Aditya Chopra is the man responsible for pushing Jatin-Lalit into the big league (thanks to the recommendation from Asha Bhonsle) with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. He also believed in the potential of Pritam Chakraborty, trusting him with the music of the Dhoom series.
‘Har Gaane Ki Ek Kundli Hoti Hai’ - As Pritam recalled what Aditya Chopra said to him. [IndiaFM.com, Dec 2006]
Considered as a genius, Aditya Chopra’s third official directorial venture revolves around the tag line, ‘There is an extraordinary love story in every ordinary jodi’. Creating music, keeping in mind this somehow philosophical thought of Mr. Chopra, regulars of Yash Raj Films, Salim-Sulaiman has already been restricted in the music-making process. This mentioned process has been extrapolated from the tag line and divided between ‘extraordinary love story’ and ‘ordinary jodi’. The whole soundtrack is concentrated on these two distinct separations. However, there are some monumental surprises ahead too.
Wordsmith Jaideep Sahni’s writing skills are put to the test in this mega-venture. Contrary to previous Yash Raj Films’ musical blockbusters, the soundtrack contains only three original songs, one medley and one instrumental.
The poignancy in Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai is reflected in the superlative vocals of Roop Kumar Rathod. Adept in their style, the music duo crafts an ‘instantly-likable’ number. Blessed with a precise orchestration and clean arrangements, the placement of the instruments, in this five minute emotionally condensed piece, is astonishing. A musical amalgamation of santoor, flute and guitar is played meticulously, without interfering with the exquisite vocals. Roop Kumar Rathod’s rendition is a class above. He doesn’t drag the emotions too far and he keeps it simple too. Highlighting the high-pitched rendition is important as it delivers the title ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ at the end of the verse. ‘Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai’ is light on the ears, maintains a wonderful flow and is highly emotional at places. The additional female supportive vocals bring a little twist, but is short-lived.
Because simplicity is the foundation of the production doctrine in this project, it somehow sounds a bit at the extreme of simplicity – making it too ‘ordinary’ for a Aditya Chopra movie. The tune in ‘Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai’ is in fact, bland. The nostalgic touch is credited to the vocals and the background music, which borrows partially from past Jatin-Lalit's work.
Falling in a genre which has been largely dominated and perfected by Hariharan, another amazing singer, ‘Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai’ is no comparison to the meaningful numbers created in the past, with the same simple base. Songs such as ‘Kitni Baatein’ (Lakshya) and ‘Yaadein Yaad Aati Hain’ (Yaadein) carry a wealth of emotions, but are simple.
The hugely talented Shreya Ghoshal’s take on Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai further extends the appeal of song. Slower and more emotional, her vocals add more substance and depth to the immensely meaningful track. Shreya Ghoshal’s rendition has elevated the song to the highest level, as her emphasis on the Hindi lyrics is more blatant. The lines written by Jaideep Sahni receive a new life in this shorter version. The arrangements and programming of the short track maintain the same royal standard, nearing perfection. Inclusion of a chorus echoing in the first thirty-seconds is an additional bonus to the high quality values. The only setback is that the track is too short; either include it or not. It’s simply a teaser with no purpose.
Creating simple melodies is the hardest task of any composer. Jaideep Sahni’s Haule Haule is the result where simplistic lines are put to a simplistic tune and it defies trends. The beauty implicitly lies in the movement of these few magical musical notes, which creates an intoxicating effect. The hook line ‘Haule Haule’ is the drive.
Coming back to the two words ‘extraordinary’ and ‘ordinary’- this one is an ordinary tune arranged in the most ordinary manner but which excels the extraordinary effect. Wow!
‘Haule Haule’ is an excursion where Sukhwinder Singh’s gymnastic vocals transports us to a world where life does not seem complicated at all. The harmonium takes centre stage and the song eventually combines powerful vocals, musical instruments and sounds in the easiest way possible. It progressively reaches a climax where ‘Haule Haule’ is chanted in the most magnificent manner. The chorus contributes a massive role in shaping the track, adding human warmth among all these technological programming. Arrangements and programming have been kept to the minimum, while the tabla is among the instruments heard in the background.
Even though none of the interludes connect with the song in an interwoven way, the music directors have worked pretty hard on them. Interludes equal long picturization sequences (maybe dreams!) in the world of Yash Raj Films. With the first interlude diving into a regular classical alaap from Sukhwinder Singh, the second one turns out to be a sad emotional solo violin piece. The latter piece falls below acceptable Bollywood standards, created by maestros like Anu Malik, A.R Rahman and Jatin-Lalit
From here onwards, quality is compromised for tested formulas and beats. ‘Ordinary’ takes precedence over ‘extraordinary’. Be ready for the ultimate dive!
When Salim-Sulaiman decides to take a chance at creating a modern, trendy and in-vogue track with ‘hit’ sounds; the result is Dance Pe Chance. Original title but amateurish in style. This is more than enough to summarize the whole track with heavy weights like Sunidhi Chauhan and Labh Janjua. B.Subhash (the renowned maker of Disco Dancer and Dance Dance) had better tunes and song titles during his association with Bappi Lahiri.
Loaded with quirky and delusional beats, which are usually heard in garage bands’ demo CDs rejected by record labels, ‘Dance Pe Chance’ starts off with these annoying out-of-control loud techo beats. The proceedings rule out any dance floor wild experience. Sunidhi Chauhan’s excellent vocals are over-shadowed by the noise created by this trance-techno environment originally programmed by the insightful duo. Labh Janjua is completely wasted, except that his entrance blooms the sluggish track. His third line is the best line of the song and interestingly demonstrates how he has been under-used in this failed electronic experience. Jaideep Sahni’s lyrics are conformed to the situation of the song and are below par.
Contrary to the expectation that the talented brothers would create a chartbusting number here, ‘Dance Pe Chance’ is uninspiring and tasteless. They just missed the chance to show how futuristic percussive beats can be made into a tantalizing electronica experience. It is just another example of how excessive time spent in programming and arranging can auto-destroy a song.
True to the tradition of Yash Raj Films incorporating potpourri a la Antakshari in their movies, Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte is a creative work, bringing the 50s to the 80s era in one song! It compresses all the Golden Hits of the HMV-Saregama catalogue in one seven minute song, which is the longest one in the soundtrack. Aditya Chopra goes one step further with its production. It does not only include samples of oldies, but it has some of the title songs’ reworked in another tune or bits and pieces from these golden hits are included. Preludes, musical pieces and the catchiest lines are all mixed together, making it a track never attempted before. A complex task for lyricist Jaideep Sahni who has to fit all the movies’ titles in one piece. There is no one better than Sonu Nigam to render this unique attempt, who goes in a Rafiesque mode till the end and also adjusts the vocals to suit Kishore Da at places.
References, songs and music are from movies such as Awara, Junglee, Teesri Manzil, Prince, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Mera Naam Joker, Aradhana, Sangam, Aap Ki Kasam, Chalte Chalte, Karz, Yeh Vaada Raha, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke and Phir Milenge. Legends such Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi’s voice are heard in the background. The song is also a tribute to all these music directors who have delivered eternal music like Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant Pyralal, S.D Burman and R.D Burman.
The instrumental Dancing Jodi is simple, with lots of synthesizers’ work and is a mere filler. Background vocals of all the songs are mixed together and vocal effects are applied at some places. The duo is at their forte here in re-creating the best sounds from the songs composed.
Is that it? The verdict is that this soundtrack is the weakest product from the Yash Raj Film’s stable ever! So what went wrong?
Considering the figure of Aditya Chopra and his sense of music, a concise analysis is provided to complement the review.
As the old saying goes ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’, same can be said to the talented brothers Salim-Sulaiman. Highly proficient in the creation of exclusive background scores and pioneers in arranging and programming songs, they are foremost background composers/arrangers/programmers and THEN composers. Only a handful of music directors have been able to combine the distinctive skills of composing, arranging and programming.
Case in point; When they were given the task of arranging and programming ‘Neela Duputta Peela Suit’ in Hamesha (1997), they excelled in turning this Anu Malik composition into a hit. On the other hand, they failed miserably in giving Madhuri Dixit the musical blockbuster she needed for her comeback in Aaja Nachle. The tracks scored high in programming and to some extent melody, but were below average in general. They are better at adding value to others' work than their own compositions.
The goal of achieving an above the edge album in respect to precise programming/arranging has been successfully achieved at the expense of melody, soul and the natural flow of the songs. The obsessive preoccupation for clear cut programming and arranging has been a major set back for this soundtrack. Programmers should stick to programming, composers should concentrate on composing and ditto for plagiarizers!
Yash Raj Film’s motto ‘Films Forever’ also translates into ‘Melodies Forever’, considering the melodies Yash Chopra extracts from his music composers. This soundtrack has taken a wholly wrong route when it comes to the melodic experience. Although simplicity was the key approach here, there is practically no melody in this soundtrack. The only melody trace, even if slightly present in ‘Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai’ is forced, abrupt and is highly camouflaged by the vocals, arrangements and programming.
Comparisons are not an exact starting point when it comes to music, as each era has its own music and same for each project, as the script demands a type of musical structure. However, Lata Mangeshkar is not present in this soundtrack as compared to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Mohabbatein where the voice of the nightingale of India made both soundtracks memorable. Unlike Yash Raj Film’s musicals, this soundtrack does not even have a single duet! The creative potpourri ‘Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte’ still confirms that the tested formula of Yash Raj Film’s music is still being used. From the track, the song ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ (Aap Ki Kasam) has also been featured in their previous Antakshari in Lamhe.
Other unanswered and mysterious questions might be;
(1) Has Yash Raj Films signed a deal with Salim-Sulaiman for a ‘x’ number of films and the brothers are being paid in bulk for making music of Neal ‘N’ Nikki, Chak De! India, Aaja Nachle, Roadside Romeo, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and maybe more unconfirmed projects?
(2) Did the creative genius Aditya Chopra, who is highly influential in the musical production of the Yash Raj brand, affect the creative abilities of Salim-Sulaiman?
The last point is about assigning huge projects to newcomers. The question is; should newcomers be handed mega-ventures? The reputation of the banner is at stake here, depending on how the music will be accepted. In some cases, important projects should preferably be handed over to established music directors who have proved themselves and can carry on a film on their shoulders. Interestingly, sometimes it’s a risk which banners take, when it comes to newcomers!
Last year Vishal-Shekhar impressed everyone when they turned Om Shanti Om in a bigger hit, thanks to their tunes and creativity. Big names like Anu Malik, who was not offered the project and A.R Rahman who did not accept it due to rights issues, were not totally missed as Vishal-Shekhar was able to create something different, which worked. Having said this, sometimes there is no substitute for experience. In this case here, Salim-Sulaiman, is still being considered as newcomers, even though they have been in the industry for a longer period mostly as programmers.
On a more positive side, hats off to Aditya Chopra in keeping the basics right in this production venture. Being the techno whiz kids, Salim-Sulaiman has been asked to blend both the Indian instruments with the new edge sounds. The people behind the team include the finest in the industry such as Raghav Sachar (Saxophone), Naveen Kumar (Flute), Suresh Lalwani (Solo Violin), Kishore Sodha (Trumpet), Aditya Oak (Harmonium), Kalyan Baruah and Narendra Salaskar (Guitars), Jayanti Goshar (Mandolin), Ulhas Bapat (Santoor), Bombay Rhythm Ensemble (Indian Percussion/Rhythm) and Bombay Films Orchestra (Violins). Additional female vocals are by Pamela Chopra and Sabiha Khan.
The vision from Aditya Chopra does not end here as all the songs are mastered in Hollywood by Brian Gardner at the Bernie Grundman Mastering.
In a nutshell, ‘Haule Haule’ is the only saving grace of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Without the names of Shah Rukh Khan, Aditya Chopra and Yash Raj Films on the cover, this one would have gone unnoticed, like the hundreds of mediocre soundtracks in Bollywood. Yash Raj Films needs a new direction in music for their colossal ventures. The history which Yash Raj Films was creating with their music-making has come to an end.
The soundtrack of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a creative suffocation. An ordinary jodi like Salim-Sulaiman could not create the extraordinary music needed.