Expectations for a movie soundtrack don’t come as high as they come for SLB’s Ram-leela often. The fate of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film isn’t always pleasant but there’s no denying that the music of his films leave an impact. For Ram-leela he collaborates with Monty Sharma, of Saawariya fame. SLB established himself as a composer with Guzaarish and although the album didn’t acquire a chart buster status, it did introduce Bhansali in a new light. So does the collaboration of two houses of talent deliver a winning album? Read on to find out.
Indian Idol 5, 2nd place winner Bhoomi Trivedi opens the album with a track you’d least expect to be in this album. Ram Chahe Leela starts off as expected with a candid Gujrati conversation that gives the feel of a pre-gig chat. But then it all takes a surprising turn and the song turns into a fast paced rock number. What is the highlight of the number is the ultra desi lyrics and the fusion it creates with the composition which is anything but Indian in its essence. At the same time, the lyrics remain down to earth with occasional throw-in of an English word here and there. The sets the scene of the love story that the film boasts of. Kudos to lyricist Siddharth-Garima for a song well written.
Shail Hada (Saawariya title track) comes in next with a darkly seductive number, Lahu Muh Lag Gaya. Shail carries a lot of attitude in his vocals and the music surrounding his vocals is very Gujrati, heavy on dhols and others traditional instruments. No doubt this one has a distinctive style so some may not take to it as easily as others.
Aditi Paul, Indian Idol season 1 contestant, joins Shail for the next track, Ang Laga De. Aditi Paul is a revelation and the highlight of this hypnotic, sex and essentially, romantic number. Musical interludes take unexpected turns which is always a welcome change for a movie soundtrack where all too many adhere to strict formulas.
Then we have the mandatory chand song which Bhansali film OSTs are more often heard featuring. Shail Hada delivers another solo with Poore Chand. The track once again has very dark undertones in the vocals and has obvious Gujrati/Rajhastani flavors. The downside of the track is that it sounds like a leftover composition from Saawariya with Gujju flavours added to suit the new film. Of course that doesn’t mean the song ought to be written off.
Shreya Ghosal gives us a garba number with Nagada Sang Dhol. This one is a blatant attempt to reinvent ‘Dholi Taaro’ (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) in a new light. Sadly the number is not even close to earlier garba number from Bhansali’s blockbuster. For starters, Shreya is a complete let down as her vocals lack feel and emotion. It’s almost like she rushes through the track rather robotically. Attempted reinvention of dholi taro or not, this one is mediocre at best.
Arjit Singh (‘Rabta’ – Agent Vinod) delivers what is the most impressive number of the album, Laal Ishq. The number is incredibly peaceful and academically profound. Arjit Singh is in full form in an avatar that we had not seen him in till date. He proves that he’s more than just a pleasant voice but also that he’s very credible and versatile. There’s a new sense of maturity to his voice we’d not heard before. Musical interludes of the track are larger than life and do bring back memories of Devdas and Saawariya soundtrack but you don’t mind it in in the least.
We hear very little from Aditya Narayan who’s a gem of a singer and while it’s great that Ram-leela brings him back into the limelight, its shame a it’s with a song like Ishqyaun Dishqyaun. Unimpressive doesn’t suffice as a description of the track. The lyrics make very little sense and the composition is that of a rejected Govinda track from the 90s. This one is extremely dated and down right, tacky!
The music doesn’t let you forget that the film is based in Gujrat even for a second. And in case you were forgetting, they bring you Mor Bani Thanghat Kare, a complete Gujju/Rajhastani number featuring Osman Mir and Aditi Paul. The track isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea and likely to play a bigger role in the film.
Shreya brings us another solo number however this time the mood of the track is much different to the earlier one. Dhoop is a track we know Shreya can pull off in her sleep therefore nothing you’ll be raving about especially. The composition by this point in the album is very expected and nothing out of the ordinary.
SLB felt like he needed to bring a bit of massy-ness into the film so he gets Aditya Narayan next for your typical hero-entry song, Tattad Tattad. Once again Aditya’s talent is undermined with a very, for a lack of better word, annoying composition! The chorus portion resembles the word “tatad tatad” very little and comes across as a cluster of noise more than anything.
So does Ram Leela’s soundtrack deliver as per the enormous expectations from it? That would definitely be a no. The compositions feel repetitive after a while and if that is not the case there’s tracks that are complete write offs such as ‘Dishqyaun’ and ‘Tattad’. Tracks that make the album a worthwhile listen: ‘Ram Chahe Leela’, ‘Lahu Munh Lag Gaya’, ‘Ang Laga De’ and ‘Laal Ishq’ with ‘Poore Chand’ following closely behind.