For his first film Cheeni Kum, R Balki commissioned Ilaiyaraaja, the master composer from Southern India, to create the music. The music was wonderful and, in classic Ilaiyaraaja style, a mix of Western and Indian influences. So, for the upcoming Paa, the director once again chose the maestro to bring the music to life. In the film, Amitabh Bachchan plays Auro, a 13-year-old boy who suffers from a Progeria like condition, which causes him to age prematurely. Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan play his mother and father. Paa is not your classic filmi film – it has a unique story – and the album has to reflect this difference. So do the songs work? Read on to find out!
Mudhi Mudhi Ittefaq Se is the first version of this melody and has the wonderful Shilpa Rao as the vocalist. The song has a jazz vibe to it that rocks and a rock vibe that has jazz undertone to it. The song is a surprise because it has such a different sound. The lyrics are very catchy and have a lively quality to them. Shilpa Rao has a gorgeous voice with wonderful intonation, and the breathlessness quality to her vocals really adds to the whole song. Is this everyone’s cup of tea? Probably not, but is it good music? Definitely! Loved it in every way.
Udhi Udhi Iteffaq Se is another version of the Shilpa Rao song, with a less jazzy, more light and airy feel to the music. Liked this one as well, but not sure of the need for it. Perhaps the film will explain. Keep it on the playlist!
The third version of this melody is Gali Mudhi Ittefaq Se. It has the brilliant tones of Shaan and he sounds gorgeous – I love hearing his fluid vocals with only the piano backing him up. The track develops into a lovely orchestral break, which shows off Ilaiyaraaja’s mastery at composition, then Shaan’s voice joins in and it feels as if the music and his voice don’t match. I wish he would have left it in the simple smooth cool voice of Shaan with the simple piano and then done an instrumental track with the orchestral section. Check it out for Shaan though, it’s worth it.
K, Bavatharini, Shravan and a children’s chorus are heard on Gumm Summ Gumm. For me this track fell flat and I do mean the notes. There was a little too much relying on the synthesizer’s musical variations and too many sounds were used. The beginning reminded me of a Mannheim Steamroller song, which is not a bad thing, but in this case it just all got to be a bit too much synth sounds. The vocals including the children’s chorus is good, but the music did not match their voices, so the song becomes discordant and is almost hard on the ears. I wanted to turn it down. I did like the song better in the musical break that had a very jazzy piano – the song should have kept to that route and built from there. The guitar licks throughout were terrific too, but they were infrequent. It might play better in the film, but just to listen to it, it is not a good song.
Next is Hichki Hichki. This track starts with Sundhni Chauhan a cappella, which is of course a good thing. However, the composer went mad on the synth beats and instead of adding to her, it fought with her and made it a song you don’t really want to listen to. It had some interesting and quite good moments when the synth fell to the back and her voice and the music was allowed to combine to make a cool sound. Again, I hope this plays better on screen, but for now I have to say skip this one as well. There is nothing wrong with letting music run mad if that is what it needs to do (thinking of some of the classical symphonies of Rachmaninoff or Igor Stravinsky) but on this track some of the running mad was just noise. The effervescent performance by Sundhni is the stand-out of the song.
Halke Se Bole is a very short number but it makes an impact. An a cappella children’s chorus begins the song and it is wonderful. There is a yearning to the feeling to the vocals that really tugs at you. The music to back up the vocal is okay but I think I would rather just have had the simplicity of their tuneful sounds.
If I did not know this was Amitabh Bachchan on Mere Paa I would never have known it or guessed. His distinctive, instantly recognizable voice is completely gone and in its place we hear a boy singing a lovely tune. The song is just a boy in his room or somewhere singing to himself and making up a song as he goes along. I really don’t have the adjectives to describe this – it is one that just has to be experienced. Also weaving in and out of the track is the lovely violin melody of the Paa theme, the music of Auro and Paa. The melody line is perfect for what I feel the essence of the film is about and is in my opinion the best composition on the album. I love it.
Finally we have the Paa Theme (Remix), which was done by Vickky Goswami. This has the lovely Paa theme melody line to start and then it is transposed into something completely different. It is an instrumental track that has a range of different styles and instruments. The basic beauty of the theme is still my favorite but this is an interesting study. Again, I got the feeling while listening to it that all the parts don’t go together, so that makes it very hard to listen to. Did I like it? I am not sure, but I do admire how that basic theme was made into something new and with some great musical moments.
I was a great admirer of Ilaiyaraaja’s Cheeni Kum, but I feel he somehow missed with this soundtrack. That he is a master cannot be denied, his composition of music is outstanding as well as his phrasing, but on Paa in many cases the vocals and the music never meshed and so for to many of the songs they became difficult to listen to. Highlights for me were Shaan’s vocals on ‘Gali Mudhi Ittefaq Se’, Shilpa Rao and the jazzy take on ‘Mudhi Mudhi Ittefaq Se’, the lovely Melody of Paa and of course Big B as Auro. As for the others, perhaps within the context of a scene the discordant-ness will be masked or make sense. I hope so, because this looks to be a film that will be quite the cinematic experience!
2.5 for the vocals and the Paa violin melody.