Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

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Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Zoya Akhtar’s eagerly anticipated second film, following the success of Luck By Chance – is reported to be based around three friends who go on a final, lifechanging holiday that they have been dreaming about forever, but putting off. When one of the friends gets engaged, the trio realise it’s their last chance for adventure before they are all tied to the adult world of responsibilities for good – and off they go to Spain for the trip of a lifetime.

The ZNMD soundtrack – appropriately, is like going on a holiday: it’s energising and uplifting, dreamy and rejuvenating. Shankar-Ehsaan and Loy have created a cohesive, gorgeously evocative album, incorporating a variety of eclectic flavours and textures. I’m officially psyched for the film.

The album gets off to a promising start with the anthemic, uplifting Dil Dhadakne Do. With a soaring, repeated chorus: …Kab tak ginein, hum dhadkanein dil jaise dhadke dhadakne do – (“How long should we count the heartbeats,
let the heart beat as it wishes to”), pounding drums and grinding guitars, it’s impossible not to feel the energy pouring into this song. Stadium rock style vocals are shared between Shankar Mahadevan, Suraj Jagan and Joi Barua (and just try not to sing along). It’s one of those positive ‘let’s get going’ SEL songs that feels comfortingly familiar – a great start to any trip.

Ik Junoon (Paint It Red) is, in contrast, a completely mellow pop track. Upbeat, totally danceable, and smoothly accented with a wide array of synthesiser and robotic electro effects (including autotune), its repeated monotone refrain “take the world and paint it red” becomes hypnotically soothing. Shankar and Ehsaan are joined by Vishal Dadlani who handles the main vocal track with Gulraj Singh and some ethereally sweet contributions from Alyssa Mendonsa. The remix that appears on the album is a radically different take on the song, making the mellow pop song into a dark and dramatic techno dancefloor anthem. Both versions of this track are hot, and it’s definitely a grower – the more you hear it, the more you WANT to hear it.

Mohit Chauhhan and Alyssa Mendonsa join forces on third track, the light and lovely Khaabon Ke Parinday. Alyssa Mendonsa’s gorgeous, airy vocals echo the poetry of the Javed Akhtar’s lyrics, with Mohit Chauhhan’s voice anchoring the song and acting as a distinctive counterpoint. Latin-inspired guitar and percussion bring in the first hints of a Spanish theme to the album and add to the breezy, shimmering feeling of the song.

Senorita is the track everybody already knows about: this is the song that has Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan and Abhay Deol singing as well as dancing alongside a fabulous Spanish flamenco dancer (Maria Del Mar Fernandez handles the absolutely luscious Spanish vocals). On paper, it sounds like a gimmicky novelty track – three actors turn singers? Really? But Farhan has rocked before, and Hrithik famously warbled a track in Kites…and guess what? Abhay Deol can hold a tune too! What’s really important here, though, more than technical perfection and who is the best singer (though I’m sure this track will inspire feverish debates!) is that the feeling is so right – this is a thoroughly Spanish track, from the guitars, the handclapping, the exuberance and the passion. It made me long to go back to Barcelona, because I can TASTE it. I love this one. Also included on the album is a remix of Senorita which ups the party mood – amping up the beats to make it more dancefloor friendly.

Shankar Mahadevan goes solo on Der Lagi Lekin, the longest track on the album. The track starts out fairly ordinarily but is lifted from the realm of the ‘just okay’ with an unexpected transition into a jangling, shimmering bridge halfway through the song. It’s touches like sudden, surprising dramatic strings accenting the meditative, downbeat ballad that keep this one a riveting listen.

Sooraj Ki Bahon Mein channels 80s pop through a synthesiser and combines it with a simple compelling beat and Loy Mendonsa and Clinton Cerojo singing in their best falsettos, ably assisted by Dominique Cerojo. A cute, catchy, addictive pop song.

Finally Toh Zinda Ho Tum is an epilogue of sorts for the album, a postscript – largely instrumental, it’s Farhan Akhtar reading a few lines of his father’s poetry in his distinctive husky voice. It’ll mean more in the context of the film, I’m sure, but it’s also a nice way to round out the album.

Full of breezy, Spanish guitars and a smattering of Spanish language, pulsating with rock vibes and and edgy electro beats, it’s hard to find fault with an album that so perfectly captures the atmosphere of freedom, raw energy, excitement, and discovery unleashed through travelling with good friends. This is definitely a summer album, one to listen to on balmy nights with an ice cold drink.

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