A soundtrack like Shaitan comes at a time when you as a listener have heard some pretty average albums from Bollywood that have more often than not, been a disappointment. With accomplished composers failing to impress (Pritam you included), 2011 has been about newcomers such as Krsna (Tanu Weds Manu) and Clinton Cerejo (Pyar Ka Punchnama) so we wonder what Shaitan has to bring, as we’ve got an odd mix of fresh (Prashant Pillai, Anupam Roy, Bhayanak Maut) and more experience (Amar Mohile, Ranjit Barot) coming together to create one helluva bumper soundtrack that appears to be making waves ever since the theatrical trailer was released a few weeks back. For a film that’s produced by Anurag Kashyap, well what can you say, you are obviously going to expect something absolutely mind-blowing (remember Dev.D people?) but is that fair? More to the point, does it deliver?
The opener coaxes us to “Enter” into the world of the sound of newcomer Prashant Pillai, and believe me, with such a haunting intro to an album, with a touch of brilliance, and some international inspiration (if you’ve heard Coldplay and Daft Punk, you’ll immediately know what I mean), this one manages to hook you, and is set for just the right amount of time of just a minute and a half, such that it leaves you breathing for more. Guitar riffs hitting a very low note, combined with some soft piano, and a decent cut-in for impact value gives this intro an edge. Stunning start!
Craving for the song playing in the theatrical trailer? Well, worry not, as they’ve included this one right here, by the name “Bali- Sound of Shaitan” , this one isn’t just haunting (this at a very different level though), it’s also highly addictive. With some Tamil Rap and some crazy pitch shifting when Preeti Pillai goes “Khwabon Mein Aate Ho Dil Mein Samaate Ho”, you know you’re in for something extremely different and on the levels of a fusion track that reminds you of Rahman’s sheer brilliance in the composition and mixing of Slumdog Millionaire’s “Liquid Dance”, with some old-world Patti Rap and some new age Blue, only much better and more open to experiment. The tantalizing beats and the terrific bass-line are bound to give music lovers a high they very rarely feel. K.S. Krishnan’s lyrics don’t add much to the song’s meaning, but the way the singers separately sing the “Khwabon Mein Aate Ho” part does make you think, on a whole new level altogether, and does what lyrics would otherwise not be able to do to this piece – justice in creating a soul with multiple layers to it. Listen and relish folks...
The gear shifts from fusion to trance with a good dash of club and house, as the soundtrack’s intro “Entry” becomes but a part of “Nasha” ’s motif piece. Pillai is back to impress highly again, this time with his vocals too. I normally don’t appreciate the amount of vocoder (plug in used by composers) used over the vocals just to make the singer sound cool but here, considering the overall production design of the track, and its sole aim to make it feel dreamy and faraway has succeeded immensely. If you were addicted to “Bali”, you’ll surely be overpowered by the power of this “Nasha” which returns sometime later in a “Rock and Soul” version (Track 11); and it’s not just namesakes either. Ranjit Barot replaces Pillai as lead vocalist with Farhan Bhiwandiwala as the added backing vocalist for the terrific semi-classical “Dheem Dheem Tanas” in the interlude of this version; which will take you to an all-time high with its enchanting composition. Seemingly for the more commercial audience, this one has an extremely positive feel unlike the slice of morbidity placed somewhere in the original version, and while I wouldn’t compare the two, I feel each version has its own charm and can be heard on the basis of the listener’s ever-changing moods. A must-hear, and I mean both of them.
Hip-hop takes forth this one with “Josh” , composed by Amar Mohile, a relative veteran. This song takes some time to warm up and grow on you, as it’s not your typical hip-hop track; you’re supplied with raw vocals as main course, but these very raw vocals end up impacting the song to a large extent. Lyricists (also the vocalists of this one) Colin Terence, Abhishek and Shradha keep it natural and go with the flow. With some really good production values that boast of international standards in music yet again (checkout the wicked dhol beats that make an entry late on), we’re slightly downed by the surprisingly raw vocals that might just have been deliberately mixed in this way. Give this one a couple of listens and you might just be hooked. Another super cool song.
The tonality and the grim intensity suddenly vanishes with Mikey McCleary taking over for one song, “Hawa Hawai” featuring Suman Shridhar (of “Tonight” from Luv Ka The End fame), who does a fantastic job of crooning to this remake, and believe me, the composition and production design end up hitting just the right notes in the head of the listener to make them like the song – unless of course you are biased toward the original. Now it’s pretty obvious that comparing Kavita Krishnamurthy’s mellifluous vocals to Javed Akhtar’s lyrics, infusing life to the Laxmikant-Pyarelal original will be a shame, as the original still stands out for being what it is, but this song – it just has that zing in it, that free-flowing energy that just wants you to make yourself groove to this one. And believe me, Suman Shridhar is vocally the cutest find in recent times, with her flamboyance, though making her sound a bit like an excited 10-year old at times, but she has a whole lot of potential, and we all can hear that. Yet another thumbs up going there.
Prashant Pillai has just impressed me more and more with each song of his. And now with this Sufi song, “O Yaara” written brilliantly by Sanjeev Sharma, we’re yet again presented with such a brilliant composition. Starting off at a highly unlikely note, what with the intense shehnai, you might just not know where the song’s headed, but once the acoustic guitar commences, you’re in for a treat, in fact this is one of the most stunning Sufi song made in Bollywood recently, with brilliant and innovative sound mixing giving this one a breath of fresh air. And so many emotions strapped into the voices of Kirthi Sagathia as well as Preeti Pillai as she sings the most wonderful part of the song, that just keeps haunting me so much that my ears want to trace themselves back to hearing the song all over again. There’s so much of subtext in the lyrics, and the music so helps mete out that subtext to give the listeners an altogether different feel! Highly recommended!
So we’ve had Nasik Dhol. And then we’ve had The Rain Song. Now add “Pintya” to the list. ALL this song needs is an aggressive promotional campaign, and you never know, this one could just be the next desi dance anthem for all the Maharastrians and all the people who’ve lived their lives in Mumbai enough to connect themselves to this genre. With wild, thumping beats by Ranjit Barot and some exuberant singing by Chandan Shive, this one’s recommended for loud hearing as the bass and the beat can only be felt when the volume’s cranked right up for this one. By the second half of the song, the pattern just starts to get even more psychedelic, and this is when the music is enjoyed purely for its own self rather than gimmickry that the Munni’s and the Sheila’s have presented us with of late (not complaining; just stating a fact).
Barot’s back after the beat, but this time for a more somber soundtrack called “Zindagi” , yet again embellished with beautiful lyrics by Sanjeev Sharma (I am getting more and more interested with this guy and his talent) to which Barot himself croons, and with such passion! This is on the face, a contemporary soft rock track, but the overpowering emotion of the song, the singer and the lyrics that the singer croons to, just turns this song right around, making us want to go back to the song. This is one song that grows on you, just like “Fareeda” and “Josh”. Makes a terrific impact!
Anupam Roy comes up with an instrumental that’s strangely called “Retro Pop Shit” (so much for the lingo of today) and it’s pretty good with the collage of beats that have that interesting amalgamation of rock and pop, it makes for an interesting hear for sure. Don’t hesitate to check it out.
Call it a lull before the storm, but Anupam Roy’s composition actually gives us that fake sense of security, but Death Metal (?) band Bhayanak Maut takes over for “Unleashed”, a wild, wild ride into the world of heavy-death metal, what with all the growling and the loud emotion that will simply blow your mind, and I mean it. Not meant for a large section of the audience, this song is one that defines the changing face of Indian music, where filmmakers are ready to accept urban sounds and experiment with it in their films. I’d love to see how this song has been placed in the movie, I very much do! Mind-blowing!
If you haven’t been able to digest the last song yet, worry not, as Pillai’s back to calm you down with a far positive vibe than the last, in this smart one and a half minute “Outro” , also signifying the end of the album, and for all that’s there, the album certainly does end on a high note!
Releasing at a time where uber-commercial songs with little or no respect to quality are given the thumbs up, a few albums like FALTU have impressed in 2011. But this – wow, it’s in a different league altogether and far more innovative than anything produced of late. The placement of the fourteen odd tracks here tells you a lot about the vision of the producers (hats off to you Anurag!) and music directors, this isn’t your typical Hindi film soundtrack rather it’s like a standalone album supporting the film’s theme as its motif- in fact right up to the compositions, singing and lyrics, the soundtrack ends up being a collection of pure sounds that have the single purpose of creating a thrill in your ears! With no pressure or challenge on the composers to produce commercial hit songs, this album achieves that by instilling the music with nothing but the free spirit and passion of the composers who have all come together to create a wonderful fusion of urban and ethnic sounds. Hear it with an open mind and you’ll undoubtedly love it. Sure, the music is very urban and feels ahead of its times in some places (read “Unleashed”), but this, like Dev.D has just managed to break the boundaries of conventionalism and experimentation. As such it’s easily up there with the best soundtracks of 2011. A breath of fresh air? More like a storm of new intoxication…I dare you to try it!