Chennai Express is the upcoming commercial caper from Rohit Shetty, his first collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan and Red Chillies Entertainment. The film also marks Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan’s second film together, since Padukone’s debut with Khan in Om Shanti Om 6 years ago.
Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani (Student of the Year and Ra.One), Red Chillies favourites, who previously composed for Shetty’s Golmaal in 2006 return as the music directors for Chennai Express while Amitabh Bhattacharya (Lootera) has been roped in to pen the 8-track soundtrack. Vocal talents featured in the album consist of Hamsika Iyer (‘Chammak Challo’ – Ra.One), Arjit Singh (‘Raabta’ – Agent Vinod), Sunidhi Chauhan (‘Sheela Ki Jawaani’ – Tees Maar Khan), Chinmayee (‘Tere Bina’ – Guru), Anusha Mani (Don 2 – Title Track), Neeti Mohan (‘Ishq Wala Love’ – Student of the Year), and S P Balasubrimaniyam (Look him up kids!) who returns to Bollywood after approximately 15 years. Also featured are Vishal Dadlani and Amitabh Bhattacharya as well as Mr Gopi Sunder, award winning Malayalam music director (for Anwar in 2010) who has previously collaborated with Vishal-Shekhar as a keyboard programmer.
Chennai Express arrives as a platform (read cinema) near you on 8 August 2013.
The album kick starts with One Two Three Four, an item number featuring prominent southern heroine, Priyamani (Raavan). It is a loud and energetic number that arguably makes a gross generalisation about dance tracks from South Indian cinema. That being said, it is composed in good humour (ala Mehmood style southern-ised Hindi tracks) and the hooks are undeniably infectious. The southern signature musical arrangements are a nice touch, and the lyrical interlude in Madhurai (or what research dictates to be Madhurai) set the song apart from others in the genre. Hamsika Iyer and Vishal Dadlani are at the helm of this uncharacteristically well-written item number and the gusto with which they render the song is palpable. However, the chorus line, “Booty Shake Booty Shake, Dapaankoothu Hardcore, Shoulder Hichik Michik, Body Hichik Michik, Gimme Gimme Some More’ borders on the amateurish.
Titli is one of the more sober tracks of album and a very beautiful one at that. The promos of the track have been making rounds on the airwaves and the track has already won audiences over so a review is arguably more or less moot. Regardless, Chinamayee and Gopi do a fantastic job rendering this soulful romantic duet, their fresh vocals a treat for sore ears. Musically, Vishal-Shekhar hit the spot. The traditional southern beginning with Tamil lyrics flows into a moderately paced melodious contemporary-esque number with impressive lyrics. The dup-step version of Titli is strictly okay.
Tera Raasta Chhodoon Na continues from where ‘Titli’ left off, in that it is easy on the ears but it also adopts a light and quick rhythm that distinguishes it from its predecessor. It is devoid of any reference to southern musical arrangements and lyrical interludes which is certainly refreshing. Amitabh heads the track, supported by Anusha Mani, both complimenting each other well. Further, it is well penned which makes the track more likeable.
Next is Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari which is quite a cute song to bob along to but at the end of the day it is relatively unremarkable. Arjit, Sunidhi and Neeti have been more of less wasted and the music almost seems to be a mediocre template superimposed upon the vocals. It may resonate differently once depicted onscreen but for now it will not be missed.
Ready Steady Po is a decently arranged techno track hinting at being a situational number or part of the background score but fails to impress either way.
The much awaited SP Balasubrimanium song, the title track, is likeable enough and it is definitely a delight to hear the veteran after a 15 year gap. Arguably, the composition is way beneath his stature but you would not be able to gage a hint of it from SPB’s enthusiastic and heartfelt rendition. Lyrically, the song features more English words than Hindi and Tamil. Though, Amitabh must be congratulated on aptly inserting the English words, the exercise does get tired rather quickly. The track sounds tailor made for an Om-Shanti-Om-like closing credits and one imagines it will fare better if utilised as same. Other than that the track’s average at best.
Similar to remixed alternatives of tracks a few years ago, mash-ups are possibly becoming the new rage when it comes to album fillers. The Chennai Express mash-up is strictly speaking a clever jumble of the preceding tracks and saves you the trouble of listening to the more mediocre tracks of the album in their entirety without missing the good bits about them. However, it can come of as being a little loud and messy. Vishal-Shekhar’s previous mash-up for Student of the Year was flawless in comparison but arguably it was the sum of far better songs than this one.
In summary, the soundtrack of Chennai Express is not far from what you expect from a proclaimed commercial entertainer. It is loud, energetic, fun and promises same for its on-screen incarnations. That being said, Titli and Tera Raasta are clearly distinguishable from its roaring accompaniments and re-instate why Vishal-Shekhar are the go to composers, regardless of film genre, for this era. The remaining tracks, while not as impressive are not entirely dismissible, having decent entertainment value. All in all the music of Chennai Express is an average fare when one could have easily expected a lot more.