Ok, so Chandni Chowk To China is a huge film by all standards. After all Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone are coming together in this film which is supposedly based on Akshay's own life story. Moreover, both the films by director Nikhil Advani, Salaam-E-Ishq and Kal Ho Naa Ho, have boasted of some very good music. Still, one has good, not extraordinary expectations from the music of Chandni Chowk To China. Reason? The album has songs by composers as diverse as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Kailash-Paresh-Naresh, Bappi Lahiri-Bappa Lahiri and Bohemia. Frankly, when something like this happens, i.e. coming together of various composers, as an audience, one tends to be a little wary about the music. Whether it would come with a consistent sound? Whether each of the composers would have indeed come up with their best? Will someone end up compromising since the entire responsibility of creating the soundtrack doesn't lie on him?
Thankfully, all fears are laid to rest once you are through hearing the album 'at least twice'. Yes, at least twice because Chandni Chowk To China (CC2C) isn't one of those 'let's make an instant impact' kind of an album that works in the very first hearing. And this is pretty much because of the 'consistency in sound' factor! In the six unique songs that form a part of the film's soundtrack, there is so much happening in all directions that it is impossible to catch the sound and announce a genre after the first listening. One has to be patient enough with CC2C and once you have been successful in doing that, it will rock you.
And rock one does with the title song Chandni Chowk To China by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy that is all set to be a rage in a fortnight from now. A fun track with funnier lyrics, it has a good fusion of Indian, Western and Oriental rhythm which accounts for a deadly combination. A unique number in quite a few aspects, it certainly must have been a difficult tune to compose, especially after considering the fact that it isn't one of those typical love songs or an item number. The remix version that appears later only adds to the fun.
What takes the cake though is another number which has the same title i.e. Chandni Chowk To China but altogether different setting, tune (by Bohemia), lyrics and presentation. All set to be a flagship number of the album, just like it was in case of Snoop Dogg version of 'Singh Is Kinng', this track is a show reel for Akshay Kumar, the real life star, as demonstrated through the lyrics of the songs itself which go into a holds-no-bar approach while proclaiming Akshay to be the biggest star that the country has seen in the current times. Watch out for this one!
Another number which is primarily focused on Akshay again, though this time on his reel life character of Sidhu, is 'S.I.D.H.U. ' Coming with an out and out Indian feel to it, courtesy the tune by Kailash-Paresh-Naresh and a small town setting (in case of CC2C, a narrow lane setting due to Akshay's upbringing in Chandni Chowk), this is one track which requires multiple hearing to be grasped. In the beginning, it sounds like an advertisement jingle but as one delves deeper into the song's setting (which talks about the young man called Sidhu who is a simpleton and is loved by all), it does ultimately settle down.
Surprisingly, there isn't much fun in Bappi Lahiri-Bappa Lahiri combines 'India Se Aaya Tera Dost' which is a take off on yesteryear's 'Bambai Se Aaya Mera Dost'. Though lyrics have been turned around a little and accompanying music made somewhat zanier, the final effect is just not enticing enough. Will picturisation make a difference here? Unlikely since the song tends to be a little screechy on ears.
Thankfully, 'Tere Naina' by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy acts as a soothing balm since the love song instantly reminds of the likes of a 'Chup Chup Ke' (Bunty Aur Babli) or 'Falak Tak' (Tashan) or 'Bol Na Halke Halke' (Jhoom Barabar Jhoom). No, the tunes aren't similar here but the genre, i.e. pure Indian melody is. A beautiful sounding number that leads a listener to 'Chak Lein De' which is made entirely for an Akshay Kumar fan. A track composed by Kailash-Paresh-Naresh that gives the sense of a revolution in the making, it doesn't go ballistic in creating a jingoistic flavor to the proceedings but remains subtle yet strong. A situational number (that also appears in a remix version) which is expected to make its presence felt at multiple junctures in the narrative.
Rajat Arora goes all out in getting the right fun quotient in place while writing the title song of CC2C. He writes 'Tere Naina' as well while contributing to 'India Se Aaya Tera Dost' but it would still be the title track that would come easily to kids and would be grabbed by elders alike. Kailash Kher writes 'S.I.D.H.U. ' and 'Chak Lein De' and once again delivers something which is non-filmy. Bohemia certainly had a task in hand to write a song (the other version of Chandni Chowk To China which required Akshay Kumar to be shown in a particular light) and it seems that the superstar himself had a lot to contribute with words here.
Neeraj Sridhar has seldom failed and he impresses yet again with his rendition of Chandni Chowk To China as well. Anushka Manchanda comfortably adds on another hit to her tally while letting her hair down for the same track but it is Shankar Mahadevan who takes the tempo of the song to a different level altogether whenever he comes into the picture. However, the voice which would be heard for many more weeks to come would be that of Akshay Kumar who holds center stage for the other version of Chandni Chowk To China. Pretty much comfortable behind the mike, he makes sure that he is not just seen but also heard.
Bappi Lahiri is a disappointment with 'India Se Aaya Tera Dost' though Kailash Kher gets a different flavor altogether to an out and out commercial film like this with his rendition of 'S.I.D.H.U. ' and 'Chak Lein De'. However, the moment the voice of Shreya Ghoshal is heard, all is forgotten as she pairs up with Shankar Mahadevan for 'Tere Naina'. She gets into an experimental mode here in her rendition and succeeds once again.
The album comes with a wide range and this is what works in its favor. Rohan Sippy's last major production, Bluffmaster, also had an ensemble score and the sound there was more Western in feel to go with the mood of the film. In case of CC2C, the sound is more rooted and yet comes with a good enough range to be offered to a listener. Chandni Chowk To China is clearly the next musical hit in the making.