Producer: Entertainment One & Applause and Udbhav Dreamzone
Director: Govind Nihalani
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, Amrish Puri
Music: Aadesh Shrivastav
Lyrics: Nida Fazli
Singers: Aadesh Shrivastav, Asha Bhosle, Kareena Kapoor Vijeyta Pandit, Amitabh Bachchan, Khailash Kher Mahua, Shraddha Pandit, Abhijeet and Sonu Nigam
Audio On: Times Music
Number of Songs: 7
Released on: May 05, 2004
Reviewed by: Aakash Gandhi
Reviewer's Rating: 9 out of 10
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Director Govind Nihalani is a man of talent, yet he still maintains a very low profile. Govind Nihalani has given us some very hard-hitting artistic masterpieces such as Aakrosh, Vijeta, Drishti, Drohkaal, and his most acclaimed Ardh-Satya. With Dev, Mr. Nihalani is all set to present us with his second commercial film after his previous rendezvous, Takshak. What makes this film so special is that it stars the most popular and most talented actor of our time, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Amitabh ji will be seen as a cop in Dev; uniquely, for the first time we will see him co-starring with Om Puri. To finish off the star-studded line up, Dev has Amrish Puri, Fardeen Khan, and Kareena Kapoor sharing the credits. Although it’s great to see Amitabh Bachchan in a title role after so long, there is something else that makes this film very special and unique…something else that will take you by surprise…something else that will attract you to the cinema halls…something else…

In his first commercial venture, Thakshak, Mr. Nihalani obviously believed that music was a major asset to be owned by his film, as he had roped in India’s Number One composer, A.R. Rahman. Once again, Nihalani has decided that music is going to be an integral part of his action-thriller. One would automatically muster up names such as A.R. Rahman, Anu Malik, or Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to be the musical choice for Dev. Contrary, someone else caught Nihalani’s eyes, or should I say ears…After reaching phenomenal heights last year with two extremely loved albums, Baghban and Chalte Chalte, Aadesh Shrivastav was the one to catch the attention of Govind Nihalani. This being his third composition for the Big B (Baghban, Deewar, and Dev) in the past year, it seems as if Bachchan saab serves as some sort of muse for Shrivastav, who inspires him in creating such magical tunes (e.g. Major Saab and Baghban). Whatever it may be, Aadesh Shrivastav has another superb chance to shine, and undoubtedly makes the most of it! His lyrical side-kick is the very under-rated Nida Fazli, who had won the Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of poetry, Khoya Hua Sa Kuch, in 1997; and who had also won national acclaim for his brilliant work in Sur

The album could not have started off on a better note! From start to finish, Rang Dheeni is an awesome song! Rendered by the sensational vocalist Kailash Kher, who shot to stardom with one of the best sung songs of last year, Vishal-Shekhar’s Allah Ke Bande from Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II. In this piece, Khilash Kher goes the other way and utilizes his classical base, in which he shines like the sun! His articulation of each and every word along with his numerous alaaps creates a stunning effect to say the least. What is even more amazing is that his part isn’t even the most appealing aspect of the song! Rather, the rendition of the title line Rang Dheeni is what will get your foot tapping in no time! This addictive melody is vocalized by Mahua, of the pop band Viva, and Aadesh Shrivastav’s very own niece, Shraddha Pandit. This song also showcases Shrivastav’s invincible liquification of eastern elements (Kailash Kher’s vocal melody) and western elements (Shraddha and Mahua’s renditions). Underneath the east meets west melody, Shrivastav composes the harmony with such elegance and grace that you will be yearning for more when the song comes to an electrifying end! Nida Fazli’s lyrics are superb in that they fit the song nicely. She writes on the co-existance of the Bhagvad Gita and the Quran. His innovativeness only adds to the captivating nature of the track. This song will stay on the charts for a very long time…

The next song is the very touching Jab Nahi Aaye The Tum. Shrivastav throws another surprise in this album with his choice of vocalist… Kareena Kapoor. Yes, the same one…the actress! Personally, I’m not too impressed with the way she has shaped up in the last few years, but nonetheless, I was definitely impressed with her singing capabilities! Although far from the heights that our regulars have reached, Kareena does more than a decent job and succeeds in capturing the various nuances that this song possesses. Her soft n’ sweet voice gliding over Nida Fazli’s beautiful lyrics is as fresh as ever. The major highlight of this track, however, is Shrivastav’s composition. His versatility is clearly discernible as he shows us his apt ability in creating such a soft romantic number accompanied by nearly no instruments at all, except for the strings and occasional piano. This romantic piece is bound to stay on any listener’s lips for many years to come. Nida Fazli’s poetry, rendered by Fardeen Khan at the beginning of the piece, is short and sweet; and is a perfect introduction for this soulful composition. Nida Fazli’s lyrics are spell-binding and will cause any heart to nearly skip a beat. His words are like a fresh spring breeze racing through the empty corridors of a musical hall.

As if Aadesh Shrivastav knew that he had a beauty of a song, he recreates the magic; but this time with his very own beauty…his wife, Vijeyta Pandit. In this piece, she sounds like a combination of Kavita Krishnamurthy and Lata Mangeshkar. Nevertheless, her rendition is better than that of Kareena Kapoor’s. She sings the same words and immensely succeeds in reliving the enchantment that the previous track had embarked upon…

The next track builds up the pace once again and continues the trend of chartbusters. Allahu is a gem of a song and showcases many different highlights. For one, Aadesh Shrivastav renders to his own music and does so beautifully! The opening of the song, where he renders the title Allahu, carries some unknown beauty in it. You’ll have to listen to it for yourself to catch my drift. His classical vocalization is an element of amazement. It’s great to see how more and more composers are beginning to get behind the microphone to sing their own tunes. Another highlight of this album is Asha Bhosle. Before, I always believed that only A.R. Rahman could bring out the best in this ever-green singer. After Rang De (Thakshak), Jiya Jale (Dil Se), Radha Kaise Na Jale (Lagaan), Tanha Tanha (Rangeela), Meherbaan Meherbaan (Tehzeeb), and Dhuan Dhuan ( Meenaxi), we can finally add a second name, that of Aadesh Shrivastav’s, to the list as a composer who has brought out the best in Asha ji. The way she articulates her voice is brilliant and she has never sounded so rich. In addition, Shrivastav’s composition is a purely eastern one, in which he uses a plethora of eastern influenced percussion. His use of the chorus adds to the effect as well. The classical quality also flows through Nida Fazli’s romantic words. This one is another ingenious number by Aadesh Shrivastav!

I simply have no words to describe the next song. Tujh Sang Bandhi Dhor is a song for the ages! The highlight of this song is undoubtedly Sonu Nigam. I was in ah when I first listened to this piece. He amazes me with his relentless consistency of singing quality songs each and every year. After Saathiya, I thought that was probably his best rendition; then I heard Kal Ho Naa Ho and changed my mind; Once again, after hearing Do Kadam Aur Sahi from Meenaxi I switched gears once again, but this time I’m sure that this song is probably his best to date! With a complete classical foundation, Shrivastav composes a very simple song, but at the very same time, it’s quite complex when you come to vocal terms. He creates a steady beat in the harmony with the muddling of a few percussions and allows Sonu’s silky smooth voice to just hover over his music like butter on bread! Sonu’s voice is extremely controlled and he does an excellent job of shutting up all his critics who say that he can only sing one type of song. Like icing on cake, director Govind Nihalani provides Sonu Nigam with some great lines to sing. He writes on a man who has lost his love and is longing for her return; he describes his immortal relationship with that one love of his. Another char-busting track by Sonu Nigam and Aadesh Shrivastav!

The next track is another one to add to the creative ages…Mangalam Ganesham. This one strays from the classical nature of this album towards the devotional side. No, don’t worry, this isn’t a bhajan, well…it is, but it is handled very stylishly. This piece is a devotional praise of Lord Ganesh and is composed creatively by Shrivastav. He is able to use the eastern instruments, such as the flute and the chimes, to add the devotional effect; but at the same time he balances it with other more modern elements, such as the catchy melody rendered flawlessly by Abhijeet. Even the shlokas make you want to “shake a leg!” Nida Fazli’s lyrics are once again in the addictive mode and it goes something like this…”Deva oh Deva…Ganapati Deva…Mangalam Ganesham [chorus]” It’ll be very interesting to see how this song appears on the silver screen!

The album could not have ended more appropriately! Titled Dev Speaks; it showcases two people: Amitabh Bachchan and Aadesh Shrivastav. Obviously, in Dev Speaks, Dev (Amitabh Bachchan) speaks…He speaks on the duties of a police officer and how he must fight till death if necessary to achieve victory. Aadesh Shrivastav does a good job in recognizing that he has one of the greatest voices (narrative mind you!) to ever echo in the cinema halls, and uses Amitabh’s commanding voice to arouse emotion for the men wearing khakee. Aadesh Shrivastav just plain shows off here! He proves that he is among the few composers (M.M. Kreem, Sandesh Shandily, A.R. Rahman) who possess the skills necessary to compose a beautiful orchestral environment. Here, Aadesh Shrivastav uses numerous instruments, mainly the strings, to create a soulful orchestration. This musical spectacle is a great ending to an even greater album…

Aadesh Shrivastav and his Dev are definitely worthy of ovations everywhere. It’s great to be able to witness the revival of creativity in its finest form…music. After A.R. Rahman’s Meenaxi and now Aadesh Shrivastav’s Dev, imaginative and innovative music has been reborn! If you are not fond of the semi-classical genre of Hindi music then listen to Dev, you’re sure to become a fan. If you are already a fan of classical music then still listen to Dev, you’ll realize that you have yet to hear the best! Mr. Shrivastav completely out does himself here. Dev is an album for the creative ages, no collection is complete without it!