Apart from the bold filmmaking, what made the original Jism stand out way back in 2002 was the absolutely mind-blowing, mesmerizing, mystifying and awe-inspiring music that even to this day has the potential to raise the hair on the back of your neck (I say that with Shreya Ghoshal’s “Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai” chants still ringing in my ears!) Honestly, if you haven’t heard that magnum opus you may as well stop reading this right now and get hold of it at your earliest opportunity. Your music taste is incomplete until such time! Ten years on from the original, the Bhatts release the soundtrack to the sequel…Jism 2. A few expectations then!
Alas the biggest heartbreak of course is there is no return of M.M.KREEM, the masterful composer of the original who, having composed so majestically and single-handedly for Pooja Bhatt's previous films Zakhm, Sur and of course Jism, had a brief stint in Bollywood (Saaya, Rog, Paheli, Dhoka being the outstanding highlights) before returning to the South Indian Film Industry. As good as the Bhatts are for nurturing music talent, can they find anyone of the calibre of M.M.KREEM? Well the simple answer is no so instead they give a debutant an opportunity to shine; Dr Arko Pravo Mukherjee (MMBS qualified!) along with some guest composers but can they fulfill the legacy of the cult franchise that is Jism?
Arko makes an instant impact with a soothing opener titled “Abhi Abhi” which he writes himself (with Munish). Sticking to the classic Bhatt formula the song is a winner with a soft infectious melody in the background and the use of the piano / guitar works well too but this isn’t anything new. The pedestrian pace of the melody is important here to allow the singer to evoke maximum passion and feeling…well, when you have K.K. at the helm you can make an ordinary song sound superb as he proves here effortlessley with some bewitching vocals, honestly ten years on from Jism (“Awarapan Banjarapan”) he proves he is still at the top of his game exuding pathos very few can match. Lyrics are very romantic but not exactly memorable. Just don’t expect any experimentation or innovation with this one and enjoy a pleasant, chilled out love ballad, if nothing else then for the brilliance of K.K. Menon.
Later there’s “Abhi Abhi Duet” featuring K.K. and (according to the official credits) Shreya Ghoshal although for some reason the latter isn’t recognizable here at all! Thankfully amidst all the confusion, Shreya has confirmed this in a tweet so we have an uncredited female singer here who does a good job (Update: The female singer is Akriti Kakkar) At least K.K. sounds like K.K. but overall this is a reality check for anyone expecting the return of Jism's other stellar performer. Gutted!
A beautiful clarinet lays the foundation of another soul-stirring melody at the start of Mithoon’s guest composition titled “Yeh Kasoor” and together with the piano, weaves a mystical feeling throughout the song, the type we have become accustomed to with his music. Sadly the double beat effect that follows is something we have heard in his previous songs although, just as we feel slightly let down by that his introduction of a guitar variant midway (but especially at the 4:00 min mark) titillates our senses into submission and the beats become a mere background distraction that we accept. What’s more his choice of singer is to be applauded because Sonu Kakkar is truly amazing here controlling her vocals perfectly and sounding very sensuous indeed. Mithoon's own lyrics don’t disappoint either. The Bhatts have always been a fan of Mithoon’s soulful music as it suits their type of filmmaking and “Yeh Kasoor” is certainly a worthy addition to the soundtrack. This is the nearest thing you will find to M.M.KREEM's Jism and it's no surprise that Mithoon delivers it.
Arko returns in partnership with another Bhatt favorite, Ali Azmat who shot to fame with Pakistani rock band Junoon (but now a solo artist) and then produced “Garaj Baraj” for the Bhatts in 2004 (Paap). Together they give us two more soulful numbers and Ali Azmat (as lead singer) in particular goes haywire in both songs giving them an X factor. The first of these is “Maula” which is very likeable thanks to the pleasant lyrics by Arko and Munish and the vocals (of Ali Azmat) which portray beautifully, the emotions of a heartbroken man. The music may be soulful and catchy but zero marks for innovation again as we have heard this composition (sweeping beats) many times before. Clearly the Bhatts are playing it safe here but judging from the response on Youtube it’s another winner.
Unfortunately as good as it sounds “Yeh Jism Hai Toh Kya” is a straight lift from a Turkish song (*Unut Beni - Bengü) but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised as this kind of thing is nothing new in Bollywood! At least Arko adds a bit of oomph to the original with some awesome beats and a nice piano and cello play. However, try as you might to dislike the song, Ali Azmat will make you revel in a bit of guilty pleasure because he is simply mind-blowing again and sounds like he’s been pumped with steroids; such is the extreme passion that oozes out of him through his alaaps, low octaves and highly charged mukhdas. Lyrics are good too! Alas it's a bit short compared to the other songs but give it a try for Ali Azmat’s performance otherwise it’s got to be a thumbs down for the blatant lift from a copyright song. Still, try telling that to Bhatt fans.
The album finishes with a couple of songs added by the producers to act as background songs in the film. They are not composed by Arko. The first is a very smart progressive metal song titled “Darta Hoon” from Pakistani band Ruskh. It's top quality and well worth a listen. Sadly the same can’t be said for Abdul Baasith Saeed's “Hey Walla” sung by Unoosha but it’s probably one pictured on Sunny Leone so might look er..I mean sound better on screen!
After listening to Jism 2 it’s clear that it wasn’t merely a tall order following up the first soundtrack but in fact mission impossible and the truth is of course the producers (particularly Pooja Bhatt) knew this all along. How can you even attempt to match a classic? It just doesn’t happen. What we have instead is a typical Bhatt album (very similar in style to last year's Murder 2) that oozes melody and passion thanks to a decent debut by Arko and some X factor created by Ali Azmat - consequently the usual fan base will love it in the run up to the film’s release. So you could argue Arko has done a reasonably good job here despite his blatant rip off for one of the songs but the question is will he get another chance in Bollywood? More than likely he has more to offer than the restrictive boundaries which the Bhatts allowed him to work within so let's hope he does. Folks, we end where we started because the album begs you to relive the original masterpiece by M.M.KREEM, an immortal Bhatt soundtrack and one of the finest of our time. Jism 2, whilst enjoyable in its own right, only proves it is incomparable and can never be repeated again.
Update : M.M.KREEM will be returning to Bollywood very soon so watch this space !