In this world, where desire rules the heart, you will discover…love is the flame that lights up the soul…
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has always been associated with quality cinema (notwithstanding Saawariya (2007), which is perhaps an exception in some people’s eyes) and he certainly has an ear for quality music! In fact he himself is composing the music of his forthcoming Guzaarish (2010) having already composed “Thode Badmaash Ho Tum” from Saawariya (2007). With Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), Sanjay had already set the bar very high … so did he match those huge expectations with “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” ? A resounding YES! In fact, so good is the music of HDDCS, that it has already cemented it’s place in the history books of greatest ever Hindi soundtracks…
Bhansali has always managed to extract the best out of the then newcomer, Ismail Darbar, case in point HDDCS and Devdas (2002). (Trivia: it was actually the singer Kunal Ganjawala who had recommended Ismail’s name to Bhansali when he was looking for a music director for his magnum opus so it’s a shame Kunal never got to sing in this movie). As you listen to the songs of HDDCS (and I am sure all our readers have already heard them umpteen times), pay close attention to the mehnat put into each song. EACH and EVERY song is not simply another 'song’ … rather it spells authenticity and grandeur on a different level; the way the orchestra excels into majestic purity, witchcraft and innovation, the way the chorus is harmonized throughout, the manner in which a dynasty of elite singers all come together to perform in spellbinding fashion, the highs and the lows in the notes scaling stratospheric heights…in reality there are no superlatives for this piece of sheer opulent genius that has to be heard to be truly believed.
The album opens with one of my personal favorites, "Chand Chhupa Badal Mein", sung by Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan. With an extremely melodious and uncomplicated tune, Alka and Udit narrate the hide-and-seek games of the moon, with a lot of chhed-chhad thrown in between. Both Alka and Udit are already masters at romantic duets ... add the Darbar/Bhansali touch to it and you have a surefire winner at hand! The song is layered with authentic and contrasting musical interludes but barring the chorus, everything overlaps in perfect harmony. In the movie, the song is intermingled with a “Karva Chauth” picturization, so there is the obligatory female chorus thrown in by lyricist Mehboob such as “Aya Re Aya Chanda ….”. I personally felt that that part of the song was a little jarring, with the chorus screeching and almost seeming to sing over each other’s voice. Luckily, there is not too much of the chorus in the song and it is essentially commanded by Alka/Udit. Great romantic number!
"Nimbooda" is an awesome solo rendition by Kavita Krishnamurthy … full of energy and verve!! At the time this was released, it was a hot favorite in all the desi dance competitions. (Thanks to the superb choreography by Saroj Khan and stunning picturization by Bhansali). Fabulous musical arrangements here. Again, pay attention to the alternating male/female chorus “Ta Dhig Dha Dhig Dha Dha Tun”. Extremely well co-ordinated between the chorus members with the right touch by Kavita throughout the song. There is no doubt – Kavita is one of the most accomplished singers we have had for these kind of classical songs (or any songs for that matter). So it makes you wonder why she is appearing in obscure soundtracks like “Pal Pal Dil Ke Saat” etc. these days instead of making her own semi-classical album? Essentially this song is about Nimbooda or lemons, where Nandini (played by Aishwarya Rai) is comparing her beloved with a lemon, teasingly of course. Most of the lyrics (by Mehboob) don't make sense in that respect, but who cares ... the energy of the song is enough to blow you away!
Kavita is back for a romantic duet this time, ably supported by Kumar Sanu in the splendid"Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyaan". Now this is a song where the lyrics by Mehboob deserve a mention, “Khayaalon Ki Ye Shokhiyaan Maaf Hon, Har Dam Tumhein Sochte Hain”. The chorus, thankfully not as jarring as “Chaand Chhupa Badal Mein” adds nicely to the song with heavenly alaaps in the background. The instrumentation is highly varied in the song particularly the string arrangements along with decided punctuations in the beats. The song was picturized in the middle of some wedding preparations going on in Nandini’s household … and is very well shot with lots more chhed-chhad between the lead pair. Add to this the ethereal Aishwarya in a peach colored outfit and then-handsome Salman Khan, well what more could you ask for?
So far we have had two love ballads and an energetic dance number and Darbar seems to have hit the proverbial bull’s eye with these! Next up is the explosive"Man Mohini" sung by Shankar Mahadevan – one of the two solos that he had in the movie. The song is very percussive and heavy on the beats but seems to have been tailor-made for Shankar. However such is the pace of the singing, the lyrics go by you pretty fast and well before you can assimilate their meaning … “Tu Hava Ke Ghan Sang Sanana San, Tera Ang Ang Jaise Jaltarang, Koi Leher Leher Chali Tair Tair, Paani Ka Mel Tere Tan Badan, Jhar Jharar Jharar Angaarey Jaisa, Tera Rom Rom Hai Dehka Dehka” but that seems to be Shankar’s specialty as he performs with aplomb! Once again, there is the quintessential chorus with their Takita-Takita beats, displaying Darbar’s mastery over rhythm and beats. NUGGET: It was said by Bhansali in an interview that whenever he wanted to show the “fiery/feisty” nature of Aishwarya Rai in the movie, he had her wear orange/red. This song is proof of that.
Hariharan gets one solo in this album ... the mellifluous, highly emotional and superbly sung "Jhonka Hawa Ka". The song, very low on instrumentation, rests mostly on Hariharan’s stunning vocals. However, Darbar's contribution with the music should never be undermined as the impact is immense! It also has Kavita Krishnamurthy providing some support towards the end of the song in the form of alaaps. The song depicts a man's yearning for his beloved as he imagines what she might be doing at that time …. “Thandi Hawayein Aaj Bhi Tujhko Thapkiyaan Deti Hongi Na, Chaand Ki Thandak Khwabon Mein Tujhko …”. Sadly, the complete song did not make it into the movie ... a large portion was chopped off. Interestingly, this was the only song in the movie that was picturized on the “other hero” Ajay Devgan – and here too, it appears in the background. Amazing as though it sounds, the soundtrack just gets better with every song!
An extremely lively and foot-tapping number appears next as Kavita, Vinod Rathod, newcomer Karsan Sargathia and the chorus get together for "Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje". As is expected from the lyrics, the song is very high on dholak-beats! Kavita and Vinod get equal footing in the song which Sargathia kick-starts but then is relegated to taking alaaps and tans in the background albeit very ably so! There are portions in the song where the lyrics run really fast and Kavita shows her mastery over Hindi and particularly her diction. This is a great group song with an equally mesmerizing dance which was well picturized. In the movie though, it tended to break the speed of the movie somewhat as it appeared in a flashback, bang in the middle of a serious scene. However, the song is so infectiously lively that I wonder if Bhansali actually made the singers dance around in the room during the rendition!
"Love Theme" is the other solo awarded to Shankar Mahadevan. Set to a western-ish tune, the lyrics are mostly gibberish. For the most part, it is an un-worded tune that begins with the clearing of the throat and goes on to "Shabba Da Day Da...” . This “mini-song” also has Kavita Krishnamurthy doing a "Aa Aa … Lala Lala..." towards the end of the song. However, in my opinion, the highlight of this otherwise enjoyable song was the taan/alaap that Shankar takes at the end of his song, lasting for a whopping 20 seconds!
The album is already littered with amazing, award worthy songs but none more so than the haunting "Tadap Tadap". The song ebbs and flows in bewildering fashion reaching powerful crescendo’s in between eerily silent lulls, perfectly illustrating the anger, despair and frustration of a man’s unbearable suffering and undeserved punishment at the hands of love. That’s the effect of the music but the singing then takes it up a notch and then some! Krishna Kumar Kunnath (better known as K.K.) was pretty new to the industry in 1999 and was lucky to end up with such a gem of a song so early in his career because after this he became an overnight sensation! But one listen to his phenomenal rendition and you will realize very quickly that he truly deserved the acclaim in a song that allowed him to express his vocals like never before or indeed after. In fact so good was his singing, it remains his best song till date even after singing hundreds of further songs (this is something the singer admits himself!). We shouldn’t forget Dominique who provides supporting vocals. Then we have the incredible lyrics by Mehboob who reaches the depth of his soul and unearths a set of truly bewitching lines. Listen to a sample here as it borders on disdain and sarcasm towards the Almighty … “Agar Mile Khuda To, Poochhoonga Khudaya; Jism Mujhe Deke Mitti Ka, Sheeshe Ka Dil Kyon Banaya; Aur Us Pe Diya Fitrat, Ke Woh Karta Hai Mohabbat, Wah Re Wah Teri Kudrat”….this is Bhansali bringing the genius out of the lyricist as well as the composer here in what must surely rank as one of the best songs of its type in the modern era and at the same time highlighting another of Darbar saab’s finest hour!
The album has a lot of semi-classical based numbers but a notch above comes in the form of "Albela Sajan" (Based on Raag Aheer-Bhairav). Rendered by Ustad Sultan Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, and Kavita Krishnamurthy , this song is a fine amalgamation of techno with classical fusion! If you are a musical purist, this may not be your cup of tea, but for lesser mortals like us …. BANG!!!! Ustad Ji and Kavita stick to the classical portions, albeit Shankar (singing for the playful Salman in the movie) takes on the song with the playfulness whilst sticking to each and every note! Another part of this song (with an additional stanza) appears in the movie (right after the “Sameer ... Hawa Ka Jhonka” scene) but sadly, is missing from the album. Still, Darbar continues to show the full array of his musical prowess.
"Kaipoche" is my least favorite from the album. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad song at all, but just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the numbers. It seems like a “Nimbooda Nimbooda” or a “Dholi Tharo” rip off, but missing their attractiveness! Even the situation – folks singing about the rules of flying kites, seemed forced in the movie. Shankar Mahadevan, Damayanti Bardai, K.K. and Jyotsna Hardikar and the chorus do a good job with the vocals, but on a rare occasion I wish Bhansali had reserved it for another movie…
Darbar clears any lingering doubts you may have about the standing of this album with the aid of a sensational, award winning climax- one containing the ethereal sounds of the title song "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam". What can I say about this song? Where do I start? The song opens with an operatic female voice and then leads into an unforgettable mini-rift of violins. (Violins have always been close to Darbar’s heart since he is an accomplished violin player himself – remember he played in Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s orchestra too). What follows after that is pure magic! The sheer beauty of the song is that it’s not all singing from start to finish yet it communicates a plethora of emotions through the phenomenal instrumental passages that elongate the song to a deserving length (6:45min). Look up in the fraternity of authentic Indian instruments and you will find that many of those same instruments are used here. There are instruments of all variety, shape and form. Put simply, Darbar saab’s orchestral majesty here has rarely been rivaled since, such is the mastery of the composition. And isn’t it fateful dear reader that the best song of the album was saved for the splendid vocals of Kavita Krishnamurthy? The multi-talented singer is well accompanied by Dominique (yet again he gets to provide the moaning groaning alaaps in the background) and another new playback singer, Mohammad Salamat. The words by Mehboob – on the first listen – don't seem an extraordinary fare. But for those of you who have been fortunate enough to see the movie, you will realize how well they are placed in the song “Teri Yaadon Ke Saaye Mein Guzregi Ye Zindagi, Us Khuda Ke Baad To Pooja Hogi Bas Teri, Chaahe Jo Maanglo Sab Tumhara Hai”. Can perfection ever be reached in a song? Well it quite possibly has here. It doesn't get much better than this folks!
The true test for any soundtrack is the test of time! It is now over 10 years since the musical release of HDDCS and listening to it once again, you get the feeling that it has certainly passed that test with flying colors! In fact, the album boasts of extraordinary music that has the potential to astound you even now, with its cocktail of songs, each one unique, colorful and brimming with a mirage of authentic flavors covering as much of the A to Z (of Hindi music) as possible on one album! On the big screen, even though the movie itself was lengthy (188 mins), one of the great things about the music was how well it was integrated into the story, enhancing the context, meaning and effect rather than hindering proceedings. Even with the minor misfit “Kaipoche”, the soundtrack still manages to reach perfection in more ways than one. In short, most music connoisseurs out there will agree that Ismail Darbar’s debut soundtrack has never been toppled since its release, not by Darbar himself, not by Bhansali and not even by the greatest musician of our time, the Oscar winning A.R.Rahman…as such HDDCS takes it’s place in the annals of history as a true classic of the modern era. An unforgettable masterpiece!