When you hear it’s a Himesh album, your first reaction is to go no further. On top of that, if you also happen to know that there are 11 remixes and ‘mehfil’ mixes of the original seven tracks, all you want to do is just groan. However, to counter that, there is the little fact that Javed Akhtar has not only teamed up with Reshammiya for the first time, but that he has actually contributed vocally to a couple of the ‘mehfil’ renditions. So is this an album worth listening to? Let’s look a bit further.
The album starts with Himesh crooning away to glory in his nasal voice in Chakna Chakna, but after the first few seconds (although a bit reminiscent of Aap Ki Khatir), you realize that bhangra beats have replaced his usually techno-style. Although this song has already been doing the rounds at discotheques, it doesn’t have any long-term value. An unpleasant surprise is the random English lyrics from girls in the background. Despite slightly deviating from the norm of Himesh, this song just doesn’t hit the mark — listen, but don’t expect much from this one.
Viraaniya is slow and morose, but fails to extract emotion from the audience. You can almost fall asleep listening to it. The fact that Himesh’s nasal voice sings almost the entire song also is a downer. Small respites from his voice come in the form of a girl murmuring Arabic lyrics. Additionally, he throws in some techno beats into a song meant to be sad and the music just isn’t catchy enough to stick. Hit the ‘skip’ button.
Now this next track could arguably be called the most looked-forward to one in the album. Why? The singer is none other than Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, nephew of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the melodious voice behind “Jiya Dhadak Dhadak“, an undying song that touched many souls. He is supported by newcomer Krishna, who fares very well when you look at his partner in Main Jahaan Rahoon. Surprisingly, Himesh too manages to conjure up music that reminds us he is indeed the same person who scored for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam all those years ago. Javed sir’s lyrics hit the bull-eye. All in all, this song is a keeper.
Yahi Hota Pyaar finally brings a female voice onto the scenes, and of course it is none other than the much loved Sunidhi Chauhan. The beginning sounds more traditional than anything you would expect of Himesh, but when his voice comes in, there is no doubt of who he is. Sunidhi’s voice provides a nice change from the over-exposed Himesh. However, even the nice tabla beats and the sitar cannot stop this song from sinking.
Next is FINALLY! A non-Himesh track (Well, okay, “Main Jahaan Rahoon” is non-Himesh, but even one song sung by him is one too many). Titled Rafta Rafta, the shehnayee is prominent from the beginning. Sung by RDB, this track is surprisingly good. Starting undeniably Indian, it catches onto the Spanish beats trend a little bit before switching back. The lyrical melody dominates throughout this song and this author finds herself actually enjoying it. Yeah, a thumbs-up for this!
Aanan Faaanan begins with those two words. Despite not knowing what they mean, I find myself bobbing my head to this track. Jayesh Gandhi and Akriti Kakar sing out this song, which keeps switching back from slow to fast and then slow again. The entire song has a feeling of anticipation, and if you’re in the mood for something sweet, give this one a try.
The upbeat mood picks up even further with the next track, Dilruba. (I know what an unoriginal title). Well, thankfully the song doesn’t follow in that vein but rather combines quite distinct tones and blends them quite nicely. A quirk I noticed of this song is that the starting lyrics “dilruba, dilnashi, mahroohn, mehjabi” are the almost the exact same words (in the same order) used in “Achchi Lagti Ho” from Kuch Naa Kaho. However, since they are common endearments, this is nothing more than a coincidence, right? The singers are Zubeen Gard and Alisha Chinai. “Dilruba” is an up-tempo love that might actually get you – (at the risk of getting killed for using such a 70s word) – grooving.
In Namastey London, Himesh has tried something new. The remixes bring nothing new or worth commenting on, but as previously mentioned, the mehfil mixes intersperse Javed Saab’s soulful words in his own voice (spoken) throughout the music. While he retains his over-exposed and frankly, quite tiring, signature style with a few of the tracks, the rest try something different. And wonder of wonders, some of them click! Sometimes, taking a risk does pay off. While not nearly amazing, it does deliver some pleasant surprises!