It's difficult enough remaking a classic cult film of a bygone era without answering to an army of loyalists ready to charge at the first chance. But then making a sequel to the remake of that classic film is an even bigger flirtation with cinephiliac danger. Farhan Akhtar's Don 2 is an eagerly awaited film, mostly because film buffs are curious about how he has taken the story of his 2006 remake, Don - The Chase Begins Again, one step further. Shah Rukh Khan returns as the menacing and elusive villain who shows that he can evade the police of even more beautifully shot countries. The film also stars Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Lara Dutta and Kunal Kapoor.
While the music of the remake was also a revived version of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan starrer, composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (S-E-L) face a daunting task of creating an entirely new album for Don 2 that still remains loyal to the moods and style of the original and remake. With Javed Akhtar as lyricist, S-E-L do their best to deliver an album to retain the sexy mysteriousness of the Don series, but in the process it ends up being too safe, tried and tested.
The album opens with Aa Raha Hoon Palat Ke, which is a brooding, raspy re-introduction to the character by Khan.
The first song, Zaraa Dil Ko Thaam Lo, starts with an appealing electric guitar riff and kicks into a retro techno beat. Anusha Mani enters with her seductive voice, and is joined later by Vishal Dadlani , Raman Mahadevan , Mani Mahadevan and Siddharth Mahadevan. The song - filmed with Lara Dutta - builds nicely but the chorus reveals it bears a hangover from 'Aaj Ki Raat' and 'Main Hoon Don' from the 2006 prequel. Nonetheless, it's a decent track that will probably be given a stylish visual treatment in the film.
Don 2 goes Bond with Hai Ye Maya, the most original track in this album. Usha Uthup leads this song with her classy vocals and is joined by Raman Mahadevan. Uthup glides through a dark and mysterious song that fluctuates between electronica, techno, noir and sounds most like a fitting theme song for a James Bond film. The song works because of Uthup's deep and dominating voice. It takes a few listens to appreciate fully but is actually the only track in this album where S-E-L try to innovate.
The Hai Ye Maya - Remix actually adds a bit more spunk to the track and might prove to be a popular techno track.
With Dushman Mera, sung by Sunitha Sarathy and Shankar Mahadevan, S-E-L fall into another reworking of 'Main Hoon Don.' The song starts off on a promising note with a retro-funk beat and Sarathy continues the theme of seductive female vocals in this album. Then, roughly halfway into the song, S-E-L return to that silky swagger of an interlude from 'Main Hoon Don' (if you remember the moment Priyanka Chopra enters in the song). Except, this time they overdo it by adding lyrics to that musical segment - "You look so good when you're angry. You should always be angry." And so another song in this album that could have pushed the envelope of action thriller music curls up safely into repetition of the previous album.
The King is Back - Theme is a actually a catchy upgrade of the 'Don' theme music. If only S-E-L had done without the vocals by Sunitha Sarathy and just stuck to the instrumentation, it would have been an even more gripping theme track.
And if you thought they couldn't possibly have more than two redone versions of the same song, the album presents Mujhko Pehchaanlo, which is basically an extension of 'Main Hoon Don.' Sung by KK (replacing Shaan from the original), and backed by Raman Mahadevan , Mani Mahadevan , Siddharth Mahadevan and Kshitij Wagh, this song misses the egoistic zest of the original. The composition is mostly the same and KK's voice doesn't add the infesctious quality that Shaan used to confidently carry the original song. The Mujhko Pehchaanlo - Remix is plain and uninspired.
The album ends with The 'Don' Waltz, which is an absolutely bizarre shattering of genre for this album. After such heavy investment in the techno and electronica music for the entire album, S-E-L shift gears entirely by diving into a classical waltz composition that picks from various haunting parts of the best known 'Don' theme music. It's a refreshing change in musical genre for this album, even if it is jarring after listening to four versions of 'Main Hoon Don' earlier.
For such an awaited film, slick promos, and a director known for intelligent and stylish mainstream cinema, the album of Don 2 ends up as a disappointment. Perhaps that's the price to pay for big expectations. S-E-L do a good job of maintaining the techno, electronica mood of their last Don outing, but this time they have created an album that is a rehash of the same song over and over again. Since Don 2 is an original script - not a remake - S-E-L could have explored much more with the music, taking it above and beyond the revived songs of the remake. Instead they end up with an album that is repetitive and just not exciting enough for the 'Don' franchise that Farhan Akhtar is developing. Here's to shifting our big expectations towards the film itself.
Listen to the full album here.