Any film bearing the name "Sudhir Mishra" generally means two things: 1) Art-House Cinema at its introspective best, and 2) A melodiously soul-stirring soundtrack. Be it Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi, Chameli, or most recently Khoya Khoya Chand, Sudhir Mishraâ€™s work carries an ethereal touch of elegant beauty rivaled by few in the fraternity. However, with SIKANDAR, Mishra assumes a role that he has assumed sparingly in the past â€“ Producer.
Director Piyush Jha (Chalo America, King of Bollywood) is the man in charge of upholding the tremendous legacy of Mishra â€“ a daunting task nonetheless. The chain of pressure further flows onto the new kids on the block, Music Directors Justin-Uday, who recently composed the very average soundtrack of Hijack. MDs Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Sandesh Shandilya feature as guest composers.
Guest composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy begin the soundtrack with a terrific composition in Dhoop Ke Sikke. It seems like SEL have found impressive comfort in the Rock genre, fresh off one of their most successful scores â€“ ROCK ON!!. Once again, SEL soar through the drumming percussions, rhythmic cymbals, and soulful distortion guitar â€“ adding what seems to be their new signature style. Melodically, SEL compose a soothing balance between soft soul and energized passion. Anushka Maniâ€™s fragile vocal intro and interludes are beautifully addictive! The meshing reaps more returns as Shanka Mahadevanâ€™s sargam interludes liquefy eastern vocals atop purely western beats â€“ musical synergy at its best! To top it all off, Prasoon Joshi brings back memories of his work with SEL in the much underrated soundtrack of Phir Milenge, as his mastery over imagery is only augmented with this uplifting number. Verdict: Let it grow...and you too will realize its feel-good power.
Justin-Uday deliver the best song of their young careers in Gulon Mein (Serene Version). It brings a warm smile to my face to finally see Mohit Chauhan, the man with the golden voice, finally getting his due. Fresh off the massive success of his performance in Rahmanâ€™s Masakalli (Delhi-6), Chauhan returns in extraordinary fashion to croon this heart-warming composition by Justin-Uday. Belonging to the Soft Rock style of music arrangements, Gulon Meinâ€™s musical poetry lies in the harmony of acoustic strums, piano, and strings all paving a colorfully soothing path upon which Chauhan steps with unbelievable ease. Melodically, Justin-Uday prove their worthy distinction, while lyricist Neelesh Mishra continues what heâ€™s been doing for so many years â€“ penning another incredibly beautiful song. Verdict: Gulon Mein will undoubtedly make it into my Top 30 playlist for 2009.
Allah Hoo is a dark composition that has its rare dosage of promising moments. On the whole, the track appears rather stale and monotonous â€“ melodically and musically. Justin-Uday had the right idea of adding a bit of depth to the composition, but fail to add variety in their sound. The song is appropriately rendered by Hrishikesh Kamerkar and Yash Narvekar. Verdict: Allah Hoo doesnâ€™t have much to hold the masses.
It is a lyricistâ€™s dream (and ultimate compliment) when his poetry is turned into two different songs composed by two different composers for one film. Neelesh Mishra is offered the flattery, as his gorgeous words are given a once-over and re-wrapped by guest composer Sandesh Shandilya, who composed the soundtrack of his career for Sudhir Mishraâ€™s Chameli (2003). Unfortunately heâ€™s been wildly inconsistent since. Although Gulon Mein (Upbeat Version) maintains the same Rock flavor as its predecessor, Shandilya completely redefines the mood by heightening the rhythm and creating a much more breezy melody than Justin-Udayâ€™s more emotion-driven composition. Shandilya goes one step further by replacing singer Mohit Chauhan with K.K. and it works like a charm. Verdict: A brilliant reprise by Sandesh Shandilya. Neelesh â€“ Congratulations buddy! This happens once in a blue moon.
Iâ€™ve become a fan of relative newcomer Shilpa Rao, but Iâ€™ve never heard her sound like how she does in the electrifying Manzaraat. A heavily percussion-driven composition Manzaraat is high on attitude, but low on melodic value. Furthermore, Shilpa Rao, although pleasant, has clearly gone away from her strengths as a vocalist. Verdict: Will make for a groovy remix...nothing more.
On the whole, SIKANDAR is worth your time for three songs â€“ SELâ€™s Dhoop ke Sikke, Justin-Udayâ€™s Gulon Mein (Serene Version), and Sandesh Shandilyaâ€™s Gulon Mein (Upbeat Version). The other four tracks are average at best. Unfortunately, these three songs alone will not suffice in upholding Sudhir Mishraâ€™s tremendous track record of high-quality music. Nevertheless, I still recommend you give SIKANDARâ€™s OST a chance since it features a composer duo that has the potential to stick around for some more time.
Aakash Gandhi is Managing Editor and Senior Writer for PlanetBollywood.com. He also freelances for the AVS TV Network at avstv.com.