Producers Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla are back with their next production after maiden venture, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. Starring Khan himself, along with today’s current hot sensation, Kareena Kapoor, the movie, Asoka, is another period film which follows the trend set today by Lagaan and Gadar. Lagaan serves as a very important landmark in today’s era. One, it proved that periodic films can do well given the proper treatment and sensitive direction. Two, it dispelled all rumors that home-productions by our stars always fail at the box office (i.e. Raju Chacha, Dil Kya Kare, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Grahan, Dillagi, etc.). Add to Lagaan’s magic is Gadar, another periodic film that did wonders at the box office. Now, only time will tell whether Dreamz Unlimited’s Asoka will fall into the same category, or will it be another flop in the large sea of commercially nonviable home productions?
The album starts off with “San Sanana”, sung by Alka Yagnik and Hema Sardesai. The beginning of the song sounds a lot like Rahman’s tunes from Rangeela, especially the musical piece, the Spirit of Rangeela. Alka Yagnik does a great job in infusing life into this song, which is appealing by the music itself. Hema Sardesai is left to the background as her voice is very difficult to discern from Alka’s dominating vocals. 8/10
The next song is truly a gem, sung by one of the most underrated female singers of Bollywood. Chitra skillfully eases through the song with such appeal that it’s a true shame that music directors do not insist on using her voice more often. Her voice is soft, sweet, yet seductive. Entitled “Raat Ka Nasha”, the album features two versions of this song. In the second rendition, Abhijeet accompanies Chitra. His voice has not been heard much lately, but he is definitely back to business with this song. 9/10
The third track, “Roshni Se”, is another asset to this album. This time, it’s Abhijeet and Alka Yagnik who do their best to make this song an absolute pleasure to listen to. The lyrics are masterfully created by Gulzar, who makes this love song one of my favorites of 2001. Abhijeet’s vocals are soft, yet haunting, giving this song an extremely mystical feeling. And for those who thought Alka’s voice could not get any sweeter, you are mistaken. She sounds great and is the perfect choice for this song. 9/10
Shaan, who seems to be a big favorite of late, joins Sunita Rao in the next track, “O Re Kanchi”. I may not be the best person when it comes to discerning voices, but it sounds as though Alka Yagnik is the female singer in this song, and not Sunita Rao. Either that, or Sunita sounds eerily just like Alka. In fact, I am completely convinced that Sony Music has made an error because the singer is most definitely Alka Yagnik. For those who know Sunita Rao’s voice, hers is definitely quite distinct from Alka. Apart from all this questioining, the song itself is somewhat catchy – one that grows on you after repeated hearings. Both singers do a decent job provided the type of dance song they have been given. 7/10
Nowadays, an album would not be complete without Sunidhi Chauhan. She is found on the sixth track, “Aa Tayar Hoja”. The song is not bad, another one that probably requires more than just one listen. She does a fine job, demonstrating her interesting vocal range. The lyrics are not anything particularly exciting, but nonetheless the music makes up for what the lyrical department lacks. 7/10
Finally, the album ends with an instrumental piece, composed by Sandeep Chowta, very creatively titled, “Asoka Theme”. The track is not short like most Hindi film instrumental pieces. Sandeep Chowta has done a wonderful job. It is very reminiscent of Rahman’s theme for the film, Bombay. Yet, Chowta has not fallen prey to mere imitation and has created an original piece that is really a benefit to the overall album. 9/10
For those who want to add another great album to their collection, Asoka is definitely worth the buy. After a slightly disappointing Yaadein, Anu Malik seems back on the right track. My best wishes go to Dreamz Unlimited in hopes that the film turns out be a step in the right direction.