Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Swanand Kirkire – Aal Izz Well

Feb 18th, 2010
| posted by: David |

No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is, in fact, a track from three Indian artists who you’d be hard pressed to have ever heard of. Chronologically it makes little sense to be covering this track now, given our return from the subcontinent some days ago but somehow in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, both J and I overlooked this one and it is certainly not one to be overlooked. The lead single off what is being widely held as the highest grossing Bollywood film ever produced (read: $80mil in 18 days versus about $1.8bil for Avatar over the same stretch of time) it also served as the soundtrack for our Indian expedition as it seemed to literally pulsate out of every Nokia, Suzuki and iPod in the country generating, simultaneously, the sort of zeitgeist branding most companies would die for. It is probably our combined favourite piece of cultural effluvia from the six-week stint. A couple of listens should tell you why.

A little more background to the film. Entitled ‘3 Idiots’, it stars Aamir Kahn who, in the great vain of movie stars with the surname Kahn, is the Indian media’s new sweetheart, stirring more then a little shit with former poster-boy and all-round Indian ambassador (he owns a cricket team too) Shah Rukh Kahn. Needless to say, Shah Rukh Kahn is up himself and reckons he runs the country while Aamir and his unlikely gang of supporting actors and actresses provide an often chilling but usually hilarious insight into the high-pressure chamber that is Indian education. Think teen suicide alongside dance numbers, social commentary sprinkled with two weddings and a runaway bride. Needless to say, as our induction into the institution that is Bollywood cinema, we couldn’t have picked a better flick.

Unfortunately the tenacity and exhuberance of the track doesn’t always translate on the mp3. Instead, the track is fairly bass-less (always a big no-no in my books) and the chorus doesn’t quite deliver the same punch as it does when you see it on a recliner, in Dolby surround sound, with the smells of popcorn and the bilingual mutterings of Delhi locals wafting through the air. In that respect, I highly recommend you check back with YouTube in a month or so when, apparently, the film will be released in its entirety, for free, 12 weeks after its theatrical release. In the meantime, the scant English lyrics give you some indication as to the underlying themes the plot grapples with. J and I spent weeks attempting to dissect particular sections of the film (subtitles not so vogue-y in India) and, after chatting with probably three too many cab drivers, now have a solid understanding of the complexities of Indian education expectations. You need not engage in the same pursuit but instead, revel in the same enthusiasm that made A R Rahman (of Jai Ho fame) so popular. Strange, yes, but fun.

Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Swanand Kirkire – Aal Izz Well

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