Dhan Te Nan!

Directing a (multiple) award winning movie like Omkara is no small feat. Composing an equally acclaimed soundtrack to the very same movie hints at genius. Whether he’d intended it or not, Vishal Bhardwaj developed a reputation for quality Bollywood fare, still rather a rarity. Kaminey (Scoundrels), to be released later this year, is his next big venture involving both film and music direction.

When the first trailers were introduced, it was to the strains of Dhan Te Nan. It’s the sort of intentionally ludicrous phrase that’s used to strike a pose, and with it, Bhardwaj spins a number that’s equal parts menace and manic energy. The majority of this dynamism has to be attributed to Sukhwinder Singh and Vishal Dadlani. I spent a pleasant few minutes listening to this track and imagining the two of them singing their hearts out in a studio somewhere. At times, though, I wondered at the relative mildness of the background compared to these two excellent voices.

The remix fares equally well, if not better. It drops its earlier frenetic beat, the electric guitar gets a little more attention, and Bhardwaj increases the menace factor. Deliberately slowing the pace and adding some rap brings in the swagger, although still tempered with silliness (“I’m Mr. Bollywood/king of the neighbourhood” is a good example).

But Bhardwaj tries the same trick – a comic phrase interspersed with seriousness – in Fatak, with slightly less success. Again, Sukhwinder Singh and especially Kailash Kher are the ones who make the song, but while this is pleasantly diverting, it isn’t particularly memorable. The change in tone as Bhardwaj delivers his safe-sex message* is interesting, however, and gives this track another dimension.

Besides being a talented film and music director, Bhardwaj also possesses a lovely singing voice. In Kaminey, it’s the title song that lets Bhardwaj display his skills. The rhythm is distinctive but not intrusive, and gentle to match Bhardwaj’s voice. Strident trumpets and a violin chorus are transmuted into subtle background support. The melody itself, interspersed with tone changes in minor keys, is a sweet blend of peaceful and wistful.

Raat Ki Dhai Baje (and its remixed version, hardly different from the original) took a while to grow on me. On the first listen, most of it had passed by the time I’d even registered it. But when I caught myself absentmindedly humming the chorus, I went back to figure out what made it tick. Raat Ki establishes Bhardwaj as a man who definitely knows how to pick his singers; Rekha Bhardwaj and Sunidhi Chauhan (both key singers in Omkara) complement each other perfectly, as do the male singers. Kunal Gajanwala and Rekha in particular contribute to the uncomplicated flirtatiousness of this track.

There are a total of eight tracks, but I emerged feeling distinctly confused: the soundtrack seemed to lack something but, at the same time, appeared to go on for a while. And then I realized that Dhan Te Nan, its remix, Go Charlie Go (an instrumental piece which mostly plays off Dhan Te Nan) and Fatak revolve around the same musical theme; so do Raat Ki Dhai Baje and its remix; Pehli Baar Mohabbat, thrown in almost as an afterthrought and with a ballad feel akin to Kaminey,is a nice piece of music that didn’t make a very distinct impression.

And that, I felt, was the main problem with Kaminey‘s soundtrack. It’s perfectly possible that the music is contextually excellent, that the sparseness of sounds is tied to the tight focus of the movie. The tracks, after all, share a similar theme – they don’t take themselves too seriously but are technically well-orchestrated. But standing alone as a series of tracks, it’s as though Bhardwaj simply rehashes much of the music.

Slick, occasionally great, teetering on the edge of success, Kaminey‘s music is easy to like but difficult to love.

*Kaminey song promotes safe sex.

Photo Courtesy: http://kaminey.utvnet.com/

About Sumita Sami :
Sumita Sami is a recent graduate of UT and has now exchanged Austin's quirkiness for California's. She remains obsessed with grammar, music and sci-fi, and hopes to add yoga to the list soon.
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