In Aamir Khan’s productions, one can always make out telltale signs of his involvement in many areas related to the film. In music, for instance. One is inclined to believe that the scores of his films are keenly, albeit unobtrusively, monitored by Khan. In his latest, Taare Zameen Par, the words, melodies, song construction and mood of each offering are definitive and the nuances are well thought out. The songs of this child-oriented story are challenging and diverse. No breezy, breathy, or teary romantic solos or duets here.

Inspired: Khan plays teacher to a dyslexic child, enacted by Darsheel Safary.

With slighting words such as “idiot", “duffer" and “lazy" thrown at the child, it is easy to imagine what the rap number Bheja kum is about. The song is brilliantly penned, composed, rendered and recorded. As a student, lyricist Prasoon Joshi must have been caught at the wrong end of the cane often to have encapsulated the ire of irritated teachers and parents so well in this gem. A host of voices help singer Shankar Mahadevan run riot with the questions and phrases of frustrated parents: “Kyun homework adhura? Kyun geography mein gol? Moorkh shiromani, kyun tera bheja kum?" The heavy electric guitar holds the pertinent abuses well in place. The imaginatively used distorted child voice and stereophonic panning effects add up to make up this unique number a potential hit.

Bum bum bole is a bundle of energy. Khan’s voice is expressive in the introduction and interlude of this robust Shaan song. Despite his trademark nasality and hard intonation, Shaan packs a good punch in this philosophical but thoroughly fun number.

Jame raho is an impressive lyrical clone of Chale chalo (Lagaan, 2001), with clever usage of English (“aasman ka canvas," et cetera). This sturdy track also uses difficult idioms such as tas se mus beautifully. The appealing street song style sounds fresh with Vishal Dadlani’s smooth vocals. Don’t miss the riffs of the electric guitar. And in Mera jahan, the lovely acoustic guitar. Adnan Sami’s soulful singing immerses you in the sentimental number by Amole Gupte.

But the real tear-jerker is Maa. Joshi vividly pours out the angst of a child. The percussive lightness heightens the subtlety and softness of the song rendered by Mahadevan. He will also be deemed responsible for the goodness of Dekho inhen. This catchy title song has excellent replay value. Powerful and lyrically rich, Joshi emulates the simile structure of the popular Javed Akhtar winner Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga. But, why did they not use a real sitar? And why does the chorus sound so indistinct when underlaid by Mahadevan’s voice towards the end of the song? But then, these questions won’t come in the way of this song’s popularity.

Youngsters will love Kholo kholo, sung excellently by Raman Mahadevan. Radiating motivation and positivity, this stand-out song has an unusual and unpredictable end.

With their thoroughly positive music score for this movie, the music direction trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, have once again proven their supremacy among Bollywood’s combo music makers.

The music CD of Taare Zameen Par is available for Rs160.

Kushal Gopalka is an archivist and student of Indian music who writes for Swar Aalap, a monthly newsletter.

To respond to this review, write to