The five tunes in Saala Khadoos, a film starring an extremely fit R Madhavan and debutante Ritika Singh, come with a combination of unique personalities and absolutely, scrappy, nonentities. A couple of compositions by Santhosh Narayanan, who has also composed the Tamil version of the album, are like a thrilling ping-pong session between guitar preludes and interludes and some brilliant vocals, while others just fall flat on the face despite finding a straight verse-chorus-guitar hook structure. While some songs are outright fantastic, the composer needed to have fleshed out things a little more in some others.
A guitar prelude and a vocal chorus open the title song by Vishal Dadlani. The huskiness is paired with softness in his voice consistently. Dadlani delivers this in his inimitable power-packed style. But the weak composition doesn’t leave much scope for the piece to soar.
A sudden entry of a bluesy guitar has us sitting up. Sunidhi Chauhan follows, her voice paired with a Dappan koothu (a kind of tambourine without the jingles) and some light synth to deliver the album’s finest, Jhalli patakha. She sings it like tapori pop, like a Western classical piece, sometimes infusing elements of Hindustani classical and acing every syllable in it. It’s a mishmash that’s so easy to swing to.
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It’s with the next one that the album accrues quite a bit of panache. Monali Thakur’s Dil ye ladaku takes several twists and turns along with some heaving violins, an accordion, a flute and some beatboxing put together beautifully. A treat, arrangement-wise and otherwise. The piece is slightly dreamy, and its soulful pace works very well. Jagaa khunnas begins really well, with Dadlani and an electronic guitar and some lurching basslines. An energetic piece, it begins to dip in the middle when a powerful guitar solo by Joseph Vijay turns it into an intriguing listen towards the end.
Kalyani Nair’s Dhuan hai is a middle-of-the-rung melody, delivered flatly. It doesn’t have anything much to take back. Melancholy always needs to sound believable; it doesn’t. The Tamil version of the song sounds a notch better.