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Stars and their hyphenated composers

columns Updated: May 16, 2012 14:43 IST
Amitava Sanyal
Amitava Sanyal
Hindustan Times
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Music: Sajid-Wajid
T Series, Rs 175
Rating: 3 and half

Some Bollywood stars are known to have preferred particular music directors through their careers. At a time composers such as SD Burman, Naushad and Salil Chowdhury were around, Raj Kapoor insisted on working with Shankar-Jaikishan. Kapoor introduced them in Barsaat (1949) and went on to work with them on 18 films that he starred in or directed. The composer duo went on to win three of their nine Filmfare awards for Raj Kapoor starrers.

A star-composer relationship that has emerged in recent years seems to have a similar stickiness to it (though in terms of achievements they are far yet from those of the RK-SJ combo). Over the last eight years, brothers Sajid and Wajid Ali have scored for nine films starring Salman Khan. It’s a combination that started with the quickly-forgotten Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge (2002) and has endured through the qualified dance-floor hits of Partner (2007) and Wanted (2009).

Now comes Dabangg, a film in which Salman stars as Inspector Chulbul Pandey. In keeping with the promise of rough-and-tumble in khaki-dom, Sajid-Wajid have composed an earthy soundtrack that might just be their best yet.

To me, the most interesting song of the album is ‘Hud hud dabangg’, a heavy-on-the-drums number that can easily be mistaken for a Haryana police anthem. For singing verses like ‘Jo jhunjhaar ho taiyyar, wohi sardar sa laage’ (The tough fighter who’s ready seems like a leader), Sukhwinder Singh lowers his pitch a few notches to that of a town-crier warning folks of dark times.

Next comes ‘Tere mast mast do nain’ by Rahat Fateh Ali, a lovely tune on the same tempo as ‘Dabangg’. The song begins matter-of-factly — without much fanfare, like a qawwali in the middle of a concert — and scales up beyond a couple of octaves. The tune and the lyrics don’t move an inch between the original and the other two versions — a duet with Shreya Ghoshal and a remix by ‘Designer Hippies vs the Bombay Bounce’.

The raunchy item number comes in the form of ‘Munni badnaam’ by the Rekha Bhardwaj-ish voice of Mamta Sharma. This one is written and composed by Lalit Pandit, the younger of the other brotherly duo, Jatin-Lalit. With words such as ‘Ye Zhandu balm hui, darrling tere liye’, this one gets the Salman brand of humour spot-on. Its faster remix version reminds me of the Salman-and-the-cows Chlormint ad.

The only song which may sound odd at a Haryana police party is ‘Chori kiya re’, a saccharine-sweet ballad by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal.

There’s only one face on the double fold-out of the album jacket — that of a be-goggled Chulbul Pandey. Now it’s up to him to ensure that the film doesn’t slink out of public memory as fast as the combo’s earlier outings did.

Hope floats... And stinks

Another brawny star John Abraham’s save-my-career vehicle has been musically mastered by another hyphenated composer duo, Salim-Suleiman. The duo has also drafted the help of Pritam and Shiraz Uppal for composing three of the eight originals. Mediocre high-school pop rules here — from Pritam’s ‘Mera jeena hai kya’ and ‘Dilkash dildaar duniya’ to Uppal’s ‘Rabba’ and Salim-Suleiman’s ‘Shukriya zindagi’. The ‘sad’ version of ‘Shukriya’, in the unadorned voice of Shafqat Amanat Ali, perhaps works better than any other.

Another rendition that stands slightly taller than the rest is Mohit Chauhan’s ‘Chala aaya pyar’. Its throw is neatly suited to Chauhan’s open-throated style. But even Shankar Mahadevan, who has recorded for someone other than his own trio after long, fails to lift the album’s overall rating.

Maybe Dabangg’s music works because it has a singular theme to wrap itself around. The airiness of Aashayein, on the other hand, makes it vaguely peppy and utterly unremarkable.