Walk into a music shop and ask for the soundtrack of Delhi Heights and you will get bewildered looks. Now say: “Rabbi’s latest album” and realization will dawn. This means two things. One, that the film has not generated the kind of buzz its composer has. And two, that we are so strapped for original songwriting of the kind Rabbi excels in, we are willing to ignore small facts for his sake.
Delhi Heights actually does not sound like a film album at all. Shut your eyes to the photos of Neha Dhupia and Jimmy Shergill and you could be listening to another Indi-pop album. Rabbi claims defensively that he agreed to do the music only on the condition that he be allowed artistic freedom. So, no love duets or item numbers, and only one Punjabi track.
Now that we have established why it is a pure Rabbi album, the big question: Does it measure up to the composer’s cult debut album, Rabbi? No, but not so bad that you write him off, like we all sadly did Silk Route after an indifferent successor to Boondein. Dilli, the catchy opening theme song of the film, is outstanding. The lyrics written by Rabbi are evocative and acerbic about Delhi’s power trip: Yahan hai ik nadi/Aur vahan hai ik lal qila/Par kahan hai is shahar ka falsafa...Avaara thi raat/Aur sarkein sab mere baap ki/Aur main tha/Tu thi aur thi Dilli bas.
Rabbi has imported Tere Bin from his first album. A popular and very hummable number, it had nevertheless been overshadowed by Bulla ki Jaana’s brilliance. (Tere Bin sounds even more appealing when you keep in mind that he wrote the song with his father in mind).
The other great number Rabbi has done is with Sonu Nigam: Kitni Der Tak. It is a gently funny love song and Nigam lifts the music. Aaja Nachie is precisely what it sounds like and Ey Gori fails to grip despite Kailash Kher. Kabhi Aana Na proves Rabbi’s skills at songwriting, but the music does not measure up.
It is hard to imagine any of the songs being played and re-played like the songs from Rabbi. We are still waiting for something to make us forget Bulla.