Ajay Devgn has recently been at pains to point out that Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? is not, contrary to popular belief, a run of the mill slapstick comedy. I’m inclined to believe him. With the film – a tale of a Mumbai couple frustrated by an unwelcome visitor – based on a short story, the script certainly has more literary cred than most comedies. Plus, not only is the casting of the film incredibly promising, with Ajay himself paired up with the exceptionally talented Konkona Sen Sharma (who is allegedly relishing the rare opportunity to flex her funnybone) against comic genius Paresh Rawal, but the soundtrack certainly hints at great things. No gimmicky, one-listen item numbers here, thanks to the talents of Amit Mishra, Pritam and Vishal Bhardwaj, who have put together a solid effort.
Opening number Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? starts out with a blast of brass, and then is surprisingly laidback in tone for a track that is presumably setting the scene for the album (and film). A mid-tempo groove peppered with samples of dialogue (presumably relating to the film) with unusual sound effects (doors slamming?) forming the backbeat. There’s a lot of variety in the vocals for this song – from gruffly spoken, to what sounds like digitally altered dialogue, to a sexy smooth sung chorus. Full credit to Amit Mishra for a multi-textured and definitely interesting opener.
Sukhwinder Singh’s extraordinary vocal talents are forefront in Jyoti Jalaile. A driving drums-heavy beat gets me every time, but combined with Singh’s incomparable soaring voice, and sparing but effective use of additional instrumentation and backing vocalists chiming in on choruses, this track drives forward and spirals into an uplifting, compelling listen. A standout track.
Anupam Amod makes use of a sultry, crooning tone in Naa Jaane Tum Kab Jaoge? – a track that I can best describe as retro-jazzy meets contemporary pop. Initially, the track favourably recalls ‘Tu Bole …Main Boloon’ (Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na) in its retro styling, before the pop fusion kicks in and brings it into today. Overall it’s pretty cool, aside from a vaguely grating seemingly Spice Girls inspired girly hip hop chorus chiming in every few bars. Anupam’s smooth vocals anchor this track amidst a wide variety of instrumentation that touches on hip hop, techno and even at one point, country.
Pritam’s reputation as a multi-award winning musical director and lyricist is under no threat with the infectiously jumpy Aaja Aaja. ‘Aaja Aaja’ starts off deceptively slowly, with a wailing a capella refrain, before revealing itself as a contemporary, mostly spoken, hip-hop influenced track, verging on industrial in its instrumentation in places where it gets pared right down. Rapid-fire delivery of the lyrics – ably handled by vocalists Raghubir Yadav, Ajay Jingran and Rajneesh – is underscored with a thumping bassline, but Pritam makes use of a range of techno trickery (ahem – weird baby noises?) and the sure-fire crowd pleasing chorus: “Athiti Tum Kab Jaoge!”
Dohe, the second track from musical director Amit Mishra pulling double duty as a playback singer, slows things down a touch, with a wistful, nostalgic tone to the track. Amit, I have to say, is really good at changing the quality of his vocals to make them sound different to suit the song – you would never know this is the same singer as the opening track. This track is saved from being mediocre by a) its length – it’s the shortest on the album at just over 2 minutes long, and b) the addition of light instrumentation and chorus vocals that pointedly contrast against the ‘dark’ tone of the song, adding interest and texture to what would otherwise be dirge-like.
Sukh Karta (Ganparti Aarti) continues the nostalgic tone – this time not so much wistful as slightly sinister – incorporating a touch of the ‘dirge’ flavour from ‘Dohe’. Perhaps this is the point in the film where the unwanted guest shows his true colours? The track – again, sung by musical director Amit Mishra – effectively combines flavours of old and new, with a layered, eerie sounding hypnotic vocal track paired with an electronica-rich backing track. Many repeated vocals add to the hypnotic, sinister feel.
The first remix of the album is of Naa Jaane Tum Kab Jaoge (remixed by DJ Nawed and Nikhil Chinapa). Not a radical reinvention of the track, it’s basically Anupam Amod’s lush vocal track laid over some vaguely Latin influenced techno beats and sirens – funky enough to get the kids on the floor and shaking their hips.
The second remix is of Aaja Aaja (by DJ A-Myth), which essentially removes the slow intro, and ups the techno quotient, making the near- industrial broken-down backing more melodic and dance-floor friendly. Apart from that, the essence – fun, bouncy, young – remains the same, along with the crowd-pleasing chorus.
Rounding out the album is Atithi Tum Kab Aaoge? – an exercise in extreme deja-vu in that it is nearly (but not quite) identical to opening track ‘Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?’. I like the symmetry of bookending the album with mirror tracks, and as songs go – it’s not a bad note to end on.