I can only think of one "shabd" when I think of the typical Bollywood scenario: disappointment. It is a regular in the Bollywood industry. Countless times there are hyped films which are anticipated and the turn about is a much undelightful disaster. In 2004, the situation was marginally worse, because for several, music composers got it right with tunes that were delicious to listen to but for some time, painful to watch. Disappointment is certainly not the word to describe the music for newcomer director Leena Yadavīs "Shabd".
Vishal-Shekhar return to the composing seat in the thriller "Shabd". And like their other compositions, the tunes here are far above par with almost with everything you can ask for. The ever so talented composers have gained a firm hold of the industry after Musafir, and with Shabd show that not only can they compose thematically, but for both situations, they can compose what works. This soundtrack also shows that at the very least, Pritish Nandy Communications carry music that is decent on the ears.
Youīd be forgiven if you mistakenly took Vishal Dadlani (one half of the composer duo here) for Adnan Sami in the soundtrack opener "Sholon Si". Though one can argue that Sami would have made the song even better than it already is, Dadlani is more than suitable for the mood that the song brings out. Upbeat, laced with your catchy Latin beats and chorus intervals (vamos a la playa), the song catches the listener right away even though it starts off with the theme orchestration and leaves the impression that the song will be a regular romantic track. Sunidhi Chauhan is perfectly toned, something that Vishal-Shekhar have been known to do superb as well, and the song is hit from the word go. Lyricist Irshad Kamil, who featured in PNCīs last film, Chameli, is also pleasantly in your non-typical form here without straying too far from normal or getting too verbose for that matter.
The following songs reveal a bit about the film, containing vocal intervals by Sanjay Dutt (credited as free verses). What makes the songs work is how well the interludes complement not only the mood but the orchestration. Sonu Nigam is perfect and the best he has been in recent soundtracks. "Khoya Khoya Tha", like the openers, starts off slower with Sonu Nigam (who sings for Zayed Khanīs character), conveying Sanjay Duttīs characterīs writings, and Sunidhi Chauhan joining in. The punch is packed when the title of the track kicks in and the jazz like feel of the song settles in. Certainly one to please those that are into romantic songs, particularly when Sonu and Sunidhi sing together. The song blends the verses and the music perfectly.
The playful "Bolo Na" has the superlative Shreya Ghoshal whispering "nahin nahin" in the background throughout the track. Again Sanjay Dutt almost narrates the song (which is a stand out in the latter portion of the track when Duttīs portion cueīs Ghoshalīs lines). Sonu is commanding in his rendition and Vishal-Shekharīs dramatic composition stands out the most. Again, a feat it is to create a song like this, make it sound as playfully interesting (with catchy jhankaar beats and all) and worthy of more than one listen. In both "Khoya Khoya" and "Bola Na", lyricist Irshad Kamil is a refreshing change from the Bollywood regulars we get soundtrack after soundtrack. Additionally, Kamil and Dadlani team up for some of the free verses.
"Chahaton Ka Silsila" is a bit more regular Bollywood song, though that not detracting on the quality of it at all, that too not withholding the fact that Kumar Sanu sounds great after being heard from so little. Ironically, the song establishes a pattern almost of starting off a bit different from the way the entire song actually is, as Sunidhi opens up the track with a slow verse completely throwing off the listener from what is to follow. The orchestration here, with this being the theme/title song of the soundtrack is complimented nicely with the flute and a good set of lyrics to follow. Sunidhi and Sanu pair up well and deliver the sweet (no other word for it) tune perfectly. A second rendition, by Udit Narayan sounds a bit more familiar to the ear. Udit is effective, after all, but his rendition brings out the familiarity in the song a bit more reminding us more of "Jaana" from Chameli and several others. The former version is better for the simple fact that Kumar Sanu is heard rarely now, and even less sounding as good as he does there.
A remix (complete with rap interludes and all) of "Sholon Si" is also included on the soundtrack.
With the film being a romantic thriller itīs almost mandatory that it must have a dramatic composition. Enter Sukhwinder Singhīs "Mat Jaa", a semi-rock loud number which is dramatic, enthralling and completely situational. It too follows with a remix later on.
The "Theme of Shabd" closes off the soundtrack, encompassing bits and pieces of the melody and orchestrations and adding your typical dramatic interludes with them.
Finding that perfect medium in Bollywood has often become a problem. Balancing a completely thematic soundtrack for a commercial film and attempting to make it work often produces results that are far on extremes and ultimately unpleasant. Shabdīs music is more worth a listenerīs time than recent releases, like Bewafaa, Elaan (and the list goes on?) as there is a little more balance and effort in making it work, and the attempt is noteworthy. Thankfully, this time around, itīs not all about the lyrics but how well both can come together. Even the two songs that feature verses are enjoyable. Shabd is a welcome soundtrack from Pritish Nandy Communications and Vishal-Shekhar, all familiarity aside, it will probably entertain you more than recent releases from the big names and all.