Wednesday, September 22, 2004

bore bharaa veer-zaraa

veer-zaraa's music sucks - puke, puke, puke everywhere. is the email that hits my inbox. This is the first reaction I have seen to the soundtrack to Yash Chopra's new money-making Diwali release for 2004. The rediff review notes that the soundtrack is in "a class of its own!" (read: shelve separately, preferrably in a dark rancid corner). Just to recap: this is the soundtrack that cleverly takes the music-unfriendly money-hungry "creative" antics of HMV to the next level. The tracks are all tunes unused by the legend called Madan Mohan. Read the YRJ page dedicated to providing all the candy flush possible for this "special" 2 CD release, and, if you've been an ardent observer of the potty fodder classified as the "Revival" series (another attempt at remixing that attempted to call itself high-art), you'll see several familiar names. The most important name would be that of Madan Mohan's son Sanjeev Kohli (who, while at HMV, has been associated with some of the most murderous butchery and mockery of musical works ever seen). Given the ill-effects of MM's habits and lifestyle on his family, I would be tempted to see this as a subconscious exorcism of resentment on SK's part rather than a tribute. But then, that's an extreme view. Truth be told, there clearly is some awe for the genius of his father in him. However, his activities while at RPG/HMV/SaReGaMa are a strong indication of his musical loyalties. Now as the CEO of YRF (what could be worse, you tell me), SK gets a plum opportunity to deliver to the hapless Chopra fans (NRIs, North Indians, people who love mush-fests set against vistas of flaming sarson fields, people nursing soft-focus nostalgic visions of their motherland etc etc).

But I digress. As always. Armed with this mixed bags of reviews, I decided to sample the songs. A pointless exercise I must say. Remember quite a few years ago, if you happened to go to one of those "high-class" (well medium-high-class) fancy restaurants for dinner (hopefully someone else was paying!). Well, now remember the kind of soft strings-heavy melodies that wafted out as muzak? Well, this whole album has that vibe. Not to mention the ageless zombie-nightingale (who turns 75 on the 28th of September) Lata Mangeshkar (whose continued desire to keep singing and letting lose one capillary cannon-load of frequency missiles after another has forced me to lose respect for her immaculate singing abilities). And the usual bag of people I'd like to see marooned on a desert island (Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam). There's nary a trace of genius here. Everything sounds and feels lukewarm (aka: taken out of the fridge and left out too long to thaw). Like cold Maggi noodles.

An RMIM thread has more pearls of commentary including the inevitable "perhaps there was a reason these tunes were unused" and the magnificent dig "viir zardaa" (remember baba zarda?). Several Pancham fans have been excited at this venture, and hope that other people will take the lead and bring some of his numerous unused tunes to the general public. I think that's a great idea. But do it like Gulzar's tribute albums ... Leave the stuff in its original form. Bleargh! I wish I could sue for musical harrassment.

coda: hey, VZ is not as bad as I initially thought, half the problem was with the tape that i bought, [censored] fake! was the followup to the initial load of vitriol. This scares me. What if this soundtrack "grows" on you like ARR's soundtracks?

Another fawning review discusses the second CD (which features extracts from MM's original raw cuts of the songs) and notes This is the first time that we are actually made a part of the creative process in a movie soundtrack...Film music cannot get any more intimate and resplendent. Boo. Ever heard of the two Gulzar/Pancham tributes? Those had better packaging and quality too. Why? Because they didn't get some aging icon to shatter glass and render some gunk like this.

post-coda: On Friday, September 24, I joined a bunch of friends for dinner at Zyka, a local eatery that combines the fast-food/self-service ethic with a menu of familiars. And the muzak for the evening after the Main Hoon Na soundtrack was Veer-Zaara. And my reactions justified every ounce of bile I had dedicated to this album. If this is the future, it's time that nostalgia became cool again.

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