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'There is a distinct Rahmanesque trait underlying the album -. an attention to detail, arduous from the creator's perspective and a pleasure from the listener's'
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New wine in old bottle

Dil Chahta Hai, which beat Lagaan to win the best music award at the Screen ceremony, came as a breath of fresh air in a bad business year

2001 was a year most music company executives would like to forget in a hurry, because of an illogical yet powerful dictum of the Indian music industry -- the success of a soundtrack is inextricably woven with the fate of the film at the box office. The Indian music industry has not reached a stage, or may never reach a stage, where a soundtrack will solely sell on its intrinsic worth. Until then the obscenely high correlation between the top ten lists of films and music will continue to exist.

However, from an artistic perspective, 2001 was far from disappointing. The year witnessed the emergence of some heavyweights, and the consolidation of a few. A distinct improvement was evident in the production values of the soundtracks, bridging the wide gap between the very best and us.

In the plethora of soundtracks that hit the market, one stood distinctly apart for its freshness and overall brilliance -- Dil Chahta Hai composed by the triad Shankar, Loy and Ehsaan. What made Dil Chahta Hai so special?

Well, to begin with, it did what Roja did to the music scene nearly a decade ago and took it a step further. Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy made an exotic concoction out of musical genres ranging from techno/dance, ambient, classic rock and world music, and "nativized" it to suit the Indian palate. There is a distinct Rahmanesque trait underlying the album -- an attention to detail, arduous from the creator's perspective and a pleasure from the listener's. Take this sound of the didgeridoo -. an aboriginal Australian wind instrument that Shankar, Loy and Ehsaan used in the introduction of Jaane Kyon Log Pyaar Karte Hai . I'll be damned if it. s a sheer coincidence that the song was picturized in Australia.

It's not the mere fusion of diverse styles that make this soundtrack novel. The composers have also made the sounds and tunes instantly likeable, easily hummable and hard to forget. There isn't a single slacker in the album, all the seven songs vie for shelf space in your heart. Even the reprise of the title song, crafted with obvious diligence, is on a par with, if not better than, the original. The songs showcased a perfect understanding of a sensitive, intelligent yet entertaining film. Of course it would be unfair if I did not mention the invaluable contribution of Javed Akhtar's lyrics and the soulful renditions coming from the bottom of the singers' hearts. The choice of the singers was near perfect -- Sonu Nigam for the passionate Tanhayee, Shreenivas for the dreamy Kaisi hai yeh rut and Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik for the naughty Jaane kyon log pyaar.

Shankar, Loy and Ehsaan have dared to be different within the stringent commercial constraints of Indian cinema -- a feat paralleled by few. Take my personal favorite Tanhayee . It begins with an innocent and trendy hip-hop beat that grabs your attention, and in the next instant you are sucked into the vortex of Akash's despair by the soulstirring lament of Sonu Nigam and the whimsical flute piece that accompanies it. Sonu Nigam renders this melancholic song with unbridled passion. "Ab toote sapnon ke seeshey, chubte hain in aankhon mein," croons he, in what seems like an inadvertent inspiration from "Kaanch ke khwaab hain, aankhon mein chub jayenge" from Gulzar. s Phir wohi raat hai from the '70s classic Ghar.

The problem with the making of such a delightful soundtrack is that it will be used as an unfair benchmark to evaluate Shankar, Loy and Ehsaan's future creations. Hope Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy will continue to produce trendsetters. As Javed Akhtar wrote in the song Koi kahe kehta rahe: "Hum hain naye to andaaz kyon ho purana".


Published on 30  January 2002

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