One of the biggest films of the year, Ali Abbas Zafar’s Tiger Zinda Hai, has come up with a most unmemorable soundtrack.
The much-anticipated sequel to Kabir Khan’s 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger, scheduled to release on December 22, has been scored by Vishal and Shekhar. Salman Khan reprises his role as Indian agent Avinash Singh Rathore (codenamed Tiger) while Katrina Kaif is back as Pakistani spy Zoya. The two join hands to rescue 25 Indian nurses kidnapped by a terrorist group in Iraq.
Vishal and Shekhar’s undeniable talent ensures the soundtrack is above average, but the duo behind hit albums including Student of the Year (2012), Chennai Express (2013) and Bang Bang! (2014) have seen better days. Their maiden effort for a Khan film, Zafar’s 2016 blockbuster Sultan, was also one of the best soundtracks of that year.
But the two seem to have been on auto-pilot mode in the five original tracks of this shoot-‘em-up flick – nothing strikes and nothing lands. Even lyricist Irshad Kamil’s verses, after the excellent Jab Harry Met Sejal soundtrack, seem uninspired.
To be fair, when Khan stands centre-stage in the screenplay, it is challenging for other elements to cut through and make a mark. Even so, Ek Tha Tiger had earworms like Mashallah (composed by Sajid and Wajid) and Sohail Sen’s Banjaara and Saiyaara. But even the primary dance track-cum-lead single of Tiger Zinda Hai – Swag Se Swagat – is a damp squib. It ticks all the boxes of a Salman Khan dance number in the most formulaic manner but is nothing without its video.
That this was the first song of the movie to be launched (on November 20) was a sign of things to come.
The album’s most interesting number, Tera Noor, sung by Jyoti Nooran of the Nooran sisters Sufi duo, is a tight electro-rock number but is, sadly, too arcane to become a radio hit. The tune is not particularly special, but Jyoti Nooran shines in the rare performance without her sister. Yet, the four-and-a-half-minute song feels like a half-hearted remix of a longer, more nuanced composition fit for a Coke Studio session.
Dil Diya Gallan, which exists to make Khan and Kaif take pause and make a home in the middle of all the action, comes in two versions: the heavily-promoted one sung by Atif Aslam, and a sparse, unplugged version by Neha Bhasin.
Dil Diya Gallan is one of Tiger Zinda Hai’s better tracks, but is far from Aslam’s, Vishal-Shekhar’s or Kamil’s personal best.
The unplugged version, held together by minimal strings-based instrumentation, lets the melody breathe and is definitely the best song in the album. Sung by a husky Bhasin, this rendition feels like a mountain gypsy’s ode to a lover. If there is one song from Tiger Zinda Hai that will outlive the film’s release, it is this.
Sukhwinder Singh, one of the musician duo’s most trusted collaborators (he’s voice of many of their hits including Saaki Saaki, Dard-e-Disco, Dilhaara and the Sultan title track), tries to spice up the theme song, Zinda Hai, and almost succeeds. Again, the melody is nothing to write home about, but Vishal and Shekhar have always had a way with high-octane anthemic tracks (think Jiya Mora Ghabraaye from Ra.One). The arrangement and mixing combine to make it a tolerable affair and Raftaar makes a cameo with a rap verse – because why not.
A fifth original track, Daata Tu, with Shreya Ghoshal’s pleasant vocals, starts well but ends up being as forgettable as the rest.