Rahman jee once commented: “If you get out of your comfort zone…go for experiments and innovations….new music will happen!” Unfortunately, Jhootha Hi Sahi simply proves he is human after all and his fans including myself, need to accept that and move on!
Rahman jee has been busy. Actually very busy! Ever since picking up his deserved Oscars for the magnificient soundtrack to “Slumdog Millionaire” last year, the meastro has become one of the most sought after music directors on the entire planet. There’s upcoming projects coming from the U.S, Japan and China, on top of his already busy schedule in India (projects in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, and Malayalam) and there has been the added pressure this year of his recent “Jai Ho” World Tour that span over 16 destinations across 3 continents over a period of 4 months. Whilst there is no doubt he has one of the best music establishments in India, one does wonder if the quality of his work would suffer due to his increasing workload? Well if his latest music is anything to go by then the answer is a resounding yes! Poor Abbas Tyrewala was hoping his latest venture, a romcom called Jhoota Hi Sahi would have an equally exhilarating score that his first film (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) had, which was of course composed by Rahman jee as well. Alas, even with much lower expectations than his previous soundtracks (due mainly to the fun and light-hearted theme of the film), this turns out to be one of Rahman jee’s poorest efforts ever. Read on to find out why he has failed to deliver on this occasion...
Track 1: “Cry Cry” is an interesting song to begin with due to its hatke style as far as music, singing and lyrics are concerned. The vocals of Rashid Ali and Shreya Ghoshal are soft, slow and at times, whisper quiet, giving you a feeling of a dialogue like conversation between two people. This makes the onscreen singing more believable! Abbas did well writing the songs for JTYJN but in this soundtrack he's a bit of a let down with some very basic lines throughout, here for instance he writes about reasons why people 'cry'. The music is soft and kept in the background and limited to bongo drums, an accoustic guitar and the odd sounds from instruments such as the sax. This gives it a relaxed jazzy type atmosphere which you will definitely enjoy on repeated listening but there's nothing special about it either, where's Rahman jee's touch to make you return for more? Admittedly, it sounds better on screen (the promos are coming through) but when have we ever resorted to the big screen to defend Rahman jee's song? Not a bad effort by all means but should be so much better coming from the Mozart of Madras…
Next up is another unusual song called “Maiyya Yashoda- Jamuna Mix” (Track 2). This is the only song on the album with traditional Hindi instrumentation but even switching genres, Rahman jee kind of disappoints again. Yes it’s peppy, catchy and even charming at times, but as a dance track it’s hardly making the kind of impression that “Pappu Can’t Dance” did so effectively in JTYJN. The most enjoyable elements are the hatke lyrics by Abbas and the zestful singing by Javed Ali and Chimayi. The music otherwise is pretty average fare and again we are missing the expected 'Rahman stamp' on this and fans will know exactly what I mean. The overall feeling you get after listening to this is "so what?" which says it all really. Note there is another version of this song called “Thames Mix” with more western instrumentation, you will this at Track 7 of the CD.
All together now....THANK GOD for Sonu Nigam! He becomes a saviour for Rahman jee in “Do Nishaniyaan” (Track 4). The music also improves significantly (compared to the rest on offer here) although the composer is clearly still in cruise mode with the piano, drum percussion and flute his chief architects in providing a soft, soulful and enjoyable song. The lyrics by Abbas are interesting but fairly situational with silly and off-putting references to “phone”. Sonu Nigam is simply fabulous and makes the song sound better than it actually is; his masterful vocals are literally spellbinding and will tug at your emotional chords. In fact his performance here is the single outstanding feature of the entire soundtrack. He's almost outdone Rahman jee! Note there is a “Heartbreak Reprise” version later on in the album at Track 8.
“Pam Pa Ra” (Track 5)...er Pam Pa what? This brings the soundtrack crashing back down to mediocrity with an almighty thump! One actually feels sorry for Shreya as she reluctantly utters the woeful chorus lines by Abbas but such is her loyalty for Rahman jee that she does her best regardless. Sadly, on this occasion her best can’t lift the song like Sonu did in the previous song. What about the music you ask? Well honestly, the less said the better...let’s not beat around the bush, this attempt at another jazz song is painful to listen to and all Rahman fans need to get over it very, very quickly! There's absolutely no way he has composed this. The rest of you should jump for the “skip” button before the song even starts, it’s so bad it will send a chill down your spine. It's not easy for me to say this but this must rank as one of the worst songs EVER from a Rahman soundtrack. Only his true fans will (reluctantly) acknowledge this.
“I’ll be waiting” (Track 6) finally unearths a good jazz track from Rahman jee's stable. The music is slow, pleasant and relaxing and you get the usual jazz instruments including the piano and sax. Viyay Yesudas expresses himself well singing the mixture of English and Hindi lines by Abbas. The problem for Rahman jee here is that he’s touching a genre that is not appreciated by the masses so the song is likely to be ignored by all barring his hardcore fans. However even then, it doesn’t have anything special for fans to come back for more e.g. "Tu Bole Main Boloon" from JTYJN is much better because it actually had Rahman jee singing thus providing a uniqueness to it for fans to appreciate. It's a shame because otherwise, this is one of the best songs on the album, consequently restricted for the film only.
Just to be clear, I never expected great things from this soundtrack but the end result is pretty shocking! I have personally praised Rahman jee’s work during his golden period including memorable work such as Jodhaa Akbar, JTYJN, Yuuvraaj and more recently Raavan. However there is no doubt that Rahman’s music is faltering now due to his increased workload. Delhi-6 was superb but that was made before his recent success and was two years in the making. Same goes for Raavan although that was some way short of his best music as well. If you consider the soundtracks he has made post Slumdog fame, you will notice a stark dip in quality (I can only speak for Hindi music) notably Blue, Robot and now Jhootha Hi Sahi. None of these soundtracks can boast of having memorable tracks but JHS is so average and uninspiring, it borders on embarrassment (cue tracks 3 and 5)- in fact I would go as far as saying that Rahman jee had limited, if any involvement in this soundtrack. Yes it's pleasant and hummable in places but is that enough for you? If so why have your expectations fallen? The music is also situational and may fit in well with the film's script and perhaps it was not composed to be chartbusting or ‘in your face’ music (like JTYJN) but regardless, even his most ardent fans will be disappointed and will find it hard to defend this effort. If you do then you are only kidding yourself and I suggest a reality check in a few weeks time when you have probably forgotten about this soundtrack. Remember folks you don't have to like it just because it's got Rahman jee's name on the CD! It is with some regret therefore, that I conclude that the golden period has ended and one can only hope Rahman commits more time to his future projects because we are all aware of the genius he is capable of. Oh and one other thing...Abbas should give up writing songs and concentrate on directing.
(Incidentally at the time of writing this review, Rahman jee is in Los Angeles completing his "Jai Ho" World Tour and...finalising the background score for this film. Another clear example of the pressures on him!)