This year's first big-budget Bollywood release comes with Akshay Kumar's Chandni Chowk to China (CC2C), releasing next week in the UAE.
The Nikhil Advani-directed comedy has been in the news ever since Hollywood studio Warner Bros. signed on as producers. And it seems their first objective was to rope in India's top music composers for a film soundtrack that comprises eight songs, of which two are mere remixes.
The tag-team of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy are joined by Bohemia, Kailash Kher and yesteryear's Bappi Lahiri – all of whom feature prominently with their signature sound.
The trio kick-off the album with the first of three title tracks, featuring the voices of Neeraj Shridhar, Anushka Manchandani and Shankar himself. It's your typical boy-meets-girl number, fused with oriental riffs to complement the film's locales.
While title track no2 is a tiresome remix that offers nothing new in terms of composition, it is Bohemia who saves the day with CC2C. The rapper has teamed up with Kumar himself – who's suddenly discovered a newfound love for singing – providing a funky hip-hop track.
It is singer-composer-lyricist Kher's turn to shine next with S.I.D.H.U and Chak Lein De (plus remix). The former is a qawwali narrative, describing Kumar's character in the film, while Chak Lein De is a coming-of-age rendition that throws up images of Kumar flexing his biceps while wielding a sword.
The good news is, a traditionalist like Kher can always be counted upon to skip the electronic syncs and make way for the real sound of harmonium, dhols and sitars.
S-E-L's ode to actress Deepika Padukone's eyes follows next with Tere Naina. Shankar and Shreya Ghosal walk down the same path that was treaded on in Falak Tak (Tashan), Ishq Hua (Aaja Nachle) and even Tum Hi Dekho Na (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna). Yes, those songs were chartbusters, but could filmmakers please stop paddling in safe waters and allow composers to experiment, like the trio did with Rock On?
Thankfully, Bappi Lahiri releases some of that frustration with his no-nonsense India Se Aya Mera Dost – yup, it's a play on his famous hit song Bombay Se Aya Mera Dost (Aap Ki Khatir).
It's simple, it's funny as hell and it's Bappida personified. So what if the man doesn't have the polished voice of a Sonu Niigam or even a Shaan? What he lacks in skill, is more than made up with his passion for music. If you are a true Bollywood fan, we recommend CC2C to relive the Bappi magic.