BBC – Music – Review of Pritam

When it comes to the creation of both chartbusting soundtracks and subtle melodious scores, Pritam is the man many Bollywood filmmakers turn to. Having worked on over 70 movies so far, including hits like Dhoom, Gangster and Jab We Met, actor-turned-producer Saif Ali Khan no doubt thought he was placing his second home production, Agent Vinod, into a safe pair of hands.

Having struck gold with Love Aaj Kal in 2009, creating the music for a Bollywood Bond-meets-Bourne action-packed thriller should have been a simple mission for Pritam. Yet judging by the questionable originality of some of the five new songs and six raucous remixes that make up this album, the gamble has only narrowly paid off.

Standing out not just for its dubious title and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya and Neelesh Misra, but also for its source of inspiration, is I Will Do the Talking Tonight. As an official Hindi remake of Boney M.’s 70s disco hit Rasputin, it’s a cheesy but catchy update. You can’t help but tap your toes along to its infectious beat, despite it sounding like the confused lovechild of Boney M. and Enrique Iglesias, with a hint of Punjabi and Europop heritage.

Hot on its heels is Dil Mera Muft Ka, a modern reboot of the classic ‘mujra’-style number commonly found in Bollywood films since the dawn of the industry. It’s by far the best track of the album, Pritam bringing out his creative edge by mixing Nandini Srikar’s husky vocals with a qawwali, rock and electro arrangement.

Pungi springs out like a Jack-in-the-box thanks to Mika Singh’s animated delivery. As a saucy ‘tapori’ track aimed at lusty male listeners, it works a treat, as does its remix. However, both could do without the nonsensical raps by comic actor Javed Jaffrey.

Toning down the tempo and volume is Raabta, a soft romantic ballad featuring Hamsika Iyer, Arijit Singh and Joy. Distinctly ordinary, it fails to connect, despite its title meaning just that. Just why four versions are needed is anyone’s guess. The Agent Vinod theme is a livelier affair, but it falls short compared to title tunes from recent A-list Indian action films, such as Ra.One and Don 2. Ultimately, this is a loud, brazen bevy of songs that will attract some and repel others.

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