Dear readers, listen to me! Itâ€™s time for us to unite! Itâ€™s time for us to walk together! Itâ€™s time for us to try to get excited about the soundtrack for Rajkumar Santoshiâ€™s, â€śHalla Bolâ€ť! With this film, Santoshi is trying to get back the audience that he lost with his last film, â€śFamilyâ€ť. 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 â€śGhayalâ€ť and â€śDaminiâ€ť. The one thing that Iâ€™ve noticed throughout these many years is that Santoshi either doesnâ€™t place as much emphasis on music, or doesnâ€™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 Gateâ€™s one memorable song, â€śChamma Chammaâ€ť doesnâ€™t make it a classic). It was with this frame of mind, that I began listening to â€śHalla Bolâ€ť, 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, â€śHalla Bolâ€ť and letâ€™s find out whether this soundtrack is worth a listen or not. For this soundtrack Santoshi has enlisted composer Sukhwinder Singh.
â€śHalla Bolâ€ť 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 Khanâ€™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. Letâ€™s break out the social conscience, prepare to fight for your rights, and get on with this review.
Track one, â€śJab Tak Hai Dumâ€ť gets the patriotic â€śletâ€™s stand up for Hindustanâ€ť 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, â€śHey, come onâ€ť. To which I say, â€śNo, you come onâ€ť! This song is best as a background track that gets your juices flowing, but as a standalone, Iâ€™d say youâ€™d forget it pretty quickly. This one makes me want to break out my dhoti, and start a demonstration while shouting, â€śHalla Bol!â€ť
Track three, â€śIs Pal Ki Sochâ€ť starts out with some vocal grunting followed by a saxophone to hit the listener on the head and shout, â€śTHIS SONG IS SEXYâ€ť! 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. Itâ€™s back! One can almost picture an old Amitabh flick, where the villains in ridiculously long bell-bottoms grin menacingly as they force the â€śinnocentâ€ť 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 itâ€™s not. The song really leaves no lasting impression, other than I felt sort ofâ€¦sleazy. Wash away that dirt and sing it out loud, â€śHalla Bolâ€ť!
Track four, â€śBarsan Lagiâ€ť starts out with the strumming of sitar and the almost hypnotic vocals by Sneha Pant. Itâ€™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 Singhâ€™s vocals. Itâ€™s beautiful and haunting, but doesnâ€™t really bring anything new to the listenerâ€™s ear. Itâ€™s what I call a â€śby the booksâ€ť song, where the classical pattern is not deviated from a bit. Itâ€™s not a bad track, but I highly doubt that youâ€™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, Iâ€™m so mellow now, that perhaps I canâ€™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, â€śHalla Bolâ€ť.
Track five, â€śTheme Musicâ€ť starts out with a muted trumpet, which quickly segues into basically the music from â€śJab Tak Hai Dumâ€ť. Itâ€™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 â€śLaw and Orderâ€ť. Ahem, but I digress my friends. I doubt youâ€™ll be listening to this one too much, as itâ€™s not memorable enough to hit the antiquated rewind button (or in modern terms, â€śthe back buttonâ€ť).
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. Itâ€™s a â€śby the bookâ€ť or â€śby the numbersâ€ť 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 youâ€™ll want to pass on this one. I guess, Iâ€™ll happily walk off into the night, singing to myself, â€śHalla Bolâ€¦.Halla Bolâ€¦..why couldnâ€™t you simply have more SOUL.â€ť