Listen to the soundtrack here.
The soothing twangs of the mandolin and guitar, Mohit Chauhan singing with an amusingly matching nasality, that’s how Rockstar’s opening track Phir Se Udd Chala starts off. And then A R Rahman starts adding on layers in his inimitable fashion, until towards the fag end the undesirable addition of a techno loop happens. The anthemic Jo Bhi Main also has Mohit on the vocals, singing to an invigorating guitar-led background (totally loved the lead hook), Rahman giving a very live feel to this one. Very addictive, the song. Song no.3, Kateya Karoon, brings Harshdeep Kaur on the vocals (with Chaiyya Chaiyya lady Sapna Awasthi on backing vocals). Being ARR a plain vanilla Punjabi song was never expected, and the man doesn’t let us down, crafting the most richly orchestrated Punjabi-flavored song I have heard in recent times. And what flawless singing by Harshdeep! The only regret I had when I heard Kun Fayakun in the promo was that it was under four minutes, which I thought was the original length. How wrong I was. The actual song is close to eight minutes of pure bliss, Rahman NEVER goes wrong with the devotional genre. And the man himself gets behind the mic with Javed Ali and Mohit Chauhan to round it off in style. Watch out for a brief twist at about 5:45. Sheher Mein charms for its peppy tune ably rendered by Karthik and Mohit Chauhan, but also for the way the situational dialogues are peppered all through the track. Rahman makes interesting use of Mohit’s voice in the groovy Spanish (with occasional East European-esque garnishing) Hava Hava, Vivianne Chaix, Tanvi Shah, Suvi Suresh and Shalini supporting him well on the chorus. Special mention is deserved by George Doering for his Spanish guitaring (also dulcimer, I read, though I could not place it exactly) and the fabulous violin by Ann Marie Calhoun. You can actually feel the pain of the protagonist in Aur Ho, such is the rendition by Mohit, with an equally efficient Alma Ferovic on the backing vocals (traces of mayamalavagoula raga, I felt).
Naadaan Parindey has ARR back on vocals with Mohit, but here the clear winner is the composer’s extremely heady arrangement that touches elaborate anthemic proportions in places. Kavita Krishnamoorthy’s reunites with ARR after a long hiatus (Main Vari Vari was their last afaik) in Tum Ko, but the result isn’t something that would count among the best songs from the combo, carrying a very heard-before feel about it. The orchestration of Tum Ho, sung by Mohit and Suzanne, also faces a similar issue, the arrangement and the tune quite evocative of ARR’s work for Yuvvraaj. And then comes the song that has been one of the prime contributors to the buzz around the soundtrack, the song that is trending on twitter as I write this, Sadda Haq. And the song totally, TOTALLY, lives up to the hype that it created. Orianthi’s proficient guitaring, Mohit’s frenzied singing, enough to drive you into a trance of sorts! Ranbir does a decent narration of The Meeting Place, apparently based on a poem by Rumi. The composer closes the soundtrack with two instrumental pieces, Tango For Taj – which starts off with a lovely interplay between piano and accordion before other instruments kick in to produce an “Indianized” Spanish piece, and The Dichotomy of Fame, where Balesh on shehnai and Kabuli on guitars effect a haunting theme song.
Imtiaz Ali has always displayed a good ear for music, but in Rockstar he has totally outdone himself. A soundtrack of absolutely epic proportions. A. R. Rahman, thou truly art God.
Music Aloud Rating: 9.5/10
Top Recos: Don’t bother, just go listen to the soundtrack.