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Producer & Director: Subhash Ghai
Music: Nadeem-Shravan
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Contributed by Mohammad Ali Ikram

"The music for Pardes is Nadeem-Shravan's best ever."

"Subhash Ghai gave Nadeem-Shravan each a new car, on top of their normal remuneration for Pardes, because he was so happy with their music."

We've been hearing these stories for months on end now. And frankly my expectations of the songs from this new Subhash Ghai film were sky high by the time the audio released.

At first listening, I was put off by the mediocrity of the music. It seemed as if Nadeem-Shravan had simply created an album of songs aping the music styles of all their competitors, from Laxmikant-Pyarelal to A.R. Rahman to Anu Malik. Not a very wise idea for a twosome who contend that they are the uncontested top music directors in the film world. Nadeemsaab, why would you want to copy A.R. Rahman's signature usage of soul-stirring flute rhythms and background vocalists, when you think that his music is nothing but a bunch of ad jingles? (Learn to be appreciative of your peers, Mr. Over-inflated Ego.)

After my anger subsided towards the musical duo, I relistened to the tunes, hoping that they would at least be of Mukta Arts standards. Disappointment again. There is very little opulence in this score. Where is the heavy, but mesmerizing orchestration we expect from a Subhash Ghai soundtrack? Sure, Mr. Ghai will give the songs a great look in the film, but the songs should have some great musical passages (like Ghai's previous film scores) for us to constantly rewind while we wait for the release of the movie. (In all honesty, I think Ghai has tentatively timed the movie's release as August 8 because he himself is not overly impressed with the music. He might be hoping that after seeing the videos for the songs, a la Hum Aapke Hain Koun, the cassette sales will jump through the roof.)

There is one song that I did find to be Ghai-ish in style. To be completely fair, I went bonkers about "Jahan Piya Wahan Main". A story of a woman so blinded by love that she leaves everyone/everything behind to be with her love on foreign shores: now that is my dream woman. Though not instantly endearing to my family, I found the song to be almost as good as Karma's "Maine Rab Se Tujeh Mang Liya". Chitra's vocals are divine, and the background singing by Shankar Mahadevan, and the chorus of ladies and kids were perfect. Listen carefully to the lyrics, and you'll understand my point.

Back to the rest of the album. I have been listening to these songs quite a few times over the past week and I am beginning to like them, albeit pretty slowly.

"Diwana Dil" is the second best song in the soundtrack. Very fast and Rahman-ish this song is more commendable for Shankar Mahadevan and Hema Sardesai's background vocals, than lead singer Sonu Nigam. Ghai should have gotten Mahadevan to sing the lead instead, because he is far more talented than Nigam. (It is a crime that Mahadevan's earlier major songs, "Main Hi Main" in Daraar and "Mere Dil Ne Tere Dil Se" in Loafer were not included in the films. Both songs were among my favourites for this decade, and they merit a thousand repeated listenings.)

The Kumar Sanu sung, Anu Malik-esque "Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain" and "Meri Mehbooba" (a duet with Alka Yagnik) are fairly good songs, but certainly not unforgettable. The fault is not with the music this time, but Kumar Sanu's singing. Is this man out of practise, or does he no longer care to put in effort into his songs? Sanu's pronunciation of words like "Chuppke" is worse than mine. (And the "Oh Bloody, Oh Blooda" refrain in the second song only serves to increase the likedness to Anu Malik's style. The line, though filched from English sources, was used by Malik in Vijaypath's "Ladke Aaj Ke Ladke".)

"Nahi Hona Tha" is a qawalli sung by Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and the Sabri Brothers. It will endear itself to you slowly, but steadily.

Hema Sardesai, who was last heard singing "Awaara Bhanwara" in Sapnay, now returns for "My First Day in the USA" completely in English. The music's resemblance to Rahman tunes is simply too much. (By the way, were Nadeem-Shravan given A.R. Rahman's uncompleted Shikhar songs to listen to before they started work on this album? I wouldn't be surprised.)

"I Love India" by Kavita Krishnamurthy, Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan, Aditya Narayan and chorus, is a nice patriotic song. But nowhere in the league of the fun "East or West India is the Best" from Judwaa or the serious "Hindustan Hindustan" from Border. (Yes, even a Pakistani can like an Indian patriotic song.)

And finally, the Title Music from Pardes is simply ripped off of the background score album for Bandit Queen by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I couldn't make out the difference at all because the vocals by Sapna Awasthi are too muffled to determine if at least the words are different between the two pieces of music.

Okay, now don't panic. I'm not saying that Pardes is a bad album. Highly influenced from other sources, and lacking in originality, yes. Bad album, no no. You can be sure veteran Anand Bakshi's lyrics are consistently above average for Pardes. Even if you don't love the songs right now, rest assured that the videos in the film, will make you love (or at least like) them later.

My intent with this review was to inform Nadeem Shravan, and their devoted fans, that they are just as much plagiarists as their contemporaries on the music scene. Hell, how many times can you come up with a completely original song. Everyone is inspired sooner or later in life to emulate the work one appreciates of another person. Next time you hear Nadeem Shravan claim that they are complete originals and that everyone pales in comparison to them, you can also be sure that they are lying.

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