Planet Bollywood
Namastey London
Producer: Eros/Blockbuster Movie Entertainers
Director: Vipul Shah
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Upen Patel, Rishi Kapoor, Javed Shiekh, Ritesh Deshmukh
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Lyrics: `Javed Akhtar
Singers: Himesh Reshammiya, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Krishna, Sunidhi Chauhan, RDB, Jayesh Gandhi, Akriti Kakkar, Zubeen Garg, and Alisha Chinoy
Audio On: Eros Music    Number of Songs: 7
Album Released on: 22 January 2007
Reviewed by: Samir Dave  - Rating: 7.5 / 10
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Opinion Poll: Has Namastey London Delivered?

EROS Entertainment releases another movie by the director of Waqt – Race Against Time and Aankhen. Hopes are high for this EROS production, especially since EROS pretty much pulled out of overseas distribution and DVD manufacturing due to declining profits. You have to hand it to them, they were able to regroup and refocus the company, turning it into a successful production house. Their first movie as producers was the Amitabh/Akshay starrer Waqt – Race Against Time.

This double CD set is released on EROS Music (and you thought T-Series released everything). EROS music also released the excellent soundtrack by Vishal Shekhar for the movie, ‘I See You’.

The star cast brings Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif together again for the story about a “British Brat” (Kaif) who meets a “Funjabi” Boy (Kumar). Put them together, and let the fireworks begin! But the question is…. will the soundtrack set the music industry and charts on fire?

The answer to that question will have to wait till the end of this review.

The music director for this choice project is none other than the guru of baseball caps and unshaven facial hair, Himesh Reshammiya! Himesh is the son of famed Gujurati music director Vipin Reshammiya,. He started his career assisting Anand Raj Anand, but gained his first notice by the masses for his song from the movie Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, but true success has only come in recent years starting with the soundtrack to Aashiq Banaya Aapne, Aksar, and his solo pop album Aap Ka Surroor. He is prepared to take his popularity even further by starring in and composing the music for his movie Aap Ka Suroor: The Real Love Story.

In the meantime, while we wait for that, he has some significant releases for 2007, the first of which is Namastey London. A big production for a big banner and established director means that that expectations for the music are very high. The lyrics are by the amazing Javed Akhtar, arguably one of the best poets/lyricists in India.

To truly review a Himesh Reshammiya soundtrack, I had to break out my baseball cap, not shave for a few days, and get in the car to blast each song. Using this unique technique of reviewing the album….I present to you, my review of Namastey London.

NOTE: Most HR songs are heavily synthesized and feature him repeating the same lyrics over and over. Let’s see if he repeats that practice on this album.

With the window down and baseball cap tightly secured, I put the CD into the car stereo and begin with the first track, titled Chakna Chakna. It’s a solo by H.R. and he brings back the same style of singing and repeating lyrics that drove some listeners insane. To be fair to HR, he sings this song to the best of his abilities and the funky drums are not your typical Bhangra backbeat. The drums drive this song, which begs the volume to be turned up. By the time you reach the end of this song, you are left wondering when the party is going to begin and you forgive HR for his repetitive singing. A sure fire club hit, and one that I am sure you will be dancing to in the near future. The lyrics by Javed Akhtar are playful and catchy. I can just picture Akshay Kumar’s jhutkas to this one. Hat’s off to this one, for it is a FRESH TRACK.

Say what you will about HR, the man is unique in his ability to sing both fast songs and slow songs in the same Sur! I guess he has to, to make way for the inevitable remixes of his songs (more on that later). The second song is a slow tempo solo number titled, Viraaniya. It starts off as an almost meditative trance with Harpsichord and Violins playing until the drum beat kicks in. This is not a dance track, but a song about a thirsty unfulfilled love. Himesh sings and conveys quite effectively the desire of a man with a broken heart. The most pleasant surprise about this song is the addition of real Tablas…. reminding the listener how sweet that often overlooked percussive instrument sounds. Lyrics are simple and straightforward by Javed Akhtar. My baseball cap is still on…and this one is another FRESH TRACK.

The car ride is just getting interesting, the wind blowing around my baseball cap, and this reviewer finding a bit more respect for Mr. Himesh Reshammiya.

Can HR keep the quality up? Indeed he can as the soft sounds of the piano begin the third song on the album, Main Jahaan Rahoon. The soft vocals of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (with backing by Krishna) softly sing the opening lyrics, and Tabla percussion fills out the wonderful romantic beginning of this song. This is one of those songs that HR should take his baseball cap off for and take a bow. The kind of song that channels the spirit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and makes you stop where you are to give it a listen. It is arguably one of the best songs on the album with poignant lyrics by Javed Akhtar, I can see this one go straight to the top and be played for years to come. This song will take you to a different place, when longing and love filled your heart. A total FRESH TRACK.

The first three songs are solos, and one wonders when Katrina Kaif will get to lip synch to a duet? The listener does not have to wait any longer, for the fourth track Yahi Hota Pyaar is a duet. Himesh Reshammiya returns to vocals along with that Little Wonder who is now all grown up, Sunidhi Chauhan. The song starts out with a beautiful violin solo and then takes off from there. HR meets romance and romance meets HR as he tries his best to keep from shouting or sounding too nasal. One gets the feeling that he has tried really hard to sound earnestly appealing. Sunidhi has sung her vocals in a very soft way that almost sounds very much like Alka Yagnik. It’s a perfect song to be listened to while driving in the rain, and of course wearing your trademark baseball cap. Violins, Flutes, Santoor and Tablas tear this song away from the usual HR synthesized beats and combine with Javed Akhtar’s romantic lyrics to produce a sweet song. What’s going on here? It seems to be another FRESH TRACK, making it four for four.

With the next track, we move into pure Punjabi and Sufi territory. The fifth song, Rafta Rafta combines the two genres in a very interesting way. The vocals are by RDB (a popular United Kingdom based Bhangra band). An interesting song that might not make you get on the dance floor in the original version, but will definitely make you move to the groove to the catchy Rafta Rafta lyrics and beats. Is it my imagination or does RDB sound like a light version of Himesh Reshammiya? The beats are Bolly-Funk at it’s best. This is another FRESH TRACK on this so far so good album.

The next song sees HR give up the mike once again (thankfully, for it seems he is best in small doses). It’s nice to see that he gave other singers a chance on this album. Aanan Faanan has vocals by Jayesh Gandhi and Akriti Kakkar. This one sounds like something a pop band would sing. For some reason, I think of a winning Indian Cricket team being cheered on by this song. (Something we all dream about). The song leaves you with a very light and pleasant feeling. The best way to describe it is to say that the song fills you with a sense of hope that things are not as bad as they seem. The instrumentation and synth use adds to the feeling of freshness. Hats off to Mr. Javed Akhtar for the lyrics. Himeshmaniacs unite! Another FRESH TRACK adds to this album’s entertainment value.

The usual pattern of soundtracks is that one or two songs are really good, while the rest are filler. Whether this is due to the fact that music directors are overworked or simply have a lack of imagination is not clear. With the seventh track, Dilruba we get probably the weakest of the songs on this soundtrack. It has certain staleness to it, with typical music and the old HR percussive beats that he has used to death in movies like Hello Brother and Humraaz. Perhaps it was too much to hope for that HR could keep up the quality and inventiveness. The vocals are by Zubeen Garg and Alisha Chinoy who are totally wasted on this song. It’s not bad; it’s just not great and winds up being mundane. The kind of song you listen to and totally forget. This one made me stop the car and throw the baseball cap away. This wins the dubious award of being the one and only STALE TRACK on the album.

The album is rounded off with Mehfil Mixes of ‘Viraaniya’ and ‘Aaanan Faanan’. The songs are interspersed with Javed Akhtar reciting poetry, every few minutes. The poetry is beautiful, the songs are slow tempo and turn out to be a novelty to listen to.

Mention should also be made that this CD comes as a double CD pack. The second CD contains nine remixes of the seven songs (including additional mehfil remixes). All remixes are by DJ Akbar Sami and he does a really good job with them. The remixes for Chakna Chakna, Main Jahaan Rahoon and Annan Faanan are particularly good.

So the album ends, I stop my car, and realize that I must take my baseball cap off and pay my respects the great-capped one, Himesh Reshammiya. I don’t know what kind of hypnotic hold you have on the masses, but I do know that we will hear these songs being played and sung by our beloved Rickshaw and Paanwallas…as we drive off into the sunset.

Himesh Reshammiya along with Javed Akhtar have for the most part created an album that should gain the both of them more fans. One thing is for sure, Namastey London is a must buy for your music collection and stands up to repeated plays. The album is on fire, will stay on top of your play list, and should reach the top of the charts in the next few weeks.

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