Ranjit Barot is known to be the best drummers to have come out of India. Apart from playing drums fir all the leading composers in India, he has also been a part of the reputed John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension group serves as a testimony to the kind of skills he has as a drummer. Ranjit has also been a prolific music producer and is credited with some of the well-produced albums in the ’90s and 2000s that had music by the likes of A. R. Rahman, Anu Malik and Ismail Darbar, among others. His work as a background score composer, too, has received a lot of recognition.
Ranjit’s work as a composer for original songs in Hindi films, though, has been quite limited. That is quite unfortunate as the albums he put together as a composer have boasted of songs that have been tuneful and inventive in equal measures. The soundtrack for the Pooja Bhatt directed ‘Holiday’ perhaps, is his best work as a composer. The album had seven original tracks, a remixed track and an instrumental piece. The lyrics were written by Neelesh Misra and Mehboob.
The film, which released in the year 2005, featured Dino Morea and debutante Onjolie Nair in principal roles and showcased the journey of a young woman named Muskaan (Nair) who comes to Goa on a holiday and meets a professional dancer Dino (Morea). Muskaan is extremely disturbed because of not doing well academically and keeps feeling miserable despite being on a vacation. A chain of events leads her towards becoming Dino’s dance partner for a show. Despite having no connection with dance in the past, she learns the ropes of it pretty quickly and surprises everybody, including her family, with her confident dance moves in the penultimate moments of the film.
The album opens with “Khwahishon Se”, the best track on the album, which I remember was also the first song to be aired on television back in the day. In many of the songs that he had produced for other composer, Ranjit Barot himself sang some gibberish that seemed to have its roots in African music. It added a nice vocal touch to those songs and it proves to be effective here as well. These portions rendered by Ranjit, which we hear towards the beginning of the song, also give a nice ‘tropical’ vibe to the song.
After Ranjit introduces us to the song through the African gibberish sung in his voice, we hear Kunal Ganjawala’s voice. A while later, Shreya Ghoshal’s voice is heard. While writing about this song, one realizes one can actually write a standalone piece on the distinctive role each of the three vocalists play here. Shreya’s voice is introduced at a high note which also signifies the sense of freedom and liberation the young woman feels in the presence of this young man.
As far as Ranjit’s composition is concerned, one runs out of adjectives while describing how beautiful it is. One of the most beautiful aspects of this particular composition is that it manages to surprise you with the turns it takes at different points. Neelesh Misra does a brilliant job at offering a good glimpse of the dynamics of the relationship shared by the protagonist through his verses. My favourite lines from the song are the ones rendered by Shreya that offer a window into the female protagonist’s mind.
It would be quite fair to say that “Aashiyan” was the most important song in the film. After all, this dance number was used in the climax where a lot of loose ends were tied together. Ranjit Barot’s composition, along with his arrangements, and Mehboob’s lyrics contribute in equal measure towards evoking a sense of ecstasy. Ranjit’s thick, robust voice and Shreya Ghoshal’s saccharine sweet voice complement each other rather well. While listening to this track, you also realize that Ranjit remained largely under-utilized as a singer as well.
After going through a euphoric number like “Aashiyan”, one gets to listen to “Neele Neele” which had a more sober soundscape to it. Vijay Prakash, who was not exposed to most Hindi film music listeners back then, sings this song with Shreya Ghoshal. Both the vocalists do a very good job behind this mic. Ranjit creates a pleasant tune that has a nice sing-along quality to it. “Pairon mein seepi ho, aankhon mein moti, saagar se seekho toh khwahish kya hoti….” – the lines written by Neelesh Misra are, undoubtedly, the highlight of the song.
“Move With My Body” arrives in the film at a time when the female protagonist discovers a whole new world comprising of people who lead a carefree life. Barring the rhythmic arrangements and the stylized rendition by Dominique Cerejo, there is not much to write about here. The song, which features a mix of Hindi and English lyrics, is not the kind that one would feel the urge to revisit after listening to it once.
When I heard “Raqs Kar Le” for the first time seventeen years back, I wondered what is the meaning of ‘raqs’. Much later, I found out ‘raqs’ is an Urdu word for dance. The jazz-based composition by Ranjit Barot would appeal even to those who are not too familiar with this genre of music. “Hai jahaan rangeen zindagi berangi kyon ho, lay pe dhadkanon ki haath mera thaame jhoom lo…” Neelesh Misra leaves a mark with his lyrics yet again. Shaan waltz through this lively composition comfortably and gives a very good account of himself.
Ranjit gets a solo song for himself as a singer with “Tauba”. This is the only song on the album with a melancholic tone to it. The haunting feel in the song comes to the fore effective in Ranjit’s gravitas-laden voice. The song reminds you of the title track of ‘Shaitaan’, another track composed by Ranjit himself which came out six years later in 2011. The verses written by Mehboob add a lot of weight to the song.
The album ends on a high with “Sound of the Future”, a largely instrumental piece with some vocal portions rendered by Dominique Cerejo. Ranjit also chips in with the lines ‘sound of the future’ that are peppered across the song. While Dominique’s vocal rendition stands out, the Latin American soundscape created for this song by Ranjit is also very impressive.
As a film, ‘Holiday’ had a fairly interesting concept but it left a lot to be desired. From a weak script to tacky performances, the film didn’t have much going for it. However, the soundtrack is one for the ages. The music label didn’t do a very good job of promoting the album back then and the box-office failure of the film further dampened its prospects. The album also serves as a sad reminder of the fact Ranjit Barot, as a composer, was nut utilized properly by the Hindi film industry.