As you probably can tell by the title, Bhoothnath (Lord of Ghosts) is not going to be your typical boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love Bollywood movie. The film, directed by Vivek Sharma, stars the great Amitabh Bachchan, the beautiful Juhi Chawla, child artiste Aman Siddiqui, and in a special appearance, Shah Rukh Khan. Bachchan plays a boy’s grandfather who comes back as a ghost, but that is all I can give away of the plot! With its unusual premise, the songs for the film were expected to be out of the ordinary as well. The great Vishal-Shekar duo composed the music, with lyrics by Javed Akhtar, but though great in execution, and with Bachchan lending his voice to two songs, the album is not so extraordinary. Good, but not out of this world. Let’s look at each track.
Mere Buddy is a very upbeat track that is “rapped” by Big B who is joined by child singer Arman Malik. Even if you did not know that Bachchan was on the track, you would immediately recognize his characteristic voice. He does great on the track with terrific inflection throughout the song, especially in the last lines (Baby!). I do have to say that hearing “ain’t” said by that distinguished actor just seems wrong. Young Arman Malik’s voice is very nice and together the two sound good. There is a bit of an odd section that really did not seem to fit: “Who the man I the man … I can make your body rock”. Overall it is a good song but the music kind of lets the piece down and in the end you can only say, “oh that was fun”.
The rock-filled beats of Hum To Hai Aandhi are accompanied by the voices of four children: Koushtuv Ghosh, Aparna Bhagwat, Sharavan Suresh and Sneha Suresh. The staccato rhythm of the kids’ voices fills the song with guitar, bass, and drums all blending together, producing a thumping beat. The four kids singing the whoaaaaaaa and hooooooo is too good, and the back up music is played really well. At first, the children’s voices and rock doesn’t seem to mix, but then as the song progresses, you get used to it and the song turns out to be good, and bahut aandhi (very stormy).
Banku Bhaiya, sung by the great Sukhwinder Singh, is another song that is pretty good, but nothing special. As I was listening to this song, it kept reminding me of another song or maybe a few songs, especially the Bhaiya part and another part in the middle. I could never quite determine the aspects that would make this song distinctive, although Sukihwinder’s voice projects real energy. Didn’t like the jarring electronic tones played at the beginning and every now and then throughout the song. There was also an odd refrain with an organ that also did not seem to belong. It has a very Indian flavor that may play really well on the screen. Even after a couple of listens, I still have not placed what songs it reminds me of and that, perhaps, is a big flaw because if you are too busy trying to remember where you heard a song before, you won’t enjoy the song itself.
One of the best tracks on the album is Samay Ka Pahiya, sung by Hariharan and Sukhwinder Singh. The song is seven minutes of gorgeousness that is full of sound. It begins very hauntingly and is sung beautifully by Sukhwinder Singh. A trancelike song, it has an outstanding percussion beat that carries the track, and Hariharan’s wonderful, smooth voice projects great feeling. The music, composed brilliantly and played superbly by a full orchestral, contains percussion, violin, and flute sections that really stand out. The violin solo and the eerie flute that is heard several times are amazing. When the chorus joins in near the end, it makes the song even more haunting. Hariharan’s a cappella section is really exceptional and shows off the range of his voice. The music is just excellent and, though it’s not a chart topper because you certainly won’t be able to dance to it, it is a highlight of the album.
On Chalo Jaane Do, not only do we hear Amitabh Bachchan, but Juhi Chawla also lends her lovely voice to the song. There is a very pretty piano that starts off the song and the music throughout is very charming. On this track, Amitabh is actually singing, rather than rapping, and he sounds smooth with a great tone. If I were Randy on American Idol, I would say good job dawgggg (no, wait, that it is way too weird. I mean, Good job Mr. Bachchan, sir). Though she comes in much later, Juhi Chawla does well and I would never have known it was not a professional singer. In fact, when I first listened to it, I did not know and wrote “very nice voice on female singer” in my first notes for this article. But the song really belongs to Bachchan, and you wish he did not stop singing: he just sounds so right singing the lyrics of the song. It has an enchanting musical ending that finishes it off very nicely.
The Bhoothnath Theme composed by Salim-Sulaiman is an eerie instrumental track that seems to fit perfectly with the movie. It has the same melody that was in Samay Ka Pahiya, but this time on piano. Every now and then you hear a rustling and wonder if it is leaves rustling across a lonely, dark landscape. This piece is outstanding musically, and the percussion in the background is almost sinister. In one section, the piece goes through many changes building up to a crescendo, you think, but then it changes yet again. When the male chorus comes in with the same melody, the song becomes otherworldly. Listening to this track, you just know this is not going to be your typical, run-of-the-mill film. It will be very interesting to see what the filmmaker and actors have in store for us on the screen when this song plays.
Even with the fabulous music of the theme song and Samay Ka Pahiya, the album is just OK and is not one to make its mark on the charts, but within the film’s context, the songs may be much better. I would recommend that you definitely give it a listen, but then after seeing the film, give it a listen a few times more, maybe the OK will become out of this world.