Ilaiyaraaja is one of the greatest composers in the history of Indian cinema. Unfortunately, the maestro has not done a lot of work in Hindi films and because of that, he is not as recognized on a pan India level as he is down South. R.Balki, a self-confessed fan of the composer, ropes him for each of his directorial ventures. The music of ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’, though not extraordinary, had a couple of hummable songs. Apart from starring Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush in lead roles, Shamitabh marks the debut of Akshara Haasan, Kamal Haasan’s younger daughter. The fact that Ilaiyaraja’s talent has been underutilized in Hindi films makes us look forward to every Hindi album that the composer comes up with.
“Ishq-E-Phillum” is an ode to cinema and speaks about the craze that film buffs have for the medium. The song starts off well with some piano notes accompanied by techno beats. However, as Suraj Jagan’s voice is heard and we are introduced to the basic structure of the song, one can’t help but feel underwhelmed. The tune fails to impress and turns out be bearable just because of the orchestral arrangements. Various sounds emanating from a synthesizer loom over the song. Saxophone, pads and violins are also played intermittently. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics convey the basic concept of the song but sound repetitive after a while.
The next song, “Sha Sha Sha Mi Mi Mi”, kicks starts with a grand sound of trumpets which gives us an impression of a richly orchestrated filmy number. That’s not the case, though, as it turns out to be techno based trance number that has a slightly haunting feel to it. Ilaiyaraja’s music is good with some interesting shift in harmonies that take place during the course of the track. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are average with some overtly creative lines (‘Zoomein Camera Tab Se’) that makes one cringe. Caralisa Monteiro’s smooth, relaxed vocals work wonders for the song.
‘Shamitabh’, as director Balki says, is an ode to Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone. Thus, it is only fair to have the actor sing one of the songs on the album. With a familiar yet engaging tune and some good arrangements, “Piddly Si Baatein” turns out to be a decent hear. The song seems tailor made for Amitabh Bachchan’s voice and the legend sings it in style. If the tune fails to excite you, console yourself with some lovely violin pieces.
While younger sister Akshara makes her acting debut with the film, elder sister Shruti Haasan gets to sing a song. One heard Shruti’s voice recently in ‘Joganiya’ (Tevar) where she lent her voice for Sonakshi Sinha. Ilaiyaraja recreates ‘Aasaiya Kathula’, his own song from the Tamil film ‘Johny’ as “Stereophonic Sannata”. The song sounds extremely dated and the techno arrangements do no good either. Shruti’s spirited rendition is marred by a dull composition. The song has references to several singers, composers and lyricists and has words that only people familiar with film parlance will relate to.
The atrocity continues with “Thappad”, sung by Suraj Jagan and Earl D’Souza (rap). Ilaiyaraaja incorporates various instruments like, electric guitar, violin, syntheziser, bass apart from infusing techno beats and rap. But, the arrangements are wasted in a bland tune. Swanand Kirkire’s whacky lyrics are good.
The makers seem to have got a huge amount from popular soap brand “Lifebuoy” to incorporate a song in the film just to promote the brand. Suraj Jagan sings this one too, which makes one feel as if this is an extension to the last track. Honestly, the song is so bad that Unilever, the manufacturing company, would not like to use it as a jingle in a TVC for the soap. The song, thankfully, is short and finishes at around two minutes.
Shamitabh is the weakest album that the Ilaiyaraaja-Balki team has delivered so far. Almost all the songs are situational and would sound when one watches the film. Ilaiyaraja makes a disappointing comeback to Hindi films. Hopefully, the next Hindi soundtrack he scores will have some glimpse of the genius that he is.