To say the least, Rakht is an interesting collaboration on all fronts. Hot shots producers Vijay Mallya and Sunil Shetty join hands for the first time. Mahesh Manjrekar is back doing what we think he does best, directing (despite having done nothing special since his last spark of brilliance, Astitva). The cast is not only the largest Manjrekar has ever dealt with, but is also a highly unusual collection of established stars, known faces, and a few of whom many have never heard (no points for guessing who falls into which category).
The soundtrack of the film is as much of a tossed salad as the complete production, with four composers, seven lyricists, and fifteen singers! Rakhtís music is sure an earful. Unlike a normal filmi soundtrack, the songs donít feel as though they belong to the same movie-some donít even sound like they belong in a Hindi film at all. Rakhtís music offers something for everyone, but not completely done in superior fashion.
Naresh Sharma proves beyond reasonable doubt why he has not been given a big break as a music director, and has been stuck with background scores. He is responsible for two out of a possible three terrible songs. His work is heavily inspired by Nadeem-Shravan (who are not that original themselves) and he supercedes their work in Ishq Bedardi. Alka Yagnik and Anuradha Paudwal-coincidentally, both of whom are Nadeem-Shravan favourites-give a good account for themselves in this jhankaar-based number. Deepak Sneh could have given his pen a bit more flair, instead of opting for cliched phrases. For many, this song will not find many takers because of its nostaligc composition, but if you enjoy classic N-S style, then Ishq Bedardi is an instant hit for you. A pretty good song.
Both versions of Hadh Se Zyada Sanam (from the very title, the inspiration (!) from the hit song in Qayamat is obvious) are absolutely revolting. Sneh must have hit rock bottom, for his lyrics are right from the book of Sameer, and his extensive repetition of words is more somnolent than stimulating. Sharmaís composition is devoid of any novelties. Sonu Nigam sounds depressed in both the happy and sad versions of the song, whereas Shreya Ghoshal is barely average-the same can be said for both songs in general.
Oh What a Babe comes in three versions, all of which are ingeniously composed by Virgin Recordsí CEO, Shamir Tandon and written by Ajay Jhingran (who is unassociated with a major corporation). The great thing about the two remixes is that they maintain the essence of the original. The compositions are perfect and the lyrics go with the song better than most sad attempts at item numbers. The original is dominated by item-number queen Sunidhi Chauhan, with background vocals by C21 and Shweta Shetty. This is easily the best version of the three, with Sunidhi sounding as racy as every, adding that vital oomph that makes any sexy number a hit and her confidence with the English chorus is praiseworthy. Sunidhi-wannabe Ritika Sahmi sings the Techno Mix of Oh What a Babe. She is effective but ruins her pre-chorus lines. Finally, Shweta Shetty gets a solo in the Club Mix, which she overall hams up, but the composition makes it worthy of a few listens.
Tandon gets the honour of composing the title song and runs with it! Tandonís rock ní roll influence makes for a great auditory experience. Rakht cannot be appreciated for repeat value; what else is lyricist Sandeep Nath supposed to write about when the movie title means blood? After Paap, the emergence of Pakistani artists is growing, and Tandon employs Aaroh, along with our fabulous desi K.K. for some great singing. This is one of those rare theme songs thatís a complete winner, but the subject matter hinders its longevity.
International band Blue composes the unique (by Bollywood standards) song, One Love. But sadly, they get no marks for originality, as the song is a complete life off the work of North American hip-hop artist Nick Cannon. This is not to say that the song is not well done. This predominantly English song avoids being described as embarrassing, mainly because of Shaanís and Blueís precise rendition. The lyrics, also done by the singers, are apt and donít become lost like previous Bollywood attempts at English tracks. For Indians, One Love is a cool (!) song, whereas for NRIs, the song is an utter waste of time.
The final composer to add his two cents to Rakht is Anand Raj Anand. After lying low for much of 2004, ARA comes up with three commendable songs, but he seems to have a hangover of his previous work. He introduces Krishna in the song Such Hai Such Hai. Anand seems smitten by his best composition, Mahi Ve from Kaante, although he does make some distinct alterations during the interludes. Krishna is reminiscent of Kailash Kher, as both share the same vocal range and quality. Anand Raj Anand also pens the words for Such Hai Such Hai and is just as convincing as a lyricist as he is a music director.
In Jannat Hai Yeh Zameen, Anand takes a few lessons from the AR Rahman school of music but keeps his own flavour. He does get Rahman regular Swarnalatha to solo the song, with Krishna screaming in the background. She is a very talented singer who deserves more out of Bollywood, proving her worth with her stellar rendition of this song. The beat of the song is infectious and you fall in love with the song immediately. Simply put, this is good music!
Interesting lyrics are the order of the day when listening to Rakhtís soundtrack and they donít get more interesting than Quiero, How Much I Love You. The heavy Spanish-Arabic influence makes this song an instant hit. In fact, itís arguably the best of the eleven songs Rakht has to offer. The pop group Viva is just superb, proving smooth, sultry, yet somewhat sophisticated vocals to the song, which make for a refreshing change. Salim Bijnauriís lyrics, despite being trilingual, are just as pleasing as the music and fully service the song. Anand Raj Anandís composition is fairly flawless, but theirís a resemblance between this song and Aankhon Mein Suroor Hai from Plan. But thatís a very minor detail. Quiero is a song that just makes you want to dance the night away...Fantastic!
If you isolate the disappointing songs composed by Naresh Sharma and that sad example of Indi-Hip Hop, Rakht is one of the best albums of 2004. But those pathetic excuses for good music are part of the package and unfortunately reduce the enjoyment of the album. Overseas, the highly extensive use of English in the songs may seem to work, but in the end only seems to raise the filmís level of corniness, however, semi-English songs are the trend in India so they will catch on. Rakhtís soundtrack survives solely on the musical compositions and the renditions of singers-plenty of reasons to add, or not to add, this one to your collection.