What is this industry all about? By industry I mean the industry of Hindi music, what seemingly has become the raw necessity of nearly every Hindi film for the past seven and a half decades. Is this business about how well you create music? Or is it about how much music you create? In reality, the business of music is not how well you compose, nor is it how much you compose, rather, it’s how appealing your composition is to the listeners. For the past five years, and more so as of late, there is only one group that comes to mind when it comes to sheer appeal and more importantly, infernal and constant quality…the unmatched trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bring a fresh new breed of music into the world of Hindi music, which is desperately needed. The year 2004, even though only half complete, has proven to be one of their best. With four solid soundtracks, of which three were released in quick succession ("Rudraksh", "Lakshya", "Kyun, Ho Gaya Na" and now this soundtrack for Revathy’s Phir Milenge, S-E-L have succeeded in becoming the choice of the masses and the taste of the classes.
Phir Milenge sings a different tune in terms of its musical offerings. Nevertheless, when you have Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan playing lead roles, good music is usually a given. To add to the flavor of the soundtrack, multiple composers were used to create the nine songs. S-E-L take the lead since they have five tracks and Bhavathi Raja as well as Nikhil-Vinay each have two. The lyricists are Sameer and Prasoon Joshi who was most recently heard in Hum Tum.
I honestly cannot remember the last time an album opened up on such a beautiful note. “Kuch khushabooein, yaadon ke jungle se beh chali. Kuch khidkiyan lamhon ki tastak pe khul gayi. Kuch geet puraane, rakh ke the sirhaane. Kuch sul kahi khoye the…bundish milgayi. Jeene ke ishaare mil gaye…Bichade the kinaare mil gaye…” Jeene Ke Ishaare is truly a gem of a song and is easily one of the best compositions the year has heard. Composed by S-E-L, this piece is flawless in every aspect of its creation, whether it be the music, the lyrics, or the vocals. As I often say, the beauty of music lies in the simplicity of composition. The opening of the song is one of the finest we have heard. You might be thinking that it must have opened with a gigantic orchestra filled with a plethora of instruments melded together to create unbelievable music, right? Actually, S-E-L opened their piece with one instrument, the guitar, and created an ever so peaceful melody that I personally cannot get out of my head.
Gradually, with the help of the clapping of hands and the synchronized play of the manjeera, they were able to build a harmony that was simple yet had all the necessary elements to give Shankar Mahadevan a heavenly flow of music on which his tender vocals fluently hovered. As the piece reaches its interval, S-E-L toy with creativity and give the piano a chance to show off, slowly oozing under Shankar Mahadevan’s extremely controlled voice. Reaching the climax, S-E-L end the song with a masterful play of the electric guitar that slithers through the chorus chanting of the title line, terminating with the listener spell-bounded and confused…”The song had everything in it to satisfy me, yet I still thirst for more?” Ladies and Gentlemen, never forget the lone under-dog, Mr. Prasoon Joshi. His words on the hope of a new beginning are a few to amaze. Straying from the lessons of conventionality, Joshi travels the world of lyrical ingenuity and comes out with the gold.
If you were among those who pined for more, then S-E-L don’t disappoint, as they so rarely do. The second version of Jeene Ke Ishaare doesn’t consist of any musical alterations or vocal change, rather Mr. Joshi writes a fresh set of poetry for Shankar Mahadevan to render. Once again, his lyrics are filled with beauty and meaning to tingle your very existence. If you aren’t satisfied as of yet then hold on…there might even be more.
It escapes my thought capabilities as to why Revathy decided to sign Nikhil-Vinay to compose a couple of tracks when you have the presence of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Nonetheless, Nikhil-Vinay compose the very conventional Betaab Dil, rendered by the popular pair of Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal. As with almost every Nikhil-Vinay composition, from the opening moments of the song it seems like a time warp of about a decade in the past has taken place; naturally resulting in an out-dated result. This track doesn’t really boast of any praise and tends to fall in the average category, which is hampering to what seemed like a perfect beginning. To add to the ordinariness of this piece, Sameer serves as their side-kick. “Betaab dil hai, dhadkano ki kasam…Na reh sakenge ab juda hoke hum.” Where’s the uniqueness in that? In concession to the piece, Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal do justice to their roles in rendering the piece, but as we’ve seen time and time again, a rendition is worth nothing if the music fails to show up. Nikhil-Vinay also compose a rehashed sad version rendered by none other than Sonu Nigam. This version is quite better than the previous but still doesn’t succeed in digging itself out of the average ranking.
With the reigns handed back over to S-E-L, we can let our ears settle in for a relaxing joyride through the rest of the album. Khushiyon Ki Khoshish is the next piece and is full of flavor and freshness. Right when this piece takes off you can tell it’s going to be a fun track to listen to. Srinivas opens the number up with his limited alaaps, which lead into Mahalaxmi’s extremely catchy humming. In the midst of the melodic renditions, S-E-L have the guitar lead into the manjeeras to create a very simple yet effective harmony. From here on out begins a great song full of energy, life, and enthusiasm. Mahalaxmi Iyer is in great form as always and is able to infuse lots of energy into the song as does Srinivas. Once again, Prasoon Joshi shines bright in his role; his words are probably the most effective element in arousing the lively feel to the number. S-E-L succeed in constructing a flavor injecting rhythm where the enthusiasm of Srinivas and Mahalaxmi enthrall your senses, and to top it all off, Mr. Joshi’s words infuse zest and vitality back into this what-can-be-a superb album.
Bhavathi Raja is the musical composer in the next track. She has the privilege of composing the title track, “Phir Milenge” of the album. Just for the records, measuring at just over one minute in duration, this most probably could be the shortest title track the audiences have heard!
Bhavathi Raja must have composed this more towards the goal of a theme / background score rather than a mainstream song. Nevertheless, even at one minute this piece creates a nice place for itself in the album and is rendered by Vijay Yesudas and Febi. The song opens off on another great note with Febi crooning her voice over some light-weight percussions to create a very soothing effect. Raja digresses this into Vijay’s rendition of the title line “Phir Milenge.” The light rock beat that Raja creates accompanies Vijay’s voice superbly. Reaching midway, Febi’s Na Na Na rendition is a pleasure, and even more so after Vijay joins her. Raja closes us out by giving Febi the chance to render the title line and she does a nice job. Lyrics really do take a back seat for the first time since the only words spoken are “Phir Milenge.” It should be a pleasure to hear this one throughout the background of the film.
Another column to add to the highlight table of Phir Milenge is the enticement that is possessed by the introduction of every song, barring Betaab Dil. The next track is also composed by Bhavathi Raja and is titled Kuch Pal. “Kuch pal palkon mein palte hai, kuch pal aankhon mein jalte hai…toota sa khwaab le kar, dhoor jaate hue…Kuch pal karvat badalte hai…” Given the task of actually composing a full-fledged number, she makes the best of it! The beginning of the track is especially luring. We are introduced with the steady flow of a rather feminine and smooth sounding instrument, which leads into the magical play of some authentically orchestrated synthesized beats.
After about two measures of this, Raja augments the music by adding the play of the piano. This alone makes for a splendid opening, but Bhavathi Raja goes a step more. She, as if following in the footsteps of his musical partners (S-E-L), also adds the chiming of the manjeeras, which is accompanied by a few notes of the sitar, played with strict staccato; finally leading into the bass instruments, which lead the way for Vijay Yesudas to show off his vocal talent. This musical rhythm is what sounds throughout the piece except for a few variations here and there. Nonetheless, Raja creates a musically flawless piece. Vijay’s voice has a dark touch to it here and he sings the song with ease and confidence. Raja creates a very catchy melody in the foreground that will get any listener snapping their fingers or tapping their feet. Note: Listen to how controlled Vijay’s voice is, yet at the same time he allows himself to stray just a tad from the strict melody, raising the enjoyment level even higher. As for the lyrics, Mr. Joshi lives up to the challenge with utter ease. I would rather not even attempt to comment on his writing, simply because no adulation would be suffice.
How many of you think it can’t get any better? Well, it just did. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy take control of the reigns once more to close out the album. Khul Ke Muskuraale is one of the best pieces on this soundtrack, along with Jeene Ke Ishaare. “Khul ke muskuraale tu, dard ko sharmaane dhe. Bundhon ko darthi par, saaz ek bajaane dhe. Hawaaein keh rahi hai…aaja jhule zara. Gagan ke gaal ko chal… jaa ke chule zara.” Remember the Zara Zara girl from Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein? Well, she’s back and in the seductive mood once again. Bombay Jayshree sings this piece with pure brilliance! Her voice is beautifully accented where necessary and her rendition brings out the life and emotion that is contained by each of Joshi’s words. S-E-L open up the piece with a rare type of drum, the Latin maracas, and the Indian manjeeras, all liquefied together to create a very luring and bewitching rhythm, which fades into the background as Bombay Jayshree lets her alluring voice take over. The first interim of music showcases S-E-L’s native ability to switch lead instruments as desired, yet never breaking the smooth rhythm. Here, they allow a synthesized guitar to take control and then switch over to one of their favorite instruments, the flute, to grace our ears.
Not everyone can switch from a synthesized string to a woodwind, while keeping the transition as smooth and slick as silk. In the second musical interim, they let the piano take command for yet another exquisite performance. The ending is nearly as mesmerizing as the opening, where the captivating fury of strings builds with a crescendo, terminating on the faint and gentle laughter of Bombay Jayshree. Mr. Prasoon Joshi, hands down, wins the award for best lyricist of 2004 with this lyrical masterpiece! Through the world of symbolism and metaphors, he conveys to us the magic of life. He writes on how one should live care free, letting sorrows shy away and smiles freely glisten. Through the actions of Mother Nature, he metaphorically discloses the ideal and natural behavior that we should all be keen on exhibiting. Encore for this lyrically award deserving piece!
Remember the first piece? Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, as if knowing that they had a magnificent tune, create yet a third version…a sad version, titled Yaad Hai Woh Pehli Mulaqaat. “Jeel ek aadat hai, tujh mein hi rehti hai. Aur nadi sharaarat hai, tere sang behti hai. Uthaar gham ke mozey, zameen ko gungunaane dhe. Kankaron ko talvon mein, gudgudi machaane dhe…” Unlike the second rehash, this variation does comprise of musical alterations, vocal changes and lyricist modifications. In true S-E-L fashion, they add their signature snapping of the fingers, giving the rhythm their very own touch. This paves the way for Abhijeet to make a beautiful entrance into the album. His rendition has emotion and feeling, which is customary and necessary in every mournful melody. On to the third modulation, the change in lyricist: As it was out of my imaginative reach as to why Nikhil-Vinay were a part of this musical crew, it escapes me once again why Prasoon Joshi was replaced by the ever so original Sameer.
Nevertheless, Sameer writes for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Abhijeet for the first time in this album and does surprise. It seems as if Sameer was pressured by the skill Prasoon Joshi put forth in this soundtrack to raise his standards…possibly in competition. Whatever the reason is, Sameer is at his rare best but still manages to remain a level under Prasoon Joshi. In the end, this song is definitely a winner but still pales in comparison to its original counterparts.
In addition to bidding us some fantastic music, Phir Milenge showcases the talent of Mr. Prasoon Joshi. He proves with this album that lyrical ingenuity is still alive in the modern world of pop culture and that the art of poetry still strives through this Music Industry. Also, I personally would like to applaud Bhavathi Raja in making a resounding mark in this album with a limited opportunity. Finally, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are on a roll with this album. They, in accordance with Bhavathi Raja, create an extremely meaningful and appealing soundtrack that should catch the fancy of the masses, the classes, and the critics. After her cross-over film, Mitr, Revathy makes a great entrance into mainstream Hindi cinema with a heart-warming album complimenting her highly-anticipated film.