Sometime in 2004, producer Rangita Pritish Nandy and filmmaker Leena Yadav approached composer Sandesh Shandilya to score the music for their then upcoming film ‘Shabd’. Sandesh had earlier worked with Rangita and her father Pritish Nandy on ‘Chameli’ (2003) and had delivered a highly memorable soundtrack for the film. Leena had earlier directed a TV film called ‘Dead End’ (2000) and ‘Shabd’ was going to be her first ‘Bollywood’ venture. Despite being a fairly offbeat film that was to be helmed by a first-time director, the producers had managed to get two prominent stars and a rising star (Zayed Khan) on board for the film.
For some reason, Sandesh could not do the film and composer duo Vishal and Shekhar, who had put together a bunch of interesting songs for two films produced by Pritish Nandy Communications, ‘Jhankaar Beats’ (2003) and ‘Popcorn Khao! Mast Ho Jaao’ were signed in for the film. Irshad Kamil, who had written the songs for ‘Chameli’ (his first release, the first film he worked on being ‘Socha Na Tha’) was brought on board to pen the songs. The novel theme of the film gave the composers and the lyricist to put together an album that was truly inventive by Bollywood standards.
The album opens with “Sholon Si”, which remains the most popular track from the film till date. Back then, it was rare to hear a song in a Bollywood film which had influences of Latin music in it. But then, Vishal and Shekhar were one (or two) of those new-age composers who introduced listeners of Hindi film music to a wide range of genres from across the world through their music. Vishal Dadlani is the male vocalist and his voice sounds quite different from what it does now.
An obvious choice of male vocalist for this song would have been Adnan Sami but perhaps, it is a good thing the duo did not go with the more obvious options. Vishal sounds fabulous and his voice (with reference to what it sounds in this track) has a slight similarity to Ranjit Barot. Sunidhi Chauhan sounds equally good. “Samjho mera joh ishara hai joh bhi hai mera woh tumhara hai, lehar mein koi hoon khoyi manzil toh hai tu kinara hai….” Irshad Kamil writes some simple and highly effective lines that go well with the tune and the situation of the song.
“Khoya Khoya” starts off with some verses recited by Sanjay Dutt. The song, however, does not feature him. The song features Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Zayed Khan. In a very subtle manner, it conveys the feelings Yash (the character played by Zayed) has for Antara (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). Irshad Kamil does a very good at writing lines that convey the emotions of a lovesick young man. Sunidhi lends a certain tenderness to the song with her rendition. Sanjay Dutt’s voice, with him reciting the verses, is heard sporadically throughout the song. Vishal and Shekhar put together a free-flowing tune that you find yourself humming in no time.
Sanjay Dutt, yet again, turns narrator for “Bolo To”, a song which takes unpredictable turns at several junctures. As the song starts, you hear piano, pads and subtle electronically produced sounds playing in the background. At the 1:39 mark, one is pleasantly surprised to hear tabla beats playing in the background for a short while. A very pleasant sounding antara follows and as the song culminates, you feel a strong urge to hit the replay button. Shreya Ghoshal’s voice is heard intermittently throughout the song; she repeats a particular verse a couple of times. Sonu Nigam leads the song with his voice and keeps one thoroughly engaged with his flawless rendition.
“Jism toh bas ek bahaana hai, rooh tak saath-saath jaana hai. Haath jab se hai tere haathon mein, mere haath mein zamaana hai…..” – these lines written by Irshad Kamil and rendered by Sunidhi Chauhan set the tone for “Chahaton Ka Silsila”. Kumar Sanu makes his entry thereafter and brings a certain gravitas to the song with his rendition. This is one of the three times Kumar Sanu has sung for Vishal and Shekhar till date. The other two songs that he has sung for the duo are “Phir Na Kehna” (‘Musafir’) and “Maine Poocha Kudrat Se” (‘Shukriya: Till Death Do Us Apart’).
When one compares it to the songs in the rest of the album, “Chahaton Ka Silsila” has the bearings of a regular Bollywood song. Yet, Vishal and Shekhar add several elements that help it distinguish from any other Hindi film song would have listened to. Irshad Kamil’s poetic lines stay in your mind long after you have finished listening to the song.
As a film, ‘Shabd’ had the beats of an emotional thriller. “Mat Jaa”, sung by Sukhwinder Singh, is a dark and emotionally charged number. Unlike the rest of the songs on the album, it takes a while to grow on you. But, giving the song enough time to grow on your senses is worth it. The rock-laden orchestral arrangement does complete justice to the inherent aggression in the composition, lyrics and the vocals. “Sachha kya hai, jhootha kya hai, uljha hi raha, likhna chahun likh na paaun dil ne jo kaha, dard woh mila shabd ban gaye bhala” the lines written by Irshad Kamil, in a lot of ways, encapsulate the theme of the song.
‘Shabd’ was the first collaboration between Vishal & Shekhar and Irshad Kamil and it was quite a memorable one. They went on to collaborate with each other on many films after this like ‘Karam’, ‘Happy New Year’, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. A couple of songs from ‘Shabd’ did get popular before/during the release of the film but had the film done better, the music would have reached out to a larger number of people. It is an album that has aged very well and should be heard by the fans of the composer duo and the lyricist.