A Shahrukh Khan film is always special. But what does he do when the film is centered on Irrfan Khan, as also conveyed by the title of the film, with him being only in a special appearance? Well, he only goes full-on to make it as commercial as possible by appearing in number of song and dance appearances. Not just that, he also ropes in some of the top heroines in the industry and makes them dance along with him. If in Om Shanti Om, he had opted for Vishal-Shekhar as the composers, for Billu Barber he gives Pritam the responsibility of creating a hardcore commercial score. While 2008 was superb for the composer with number of back to back successful albums (Jannat, Singh Is Kinng, Race, Kismat Konnection, Golmaal Returns), 2009 also promises to follow suit with Billu Barber beginning the year!
Item song no.1 - that's 'Marjaani' for you! From the very first beat, you know that there is no way this song won't succeed in reaching the top of the charts. A fast paced track that remains Indian at heart even with all the Western beats surrounding it, 'Marjaani' has Pritam giving his all to ensure that his 'jodi' with Kareena Kapoor continues to be a big hit. Remember 'It's Rocking' (Kya Love Story Hai) and 'Yeh Ishq Hai' (Jab We Met)? The fun continues with 'Balkan Mix' and 'Electro House'
He goes on to create 'Love Mera Hit Hit' which he could have composed in his sleep, considering the 'template' feel to it. Item song no.2, it is just a follow up to many a dance floor chartbusters that he has created in movies like Race ('Khwaab Dekhe Jhoothe Moothe') and Kismat Konnection ('Ae Pappi'). 'The House Mix' and 'Remix' version ensure that the song remains with you much after you have heard it first.
Another 'template' song in the album is 'You Get Me Rockin & Reeling' which has a beginning akin to that of 'Zara Zara Touch Me' [Race]. However, soon after it moves to being much more childlike and innocent with the advent of lyrics that go as 'Khudaya Khair'. In fact based on the same tune with just the words 'Khudaya Khair', there is another namesake song that follows later in the album. While the former has a slight Western twang to it, the latter comes with a full-on Indian feel. These two are yet another very good additions to this album that seems to have one chartbuster packed after another in the album.
There is a speed breaker though in the form of 'Ae Aa O' which is the first rock track of the album and doesn't really make you jump with joy in the very first listening. In fact the very sound of 'Ae Aa O' (also appearing later in the remix version) that remains persistent throughout the track is ordinary and straight out of a commercial.
It's a different Pritam that one hears in 'Jaoon Kahan' which is a sad song expected to play in the background at multiple junctures. Though there isn't anything extraordinary about the compositions due to the heard-before factor, 'Jaoon Kahan' is still a soothing number enough to keep your interest in the song to follow. Later, one can sense a clear Priyadarshan influence to the proceedings with 'Billoo Bhayankar' bringing the album to a close. With a rustic folk flavor to it while keeping the fun quotient intact, 'Billoo Bhayankar' is a song that hails the central protagonist of the film played by Irrfan Khan.
'Marjaani' boasts of lyrics that have a characteristic Gulzar touch to them. In fact with the kind of flavor that Pritam brings to his lyrics, one wonders whether we are looking at another Pancham da-Gulzar 'jodi' in the offering since the composer makes it all sound so commercial that one ends up remembering many a chartbuster hits that Pancham da and Gulzar had delivered three decades back! On the other hand, don't bother about lyrics like 'Khit Pit', 'Hit Hit', 'Kudi Tu Sexy' etc. - it's the catchy feel and rhythm that matters most for 'Love Mera Hit Hit' and lyricist Ashish Pandit does well on those grounds! Neeraj Shridhar also turns lyricist for 'Ae Aa O' but the words here aren't anything above ordinary.
Sayeed Quadri and Gulzar write a version each for 'Khudaya Khair' that also arrives as 'You Get Me Rockin & Reeling'. Both the numbers bring in a different flavor though the element of pure and innocent love remains intact in each of the instances. Sayeed Quadri also writes 'Jaoon Kahan' that narrates the state of the protagonist who has lost a lot in his life while Gulzar gets his own take on the protagonist's popularity with 'Billoo Bhayankar'.
Sukhwinder Singh, the voice of Shah Rukh Khan opens 'Marjaani' and allows Sunidhi Chauhan to arrive on the scene who shines in a big way. She is truly in form in her only number in Billu Barber and ensures that her hit record with Kareena Kapoor stays intact. Later K.K. too arrives for the 'Balkan Mix' of the song and adds on to the options available for the final song placement in the film.
Neeraj Shridhar, the voice that never fails Pritam, is in full form again for 'Love Mera Hit Hit' though it is Tulsi Kumar who surprises most with her altogether different style of rendition for Deepika Padukone. Neeraj also sings the solo 'You Get Me Rockin & Reeling' which later arrives as 'Khudaya Khair' with Soham, Akriti Kakar and Monali bringing a certain Indian-ness to the proceedings. With Abhijeet coming back on scene with the 'reprise version' of the same song, one knows what to expect considering the fact that the singer has sung many a hits for Shah Rukh Khan during last 15 odd years!
K.K., who is otherwise so dependable, doesn't really make 'Ae Aa O' rise above ordinary. Most of the times he is capable of turning the most average compositions good due to his sheer prowess behind the mike but in case of 'Ae Aa O', he isn't able to do much even in company of Rana Mazumder and Suraj. On the other hand, Raahat Fateh Ali Khan's voice manages to bring in some 'thehrav' in the proceedings that were being dominated by beats and rhythm all this while. Ajay Jhingaran, Raghuveer and Kalpana come together for a rustic 'Billoo Bhayankar' and though the song is not the next chartbuster in the making, it should help the narrative of Billu Barber.
Billu Barber has a rocking start to it with songs like 'Marjaani' and 'Love Mera Hit Hit' that are guaranteed chartbusters in the making. Though 'Ae Aa O' is the only number that doesn't quite make a mark, 'Khudaya Khair' brings in a nice feel-good touch to it which keeps the flag high for Billu Barber. On the other hand, 'Jaoon Kahan' and 'Billoo Bhayankar' add on to the situational flavor. While the soundtrack should work well for the film, we are not looking at a Race or a Jannat or a Singh Is Kinng that are being played even till date. Still, from the popularity perspective, Billu Barber should go the Kismat Konnection and Golmaal Returns way by being reasonably successful.