One thing that keeps you worried about Mumbai Xpress is can the film, how so ever good it may be, can it live up to the humungous hype.
One thing that keeps you happy is that the songs have. Set to tune by Ilayaraja, the instrumentation, in typical jazz style, is simply superb. The trumpet,the clarinet, the oboe and all the other wind instruments seem to be in perfect place. Only a genius can come up with such an orchestration. The problem however is the songs are situational and jazz style has an appeal to only a niche audience.
But these are minor quibbles considering the quality of the songs.
1) Idemi Vintha Gola
Louis Armstrong. Miles Davis. Dizzy Gillespie. They will all be pleased and happy. The song's initial beats and instrumentation would have done them proud. The song also takes off aptly. Parthasarathy has lot of promise and he is joined in the fun by Kamal Haasan who lets in his usual bravado stuff. The orchestration moves on several planes. And though is rightly heavy, it does not drown the lyrics (a common failing in other musicians). The end bit is also highly jazzy.
2) Lera Addu Thapuko
The number begins in an enigmatic fashion with an alap like take-off. Before your wonder subsides, the theme of the film unfolds in a typical Marathi flavor. And Ilayaraja's genius lies in the fact that he has managed to bring in jazz fusion into this. SP Balasubramaniam sings as only as he can. Gopika Poornima, whoever she is, is a talent to watch. She has a beautiful voice and an _expression to match it. S P Shailaja gets into the groove towards the end. There is a rare pep in the number that you feel refreshed after listening to it.
3) and 4)Na Kanulalaoto Evaro.
Again jazz. Again Ilayaraja's brilliance on show. The melody just wafts like a fresh breeze on a hot afternoon.Sounds cliché? But extremely true. Add to the instrumentation the unmistakable talent of Chitra and S P Balasubramaniam, and what you have? A simple and satisfying melody that oozes all the right feelings.On high pitch, Chitra is a sheer delight.
A funbit. But here again the maestro's virtuosity stands apart. And any day Vandemataram song, sung by anybody in any manner, is worth listening.Just check out how the music director changes the tempo and inter-fuses different instruments. Truly amazing.
The thing about Kamal is that he never does the same thing. Ditto for Ilayaraja. The temptation for them to play to the gallery and come up with mass numbers would have been obvious. But they have chosen the long, hard path.
And it pays --- to us listeners.