Anu Malik fails to impress with 'Umrao Jaan'

Oct 16, 2006 Zafri Mudasser Nofil

The mention of "Umrao Jaan" brings to mind Rekha performing to Khayyam's immortal compositions - "Dil cheez kya hai", "In ankhon ki masti" and "Yeh kya jageh hai doston".

With Khayyam's composition in the 1981 original still holding sway, expectations from Anu Malik for the latest Aishwarya-starred remake are even higher.

The new "Umrao Jaan" is no doubt Malik's most important task to date.

And his job is made tougher as he does not even have someone of Asha Bhosle's calibre to help him out.

With too much in the asking, Malik ends up doing a not-so-great job - not that his work can be ignored, but it fails to touch the heights of Khayyam.

The album starts with the brief "Ek toote huye dil ki" by Alka Yagnik that expresses the melancholy of the courtesan Umrao Jaan.

There is a foreword by lyricist Javed Akhtar about Umrao Jaan, her songs and on 19th century Lucknow.

"Salaam", a hum-able mujra by Yagnik, is really the high point of the album. But the singer lacks the depth of Bhosle's voice and is unable to value-add to the well-written track.

Yagnik then sings "Pehle pehel", another number that has strong lyrics, but otherwise nothing extraordinary.

Listen to "Jhute ilzam" by Yagnik and it seems one is listening to an improvised version of the Madan Mohan classic of yesteryears - "Yun hasrato ke daag" from film "Adalat".

"Agle janam mohe bitiya" by Richa Sharma is a sad song of a woman who prays to god not to bless her with a daughter in her next birth.

Malik's daughter Anmol makes her playback singing' debut by crooning "Agle janam mohe bitiya" again. However, the rawness in her voice gives a different touch to the number.

"Main na mil saku jo tumse" is a tragic song expressing Umrao Jaan's feelings if she is unable to meet her love again.

"Behka diya humein" is the only duet of the film. Sung by Sonu Nigam and Yagnik, the love song banks on some great lyrics by Akhtar.

The album ends with "Pooch rahe hai", a mujra that tells the tale of a woman who is in love.

Malik has sort of made a comeback this year from a brief slumber and composed music in two other films already released - "Zindaggi Rocks" and "Jaan-E-Man" - with nothing great to be talked and written about.

In "Umrao Jaan", he tries his hand on the classical genre - not generally his cup of tea. Though he had given some good slow numbers like "Sandese aate hai" ("Border") and "Paiyalle chun mun chun mun" ("Virasat"), he is certainly not one to match Khayyam.

So his efforts in "Umrao Jaan" are likely to end up with lukewarm response from music connoisseurs but may record a few sales from the curious. And in that case, he should only thank Khayyam and, of course, Rekha for those immortal numbers from the original.

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