We’ve had significantly memorable music scores from Gangs of Wasseypur, Barfi and even Student of the Year this year and in that stride, A.R. Rehman’s compositions for Jab Tak Hai Jaan seem laboured rather than effortlessly groundbreaking. In fact, groundbreaking they are not. The soundtrack has been the jewel in every Yash Chopra film and hardly ever have any of his romances failed to deliver remarkable, memorable and soul-searching melodies. But this soundtrack stops at skin deep.
Tracks like Challa lay grounds for a Sufi theme and Rabbi Shergill does manage to make the single reminiscent of the uber-popular Bulla. Sufism continues to play a role in feisty numbers like Jiya Re in which Gulzar writes about khudi and the wandering spirit. Harshdeep Kaur impresses with the gentle notes of Heer (a song that grows on you) but when compared to her previous songs, it doesn’t even come close to Katiya Karoon (also composed by A.R. Rehman for Rockstar).
Beyond these three songs everything else sounds contrived, especially the recurring love ballad, Saans, in which Shreya Ghosal’s vocals border on melodramatic screeching rather than stirring. The dance number, Ishq Shava, sounds too much like Marhaba from Ek Tha Tiger and one wonders why A.R. Rehman thought it relevant to introduce the weaker, Arabian melody. The preceding Ishq Dance, the sequence of drum beats to which Katrina Kaif and Shah Rukh Khan display their Step Up skills, is far more impressive.
Neither here nor there in terms of good and bad, you have a long wait ahead of you if you’re waiting for any of these songs to become timeless classics. That said, the opening poetry, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (written by Aditya Chopra), puts Shah Rukh Khan in the same league as Amitabh Bachchan narrating kaveetas in Kabhi Kabhi and Silsila. The poetry is hardly Sahir Ludhianvi or Javed Akhter-calibre (who wrote the poetry recitals for Kabhi Kabhi and Silsila respectively) but this bar of scales has attitude and is inspiring, just as the rest of the film’s soundtrack should have been, ideally. — AHI