Whilst most of us music fans are still awestruck by Rahman’s work in 2008, and still featuring heavily in our playlists, we should remember that other releases are trying to attract attention as well. Admittedly it’s going to be of lower quality but we must bring ourselves down to the norm. Because sadly as we all know, Rahman produces only a small fraction of the music for the industry (although this has been an exceptional year for him and for music fans!). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Anyway, coming back to the norm, we have seen all types of movies from the Bhatt camp in recent years and sadly these have not proved their credentials as consistently good moviemakers. However one thing is for certain, one can always look forward to the music which comes with a certain “Bhatt flavour” that generally powers the OST to chartbusting territory. (In fact this year we have already had one by way of Jannat with music by Pritam). As we all know, the original Raaz (2001) rose to the top of the charts (with music by the now defunct jori of Nadeem Shravan) so can Mukesh Bhatt better that for his follow up, the oddly titled RAAZ: THE MYSTERY CONTINUES? Well that is exactly what he has promised and to help matters he decided (wisely) to ditch N-S in favor of a music director that was more in tune with current trends. So in came their current favorite: Pritam …yes dear listeners, the same Pritam that has now disappeared off the face of the earth! So is it any surprising that he too was replaced with a team of newcomers with Raju Singh leading the way? Well according to Bhatt, this is becoming part of his philosophy; “We try to give a chance to budding talents so that our audience gets something new and refreshing all the time. A well-made film means one which scores high on story, acting as well as the music”. Undoubtedly a risk by the Bhatt camp, as previously stated they have a keen ear for good music so let us see if they can succeed in bringing the house down… As per trademark Bhatt OST, the first song MAAHI is a hauntingly melodious track that has “smash hit” written all over it, in fact the front cover of the CD confirms it’s “smash hit” status! This one is produced by newcomers Sharib-Toshi, a talented (sibling) pairing on evidence of this offering. At least the name Toshi Sabri should be familiar with fans as he became an instant hit in past years on talent shows such as Voice of India and Ustadon Ke Ustad. Since then he has performed a number of bollywood songs including the quite brilliant Bulle Shah from A Wednesday. And he elevates his singing credentials here with an awesome performance that becomes the true USP! Saeed Quadri’s lyrics are great as usual; notice his repetitive use of the word ‘maahi’ which resonates quickly with the target audience. Overall MAAHI is for Raaz TMC what Judai was for Jannat (but frankly it’s not as good or enjoyable as the latter). Sharib-Toshi don’t remix too much with the MAAHI: ROCK WITH ME version but the simple addition of rock effects will blow you away with it’s heightened energy and verve! This is the kind of track you will have on your playlist from the word ‘go’ so no need to analyse it anymore, just play and enjoy! SONIYO is the first song composed by Raju Singh. English vocals in the background by Neeraj Sridhar accompany a soft romantic melody that is catchy and sweet on first listen. Sadly after that there isn’t much else going for this although the singers (Sonu Nigaam and Shreya Ghoshal) do at least give you some reason to return a few more times. Having said that it’s not the kind of duet we are used to from this pairing as they sing in parts not in harmony. So a failure then you ask? Well not quiet because Raju Singh gives full justice to Kumaar’s heart-warming lyrics in a much improved alternative titled SONIYO: FROM THE HEART which is a few notches up on the original for quality and enjoyment. Firstly the ambience is perfect for the lyrics (the English verses are dropped) as it has a more reminiscing feel and a subdued tone that is exemplified by an acoustic guitar in tandem with a harmonium and catchy finger clicking. However by far the most standout feature of this version is the singing by Krishna which is haunting in it’s beauty and yet so full of texture and raw talent. What is particularly pleasing on the ears are his perfect extensions of words (‘Soniyo’ becomes ‘Soniyo-o-o-o’ on repeat and then fades away with the echos….the overall effect is magic) and alaaps…making this version irresistible and a winner for Raju Singh! On the subject of singing, the next track O JAANA is another one to feature a strong performance in this area. This time it’s K.K. giving us a lesson in the art of pumping vocals that evoke emotion and feelings from the heart. Whilst the pop / dance music by Raju Singh lacks inspiration, it’s still catchy and works well as a background to K.K’s superb performance. Lyrics by Saeed Quadri are fine. But just as with Soniyo, Raju Singh provides a more enjoyable offering in the O JAANA (DANCE WITH ME REMIX) by cranking up the bass and electric guitar. Recommended! The soundtrack ends however on a disappointing note with two average situational tracks. Firstly we have KAISA YEH RAAZ HAI produced by Pranay M. Rijia. K.K. is much more controlled here but the lyrics (by Saeed Quadri) and music are a let down with little quality to hold your attention. Consequently it’s unlikely to stay on your playlist for long. The final track, BANDAA RE is an improvement over the previous track but again owing to it’s purpose (background song), will be more effective on screen rather than as an audio product and simply drags despite a good effort by Gourav Dasgupta who has hitherto shown great talent this year. Krishna’s vocals are quality however and one feels he deserves more opportunities at this level. Lyrics (not credited) are passable. So is Mukesh Bhatt’s decision to go with newcomers vindicated? Well yes and no. There are a few good tracks here but nothing outstanding. That said he does deserve kudos for introducing some fresh talent particularly Sharib-Toshi and Raju Singh. Raaz TMC will prove a minor short-term distraction for music fans. After that expect to be returning to the class of 2008. That's Rahman.