Solace in Bollywood: Mini-Reviews of Recent Film Soundtracks

1. Some of the Hindi top-ten box office film titles this week:

Dil Bechaara Pyaar Ka Maara (Kill the Wretched Heart With Love)
Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao (Eat Popcorn, have fun)
Let's Enjoy
Dance Like a Man

Fun titles. I particularly like "Dance Like a Man." What does that mean?!

Unfortunately none of these films is likely to be watchable, unless you fast-forward just to see what people are wearing in different scenes.

2. Soundtrack to Dhoom, which has a pronounced hip hop vibe, especially "Dhoom Machale," "Tata Young," and "Shikdum (The Bedroom Mix)". I'll be DJing another Desi party in New Haven on November 19, and songs off this soundtrack are sure to feature in my set.

3. Soundtrack to Veer-Zaara: actually not that great. This film -- a cross border (India/Pakistan Hindu/Muslim) love story -- is getting heavily promoted in the Indian media. Bollywood is hoping for a big Diwali-season hit (Diwali is next week!).

These songs, let us say, do not add much to the ticket. The one bright point is "Lodi," which is a traditional/Punjabi type of song.

4. Soundtrack to Swades. A.R. Rahman is back. This soundtrack is perhaps not quite up to greats like Taal or Dil Se..., but it has some beautiful melodies, nice ideas, and "uplifting" patriotism. If you're in an Indian grocery store, pick this up for sure.

5. Soundtrack to Bride and Prejudice. This adaptation of the Jane Austen classic has kind of flopped in India, and not done particularly well in England (something to do with Aishwariya Rai's acting...). Though my expectations are not very high, I'll still be in line on the opening day of its U.S. release to see it -- mainly out of loyalty to Gurinder Chadha. The soundtrack is just ok; I'm enjoying "Balle Balle (Punjabi Wedding Song)," "Dola Dola," and "Payal Bajake." The standout (in a way) is "No Life Without Wife": musically, it's a disaster, but the Hindi lyrics are amusing.

Interestingly, both Dhoom and Bride and Prejudice are using a new 'fusion' strategy. "Payal Bajake" and "Take me to India" on the B&P soundtrack have the same beat and melody, but "Take me to India" is partially in English. Similarly, on Dhoom, "Dhoom Machale" and "Tata Young" have the same beat. "Tata Young" is partly in English.

Maybe they are trying to anticipate the demand for "English" (read: UK/rap) remixes of Hindi songs? Or: maybe the producers are just recycling.

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