Producer: Bobby Bedi
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Starring: Irfaan Khan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Mausumi Makhija
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics: Gulzar
Singers: Rekha Vishal, Sadhna Sargam, Anuradha Sriram, Ustad Sultan Khan, Rakesh Pundit, Daler Mehndi, Dominique, Sabir Khan, Sanjeev Abhyankar
Audio On: Music Today
Number of Songs: 11
Released on: January, 2004
Reviewed by: Ron Ahluwalia
Reviewer's Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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Vishal Bhardwaj is one of the most interesting personalities in Bollywood. His muscial achievements are known to everybody in the industry, as he has provided highly-acclaimed music for dramas like Maachis and Satya, as well as comedies like Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega and Chupke Se.... Two years ago, he made a dream debut with his highly praised--and surprisingly entertaining--childrenīs movie, Makdee. Today, Vishal Vhardwaj is back in the directorīs chair, this time, writng a new chapter in Bollywood history, by making the first official Indian remake of a Shakespeare play! The play in question is the eternally bleak tragedy of Macbeth. As expected, Bhardwaj is the conductor for the soundtrack, however, it is not as commendable as his previous efforts. Granted that Maqbool is arguably the finest fusion (classical Indian and Western) that India has ever seen, but it takes a while to grown on the listener and maintain repeat value.

Maqbool contains seven lyrical and four instrumental songs. Of all the songs--lyrical and instrumental--Chingari is tied for the the finest. Interestingly enough, Chingari is actually a song made by Bhardwaj for the Indi-pop album Ishqa Ishqa. The song has a slight classical background at intervals, but whatīs interesting is that a few of the classic melodies are created through the use of Western orchestral instruments--and the results blow you away! The lyrics are at Gulzarīs poetic best! However, the real winner in Chigari is the singer, Rekha Vishal. Her voice lends a dark, sensuous quality to the number. In this song, Rekha Vishalīs vocal essence is similar to that of Richa Sharma or Jaspinder Narula, but she is leagues ahead of them! This is one of those perfect 10 songs that we are rarely given the pleasure of listening to!

There must be something in Daler Mehndi that only Vishal Bhardwaj has been able to seen until now, which explains Mehndiīs recurrent appearance in Bhardwarj soundtracks (most recently in Chupke Se....). Nonetheless, Bhardwaj is able to extract the best out of the Bhangra King, making Ru-Ba-Ru equally as pleasurable as Chingari! This dard-e-mohabbat number scores on all levels. Its profusely traditional music hits a bullīs eye and serves as an immensely enjoyable experience. Gulzarīs lyrics are divine! After listening to a song like Ru-Ba-Ru is one able to appreciate Gulzarīs command on the Hindi and Urdu languages! Furhtermore, Ru-Ba-Ru can shut up all of Daler Mehndiīs critics! One should not be surprised if Daler Mehndi was actaully crying as he sung this song! Only an artist of towering calibre is able to inject such robust emotion in to a song--he leaves you lost for superlatives! Sabir Khan, Rakesh Pundit, and Dominique also appear in the song, but are well shadowed by Mehndiīs soulfull prowess.

Jhin Min Jhini is a unique effort by Bhardwaj and Gulzar on the shaadi song! The musical composition seems to be of the Rahman school of music, but Bhardwaj adds better dimensions to it! The fast-paced interludes of dhol are catchy! The lyrics are of a classical and situational nature, making for a refreshing fare. The singers dissappoint, however. Sadhna Sargam is above average, but Anuradha Sriram is annoying as usual. Ustad Sultan Khan is difficult to understand. Rakesh Pundit is brutally relegated to the sidelines in what could be his first appearance in a non-Viju Shah album.The song appears at the end of the album in an extended version, which is of equal quality.

Dheemo Re, a solo by Ustad Sultan Khan, is strictly a musical revelation! As Khanīs vocals release the lines in complete classical form, Bhardwaj subtly employs the guitar throughout the song, which ends up being the highlight of this pure fusion number! Dheemo re is an experience to broaden your musial horizons!

After listening to Chingari, one would never have guessed that Rone Do was sung by Rekha Vishal! Her versatility takes the listener by surprise, as she is beautifully melodious in Rone Do, compared to her sensuous raspy vocals in Chingari! Gulzar is a wizard of words, as his lyrics are powerful enough to make the listener feel pity for the singer! Musically, the initial bars are sinfully bleak, however, the rest of the music is such that lyrics of lighter ambience could also be used, which dilute the desired effect of the song.

The final lyrical song is Rukhe Naina, a folk-inspried number, in lyrics and music. The musical arrangement by Vishal is superb, using his traditional and Western instruments perfectly! Gulzarīs lyrics, despite their Hindi dialect, are full of pathos and touch the heart. The spirit behind the lyrics is the rendition by newcomer Sanjeev Abhyankar. He really pours his heart into Rukhe Naina, and the roughness of his voice is most appropriate and intriguing! A great sad song!

The four instrumental pieces are where Vishal Bhardwaj really displays his command over music! The Maqbool Theme is a grim piece, played by stringed orchestral instruments. The crescendo of the percussion is ingenious and is haunting, as it sounds like a dangerously increasing heartbeat! Nirvana does not live up to its name; the arrangement of the song is masterfully discordent, and could be a continuation of the Maqbool Theme.

The Killing is a suspenseful song; the serne beginning with the flute is well contrasted by the violently fast culmination! The change in pace could serve as great background music for some scenes of the movie.

Maqbool ends on a fabulous note! Shoonya is the most soulfull of the instrumental tracks! It is not grim or evil like some interludes throughout the soundtrack, rather, it has a peculiarly appropriate mournfulness, if the story of Macbeth is known to you. And if you are unaware of Macbeth, it is still a great piece!

The soundtrack of Maqbool comes to an end! Upon a final glance, Maqbool is a good album, but only in theory. The lyrics are out of this world, the renditions by the singers are of the higest quality (except in Jhin Min Jhini and Dheemo Re), and the music offers a lot of fabulous new insights into the world of fusion music in India. But in the end, Maqbool is not the kind of soundtrack you would want to listen to in your car. Instead, youīll find yourself searching for it if you have recvently broken up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or just want to appreciate the musical and lyrical revelations that are Mr. Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar Sahib (and it takes a special person to appreciate such marvellous work!). No matter what the occasion, Maqbool is one that you might want at your disposal, just in case!