Sarkar Raj

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Posted on June 6th, 2008 in Music Reviews

It’s ironic how a film with power as its central theme stars three members of one of the most powerful — if not the most powerful — families in Bollywood. And with the infamous Ram Gopal Varma behind the wheel, you can expect one hell of a ride. His films are rarely famous for their music, but somehow the ‘Govinda’ theme of Sarkar emerged an eerie anthem that surprisingly stuck.

And so it returns with vengeance in the background score of Sarkar Raj. The problem is, there are so many versions that you can hardly set them apart.

Before embarking on this album, it’s important for the listener to remember that RGV has released this as a background score and it shouldn’t be reviewed as a regular filmy soundtrack. When listening, keep the songs in context of a background score and you’ll find that most work with the film’s theme and mood.

The score gets off to an absolutely brilliant start, with Kailash Kher mightily crooning Jalwa Re Jalwa. From the word go, the track is infectious in every sense of the word and perfectly conveys that sense of greed, villainy and power the Sarkar series is so famous for. It starts off forcefully, takes a dip and becomes more solemn for a few seconds and catches you off guard when it rises to a thrilling crescendo. After listening to this track, I can truly vouch for the fact that a new anthem is born.

It re-appears in the form of The Jalwa Club Mix which is naturally infused with techno and trance beats ideal for the club scene. It seems as if this version was only created so that the track can be played at clubs to promote the movie (like so many films do these days). Nevertheless, it’s adequate but doesn’t quite capture the essence of the original.

Shweta Pandit steals Jhini Jhini with an intoxicating rendition that almost sends sensuous chills down your spine. The beats are intense yet it somehow manages to create undertones of passion beneath its strong exterior. But beware, it’s hardly everyone’s cup of tea. You can’t classify it as a quintessential Bollywood track as it breaks that mold with full vigour and manages to triumph.

It re-appears in a slower version sung by Pamela Jain titled Subah which is more subtle and will work very well during scenes that demand a more quiet background score.

Jalte Rawan misses the bus altogether. Sure, music directors Bapi-Tutul should be admired for attempting a true-blue rock track in a Hindi film, but there’s hardly a tune to this track that evokes any emotion or entertains you even if it’s for the three minutes that it plays. Skip!

Ah, I knew it would return. The Govinda Theme is back, and certainly not for the last time. At this stage of the album, listeners are probably eagerly awaiting this one that epitomized the core of Sarkar. And for now, it works. It’s only when you hear it over and over in the album that you get bored.

Chaah Bhanwar Trishna is definitely not a track most would prefer to listen to in their spare time, but once again, it’s important to consider all these tracks in the context of a background score as its intended to be. And from that perspective, it will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat with Sunayana Sarkar Dasgupta’s unsettling vocals, perfect for the song’s mood.

And this is were the fun begins (sarcasm intended). Saher Saher Ke Hajharon Sawaal is another version of ‘Govinda’ with a few extra lyrics most are used to hearing from the track released with the first film. What follows is the Govinda Chant which just seems like a louder version of the earlier track. Yes, it’s very well composed, but it’s getting monotonous now.

You get a short break from the signature track when Saam Daam appears, yet again another ideal background track for the film.

Okay, now it’s just getting irritating. The Govinda Groove? I think that’s crossing the line. Even if they were nearly identical, the earlier versions were powerful nevertheless. This one is just boring with a bit of dialogue thrown in. And here comes the Govinda gone techno in The Govinda Trance which is half-decent.

We know the ‘Govinda’ track was good, but that doesn’t warrant five versions. It almost makes you overlook fellow tracks that are excellent in their own right [Jalwa Re Jalwa, Jhini Jhini]. Overlooking the monotonous yet identical tracks we’re forced to endure, the soundtrack encompasses the soul of the film to the very tee.

Reviewing this as a background score, one has to admit that it’s extremely powerful and foreshadows a hard-hitting film to follow. The only problem is that it lacks variety and after the umpteenth ‘Govinda’ you forget how good the track is to begin with. I don’t know about you, but I’m Govinda-ed out.

Our Rating:

Kuch Toh Bolo!

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