Okay, here’s what I think happened:
Shantanu Moitra (Parineeta, Lage Raho Munnabhai) is sitting in his music room, harmonium at hand, trying to come up with music for his next big movie, Yashraj Productions’ Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Suddenly, Evil Genius slithers into the room.
Evil Genius: Hello, Sssshantanu. I got you a pressssssent.
Shantanu: Hey! Thanks! What is it?
EG: It’sssss a sssssssynthessssizzzzzer.
Shantanu: A what?
EG: A sssssssynthessssizzzzzer.
Shantanu: Come again?
EG (annoyed): A sssssssynthessssizzzzzer.
Shantanu (sniggering): Oh, a sssssssynthessssizzzzzer. I thought it might be a synthesizer.
EG: You’re sssssssuch an asssshole. You dessssserve thisssss….
Shantanu: Go on, I deserve this…?
EG (muttering): …. Sssssssynthessssizzzzzer.
Shantanu: Hee hee hee!
All right, so I made that up. But I can’t help it. Making up ridiculous explanations for the bizarre experiment that is Lagaa… is about the only way I can handle the trauma. Maybe Moitra was trying to come up with a new fusion sound or something rather than blatantly trying (and failing) to sell out, but what he really comes up with, is an album full of potentially great songs completely ruined by the addition of thoroughly unnecessary bells and whistles.
Even worse, he drags his frequent collaborator, the multi-talented Swanand Kirkire (Parineeta, Lage Raho Munnabhai) into his wicked ways and makes him pen some sort of weird wanna-be rap music. That’s right. Rap. Your granddaddy’s rap, that is. Apparently Kirkire’s inspiration here was famed rhymer Donald Rumsfeld. I fully expected him to throw in a couple of Good Golly Miss Mollys in there but for some reason he refrained. My ears would like to thank him.
Anyhoo, Pradeep Sarkar’s sophomore venture, Lagaa… features Rani Mukherjee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Abhishek Bachchan, Kunal Kapoor, Jaya Bachchan and Anupam Kher. Rani and Konkona play small town sisters from less than affluent circumstances who follow very different paths in life. While Konkona ends up fulfilling her dreams thanks to the sacrifices of her mother and elder sister, said sister ends up as a call girl to make those dreams come true. Drama ensues. The movie is due for release on October 12, 2007.
The title is based on the song, Laaga chunari mein daag (“There is a stain on my veil” – metaphor-speak for “I’m now a fallen woman”). Originally penned by that genius Sahir Ludhianvi and set to music by Roshan (father of Rakesh and Rajesh, grandfather of Hrithik), it was sung by Manna Dey. The movie features a version recorded by the fantastic Shubha Mudgal with additional lyrics written by Kirkire and spoken by Mita Vasisht.
Hum to Aise Hain – If there’s one song that saves this album from being a complete and utter write off, then it’s this one. I’m not usually a big fan of the so-called “introductory song”: you know, the one that introduces all the characters and generally serves as set up? Nine times out of ten, they’re cutesy and annoying. This is the tenth. The lyrics are wonderfully spot on and Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan are excellent. You really feel you know what this town is like and who these people are.
Zara Gungunalein Chalo – And so it begins. Okay, look at the bright side: unlike English, Spanish has a huge advantage – the majority of the target audience has absolutely no clue as to whether the lyrics are any good or trash. So we can go ahead and enjoy the sound of the words rather than go around cringing at “I have a cat/ Who has a hat/ But no hat/ Oh, no, what what” type interjections.
Unfortunately, the Spanish bits in this song are sung with all the enthusiasm of a Venetian gondolier forced to sing because the fat cat tourists expect him to make soulfully Italian-y noises when steering them around the canals. (I tried to think of a Spanish analogy but couldn’t think of one. Sorry, Spain.) There’s a lot of obligatory sounding “Te quiero”s and “amor”s and stuff thrown in and that’s about that. Actually, if the translation on Bollywhat is anything to go by, then Kirkire composed it by looking up Google translator. Not a good option as I can personally attest. I was also taken aback in the middle of the song when a chorus of fine young ladies began to cheerfully sing, “Oh homo, homo, homo, homo/ Take a homo, homo, homo”.
How rude! I thought. Also, how random. However, a look at Bollywhat told me that “Baila baila bailare/ Baila baile bailalo” means something quite different in Spanish – “Dance, dance! I’ll dance/ Dance the dance.”
Oh. Er. I knew that. Heh heh. 😳
However, I must say the Hindi bits of the song are pretty nice. It reminded me a bit of the title track from Hum Tum (not the funky one, the other one) and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag – Let’s get one thing straight: Shubha Mudgal can never go wrong and I loved the last time she and Mita Vashisht came together, in the video for the beautiful “Mann ke Manjeere” (which, coincidentally, was composed by Shantanu Moitra). And Mita is an interesting choice for this song – she has a very smoky voice that works well here. And the new bits from Kirkire are a very nice update on the song. Unfortunately, after all these years, the original is so wrenchingly beautiful, especially when coupled with Mudgal’s tremendous instrument, that you can’t help but imagine how wonderful it would have been without the new parts. When you listen to Vasisht, she completely sells you on her bit… until Mudgal shows up and effortlessly dominates the whole thing.
Ik Teekhi Teekhi Si – Under normal circumstances, I’d have said this is a rather pleasant song but these are not normal circumstances and it’ll forever stand out in my memory for it’s middle portion. At first, I thought my computer was having a breakdown. Oh no, I thought, I downloaded a virus! This is my just reward for being a pirate! O Canada, why did you let the MPAA win? Sob.
And then the horrible truth of it all dawned on me: this was no malfunction! They deliberately did that to Hum To Aise Hain! How does a man do that to his own work? More importantly, how does a man do that to a KK song? A KK song! I hope the movie has an answer because otherwise I’m filing a complaint for crimes against music. Yes, I will. And don’t tell me I can’t do it. Well, okay, maybe I can’t do it. But I should be able to do it! Unfair world.
Ehi Thaiyya Moti – This was my second favorite off this album. Probably because Shantanu somehow managed to resist the siren lure of the synthesizer and let voice and tune meet each other in unhindered peace. A mujra song, it’s full of a lazy sensuousness that’s light years away from the filmi mujras we usually get to listen to. And, joy of all joys, it’s Rekha Bhardwaj singing! Very nice.
Kachi Kaliyan Mat Thodo – Wow. And I don’t mean that in a good way. This is the grand climax in more ways than one. On the positive side of things: this was the last song and that made me very happy. On the negative side of things: Lord, where do I start? This is the culmination of Moitra’s experiment where he lays on the beats and lets it all loose.
When the song began, I thought this was going to be a really lovely ched-chad wedding number. I even clung on to that hope past the opening “Here we go now here we go now aha sounds fresh that’s right” I-wanna-be-hip-hop-so-bad-it’s-hurting-mah-tummeh bit. And for a while, I felt I was justified as Sonu Nigam, KK, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal tried their very best, which is pretty darn good indeed. But then I heard the following and I just gave it up:
Yeah yeah yeah yeah we the cool champions always number one
Never play with us we the son of a gun
You are trying so hard to challenge us you will fall flat on your face
I think it’s safe to say Fiddy isn’t feeling at all threatened. I especially like the “son of a gun” moment. Somebody’s Grandpa is proudly telling all his friends about his contribution to a badass song. Later on, they (I don’t know who does the rhymes here; if it’s Nigam and KK then I hope they were paid extra for this kind of embarrassment) sing:
We are on the hook we are on the line
You cannot sing you cannot rhyme
Like I said, wow.