DON (Composers: Shankar-Ehsan-Loy; Midival Punditz for Don Revisited)
Khaike Paan Banaraswala (Udit Narayan; Shah Rukh Khan): It's hard for anyone who has grown up on the legendary Kishore Kumar song to listen to this cover version with equanimity. Udit Narayan doesn't do a bad job so much as remind the listener that he is no Kishore, which reminder is fatal from the later (and lesser) singer's perspective. Nevertheless, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy's cleverness is to be commended: in prefacing the song with an extended Udit Narayan "bhaiyya rap" -- which he performs with infectious gusto and verve -- and in delaying the onset of the second stanza by means of Shah Rukh Khan's own "bhaiyya boli", albeit more declaimed than sung -- listener anticipation for the classic lyrics that one knows are to follow is heightened. Ultimately this is not a track I would have retained for the new Don (the weight of history lies a bit too heavy on this one), but SEL have perhaps done the best they could have done once the decision to recycle this song had been made.
Ye Mera Dil (Sunidhi Chauhan): Chauhan sings this Asha Bhonsle classic well enough, although I found Chauhan's trademark spunk n' spit style missing. The same could be said for the disappointing music here, which is very flat, and reminiscent more of the scores of remixes that plague our musicwaves these days than of the 1978 number featuring seedy Helen (marked for death) attempting to put one over on Don.
Main Hoon Don (Shaan): This is the sort of thing SEL should have done as far as Khaike Paan Banaraswala was concerned: an ideal "remake song", in that it pays overt homage to the original while clearly setting out what is going to be "new" about the remake. The lyrics are over the top, in your face, even a bit florid -- and in keeping with the fact that this is Shah Rukh Khan's multiplex cool poseur Don as opposed to Amitabh Bachchan's understated icemachine. SEL's decision to execute this song in a minimalist vein was surely the right one, as an overdone musical style combined with these lyrics would have verged dangerously on spoof, although they are unable to save the song from seeming a bit flat, more background to a conversation than a major Bollynumber.
Aaj ki Raat (Alisha Chinai, Mahalaxmi, Sonu Nigam): My personal favorite among the SEL numbers on this album; this one is just as retro as Main Hoon Don, but hearkens to a different decade -- the 1980s -- and with respect to that unfortunate decade SEL's somewhat distantly cool aesthetic works very well, stripping away the awful disco excess of the likes of Bappi Lahiri, leaving a peppy, resonant number that is effortlessly stylish.
Mourya Re (Shankar Mahadevan): A lighter song than I would have liked -- I prefer my "street" songs with a little more weight and percussion -- but catchy enough, and a welcome reminder of the sorts of songs most Hindi films do not include these days. The "lightness" might well be intentional, designed to evoke teenybopper tunes from SRK's past (this is, after all, most likely going to be the second SRK's entry in the film), and to signal to the viewer that this isn't Rahulland. A special mention about the lyrics: while there's precious little like an ode to Bombay (witness Bambai Nagariya from Taxi No. 9211 earlier this year), as the analogous song from the original Don was, a Ganpati song is a rarity, and the frankly devotional lyrics of this song are charming.
Don Theme (Instrumental): I'm not actually going to say much about this commendable effort. Why? Because it is utterly overshadowed by the next track on the album. . .
Don Revisited (Midival Punditz) (Instrumental): Even if one hated every other track in the album, it would surely be worth buying just for this jewel of postmodern edge. Aggressively cool, with not an iota of flab, this ambient track puts everything else in the album in shade with its nocturnal vibe, evocative of harsh lighting and loneliness like little else on the Hindi music scene. For those (like me) whose appetite was whetted by Fabric on the Monsoon Wedding soundtrack, and who've been waiting for more of Gaurav Raina's and Tapan Rai's magic after their album, this is manna from heaven.