In Aami Shotti Bolchi, Vishal-Shekhar conjure the sights, smells and a sense of Kolkata in their sounds, fuelled by Vishal’s spunky writing. Light jazz eases into swing music with a simplistic five-note riff playing through Usha Uthup’s racy lines such as: Dil ka bazaar hai, thoda bizzare hai…Kolkata khwaaishon, armaano ka aachaar hai. While Usha uses her inimitable zest to make every line her own, Bollywood’s first encounter with new-age metal finally comes through – albeit in a special appearance – as Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, the high-spirited vocalist of the indie hardcore metal band Scribe, menacingly growls the chorus amidst a downpour of distorted guitars and thumping drums.
For Piya Tu Kaahe Rootha Re, Javed Bashir, ace vocalist of Pakistan’s Mekaal Hasan Band, throws expansive aalaaps against a synth-bass intro that will remind you of the lead-in to Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. What follows is a recipe for a thorough adrenaline rush – a sparkling guitar riff and Javed’s robust classical singing rivalling the energy of crunchy power chords. Like a smooth relay run, instruments such as piano, tabla and bass dissolve into sections to script a fine example of rock-classical fusion.
The third ace up V-S’s sleeve is the dreamy guitars and spacious synthesisers-driven Ekla Cholo Re. Who better to give a classy baritone treatment to Rabindranath Tagore’s epic song than Big B in his best Bangla accent? Amitabh Bachchan charms the wits out of you with his vocals that are as soothing as a well-aged bourbon. The reverb-powered arrangement buries itself into the background as if to let Bachchan take control and weave his magic with two verses, one each in Bengali and Hindi.
The quality divide between these three numbers and the other three is quite apparent. The title song Kahaani, with its two versions – sung by KK and Shreya Ghoshal respectively – starts off as an overtly sweet melody before switching to a hummable chorus: Mera in raahon se hai rishta koi, anjaana sa puraana kissa koi…In se jo poocho toh kahenge, yeh meri kahaani. While both KK and Ghoshal do well to keep an unremarkable track alive, it is the latter’s acoustic version that makes some impact. As for Tore Bina, an eclectic track voiced by Sukhwinder Singh, the hitch is that plenty of similar-sounding songs have been thrashed out in the indie rock scene.
With this album, somehow, Vishal-Shekhar’s decade-long association with director Sujoy Ghosh seems to have come full circle, as unlike the lukewarm Home Delivery and the passable Aladin, it has three genuinely stand-out songs, just as their first venture Jhankaar Beats had. Good music certainly has its way of standing out among the ordinary.