We can almost imagine music director Ram Sampath and his team of lyricists sniggering like Beavis and Butthead over every clever homonym and double entendre they came up with while working on the songs for Delhi Belly. By now, you and your kids have probably heard “Bhaag D. K. Bose, Aandhi Aayi”, a song that is such a big hit that the film’s producers, Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao held a party to celebrate its success.
“Bhaag D. K. Bose” is arguably the catchiest song to come out of Bollywood so far this year, but the transliteration of the Hindi abuse that it riffs on is hardly an original idea. Delhi-based artist duo Thukral and Tagra launched an entire line of D. K. Bose products back in 2005. To us, the fact that we can hear “Bhaag D. K. Bose” on the TV and radio during all times of the day has more to do with the warped sensibilities of our censor board than with any sense of moral obligation on the part of the film makers. As ideas go, it’s a cheap one but it’s one of many on the Delhi Belly soundtrack which, flawed as it may be, stands out for its uniqueness because of the assembly-line ethic that runs through the majority of the Bollywood music world.
While Imran Khan’s look in the video for “Bhaag D. K. Bose” may be inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong’s in the Green Day clip for “American Idiot” (see an ingenious mash-up here), at least the song—a burst of infectious power-pop—sounds like nothing we’d heard in an Indian film before. Sure, it’s what like Green Day would sound like if they were to record a Hindi song (albeit Green Day when they were still singing about smoking weed rather than bashing Bush), but we should credit Sampath with being the first to think of such a seemingly bizarre idea (and for throwing in some mandolin into the mix).
Alas, none of the other seven tunes match up to “Bhaag D. K. Bose”; and the album plays almost like a stand-up comedian struggling to live up to the promise he showed on his brilliant opening joke. And that’s possibly the problem with Delhi Belly—it’s an album of novelty tracks where the gags probably sounded better on paper than they do on your iPod. Take “Saigal Blues”, where veteran voice-over artist Chetan Shashital mimics the morose singing style of K. L. Saigal over some bluesy electric guitar (by Soulmate’s Rudy Wallang no less). When Shashital sings lines like “Is dard ki na hai davaiee/Majnoo hai ya hai tu kasaai”, it’s funny but only on first listen. And while we greatly appreciate that Sampath reminds the rest of Bollywood that it is indeed possible to compose a Punjabi song without a battery of dhols, “Switty Tera Pyaar Chaida” is little more than a collection of verses where the insertion of English words in Punjabi sentences is meant to bring on the “ha-ha’s”. Sample this: “Ho me zindagi di lead ey/Switty tera pyaar/Ho meri need meri greed ey”. It might be funnier on screen, but on the earphones, it sounds a bit laboured.
“I Hate You (Like I Love You)” on the other hand has more changes in tempo and melody than a Black Eyed Peas song. It starts off a bit like a qawwali, moves to some deadpan spoken-word bits by Aamir Khan (“Shake that biscuit for me, baby”), flows into a desi disco section, followed by an English rock refrain and some horns straight out of a Western….we’re presuming the picturisation is hilarious. The closest Sampath and company gets to another “Bhaag D. K. Bose” is on the surfer rock recalling “Ja Chudail”, where Suraj Jaggan actually manages to restrain himself from shouting the lyrics of the musical kiss-off. Perhaps then, it’s no coincidence that the weakest track is also the only one without any nudge-nudge, wink-wink elements: with chiming guitars and clichéd (as opposed to funny) lyrics, “Tere Siva” is a U2-by-way-of-Strings ballad that could have easily been left off the track list.
Delhi Belly is Aamir Khan’s attempt to corner some of the Hindi indie niche carved out by Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee with films like Dev.D and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! The soundtrack, like its parent film, attempts to do what someone else has done before but better. As soundtracks go, Delhi Belly is no Dev.D but it’s a far preferable alternative than pretty much of all of Pritam’s Ready-made repertoire.
Delhi Belly, Soundtrack, T-Series, Rs175. Buy it from Flipkart.com.Tags: Delhi Belly, Hindi film music, Music, music review, music reviews, Ram Sampath, soundtrack