Album + Soundtrack
Aisha is an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma set in modern-day Delhi, and there's a similar sense of juxtaposition in the film's soundtrack: the established and acclaimed lyricist Javed Akhtar has been paired with upcoming composer Amit Trivedi. The result is an unusual and interesting collection, which is a pleasant departure from traditional Bollywood fare.
This is only Trivedi's third full soundtrack, and he is perhaps best known for Dev.D, which won him two awards in 2009. His wide-ranging musical influences are clear in this latest offering, but thankfully he appears to be aware that imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to music, and there's a sense of originality that shines through.
The album opens with Suno Aisha, a catchy piece with trumpets punctuating vocals provided by Trivedi himself. Gal Mitthi Mitthi has a rather unremarkable melody in comparison, but the arrangement adds interest and for once the remix version actually gives the track new life. The relaxed Sham carries elements of folk and country, and could owe its inspiration in part to Delilah by Plain White T's; contrast that to By the Way, a pop/rock effort in the vein of early McFly, which is unmemorable but fun. Behke Behke takes the listener to Spain, complete with castanets and accordion, painting the picture of open courtyards and flamenco dancers. The slightly unnecessary rap section can be forgiven when considering the evocative nature of the rest of the song.
The stand-out track by far is Lehrein, with its haunting use of strings and an emotive vocal performance from Anusha Mani. It is unique but not dissimilar to Iktara, Trivedi's sole contribution to 2009's Wake Up Sid, which was arguably the most successful song on that particular album.
There is a lack of instant impact in this soundtrack, which is its major flaw. Its true appeal, however, lies in the understatement - it grows upon re-listening, once you let your ears pick out the subtleties. It's no masterpiece, but the unusual arrangements, the brave decision to use unknown singers and an interesting display of influences make this album unconventional in a manner that is refreshing. If Aisha is any sort of marker, Trivedi has much potential and is certainly a composer with a bright future - in Bollywood, and perhaps further afield too.