Whenever picking up a soundtrack produced by the Bhatt camp, you're willing to put your money on it that the music will be worthwhile. Vishesh Films' positive track record with its music is all the more appeasing when you realize that they are able to extract A grade sounds from a plethora of different composers (i.e. Nadeem-Shravan [RAAZ], Anu Malik [SAAYA, MURDER, INTEHA], Roop Kumar Rathod [ZEHER], Gohar Mumtaz and Rohail Hyat [KALYUG], M.M. Kreem [DHOKA], and Lalit Pandit [Showbiz]). But the one composer who seems to have won their highest of respect and trust is the same man who has been ruling the charts for the past couple of years - Pritam Chakraborty.
Pritam has scored for Vishesh Films on three different occasions [GANGSTER, WOH LAMHE, and AWARAPAN], and the final products have all been outstanding. But we must not forget that both Gangster and Woh Lamhe were produced illegally. While Pritam stole three of the five songs in Gangster, he failed to give credit to the original sources of all four of his contributions in Woh Lamhe. It was after his high profile plagiarism scandal in Gangster's 'Ya Ali' that Pritam has been sporadically citing his sources (but still not all the time!). Awarapan once again saw Pritam fail to provide any original songs; but at least this time we were notified of the true sources.
"...my songs in Mukesh Bhatt's forthcoming film, Jannat, which I had claimed were completely original are no longer so. Some parts of the soundtrack now have borrowed sounds." - Pritam Chakraborty
So it's quite evident why I, and fellow music aficionados, pick up any Pritam soundtrack with extreme caution. Innocent until proven guilty - I'm not saying to be outright cynical and assume his work is not his own, but try to maintain a healthy skepticism... 2008 has been no different as Pritam has shamelessly lifted the popular track 'Pehli Nazar Mein' (RACE) with no credit and 'Jaane Kyon' (BHRAM) which was properly cited only after the initial launch CD was released. But much to my chagrin, I'm here to tell you that JANNAT too has been partially composed with tainted originality...
Zara Sa (Power Ballad) is another fine reprise of track #1. I thank Pritam from the depths of my music-loving heart for giving us a fresh set of arrangements and not conveniently dishing the song to some DJ to remix. This version does away with the flowing pop ballad heard in its predecessor and showcases Pritam's love for soft rock (a genre that appears on several occasions throughout Jannat's soundtrack). A tremendous play of the guitar should be given immense credit, as it puts on an instrumental performance that rivals that of K.K.'s, who is phenomenal yet again. Verdict: I like this version more thanks to the passion and energy that Pritam weaves into this set of soft-rock arrangements. Gorgeous!
Yet again Pritam ejects a very familiar sounding song entitled Haan Tu Hain, which has a 90s/Nadeem-Shravan/Nikhil-Vinay hang-over. The track sounds like it's from the twilight zone as we have a very nostalgic melody, heavy dhol-based beats from the 90s, and Pritam's trendy instrumental and melodic injections all cleverly wrapped up into one piece. Without question, K.K. outshines the other performers with his timely and passionate outbursts of "Haan Tu Hai Haan Tu Hai..." Verdict: Belonging to the same genre as Zara Sa, this clearly pales in comparison. However, those who are looking for a nice mix between '90s and '00s or Nadeem-Shravan and Pritam style filmi music will find this one appealing. Musical revelation in the form of Door Na Ja makes a truly spectacular entrance and single-handedly raises standards three-fold! If in fact this is Pritam's own composition, then the man gets my standing ovation. This song is the epitome of what the phrase "hauntingly beautiful" defines. The piece is timidly lit with the one-two-three play of a 12-string guitar, which fluidly co-mingles with an orchestral violin. The musical foreplay decorates a magnificent stage for the sensational vocalist, Rana Mazumder - a diamond in the rough! This is the little-known singer who gave an award-worthy rendition in Hattrick's "I'm Coming Home Again." He takes command of Pritam's eerily poetic melody and grabs a hold of your every sense for a full 5:51.
The piece is soon jolted vibrantly by deeply-rooted rock inspired elements to create a stunning auditory rendezvous. But if there was one thing in this exceptional composition that matches the brilliance of Rana's vocals, it's the guitarist, who puts on a dazzling show with the lead guitar. You have to hear it to believe it! Midway through, Pritam takes us back into the soft rock aura with the 12-string guitar and orchestral violin, only to give us the privilege of reliving the breathtaking crescendo of rock, lead guitar, and Rana Mazumder. Of course we cannot leave out Sayeed Quadri, who's lyrical ingenuity provides Pritam's composition with not only the musical trinity, but also with a three-dimensional musical image. Verdict: If Nirvana were to ever take form in song, this is it.
We close out the soundtrack of JANNAT in sensational form with Judai - written, sung, and composed by Pakistani singer Kamran Ahmed. It's easy to say that the greatest strength of the song is Ahmed's simple and catchy melody, which pleasantly remains constant throughout, with slight melodic variants in the stanza. And we all know that Pritam's strength is to take existing compositions and spiff them up with his signature touches. That's exactly what he does here, as he quite attractively jazzes the arrangements up from a more hip-hop acoustic rhythm in Ahmed's original into a more peppy/foot-tapping rhythm in his re-creation. It's kind of like the original on steroids if you will. Kamran Ahmed, who has his debut album, Judai, in production, will have a fantastic future with his vocal skills. The guitar riffs that appear between lines are pure gold! They seem to echo the melody with grace and attitude. Ahmed's lyrics aren't anything we haven't heard before, but still fit the mood perfectly. Verdict: With the breezy/feel-good composition, you almost forget that the song is a longing ode to painful separation. I love it!
Richa Sharma comes in for the female version - Lambi Judai. I don't think Pritam could have chosen a better singer to render this emotional melting pot of a song! This version is basically the exact same composition, just with the renditions transposed. However, Richa's emotionally balanced vocals give the song a whole new feel! Verdict: No better no worse, each version hits the spot...just not the same spot!
These two versions of Judai have been crafted so flawlessly (originally by Kamran Ahmed and then re-wrapped by Pritam) that tampering of any kind will surely spoil the soul-stirring effects. Judai (Kilogram Mix) by DJ K&G does try and tamper with these gems; needless to say, the result is highly inferior. However, if you're looking for some real heavy beats to groove to on the dance floor, then this may serve your purpose. I'd still pick the originals any day though...
My goodness, Pritam does it yet again. The man is a masterful arranger and at times a very crafty and beautiful composer (by "at times" I obviously mean when he composes his own melody). Without doubt, the two best songs are Kamran Ahmed's Judai and Pritam's Door Na Ja, with tons of credit to singer Rana Mazumder (Door Na Ja) and K.K. (Zara Sa). Zara Sa (Power Ballad) would comes in a close third.
It is now four in a row for the Bhatt-Pritam partnership. Regardless of originality, their products seem to always warrant high marks, with JANNAT being no exception. And as familiar as songs like Zara Sa and Haan Tu Hai may sound, Pritam is innocent until proven guilty. I don't know how you do it, but you do it so well! Congratulations to the entire team of JANNAT. If the soundtrack is any indication, then you're well on your way to another successful endeavor.
Aakash Gandhi is Managing Editor and Senior Writer for PlanetBollywood.com. He also freelances with the Asian Variety Show at avstv.com.