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Salim & Sulaiman Teen Patti Review

Soundtrack. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

This musical gamble doesn’t pay off.

Jaspreet Pandohar 2010

Having cast two of the world’s biggest movie stars to go head to head in her movie, Teen Patti director Leena Yadav gives composer/singer duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant the job of creating a soundtrack that will do justice to her A-list thriller starring Bollywood and Hollywood veterans Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Set in the glossy world of high-rolling casinos, the Merchant brothers take a risk by giving the album a dark, international flavour, reflecting the aspirations of the film’s themes. Alas, by steering clear of the kind of razzmatazz show numbers that Bachchan and Bollywood fans have come to expect, the musical gamble doesn’t pay off. Besides a strong opening number, Teen Patti lacks any shake, rattle and roll.

Opener Neeyat, a Bond-style theme song, sees singer Sunidhi Chauhan provide a classy, powerhouse performance in a style that would do Dame Shirley Bassey proud. Her delivery is as seductive and catchy as the song’s underlying tune, staying with you long after listening. The remix version later in the album features snapshots of Bachchan's voice and added English lyrics, which works well and sounds suspiciously similar to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face: a happy coincidence or obvious inspiration?

Lady luck deserts the composers from here on, though, as the other tracks on offer seem bland and unmemorable. Macho rock anthem Intezar is a tad shouty and heavy on the electric guitar riffs and drums. While it conveys the sense of danger and suspense required for the screen action it probably accompanies, its chorus is loud on the ears. The ambient remix is no more relaxing.

Similarly, Teen Patti is another difficult listen due to its constant thumping underlying beat. Life Is a Game begins with Bachchan’s baritone voice posing tongue twisters and a Q&A-style catchphrase that’s peppered throughout the song. The English version, sung by Sonia Saigal, is only marginally better than the Hindi rendition by Anoushka Manchanda.

However, the worst offender is a cringe-worthy version of the classic ballad Summertime, that will have its writer George Gershwin spinning in his grave. Sung by Joe Alveres, it’s so cheesy he should have a fondue named after him.

While they may have felt more at home producing commercial-sounding scores for films like Kurbaan, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Rocket Singh, Salim and Sulaiman’s unconventional, Westernised and distinctly dark Teen Patti may not be to everyone’s taste.

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