Friday, March 05, 2004

main hoon na {aka: greedy postmodernism}

Choreographer Farah Khan makes her directorial début with Main Hoon Na. And once again, in keeping with the ugly trend of late to cash in the late R D Burman, Farah Khan goes public about how much of an RD fan she is (truly speaking: most of us are, which makes this a truism!). She chooses Anu Malik to dig up the bones of the dead Pancham and serve up a plagiara milkshake (the official line: to lend a nostalgic touch of Burman's vintage tunes to the music of the film). Truth be told, I'd have been happier if they had taken the older tunes and cleaned up the audio and used them on screen. A lot of Pancham numbers have been ruined on screen, and FK and Co. (including the intolerable SRK) could have pulled off a dance video miracle. Although I hope this film flops (I'm sick of well-made mushy marsh mellows. They make me look forward to a diet of films about the Bengal famine, just for a jolt of reality), I can sense its success already. Sucks.

Which brings us to the music itself. If FK had exercised more educated judgement (not market-driven, not emotional, not dumb), I would think she would have done better by opting for Vishal-Shekhar or Vishal Bhardwaj. These people have demonstrated the ability to uphold the legacy of the late Pancham, without repainting his bones for romantic voodoo (something that the talented Jatin-Lalit have done, thus disqualifying them from any kind consideration). Yet, she chooses Shri Malik, whose only merit is his ability to shamelessly lift droves of tunes from a variety of predictable sources and sandwich them between smelly paavs and sell them in a five-star Thelaa. The inappropriateness of the choice is evident in the choice of the title song by Sonu Nigam (yuck!) and Shreya Ghoshal. What this sounds like most is like the "music of Pancham" as redefined by Jatin-Lalit. The whistle is cool, everything else sounds like "vintage Anu Malik", "vintage Jatin Lalit", "vintage Shah Rukh Khan song", "vintage Sonu Nigam song". NOT "vintage R D Burman". Failure at the first leg. Not a good sign. The Sonu plague continues into the next song tum se mil ke dil kaa joo haal. Aftab and Hasim Sabri cannot help this tune strong on the déjà vu. Disgusting. Something that was added to meet the "we need a peppy dance number" requirement. This also probably fulfills Shri Malik's dying desire to trump Rahman in the qawaali department. Vishal's tu mere ruubaruu from Maqbool notwithstanding, Rahman is assured no competition whatsoever. This is dismal fare. Given that RDB was great at qawwaliis himself, and this soundtrack was aiming for a "vintage R D Burman" sound, we must chalk up another failure. Probably not worth noting that the male chorus sounds like something from mujhe tuune in MSAMD. tumhe jo mai.nne dekhaa opens with Malik revisiting Latin territory (see also: the Gypsy King ripoffs for Josh). There's a rock n' roll packaging to the whole undertaking, but we still don't cross over from Malik land to any of the intended musical "vintages". But I must note a few Pancham fragments that pop up here (most noticeably in the coda, while the rest languish in the less noticeable portions drowned by heavy synthesizer programming). gorii gorii is irritating. There's the fervour last seen in tum se milii nazar from MMBCH, but that one was a clear winner. Anu Malik steps up once again to try and convince us that he can sing. The only song he ever did tolerably was ##Julie Julie##. Everything else is miserably aurally painful. And why does Malik think it's cool to quote his own sub-standard work elsewhere on this album? And why is the infinitely more capable Kay Kay relegated to screaming dance hall encouragements and choruses, only to surface for the a.ntaraas? Sunidhi Chauhan is wasted. This song is a waste. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted. chale.n jaise hawaa_e.N is bearable until you hear the singer for the first time. Vasundhara Das doesn't even make much muster. Did Javed Akhtar really write all this crap (including the clichéd onomatopoeiac infestation in this song) so far? And there are countless quotes (nay lifts) from all over the other-sphere. Tell me you couldn't spot the lift from Michael Jackson's Bad in the chorus. At this point I must record the sense of a "vintage Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy" as well -- perhaps in keeping with their induction into the SRK camp with Kal Ho Naa Ho. Up next is the fulfillment of the "sad version of a song" requirement. The aa-aa drenched Daf-sad violin accompanied pathos-soaked voice of a well-paid Abhijeet gives us the weepy version of the depressing title song. ye fizaa_e.N features more guitar runs, processed voices, and the classic Malik/SRK beat (ref: Duplicate). And Ranjit Barot steps in to take us back to the title song, but he layers it with segments of Remo-esque rap, and a heavy beat track. Despite the general lack of taste, the number actually scores (for me) over the unmixed Malik creation.

Ripoff raajaa Malik has been known to comment once Why can't we be original? Why should people pay money to listen to poor music? The pop element and the obsession with sound and technology is a passing phase.

The only RDB touch seems to have been having veteran vamp and co-star Bindu (the famous pyaar se log mujhe shabbo kahate hai.n comes to mind) to release the music of the film.

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