. Together they won countless awards and produced more gems along the way. But it all started with the classic Aashiqui which even to this day sounds so amazing it can give you goosebumps. If you don’t believe me just hop across to Youtube and search “Bas Ek Sanam Chahiye”…anyway I’m digressing here!
We are here of course to discuss the music of the sequel Aashiqui 2 and no doubt the fact that it’s the sequel has brought you here but in order to give it a fair chance you need to quickly forget about making direct comparisons with the original. However, just the sheer fact that it shares the same name as the original brings huge expectations. At the very least you expect a lot of songs (the original had 11) and you expect the music to be melodious, romantic and catchy. You expect someone to enhance their reputation be that the music director or singer. But as we are in 2013, that’s 23 years after the original, you need to appreciate the music will be more contemporary. So, does it achieve any of these expectations? Well yes and no…
Firstly there are 11 songs with no remixes which is true to the original and a positive start. But you look closer and while Jeet Ganguly are the main composers, it appears the producers weren’t entirely satisfied with their effort and tagged on some extra songs from Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari. (“Tum Hi Ho”, “Sunn Raha Hai”). Whatever your opinion on this there’s no doubt this strategy riles composers who feel their hard work is undermined by producers cherry picking good songs from other composers and that’s exactly what happens in Aashiqui 2.
First up is Mithoon’s contribution “Tum Hi Ho” and it’s one of the best songs on the entire album (although "Sunn Raha Hai" is just as good if not better). The producers certainly agree and that’s why it is hogging the promos right now. The song has all the hallmarks of a Mithoon creation; it’s soulful, extremely touching and of course it’s dripping with melody. The piano, strings and beats are very effective in creating an eerie romantic atmosphere for the singer to transform the song and Arijit Singh does that magnificently. Ever since “Raabta” he has become the most talented young artist in Bollywood and so it’s not surprise he’s the chosen singer for Aashiqui 2. Lyrics are very poignant. There’s a reprise version of this song later in the album called “Meri Aashiqui” where Arijit is joined by Palak Muchal who sounds incredibly like Shreya Ghoshal which is high praise indeed. Nevertheless it’s super hit material just like the original.
Mithoon’s contribution ends with a lovely piano piece for the instrumental to the album called “The Love Theme” . The bar is raised. Now it’s over to others to carry it forward.
Unfortunately after Mithoon and Ankit raised the bar with the opening songs, this is when the album goes downhill because barring a couple, there are none that match the high standard from the remaining songs composed by Jeet Ganguly. Whilst it is appreciated that their task is made the more difficult as they have to make more songs than the other two the reality is there are fewer ‘hit’ potentials here as well. Yes they have their moments with the cracking “Milne Hai Mujshe Aayi” and the beautiful love duet “Chahun Main Ya Naa” , however the rest are all strictly decent efforts and deliver romantic tunes in a way we have heard many times before.
Plus there’s too much focus on contemporary rock which has been done better by the likes of Pritam et al. Of course A.R.Rahman took the genre to a completely different level in Rockstar but he's a genius. Regardless romantic tracks can still be fresh and interesting without the over reliance on rock music as Hitesh Sonik proved so well in his music for the recent Aakash Vani. But maybe the producers are to blame here not Jeet Ganguly?
The only reason to listen to songs like “Bhula Dena” , “Hum Mar Jayenge” , “Piya Aaye Na” , and “Aasan Nahin Yahan” are to listen to the performances of the playback singers all of whom deliver admirably here. These include K.K., Tulsi Kumar, Palak Muchal, Mustafa Zahid and above all Arijit Singh who enhances his standing yet again. Lyricists Irshad kamil, Sanjay Masoom and Sandeep Nath write well for most of the songs.
Having said that it can be argued that these songs will pick up more interest as we draw nearer to the release of the film and indeed when we see them in the film itself. Whether they will have the same fanatical impact on the youth audience as the original Aashiqui is highly doubtful. But then that was and always will remain a classic in the very highest echelons of Bollywood music. Aashiqui 2 is just decent by today’s standard let alone any other eras but if you can overlook that there's still plenty to enjoy here particularly the multiple versions of "Tum Hi Ho" and "Sunn Raha Hai". Jeet Ganguly's "Chahun Main Ya Naa" is another highlight.