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Grahan.. Aflatoon..Pardes..Virasat
Director: K. Sashilaal Nair 
Music: Karthik Raja 
Lyrics: Unknown
Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram

Illaiyaraja's son, Karthik Raja, makes his Hindi-movie, music debut with J.S.E.L.'s (Jackie Shroff Entertainment Limited) maiden venture Grahan (Eclipse). The immensely talented father never benefited from a mega-hit Hindi film score in his career, though his original South Indian songs have been plagiarized numerous times by Bollywood. Will the same unfair fate befall the offspring? Not necessarily. Grahan is very similar in construction to Illaiyara's southern style, but unique in its own right. The unusual music is the perfect base from which to present a wonderful movie. It will take time to really appreciate Grahan's songs, but give it a couple of listenings and you will be hooked.

"Kehte Hain Jisko Mohabbat Woh Ho Tum" is a sublime, Rahmanesque love duet. Soft, soothing vocals are provided by Abhijeet and Kavita Krishnamurthy while the female chorus and a ghost-voice (sounding like Chitra) lurk beautifully in the background. The woodwinds, percussion and string instruments compliment one another as if they were inseparable triplets.

"Aaj Main Khush Hoon" could easily be mistaken for an Illaiyaraja composition. A passable song, the "Ai-ya-yo" refrains by Asha Bhosle make the song sound straight out of a stereotypical South Indian movie. And Jolly Mukherjee sounds so much like Abhijeet, that I would bet the cassette company has made an error on the audio sleeve.

"Yeh Sochta Hai Kya Zara Palat Idhar" has a frisky Asha trying to command the attention of a distracted Jolly Mukherjee (now sounding like Hariharan) by repetitively self-praising her beauty. A mellow tune where Ms. Bhosle demonstrates that only the truly talented can articulate the voice of a whining girl while singing.

In "Chup Chup" Asha reprises the 'desparate girl in love' routine with an equally dismissive Abhijeet. She wants to talk and fool around, but he wants her to shut up: very cute lyrics. (Why are there no credits for a lyricist on the audio or compact disc sleeves?) The dholak and male 'Sa Ni Dha Pa' interludes made me inquisitive as to what will take place on screen between Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff.

"Nacho Jaise" has Kavita Krishnamurthy teaching a children's chorus how to enjoy music and life. The music is classically rooted, and the choir-like children's singing is superlative in comparison to the whining kids we have become over-accustomed to hearing in most songs of late.

The album ends with Dominique and a ghost-female singing "Disco Rap" and frankly the title on the cover is an insult to the song. The tune demonstrates that Karthik Raja understands both current and classic music far better than the song title credits him. Listen to the rap, house, remix, classic Indian and rock melange in this interesting composition. A better title would have been "Hari Om Hari Om".

Grahan is a music album that deserves as much attention (and hopefully praise) as the film for which it was designed. If nothing else, the songs deserve a listening for the gifted and innovative new music director they introduce to listeners. Not everyone will like him, but one cannot simply ignore Karthik Raja.

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Director: Guddu Dhanoa 
Music: Dilip Sen - Sameer Sen 
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram

Irrespective of the unimpressive quality of movies arising out of the Guddu Dhanoa-Sen brothers' combination, their musical collaborations are always of above average standards. The songs of Elaan, Tu Chor Main Sipahi and Ziddi all succeeded in bringing a few smiles to this listener's face. You may now add Aflatoon's music to my list of smile-inducing film soundtracks.

"Aflatoon Aflatoon" is sung by Remo Fernandes with as much gusto as he can muster together. (I wish he would refrain from over-doing the sound effect noises in all the songs for which he provides playback.) The song is quite catchy, provided you have never heard Dilip and Sameer Sen's use of the exact same music for the title song of the early nineties' Govinda-Kimi Katkar starrer, Zulm Ki Hukumat. What movie... you may ask??? Forget it. You will not remember unless you are a die-hard fan of Hindi movies.

"Poster Lagwado Bazar Mein" is an infectious tune with cute lyrics, and it is included in two versions on the audio tape. You will want to get up and dance to its Arabic-influenced musical rifts. Note however that the singers, Lalit Sen and Shweta Shetty, were probably used because earlier in 1997 they provided the vocals to Ziddi's peppy chart-busters, "Ore Ore" and "Mera Dil Le Gayee Oye Kamo Kidhar". An intelligent choice by the Sens and Mr. Dhanoa. Both singers are competent, though I must admit that Ms. Shetty is more talented than Mr. Sen. (In case you have not yet guessed, Lalit is the brother of this movie's music directors.)

Udit Narayan and Anuradha Paudwal sing "Oye Oye Teri Si Ladki" with pizazz and verve. Percussive beats dominate the foot-tapper. Unfortunately, Anuradha's rendition of "Ooee Maa Ooee Maa" with Abhijeet is not as inspiring as the previous song. Maybe it is the out-dated lyrics or the mediocre singing, but I did not like the song. Anuradha rarely sang such naughty cum double-meaning songs before her semi-retirement a few years back. The reason for this choice is displayed in "Ooee Maa...". The decision was not ethically or morally motivated. Ms. Paudwal simply lacks the talent to sing a "Choli Ke Peeche" type number.

Vinod Rathod's "We Love - We Love Rocky" is a rip-off of "We Will - We Will Rock You". Enough said.

"Tu Maange Dil, Main De Doon Jaan" has Chitra and Hariharan scaling the same stratospheric heights of Ziddi's wonderful "Hum Tumse Na Kuch Keh Paaye". Both songs make you wish you had a beautiful companion to keep you company. Urmila Matondkar, Aflatoon's heroine, would suffice for me.

Alisha Chinoi and the folksy "Chori Chori" wind up the end of the album. Alisha is so infamous for her pop tunes, that one wonders why she agreed to sing folk tunes for Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen twice: earlier in Tu Chor Main Sipahi's "Yeh Aag Thi Dil Mein" and now for this 'Afla-tune'. Not that Alisha does a bad job of either number, but folk songs are just not her forte. Of course, she is unbeatable in Mr. India's "Kaate Nahin Katte" and the title track to her album "Made In India".

Aflatoon is a commendable effort on the part of Dilip Sen - Sameer Sen. (This statement in no way implies that the score is comparable to their unforgettable music for Yash Chopra's Aaina.) The quality of the songs ranges from slightly below-average to amazing, and because of the trendy music Anand Bakshi's lyrics are intentionally not poetry-based. It would be wise to purchase the economically priced compact disc for Aflatoon (on the T-Series label) so you can jump the less impressive tracks. Personally, I intend to spend some quality time with Urmila and "Tu Maange Dil..." Later folks!

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Frankly my expectations of the songs from this new Subhash Ghai film were sky high by the time the audio released. At first listening, I was put off by the mediocrity of the music. It seemed as if Nadeem-Shravan had simply created an album of songs aping the music styles of all their competitors, from Laxmikant-Pyarelal to A.R. Rahman to Anu Malik. Not a very wise idea for a twosome who contend that they are the uncontested top music directors in the film world. Nadeemsaab, why would you want to copy A.R. Rahman's signature usage of soul-stirring flute rhythms and background vocalists, when you think that his music is nothing but a bunch of ad jingles? (Learn to be appreciative of your peers, Mr. Over-inflated Ego.)

After my anger subsided towards the musical duo, I relistened to the tunes, hoping that they would at least be of Mukta Arts standards. Disappointment again. There is very little opulence in this score. Where is the heavy, but mesmerizing orchestration we expect from a Subhash Ghai soundtrack? Sure, Mr. Ghai will give the songs a great look in the film, but the songs should have some great musical passages (like Ghai's previous film scores) for us to constantly rewind while we wait for the release of the movie. (In all honesty, I think Ghai has tentatively timed the movie's release as August 8 because he himself is not overly impressed with the music. He might be hoping that after seeing the videos for the songs, a la Hum Aapke Hain Koun, the cassette sales will jump through the roof.)

There is one song that I did find to be Ghai-ish in style. To be completely fair, I went bonkers about "Jahan Piya Wahan Main". A story of a woman so blinded by love that she leaves everyone/everything behind to be with her love on foreign shores: now that is my dream woman. Though not instantly endearing to my family, I found the song to be almost as good as Karma's "Maine Rab Se Tujeh Mang Liya". Chitra's vocals are divine, and the background singing by Shankar Mahadevan, and the chorus of ladies and kids were perfect. Listen carefully to the lyrics, and you'll understand my point.

Back to the rest of the album. I have been listening to these songs quite a few times over the past week and I am beginning to like them, albeit pretty slowly. "Diwana Dil" is the second best song in the soundtrack. Very fast and Rahman-ish this song is more commendable for Shankar Mahadevan and Hema Sardesai's background vocals, than lead singer Sonu Nigam. Ghai should have gotten Mahadevan to sing the lead instead, because he is far more talented than Nigam. (It is a crime that Mahadevan's earlier major songs, "Main Hi Main" in Daraar and "Mere Dil Ne Tere Dil Se" in Loafer were not included in the films. Both songs were among my favourites for this decade, and they merit a thousand repeated listenings.)

The Kumar Sanu sung, Anu Malik-esque "Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain" and "Meri Mehbooba" (a duet with Alka Yagnik) are fairly good songs, but certainly not unforgettable. The fault is not with the music this time, but Kumar Sanu's singing. Is this man out of practise, or does he no longer care to put in effort into his songs? Sanu's pronunciation of words like "Chuppke" is worse than mine. (And the "Oh Bloody, Oh Blooda" refrain in the second song only serves to increase the likedness to Anu Malik's style. The line, though filched from English sources, was used by Malik in Vijaypath's "Ladke Aaj Ke Ladke".)

"Nahi Hona Tha" is a qawalli sung by Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and the Sabri Brothers. It will endear itself to you slowly, but steadily.

Hema Sardesai, who was last heard singing "Awaara Bhanwara" in Sapnay, now returns for "My First Day in the USA" completely in English. The music's resemblance to Rahman tunes is simply too much. (By the way, were Nadeem-Shravan given A.R. Rahman's uncompleted Shikhar songs to listen to before they started work on this album? I wouldn't be surprised.)

"I Love India" by Kavita Krishnamurthy, Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan, Aditya Narayan and chorus, is a nice patriotic song. But nowhere in the league of the fun "East or West India is the Best" from Judwaa or the serious "Hindustan Hindustan" from Border. (Yes, even a Pakistani can like an Indian patriotic song.)

And finally, the Title Music from Pardes is simply ripped off of the background score album for Bandit Queen by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I couldn't make out the difference at all because the vocals by Sapna Awasthi are too muffled to determine if at least the words are different between the two pieces of music.

Okay, now don't panic. I'm not saying that Pardes is a bad album. Highly influenced from other sources, and lacking in originality, yes. Bad album, no no. You can be sure veteran Anand Bakshi's lyrics are consistently above average for Pardes. Even if you don't love the songs right now, rest assured that the videos in the film, will make you love (or at least like) them later.

My intent with this review was to inform Nadeem Shravan, and their devoted fans, that they are just as much plagiarists as their contemporaries on the music scene. Hell, how many times can you come up with a completely original song. Everyone is inspired sooner or later in life to emulate the work one appreciates of another person. Next time you hear Nadeem Shravan claim that they are complete originals and that everyone pales in comparison to them, you can also be sure that they are lying.

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Wow! Anu Malik is back, and boy is this album great. Teaming up probably for one of the last times with Javed Akhtar (Ishq will be their last together), Anu comes up with mind-blowing music for this Anil Kapoor starrer. It is not known whether the music has been filched from other sources, but who really cares; I have not heard it before. The first song of the album is amazing. 'Payalay Chunmun Chunmun' sung by Kumar Sanu and Chitra is really amazing. Great singing, orchestral support and a very simple village beat make the song intoxicating. The song is also presented later in a solo version by Chitra, but the duet is better.

The second song on the album is the best: 'Tare Hain Baraati Hain' is sung by Jaswinder Narula (of the amazing Judaai song from Judaai) and Kumar Sanu. Ms. Narula has an amazing pain-filled voice and if she works a bit on her Urdu pronunciation she'll be one of the best playback singers in the future. (She should definitely win the R.D. Burman Filmfare Award for best new musical artiste next year.) The chorus in this song and the other songs are also used to full advantage to give the songs a great deal of 'depth'.

The third song is 'Jaayegi Pee Ke Sang Sajke Gori' which has an amazing percussive backbeat and is sung with a great deal of pizazz by Abhijeet. Hariharan of course provides great vocals to 'Ek Aisa Tha Raja', but the annoying 'Dum Chuk Dum Chuk' interludes detracted me from calling this the best song of the album.

'Sun Mausa Sun Mausi' is an okay song sung by Vinod Rathod. I am not really an admirer of the HAHK family-based type songs, because I find lyrics to these types of songs sort of boring. But if you like those sort of songs, this one also is at least sung very well by Vinod. The last song is sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy, and honestly, I cannot remember it at all, so it probably was not that good. Overall however, this album is amazing. Buy it people!!!!

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'Aa-ya-ya-ya-ya-aa!' Sorry folks, didn't mean to scare you. I'm just really happy to announce the release of the music for the long-awaited Rajiv Rai flick 'Gupt'. This film's music does not at all disappoint listeners and will probably ranks as the hippest and most exuberant film score of 1997. The music for 'Gupt' is provided by Viju Shah, who did Rajiv Rai's earlier 'Mohra', 'Vishwatma' and 'Tridev' also. The music is on par with all of these earlier films. It reflects the joie de vivre of us youngsters, through techno beats and the instrumental score is also able to aptly convey the danger of the film's murder- mystery theme. Rather than continuing to exalt about the score, let me give you a run-down of the songs of the film, in order of my views on their quality. 1) Mushkil Bada Yeh Pyar Hai sung by Alka and Udit Narayan is a mind-blowing number with great percussive backbeats. Alka proves in this song that she has the vocals that can give all her contemporaries a run for their money. The lyrics by Anand Bakshi are very ingenious and involve multiple single word rhyming lines. Simply, an unforgettable song!!

2) Gupt Gupt is sung very ably by today's number one female singer Kavita Krishnamurthy and the background vocals are provided by Hema Sardesai and Chetan. (The 'Aa-ya-ya... I mentioned above is a recurring background line in most of the film's songs.) The film's title song has the best usage of instruments from the entire film score. Considering that the film has got so many great instrumental songs, this is a really big treat.

3) Yeh Pyaasi Mohabbat is an erotically charged solo sung with gusto again by Alka, and reflects the theme of unrequitted love (at least I think it does). Interesting to note that if you listen to the background score it sounds like the lady is in a secluded area (the jungle perhaps) and being chased by hounds. (Or maybe it is just my imagination.)

4) Duniya Haseeno Ka Mela by Udit and Sunita Rao (background vocals) is remniscent of Rajiv Rai's earlier films and is lso a greeat song.

5) Yeh Pyaar Kya Hai has competitors Alka and Kavita singing with Kumar Sanu. All the singers do their jobs very well. The song starts off with an interesting flute prelude and is a romantic ballad.

6) Mere Sanam Mujhko has the neglected Sadhana Sargam singing a duet with Udit Narayan. It is a simple love song.

7) Mere Khabo Mein Tu is the only song in the film that didn't make me jump up on my seat. It is a good song, nonetheless and perhaps with a great video with one of the film's heroines, I'll like it more.

If you are still sitting there without the CD for 'Gupt', I'm surprised. I don't think I've understressed the fun of this film album. With a star cast including the gorgeous, red hot and talented girls, Manisha and Kajol, and a hunk like Bobby Deol, I have a feeling the music and film are going to be among the biggest hits of 1997.