Everything about Veer is epic – from the price tag to the costumes and set design to the amount of time and effort sunk into it by superstar Salman Khan, hot off of his success in Wanted. Directed by Anil Sharma, the period piece is set in the late 1800s and stars the oiled and chiseled Salman as a warrior who fights against the British for his lady love, played by newcomer (and Katrina Kaif look-alike) Zarine Khan. Also starring in the film are Mithun Chakraborty and Jackie Shroff; frequent Salman Khan cohorts Sajid-Wajid take the reigns on Veer’s soundtrack; Gulzar has written the lyrics.
Taali Mar is said to be the costliest film song ever produced and if the music alone is anything to go by, it was worth every penny. An ominous drone draws the ear in and sets the tone only to be punctured by hand claps and the song explodes into a joyous celebration of drums, horns, pipes, and the ever-present hand claps. There are two versions of the song – Sukhwinder Singh and Sonu Nigam trade off verses on one and there is also an abridged solo version which just features Sukhwinder Singh.
After the whirling, ecstatic ‘Taali Mar’, Surili Akhiyon Wale takes a minute or so to settle into a groove but it’s worth the wait. Taking a thematic cue from Lagaan’s ‘O Ri Chori (I’m In Love)’ Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Suzanne D’Mello sing a cross-cultural love song – him in Hindi and her in English – with the instrumentation switching from Indian to English when appropriate. Soaring strings meld with Indian percussion and Sajid-Wajid top it all of with those two ultra-romantic sounds – Spanish guitar and Italian accordion right out of Lady and the Tramp. This one should have listeners melting in their seats. Like ‘Taali Mar’, there is a second version of ‘Surili Akhiyon Wale’. In this case, the duet version includes Sunidhi Chauhan adding her vocals to the mix.
Every song on the album is epic in its own way and Salaam Aaya is epically cute. A playful duet between Roop Kumar Rathod and the always-delightful Shreya Goshal, it reminded me of the sweetly domestic ‘Jashn-e-Bahaaraa’ from Jodhaa-Akbar.
Sonu Nigam takes center stage for the frantic Meherbaniyan. It’s jumping, jiving, and wailing big band dance song that throws everything and the kitchen sink at the listener, including a banjo breakdown. The end result is a charmingly cluttered and upbeat tune that should put a big smile on anyone’s face and should be one that Sonu adds to his live set.
The last vocal track on the album is the hypnotic Kanha (Thumri) which features the salty voice of Rekha Bhardwaj. Her vocals remain a tether as the song progresses and the tablas are set free to play as fast and frantically as they can.
Finally, there is a one-minute long instrumental called the Spirit of Veer which is, rather disconcerting, a good old-fashioned Irish jig.
All together, the music of Veer is a lot of fun and should fit the epic nature of the film. Sajid-Wajid seem to have borrowed some thematic cues from AR Rahman’s rather earnest scores for period epics Jodhaa-Akbar and Lagaan but have created a soundtrack with a totally different feel from either one. Instead of a crushing earnestness, which failed Salman miserably in Yuvvraaj, Sajid-Wajid tapped into the larger-than-life and emotional persona of Salman Khan and have given him an epic soundtrack that fits Salman’s unique personality. Overall, I will go with 4 star rating with the added comment that the album in parts really raises up to 4.5.