Once upon a time there was a man called Ismail Darbar who stormed into the Bollywood music scene with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. He followed it up with another Bhansali flick Devdas and it seemed that Darbar would be heard a lot more in years to come. Unfortunately, that was not the case to be as films like Shakti - The Power, Deewangee and Baaz followed with none of them making much of a mark musically. Yes, there was a one off Kisna too but Darbar had to share credits with Rahman there.
Now years after being heard last as a composer and mainly seen as a talent show judge, Darbar returns with an album - Mehbooba. Well, even this too is not a comeback in true terms since Mehbooba is a film which has been a decade long in the making and is finally seeing the light of the day. An interesting factor though are the lyrics by Late Anand Bakshi saab, which makes Mehbooba as perhaps lyricist's last work. Well, Bakshi saab would have been happy if the album would have released when he was alive since Ismail Darbar doesn't let him down.
Ok, let's have a disclaimer here right at the beginning. We know that the music was composed ages back and hence the sensibilities have to belong to the time gone by. Late 90s was the time when a particular style of melody ruled (remember the compositions by Nadeem Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Anu Malik and the likes) and Mehbooba is expected to be no different.
Same is the case with the title song 'Tu Meri Mehbooba Maine Tera' which actually turns out to be a mix of what Nadeem Shravan and Anu Malik would have composed if brought together. Surprisingly, there isn't much of Ismail Darbar in this song of love and seduction but overall turns out to be a cliched yet decent Udit Narayan solo.
There is certain grandeur in the way 'Khwabo Ki Rani Hai' begins. Well, the opulent feel dies stay on but a surprise is in store as one finds within first two minutes of the song that it is a straight rip off of Laxmikant Pyarelal's 'Aane Se Uske Aaye Bahar' from the film 'Jeene Ki Raah'. In case of 'Khwabo Ki Rani Hai' it is just a little slower but the overall 'mukhda' portion remains just the same with even the punch words 'Meri Mehbooba' staying intact. Anyways, since it is an evergreen melody on which Darbar bases his song, overall it turns out to be a pleasant song rendered by Udit Narayan.
A kind of fast paced rhythm based love song which held prominence in the 90s, 'Dilruba Teri Aankhe Palkhe' fits in well with the era gone by. Third Udit Narayan number in a row, 'Dilruba' is yet another song with a Laxmikant-Pyaarelal stamp to it. Overall the song turns out to be a decent hear though strictly for the purpose of being played as a part of the narrative. Don't expect the youth of today to play it on in their car stereos and have it on full volume while on a drive.
For the first time ever a female voice is heard in Mehbooba, courtesy 'Yaar Tera Shukriya Pyar Tera Shukriya', which has Alka Yagnik teaming up with Udit Narayan. By this time you know that producer-director Afzal Khan and composer Ismail Darbar certainly had Laxmikant-Pyarelal as the reference point while closing on the final list of songs for Mehbooba.
Let's give it to the song here - 'Yaar Tera Shukriya' is indeed the best of the enterprise so far and if only the album would have released in the time when it was made, this track would have gone down well with the masses. Not a bad song at all considering the mood and flavor of a movie which started it's shoot in the late 90s, 'Yaar Tera Shukriya' is for those looking for Udit-Alka nostalgia from the past!
Just when it seemed like a Laxmikant-Pyaarelal show all the way, Ismail Darbar announces his presence in the soundtrack with 'Babuji Bahut Dukhta Hai' which takes off from where 'Nimbooda' [Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam] left. An item song which seems to have been picturised on a nautch girl, it comes with lyrics like 'Halka Halka Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara, Jab Dard Jiya Mein Uthta Hai; Babuji Bahaut Dukhta Hai'.
Well, the song could have easily breached into the territory of being vulgar but Anand Bakshi saab did a right job in drawing a fine line with Alka Yagnik too giving a certain grace to the proceedings. But what was that line or two by drunken sounding Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan for a couple of occasions in the song? Plain irritating! And by the way, after an initial originality that Darbar brought at the song's beginning, it is back to LP territory here; something which hardly surprises any more.
From Udit Narayan, Ismail Darbar moves to Sonu Nigam who renders three straight songs in a row. First to come is 'Kuch Kar Lo Kuch' which yet again has an opulent feel to it and can be expected to be supported by a grand choreography. A song revolving around the theme of 'love can happen anytime, anywhere and with anyone', 'Kuch Kar Lo' is yet another number that makes for a decent hearing.
It has been ages since one last heard Kavita Subramanyam! She is heard in the 21st century too, courtesy film's delay, in 'Kuch Kar Lo Kuch' which comes in two more versions. While first has Shankar Mahadevan teaming up with her, the third entirely belongs to her as she goes solo. In fact, this solo version turns out to be the best of the three versions, courtesy Darbar's 150 seconds of sheer orchestra which dominates the proceedings for quite some time before Kavita joins the fray. Quite grand!
Now this one has to be the 'inspiration' of the decade! One would have never expected Ismail Darbar to go all the way back into 1982 to find a base theme for a composition of his. This time it is a lesser known number 'Ae Meri Aawaaz Ke' which was composed by Pancham da for Mithun Chakraborty starrer Aamne Saamne. In fact if only Darbar would have stuck entirely to the song which was created more than 25 years back, 'Achcha To Ab Main Chalta Hoon' by Sonu Nigam may have turned out to be a better outing. The song turns out to be just about fine after a good beginning and ultimately settles down to be pure average.
It's the sound of harmonium which begins the Qawalli - 'Deewana Maine To Deewana'. It is Aslam Sabri who begins the proceedings with a long prelude before Sukhwinder Singh and Sonu Nigam take over. While Aslam Sabri continues to support them throughout, it overall stays as a number where they sing for Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan who get into a conversational mode while talking about their respective Mehbooba. No prizes for guessing that they are talking about the same woman - Manisha Koirala, just like Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor did in 'Tu Mujhe Suna Main Tujhe Sunaoon Apni Prem Kahaani' [Chandni]!
In the soundtrack of Mehbooba, what impresses most is the sheer grandeur in terms of arrangements and orchestra which promises something big on the silver screen. The songs may not have the kind of club sound with rhythm galore, something which dominates the soundtracks today, but does carry an old world nostalgic quotient which brings Laxmikant-Pyaarelal closer home. Mehbooba is grand, no doubt about that. Also, there is no doubt about the fact that if released 8-10 years back, it would have been a certain hit.