Director Shaad Ali has a very good track record as far as the music of his films is concerned. He has had a chequered career as a filmmaker what with some of his films (‘Saathiya’ and ‘Bunty Aur Babli’) hitting the bull’s eye and some (‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ and ‘Kill Dil’) biting the dust. But, the music of all these films has been exceptionally good. ‘Ok Kanmani’ is the official Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam’s ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’, a film which had some stellar tunes by A.R. Rahman. ‘OK Kanmani’ is also a special film as it the first time when Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and A.R. Rahman have joined hands for a project.
“OK Jaanu”, the title track, is the Hindi equivalent of “Mental Manadhil” from ‘O Kadhal Kanmani.’ “Kal ki beeti kal huyi thi, aane wala kal bada hai, dil ne fir karwat li dekho, dil mein koyi pal pada hai”, it is amazing to see Gulzar coming up with such profound lines in a frivolous (in a good way) song like this. If you manage to ignore the fact that the phrase ‘OK Jaanu’ has been forced into the song, you will be able to enjoy this cracker of a song which boasts of a lively set against a nicely arranged synthesised background. Despite butchering a few words in Hindi, A.R. Rahman does a sufficiently good job as a vocalist.
After the pulsating title track arrives “Enna Sona”, a slow paced romantic song sung by Arijit Singh that boasts of a kind of a sound you expect to come across in a Salim-Sulaiman composed number. The rustic Punjabi lyrics serve as a wonderful contrastive element in a song dominated by a westernised sound. Unlike most of A.R. Rahman’s compositions that have a complex structure to them, this one has a simple and sing along-ish tune which gets on your lips in no time.
The only track in the album, which A.R. Rahman is not associated with is, ironically, a reimagined version of a song originally composed by him. Jubin Nautiyal’s icy voice fits in perfectly with the lounge like treatment given to “The Humma Song” by Tanishk Bagchi. Even Badshah’s rap, which usually does not have any novelty, sounds quite nice here. The infectious tune of the original has been retained while layering it with fresh orchestral arrangements that compliment it. The original was, of course better, but this is not bad either.
“Jee Lein” sounds much more evocative than its Tamil counterpart “Theera Ula” and is a throwback to the kind of sound one associated with A.R. Rahman more than a decade ago. The backgrounds and the overall feel of the song reminds one of “O Saaya” (‘Slumdog Millionaire’). The composition sounds a little one-dimensional but the contrasting structures of the parts rendered by Rahman and the ones by Neeti Mohan make the song sound interesting.
In “Kaara Fankaara”, Rahman creates a concoction of the sound and melody of two songs (“O Humdum Suniyo Re” and “Chalka Chalka”) from ‘Saathiya’. The song offers no novelty for people who are familiar with Rahman’s body of work. However, the song makes for a pleasant hearing and the hook line makes sure that you listen to it at least a couple of times in a row.
“Saajan Aayo Re”, the Hindi version of “Naane Varugiraen” from ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’ sounds better than the latter (which was beautiful nevertheless) as Jonita’s voice works better than Shashaa Tirupati for this song which has a Carnatic classical base to it. Jonita, who has trained in western classical music, performs the song very well and also lends a nice, sensuous touch to it. Gulzar writes some simple, easily comprehensible for an otherwise complex composition.
“Maula Wa Sallim”, a composition weaved around a prayer, was a part of the ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’ album and has been added in this album without any alteration. The song, rendered by Rahman’s son A.R. Ameen, has the requisite spiritual appeal to calm one’s senses. Though it would be difficult for many to comprehend the meaning of the phrases in the song, the devotional tone of the track is palpable.
“Sun Bhavara” will probably serve as a replacement for “Malargal Kaettaen” (‘O Kadhal Kanmani’) and will be lip synced by Leela Samson, who plays a Carnatic vocalist in the film. Sashaa Tirupathi’s voice, in this particular song, reminded me of Reena Bhardwaj who had sung a couple of songs (“Yeh Rishta – Meenaxi”, “Jheeni Re – Raavan”) for Rahman in the past. Sashaa sounds ethereal in her rendition of this beautiful composition which, like “Saajan Aayo Re”, has been moulded around a raga.
‘OK Jaanu’ has a good mix of some repackaged tracks from ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’ and some fresh melodies that would appeal to the pan-India audience this film has been made for. The album is also a treat for those who reminisce about A.R. Rahman’s compositions from the yesteryears as several songs leave you with a pleasant sense of déjà vu.