The event has begun.
Anything and everything that Sanjay Leela Bhansali brings on celluloid is an event in itself. And when the film is as mighty as Saawariya, there are questions galore:
a) Whether Sanjay Leela Bhansali would manage to converge the innocence of Khamoshi, romance of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, grandeur of Devdas and sensitivity of Black into Saawariya?
b) Whether the film would justify it's positioning as a global mainstream release?
c) Whether Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor indeed herald a new era of young romance?
d) Whether Monty Sharma's music and Sameer's lyrics would have just the right elements which make for a quality score?
While answers to the first three questions would be known the moment first show of Saawariya commences on 9th November, the first hearing of film's soundtrack does clarify the situation for the last question. Yes, the music indeed comes across as a quality score. In fact 'pure' is the word to best describe it.
The only hitch? One wonders how far would it be successful in penetrating the masses. That's because barring 2-3 songs, most of the tracks come together to make Saawariya as a package which works collectively and promises good cinematic outing but doesn't throw songs which come across as standalone chartbusters!
The best track of the album comes at the very beginning in the form of the title song ‘Saawariya. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's love for music is pretty apparent in this track which is instantly catchy in the first listening itself. With a young-n-fresh feel to it, the track comes across as an innocent number, something which was the hallmark of music composed by Jatin-Lalit in their heydays.
Beautifully composed and arranged, Saawariya has Monty keeping things simple with not once going overboard. Everything from the chorus guys to the sound of guitar works just in perfect harmony for this song that has some lovely lyrics by Sameer. But if there is one individual to which the song belongs completely, it is new find Shail Hada. He is tremendous in his rendition and can count himself in to be in the running once the nominations for some of the best sung songs of 2007 are announced!
There is a ‘Saawariya Reprise’ version at the very end of the album which is set as a performance amidst a group of youngsters. Almost an unplugged version with focus completely on Shail Hada's singing, it has him making full use of the platform provided to him and impresses yet again. This is a kind of song that R. D. Burman would have been proud of!
If one thought that the title song was the only good enough reason to hear 'Saawariya' then 'Jab Se Tere Naina' adds on to the list of reasons. A Shaan solo, it has a R.D. Burman and Jatin-Lalit influence to it, especially in the 'antara' portions. A love song that has a serene feel to it, one wonders though if there was any requirement of male voiceover artists in it?
Their frequent intrusions of 'aahas' and 'ohhos' doesn't quite fit in well into the scheme of things for this romantic track which maintains high standards of melody throughout. However, as mentioned at the beginning, the song is a good hear but not the kind (like the title track) which you would sing back home after watching it on screen!
Remote sound of 'Allah' marks the beginning of 'Masha-Allah' which is the first duet of the album. Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal come together for this song in which one can expect scenic locations to compliment the song's setting. There is a classic feel to this song which takes it's inspiration from the soundtrack of 1942 - A Love Story. A point to be noted here though is that Sanjay Leela Bhansali was the song director of this Vidhu Vinod Chopra film and hence the references are understandable.
Coming back to 'Masha-Allah', the song has a serene feel to it and one can expect a pin drop silence when the song is on in the auditorium. While the song mainly belongs to Kunal Ganjawala who does a fine job, Shreya Ghoshal is mainly relegated to giving 'alaap' in the background.
After the title track, one would have expected the spunk to be maintained in the album. Instead it goes the 'Devdas' way here with the focus staying on maintaining good quality of song rather than coming up with songs which could be turn out to be instant chartbusters around the town. With a hint of 'Bairi Piya' [Devdas] when it comes to sheer sound and feel, 'Thode Badmash' has Shreya Ghoshal as the solo singer.
With a classical base to it, this Nusrat Badr written song is mainly created for a situation in the movie and can't be expected to rock the charts from the word 'Go'. Revolving around a girl for whom her lover may be naughty and innocent but still stays on to be her God, this is the kind of song which was mentioned at the beginning to be belonging to a package rather than contributing individually.
Remember Ismail Darbar composed ‘E Chaand Teri’ from ‘Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya'. A song which belongs to a similar genre, 'Yoon Shabnami', comes next which again qualifies to be one of those songs that make for a peaceful hearing. This Sandeep Nath written track has newcomer Parthiv Gohil coming behind the mike and doing a rather decent job.
With a poetic feel to it, 'Yoon Shabnami' that also touches upon being a 'qawalli' revolves mainly around the moon and the glow it spreads. All of this does promise a good cinematic experience though one waits to see the kind of deep rooted reach that a track like this may have across the country.
Have you loved the theme piece that goes along with the teasers of the film? If so, then get set to revisit it in 'Daras Bina Nahin Chain' which has Richa Sharma pairing up with Shail Hada and Parthiv Gohil who have earlier enjoyed a solo each. Richa does what she has been widely acknowledged for being capable of i.e. croon a number which is soaked in Indian classical music.
With a Bhansali stamp all over it, this situational piece mixes pain with love and turns out to be a track with a strong A.R. Rahman influence, especially towards the second half when the setting becomes purely classical.
Shreya Ghoshal returns to the scene with 'Sawar Gayi' that opens with the sound of a thunderstorm. Yet another classically oriented number which moves at a rather slow pace with an out and out situational feel to it, it makes for a decent listening but is restricted to the situation in the film. In fact even when it is heard in the album, it would be appreciated mainly by a select set of audience who follow such genre of music.
After 'Masha-Allah', Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal return with second and the last duet of the album - 'Jaan-E-Jaan'. In fact the entire music arrangement in the first 60 seconds is very much on the lines of music that has been heard in films coming from RK banner. By this time around, one would have expected at least one more song to match the stunning effect that the title song had managed to achieve.
Sadly, 'Jaan-E-Jaan' doesn't quiet turn out to be that song as it does maintain good quality by following Sanjay Leela Bhansali's vision more than anything else but in the process looses out on the commercial prospects. It's not that 'Jaan-E-Jaan' is THE number which could have achieved that but by this time around, one seriously misses a second potential chartbuster track in the album.
Kunal Ganjawala gets to sing his third song in the album, 'Pari'. If there is one song which is relatively enjoyable after 'Saawariya' and to an extent 'Jab Se Tere Naina', it is 'Pari' which follows a love ballad approach and succeeds well in it. A difficult song to sing and compose, something which has been made to look easy by Ganjawala and Monty Sharma, 'Pari' is a beautiful track that one can set in a repeat mode and go off to a peaceful sleep. The orchestra is minimal in the background with focus on lyrics and rendition, hence making 'Pari' a good song to be enjoyed in the loneliness of the night!
Is this the song choreographed on Rani Mukherjee? It seems so the moment one plays on 'Chhabeela'. In fact, the song amalgamates the style of Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra and Karan Johar school of music and comes across as en enjoyable track. Perhaps the only song in the album with a potential to break across A, B and C centers of the country, this massy Indian track is crooned quite well by Alka Yagnik who has been making restricted appearances of late and justifies her presence for her only track in the album.
In the end, it is the sound of the title song 'Saawariya' which stays on with you forever and is leaps and bounds above anything else in the album. While this is the anchor song which would be remembered for months to come, if not years, the others don't really go that extra distance to such an extent that it becomes hard to get them off your lips. 'Jab Se Tere Naina', 'Masha-Allah', 'Pari' and 'Chhabeela' do have their moments but don't quite qualify as chartbusters. In the end, 'Saawariya' turns out to be an album which does boast of quality in it's songs but gets hampered by restricted mass appeal.