If this summer continues to be as sultry as it has started, making the most of the lemons coming your way will be crucial for survival. We are talking music, of course.
Things seemed promising just a few weeks ago. The songs of Patiala House, Tanu Weds Manu and Thank You had raised hopes of a good summer. But now we are back to formulaic, dysenteric Bollywood, where lemon is staple.
All it took for my mood to swing from sunny to rabid is a couple of films starring Abhishek Bachchan, an actor bent on living up to the tag of ‘Small B’. This season his music directors seem as uninspired as his film directors. Even Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who gave Abhishek last decade’s biggest dance hit, ‘Kajra re’, can’t pump up the jam.
Game’s opening gambit, Vishal Dadlani’s ‘It’s a game’, has the ring of a James Bond title track but not its zing. To get the lyrics clearly, turn to the song’s reprisal by Sunitha Sarathi.
The best this album gets is Shreya Ghoshal and Kshitij Wagh’s ‘Mehki mehki’, a mambo-ish arrangement marked by a Latino rattler and mixed with an Arabian tambourine — something our Helen or Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks would gladly waggle to.
The chorus of ‘Kaun hai ajnabi’ gives it a bouncy volume that Aditi Sharma and KK’s voice couldn’t have managed.
Shift albums and it’s suddenly a more male world. Pritam, who has been diagnosed earlier with Weak-use-of-female-voice-itis, has fallen again for the hormonal disorder in Dum Maro Dum. Anushka Manchanda’s rappish rendition of the RD classic has more testosterone than Shankar Mahadevan’s World Cup cricket anthem ‘De ghumake’.
The Spanish/Portuguese ‘Te amo’ links up to Rihanna’s song of the same title in an unabashed, though not so brazen, style. The Ash King-Sunidhi Chauhan duo works somewhat like Marc Anthony-JLo: his is the more dulcet tone, hers the diva-like firmer one.
Papon thrashes about spectacularly with the angsty ‘Jiyein kyun’. He digs out the first words of the second para from his gut, reminding unfortunately of Neil Diamond. But overall, our man from Assam parades his versatility well.
A refreshing nimboo-soda
Sometimes Bollywood itself gives us a way to squeeze its lemons the right way. Even while the CDs of Game are being stacked, we have the latest hit compilation, Sound of Bollywood 9, from the same publisher. Its 17 songs are a cheaper, better bet than any fresh film album.
Perhaps the most insipid track on it is ‘Maine yeh’, the schoolboy pop from Game. Making up for it are Mika’s ‘Jugni’ and ‘Pyaar do’, Mohit Chauhan’s ‘Abhi kuchh dino se’, Jassi’s ‘Laung da lashkara’ and even Sukhwinder Singh’s now-ancient ‘Hud hud dabangg’.
A rare song that grabs us by its words is ‘Jugni’ — about the “naughty nakhre-wali” heroine who rides a red Bullet. This enduring Punjabi free-spirit, originally a diminutive of ‘jubilee’ (after the torch that toured Punjab in the early 1900s commemorating Victoria’s reign), is a storyteller’s skeleton. And Rajshekhar does well to flesh her out all over again in a convincing, fun way.
Another song not reviewed here earlier is Mamta Sharma and Javed Ali’s ‘Tinku jiya’ from Yamla Pagla Deewana. It’s a rare song in which more than Anu Malik’s music, his lyrics — ‘... Isk ka manjan ghisey hai piya’ — make you goggle-eyed. But you’d agree even rotten tomatoes are better than lemons, right?