Over the years there have been many great martial artists coming from the East lighting up Hollywood with slick moves and brilliant action. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota is the Indian equivalent of this with Abhimanyu Dassani playing the lead role and destroying the bad guys with his fearless and comical approach to action. This film already has a ton of acclaim having been played at two separate film festivals to rapturous audience reviews. However, music is a bit of a separate beast as a film can be very very good and struggle with a bad album especially for Indian audiences. So much rides on what Karan Kulkarni and Dipanjan Guha can achieve with this 8-song soundtrack.
Rappan Rappi Rap might open the album but it feels more like the ending credits song. All the characters are involved in an 80s style boogie with a few rap elements to keep it fresh. This is not a remake though, more of a fun revisiting of those songs that made youth fun. Benny Dayal is superb in the sound as he both melts away and shines brightly in between the trumpets, bass guitar and banging drum beat. An old-style song, with a new style feel… fun, light but will get listeners dancing in the car.
The next song however does manage to fall into the remake category. Not a direct remake, more of a mashup in this case but Kitthon Da Tu Superstar isn’t purely original. Sanj V and Karan Kulkarni find a way to bring some classic Punjabi bhangra and associated lyrics in with Arabic/Persian beats, while finding space for a rap break in a 2:30 song. The song itself doesn’t seem to have much going on with the title repeated so many times there doesn’t seem to be any other lyrics. At the end of the album, is the remastering of this song towards an instrumental known as Kitthon Da Tu Superstar – Shooter Version. A few more synth sounds, a rearrangement of the lyrics and the addition of an extra bridge are all it has going for it.
Tere Liye takes the shift towards the soft and smooth expected of love songs. Like all things in this film, it has to go the next level so the singers Kamakshi Rai and Vishal Mishra are literally whispering for large parts of the song. The ‘heart-beat’ coming from the drum with a soft acoustic guitar and gentle flourishes from a piano mean the singers are still on top in what is a cramped vocal space. Nothing special or different in the song itself, leaving the visuals all the chance to be spectacular.
Karan Kulkarni takes to the mic to sing for Nakhrewaali. This one has male dance number written all over it. For the most part its soft and simple and just as its lulling listeners into a comfortable space it kicks into a sudden high gear returning to the 80s boogie style with even more club influences. Saba Azad lends her voice for a female cameo which is also whisper-level loud. A fun song, with slightly spicy lyrics especially in 2019 but overall forgettable.
“Mic testing … 3… 2… 1” begins the influence of the south on this movie with the Jimmy Mani story Life Mein Fair Chance Kiska. Suresh Triveni and Surya Ragunaathan give cinemagoers a Tamil experience if the clock had been wound back 40 years. This is the sort of song which Rajnikant brought to Hindi cinema back then and Bollywood’s impression of south India hasn’t really updated since. The best outcome of this song would be if people saw through the ridiculous nature of the accent and the sound. On the nice side, a couple of words of Tamil thrown in is never a bad thing.
Kamakshi Rai is back in this next song which is mostly English, Dreamtime. This is very much old-style jazz from a gangster movie. Heavy reliance on the double bass, snare drum with an acoustic guitar providing backup to the melody and taking over for the bridges. This is a cabaret number in the way the best are done, but in doing so disappears in to irrelevance.
Just to complete the globetrotting we have Shaolin Sky a rap by Karan Kulkarni. Could be a title song, there isn’t anything going on here… there’s a singer, a chorus for occasional backup, autotune synth and full western drum kit at work. If its not a title song, this would be the middle of a smooth action sequence, similar to the music in the latest Spiderman movie. It’s different for India but especially NRI audiences are likely to have heard it all before.
When films go to film festivals or are generally released to non-Indian audiences the music plays very little part (if it even stays in outside of background scores) because everyone is used to Hollywood sounds where even if there is a song, it will be sung by the actor in their own voice without major dance or drama. For Hollywood, these sorts of films fit in the genre of musicals so have a niche to themselves. However, in Bollywood the songs are 1/3 of the holy trinity (the other 2 being action and story). Even the trailer is enough to say the action is good and only watching the whole film will give you enough grounding on the story but these songs have not made their mark. Yes, some are very good like Rappan Rappi Rap or Dreamtime and they do seem to have travelled the whole world to find them but as a package they do not deliver a lasting experience.