Planet Bollywood
Producer: Mukesh Bhatt / Vishesh Films
Director: Mohit Suri
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Saran, Mrinalini Sharma, and Rehan Khan
Music: Re-created By Pritam
Lyrics: Sayeed Quadri and Asif Ali Beig (Additional)
Singers: Mustafa Zahid, Annie, Rafaquat Ali Khan, and Suzanne D’Mello
Audio On: Sa Re Ga Ma    Number of Songs: 8
Album Released on: 17 May 2007
Reviewed by: Aakash Gandhi  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 414 listeners)
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The Bhatt camp recently raised a lot of eyebrows with their newest offering, Awarapan, which is estimated to have a whopping budget of 18 crores – an extremely high amount for a production house that is used to creating medium-budget films. Nonetheless, Awarapan is Mohit Suri’s fourth run-around with the Bhatt’s after musical successes in Zeher, Kalyug, and Woh Lamhe.

That the Bhatt’s have a fancy for Pakistani music is no surprise, as the above soundtracks prove. However, this time they decide to serve us with a pure Pakistani album. Correct! All four tracks have been borrowed from across the border and re-created by who else…Pritam. And perhaps due to the sudden awareness of plagiarism in India’s Film Music (thanks to Pritam), all the tracks have been properly credited to their original sources – maybe the licensing of the tracks is what drove the film’s budget so high? But I digress…

The four tracks that have been re-created by Pritam in Awarapan include:

1) ‘Mahia.’ Pakistani artist, Annie, debuted in 2006 with this single that took the country by storm. She followed it up with her first album, ‘Princess.’

2) ‘Maula Maula.’ Arranged and rendered by Rafaquat Ali Khan, ‘Maula Maula’ is a traditional sufi song written by Baba Farid in the twelfth century.

3) ‘Tera Mera Rishta.’ Single composed by Pakistani band Rox3n.

4) ‘Toh Phir Aao.’ Super-hit track from Rox3n’s 2006 album ‘Rozen-e-deewar.’

Let’s start off with the song Mahiya, Let me tell you right off the bat that Annie’s original is much more entertaining than Pritam’s re-arranged version. For starters, Pritam strips the track of its breezy instrumentation and simplistic style. Suzanne D’Mello’s rendition sounds fine. What makes this song (the original) stand out is Annie’s synergistic use of both English and Hindi which blend immaculately, unlike many forced bi-lingual lyrics we hear in today’s filmi scores. The re-written lyrics by Asif Ali Beig (English) and Sayeed Quadri (Hindi) seem to transcend the simplistic boundaries that the effortless melody had set-up in the original. Although Annie may have seemed a bit casual in her rendition, it is what the song called for, and this is what is missing from Pritam’s re-creation, Suzanne’s re-rendition, and Beig/Quadri’s re-writing.

But don’t worry! Annie’s original (with original rendition and original lyrics) is featured in Awarapan, but re-wrapped by DJ Suketu in his remix. Mahiya, the remix, excels because it harnesses the intended sincerity and authenticity in Annie’s vocals and words. But, it remains a remix, one that lacks in instrumental soul due to its aggresive use of synths and mixing. Final Verdict: A song so rudimentary and fun as Mahiya should be enjoyed in its original and intended form.

Maula Maula is a song that was written by Sufi poet Baba Farid back in the twelfth century. A traditional ode to the Almighty, ‘Maula Maula’ boasts of some passionate vocals from Rafaquat Ali Khan and some very pure and tasteful arrangements from Pritam. Khan’s out-pouring is layered appropriately by the harmonium. During the interludes, the listener is captivated by the Viola, Lead Guitar, and Harmonium, each of which takes their turn romancing the guitar riffs that remain a constant throughout the entirety of this extremely beautiful piece. Final Verdict: A classy and religious piece that serves to enlighten and entertain the select few who are capable of appreciating such an exquisite form song.

Originally composed by the popular Pakistani band, Rox3n, Tera Mera Rishta makes a very appeasing entrance into Awarapan’s soundtrack. Rendered emotionally well by lead singer Mustafa Zahid, Sayeed Quadri writes on a man’s regret of doubting the one he loves. Pritam’s arrangements are up to par, but fail to excel due to the lack of creative intervention. Final Verdict: The heavy Rock influences, coupled with the sensual vocals will keep this piece on your playlist for a some time.

Tera Mera Rishta appears once more as a remix by DJ Suketu. The remix wont find a place with many as its quick pace strips the track of its emotional quality, yet the pace remains too slow to be played at the clubs.

And finally, we reach the grand finale. Toh Phir Aao, arguably Rox3n’s most popular track (and rightfully so), is brilliantly re-created by Pritam. The band’s original is a very breezy, quick paced, rock-influenced piece that is an absolutely treat to listen to. However, Pritam gives it an extreme makeover by taking the invincible melody and the flawless rendition by Mustafa Zahid, and adds his own impeccable arrangements to make this an untouchable track in every which way.

Dim the lights, recline the sofa, lay back, close your eyes, press play, and prepare to be transported into another realm…

The heavenly piece is lit with the caressed play of the piano, which is soon massaged by the sound of deep strings, paving way for a track that could very well be the best this year will hear. Mustafa Zahid’s deep and impassioned rendition sends a shiver through your spine as Sayeed Quadri’s exquisite words kiss his lips. Like a seductress, the piece lures you into a trance…a dimension crafted with musical ingenuity by Pritam, Rox3n, and Sayeed Quadri. Soon, Pritam’s trademark guitar streams rush by the wayside, and just as you glance over, a vintage female chorus strokes through your senses. So you lay reclined, arrested by the melodic power and harmonic beauty of Toh Phir Aao, only to be enthralled by Rock, as the play of the drums and sound of the chimes carry this piece to unimaginable and inescapable heights. But my friends…all good things come to an end. And so to does Toh Phir Aao. Final Verdict: Toh Phir Aao is an absolute revelation, in which two parties (Rox3n and Pritam) come together to form a musical synergy never before seen, heard, or experienced.

In Awarapan, Pritam’s inspiration from Pakistan should not be looked down upon. Rather, it should be appreciated and adored, as he has been able to lawfully collaborate and introduce India to a new dimension of Filmi music. Although Mahiya is the one track that should have been left alone, it, like all the others, is a song worth your time. But it is Rox3n’s Toh Phir Aao and Pritam’s re-creation of it that makes this album special. Go grab this soundtrack while it’s still fresh.

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