A.R.Rahman, Gulzar, Shahrukh Khan and Yash Chopra..With such big names one expect "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" to be an extravagant and lavish affair with firecrackers all around in tandem with a solid recall value and a long shelf life. Yash Chopra always has been associated with easy-on-ears melodious, mushy tracks with just the right amount of sugar leaving very little space of innovation, vice-a-versa; Mr.ARR has his own style of music that takes a few listening to grow and is filled with innovations, something that one doesn't hear very often and on top of that when a genius like Gulzar sahab stands head-to-head with two more genius (read A.R.Rahman and Yash Chopra), one anxiously wait for a roller-coaster ride! Well, with six originals, a reprise and instrumental each along with the much-hyped poem, let's dive deep into the world of three magicians!
Stylish guitar riffs (Keba Jeremiah) and dynamic drums (Ranjit Barot) at the very onset (especially from 00:12 to 00:27) of "Challa" takes one back to 'Rockstar' (2011); one of the finest Rahman soundtracks in the last decade, but as soon as Rabbi Shergil makes his entry, the song slightly falls in the territory of Rabbi's hit number 'Bulla Ki Jaana'. Nevertheless, the Punjabi lyrics majestically defines the cheerful and unconstrained state of mind of the protagonist where he has just fallen in love, for non-punjabi listener, the lyrics are hard to understand, google it to enjoy the artistic work by Gulzar. Give it a few hearings and let the combination of Rahman-Rabbi-Gulzar grow in your head and once it does, the composition will be hard to resist! Fantastic Start albeit not a trademark ARR start!
The next track "Saans" disappoints in first few hearings due to the traditional melody and heard-before feel template of previous Rahman tunes. The whole track has a haunting orchestra with lots of percussions being used, the flute renditions at the start and in the interludes (both of which are heavily arranged) are worth noticing. Shreya Ghoshal does considerably well but nothing groundbreaking stuff, same goes with Mohit Chauhan who seems a bit of odd choice for such a traditional (wanna be) melodious track. Gulzar disappoints in the writing department, honestly. Moreover, the video with Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif seems to be a bit odd as neither it ignites the sexual desires nor does it evokes a sad feeling, rather falls somewhere between both these two scales. As a result, it's an average sounding track which doesn't suits the situation on which it is being picturised (as per the promo's), may look good onscreen along the narration of the movie, but nothing more than that! "Saans (Reprise)" is composed keeping in mind a heartbreak situation with the solo vocals of Shreya Ghoshal, nothing special that deserves a mention here.
ARR and Gulzar makes their presence felt with "Ishq Shava" that is more inclined towards a Rahman tune with lots of experimentations with the instruments. Raghav Mathur has a slight touch of Benny Dayal in his dictions and does a good job whereas Shilpa Rao is magnificent with her vocals and will perfectly suit Katrina Kaif. A dance number with heavy orchestra (remember 'Hawa Hawa' from 'Rockstar') that will get popular with time and will create havoc once the video is out with the sizzling chemistry between Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif. Surely, one of the highlights of the movie (and soundtrack too); notice how eminently the bass guitar has been used in the background alongside some fascinating Jugalbandi in the second interlude. Slow Poison! A Rahman soundtrack is incomplete without an instrumental.."Ishq Dance" starts off well, one minute into it and the memories of 'The Dance of Envy' (Dil To Pagal Hai) hits the listeners, one minute more, some chorus joins in and one gets an instant urge to press the Skip/Next button. An average instrumental, not by any means close to any of ARR instrumentals, nevertheless it will be interesting to watch how it's being used in the movie.
The guitar strums and Neeti Mohan's carefree high pitched vocals gets your feet moving and one gets ready for another ARR stunner which has the power to blow one's mind and heart. "Jiya Re" is instantly catchy, hummable, aptly written and one that will mark a perfect introductory song for Anushka Sharma aka Akira in the movie (name that is heard quite a few times in the song). The whole five minutes keeps you hooked and there is never a dull moment in the composition, both the interludes are soul-stirring with amazing guitar strums, keyboard and percussions..My god..Finally we get to hear what we associate with a Rahman soundtrack. As for the vocals, we have only heard the whispering vocals of Neeti Mohan in 'Ishq Wala Love' from 'Student Of The Year' (as far as Bollywood is concerned) recently, but here, she blasts a dynamite with her spirited singing, don't miss the high pitch notes. Chartbuster in the making, wait for the video to unleash craziness!
An old school melody awaits the listeners in the title song "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" which seems to be a bit outdated with average lyrics that disappoints with a name like Gulzar at the helm of affairs. Rahman's favourite Javed Ali fails to create the same magic as in 'Jashn-E-Bahara' (Jodha Akbar), the dholak beats later on explains the impact of Yash Chopra had over Rahman where the song completely goes traditional with a dÃ©jÃ -vu feeling. Certainly it's a pleasant easy-on-ears romantic composition, but where is the creativity Rahman is known for; I mean there are numerous songs that we have heard before with the same template feel that this song offers. Shaktrishree Gopalan does add that extra bit of spark later in the song with her vocals but to no avail. A song that will have a very limited shelf life, on the other hand, it will be liked instantly by those hunting for old-school traditional melodies but would fade out soon with multiple hearings. Let's see if the video does the damage control!
Last to arrive is the much hyped "Jab Tak Hai Jaan - The Poem" which has the some gripping acoustic and electric guitars in the background with some powerful renditions by the king himself Shahrukh Khan. No doubt Gulzar at lasts does what he does best; write some absorbing, captivating and thought-provoking poetry that remains the highlight of the soundtrack. Don't miss this one!
"Jab Tak Hai Jaan" is not by any means close to A.R.Rahman and Gulzar previous outings, not by any means close to what destruction a combination of these two geniuses can bring with their talent. The 'WoW' factor is clearly missing which one associates with a Rahman and Gulzar ost; moreover the banner of Yash Chopra is known to produce hit soundtracks with a long shelf life. Not that the soundtrack is bad by any means, it's just the anxious expectations of the listeners that scores negative points, as the homogonous expectations weren't met where the innovation was completely missing. The traditional and dÃ©jÃ -vu template is not what one expects from Rahman. Nevertheless, 'Challa'; 'Ishq Shava' and 'Jiya Re' are bound to receive positive response as the movie nears its release and the aggressive promotions start. Else, it's just an average soundtrack with few good songs here and there!