Namaste England music review: Mannan Shaah's album is enjoyable but devoid of great recall value
The music of Namaste England has gems like 'Tere Liye' and 'Bhare Bazaar' but these won't enjoy the shelf life that the soundtrack of Namastey London does.
Eleven years ago, Vipul Shah's romantic drama Namastey London created a wave for multiple reasons, one of those being Himesh Reshammiya's music. Songs like 'Main Jahan Rahoon', 'Rafta Rafta', 'Annan Faanan' and 'Dilruba' emerged as songs that continue to be popular among listeners. Now, as Shah gears up for the second installment of the Namaste franchise — Namaste England — the music (scored by his Commando collaborator Mannan Shaah) is gradually making an impression too, putting its composer on the Bollywood map.
'Tere Liye' is the best of the lot. Eight years ago, Atif Aslam sang the chartbuster 'Tere Liye' from the film Prince. Here, the singer reunites with the lyrics but in a song that is much softer in tonality. Atif doubles the impact of his textured voice with its measured throw. Mannan's music starts off slowly only to pick up power towards the chorus, leveraging Atif's full-throttle delivery. Javed Akhtar's lyrics are simple but underline a significant message in these times when songs are increasingly encouraging one to live for only themselves ("Ek bar baby 'Selfish' ho ke apne liye jeeyo na"). The idea of living for someone else ('Tere Liye') is liberating.
'Bhare Bazaar' is the better Badshah song from the album. Though his rap sequence is not as well-written and sung as the rest of the song, Badshah does a commendable job in composing the song with Rishi Rich, and penning the lyrics with Master Rakesh. The musical arrangement is such that it invites quirky steps on the dance floor. The steps come naturally as one listens to the song. Additionally, Vishal Dadlani lends it an air of mischief with his uninhibited vocals. Payal Dev's vocals have an echo effect that adds another layer to her parts of the song.
'Proper Patola' once again proves rehashes only undermine the potential of the rich musical talent of the Hindi film industry. This is a rejigged version of Diljit Dosanjh and Badshah's 2013 song which scaled the charts within days. Badshah should have shown some restraint here by limiting his role to only composing and writing. His lyrics, along with the EDM beats, rob the song of its innocence and meditative pace. Even his rap gets just the meter right, compromising on the punch that was much needed to make the song sound more original. Aastha Gill's vocals fail to add value to the rehashed version.
'Dhoom Dhadakka' is a bhangra number. With the film partly set in Punjab, the Punjabi music should have ideally stood out. But Mannan's music here does not create the same ripples that 'Chakna Chakna' and 'Rafta Rafta' made in Namastey London. EDM beats are clubbed with the dhol throughout the song. This amalgamation seems organic and adds to the song. Shahid Mallya submits himself to the rhythm of the song but does not make his vocals stand out like they did in his far better songs like 'Radha' from Imtiaz Ali's romantic comedy Jab Harry Met Sejal last year and more recently, 'Saadi Sachi Mohabbat' from Anurag Kashyap's Manmarziyaan. Antara Mitra, who announced her arrival through 'Gerua' in Rohit Shetty's 2015 family drama Dilwale, has only a couple of fleeting lines here and thus, fails to make a fraction of the same impression. Parts of Akhtar's lyrics are interesting where he compares love to education. For example, "Jabse hai tujhko taada, tab se ratu pahaada teri chaahat ka, teri ulfat ka" and "Laga tere naam ka ratta."
'Tu Meri Main Tera' benefits from the same aspect as 'Tere Liye' — the soul-stirring vocals of its singer. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan takes this grounded Mannan Shaah composition and flies to the heavens with it. The composer lets him take the flight, making every possible arrangement to complement the veteran singer's untarnished voice. Akhtar's lyrics fluctuate from the simple to the philosophical, in tandem with Rahat's flights. Their collaboration makes the song sound like a meditative hum amidst chaos.
'Kya Kahoon Jaaneman' is the most disappointing offering of this album. Mannan seems utterly confused about the genre of the song. It feels like he is using the wrong beats for a song with jazz overtones. Sashaa Tirupati's vocals also do not fit into the jazz mould though she gives it her all. Akhtar's lyrics could not have done any better either, given the framework within which his lyrics function. But he could have definitely risen above the clunky lyrics that weigh the song down even more.
Mannan takes to the mic in 'Ziddi Hai Dil' and approaches the intense separation song in a no-holds-barred manner. Surprisingly, on the contrary, he keeps the composition quite restrained. This balance helps his vocals to strike the right chord, aided aptly by the steady composition. Akhtar could have scored brownie points by lending more depth to his words, and hit the sweet spot between pitching it high and letting it go. But here, the lyrics just skim the surface and step back.
Overall, some songs of Namaste England do stir up something within but many just fail to sustain the momentum. The music may get a small section of the audience to the theatres but it will have a tough time enjoying the shelf life that the soundtrack of Namastey London does.
Listen to the entire album here.
Namaste London stars Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra and Alankrita Sahai. It is co-produced by Jayantilal Gada (Pen), Reliance Entertainment and Blockbuster Movie Entertainers. It is slated to release this Thursday on 18 October.
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