Think Shankar Ehsaan Loy and the name Javed Akhtar comes to mind immediately. After all the four of them have scripted some of the best music together in their association over the years. But the credit details of 'Salaam-E-Ishq' catch you by surprise since Sameer has been roped in as a lyricist to pen the words for SEL to compose their tunes. Another surprise (a good one again) comes from the fact that in an age where each and every album comes with a remix version of 2-3-4 songs, SEL has 7 tunes with none of them being repeated as a remix.
Together, director Nikhil Advani and Shankar Ehsaan Loy had a chartbuster score in the form of 'Kal Ho Na Ho'. With a mammoth starcast in hand and the trio of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy enjoying the best phase of their career, it is pretty much given thought that 'Salaam-E-Ishq' too would be a winner in the making. It truly is the case as album succeeds in sticking to the genre of the film i.e. 'a tribute to love' and actually conveys the emotions through the 7 songs.
Is it country music that you are hearing? Or are there Caribbean elements to it? 'Dil Kya Kare' is a combination of both (an amazing one at that) and a lot more as it marks the return of Adnan Sami to the big stage yet again as he goes extremely mellow in this smooth-n-silky love song. Sameer's poetry goes quite well for the song of this genre that mainly has a guitar playing throughout with very minimal dose of other instruments in the background. As one hears on the song for long, the classy touch of SEL start becoming quite apparent. A few seconds later, you are truly moved to a different world altogether as Caribbean/African flavor in the song becomes much more visible. A beautiful song that has a brief element of full blown title song 'Salaam-E-Ishq' which comes later in the album.
After a Western/Caribbean flavor, the album takes a twist with a 'qawalli' that begins with a prelude followed by new entrant Shilpa taking over the proceedings. With Sameer around, there is always a high probability of 'saiyaan', 'choodi', 'kangana' and 'jhumka' around and he delivers as expected with the song 'Saiyaan Re'. What takes the cake is the fact that there is a western fusion element to the qawalli that makes it stand out in the crowd. A 'jugalbandi' of sorts with Shankar Mahadevan pairing up with Shilpa and Loy Mendonca doing the supporting act; it is a guaranteed winner in the making due to its beautiful rhythm that hooks you on in the first listening itself. With Govinda in the film, 'Saiyaan Re' seems to be tailor-made for him and if that indeed is the case then it is good news for his fans!
After two (well done) experimental numbers, listener gets to hear a kind of composition that has Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy stamp all over it. Titled 'Mera Dil', it is a sugar coated love song with fantasy ingredients to it which makes it a feel-good number to croon around. Sung by Shaan, the song is also special for Nihira, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa finalist, who had earlier played a supporting role to Sunidhi Chauhan in 'Dhadak Dhadak' [Bunty Aur Babli]. With 'Mera Dil' she makes a confident entry to the big arena and gives a good account of herself as someone who can croon for a girl in her teens or someone just out if it. Is this melodious track the one which has been composed for Ayesha Takia and Akshaye Khanna?
SEL's stint with experimentation continues as they follow up the sound of Bagpiper with Indian 'dholaki' beats. Now that's being innovative! A song that would have made a Yash Chopra or a Karan Johar proud, title song 'Salaam-E-Ishq' is an instant winner due to its overtly catchy and easy to croon appeal! Shot on a grand scale coming across as an ensemble piece with singers like Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Kunal Ganjawala, Sadhana Sargam and Shankar Mahadevan behind the mike, it brings together the majority of starcast together in the song which is truly a celebration of love! Fourth successive winning number in a row!
If one thought that 'Dil Kya Kareï¿½ was the first and last song where SEL experimented with Caribbean sound then you need to hear 'Tenu Leke'. It is quite interesting to hear the sound of 'dhol along with 'band baaja' that actually is played on a Caribbean theme. Hear it to believe it. A marriage song about a guy coming to the girl's place with a 'baraat' and promising to take her away with him, 'Tenu Leke' is a song with an unconventional 'mukhda' which sets the pace for the rest of the song to follow. A dance number that is bound to look good on screen!
Nihira is the only female singer in the entire album who gets to sing two songs as she croons the re-arranged [not remixed] version of the classic 'Babuji Dheere Chalna' [Aar Paar] originally sung by Geeta Dutt. She does a good job in crooning this track which in all probability seems to be one designed for Priyanka Chopra who is shown as an item girl in the film. Good part about the song is that it's soft feel is kept intact without making it as yet another 'beat one-beat two' number and the slight techno arrangements given to create a true 'retro'-spective number makes it an eminently enjoyable number all over again.
With Kailash Kher's name on the credits, one expects a full throated number that is high on spirits. What instead comes a surprise (yet again) is to actually hear him sing on a medium pitch as he goes about rendering 'Ya Rabba', a thoughtful number about 'a problem called love'! A sad song that moves at a slow pace while creating the much required impact, it doesn't drag for a single moment and should be quite engrossing when appearing (expectedly) at different points in the film.
Each of the songs of 'Salaam-E-Ishq' boasts of high quality music. There are some new sounds interspersed with the kind of music that goes well with the Bollywood scheme of things and the final result is something that is going to stay with you for many more months to come. Music of 'Salaam-E-Ishq' is yet another winner before an eminently successful 2006 comes to a close. Also SEL can assure themselves a hat-trick after two back to back successes in the form of 'vKabhi Alvida Na Kehna' and 'Don'.