Onir must be one of the most underrated directors in Indian Hindi cinema today- more so because he tries to defy the path whilst making a movie that is not just different, but also complete – with a loaded soundtrack having some really terrific music. Take soundtracks like My Brother… Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal (which saw the rise of then shining star musician Mithoon), or Sorry Bhai! (some impressive stuff there by Gaurav Dayal), Onir’s films have almost always come up with some satisfying musical scores, which is why it’s a little shocking to realize that the music to I AM arrives only a week or so before the film’s release. With a host of composers including Amit Trivedi, Vivek Philip (a favorite of Onir) and Rajiv Bhalla, we wonder what the album has to offer. The flipside to this is there are a whole lot of people who might not really be expecting a lot unless they’ve heard about the film.
Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya are a blockbuster combo, and we all know it! Since Aamir’s release back in 2007, they have continued to impress listeners with experimental music and unique writing. And now they’re back with “Baangur” . Singer Mame Khan also returns after delivering an excellent performance in No One Killed Jessica’s “Aitbaar”, this time teaming up with the impressive Kavita Seth (“Iktara”, “Mora Piya”) to create another song with Sufi vibe. Thematically a soft rock fusion track, it’s a very well made track with Trivedi’s trademark stamp all over it such as those guitar strums and rustic sound samples. Since the movie is about fear being a common element, Bhattacharya’s lyrics very aptly describe the heart’s plea to have a life as free as it appears on face value. What makes the song different as a whole is the mixing and arrangements of the sound samples for the track, giving it a hardcore-wicked ‘edge’.
DJ Suketu teams up with a new arranger, PaVaN (that’s what the CD cover calls the dude!). Starting off in a very trance-like state, “Baangur Remix” does attain enough likeability to be slotted into the catchy category, but although the mixing and arrangements are really ear-grabbing, most of the effort sounds pretty conventional. Though I don’t recommend this personally, and is no match for the original, it’s one track that will hog decent airplay and has potential to be the star of the clubs!
Trivedi and Bhattacharya provide their second song for the album, this time with a soft rock ballad called “Issi Baat Pe” , this time featuring the vocals of K. K. (and let me state that this is the first big name I’ve seen associating with Trivedi). The use of those flute samples further engrave upon the listener that this is a classic Trivedi track that manages to sound beautiful particularly with K.K. soulfully rendering Bhattacharya’s imaginative lines that make you smile on the thought of a common man wanting to break the barriers of their own possibly routine lives. There are some really interesting arrangements here and some cutting-edge sound mixing but I have to note that the tempo of this track is very much similar to that of “Baangur”, though the treatment is as different as chalk and cheese, with the interludes between Kavita Seth’s stanzas in the track have “crazy” stamped around it. Enjoyable song.
From hereon, Rajiv Bhalla takes over with an exceptionally slow moving track “Bhojal Se” . K. K. continues his run, but croons this time to the lyrics of Amitabh Varma, yet another talented lyricist noticed in previous soundtracks (for films by Onir). Haunting, painful in content and creeping up to your heart to give it a heavy feeling, this is a very well made song, with some soul stirring lyrics that discuss sadness in a poetic way. Yet another shining track, the run of melody continues in this soundtrack that still has three more to go. This song has made me vow to look out for more of his ventures in the future. And you had better impress me then Rajiv! “Bhojal Se Remix” has a pretty interesting treatment for most of the song, with the composer trying really hard to keep the haunting soul intact. It’s not really great shakes though, and whenever I look for a remix, I look for something different, innovative and standalone.
Soft rock takes foreground once again but this time in Vivek Philip’s “Aankhein” , a breezy romantic track with Karthik rendering Amitabh Varma’s lyrics with all his heart. This is one of those songs that is good for that long early evening drive with your loved one, or even when she’s far away from you and you’re remembering her, having nothing but your iPod as support! This is one that gets better with every next listen. Thumbs up!
After a short break, Amit Trivedi and Bhattacharya are back with “Saye Saye”. Starting off absolutely in a tangentially different direction, as time ticks by, you end up hearing more and more, and you can actually spot that this one’s going to be featured in Megha’s story, particularly where the feel and thematic element is concerned. With some terrific sound design that deserves applause, inclusive of terrific mixing that gives a haunting feel throughout this track, you know you’re going to like this one. Rekha Bharadwaj amplifies this track with her soulful vocals, and Mohan ably supports the haunting feel by giving a punch of his own. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are exceptional! I always wonder how on earth he gets all the creativity to paint a very clear visual situation in our head. Kudos to him for actually making a song about inner demons that touches the core of every heart.
While fans of Onir might be disappointed by the music of I AM which is certainly no match for Bas Ek Pal or even Sorry Bhai!, it still makes for an interesting listen thanks to some well made compositions by Amit Trivedi and some fine singing by K. K. These tracks are definitely worth a try!