||Are you Mast baby? I certainly am, and with just
cause. Ramgopal Varma's eagerly awaited next movie has a most
innovative and multi-influenced soundtrack, courtesy of Sandeep Chowta
and Nitin Raikwar. (You remember Chowta don't you? He was
the genius behind the flawless background scores of Kaun and Satya.) Defying
convention, as is always the case for Varma, Mast has designer, situational tunes that are
most un-Bollywood. The irony of it all is what makes them so great. For those
of you who do not know, the film has Varma returning to Bollywood for the film's backdrop.
Music director Sandeep Chowta opens the soundtrack
with his vocals for an Enigma-tic and percussion-heavy title track. Representing a
fan's near obsession with his favourite film heroine, the tune is very stylized and
Rahmanesque in construction. Think hard enough, and it will have you remembering
some of the rifts Rahman used in Daud
Sunidhi Chauhan, the album's major find (and only an adolescent according
to some sources), brings throaty appeal to the female version of the tune, "Main
Mast", a little later on.
"Ruki Ruki Thi Zindagi" is a near marvel of a train tune, sure to be
played in many Indian clubs in the near future. The continuously improving voice of Sonu
Nigam is accompanied by Sunidhi Chauhan (sounding very different from her other
contriutions to the album) for this perfect allegory about a fun train ride through
Back to the obsession theme for Sonu Nigam's odes of love in "Aasmaan Kehata
Hai Rab Se". A wonderful percussive pulse accompanies the erotic refrains,
but one has to marvel at the words in this song. Nitin Raikwar is
best known for creating silly but immensely popular lyrics such as "Teri Tirchi
Nazar Mein Hai Jadoo" (Loafer) and "Aati Kya Khandala" (Ghulam). Mast proves
Raikwar has the ability to be very successful with more logic and seriousness. Kudos
Blasphemy is what some pseuds will probably scream about the "Pucho Na
Yaar" take-off by Sandeep Chowta. Idiots, I say back. This rap-based
update and modification actually credits legendary R.D. Burman for the
inspiration source (which was a great song in its own right). But look at the song
in the right context. If you have not yet guessed from the earlier songs, it is
clear our film's hero is besotted with Bollywood. So why not have him sing an
intentionally 'inspired' tune as he lies to his friends about winning over the heart of
some unattainable starlet or rich girl? It is a cute story-based song, and if you
listen carefully to each verse, you will remember all the times you or your friends have
invented tales to impress one another.
Asha Bhosle. How do I say how much I love her singing?
This legend is just too great for words. Heck, she can even redeem the most asinine
songs with the velvety voice. Luckily, no such problem here, but Mast's songs would
not have been as great without Ashaji. "Hey Rama Krishna Govinda
Gopalaa" (no it is not religious a religious concoctionl) is a very
well-researched 'swinging' tune inspired from the black and white Hollywood films of
yesteryears. I never liked those flicks (except Charlie Chaplin and The Three
Stooges), but this tune is a major winner.
Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan rejoin to demonstrate how different this album is in "Sunatha
Tha". It is clearly a romantic duet, but where are all the typically
Bollywood dhols, sa re ga mas and laments about flowers and birds, etc.?
Here the lovers use a jazzy, brass and string-instrument base to describe the powerful yet
ambiguious nature of love.
You do not have to sail across the seven seas to realize that Asha Bhosle, Sonu Nigam
and the chorus are singing a mediterranean influenced tune in "Main Tere Dil Ki
Malika". I think of sandy beaches, a gorgeous companion (Urmila
anyone?) and the very funny lyrics every time I hear it. Oh, does anyone know, in
what language is the chorus singing? I heard something about being squishy and that
is about it. (Note that the song is claimed to be courtesy of J. Hornet
and K. Lewis, perhaps the original 'squishy' tune composers?)
There's more potential for inflaming album listeners in Asha's mystery-movie themed "Na
Govinda, Na Shahrukh Hai". It is a role reversal wherein the heroine sings
about her guy comparing better than the current mega-heroes of Bollywood. Just try
not to take it so seriously. Concentrate on Ashaji's perfect singing and the
multi-layered instruments and you Shahrukh fans might not be so upset.
As with all Ramgopal Varma movies, Mast is a treat of an album.
It is amazing that such a talented and innovative director can also be so productive.
(Count Varma's qualitative and quantitative output. I think it is way better than
the over-rated Sooraj Barjatya diabetic-fests.) Discerning musical
connoiseurs will love this soundtrack, but I don't know about the masses. If it does
well, it will be another step forward for Bollywood. Acceptance of innovativeness
is a great way to herald a new millenium!