The upcoming film Kurbaan has been getting more press for the steamy scenes between Saif Ali Khan and real-life girlfriend Kareena Kapoor than for anything else. Directed by Rensil D’Silva and produced by Karan Johar, with Vivek Oberoi also appearing in a starring role, expectations are running high. The story runs something like boy meets girl but boy has a dark secret – one part Fanaa and one part New York. The soundtrack by Salim-Suliaman is as moody and atmospheric as the film is expected to be.
The album has five songs and a remix. Of the five songs, which range in mood from melancholy to bittersweet, not one hits more than a walking tempo. Even the remix is oddly lethargic. Kurbaan doesn’t have the ray of sunshine that was ‘Hai Junoon’ on the New York soundtrack.
“Thanking God for love,” croons the chorus (in English) on the opening track of Kurbaan, Shukran Allah. Utilizing all the sounds of the contemporary Karan Johar-style love song, including Spanish guitar, a light dhol beat, and the reverbed vocals of Sonu Niigaam, ‘Shukran Allah’ is a serviceable ballad sung from the male perspective with a few lines here and there from the underused Shreya Ghoshal.
Keeping the bittersweet mood but pumping the tempo up a few notches is Dua. The English language chorus is back but this time supporting Sukhwinder Singh and Kailash Kher. Despite the best efforts of the syrupy female chorus, the song remains rather muddy and rooted in the mid-register and never soars like it should.
Salim Merchant sings himself on the gloomy highlight – or should that be lowlight – of Kurbaan, Ali Maula. Using minimal instrumentation and heavy reverb, the sounds slowly drift off into the air like smoke. ‘Ali Maula’ is dark and moody and captures the feeling of Kurbaan more than anything else on the album.
Rasiya, sung by up and coming Shruti Pathak, is darkly sensual. Shruti has beautiful diction and technique and puts her all into this slinky song. A single bass note drones like a heart beat underneath Shruti’s voice as waves of brass crash about her. The result is unusually intimate and should play well on the screen.
Sounding very much like a closing credits song, Kurbaan Hua brings out all the rock tricks and is a satisfying mid-tempo power ballad. The chorus is particularly satisfying with Vishal Dadlani nailing the lyrics and the descending melody of “Kurbaan hua…”
Closing out the album is the odd Ali Maula (Remix) that manages to remain lethargic despite the dance beats.
Although I cannot say for certain, I suspect that none of these songs will be explicitly picturized with the exception of ‘Dua’, which has the sound of a party song. The rest will most likely be played over montages. Whether that accounts for overwhelmingly gloomy mood of the soundtrack, I can’t say, but Kurbaan as an album is lacking in variety.
While the songs hold up on an individual level, taken together the result is rather oppressive. The soundtrack of Kurbaan is probably best listened to as part of the film or when one is in a gloomy mood.