Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music Review: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

Perhaps even AR Rahman would find it difficult to fill A.R. Rahman’s rather big shoes so to expect Sohail Sen, Ashutosh Gowariker’s new composer to stand in for the Mozart from Madras would always be an unimaginable task. If nothing else Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (KHJJS) will surely wipe out the memories of the disastrous first outing the composer had with Gowariker in the form of Whats Your Raashi.

Based Manini Chatterjee's book, Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising, KHJJS is the tale of Surya Sen and his comrades who dreamt of a free India and challenged the might of the British Empire in the early 1930’s. Sohail Sen’s album has six instrumental tracks in addition to an equal number of songs that manage to pack in various moods of the uprising. The son of Sameer Sen of the erstwhile composer duo Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, most of Sohail’s arrangements for KHJJS are very Rahmanesque in execution and one can understand why. To imagine someone else conjuring up the music for a period film made by Gowariker is like expecting fish to fly but sometimes strange things do happen.

Penned by Javed Akhtar, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (KHJJS) gets right into the groove of things with 'Yeh Des Hai Mera'. Sung by Sen himself, who doesn’t do a bad job by the way, Yeh Des Hai Mera is a very well arranged track where Sen’s mellifluous voice blends in smoothly with the typical Javed Akhtar free flowing poetry conjuring up images of the dreams and the struggles of young men and women striving for freedom. Following on the heels is the archetypal Hindi film noke-jhok, chedchaad type number in the form of 'Naiyn Tere'. Sung by Pamela Jain and Ranjini Jose, the Bengali folk music inspired Naiyn Tere has a sad version as well and the minimalist arrangement lays emphasis on the local flavor. Sen and Jain’s duet 'Sapne Saloney' returns to the local Bengali flavor and a revised Sanskrit to Hindi 'Vande Mataram' marks the highpoint of patriotism of KHJJS.

KHJJS’s title track is a foot-tapping anthem like track that would surely strike a chord with the listener. With a controlled yet manic bass line, the title track’s string section along with the horns gives the number a very rousing feel. The sweet whistle motif makes it a little different from Lagan’s Chale Chalo but the ghost of the team song from Lagan looms large on KHJJS’s title track. The title track’s charming whistle motif makes reappearance in the form of The Teenager’s Whistle, one of the instrumental tracks which while being completely different does evoke memories of Ennio Morricone’s memorable A Fistful of Dollars theme. The other instrumental tracks might be more enjoyed on the screen as they are highly situational but merely listening to them doesn’t dilute the effect.

The twelve tracks do have a ‘period’ feel but they don’t seem as grand or sweeping as one would expect a period piece to sound like. Rather the mood’s almost like a bunch of school kids playing a tense hockey match. One can partially blame the infantile title for the same but you get the picture. Perhaps we have become a tad too used to a splendid and magnificent score that maybe basic simplicity doesn’t excite us initially when it comes to period pieces?

KHJJS is the kind of album that would surely grow on you. One wonders with such a strong A.R. Rahman influence on KHJJS why couldn’t Ashutosh Gowariker just reunite with the musician who gave him Lagan, Swades and Jodha-Akbar? But KHJJS isn’t about what A.R. Rahman could have done. No, KHJJS is about Soahil Sen and what he’s managed to do. Now let’s hope the Gowariker’s imagery is as good if not better than Sen’s hard work.

Rating: 3/5 Stars


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