Music Review: ‘OK Jaanu’

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Aditya Roy Kapur & Shraddha Kapoor in 'Ok Jaanu'
Aditya Roy Kapur & Shraddha Kapoor in ‘Ok Jaanu’

Shaad Ali is back after his recent major box-office flop ‘Kill Dil’ (2014) with ‘OK Jaanu’ starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor. With the great Mani Ratnam behind the story, this modern day romantic drama is a story of modern day India with Kapur & Kapoor playing a young couple in a live-in relationship. The film is a Bollywood remake of a Tamil superhit ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’ (2015) which also featured the music of the great A R Rahman with the even greater Gulzar by his side on the lyrics. Rahman seems to have recycled the compositions of the Tamil film to produce the music of this Bollywood project. That shouldn’t make a lot of difference as his work and style uniquely standout from the rest. He hasn’t delivered any brilliant musical work in a while now and thus the expectations are high from this project that has the brilliant Ratnam behind Rahman along with the genius Gulzar penning the songs here. For a young urban romantic story the sound of this film should be fresh and exciting throughout with a lot of young singing talent listed in the credits.

Aditya Roy Kapur & Shraddha Kapoor in 'Ok Jaanu'
Aditya Roy Kapur & Shraddha Kapoor in ‘Ok Jaanu’

Starting with the title song OK Jaanu in the voice of Rahman and Srinidhi Venkatesh, this song truly has a fresh Rahman sound that is very synonymous with his melodic style. It has that pace and cool factor that makes it a fresh romantic tune for the young at heart in 2017. Rahman’s vocals have a young vibe that is executed well with a good amount of vocal processing as well on the synth parts making him sound like a twenty something which is perfect for this song. Supporting harmonies by Venkatesh are very sweet and suit Kapoor’s on-screen personality well. The music is electronically well executed and programmed. The synths have some good sounds like never heard from the Rahman camp before which is exciting to hear. The most complicated part in this song must have been the lyrics for Gulzar to fit in new lyrics into the existing composition of Rahman for this song from the Tamil album. If anyone could do it, it is Gulzar. They are not brilliant or deep but are causally classy for a youthful song like this. With good rhymes and strong use of words typical to his style, this song has a good mix of a unique melody, vocals and lyrics to make it a good listen. It is not fantastic going by the current standards in Bollywood but it has a good sound overall.

'OK Jaanu'
‘OK Jaanu’

The easiest and most popular song on the album before one even listens to it would be The Humma Song and that is simple to know. The original song from Ratnam’s ‘Bombay’ (1995) was turned into a classic by Remo and Rahman’s combined efforts along with lyrics from the great Mehboob. This is one of the best remakes in the last year within the current ruling trend of hit remakes. The focus has been on Punjabi remakes mostly but Badshah along with Tanishk Bagchi prove that a super Hindi classic like Humma can be brought back into 2017 and made a superhit of. The urban break beat feel of the song is very 2017. A rap by Badshah is an icing on top for this raunchy & romantic bedroom classic. Taking a dance track and slowing it down to a sexy hip-hop is a cool take on remakes. Vocals by Jubin Nautiyal & Shashaa Tirupati are sensuous and stylish at the same time. This is an easy superhit.

'OK Jaanu'
‘OK Jaanu’

The next song is all about letting Gulzar shine and get his due credit with a gorgeous romantic song called Enna Sona. A Punjabi song true to his roots, this song has a level of simplicity in its lyrics and melody that is difficult to beat with almost an acoustic touch to it. The main instrument on the song are the vocals by Arijit Singh and is one of the best heard from him ever. He modulates his voice in a different way for this song singing at a rather high pitch which works really well for the song. Rahman just let’s Singh’s vocals and the lyrics take complete lead on the song. The overall melody and arrangement of the song is very likeable and smooth which completely demonstrates the talent of the genius Rahman. This song has tons of passion and romance and is done in a tasteful way that is a pleasure to listen to.

 

Jee Lein is a situational song about the story of the film about the couple living their life to the fullest for the ten days they have together. The song has a lot of pace to it and done in a way to have a bit of intensity to it. What doesn’t seem to work for the song is the vocal style adopted by Rahman for this song to be done in a really high pitch voice. Sung by Arjun Chandy, Neeti Mohan, Savithri Prithvi & Rahman himself, the vocal modulation is quite high. Although a unique approach, it is not too pleasing to listen to standalone on the album. It might work well on screen with the visuals giving the song company but even with fairly good && meaningful lyrics this song doesn’t impress.

 

Kaara Fankaara is a let go free spirited song that tries to capture the pulse of the youth of India and their musical language in lyrics and musical arrangement. The song has some brilliant programming and musical variance all done electronically. The beats are really solid and boast of exciting structure to them. Rahman throws in a lot of other instrument loops using guitars and keyboards on loop machines plus drum pads. The mixing work is exquisite as the song changes and comes back in a range of break formats. Vocally there is a lot of variety too with Paroma Das Gupta & Shashaa Tirupati leading the vocals with supporting vocals by Hard Kaur, ADK, Kaly and Ashima Mahajan. Lyrics are mainly the rap that have a lot of personality and are brave & brash in a way. The singers have contributed and come together to put the lyrics with Kaur, ADK, Kaly and Navneet Virk penning these down. The innovation factor is high in this song and will be seen as a song for hip-hop dance performances, but for general listening it is a little too hard to get used to it. Rahman has done a great job but seems to have gone a tad overboard here in trying too hard to deliver a fresh young sound.

'OK Jaanu' Aditya-Shraddha
‘OK Jaanu’ Aditya-Shraddha

The brilliant Jonita Gandhi & Nakash Aziz get on the mic next for Saajan Aayo Re. A ghazal fusion in composition, Rahman creates a new wave of fusion music here with a blend of classical Indian music set to the tune of a deep bass beat. There is a lot of world music albums that try to do what has been done here, but Rahman has done an far more elaborate and in-depth work creating a very powerful song that has some stunning performance by Gandhi. Her control on the notes while delivering each word is simply marvellous. She delivers vocal shifts effortlessly with some stunning depth delivered on each line. The lyrics are really good too and pretty much sound like a classical piece. It is quite extraordinary for Gulzar to come up with these in 2017 hip-hop & house beats era. There is depth and a certain bit of sensuality & romance to the lyrics that are amplified by the musical arrangement & the excellent vocal delivery. This is not a commercial song but played in the easy listening hours of radio this song can put anyone in a trance. A must listen for any Hindustani music lover.

'OK Jaanu' Aditya-Shraddha
‘OK Jaanu’ Aditya-Shraddha

Maula Wa Sallim is a traditional Arabic prayer song sung by child artist A R Ameen in a very pure and clean delivery. Kid Ameen shows good vocal capability and is very well conducted by Rahman. The focus is entirely on the vocal with simple vocal harmonies behind and a soft duff beat. The song is overall very peaceful and pious to listen to.

 

Sunn Bhavara is performed by Shashaa Tirupati and is yet another classical song on the album.. but this is a pure classical song set to a Tabla theka and Sarangi strings. The Tabla & Sarangi are very clean and beautifully played. Tirupati’s vocals are the highlight of the song and a treat to listen to. The sweetness in her voice is almost like a nightingale singing with some brilliant classical control and delivery of the notes. Lyrically Gulzar saab yet again surprise one with delivering a complex classical music arrangement in a modern youth film. This is a great way of bringing back the magic of Hindustani classical and make it relevant to current listeners. There are some really beautiful lines in the lyrics that are emotional and engaging. Rahman has composed this song well but yet again this is not for masses and is for musical elite.

 

FINAL WORD

With the great Gulzar saab on an album combining forces with A R Rahman one can surely expect some good work. The music of ‘OK Jaanu’ is as expected delivering innovative sounds, catchy numbers for the masses and some exquisite songs for the discerning musical ear with two musical maestros working on the album with a legendry director behind them. The use of Hindustani classical music is strong on the soundtrack which was a surprise for a young romantic modern day story soundtrack. A common factor to any Rahman album is his choice of singers which is always exceptional! He launches new talent all the time and there are some amazing new voices on this album never heard in Bollywood before. Shashaa Tirupati, Savirtri Prithvi, Kaly, ADK are some talent to listen to while Arijit Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Badshah, Neeti Mohan & Rahman himself are at the typical best. Compare this work of Rahman to some of his recent films and this OST is better by miles & way ahead in getting it right. The Humma Song is a clear winner along with OK Jaanu & Enna Sona being other likely commercial hits. Saajan Aayo Re and Sunn Bhavara are brilliant classical songs while Kaara Fankaara is something unique and innovative. For Gulzar to fit Hindi lyrics within existing Tamil songs must be difficult but he does it well in his distinctive style… ofcourse with deep and complicated lyrics. Well done to the team as this album is a good start to 2017.

 

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

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