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Reason to smile again

Ismail Darbar's second film reveals his violinist flair. He creates toned down, yet warmly textured, violin passages in almost every song

Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya
Music: Ismail Darbar
Dir: A Muthu
Lyrics: Sameer
Tips, Rs 65

This is just the second film score by Ismail Darbar, who was a violinist before he turned composer. His first, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, won him a national award and a Filmfare award. Dozens of assignments poured in, but he refuses to sign films indiscriminately.

Starring Abhishek Bachchan (his second film, the first being Refugee) and Kirti Reddy (a newcomer), Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya is a love story from Vashu Bhagnani, the man who produced Govinda blockbusters like Hero No 1 and Coolie No 1.

This one's a blockbuster too. It is vast in scale, going by its locales (the Eiffel tower, Taj Mahal), and the size of the orchestra (you can discern a huge number of violins, besides several other acoustic instruments).

Soundwise, Tera Jadoo is fresh. An Arab feel comes comes through in the singing and the violins in Jo ishq ka matlab. And pop in Mujhse pyar karo. In a recent television interview Ismail Darbar spoke about trying out "international sounds with an Indian appeal". Guess this is what he was talking about.

The title track Tera jadoo chal gaya is the best in the album. Sonu Nigam sings it with a sense of wonder and a charming break in his voice. Chitra, who usually ends up singing in a high key, sounds smooth and rounded here. The opening bass key flute beckons, and Sonu Nigam's muezzin style alap is intensely rendered. He seems to grow with each song; superior voice modulation is on display on every track. Ismail Darbar's orchestra shows grandness, with arabesque passages, curlicue interludes, decorative chorus back-ups and towering refrains. This song makes the tape worth it. An excellent instrumental version figures on Side B.

By comparison, Aye chand tere kasam, also by Sonu Nigam, is an ordinary tune. Chori chori chupke chupke by Babul Supriyo also uses the title Tera jadoo chal gaya in its refrain. In the interludes, it tries to marry off disco to African drums and a mouth organ. The mouth organ has been used extensively in films like Dosti and Sholay, where entire interludes were played on it, but here it comes as an accompaniment, doing the sort of short filigree that is usually reserved for violins.

Shankar Mahadevan sings the rousing tune of Jo ishq ka matlab . The second interlude, with violins playing Western classical phrases, is truly new to Hindi film music. Ilaiyaraja's scores in the south thrive on such a style, and have done so at least for 20 years.

Mujhse pyar karo has the best violin ensemble lines in the tape; they reminded me strongly of the Claude Barzoti song Elle me tue. Sung by Sonu Nigam, it rises and falls naturally, with no jolts and bumps on the way. Only the la-la (like in Dil use do from Andaz) doesn't seem to fit in.

Qayamat ho , the qawwali by Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sonu Nigam, is well rendered, with few surprises. It's like the qawwalis you've already heard in films like Hum kisise kam nahin -- the same tabla, dholak and bulbultarang orchestra. Kavita sounds shrill, but she went on record to say she enjoyed singing the classical graces in this song.

Agra main hai mashoor by Vinod Rathod, Farida, Nithin Shankar and chorus is pedestrian. One bad song and seven fresh ones is still a good track record. The effort at creating new orchestral colour is evident throughout. Ismail Darbar is walking at his own pace, and he's walking in the right direction.

S Suchitra Lata

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