A new Aamir Khan film is always highly anticipated. Whatever genre or style he picks, just the presence of Aamir is enough for the audience to know that they are in for a quality film. 3 Idiots, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and also starring Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, R. Madhavan, and Kareena Kapoor, is a coming of age story. Set in a university, the “3 idiots” of the title are Aamir and his two friends as they attempt to navigate themselves into adulthood. Due to the subject matter and style of the film, it makes sense that music director Shantanu Moitra has come up with a soundtrack that aims more for the grounded sounds of Rang de Basanti than the pop delight that was Ghajini.
The soundtrack opens with a blast! Aal Izz Well is a youth anthem sung by Sonu Niigaam and Shaan with all the enthusiasm they can muster. Backed by a chorus of horns, whistles, and pounding drums – not to mention a rooster or two – this song captures the bittersweet feelings of approaching adulthood and should have you up and dancing. Aal Izz Well – Remix is nothing special but should play well at the clubs.
Unfortunately, the momentum of ‘Aal Izz Well’ cannot be maintained and the next track is the limp Zoobi Doobi. This is where music director Shantanu Moitra reveals himself as the creator of the faux-retro soundtracks of Khoya Khoya Chand and Parineeta. ‘Zoobi Dooni’ attempts to capture the effortless charm of O.P. Nayyar but ends up sounding more like a commercial jingle than ‘Barso Re Hai Bairi’. One almost expects the lyrics to start offering chocolate biscuits. Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Niigaam are allowed to indulge their worst instincts and over-sing their phrases, pushing far too hard on the notes and the cutesy instrumentation grates on the nerves. Surprisingly, Zoobi Doobi – Remix almost manages to salvage the track by getting rid of the instrumentation and toning down the vocals.
Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh is another limping track. The slow opening pushes a droning cello together with a bland assortment of percussion that promises direction but never leads anywhere. Shaan sounds far too cheerful for the lyrics and tone of the song, which provides an odd cognitive dissonance.
Sharman Joshi lends his vocals to Give Me Some Sunshine which only adds to the whiny sound of the lyrics. ‘Give Me Some Sunshine’ uses a drum kit, guitars, and piano to create a pale imitation of a rock ballad, including a fade out on a harmonica and handclaps that are supposed to call up memories of Bob Dylan. Even Magik wouldn’t be caught dead playing this ‘Dad Rock’ song. Shantanu Moitra creates a sound more reminiscent of aging rockers trying to recapture their youth than an actual youthful rock band.
Finally, the albums pulls it together for Sonu Niigaam’s masterful performance Jaane Nahin Denge. His vocals soar over the choruses and almost break with feeling over the verses; it’s vintage Sonu Niigaam and a huge breath of fresh air after the previous three tracks. The backing is fairly standard and the melody is nothing special but Sonu gives it all he can and creates a memorable song from the poor material, at times sounding as if he’s dragging the album track along with him as he races to the end.
Overall, this is an album that does not play well on its own. The picturizations may add another layer of interest for the more ‘idiotic’ tracks, so I would hold off on purchasing the whole thing until you have seen the film. Until then, “Aal Izz Well”!
My rating – one point for ‘Aal Izz Well’ and a half for the ‘Zoobi Doobi – Remix’ and ‘Jaane Nahin Denge’.