Soundtrack (2011) *MQ*

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He snorts coke, downs tequila shots and smokes like a chimney, all in a day’s work. Raunak Kaul (Rajeev) spins at a club called Tango Charlie and, among other things, mixes electronica with Hindi lyrics – an instant hit among party-goers.

Getting Midival Punditz and other independent musicians to do Soundtrack’s score is a smart call – the sound is hatke, and goes well with the mood of the film. Additionally, old film songs like ‘Ruk jaana nahi’ and ‘Khullam khula pyaar karein’ bring their own charm (having record label Saregama as producer must help).

Soundtrack has quite a few things going for it: a readymade, effective plot (the film, for a change, is an official remake of the Canadian It’s All Gone Pete Tong); the casting is more or less bang-on, and for a film with music at its core, the songs are good if not outstanding.

But the film, eventually, falls short of what it could have achieved. Director Neerav Ghosh keeps many scenes from It’s All Gone… intact, but fails to replicate the zaniness and audacity of the original. There is an attempt, yes, but that somehow gets lost in a haze of tacky production values and some unconvincing jabs at being ‘cool’.

Interspersing the story with interviews of characters from the film, similar to the style adopted in the original, looks out-of-place sometimes, and the transition not very smooth. Kaul’s alter ego – a joker – is ineptly presented, and is jarring.

But even with its lows, Soundtrack manages to hit some spectacularly high notes. The opening sequence – for example – where Kaul finds music in Mumbai’s myriad sounds, sets the tone perfectly.

Rajeev plays Kaul well, even if a tad inconsistently. After Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster last week, where the actors shone, it’s good to have a film that comes across as glamorous without conventional stars. Kaul needed flamboyance, as it needed maturity, and Khandelwal manages to bring both to the table. Mohan Kapoor, playing Kaul’s loud-mouthed promoter, is a good choice too, aptly over-the-top.

Soundtrack, after a patchy first half, gets into the groove post-interval, where Kaul meets instructor Gauri (Soha) after losing his ability to hear. The camaraderie is sweet, the scenes charming, and Kaul’s eventual retribution heartwarming. The finale is well-executed, too.

Incoherent sometimes, but enjoyable eventually, Soundtrack deserved to be a better film. In its present state, it’s not-so-bad either. Recommended.

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