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Music Review: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao and Bharat Bhushan

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

Ashutosh Gowarikar’s latest film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is slated for release early December of 2010.  A period film like some of his earlier films – this is set in Bengal during the freedom struggle and is based on the book Do And Die by Manini Chatterjee, based on the Chittagong Uprising of 1930 about the revolutionary activities of a schoolmaster Surjya Sen and his band of young freedom fighters.  The film stars Abhishekh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone in lead roles.

Unlike his earlier ventures Lagaan, Swades and Jodha Akbar where Rahman was music director, Ashutosh has on board young Sohail Sen, who was composer for Gowarikar’s most recent ‘what’s your rashee’.  Son of Sameer Sen of the Sameer Sen-Dilip Sen music director duo, Sohail is also a very talented singer –this has already been revealed in his earlier albums Sirf and What’s your Rashee and he sings a couple of numbers in this album too.  The lyrics are by Javed Akhtar.

On first hear, the songs of Khelein… strike you as Rahmanesque – instantly reminding you of the music of Lagaan, Swades and even Bose the forgotten Hero-but having said that, as one listens to the music more and more, Sen’s own musical style and character and flow emerge.  The songs are mostly slow, mellow and melodious – a couple of them more spirited (the group patriotic numbers).  The instrumentals, mostly based on the songs themselves, are absolutely captivating and catchy and bring back memories of another maestro who gave us some amazing instrumental tracks in the seventies – Ananda Shankar. 

Ye des hai mera sung by Sohail Sen reveals the vocal range and versatility that the composer is blessed with.  He sings with passion and emotion this song, which is highly patriotic and tender at the same time.  It has some really lilting arrangements and is a very pleasant song.  The original Vande Matharam tune in Raag Desh that we are all so familiar glides in and out during the interludes and certainly has the desired effect.

Vande Mataram starts off with the familiar lyrics of the original song and Javed Akhtar’s revised Sanskrit to Hindi lyrics are brought to life by the voices of the Cine Singers Association Chorus Group.

Naiyn Tere Zuke Zuke – has Pamela Jain and Ranjini Jose enjoying themselves singing this very folksy tune which vaguely resembles Mitwa from Lagaan in its essence and flavour – without the punch and energy that the latter has.  This is a softer but still vibrant enough female duet.

The title song Khelein hum is picturised on the young band of revolutionaries in training as shown in the promos on youtube. The vocals by the Kids Chorus of the Suresh Wadkar Ajivasan Music Academy are rousing, youthful and are well suited to the youngsters who are shown on screen.  The song serves like an anthem in the film – no-nonsense lyrics, straightforward and simple tune with accompaniment that goes well with such a genre of songs – perky percussion and strings sections!

 Sapney saloney is a duet sung by Sohail Sen and Pamela Jain.  It is a soft romantic number and has a lovely violin (solo and group) and sitar and tabla accompaniment that embellishes the song.  Pamela is charming while Sohail croons elegantly and the end result is a graceful and appealing number.

The instrumental segments of the album are themselves based on the songs of the film and a couple of them are also softer and sadder versions while the others are animated and really energized instrumentals.  These seem to be themes of certain important chapters in the movie and the whistling appears to be a leitmotif in the album – seems to have some special significance in the narrative.  The most remarkable ones are Long live Chittagong and the Teenager’s whistle (the whistling and accordion, flute and sitar work are remarkable indeed) that linger on in the listener’s ears and minds!

With seasoned and brilliant musicians such as Sivamani (drums and percussion), Sunil Das (Sitar), Ulhas Bapat (Santoor) and Naveen (flute) to name just a few, who have worked on the album, the high quality, excellence and stylishness of accompaniments, orchestration and background music are hardly surprising! 

If there ever was ever a doubt about the influence that poets can have on a society, let that be dispelled, for once again Javed Akhtar has penned words that excite. "Once again" not only because he has done this many times earlier as well but also because this time he has rendered beautifully Bankimchandra Chatterjee's panegyric "Vande Mataram" from Sanskrit to Hindi. For a film based on freedom struggle during British era, it was expected that there be rousing songs like this and Akhtar hasn’t disappointed. Gowarikar and Akhtar's association goes back to other projects such as "Lagaan" and "Swades" and there are shades of those works in the new album. The song "Ye des mera" reminds one of the title song from Gowariker's earlier film "Swades" but is written well enough to conjure up different images. Similarly, the title song "Khelein hum jee jaan se" has been composed with tempo similar to "chale chalo" of Lagaan and has lyrics similar to another Akhtar work from the film "Mangal Pandey: The rising" and yet again, the poem is unique enough in its own right. The remaining songs are most likely situational and conversational, taking the narrative ahead. Overall, very competent work from Akhtar sahab, once again!"

A soundtrack that seems to fit into the theme of the film – a combination of nationalism, rebellion, dynamism, romance, helplessness, anger, sorrow that make for an album that is worth buying and listening to.  Allow the agony and ecstasy of patriotism and sacrifice; sweet romance and sorrow musically sink into your psyche slowly but surely!

(Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao is a homemaker and singer specializing in the golden oldies of Hindi and Tamil film music. She sings with Saptaswar (based in New England) who will be performing at the Diwali Dhamaka of the Indian Association of Rhode Island on 13th November in Warwick, RI. (www.indiari.org) Bharat Bhushan completed his MS in Computer Science from SUNY Buffalo followed by another Masters in Systems Complexities from MIT where his academic interests were understanding, architecting and managing complex systems of various kinds — technical, organizational, economic et al. — you name it! Outside of professional interests, his passions are theater, films, Hindustani classical music and writing. )

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