Album: “Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha”

Music and lyrics: Nadeem

Produced by: Shree Krishna International

MUMBAI—First things first: Nadeem makes his debut as a lyricist as well, besides going solo again as a composer after last year’s “Ishq Forever.” This time it is for Suneel Darshan, for which Nadeem-Shravan have done several films between 2001 and 2006 (“Ek Rishta—The Bond Of Love,” “Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya,” “Barsaat,” “Dosti—Friends Forever,” “Mere Jeevan Sathi”). Today, Nadeem goes by his name in the duo rather than as Nadeem Saifi in his last film.

This time, the sound is kept very contemporary (Dhrubo & Aditya Deo) and the orchestration sparse, and a shade rhythm-oriented. It is only in the dated “Nain” that the sound and arrangements go the traditional N-S mode, with the accordion at center stage.

The lead singer Yaseer Desai also pronounces ‘Tum” in the most current way fashionable as “Thum,” though the sibilance is kept to a minimum rather than at the offensive levels of Atif Aslam or Arijit Singh. That said, the nursery rhyme remains at the catchy level of Himesh Reshammiya’s oft-repeated phrases, with lines like “Hain Le Gaye Le Gaye Le Gaye Le Gaye Dil Ka Chain/Tere Do Nain/Mere Nainon Mein Rehte Hain Ab To Saari Rain/Tere Do Nain.”

Nadeem goes full-on ‘90s (his breakthrough and peak decade) as he navigates the phraseology of the notes and also spins words that are a mélange of all the master lyricists as well as his pet Sameer. Wonder why the latter is missing this time? Though when the composer-turned-(officially)-lyricist writes “Mera Mujh Mein Kuchh Nahin/Tere Ho Chuke Hain Hum” in the same song, we get a whiff of the oft-repeated concept of Manoj Muntashir in so many of his films, including “Bahubali: The Beginning,” “Kaabil” and many more in-between like “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story!”

Also, generally speaking, the presence of just two voices in the entire five-composition and six-track album is nothing less than a miracle nowadays when assorted voices are crammed into a soundtrack. For that alone, and then also for the fact that there is not a drop, whiff or tang of needless Punjabi, Sufi or English or global fusion/confusion here, we are tempted to give the album an extra half-star.

A word about Yaseer Desai: the man sings exactly like a replica of Nadeem himself, as this writer has heard him live and recorded! Every song thus reminds those familiar with the composer’s voice as a Nadeem-rendered song!

Another word – about Palak Muchhal: she is overdoing the wannabe Shreya Ghoshal bit. Unlike the clones of the past, most such sound-alikes today get by because of the budget packages given to composers today as they are economical vis-à-vis the originals!

The shrill quotient (N-S’ songs are mostly medium- to high-pitched) should be controlled by the singer too. Again, wonder why Nadeem could not get Ghoshal here, as she had sung for him in “Ishq Forever.’

The title-track is a revelation in being piquant “today” despite being completely Nadeem in tenor. I liked the rock-guitar treatment given to its reprise version. It adds to the haunting potential of the composition, and a word of praise is due to the arrangers! Also, this is the only song where Muchhal makes a definite mark, as she did in some songs off and on, in her career till now. The lead version is the only solo on the album (Nadeem always loved duets), but it is in the treatment of the duet version that the composition truly sparkles!

Among the remaining four duets, the best is “Aankhon Mein Aansoo,” especially in its lyrics. The words, even more than the film’s situation (where it must be fitting) seem to be in sync with the composer’s heartfelt emotions on not coming back to India for 20 years now!

“Aankhon Mein Aansoo Leke/Honthon Se Muskuraaye/Hum Jaise Jee Rahe/Koi Jeeke To Bataaaye/Jo Toot-Ke Na Toote/Koi Aisa Dil Dikhaaye (I am smiling despite the tears in my eyes/I dare anyone to live the way I do/And show me a heart that is broken but seems normal)” go the simple yet weighty lyrics.

Full marks, therefore, to the arrangers and sound engineers for bringing a modern whiff to this bouquet of vintage Nadeem numbers.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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