Sadly, the cold weather has forced the Planet Bollywood beach house club to close for the season, but fear not all ye faithful PB readers for the party has moved indoors to the PB Bolly La La Club! Here you will thrill to psychedelic lights, posturing guys who redefine the term himbo, and scantily clad (yet traditional) girls who defy gravity. Amidst the cacophony of loud music, drinking (non-alcoholic of course), and techno bleeps ‘n’ bloops is a head full of shaggy hair bobbing in the DJ booth. Who is it? Why it’s the teddy bear of Indian Bollywood music, Pritam bhai! Welcome Pritam bhai, and thank you for spinning your latest release, “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani” for the PB crowd (with Irshad Kamil and Ashish Pandit on lyrics)!
With that out of the way, let’s get on to the nitty gritty of this review shall we? That Pritam is a talented music director is of no doubt. On top of that, he is the most prolific music director in recent memory. While some his songs are hit or miss (and dodgy in terms of originality), one cannot deny that he knows exactly how to create tunes that meld themselves to our collective Bolly brains. Pritam is also, without a doubt an excellent remix/arranger, as he is able to take any song and Pritamize ™ it to make it better.
Following on the heels of “All the Best” and “Tum Mile”, the MD doesn’t rest on his laurels as his latest offering, “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani”simply grabs on to you from first track to last. The film itself is much anticipated as Ranbir Kapoor is the lead actor, and he is the hottest commodity in Bollywood today. Ranbir it seems is the designated heir to Shah Rukh Khan’s chocolate boy romantic hero legacy. Co-starring with him is the beautiful Katrina Kaif who I am sure is relieved to finally be working with actors that are closer to her age in her recent films. Directed by veteran and acclaimed film director Rajkumar Santoshi (in his first comedy since “Andaz Apna Apna”), the buzz has it that this film is one that will knock your chappals off!
Let’s zoom on into the first track; “Main Tera Dhadkan Teri” begins with a bang as the feminine with attitude voice of Hard Kaur blasts through the speakers. She sets the stage for the anthem like melody of the song. Pritam’s favorite playback singer KK returns (shame that most other music directors don’t utilize this very talented vocalist) and blasts the song through the Indian stratosphere. Sunidhi Chauhan joins him and sounds as sultry and powerful as ever. The music itself is quite synth heavy and tailor made for dance clubs. This techno sound is broken by electric guitar slashing throughout the interludes. The bleeping bloops add to the ambience. Pritam shoots out a highly addictive track that the listener can inhale like a beedi. Rock on Pritam bhai!
Spoiler alert! You will be left breathless by the second track, as it is without a doubt not only the best on the album, but also one of the most memorable of the year. “Tu Jaane Na”, which takes the softness of a qawwali and melds it with Atif Aslam’s quivering brittle (yet appealing vocals) to create a tune that will immediately have you reaching for your loved one (either in person or via sms). The musical arrangement is thankfully kept simple and straightforward without too much synth use. In fact, let’s welcome back an old friend. Welcome back to Bolly music Mr. Tabla! The soft percussive sweetness of our traditional folk instrument has long been missing from the music scene, but is given a front and center treatment by Pritam Bhai. The lyrics will touch your soul, the music your heart, your loved one….well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. Do not, and I repeat, do not miss the unplugged version sung by Kailash Kher that comes later on the soundtrack. It is totally mindblowing. Who knew you were such a romantic Pritam bhai?!
Track three, “Oh By God”breezes in riding a wave of nostalgia, as you’ll recognize the chorus lyrics immediately, from a classic tune of yesteryear and immediately jive to the rhythm. I won’t mention which, but any fan of Bolly music will know. From there, the shehnai of all instruments gets the spotlight as it takes center stage (almost giving the track a bit of South Indian flavor). Sunidhi Chauhan is her usual boisterous and happy self, and is joined by bolo tara ra’s (Daler Mehndi’s) brother Mika. Pritam has expressed that he always finds himself attracted to singers who have an interesting quality to their voices and Mika certainly qualifies. Not the voice that one pictures coming out of Ranbir, that’s for sure. The track is breezy, catchy, and holds the interest of the listener while it’s playing, but you certainly won’t be saying, “Oh by God” all day after hearing the song! Pritam bhai, kabhi kabhi you seem to be composing in your sleep, but by God, I know you are talented! (Cue shehnai music) Rum chika chika…rum pum po!
Ahem, sorry after the last track, I strangely found myself rushing to my nearest South Indian restaurant and having some steaming hot idli!
Track 5, “Prem Ki Naiyya” has that peppy Bombay Vikings feel to it (which makes you think that Pritam is really a music director that involves his lead singers in the composing process). That Vikings feeling is not only due to the music, but also because of lead vocalist Neeraj Shridhar (lead singer of…. the Bombay Vikings). It’s got a nice rustic quality to it, as it almost makes me feel like wearing my dhoti ‘n’ sneakers and dancing around like a mad man. He’s joined by Suzanne D’Mello who has the unenviable task of singing these lyrics without laughing, “coo coo coo….silly willy..willy…willy…willy..won’t you give me your love?” Hmmm…methinks there’s too much silly willy nilly with these lyrics. A light harmless track that is pleasant to listen to. Silly willy willy willy…. indeed Pritam bhai.
“Aa Jao Meri Tamana” is next and it shines with a catchy beat, nice lyrics and excellent singing by Javed Ali. He modulates his voice at the right high notes to give more feeling to the song. The music has a mellow techno beat, with the prerequisite keyboards. It’s not the musical arrangement that shines here, but the beauty of Javed’s vocals that really hooks the listener. “Aja meri tamana, bahoon mein aaawo”…are lyrics we’ve heard before, but still tugs at our hearts. The only weakness of the track is that it has a slight familiarity to it in terms of composition (it would be at home in a brothers Bhatt movie), but ignore that and just go with the flow. . Play this track and your loved one will certainly run into your arms. Pritamize ™ your hearts with this track!
The final original track, “Follow Me” is, well, hard core, or should I say Hard Kaur. She provides her mucho gusto masculine feminine with attitude vocals. It’s not bad, its just lots of aggression channeled via the music. It’s a track that’s great to dance to, but not as cool to sit and listen to. Have to hand it to Pritam, he really is diverse in his selection of artists. The sad part of it is that other music directors do not hire most of the artists he uses, so it’s nice that they get the Pritam forum to do their thing.
Okay, that’s the end, wait, no it isn’t. Now that the original tracks are done with, there are seven remix/reprises that await the listener. So you think you’ve sweated it out and struck out with all the girls and guys? Here’s where you get your second wind, as you see Pritam’s mane of wild hair shaking this way and that in the DJ booth.
First up, “Tu Jaane Na (Reprise)” which replaces Atif’s vocals with Soham. He does a fairly decent job, but it’s not as powerful as the original. Also, the organic sounding instrumentation has been replaced with a more synthetic sound. Worth a listen or two. “Main Tera Dhadkan Teri [Remix]”by DJ Suketu is up next as Suketu plays with the tempo and adds the dance snyths. This is followed by another remix of “Tu Jaane Na”which has a Robert Miles airy feel to it due to the keyboards and echo effect added to Atif’s voice. It loses the hypnotic qawwali like quality for the more straightforward club vibe. This is followed (because no one demanded it) by the remix of “Prem Ki Naiyya” (nothing like hearing silly willy to a fast techno beat) which is avoidable. Along this unending remix journey we next go to, “Tera Hone Laga Hoon” which has an 80’s vibe to it, almost sounding like something from AHA, Erasure or early Depeche Mode. This one is worth a listen and retains the flavor of the original. It’s not over yet, for we have the remix of “Aa Jao Meri Tamana” which tries to get you to shake your booty on the floor. Pretty standard fare as far as remixes go.
Now, here’s the best part of the album. The best is indeed saved for last, because we have an unplugged version of “Tu Jaane Na” with astounding vocals by Kailash Kher (along with Naresh and Paresh Kamath of Kailasa fame) who totally knocks this one out of the park. You’ll be swooning to his vocals, backed simply by acoustic guitar. Sweet and straight to the point, the track proves that sometimes less is most definitely more. Download this to your MP3 player immediately and hit repeat! Talk about an unforgettable way to end the album!
If you are looking for an enjoyable potpourri of different musical styles, and melody, then you will love what Pritam has served up for, “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani”. It deserves to be at the top of the charts (at least until the next big thing comes along). Pritam does what he does best, serves up the perfect music spiced with just the right masala that appeals to the largest group of people. Wah wah Pritam Bhai, way to go!