Arguably, ask Ek Tha Tiger is this season’s most awaited film. Consequently, impotent it’s music carries with it an unwarranted high expectations. Just how is a ‘blockbuster music’ supposed to sound? If one peeps into history, most popular music or music from bumper hits wasn’t ‘architected’ to hit the bull’s eye, it just happened in due course of time. Expectations add an unnecessary burden, and most times creators fail to live up to it – not because their deliveries are bad, but because by nature expectation is always a notch higher in some vagure netherworld that is undefinable.
The reviews I read on the internet all seemed to carry some sort of mental measuring scale trying to match that undefined mark with the result in hand. My review is about a bunch of song, the film be damned! In any case, film songs should fit the plot, but at the same time have a life of their own to live beyond the film. In this, I feel Ek Tha Tiger numbers do succeed. Whether they fit into the story or not, is something that can only be gauged once the film releases, but listening to the audio it piques the interest, and standalone they have a life of their own.
Though, I’d be honest to say that I approached it with my own set of expectations – the key composer Sohail Sen is a music director I have been keenly following having taken to his warm, instrument-based compositions (a break away from the cluttered similar sounding composers of today). I still vociferously & firmly assert that his Khelen Hum Jee Jaan Sey is a masterpiece worth its every note weighed in gold!
First things first, the number of songs – four originals, one theme music followed by bunch of remixes. The remixes are redundant, and I will leave them out. Four songs is pathetically low number and seriously gives away the discouraging fact that music was never meant to be the film’s mainstay. But then Yash Raj Films’ romantic blockbuster Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi had a similar number of songs hence a thriller (albeit a romantic one, whatever that means) was bound to have same or less. Thankfully, they kept it at same.
The four songs blend with the main filming locations : Cuba, Ireland, Middle East and of course our very own India.
On to the songs – For some strange reasons Laapata is getting all the flak. I differ. With its Latino sounds (I guess, for the film’s Cuban patch), lot of brass, bouncy live rhythm, effervescent chorus and an old-fashioned tune, I found Laapata very quaint and romantic. The most interesting bit is the saxophone that immediately follows the mukhda, and I guess even Sohail thought so, since he adds the same bit in the post-lude as well. The antara tune has smooth breezy cadences. Overall, the song captures the essence of lovers beyond care of the world and its doings. The rhythm section is so Sohailish and which attracted me the first instance; there is dim jhankaar in the side-rhythm as well. The dependable KK and new singer Palak Muchhal (she has also sung for Sohail in From Sydney With Love) carry off the number brilliantly. Anvita Dutt portrays lovers lost to the world in simple ways through her words.
Next up is the quintessential Salman Khan dance number, though thankfully departing from his usual narcissitic mode ( Hud hud dabangg, Mera hi jalwa, Bodyguard title track) . This one is again suprisingly romantic with our hero musing about his lady love. The song – Banjaara– opens with an interesting Celtic choral piece and settles into an easy tune and rhythm; the violin/musical riff at the mukhda’s tip is an alluring addition that is the song’s main leitmotif. In the second interlude it’s a delectable splash of accordions and chorus. The antara has softer shades (e.g. Baaton mein usski jaadugari opens on lower notes) and then takes a neat though subtle twist upwards at (sainkdo khwaab usspe kharcha kiye…), and finally seamlessly blends back into the mukhda.; on humming you can realize the effort gone into the tuning though it is not overtly apparent. Quite a chartbuster material. Sukhwinder Singh and Javed Ali (backing vocals) do an able job. A word of praise is due to Suzanne n Group for the chorus bits. Lyrics are by Neelesh Mishra.
Sohail Sen shares the recording room with Sajid-Wajid, who do their sole number: Mashallah, which is a predictable Arabian dance track, though admittedly very catchy, but somewhere in the second interlude I felt the song looses its grip, and the transition to the antara is forced and patchy. Shreya Ghoshal, who has recently re-discovered her sensuous side is remarkable (she had done an electrifyingly sexy act in Jism – remember her huskily seducing us with Chalo tumko lekar chalen and langrously enticing listeners in Jadoo hai nasha hai ? – but later inexplicably settled into a ultra-sweet mode leaving that side of the spectrum to be explored and mastered by Sunidhi Chauhan).
There is a third composer too – Julius Packiam – who creates the theme music.
Finally, after the world-tour we return to our own India, and we reach the album’s – and this year’s- bestest number. Saiyarra ( meaning a ‘planet’ for the uninitiated) is incredibly beautiful & heartachingly sweet on the ears filled with dollops of abundantly rich interludes that flow with the ease of a refreshing waterfall cascading down to the next antara. Using briefly the piano riff from Laapata in the second interlude is a very neat touch that adds to the beauty. And the rabaab portions (alongwith the flute) are awesome. Structurally the song is interestingly mounted: Mohit Chauhan gets the mukhda and crosslines, repeated over in the two antaras, and Tarannum Mallik sings the two-line antara main body. This structure has been used in the past by almost all my favorite composers – a few examples are Yeh mausam bheega bheega hai (though in reverse) (Dharti/ Shankar Jaikishan), Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din ( Mausam / Madan Mohan) and Ab toh forever ( Tara Rum Pum / Vishal-Shekhar). Sohail’s addition to the list is a welcome one. I am not too much a fan of Mohit’s drawl, but here he is kept in tight leash; Tarannum, is delightfully soft & serene(she also had two fabulous tracks in Sohail’s What’s Your Rashee and one in Sirf); the lower octave’d antara, and the bold crossline/mukhda paint a lavish canvas. Kausar Munir’s words have the requisite pathos. Saiyarra is most convincingly & definitely the best song I have heard this year till now. Artlessly grandeur!
Before I close the review, I need to mention that the recording quality is very rich & luxurious and doubtlessly to be best enjoyed on an original audio CD.
Overall, Ek Tha Tiger is a short but enjoyable album and I would strongly recommend it.