A panel put together recently for the 100 Pipers India Music Week was thrown a crooked line: who was behind the changing sound of Bollywood? Those on the dais included Delhi Belly composer Ram Sampath, Paresh and Naresh Kamath of the band Kailasa, and singer-composer Raghu Dixit. Their collective no-holds-barred response, some of it unprintable, included a couple of observations that could transform Hindi film music.
One, there seems to be a burgeoning demand for ‘band music’, as opposed to the old arrangement of voices backed by an orchestra. Two, for musical as well as economic reasons, more producers — though not nearly enough of them — are requesting musicians to bring their own sounds of music, if not their own pre-recorded songs, to the studio rather than telling them what to do note by note. Such a move can give singers a chance to emerge from the shadow of their lip-syncing stars.
The shifts are in tune with the most significant change on the way — the Copyright Amendment Bill, which seeks to give independent rights to composers, lyricists and singers. The bill is likely to be put to vote in the next session of Parliament if not in the current one.
Are such tree-shaking winds affecting the current fruit of the Bolly woods? Yes, once in a while — like with a Delhi Belly or Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge. But if Don 2 and I Am Singh are anything to go by, the typical high-budget films are still largely unmoved by the winds of change. Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, on the other hand, presents a slightly different case.
For Don 2’s opening track, Zara dil ko thaam lo by Anusha Mani and Vishal Dadlani, composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy uses the same trampoline-lining material that was poured into the DNA of the previous Shah Rukh starrer, Ra.One. And the result is a bit too much of plasticky boing-boing.Usha Uthup’s ‘Hai yeh maya’ falls indeterminately between some James Bond title tracks of the pre-Pierce Brosnan era. The reason ‘Dushman mera’ by Sunitha Sarathy and Shankar Mahadevan works is that it floats on the old Kalyanji-Anandji signature tune for the first Don. The new film’s theme — ‘The king is back’ — also works on the same principle. As does KK’s ‘Mujhko pehchaanlo’, which is in fact an even closer shadow of the old tune.
The only track that stands apart from the unwavering theme is the ‘Don Waltz’ programmed by Solomon Sumanth. It’s also the album’s most baffling inclusion.
Among the fortnight’s releases, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl presents the most refreshing variety and lightness of touch.
The first track, Benny Dayal’s Aadat se majboor, is a not-so-original foot-tapping composition. What sets it apart is the instrumentation, especially the spare trumpet and keyboards. That, and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s street-smart words: “He’s a lover/ Kaam karne ki hai khujli/ Chakmaa deke he’s out of there quickly”. Shilpa Rao’s ‘Jazba’, too, features attractive instrumentation in a mix that plays up the different tracks clearly. Vishal Dadlani and Shweta Pandit take you closer to the edge of the dance floor with ‘Thug le’. If you are still on the fence by the end of it, Salim Merchant and Sraddha Pandit will drag you in with ‘Jigar da tukda’.
You can expect a certain kind of homogeneity from the music of a film titled I Am Singh. This one, however, works the expected Punjabi sound to an advantage. Dholak or no dholak, Daler Mehndi, Sukhwinder Singh, Mika and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan pour their hearts out. Kunal Ganjawala and Gayatri Iyer provide the Angrezi bits convincingly enough. What’s lacking in the originality of composition is made up by the passion of rendition.