Madhur Bhandarkar’s name may be synonymous with gritty real life dramas, but it’s most definitely not synonymous with super hit musical soundtracks. From “Chandni Bar” to “Page 3” to “Corporate” to “Traffic Signal”, each one of his movies has been a hard-hitting critical success. Yet, the music for these films has been at the most, average. Name a song from any of the above films that you love and listen to. Do you find yourself at a loss to name one song? You are not alone. So, I went into my first listen of the soundtrack for “Fashion” with little or no expectations of hearing anything memorable. Is the soundtrack to “Fashion”, a fashionable way to kill an hour or so? Read on PB fans!
Before you strut your stuff on the catwalk singing, “I’m too sexy…” (By Right Said Fred for fans that remember that kitschy hit from the 90’s), you should know that the soundtrack to Fashion is brought to you by music director duo Salim-Sulaiman (who have also composed the music for the eagerly anticipated upcoming Aditya Chopra directed “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”). These two brothers have been music directors for over a decade, but have just recently broken out a bit onto the public consciousness. I think it’s fair to say that their strengths have primarily been with creating atmospheric background music scores for films (“Being Cyrus” and “Dhoom 2” among many others) and they were at the forefront of Bollywood background OSTs (Official Soundtracks). Prior to their (and some others as well) efforts, Bollywood filmmakers relied on canned music often taken from American soundtracks or cheesy synth music. They are excellent with background scores, but somehow have been a bit lacking in creating memorable Bollywood soundtracks, often falling into the trap of creating generic sounding tunes. “Chak De India” began to change that and “Fashion” looks to continue this change as it showcases their creativity in a memorable manner.
Before you get bashful about that wardrobe malfunction as you let it all hang out, let’s get to the first track on the album, “Fashion Ka Jalwa”which perfectly distills the essence of catty catwalking with a thumping techno beat that is undeniably catchy. What really pushes the song over the edge are the enjoyable vocals by Sukhwinder Singh (best known for his singing on “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from “Dil Se”). His bouncy and full vocals add a bit of welcome Punjabi flavor to the techno beat. Sandeep Nath writes the lyrics, but don’t expect anything too deep. The real star of the show is Sukhwinder Singh. This lively and energetic track will have you walking up and down your room, until you realize…there’s no one watching. Ah well, keep dreaming and one day you could be a model, until then, turn the volume up and blast this first track.
We all know that the modeling world is full of backstabbing men and women who will do anything to make it to the top. After the aggressive first track, you would think that the entire soundtrack for “Fashion” would be cut from a similar cloth. Isn’t it a surprise then that the second track, “Mar Jawaan” is a sensitive and soulful song that will haunt your musical psyche days after you listen to it? I believe the Arabic interludes add a lot to the ambiance of the track. The male vocals (by Salim Merchant), add a sensual vocal jugalbandi with lead female vocalist Shruti Pathak, whose husky voice will leave listeners breathless. Pay particular attention to the piano solo that resonates throughout the track. Without it, the song wouldn’t be as memorable. Lyrically (by Irfan Siddhique) and musically beautiful, this is one track that is perfect for you to walk the ramp with your loved one, if you know what I mean.
Alright, lights…camera….FASHION! It’s time to get the show on the road with the next song, “Aashiyana”. Keyboard bass with techno rhythms take center stage, with Salim grabbing the mic to belt out what is a pretty average track. Though the soundtrack started out really strong, by the time we get to this song, it seems that Salim-Sulaiman’s creativity is starting to ebb. This one won’t be winning "Project Runway" anytime soon.
Next up, is the final original track before we head into the remix zone, “Theme of Fashion”. Here the music director duo lulls the listener into a false sense of passive security with a beautiful santoor solo, followed by sensitive violins, and then blasts the party into high gear with a killer drum machine beat. The santoor and violin interplay with the techno elements combines with some choral arrangements to really provide a great theme song for the film. I think this track really showcases the strengths of Salim-Sulaiman as background score composers, they really know how to compose soul-stirring instrumentals.
So, now as you pout for the cameras, let’s hit the PB remix zone for five remixes of the original five tracks. Now, normally that would make anyone roll his or her eyes. It’s certainly not the excess of remixes that appear on the “Karzzzz” soundtrack, but five remixes for five tracks is pushing it. The remixes that stand out are for “Fashion Ka Jalwa”, “Mar Jawaan” and the “Theme of Fashion”, which is the best of the lot (thanks to the efforts of über talented artists Karsh Kale and Midival Punditz).