Composer: Shantanu Moitra
Lyrics: Ali Haya
The year was 1995. Two relatively unknown names Shoojit Sircar and Shantanu Moitra gave us Mann ke Manjeere,a superb album that was one last attempt to push the revive button on the Indian pop music scene,with singer Shubha Mudgals soaring vocals finding resonance with the nation. This was followed by the director and the composer coming together in Yahaan in 2005. And well,all our senses still havent forgotten the dazzling and delicate Puche jo koi. Moitras compositions were intelligent,simple and gave us a unique mishmash of folk and western music,which did not comprise the quintessential Punjabi dhol.
Eight years after their last outing,the two are back with John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri-starrer political spy thriller Madras Cafe. The eight track score of the film,though well orchestrated,does not come with the Midas touch Moitra is known for. Its only half as good as his scores in the past that has seen a masterpiece like Parineeta. The tunes of Madras Cafe are innocuous,with only glimpses of Moitras genius.
The album opens with Papons Sun le,which follows a slew of electric guitar interludes. Its a pleasant track with keys,guitar and sarangi interwoven with the hero of the song Papons rousing voice. Sun le does achieve some recall value after numerous replays. The Reprise version of the song,which is pacier with heavy riffs,is not better than the original and is a forced addition. This is followed by Zebunnisa Bangashs (Zeb of Zeb and Haniya) Ajnabee in the singers trademark hushed tone,paired with an acoustic guitar. A soft and breezy number,which gives Zeb the unplugged space she is used to,the song is intimate and something far from the din of typical Bollywood songs. The moment the flute enters to blow in and out unostentatiously,the flashes of an almost masterstroke are finally visible,but the repetition of the notes towards the end do not allow the melody to linger.
Khud se opens with one of the better preludes one has heard in a long time,followed by a piano-guitar set-up. The song,though decent sounding,can strongly remind anyone of Behti hawa sa (also a Moitra composition from 3 Idiots) and does not appeal beyond a minute. The Madras Cafe (Theme 1),which has different string instruments coming in one after the other,sounds just about fine,but its likely that the haunting touch given to it will sound much better when put into a context in the film. Conspiracy,another instrumental track,comes with strong Middle-Eastern flavours and comprises Monali Thakurs haunting and gripping vocals,something which will sound gorgeous when its part of the background score. Entry to Jaffna is a violin piece that fails to have any impact.
Moitra is successful at the unsion of Hindustani and western instruments,but the melodies sound just about alright. What does not come to the fore is the greatness that Moitras music has the capacity to produce and has delivered in the past.