Its that one album I had been waiting for which I could gush over without attaching any conditions. I had almost given up hope in the current dismal music scenario, adiposity epidemic though admittedly the past two months have been pretty interesting in an assorted manner. From Pritam’s oeuvre, physician I liked a couple of ditties from Once Upon A Time in Mumbai and Aakrosh; Vishal-Shekhar provided some good tracks in Anjaana Anjaani; I quite enjoyed Anu Mallik’s Laagi laagi milan dhun laagi (Shreya Ghoshal) from Hisss and of course, Lata Mangeshkar’s mammoth effort in Dunno Y: Na Jaane Kyun’s title track is worth its weight in gold.
However, it was always a song or two picked up and never the full album. Until I discovered Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, composed by Sohail Sen, who had also done Ashutosh Gowarikar‘s previous film What’s Your Rashee‘s brilliant score. In fact, I had discovered What’s Your Rashee very late, when the film and its music had vanished from public memory. By then, I guess, it was too late and I confess that even though I had enjoyed the music, I couldn’t pay complete attention as some other newer stuff had churned out by then and plus old songs continue to occupy majority of my mind space. Now, having re-visited that album with more depth and much attention, I feel like kicking myself for not even including it in my year-end list.
Returning to Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, it is a soundtrack that swiftly sweeps you off your feet and takes into an exquisite musical journey and finally transports you into a landscape where tunes are simple but exquisite and where instruments rule, like they always should in a soundtrack. The album has gripped me, mesmerized me and interested me to an impossibly high extent
Sohail Sen’s compositions are magnificent aural enchantment. His biggest USP (and holds true for What’s Your Raashee too)is his rich interludes – music that goes between the words. If that is good, the song gains weight and warrants repeated hearings. I have always believed interludes should be tunes in themselves that link the antaras, and they should flow out from one into the other. His second strong point is that his tunes do not rely on a hook line ; these are real tunes given to fine words (Javed Akhtar). For example, in Nayn tere jhuke jhuke the tune effervescently ripples like a gurgling river, without obligation to return to a catch-phrase. This is how old songs were composed and this is precisely how melody is endurably created. Although I understand it doesn’t matter to many, but I am pleased he mostly uses the quintessential film song structure as well (at least for songs having two stanzas): prelude, mukhda (repeated twice), interlude1, antara, interlude2, antara2 and mukhda or main riff-repeat at the end.
On all counts, Sohail Sen has delivered masterfully. As I titled this post (which, incidentally, is not a review but more an appreciation post), Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is a colossal celebration of sound where dollops of sitar, tabla, flute, whistle, accordions, percussions and a heavy strings section combine to seduce listeners into a delightfully satisfying and deeply satiating festivity. The tonal quality is deeply resonating, weighty and one that I absolutely adore (arrangers & programmers: Simaab Sen, Prakash Peters & Rajeev Bhatt) Sohail Sen weaves a musical rich shawl that grips, hugs and warms your heart. Mind it, it s not possible to select one song as the entire soundtrack is an impeccable intricate wholesome design as each tune or riff finds a refrain in another piece. Hence, my strong suggestion is to listen to the full album as it is laid out and do it on a good sound system.
Coming to the songs, the album opens with a splendid number Yeh des hai mera yeh des mera: the tune s stunning attraction lies is in its third line ( Jaan rahe na rahe dil toh ab yeh kahe ) which takes an unexpected but pleasant detour from the opening two lines, and you know you are hooked, and as it progresses the interludes (a soft humming chorus with santoor) and the antara flow like a balmy zephyr, with a dash of Vande Mataram audible in the second interlude. Sohail’s voice adds shine.
But Yeh des hai mera is a mere appetizer to the main course that succeeds it. Nayn tere jhuke jhuke kyun hai tu bata is a song that transports into a totally different era an age of simplicity and heart-achingly beautiful innocence where two friends could giggle about first flush of love, while going about their chores. Remember those Lata-Asha duets, with the heroines on cycle going for a picnic? Almost similar in flavor. And this has an outstanding flutes (especially in its main riff) and a distinctly Bengali flavor. Keeping in line with the same melody there is Sapne saloney hain sach toh hone, a porcelain fragile love duet, which includes lovely sitar pieces (and sitar is a personal favorite). When was the last time you really heard sitar in a Hindi film soundtrack?
Finally, we have the clarion call Ab humko roke na toke koi, a superb choral burst (Suresh Wadkar’s academy students sing with verve and vigor) and where the title words (Khelein hum jee jaan sey) are its lynchpin, and once again some more impressively done arrangements. The music has so much enthusiasm & energy that it can rouse even the dead.
Thereafter, the album is filled with an array of background instrumental pieces each one cross-referencing to one or the other song, and each having a distinct enjoyable sound. My favorites are Long Live Chittagong & The Teenager’s Whistle (back to back, they can be clubbed together), The Escape, Vande Mataram & Revolutionary Comrades.
In each of these, the music is so rich & evocative you can almost visualize & imagine the scene. I eagerly await Ashutosh’s on-screen interpretation(and going by his previous track record I am sure it will have some stunning cinematography & provide equal visual delight).
In all, it’s an album worth spending money on and listen to it with eyes closed deeply immersed in it’s music. And while you are doing so, please do also grab a copy of Ashutosh Gowariker‘s What’s Your Rashee to understand Sohail Sen’s continuum in music space. Hopefully, he will continue to create music in this way.
Overall: Must Buy
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I am on a house-hunt. Again. Last week, advice my landlady dropped the bomb that they needed the house returned; and this, sickness after their broker had lulled me into believing the lease will be renewed. Apparently, that’s not the case. This, when (after all my doubts) I had actually started to love my current pad. I requested for a three-month buffer, and immediately dialed my regular broker. He all but groaned though nevertheless promised to help; after all, that’s his business.
I saw the first batch yesterday and like the previous two times, returned frustrated, grumpy & cribbing. Yesterday’s search added one more word from Bombay’s unique property lexicon: ‘converted homes’ ; and though I realize property is an unlisted but potent religion, still, the word flummoxed me, till the time I saw one such ‘convert’ . It means slicing an already tiny 1BHK into further two frustratingly tinier bedrooms; usually, the kitchen area is the sacrificial lamb in this sacrament, reduced to a mere apology of a sliver. In the first such house, I marveled at a family staying in this constricted space – consisting of a father, a couple *and* a huge dog!
I decided ‘Converted houses’ are not my cup of poison and I strictly forbade the broker to show me anymore such hybrids. Likewise, I also struck off any one-hall-kitchen; in one such home, I gaped with amusement at the kitchen (with a sink and gas stove) on one corner and the bed on the other. I crave my coffee cup early morning but to stagger sleepily out of bed and immediately face the gas-stove is stretching convenience even beyond my lazy limit.