Emraan Hashmi is known primarily for two things – his “serial kisser” reputation; and the quirky fact that the songs in his films tend to become superhits. Partly, this could be because of the tendency of the close group of loyal, talented people clustered around the Bhatt camp – Emraan stars, and music director Pritam saves his best compositions for Bhatt’s film projects.
And with Crook, it’s a winning formula that’s being repeated. Under the watchful direction of Mohit Suri (who has previously successfully directed Emraan in Kalyug and Awarapan for the Bhatt film camp) Emraan stars in the upcoming film as an Indian criminal who moves to Australia to try and seek out a better life for himself. The film is based on racial attacks on Indian students in Australia and will address issues of racial discrimination and segregation. Pritam has put together a heavily rock influenced soundtrack with strong Punjabi flavour. The eight tracks (4 original tracks, 4 remixes) feature vocals from Babbu Mann, Mohit Chauhan, Suzanne D’Mello, Nikhil D’Souza, K.K., and Neeraj Sridhar.
Track 1, Challa kicks off in slightly offbeat style for a Pritam composition – it’s an energetic Bhangrified remix of a traditional Punjabi folksong. Babbu Mann handles vocals here very ably. Thumping dhol mixed with electronic touches, with Suzanne D’Mello, better known as Suzy Q(‘Bachoo’ – Ghajini), adding some English rapping into the mix will definitely get your shoulders shrugging and your feet tapping …only problem is it’s over way too soon!
The Tigerstyle remix (Track 5) takes care of that problem, though, stretching the track out a bit longer to give us more time to dance. The super strong Punjabi flavour remains intact on the remix, but the beats get a touch more intricate and gritty – making this THE party track of the album for sure.
Track 2 changes track completely with the rock ballad Mere Bina. At first listen, this might sound a little cheesy to some ears, but honestly — this has hit written all over it. A gorgeous, soaring, romantic melody, that you can totally imagine vocalist Nikhil D’Souza (‘Anjaana Anjaani Ki Kahaani’ – Anjana Anjaani) belting from some windswept mountaintop… or in the rain… or running romantically after a train that is carrying his true love away. He’s singing from his heart, you can tell. With a crooning back up chorus and gorgeous tinkly bell flourishes, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous rock ballad.
A completely different version, Mere Bina Unplugged is also provided on the album (Track 8) – this time the vocals handled by K.K. This version is acoustic, minus the back up singers and flourishes of the original rock version, in a slower tempo, giving it a deeply emotional, melancholy feel. I know a lot of people will like this version, but I prefer the original, uber-romantic “I just fell in love” feel of Nikhil D’Souza’s version, as opposed to the “I just got my heart broken” feel of the Unplugged track.
Track 3 is my least favourite track on the album: Kya. Featuring digitally manipulated vocals from Neeraj Sridhar it’s a middle of the road, totally unmemorable, boring song. Disappointing, because in the past Neeraj and Pritam have collaborated well together.
Track 4, Tujhi Mein is a definite rock number, complete with wailing guitar solo, and eerie spiraling piano. K.K. handles the vocals – and his voice actually sounded a little thin in contrast to the pounding wall of rock the song is built on. I felt like the song needed someone with more grit. Anyway, a definite dark and melancholy tone pervades this song, an uncomfortable urgency is created, so in terms of creating an effective soundscape, this song succeeds.
Finally, Track 6, Tujhko Jo Paaya is essentially another version of ‘Mere Bina’, sung simply by Mohit Chauhan over nothing more than the strumming of an acoustic guitar. The simplicity of this track is what makes it so very beautiful and effective – and this, more so than K.K.’s version, is truly ‘Mere Bina unplugged’. Short, way too short, but oh so sweet.
All in all, another solid album from Pritam for the Bhatt camp.