The Five Essential Bollywood Soundtracks for 2008 (so far…)

As we roll into June (bring on the sunshine,sandals and other summer delights!) we hit the halfway mark for 2008 and must say, its been a very non eventful half of year on screen for Bollywood with more attention being paid to the antics of the stars off screen. Let’s hope this is just a passing trend or finds a way not to interfere with what we love most – films!!!!!

As I was listening to my Ipod the other day, I came across a song I hadn’t heard in ages – Rangeela Re from the film Rangeela (made in 1996, a must listen and a must see for Bollywood fans and those new to the genre alike). What struck me was how fresh this track sounded – aside from the odd minor point, the song hasn’t dated at all and 12 years later, still makes me want to dance every time i hear it!

This got me thinking – were there any Hindi film albums this year that would survive and still sound as good in ten years time? Sadly, my time machine is out of order at the moment but failing that, here are the five albums from this year I think every Bollywood fan should own:

(5) U,Me Aur Hum, Music director: Vishal Bhardwaj

I’ll be honest, this is one soundtrack that crept up on me stealth like. When I first saw the promos of the film on B4U, i was more excited that Kajol was in the film than to pay attention to the music. But once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Whether it is the seductive Saiyaan or the silky tones of the title song, or even Adnan Sami going crazy in Phatte this album quietly underlines Vishal Bhardwaj’s prowress as a music composer (Beedi from Omkara still sounds good!) and U,Me Aur Hum is far more subtle than some of the more in your face flavour of the month albums that flood the charts.

(4) Tashan, Music directors: Vishal-Shekhar

Ok, so not everyone liked the film. We get it! But what a shame that the soundtrack hasn’t had the attention it deserves. Skip the promotional tracks (“Yeh hai Bachchan Pandey ka tashan” [This is Bachchan Pandey’s style] – if you hadn’t told us that, more people may have gone and seen the film!) and there are 4 decent songs there. Dil Haara works well with its different genres in one song, Dil Dance Maare scared us until we saw the film and realised it is meant to be tongue in cheek, Falak Tak has Yashraj written all over it whilst Chhaliya is a treat with or without Kareena pouting, posing and strutting (though this writer prefers it with, thank you very much). This film has had a tough time at the box office but the soundtrack deserves no such treatment.

(3) Jannat, Music Director: Pritam Chakraborty

When the Bhatts announce a film, there is a part of me that publicly stays very quiet until the soundtrack releases, whilst internally, I am hoping the new soundtrack will live up to an amazing catalogue of songs and you know, every time they manage it! For me, there are two songs on this soundtrack which I keep hitting the repeat button for: Zara Sa is just phenomenal, a song that you can get totally lost in whilst the Spanish guitar of Judaai with Kamran Ahmed’s vocals is so infectious, darn it, you just want to enter Indian Idol and sing these songs in public (though read on to see what I would actually sing in Indian Idol). Whether the rest of the soundtrack or the film is any good I have yet to discover as I can’t get past these two songs at the moment – surely a good sign?

(2) Race, Music Director: Pritam Chakraborty

Race is the new Dhoom 2. Discuss. Style over content? Check. Red hot star cast? Check. Killer soundtrack? Check. That Race was hyped to the high heavens is yesterday’s news but the OST had a very large part to play in the promotion of the film. Industry types may pass scorn on music director Pritam for ripping off songs from Arab and western songs, but these rip offs are so good, they could pass for the real thing. Race Sasson Ki and Race Is On My Mind whip the listener into a frenzy a la Dhoom Again of D:2, whilst Dekho Nashe Mein packs out the dancefloor (like Dil Laga Na). Meanwhile Zara Zara Touch Me (good grief, even the song titles are like D:2!) and Khwab Deke (Sexy Lady) are seductive and party friendly at the same time, with more than a whiff of Crazy Kiya Re with download diva du jour Katrina Kaif filling in for Aishwarya Rai. However, Race comes into its own with the superb Pehli Nazar Mein, rendered by Atif Aslam flawlessly. A song that does what it says on the tin, even the most hard core Bollywood critic will secretly submit to this and who doesn’t wish they could hit those high notes with elaan like Mr Aslam? This song would be the dream song to sing on Indian Idol, (its certainly my choice and I expect many a contestant to murder this song in the auditions) and is the reason the repeat function exists on your Ipod. Over to you Dhoom 3!

(1) Jodhaa Akbar, Music Director: A.R Rehman

A.R Rehman is a genius. FACT. Last year, Guru released in January and laid down the gauntlet. And while many put up a good fight, Guru remained supreme. Tera Bina has become one of the best songs ever, sounding better with every listen, and I am sure I am not alone in wishing it would rain just so I can enjoy the heady sounds of Barso re whilst the Arab esque sound of Maaya Maaya still gets the hips in action on every play. So, after achieving such an accolade, one would never dare even think that an album like Guru could be equalled or even bettered – except with Jodhaa Akbar, Rehman has done just that. The gorgeous Jashan E Bahara (intially the first track that was aired in the promos) is beautifully rendered by Javed Ali (sounding eerily like Sonu Nigam) and is the perfect chill out track. Note how it is in the same vein as Tere Bina but totally different at the same time. In Lamhon Ke Daman is so poetic and romantic, it just sounds better and better with every listen. The subtlety and the way the song carries the film forward is simply fantastic. Azeem Shahenshah brings back the days of Mughal E Azam, paying tribute to the genre but adding a modern twist courtesy of Mr Rehman. Then, there is the haunting Maan Mohana which enchants the Emperor Akbar as well as us. Finally, the most amazing track has to be Khwaja mere khwaja, the devotional song that really takes the listener to another level. Never mind that Ashutosh Gowariker did justice to the song with the picturisation, the song on its own soothes and stirs the listener in equal measure and you just knew from the moment you first heard this song that you were listening to something truly amazing. They just don’t make them like this anymore and perhaps that is why Jodhaa Akbar is the must have album of 2008 so far.

Agree or disagree? Post your own top five below!

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