This is not a review of Amit Trivedi’s Bombay Velvet. I loved the album to bits and wanted to share a few things that stood out for me as I was listening to it:
- It struck me as a rare album in that it is so thematically consistent. We hear Neeti Mohan’s voice in six of the fourteen songs and other than two songs, the album is based on jazz music with a few modern embellishments in places. We have had this kind of consistency in Hindi film albums before, of course, but such albums have been few and far between. Also, this is the first time a Hindi film album has dedicated itself to jazz-based genres. We must commend Anurag Kashyap for his vision and guts to stick to his vision and Amit Trivedi for delivering to the vision in style. Guts? Yes, guts because when was the last time you heard an album that did not mix up an assortment of pop, Sufi, a variety of folk and light classical sounds with a base of “filmi” music? Heck, if a music director doesn’t deliver all those sounds in an album, he/she runs the risk of being seen as using “templatized” music. Bombay Velvet runs the same risk. Also, guts because jazz-based music is far from mainstream and may not be an average Indian listener’s cup of tea.
- I think it’s time to officially declare Neeti Mohan a diva. What a voice! Smoking hot texture, incredible range and although it ought to be a given for singers at this level – boy can she hold a tune! I am surprised that people continue to look at her as an up-and-coming singer. For example, when we reported that she was the most prolific female singer of 2014 with 42 songs, a common reaction was “Really?!”. It’s high time we acknowledge her as a premier singer in the Hindi film industry. I’ve heard parallels drawn between Mohit Chauhan/Rockstar and Bombay Velvet/Neeti Mohan but in my opinion, that comparison is unfair to Neeti. Neeti makes Bombay Velvet her own in a way that Mohit Chauhan could not with Rockstar, which was an A.R. Rahman album all the way. (Highly subjective opinion. I would understand and accept vehement disagreement.)
- There have been rumblings of the sameness of Amit Trivedi’s music in the past few albums. I countered those criticisms here. His out-of-tune singing has also been criticized. This is a fair criticism, although his signing, at least on recorded songs, has not annoyed me as much as it has others. Perhaps he’s heard criticism of his singing and other than a couple of harmonies (I think it’s him), he’s not sung in the album! With this tour de force of an album, my guess is that complaints about the sameness of his music will ease. For some time.