There are tremendous expectations from the soundtrack of Rockstar. Reasons are aplenty. This is more than a decade after Taal that A.R. Rahman is composing for a full fledged Bollywood musical. The film is directed by Imtiaz Ali whose Love Aaj Kal and Jab We Met have created waves when it comes to music (composed by Pritam). Moreover the young man in the title role is Ranbir Kapoor who is expected to be a true 'rockstar' in the title role. With ever-so-reliable Irshad Kamil as the lyricist, one expects nothing less than something extraordinary from Rockstar. Moreover, due to the film's genre, you do want the album to throw at least 3-4 chartbuster tracks that would play for many more months to come, if not years. With as many as 14 tracks in the album, one is obviously led to believe that your wish would indeed come true.
As it turns out, Mohit Chauhan is Ranbir Kapoor's voice in the film, what with the singer appearing in practically every song that is picturised on the actor. He begins the album with 'Phir Se Ud Chala' which is an uncharacteristic start for an album as one would have expected the popular number 'Saadda Haq' to come first. Anyways, more about that later. Coming back to 'Phir Se Ud Chala', it turns out to be a soulful piece with just a guitar in the background (something that goes with Ranbir's characterisation in the film) and though you don't find yourself singing it along, you are truly mesmerised by the song that comes straight from the mountains.
It's the sound of 'ya ya ya', something that again has a 'pahaadi' feel to it, which is heard at the very beginning of 'Jo Bhi Main'. With a concert feel to it, this soft rock number pretty much takes forward the mood that has been created at the beginning of the album with 'Phir Se Ud Chala'. It is Mohit's voice that continues to haunt a listener with 'Jo Bhi Main' turning out to be yet another 'made for the movie' number that isn't instantly catchy but is arresting enough to grab your attention as it plays for those near five minutes.
While one does like the sound created in Rockstar so far, the hunt is on for those commercial tracks that would work across the length and breadth of the country. An attempt is made in this direction with 'Katiya Karun' which has a Punjabi setting to it and has a female singer at the helm of affairs for the first time in the album. Harshdeep Kaur is the voice behind the song and she does quite well in rendering this track that has a folk flavour to it with a distinct fun element to it that reminds one of 'Thoda Thoda Pyar' from Love Aaj Kal. With additional vocals by Sapna Awasthi, 'Katiya Karun' does well though it still isn't extraordinary by any means.
Next to arrive is a devotional number with A.R. Rahman, Javed Ali and Mohit Chauhan coming together for a Sufi outing. Titled 'Kun Faaya Kun', the song is also the longest of the lot with a running duration of eight minutes. Reminding one of 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' [Jodhaa Akbar], the track would basically find a following amongst those who appreciate this genre of music and are die hard Rahman fans. Also, one wonders whether this track would actually make its presence felt for the entire eight minutes duration in the film's narrative.
The album changes track with 'Sheher Mein' which is basically set as a song recording in motion. Appearing to be a setting where a composer is trying to get two different singers sing to a tune, 'Sheher Mein' has a funny feel to it and is expected to invoke good laughter when it plays on screen. With cheesy lyrics filling the song and reminding one of many such parodies that Ram Gopal Varma has included in his past films, the song has Mohit Chauhan and Karthik singing in different styles with former in an experimentation mode and latter going the conventional way.
'Haawa Haawa' starts off unconventionally and stays on like that right through its near six minutes duration. Reminding one of the Western classical numbers from the era gone by, this Mohit Chauhan song belongs to the genre that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had attempted with 'Udi' [Guzaarish] last year. A situational track where dance is expected to form an integral part of the affairs, the song also includes additional vocals of Viviane Chaix, Tanvi Shah, Suvi Suresh and Shalini. An okay number, it makes one not just a tad impatient and also wonder if Rockstar would indeed showcase any songs that would justify the immense hype that had been created all along.
Alma Ferovic is the backup vocalist for 'Aur Ho' where she is heard right at the beginning before Mohit Chauhan takes over. As it turns out, the song is in fact the saddest of the album so far and makes one hope that the rest of the album would have something far better to offer. 'Aur Ho' may do well in the film's narrative but there too it would have to be used judiciously as it threatens to slow down the film's pace. Moreover, as a standalone number it is a strict no-no.
However what follows next is a musical piece titled 'Tango For Taj - Music' which is presumably composed with Taj Mahal in the background. With a Western treatment to it, this piece reminds one of the kind that was created by Rahman for Yuuvraaj. A situational interlude, it is followed by 'The Dichotomy Of Fame' after a short while. This one has a predominant Indian feel to it and is a fusion of 'Shehnai' and 'Guitar' with Balesh and Kabuli doing the honours. Arrival of these tracks only make one wonder if the middle portion of Rockstar is fast losing it's way because though they may help the film, as a part of the album they end up appealing to only a very niche set of audience.
Kavita Subamaniam (earlier Krishnamurthy) is heard after a hiatus in 'Tum Ko' and it is always welcome to listen to someone who has not yet lost touch despite her heydays being way back in late 80s and then a good part of the 90s. A song with an Indian classical base to it, 'Tum Ko' is quite easy on ears and yet again reminds one of the sound of Yuuvraaj, especially the number 'Aaja Main Hawaon'. One of the better numbers to arrive in this part of the album, it makes one look forward to what does the reminder of the album has to offer.
What follows next is an interesting track that goes by the title 'Nadaan Parindey'. A song which is basically a cry of 'homecoming' for a youngster (in this case the central protagonist) who has lost his way, 'Nadaan Parindey' sees coming together of some good lyrics by Irshad Kamil with Rahman doing well behind the mike as well. With Mohit Chauhan joining the show, this situational number should form a part of the film's pre-climax and make for some good narrative, courtesy the kind of story telling that one expects from Imtiaz Ali. Expect a high voltage outing here.
The album shows further escalation with Mohit Chauhan coming to his own in 'Tum Ho'. A love song that was always expected from Rahman right from the beginning of the album, 'Tum Ho' has melody at the core of it and is as haunting as it gets. With Suzanne D'Mello as the backup vocalist, 'Tum Ho' stays with you right through it's five minutes duration and makes you play it all over again to be savoured.
The wait is finally over with Orianthi's guitar lending a grand opening to 'Saadda Haq', the hallmark track of Rockstar. Mohit Chauhan starts the number rather slow as he debates the virtue of right versus wrong, only to pick on pace a while later hence resulting in a number that has chartbuster written all over it. 100 seconds into the song and you know that the hype surrounding this 'Sufi-rock' number was well justified. A superb number that can well be expected to take the film's narrative to an all time high, it also pretty much makes one forget the rather lukewarm middle portion of the album.
The album ends with a track called 'Meeting Place' that basically has Ranbir Kapoor mouthing a single line which is based on a poem by Rumi. One wonders what purpose does it really solve in the album since it lasts a mere 70 odd seconds and could possibly convey a point after it has been heard and seen in the film.
Let the fact be stated - Rockstar is certainly not the kind of album that one expected it to be. While it isn't quite a musical that one thought Rahman would come up with for Ranbir Kapoor here, even Imtiaz Ali would be well aware that it doesn't have those countless commercial ingredients that gave an extra zing and spice to his earlier films. Having said that, there are some interesting songs in this crowded album that indeed stand out. The album starts off well, has an un-engaging middle portion but ends with a bang, hence ensuring that a listener isn't disappointed.
Since there is immense curiosity and excitement to check out what Rockstar has to offer, the album can be expected to fly off the shelves/get downloaded in quick time. While initial sales would be impressive enough, long run of the album would be dependent upon the impact that the film manages to make in theatres.
Saadda Haq, Katiya Karun, Tum Ho, Nadaan Parindey, Phir Se Ud Chala