For most part Hassan Learns French Cooking carries the grand orchestral sound dominated by strings (and that oboe/clarinet), and undergo presumably situational mode changes more than once. Where it touches a high is when A R Rahman adds some Carnatic elements into the mix, especially that brief violin solo with the ghatam for accompaniment. In the slower, pensive The Village of Saint Antonin, the piano joins the strings (the oboe/clarinet continues with some nice bits). The piano sections impart the song a sense of déjà vu, but the overall soothing mood of the song makes it a lovely listen. New Beginnings effectively pans out as four different tracks of which a couple are quite nice, the santoor and sarangi led ones. But bundling them up as a single song doesn’t seem to make sense. Vintage Recipe’s folk flavoured melody (shades of ahir bhairav raaga perhaps) plays out well, first on the sitar and then on the sarod, which then segues beautifully into a crescendo led by violins – all this in just over 2 minutes. Mr. Kadam has a lovely first half (and a little more), the highlight being of course the classical flute (miyan ki malhar raaga I felt) nestled in an ambient background. But then it takes a discordant turn in the last 40 odd seconds. Situational I am sure, but sounds jarring as a track. The East West duel in The Clash is engaging, the violins going about playing Western Classical pieces while the sitar and mridangam and manjiras contribute the “clashy” bits. The style is repetitive, but the composition works. Destiny, Fire, War understandably has three logical parts, all dark-coloured in their sound with a lot of frenetic strings. The last bit is the best, the violins joined by sarangi in a rousing finale. Prasanna’s gentle guitar strumming combines beautifully with that solo violin to quite literally give us The Gift, one of the soundtrack’s best.
The lead refrain of You Complete Me quite clearly borrows from ARR’s own Leo Coffee jingle (one that turned out to be his ticket to stardom), and except for a brief 30 second diversion (that really should have been a longer independent track), is built around that melody. The composer makes use of Prasanna’s classical style guitaring in the tranquil Alone In Paris that too makes subtle references to older compositions (sensed a bit of anbe sugama towards the end). The ending with the humming is particularly endearing. India Calling starts off as an extended version of that poignant flute-led piece from You Complete Me, with humming by Shalini, but soon turns out to be another medley that works in parts. Reunion too uses the refrain from You Complete Me and given that it is more Indian classical based here (it even has the sitar playing the tune, the jingle had it on veena), sounds much closer to the original. End Credits Suite rehashes segments from Hassan Learns French Cooking with some peekaboo style additions, but I’d much rather go back to the first track. My Mind is a Stranger Without You has a haunting melody that is treated by ARR in a most dreamy fashion; that Robert Miles-ish synth loop in particular. And the singing by the composer and Solange Merdinian is top notch, the lady in particular excelling with the (French?) lyrics (of which she gives the meaning here). It is only the return to the You Complete Me refrain that dilutes the high. A La Hassan de Paris goes further ahead on that dreamy route, a racy techno-based instrumental piece possessing a rather addictive tune. Bringing up the rear is the soundtrack’s second vocal track, Nakash Aziz and KM Sufi Ensemble doing the honors for Afreen. ARR picks up the violin bit from Hassan Learns French Cooking and deftly converts it into a qawwali-flavored piece, delivered very well by the singers.
A largely atmospheric score with a lot of Indian sounds, and the occasional peek into his past – A R Rahman’s The Hundred Foot Journey is fine background material.
Music Aloud Rating: 8.5/10
Top Recos: My Mind is a Stranger Without You,The Gift, Afreen, You Complete Me