Spotlight on 15 awful films with awesome soundtracks
Music: Amit Trivedi
This 2010 film was frontlined by Sonam Kapoor. We really don’t need to say much more. Every frame of Aisha, set in elite Delhi society, looked out of the pages of a fashion glossy, with Aisha (Sonam) and her gal pals navigating through the world of relationships and heartbreaks, with their make-up all intact and their hair never out of place. Granted that a large part of Aisha was based on superficiality, but the film turned out to be flaky even when it aimed for emotional depth. An out-of-depth Sonam was easily the worst thing about the film that gratingly relied on every kind of product placement and had Abhay Deol in possibly the most embarrassing role of his career.
No complaints about the music, though. Amit Trivedi’s contemporary and inventive soundtrack saved Aisha from being an all-out disaster. From the foottapping Suno Aisha to the playful and perky Gal mitthi mitthi to the catchy Behke behke, this was an album that demanded a repeat listen, even now. Our pick of the lot would have to be Shaam, a soulful yet spirited number, with Trivedi himself lending weight to the vocals.
2. Anjaana Anjaani
This Siddharth Anand directorial — with an uncanny resemblance to the French film The Girl on the Bridge — had a semi-interesting plot about two strangers, after a failed suicide attempt on the same night at the same spot, bonding and subsequently falling in love. But Anjaana Anjaani relied too much on the chemistry between Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, without affording much credence to the plot. Despite the charm of its leads, Anjaana Anjaani literally went nowhere, with Siddharth more keen on focusing on the picturesque American scape rather than exploring the emotions that a premise like this promised.
But what kept the handful of viewers who signed up for Anjaana Anjaani invested in the film was Vishal-Shekhar’s versatile soundtrack, comprising as many as nine compositions. The title track, packed with energy and zing, quickly became a nightclub hit while Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice in Aas paas khuda acted as a balm for the soul. The leads cruising through Nevada aided by Lucky Ali’s Hairat or living it up in Las Vegas on the back of the peppy I feel good made this album a big winner. We still tune in to the songs. A rewatch of the movie? Nay!
3. Baar Baar Dekho
Music: Various artistes
This 2016 time-travel film — a mash-up of Groundhog Day and Click — had beautiful people (Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif) and gorgeous locations (Scotland to Thailand), but was an infuriating watch from first to last. Baar Baar Dekho had the germ of an intriguing idea — a man who neglects home and family and then travels into the future to see how he’s lost out on the best years and the most meaningful relationships in life — but the film was so dead at its core that nothing could really resuscitate it (or the audience that had unfortunately landed up to watch the film). Sid and Kat had their moments — especially in Kala chashma — but that was just about it.
But the music, oh boy! There were as many as six composers on this album but it was thankfully not a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Apart from the winning rework of the chartbuster Kala chashma, we loved the freshness of Armaan Malik and Neeti Mohan’s vocals in Sau aasmaan and the soulful depth of Teri khair mangdi, scored by Bilal Saeed. The star of the album was the unconventional sound of Jasleen Royal powering Nachde ne saare and Kho gaye hum kahaan, with Prateek Kuhad lending his words to the latter.
4. Jab Harry Met Sejal
Words fall short to describe just how unwatchable this film was. Barring the lame title, Jab Harry Met Sejal had a lot going for it. ‘Kings of romance’ Shah Rukh Khan and Imtiaz Ali teaming up for an unconventional love story and that which marked SRK’s return with Anushka Sharma was the only selling point it needed. But JHMS — revolving around two chalk-and-cheese strangers finding themselves and discovering love in the quest for an engagement ring — was a complete catastrophe. SRK was earnest but lost, Anushka’s accent grated and though the film traversed eye-catching Prague, Budapest and Amsterdam, it frankly travelled nowhere.
The soundtrack, scored by Pritam, however soared. There was not a beat out of place in this album that had a pick-what-you-want buffet of sounds. Hawayein was heartbreakingly romantic, Safar was soul-searching (both beautifully sung by Arijit Singh), Radha had just the right amount of playfulness, Beech beech mein was a rare earworm we loved and even the bizarrely named Butterfly was so much fun. Phurr, with Diplo lending weight, was a winner from the get-go.
5. Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
It’s been 13 years since this Shaad Ali film, but the bitter aftertaste lingers. To put it simply, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, veering from fantasy to farce (and never in a good way), was odd at best and outlandish at worst. Starring Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol, Preity Zinta and Lara Dutta, with a special appearance by Amitabh Bachchan as a gypsy-musician doing duties as the sutradhaar, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was a trainwreck even worse than Abhishek and Bobby’s careers.
With numbers titled Ticket to Hollywood and Kiss of love, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music was composed to match the bizarre tone of the film, but somehow the album worked in totality. While these numbers were fun, if not particularly memorable, the most enduring image of the film is Bachchan Sr, pulling off a hippie look, jamming energetically in the middle of London’s Waterloo Station, to the infectious title track. But our pick is Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mahalakshmi Iyer bringing alive the headiness of love in the soothing Bol na halke halke, still a go-to romantic number for many.
Music: Amit Trivedi
What’s it with terrible Katrina Kaif films with terrific soundtracks? Rock On!! man Abhishek Kapoor clearly missed the memo in this Bolly reworking of the Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations, imbuing the film with a lot of style but very little in the name of soul or substance. A miscast Aditya Roy Kapoor, Katrina (inexplicably sporting red hair) totally out of her element and the ambition to be a grand, epic romance but coming up severely short, proved to be Fitoor’s undoing. A towering Tabu as Begum Hazrat, modelled on Miss Havisham, and beautiful Kashmir kept us partially invested.
However, today, our only takeaway from Fitoor is Amit Trivedi’s music. Yeh fitoor mera, sung by Arijit Singh, was goosebump inducing, while Pashmina — epically picturised on Aditya and Katrina wrapped around each other and dancing with abandon — stood out not only for Amit Trivedi’s voice but also Swanand Kirkire’s soulful lyrics (Pashmina dhaagon ke sang/ Koi aaj bune khwaab aise kaise/ Vaadi mein goonje kaheen/ Naye saaz ye rabaab aise kaise...). Tere liye and Haminastu brought up the rear of this gold-standard album that clearly belonged to a better film.
Music: A.R. Rahman
Truth be told, this 2009 Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra film isn’t as unwatchable as some of the other names on this list. But Delhi-6, which wasted a premise ripe with potential and was too garbled in the socio-political comment it tried very hard to make, wasn’t a very satisfying watch either. The film — starring Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor, with stalwarts like Rishi Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman giving it heft and heart — was based on Mehra’s growing-up years in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, but barring a few sparkling moments, it didn’t leave an impact, marred by its maddeningly vague feel and a frustrating climax.
A.R. Rahman’s music, however, still endures... and has aged very well. Armed with Prasoon Joshi’s rich and telling lyrics and a smorgasbord of some of the country’s most powerful singing talents, Rahman produced an album that will definitely go down as one of Bollywood’s all-time best. And where do we begin? Genda phool to Arziyan, Dil gira dafatan to Bhor bhaye to the pulsating Dilli-6, each song is worth its weight in gold. And the absolutely trashy remake of Masakali recently has once more reminded us how precious that Mohit Chauhan number continues to be.
Music: A.R. Rahman
Yuvvraaj was yet another winner of a Rahman score let down by a mangled mess of a movie. Directed by Subhash Ghai and frontlined by Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, Yuvvraaj was archaic both in theme and treatment, with Salman sleepwalking through his role. Anil Kapoor tried to lift the film but this was a goner from the get-go.
Yuvvraaj may not make it to our watchlist (then or now), but its music is still an integral part of our playlists. Katrina, a vision in white, playing the cello in Tu muskura to a romantic Salman in Tu meri dost hai... this was Rahman at his vintage best, with the Yuvvraaj album being distinguished by its blend of classical (including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony) and contemporary sounds, nuanced orchestration and Gulzar’s profound and powerful lyrics.
9. Bang Bang!
The attempt was to take the core of the Tom Cruise action spy thriller Knight and Day (not a good film, by any standard) and to mould it in a desi context, with a dishy Hrithik Roshan going in all guns blazing and a smouldering Katrina Kaif providing oomph to this Siddharth Anand film. Though it ended up winning big bucks at the box office (after all, who can resist a festival release with big stars, high-octane action and beautiful landscapes?) Bang Bang! was a mind-numbing watch. It was meant to be escapist entertainment all right, but nothing in the film — that repeated everything... lines to locales, scenes to situations — made sense, and despite the mindboggling stunts on display, most of us were lulled into a deep coma in the dark theatre.
All was not lost, though. Vishal-Shekhar’s compositions were a clear winner. Tu meri, with Hrithik’s moves elevating an already foottapping track, was the standout, while Ash King and Shilpa Rao’s vocals were given a boost by the chemistry between Hrithik and Katrina in gorgeous Greece. The title track — peppy, fun and oh so cool, with Hrithik doing a Michael Jackson — was total paisa vasool and a favourite even today, nightclub floor to workout playlist.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s passion project — it had been bubbling under for 30 years — based on the epic legend of Mirza-Sahiban found fruition on screen in Mirzya, that introduced newcomers Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher. A love story with music as its core, the film was a fantastical journey that had both ambition and aesthetics, but failed in its execution. Rendered as a parable with very little dialogues, Mirzya — powered by Gulzar penning a screenplay after 20 years — may have seemed like a winner on paper but in its objective to blend Punjabi folklore with Shakespearean allusions, and let down by its raw leading pair, was simply reduced to a well-intentioned but ill-conceived spectacle.
Music was the heart and base of Mirzya and an inspired Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy turned out to be the real stars of the film. Drawing on sounds as diverse as jazz and folk, Sufi and Manganiyari, the trio dished out a stunning fusion album which is so exemplary that we still struggle to pinpoint our favourites. While Gulzar excelled once more with his words (Sab milta hai duniya bhar ko/ Aashiq ko sab kab milta hai), it was the soundtrack’s exploration of unconventional voices — Nooran Sisters to Mame Khan, Akhtar Chanal Zahri to Kaushiki Chakraborty, with Daler Mehndi powering most of the album — that makes it one of the best in recent times.
Music: Various artistes
‘Confused’, ‘slow’, ‘self indulgent’.... Roy met with many an uncomplimentary reaction on release, and rightly so. This 2015 film, directed by debutant Vikramjit Singh, played out in parallel words and parallel timelines, with its misplaced ambition and muddled execution getting the better of it. Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez — not the best actors in the business — failed to lift the film, with Ranbir Kapoor, playing the title role, but with fairly less screen time, looking like he had wandered in from some other set. Needless to mention, the film came a cropper at the box office.
But boy, does Sooraj dooba hai still get us grooving! Scored by Amaal Mallik and sung by Arijit Singh and Aditi Singh Sharma, it became the undisputed party anthem of 2015 and is still at the top of DJ requests. The playful Chittiyaan kalaiyaan, benefiting from Kanika Kapoor’s fresh voice and Jacqueline’s fresh-faced presence, was yet another hit, while Ankit Tiwari’s Tu hai ki nahi ticked all the romantic number boxes.
12. Kabir Singh
Music: Various artistes
Much has been written and said about the misogyny and toxic masculinity championed by this Sandeep Reddy Vanga film, based on his own Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy, that starred Shahid Kapoor as a surgeon on a path of self-destruction after losing out on love. Kabir Singh was not a badly-made film (in fact, far from it), but was rotten at its core, deifying a man who deserved to be demonised and attempting to glorify and gift-wrap male entitlement and noxiousness. Its problematic portrayal of the man-woman relationship was horrific and the way in which it absolved its protagonist of his misdeeds at the end was unacceptable. What was even more disturbing? The fact that at almost Rs 400-crore worlwide, Kabir Singh was one of the biggest hits of last year.
For us, the only plus of this film was its music. In Bekhayali and Kaise hua, Kabir Singh has given Bollywood two of its best romantic numbers in recent times, with Irshad Kamil and Manoj Muntashir weaving magic with their soulful words. Bekhayali, in particular, still rules the charts. And rightly so.
As the name suggests, Aditya Chopra’s fourth film as director in two decades was meant to be an irreverent and fun take on no-strings-attached relationships, played out by two Indian millennials in Paris. Befikre, starring Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor, started out fun but failed to keep the magic and momentum going, eventually reducing itself to a typical Bollywood drama that went on and on and on. Ranveer was, as usual, pumped up, but after a point, we couldn’t really see beyond Vaani’s plumped-up lips,
The story of the film’s music, however, was something else. Vishal-Shekhar came up with a zingy album, with Nashe si chadh gayi — a hot and cool number powered by Arijit Singh and Caralisa Monteiro and benefiting from Vaani’s moves — proving to be a huge chartbuster, quickly making its way to the most-watched Bollywood movie song on YouTube. Benny Dayal had a blast bringing alive Ude dil befikre, while the soothing strains of Je T’aime made us want to pack in a trip to the romance capital of the world.
Music: A.R. Rahman
A.R. Rahman, Mani Ratnam and Gulzar spell music magic together. It wasn’t any different for this 2010 film, Ratnam’s ambitious, modern-day retelling of the Ram-Sita-Raavan story that starred the husband-wife pair of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan but pitted them on opposite sides of the divide, as Raavan and Sita respectively. Backed by some of the best talents in the business in front of the camera and behind it, Raavan, that also starred south star Vikram, scored in parts with its idiosyncratic take as well as its luminiscent frames but was absurdly melodramatic and rife with cliches, despite decent performances by its actors. It, as expected, didn’t work with the audience.
What worked, of course, was Rahman’s melodies, a mix of folksy and contemporary, some of them using jungle sounds and unintelligible lyrics, but managing to leave more than a mark. Rich and intense, the music was unconventional, with our pick being the haunting Ranjha ranjha (with Rekha Bhardwaj and Javed Ali taking it to level next), the soulful Behne de, the unhinged Kaata kaata and the high-on-energy Beera.
Music: Various artistes
‘Disastrous’. That’s the only way to describe this reincarnation story focusing on star-crossed lovers traversing through time and space that marked the directorial debut of producer Dinesh Vijan. Starring a smug Sushant Singh Rajput and a clueless Kriti Sanon, Raabta was a losing battle for the audience in alternatively keeping awake and clutching on to sanity, with the few who managed to walk in barely surviving to tell the tale. Acting to direction, story to screenplay... nothing worked.
The music, however, did. Led by Pritam, the composers — Jam8 and Meet Bros — came up with an eclectic album that had something for everyone. Arijit Singh was the voice for most of the songs — we still hum Ik vaari aa — while the peppy Main tera boyfriend became quite a nightclub favourite. Nikhita Gandhi’s oven-fresh voice powered the reworking of Raabta, picturised on a smoking Deepika Padukone, and one which we had first heard (and loved) in Agent Vinod, a film produced by Vijan.
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