On a rain-drenched evening at South Mumbai’s Not Just Jazz By The Bay, a bunch of musicians from Kolkata opened a window to yesterday to celebrate the music launch of Pritish Nandy Communications’ latest film, Bow Barracks Forever. After numbers such as Tom Jones’ Green Green Grass of Home, singer Shaan joined the band (which included the film’s director Anjan Dutt and his son Neel, the film’s music director) to sing another nostalgic legend—Yesterday. And everyone above the age of 45 wore a wistful smile.
That same evocative note pervades the soundtrack of the movie, which is based around Kolkata’s Bow Barracks. The historic structure houses a substantial Anglo-Indian community and constantly faces the danger of being demolished and brought into the 21st century. Kolkata-based Anjan (of The Bong Connection) has always had a soft corner for Anglo-Indians, but was only exposed to the Barracks when he went there for a screening of his 1998 film Bada Din, which also revolved around the community. His latest offering, starring Victor Banerjee, Lilette Dubey, Moon Moon Sen and Neha Dubey, was the result of that trip. With it come tunes that would have been more in sync with the era of black and white films.
“We wanted the music to be as simple as possible and slightly nostalgic; pop the Anglo-Indian community grew up on, such as the Beatles and Neil Diamond,” says Neel. Dutt Sr. has also written and composed many of the numbers on the soundtrack.
The stars of the seven-track album are undoubtedly the vocalists. Usha Uthup’s Teri Meri Merry Christmas is a chirpy jazz number with simplistic, nursery-rhyme lyrics that’s stamped with her trademark style. Jab Maine Dekha Use... Standing There, Shaan’s opening rock‘n’roll track, is bound to get some air time on the music channels. It’s not very innovative, but quite catchy.
Anjan contributes his vocals to the title track, Bow Barracks Forever. He’s got a rich voice that makes him a perfect candidate to sing old favourites around a campfire, but the repetitive chorus does nothing to show him off. After a few hearings, however, the rest of the lyrics and, according to Neel, the “Dylan-esque expressions” begin to grow on you. Mumbai-based Dominique, who started out with jingles and went on to perform with A.R. Rahman, contributes on Home. The track is a yearning-for-home kind of ballad which scores because of her lovely voice, but loses because of the repetitive Bow Barracks Forever refrain, which has been stuck in here as well.
Dance Through the Night, performed by Dibyendu, vocalist for Orient Express, a Kolkata-based Latino band, is a tad flamboyant and the lyrics OTT, but the trumpet-filled Spanish dance track is definitely the most fun of the lot. “The Barracks have a very Latin feel, so this song fits in,” says Neel. Towards the end of the soundtrack, The Bright Young Love Theme is a soft, mellow instrumental piece that reeks of longing, while the CD’s swansong, The Lost Glory, is a jazzed up instrumental version of Amazing Grace, featuring a trumpet. If you’re one of those people who think they don’t make pop like they used to, this album is your chance for a rewind.
Bow Barracks Forever:
Times Music, Rs195.