Tuesday, August 16, 2005

hello ... goodbye

salaam namaste boasts a Wikipedia entry thanks to either the marketing department of YashRaj Films (what? net-savvy??) or some over-enthusiastic fan (dude/dudette! Spoiler warning??? are you frigging kidding me?). The only plus so far is that the title is already iTrans-friendly. It's another entry in the burgeoning genre of the chick flick of and for South Bombay/NRI yuppies. Lotsa oh-so-cool and blah. There's the legacy of Hum Tum (the foreign locales, the cool edge to the love dredge, the hate-and-uncertainty-turning-to-love, the old bits and pieces of the ages recycled) as well as Kal Ho Naa Ho (take this all to a foreign land, preferrably one that offers a friendly market). If you're keen on more story details, try these character sketches.

The soundtrack is the first offering. Obviously, the label's Yash Raj Music. Although the website notes that the price of the CD is $4.99, they also note that shipping costs are extra. If you are even thinking of purchasing a copy for yourself (or for your grandchildren to remember you by), this might still be a good place to grab it. Desi grocery stores are likely to hike the price up close to $10.

On with the mu[sic] itself. A trend to note in the arrangements is the collection of North Indian oye-dance-baby elements, since this is after a Yash Raj product. It has to appeal to the North belt. Vishal Shekhar are roped in this time to produce another peppy soundtrack (based on their recent work, that is). The obligatory club mixes exist (mastered by the usual culprits DJ Aqeel and Nikhil Chinnappa; and there's also Naved -- brother of Javed?). Backgroundsmen Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, who went live with mainstream music composition with Kaal are around for the arrangements. This, IMHO, is a big failing. The title song starts off with a strong hangover from those days. The samples also sound suspiciously like picks off a Kunal Kohli wishlist. Jaideep Sahni (who already has quite a few screenplay, dialogue and lyric credits under his belt) seems to have submitted all his lyrical drafts over email in one evening. Do not (I repeat Do not (I repeat Do not)) expect lyrical depth of any kind beyond the thickness of an earthworm's cuticle. Kunal Ganjawala and Vasundhara Das are the officially named voices on this mix of aahaa-chorus, Dhol samples, and enough lures for specious minds. The Shaan song that comes up next runs on a riff that sounds like a time-sampled leftover of the first song. And when he gets to the chorus (##my## dil goes ##mmm##), you have to go and find your copy of the Crash Test Dummies song. At least that one was entertaining. Gayatri Iyer does it by the numbers. Lyrical snippets include haa.N ##picture## me.n rotaa hai; haa.N khulle[sic]mu.Nh sotaa hai. And the patentable spoon-and-glass effect courtesy the late R D Burman and appropriated by Jatin-Lalit shows up. If you want something challenging to do while listening to these songs, try exercising your ability to complete each line. And just when you thought it was over, there's a scale change at the end, which doesn't quite work. Ugly. Go listen to one of those unending Rolling Stones songs instead. Aah, a whistle at the end against a soundscape that owes a lot to Vishal Bhardwaj.

Break time. Go find a tissue or a number to call back and try and get a CD exchange ... or kill that roach running around on the floor ...

Silly riff on the next number, with a deep voice intoning Cool. There's a mrida.ngam sample. And then after a perfunctory happy chorus Kunal Ganjawala steps up to the mike with the lyrical winner paune baarah baje dono.n ghar se chale ... ##what's goin' on##. Sunidhi Chauhan joins him on the quest for something to do. Quit already. Despite a nice job from both of them (although they've done all this a million times before), there ain't much about this dud (except a nice complementary progression on the turnaround to the chorus). Clap away near the end and hit FF.

Up next is the most bearable number on the album, and also the slowest. Sonu Nigam and Mahalaxmi Iyer share honours on a simple melody and mild arrangements and decent guitar fills with tuu jahaa.N mai.n vahaa.N.

The mixes begin. The "English Club Mix" of ##my## dil goes ##mmm## features Shaan and Carlisa Monteiro returning from Dance Masti Again's o merii soNii; Shaan lays the accent and style a bit too thick, but the arrangements and dance-o-drown ambience are more appropriate for the pointless lyrics (and also assist in drawing your attention away from them). There's the predictable "Dhol mix" of the already-laden-with-enough-Dhol title song. Same singers. Hardly much to remix, and yet they add something that I'm sure they'll call "subtle". Go listen to the title song of Kaal to get over the déjà vu. DJ Aqeel dispenses with the singers for the final track on this offering, an instrumental (sorry, have to break for some intense laughter) version [read: in addition to the existing samples and pounding beat, add a trippy sample to play the melody] of ##my## dil goes ##mmm##. This is the final stage in the normalisation of a song that began with badly balanced and egregiously obviously bad lyrics. Now that we've taken the lyrics out of the picture, we're left with a harmless piece of club ambience (that recurring chorus reminds me of the chorus on Wah Wah from No Quarter. This ladies and gentlemen, is when we must say Goodbye. You say yes, I say No. All that fun stuff.

Despite the lifts and the worse lyrics I preferred Chocolate and James. Predictably someone who didn't care much for James would find Salaam Namaste the greatest thing since a triple schezwan (read: "Spirited, fresh, young and trendy")

post crypt: That wiki page offers the translation of the title as Goodbye Greetings or Goodbye Hello. Am I the only one who seems to disagree with both? I doubt that pun-laden irony or stretching meanings was part of the agenda for the person posting that entry.

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