This is the review of the soundtrack of RA.One.
To read the review of the film, click HERE.
It’s Shah Rukh Khan’s most ambitious film to date. Dare I say, a vanity project. RA.One, directed by Anubhav Sinha and produced by and starring Khan along with Kareena Kapoor, is now one of the most anticipated films of the year. And while Khan and his team have a well-oiled PR machine chugging aggressively to guarantee at least a thunderous opening this Diwali, we take a listen to its album by composer duo Vishal-Shekhar.
The makers of the album go for the no-holds-barred approach with the soundtrack – roping in an international star and buying the rights to a classic English song amongst other efforts – to deliver an album that bears the trademark Vishal-Shekhar peppiness. It’s a decent soundtrack but doesn’t fit the bill for a film mounted on such an extravagant scale, often falling into the trap of sounding gimmicky rather than grand.
The film’s signature track - Chammak Challo – is already a big hit. Helmed by Akon and his impressive Hindi pronunciations, the track is meant to be a sure-shot chartbuster, which it already is. Vishal-Shekhar give the song a fusion of Arabian-Western sounds, which actually become quite addictive on repeated listening. Hamsika Iyer, who brings in the unnecessary Tamil verses, also joins Akon in this track. While she sounds good, the Tamil lyrics feel odd and tend to crowd a song that is already doing a juggling act with a few other cultural influences. However, the song still works and is by far the best track in the album.
Cashing in on Akon's participation, the album brings back 'Chammak Challo' in four other versions, no less. There are three remixes by Dj Khushi and Dj Amyth. The remixes - in the regular, Punjabi and Club varieties - add the obligatory club beats but don't enhance the song much. Then there is the original, International Version, just by Akon, which is actually the best version of the song. Akon dominates with his energy and seamless Hindi, making it a foot-tapping track you actually want to play on loop.
Surprisingly, when Hindi filmmakers get legal rights to remake popular Western songs, they turn out much better than those cheap (and illegal) knockoffs we heard so many of in the past. With Dildaara - Stand By Me, Vishal-Shekhar give Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ a truly Bollywood treatment and make it work. Sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani and Clinton Cerejo's Choir, it’s a true-blue pop ballad designed for repeat value. It’s oddly addictive and works well as the one memorable romantic track from the film.
Next up is Criminal, Akon's second contribution to the album. Joined by Vishal Dadlani and Shruti Pathak, 'Criminal' combines Akon's signature hip hop style and full-on Bollywood masala music to make another dance track. The "booty goes pop pop pop" lyrics are paired with "dhin dhanak dhin" and the result is not as enticing as 'Chammak Challo.' Akon's Hindi pronunciation, once again, ends up being the most interesting thing about this song. The Criminal - Remix by Dj Amyth doesn't add much appeal to the track.
With Bhare Naina, the soundtrack ventures into a different territory. The intentions of this track to combine classical female vocals with a western classical choir are interesting to say the least. Nandini Srikar brings in her best and the interludes by The Prague Philharmonic Choir are haunting and complement the classical vocals in a strange harmony. The simple orchestration for Srikar's segments is effective and provides an intriguing flow with the heavier and darker choir segments. However, the rock chorus and the English verses by Vishal-Shekhar let the song down, not really working with either of the classical sides of the song, eastern or western.
The next track, Right By Your Side, veers the album into very predictable territory. Sung by Sidd Coutto, it sounds like many happy-go-lucky Vishal-Shekhar songs heard previously, and incredibly familiar to the sounds of Dostana.
Raftaarein kicks off as a theme tune track, of sorts, for the album. It’s inspired by the 70s action flicks - with a good dose of James Bond - and is sung by the composer duo themselves, who attempt the raspy, deep-throated voice of R.D.Burman. It will probably make for edgy background music for a chase sequence or as a signature song for SRK's superhero character.
Sukhwinder Singh makes an appearance with Dadlani in Jiya Mora Ghabraaye - The Chase. It's an experimental track with fast-paced electronica mixed with rap by Dadlani and alaap by Singh. It also reminds of the heavy electronica and hard rock soundtrack of The Matrix. The music drowns out the voices here, which is disappointing if you want to hear more of Singh. It's a track that will have limited appeal.
The album ends with three theme tracks, that will probably have much more impact with visuals. Comes the Light, I'M On and Song of the End are all instrumental pieces and are designed to accompany action sequences as well as emotional scenes.
The soundtrack of RA.One is already popular, which comes as no surprise given the chain of publicity stunts orchestrated by the team to ensure everyone is at least aware of the film. And the showstopper track 'Chammak Challo' is a good hook. The album definitely goes for an international feel, but falls short of what you would expect from a film of such a huge scale. Overall, it's an average soundtrack that might be enhanced further by how it's used in the film.