It's been some time since A.R.Rahman and Shah Rukh Khan came together, and now that it's going to be a Yash Chopra's film that's bringing them back together, this has all the makings to give out half a dozen chartbusters. But, how many times has that happened?
Challa - Rabbi Shergill
As expected, the album opens with 'Challa', which was released a few days ago for promotional purposes. If you are listening to this track for the first time, you have a few surprises waiting. ARR has experimented with a blend of music that almost turns completely into Sufi at times. Enough soul-like, a good dose of western touches and lots of backup with the guitar makes the song enjoyable and not to mention different for an A.R.Rahman soundtrack.
What happens when ARR wants to find the next Kailash Kher, only with a Punjabi twist? He finds Rabbi Shergill. The man who shot to fame with his first album isn't a bad choice and does a good job, even with the particularly high notes and more emphatic lines. But we would have loved to hear Rahman sing the track himself. Gulzar's bold lyrics are poetry to the song, which would have been so soul-less without them.
Saans - Mohit Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal
What would have been otherwise a slow number, 'Saans' gets a breath of fresh air thanks to ARR's orchestration and his fondness of the violin throughout the track. The more Indian-ish beats between lines remind you of music from Yash Chopra's yesteryear films from the 90s. A handful of instrumental pieces sprinkled over the song draw a line between Hindustani and classical music remarkably, even while managing to take you to the Bollywood we saw a decade back. Mighty impressive!
Think about Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik making way for the more youthful Shreya Ghoshal and Mohit Chauhan, that's exactly what happens here. Shreya in particular hits top gear and stamps herself all over the song with yet another brilliant performance. Mohit impresses too as his counterpart takes center stage. The words are too romantic for modern day Hindi cinema, but not for Yash Chopra, certainly.
Ishq Shava - Raghav Mathur, Shilpa Rao
After taking a few steps away from ARR-certified zone, 'Ishq Shava' wavers a bit too much from his standards and sacrifices some elements to fit the director's bill. While the track inspires to be something of a 'Shano Shano', it showcases a lot of disco, literally, as heavy techno meets a couple of enthusiastic singers. The instruments used in the interludes appear odd but the pacy end to the track makes you wonder if you are still listening to our Academy Award winner.
The good news is that Ishq Shava has two fresh voices in Raghav Mathur and Shilpa Rao trying to carry it on their shoulders. Their zeal and the way they handle even the more exotic lines are appreciable. However, we have set the bar for this one and must say it didn't live up to the expectations. Even Gulzar's lyrics appear too conventional for a song and just stay in sync with the tunes without making an impression.
Heer - Harshdeep Kaur
We jump right back on track with 'Heer', another highlight from the album. Soft laments paired with melody and some well thought of orchestrations put this song on a pretty pedestal for everyone to hear. The subtle percussion, guitar pieces and strings riding on the background do very well in bringing out the solitude of the song. Now, that's the kind of stuff that makes ARR, well... ARR.
Harshdeep Kaur, who gave us 'Katiya Karun' from Rockstar returns with a fabulous performance. Sometimes, you don't need the absolute best of classical music to bring out the emotions in a song and we see it here. One major reason why the track clicks is Gulzar's lyrics, which remind you of a love story from the past of a Sahiba and Mirza. They contribute well to the theme of the song and make it easier for the singer to leave her mark.
Jiya Re - Neeti Mohan
The last time we saw Rahman's songs introducing a female lead, we got a belter of a song in 'Aye Bachchu'. Composing for the director again, the track is very modernistic coupled with ARR's regular orchestrations. While it presents a very interesting, you need to let it grow on you to understand the quality of the song, and when you have so many other tracks to distract you, you need to give this one a few more chances before it sinks in.
Neeti Mohan is another new face taking center stage thanks to this soundtrack, after having performed in ARR's live shows for quite some time. Her voice is refreshing and is likely to portray the character of Anushka Sharma in the film. Gulzar tries to explain the life of a cool snazzy girl, but that's not something that will make a lot of heads turn.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan - Javed Ali, Shakthisree Gopalan
The infamous title song is finally here. And boy, is it different. The track starts off slowly and appears to be full of impressive male vocals.. But soon, it gets filled with table pieces and ghazals, which for some weird reason, seem to bring out a lot more zeal than usual. At the mid point, it gets a nice scale change and shifts over to the female voice before continuing in the new trend it just managed to establish.
Sufi or anything Sufi-like is home turf for Javed Ali and he surprises you right from the word go. The female singer, Shakthisree doesn't do badly herself and brings a very unique voice to the table. Good track overall, and it just about gives you the sudden surge of energy people "supposedly" feel when they are in love.
Saans (Reprise) - Shreya Ghoshal
Apparently, ARR was so impressed with the singer's performance; he decided to give her a separate track to make another impression. Saans' reprise version is short, sad and is filled with anguish and turns things around dramatically. The orchestrations take a different gear, and the strings now mark agony. Great to see so much change made in a track that was the most romantic of them all. Then again, it's quite unusual for A.R.Rahman.
Ishq Dance - Instrumental
Containing more conventional and southern-y beats, 'Ishq Dance' is a foot tapping number that has a lot going about it. The percussions used aren't techno enough to give it a disco feel, even while the track has some pieces from 'Ishq Shava' used here and there. In fact, it's more of a upright party dance theme to it and is certainly dance worthy.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan - The Poem
The poetry you heard in the trailer has a full version to it and appears as the last track in the album. Some of you may find it too cheesy for your liking while others may fall in love with anything that comes from SRK, especially in a Yash Raj move. The foreign, almost Italian like compositions in the music give you a sneak peak of what you have waiting in the background score.
Overall, Jab Tak Hai Jaan will get mixed reactions from fans. It's not your standard A.R.Rahman superhit package, but it has a lot going for it and some really new music for listeners of Bollywood music. Challa, Saans, Heer deserve worthy mentions while the rest present interesting listens, if not world-changing music that will make you fall in love.
Rating - 3.5/5 - even when he changes things up, ARR's orchestrations continue to impress
Verdict - maybe not everybody's cup of tea, but lots of goodness still available