Thursday February 1, 2018

Milliblog Monthlies – Versatile Vishal-Shekhar

Posted by Karthik

Episode 2 of Milliblog Monthlies, featuring 30 songs by composing duo Vishal-Shekhar.

Playlist on Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube

For the heart:

01. Zehnaseeb – Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)
Probably my most favorite song from the duo’s repertoire! A song that best showcases the duo’s approach to melody making, in my view. The way they add a lilt to kick-start the percussion after, “Iss kadar hum dono ka milna ek raaz hai”, where Shekhar starts with, ‘Hua ameer…”. The bridge from antara to mukhda is a lovely touch too – from, ‘Hona likha tha ‘ to the main tune with, ‘Jo bhi hua’. The melody here is impeccable, and Shekhar does an exemplary job with the vocals, and the choice of Chinmayi takes the song to an all new level.

02. Suno na – Jhankaar Beats (2003)
Shaan has some incredibly tuned numbers with Vishal-Shekhar! And it started right from the beginning when Vishal composed ‘Woh pehli baar’ in Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999) along with Samrat and Shiraz Moti (the reason why that lovely song is not part of this playlist). Suno na, though, is the duo’s best with Shaan, in my opinion. It is really hard not to sing along with Shaan in this one; it’s that tuneful and immersive! Fantastic bridge from antara to mukhda yet again – “Tanha tanha sama, mehki mehki hawa” and “Muskurati fiza gungunati hawa” to seamlessly “Keh raha hai jahaan jo… suno na”. ‘Tu aashiqui hai’ from the same film is a great song too, but if I were to pick one song to represent the film, this is easily it.

03. Tujhe bhula diya – Anjaana Anjaani (2010)
When Mohit Chauhan, in his honey-dew voice, sings, ‘Kaali kaali khaali raaton se, hone lagi hai dosti’, it is very, very difficult not to close your eyes and picture the feeling of being desolate and alone. Not to be left behind, Shruti Pathak’s Punjabi verse not only start the song but also pave way for the song’s tantalizing mix that blends the two disparate genres effortlessly with Shekhar handling the sufi-style parts. Also, almost 3 and a half minutes into the song comes the solo antara – a smart way to close the tune!

04. Khuda jaane – Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008)
Bachna Ae Haseeno is arguably the best soundtrack by the duo for a Yash Raj production. And this song is a stupendous example of how much the duo have imbibed Pancham’s music (even though I consider Jatin-Lalit an equally good duo that has beautifully kept Pancham’s style alive) and something they had explicitly done in Jhankaar Beats. What starts like a really catchy, frothy melody transforms into a uniquely R D Burman’esque track when the ‘Tu kahe to tere hi kadam ke’ antara and keeps throwing uniquely turning tunes line after line that would make Pancham proud (before joining the title hook). And placing Shilpa Rao’s and KK’s humming (‘aa aaa’) strategically at various places significantly enhances the song’s appeal.

05. Allah ke bande – Waisa Bhi Hota Hai – II (2003)
I can never believe that this song is composed by Vishal-Shekhar! I don’t think I have heard another song from the duo’s repertoire that comes even close to this song’s sound. It could be because of Kailash Kher’s overpowering impact in the song and that he himself composes (along with Naresh and Paresh Kamath, via Kailasa). But, the duo did compose it and what a song this is! The sparse, guitar-only backdrop and Kailash’s beautifully earthy voice make sheer magic together, while the tune is thoroughly engaging… something that would make any listener try singing it inside his/her head immediately. The one small thing that irks is the backing vocal chorus that accompanies Kailash towards the end, starting 3:20 – it always seemed jarring to me.

06. Merupula – Chintakayala Ravi (2008)
Chintakayala Ravi would have been the only Vishal-Shekhar Telugu soundtrack, but the duo is composing music for the Allu Arjun starrer, Naa Peru Surya (due in 2018). This song’s prelude usually reminds me of Viju Shah’s style. But then those irresistibly foot-tapping rhythm starts and things change. While Shreya is, as always, impeccable, it is the SPB-clone Rajesh Krishnan who literally runs away with the song; he sounds particularly like SPB in the background vocals during the ‘You make my heart go’ chorus! I love the saccharine-sweet melody in this song, where the lines extend almost breathlessly.

07. Bhare naina – Ra.One (2011)
This is a mighty ambitious song, in terms of its structure, perhaps going with the flow of the film itself. The main semi-classical part juxtaposed with Gregorian-style chants, actual Sanskrit chants and some fantastic rock layered on top of it for the hook. The second interlude featuring the flute is a particular favorite. The song works spectacularly because of Nandini Srikar’s towering vocals. Nandini is not a Hindi cinema regular and her unique sensibilities accentuate the song’s appeal immensely.

08. Tinka tinka – Karam (2005)
After being a top pop star during the beginning of mainstream pop music in India (led by Channel V and MTV, of course) and after completing one proper round of film music singing (aided a lot by Anu Malik), this is one of Alisha Chinai’s best in her second innings, 10 years after Made in India! The song seems to be built as a literal showcase of her vocal prowess, and she delivers so, so well! There’s a delicate edge to her singing that is absolutely tantalizing. The composing duo keeps the backgrounds minimal and functional, with lovely interludes, of course, but it’s the tune that works wonders.

09. Haravali pakhare – Balak Palak (2013)
I’m glad the duo reused the tune of this Marathi song in Hindi too (Kehkasha tu meri, Akira) because the original Marathi album and song is not available on Apple Music and Saavn! The jaunty rhythm lends a beautifully lilting, almost pahaadi-style feel to the melody. Shekhar owns the vocals – his range seems perfectly fit for such bordering-on-mellow melodies. I prefer the Marathi original (available on YouTube playlist) for the language’s inherent beauty, compared to the Hindi version.

10. Khoya khoya – Shabd (2005)
The song is such a delightful listen, with that gentle, almost-reggae backdrop. Sonu Nigam usually aces such songs and this no different, with him putting in an extra effort in the word ‘khoya’. The antara is a particularly lovely piece of construction, making it conversational, with Sonu and Sunidhi literally taking up one line each, answering each other. I wish there was a version of this song without Sanjay Dutt’s dialogs. Within the context of the film’s plot, they make some sense, but as a standalone song, they seem like random mumbo-jumbo and spoil the song’s flow.

11. Falak tak – Tashan (2008)
Falak tak is the most un-Tashan song in the Tashan soundtrack oozing with hinterland-rock. This could have been part of any other Yash Raj film featuring music by the duo – it is that generic. But it is also gorgeous! An easy-on-the-ear melody, with a lush, indulgent rhythm, and wonderfully sung by Udit Narayan and Mahalakshmi Iyer. I’m quite fond of the 2nd interlude featuring santoor and flute, and the sans-percussion first line in the antara.

12. My Dil Goes Mmmm – Salaam Namaste (2005)
This is an easy entry in this playlist. There’s a gently energetic lilt in the percussion in the backdrop that is so easily likeable. And that hook is a very clever idea, blending the hmmm with the humming seamlessly. I always hear some bits of ‘Woh pehli baar’ in the background of the antara, but that could also be because of the Shaan-connection! And this is one of the fewer songs by the duo that has 3 antaras!

13. Khabar nahi – Dostana (2008)
After hearing more than the adequate number of songs featuring the ‘Maula’, I’m reasonably tired of its predictable use…. this song included. But the main melody (Kis taraf hai aasmaan) of the song is very, very good. And I’m glad Vishal takes it upon himself to handle that. The duo’s typical English verses playing up as interludes is a nice touch too.

14. Bahara – I Hate Luv Storys (2010)
If it was ‘Maula’ in Khabar nahi, it is the generic folk phrases in Bahara. Yes, Sona Mohapatra does a lovely job there (what was once Ila Arun’s exclusive domain), but it is the main melody that I love. Shreya sounds extra sweet here. The antara’s construction is something worth observing closely – the way ‘woh’ extends and moves to ‘kabhi dikhe zameen pe, kabhi woh chaand pe’ and the way ‘yeh’ extends too and moves to ‘nazar kahe use yahaan main rakh loon baandh ke’ and this one doesn’t end as seamlessly as the earlier line, but helps move further into the antara. Love it!

15. Udan choo – Banjo (2016)
The accordion-based sound lends a distinctive vaudevillian feel to the song. Hriday Gattani’s voice is easily the highlight of the song… something that may have gone to a Shaan, in an earlier period. The percussion accompanying the hook is the song’s most attractive part, though the 2nd interlude jumping to the disparate and louder Mumbaiya rhythm and paving way for the song’s ending irks me mildly, always 🙂

For the feet:

16. Aahista aahista – Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008)
Lucky Ali! The way he goes ‘Yun gira gira hai chand’ like only he can… that’s perhaps enough for this song. But the song is so much more! Shreya Ghoshal leads the song brilliantly, offering a perfect foil for Lucky Ali. And the song’s racy rhythm and guitar is instantly addictive. The ‘ho ho ho’ hook is something one can’t not sing along!

17. Dhat teri ki – Gori Tere Pyaar Mein (2013)
A vastly under-rated Vishal-Shekhar song. I was trying to pick between this one and ‘Dil duffer’ from the same soundtrack and decided to go with this one simply for its heady funk. Sanam Puri’s fresh voice adds to the song’s appeal and the hook is a killer. Plus, song is shot in Bengaluru – at the Hard Rock Cafe in Bangalore, India Shot at Hard Rock Cafe at St.Marks Road and at Skyye Lounge, UB City 🙂

18. Hairat hai – Anjaana Anjaani (2010)
Lucky Ali!! A lot more flashy guitar work than Aahista aahista. But the tune is the winner here, along with the fact that the duo get Lucky Ali to sing it. The way they layer in a chorus line behind ‘Tu hai toh har ek lamha khoobsurat hai’ is highly imaginative and it is things like this that really take this song to the next level.

19. Ajab leher – Break Ke Baad (2010)
It was this song or Adhoore tum adhoore hum from the same soundtrack and I pick this because I believe it offers more variety in terms of musical sensibilities. The really captivating horns section, for one, is a great addition. And Neeraj Shridhar rarely goes wrong with such songs.

20. Sheila ki jawani – Tees Maar Khan (2010)
This is a genuine foot-stomper! The hook comes after adequate teasing which literally goes, ‘What’s my name… what’s my name?’ and comes amidst what seems almost like a drumroll! Sunidhi is in complete control all through the song, though Vishal’s entry in the antara, with that desi twist, is a fantastic diversion. The other really interesting feature is the fact that the duo actually conceived 2 different antaras! The 2nd one, ‘Paisa gaadi mehanga ghar’ seems considerably less popular than the first, ‘Silly silly silly silly boy’.

21. Chammak challo – Ra.One (2011)
This song is as good a foot-stomper as Sheila ki jawani, with the difference being this one going pan-Indian and beyond India too, given Akon’s vocals. The hook is a killer, staying in my mind long after the song is over. And that Tamil infusion mid-way is highly imaginative too! Those four Tamil lines by Hamsika Iyer and the subsequent four Hindi lines really build on the song beautifully.

22. Tu meri – Bang Bang! (2014)
A song that seems tailor-built for Hrithik Roshan! That ‘Tu meri’ hook is an absolute delight, though also seems like a one-trick pony given how the rest of the song literally vanishes in the background. The ending, with the EDM reaching a crescendo and the hook turning into a chorus, is a fitting finale.

23. Shake It Like Shammi – Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)
The duo really crank up the horns section in this one! The ode to Shammi Kapoor rock ‘n roll sound is massive fun and the hook is a guaranteed feet mover. If there’s one complaint about the song, it’s beyond the music – I’d have loved to see a more involved and flamboyant dancer like Ranbir Kapoor dance to this one. Sidd’s dance seemed very tame to me, though the song has more than enough scope for a scorching dance (though Sidd seemed much more at ease much later, in A Gentleman’s Chandralekha)!

24. Subah subah – I See You (2006)
Subah subah, with those neat guitar riffs, catchy chorus vocals (that comes all across the song, including the first interlude, followed by that addictive whistle phrase) and an incredibly energetic tune, is instantly catchy and typical Vishal-Shekhar material! This is the quintessential spring-in-the-step song that, in a morning, can put the mood back into your system! That superstar making a surprise guest appearance in the video as Arjun Rampal gets out of a building starts to trot happily is a reason enough to see the song video if you haven’t already 🙂

25. Dil haara – Tashan (2008)
Tashan was Vishal-Shekhar’s own Omkara (music by Vishal Bhardwaj). But while Vishal Bhardwaj gunned for a more authentic hinterland sound, the duo, also given the Yash Raj brand behind it, go for a broadly appealing masala music while sticking to the hinterland rock sound very convincingly. The grungy vocal chorus that starts the song and appears in the second interlude again is an inspired idea! Sukhwinder Singh, who has a heavily stereotyped voice like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, actually is an asset in this song, because his tone and way of singing aids the song brilliantly!

26. Dus bahane – Dus (2005)
I recall this song (and Deedar de) literally being played everywhere (in Bengaluru) back in 2005 when the soundtrack came out. Both songs were total earworms that you just cannot escape from! The Dus bahane song, in particular, had this bizarrely interesting sound that starts when Shaan starts singing the first ‘Dus bahane’ hook. It plays in the background like a grating, extended wail and then plays a shorter version again for the next ‘Dus bahane’! It also plays like a longer version during the first interlude. Once you hear this intriguing sound specifically, almost like an angry dinosaur screaming at you, you simply cannot ‘unhear’ it 🙂

27. Happy Diwali – Home Delivery (2005)
This is a seriously underrated song by the duo! The vocal harmony in this song is simply brilliant. The ‘Mere tumhare’ hook, even more so! The kids chorus and Sunidhi’s lead, and the generally happy and bouncy tune make it a phenomenally fun song! This is also perhaps the most un-desi Diwali song with no traditional flavor whatsoever while also being such a solid song.

28. Golmaal – Golmaal (2006)
The easiest way to gauge the song’s appeal is the fact that 11 after the original (in 2006), the song is still being used (in remixed formats) in all the sequels! I’m sure the proposed sequel (to be released in 2021, according to Wikipedia) will have a new variant of the same song, 15 years after it was first composed. The original is a fluffy, incredibly catchy song that’s good bubblegum pop.

29. Everybody Put Your Hands Together – De Taali (2008)
De Taali had a pretty good soundtrack. This song is actually an interesting and clever variant of the Golmaal title song. Plus, it has Anushka Manchanda, much like that song! The rhythm is also similar – measured and precise, almost like a march-past. After the first antara, there’s a tiny (lasting just 4 seconds!) desi, harmonium-style phrase that is totally unexpected – always used to wonder who came up with that idea and why!

30. Sajanji vari vari – Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (2007)
My original choice for the last of the ‘for the feet’ 15 was Sultan’s Baby ko bass pasand hai. But I figured that a song from the duo’s repertoire that literally works like the Sultan chartbuster’s precursor is Sajnaji vari vari! Even though the tempo of both the songs is different, both seem, to me, to be part of an extended continuum. The Sultan song is significantly amped up to allow Salman’s dance moves, while Sajnaji is, in my view, a much better song, with a more natural flow that is an unbridled joy. Sunidhi is simply superb here!


Apple Music:



Sponsored links

February 2018
« Jan   Mar »

Like Milliblog? Help spread the word!

Get reviews by email