Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai

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Although the first half of the year 2010 has not been celebratory for movies released at the box office, one trend that is seeing an upward swing is the music in the movies. Most films released have boasted of remarkable compositions and atleast one smash hit to each album’s credit. Aptly joining the ranks of melodious offerings like, My Name is Khan, Prince, Raajneeti and the recently released I Hate Luv Storys is the yet-to-be-released Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai. Directed by Milan Luthria, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai stars Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai & Kangana Ranaut, is a thriller set in the 70’s era on the life and times of a gangster. The movie is ready to hit the cinemas on 30th July.

As far as the music of such a film goes, the combination of 70/80’s decade and a gangster theme command powerful melodic score without compromising on wholesome mass appeal. Holding the harmonious reins very stalwartly, Pritam Chakraborty composes the music, supported ably on ink by Irshad Kamil, Nilesh Mishra and Amitabh Bhattacharya, thus presenting an album full of pleasant surprises and unexpectedly entertaining. The album has five songs (add to them the reprise/ remix/dance versions taking the total to 9). So let’s hear them out!!

Good music has always been an integral part of Emraan Hashmi movies and gleefully the trend is effectively maintained in this film as well. Penned by Irshad Kamil (Love Aaj Kal, A Wednesday fame) and vocals by Mohit Chauhan, Pee Loon is the out-and-out romantic soundtrack of the album.
A heart-warming melody with a chorus adding an additional zing to the proceedings, ‘Pee Loon’ is a great kick-start to the album. With an ‘alaap’ in the background, a dash of ‘sufiyana’ touch added to it, the music of the song sways on the slow-paced tabla pulse. Mohit Chauhan’s rendition with his trademark substance and magic lingers on. The chorus is in accord and so are the harmonic phrases. The mix of multiple styles in the composition is terrific and the transitions between the styles are seamless. The song introduced with the first trailers has found a faithful audience and is paving its way up the music charts. Also part of the CD is the remix version, which has a distinctive feel with a new chorus phrase. The remix, a blend of faster tempo and techno grooves, make it vaguely more gratifying, but is not a huge improvement on the original track. Although, it lacks the charm of the original, it is unique as it does not have the loud beats and faster pace usually associated with remixes.

Treading lightly on the qawali format of that age, the second track Tum Jo Aaye is sung by Tulsi Kumar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Irshad Kamil’s lyricical capabilities once again bring to the forefront a natural simplicity in their complex undertones. Tulsi Kumar leads from the front and dominates the song for most of the part, but Rahat Fateh Ali Khan whose vocals are mostly limited to the chorus gives the song an additional uplift. The song shifting between the feel of the 70’s and the necessity of the urban audience maintains a right balance and is enchanting.

The reprise version of the song, create another picture altogether. The interplay of the tabla and guitar are remarkable and effectively conducted once again. Both the interludes – the chorus layered with alaap; the harmoniums solo are done extremely well. The complete song crooned by Rahat this time around is the icing on the cake and justifies the whole notion of his demand by most composers these days.

The air of romance is further enhanced with the track I Am in Love, which is divided in two parts. Also part of the album is the dance mix. While Karthik lends his voice to the first part of the song, KK croons the second part; the play of words by Nilesh Mishra is highly commendable. As cheesy as the title of the song sounds, you begin to wonder, if this is one of those crass love songs that are belted out to end up as fillers in the movie. However, all skepticisms are put to rest once the prelude begins. Both renditions are equally on par. Yet, it is KK’s persuasive voice texture, which has a comparatively stronger hold and proves that experience definitely has an edge. Backup vocals by Dominique Cerejo (‘Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein’ – Rock On!!) complement KK’s version subtly providing it a different dimension and supplementing the song with much required playfulness and youth without going overboard. The song begins with soft music, soon moves on to a speedy ending, has an extraordinary composer-singer combination, which renders a timeless quality. The dance mix (rightly called-so) is classy, does not eat up the original completely and is packaged correctly keeping the soul of the song intact. It is sure to find its place in DJ consoles.
Sung in a sensually soothing voice, with earthy sounds and chorus adapting perfectly in prominent bass, the track is a winner in all its versions. It is favorably fresh, has all the potential to become a chartbuster and be included in ‘love compilations’ in future.

For a movie based in the 70’s, a cabaret number is quintessential and the track Parda fits this slot perfectly. Inspirations drawn heavily from two popular yesteryear numbers, ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko’ and ‘Monica, My Darling’; Irshad Kamil presents the song in a new package rechristening it as ‘Parda’. Sung by the queen of item numbers, Sunidhi Chauhan, the song stays true to the cabaret fever of the 70/80s and should make for a very interesting watch on screen as a part of the storyline. The USP of the track remains that instead of taking the traditional remix route and adding tons of loud beats, Pritam has borrowed bits from both songs, added additional lyrics and given it a brand new identity whilst maintaining the basic essence of the old songs. Overall, the song ends up being a rather unique tribute, which is bound to please the younger as well as older generations. Special mention off course to Rana Mazumdar who victoriously emulates the voice of R.D Burman and with Sunidhi Chauhan, one cannot expect anything less. Simply, awesome!

Baburao Mast Hai is the situational autobiographical song of the movie (which is quite the fad in most gangster-based flicks). Mika Singh takes to the mic in this one. Lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, the song comes across as a monologue with not very strong melody to boast of. Despite a spicy undertone that is bold yet edgy, the track does not hook on to you immediately. It requires multiple replays to grasp the tune; yet there isn’t anything faintly captivating about the song. Although it is likely to find loyal patronage more among the college circles, comparisons to similar genre tracks ‘Ganpat’ or even the famed ‘I am Mumbai’ track by Javed Jaffery in the early 90’s are bound to rise and Baburao might not find a standing.

Owing to composer Pritam’s successful line-up in recent times (Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Love Aaj Kal, Tum Mile) any new album usually generates curiosity and the desire for soulful massy music. Yet, without any doubt, he has once again succeeded in living up to the expectations with his latest offering, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai. The music of this crime thriller has oodles of moments and most of the songs are addictive, so much so that you would not mind playing it on repeat.

Overall, the album impresses and will appeal to music lovers. It is a definite winner and choosing one or two favorite is somewhat tricky. The entire soundtrack is much above average and the expanse of various genres and tastes makes it a complete wholesome experience.

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