Planet Bollywood
Halla Bol
Producer: Samee Siddiqui
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Vidya Balan and Pankaj Kapoor
Music: Sukhwinder Singh
Lyrics: Mehboob Kotwal
Singers: Harsh Deep, Sneha Pant, Sukhwinder Singh
Audio On: T-Series    Number of Songs: 5
Album Released on: December 2007
Reviewed by: Samir Dave  - Rating: 6.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 listeners)
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Dear readers, listen to me! It’s time for us to unite! It’s time for us to walk together! It’s time for us to try to get excited about the soundtrack for Rajkumar Santoshi’s, “Halla Bol”! With this film, Santoshi is trying to get back the audience that he lost with his last film, “Family”. The director is known for his hard hitting emotional movies that deal with topical subjects and he has succeeded in the past with films of the caliber of “Ghayal” and “Damini”. The one thing that I’ve noticed throughout these many years is that Santoshi either doesn’t place as much emphasis on music, or doesn’t have a very good ear for music. The soundtracks for most of his films have been ok, but I doubt anyone would go so far as saying that any of them are classics (and no, China Gate’s one memorable song, “Chamma Chamma” doesn’t make it a classic). It was with this frame of mind, that I began listening to “Halla Bol”, thinking that perhaps this time, we would have a classic on our hands. Unite dear readers! Wave your hands in the air! Come on and shout, “Halla Bol” and let’s find out whether this soundtrack is worth a listen or not. For this soundtrack Santoshi has enlisted composer Sukhwinder Singh.

“Halla Bol” stars Ajay Devgan in a story that focuses on the trials and tribulations of a man who yearns to be a Bollywood superstar, finally hitting it big by becoming the idol of millions as Sameer Khan. Eventually superstardom corrupts his every action until he is forcibly awakened and moved by a social crisis. Vidya Balan co-stars alongside Devgan as Sameer Khan’s noble wife who tries to deal with the monster her superstar husband has become.

With a powerful story that serves as a critique of superstardom and social relevance, you would think the soundtrack would be as strong as the concept of the movie. Let’s break out the social conscience, prepare to fight for your rights, and get on with this review.

Track one, “Jab Tak Hai Dum” gets the patriotic “let’s stand up for Hindustan” treatment. One can almost picture a crowd of people screaming out the refrain as they walk down the street. The music supports that patriotic sound, and one can almost feel a bit more socially conscious by the end of the track. I draw the line when the female chorus shouts, “Hey, come on”. To which I say, “No, you come on”! This song is best as a background track that gets your juices flowing, but as a standalone, I’d say you’d forget it pretty quickly. This one makes me want to break out my dhoti, and start a demonstration while shouting, “Halla Bol!”

Track two, Shabad Gurbani” is basically a bhajan. It follows the classic sitar and tabla musical combo, with the harmonium backing up the two central instruments. It’s a solid bhajan, sung masterfully by Sukhwinder Singh, and perhaps works best as background music. I highly doubt it has any real repeat value, unless you want to play it during the morning to feel that religious glow. Grab your manjeera and sing to the heavens, “Halla Bol”.

Track three, “Is Pal Ki Soch” starts out with some vocal grunting followed by a saxophone to hit the listener on the head and shout, “THIS SONG IS SEXY”! The vocals are by Punjabi vocalist Harsh Deep. She sings in a cabaret style, with a heavy breathing husky voice that brings me back to the seventies. It’s back! One can almost picture an old Amitabh flick, where the villains in ridiculously long bell-bottoms grin menacingly as they force the “innocent” heroine to dance. The music in this track seems like it was produced from outdated synths. From the drum programming, to the keyboards, I wish I could say this was a blast from the past, but it’s not. The song really leaves no lasting impression, other than I felt sort of…sleazy. Wash away that dirt and sing it out loud, “Halla Bol”!

Track four, “Barsan Lagi” starts out with the strumming of sitar and the almost hypnotic vocals by Sneha Pant. It’s strongly based on a classical raag, and as such follows that pattern that has been handed down over the generations. It has a beautiful yet very familiar refrain that is delicately backed up by Sukhwinder Singh’s vocals. It’s beautiful and haunting, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the listener’s ear. It’s what I call a “by the books” song, where the classical pattern is not deviated from a bit. It’s not a bad track, but I highly doubt that you’ll hear this one on MTV India, which is probably best. I shudder to think what a remix would sound like for this track and thankfully there are none on the album. All I can say is that the track makes me think of watching the sunset somewhere in rural India. Why, I’m so mellow now, that perhaps I can’t go on with this review! Dear reader, I will carry on, just for you. This track makes me want to strum my sitar and chill out, while whispering, “Halla Bol”.

Track five, “Theme Music” starts out with a muted trumpet, which quickly segues into basically the music from “Jab Tak Hai Dum”. It’s a nice instrumental that I am sure will work well in the movie as a montage framing device. I like it because it makes me feel like putting on my dark overcoat, dark glasses, and feel like a detective on “Law and Order”. Ahem, but I digress my friends. I doubt you’ll be listening to this one too much, as it’s not memorable enough to hit the antiquated rewind button (or in modern terms, “the back button”).

We end this soundtrack with a whimper instead of a bang, and are left with the feeling that we should have been more soulfully roused by it. Santoshi seemingly has a very strong dramatic screenplay, yet the music fails to convey the intensity of the movie. It also fails to really grab the listener in any way. It’s a “by the book” or “by the numbers” album that rehashes older melodies, and seems to revel in its commonness (which includes the lyrics). I really believe that Sukhwinder Singh is capable of better than this. I think that you’ll want to pass on this one. I guess, I’ll happily walk off into the night, singing to myself, “Halla Bol….Halla Bol…..why couldn’t you simply have more SOUL.”

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