Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy My Name Is Khan Review

Soundtrack. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A mellow, spiritually uplifting musical experience.

Jaspreet Pandohar 2010

As one of Bollywood’s most highly anticipated motion pictures of 2010, My Name Is Khan has got Indians all over the globe in a quiver. The thought of superstar Shahrukh Khan reuniting with his screen partner, Kajol, after a gap of eight years, can only mean one thing: another romantic musical extravaganza.

Given the lead actors’ popularity and box office track record, expectations for the movie and its accompanying songs are sky high. As a director whose movies have been defined by their toe-tapping scores, Karan Johar plays it safe by asking Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy to do the honours. Having composed scores for two of his previous writer-credit releases (Kal Ho Na Ho, Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna), the trio have a reputation for knocking out commercially successful soundtracks.

The six new tracks offered up on My Name Is Khan, however, will come as a surprise to many. Gone are the cheeky Indi-pop and Punjabi bhangra-influenced numbers that have peppered Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s collections in the past. In their place is a mellower and spiritually uplifting musical experience.

Opening with Sajda, the current king of qawalli, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, joins Richa Sharma and Shankar Mahadevan himself to create a stirring Sufi rendition. Both playback singers hold up well against Rahat’s commanding vocals, making this the strongest song of the album.

Equally emotive is Noor E Khuda, a gentle ballad featuring Adnan Sami, Shreya Ghoshal, and Mahadevan once again. But it’s the heart-rending Tere Naina and Allah Hi Rahem that shine out thanks to the formidable vocals of Shafqat Amanat Ali and Rashid Khan, who take the Sufi spirit to new heights. Allah Hi Rahem impresses in particular for its philosophical lyrics and hypnotic orchestration, made even more loveable by Rashid’s delicate but detectable lisp.

On top form, the Bombay Film Orchestra presents an understated but scintillating score in the Khan Theme. Their powerful strings completely outclass Rang De, a soft-rock peace anthem that sticks out amongst an otherwise consistent compilation.

With four bonus songs taken from the director’s box office successes that have featured Shah Rukh and Kajol together (plus a theatrical trailer for My Name Is Khan), there are plenty of extras goodies for hardcore Bollywood fans. But placed side by side, Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s latest soundtrack may not seem as memorable as past collaborations.

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