I heard Tum Mile for the first time in Ajay's car when mom 'n pa were here in late May. I discovered it was one of the most frequently played songs on radio. Because soon after (probably the same day in less than two hours), I heard it in Madhavan uncle's car too. And then the following weekend when I was enjoying my Musk Melon ice cream at Natural Marine Drive, and blurted, "I'm beginning to LOVE this song" (when actually I'd already downloaded all three versions and played them on the loop some 30-odd times) to Vivek when they were playing it.
Ironically, like the flavours of ice cream, a lot of Pritam's songs come in at least two or three voices. So Baatein Kuch Ankahi Si in Life in a Metro came in Suhail Kaul and Adnan Sami's voices, and now Tum Mile in Javed Ali, Neeraj Shreedhar and Shafqat Ali's voices. Now I was also recently watching tv when Javed Ali made an appearance on one of these silly reality music shows and the conversation started. So this guy who's a casting director at Fremantle told me the so-called Javed Ali version has actually been sung by Mohit Chauhan. And I'm yet to be convinced. Even as I write this piece, I'm listening intently, and there's just too much of the melody and sur for the song to be a Mohit Chauhan spoil. I'm sorted. It's not Mohit Chauhan.
Ok now that we're done having the little discussion, we may move on.
So I'm yet to figure out what it is that draws me to the number. Each has a very different feel to it. The lyrics are different from each other. While the Javed Ali version is the weakest, it obviously has an initial attraction, or I don't know if I would've bothered with all the tedious downloading and transferring to the iPod. The Neeraj version has probably exhausted its rounds with the DJs. Of course, Shafqat's voice sustains anything for the longest - I recently heard the Coke Studio cover of Khamaaj in his voice with all the chords changed and his voice still carried the song to another level.
Much has been written or spoken about Shafqat's voice. It is probably even fashionable to criticise him or for him to stoop a little in quality, considering the technical clean-ups that wield their magic wands anyway. but surely there must be something in his voice to lend even an otherwise ordinary song a most extraordinary magical quality. His elongated alaaps are not avoidable. You may say they are meddled with, but how can the man's voice be so sand-papered and polished? That comes out of his innate excellence alone.
As for the permutations that Pritam experiments with, I'd unwillingly have to agree that they do turn out well. I've often wondered how one song would sound in another voice. Ok, so the experimentation was carried out in, say, 1942 A Love Story with Kuch Na Kaho, but everything remained the same, right? Only lyrics changed. Whereas in Pritam's case, he changes the chords, the lyrics too sometimes, the voice is of course the biggest alteration, the beats or their treatment is revamped completely. What I'm yet to understand is, why Pritam can't make his women singers work the same magic?
How many Sunidhi Chauhans, Shreya Ghoshals or any of the more obscure ones manage to stand up to the challenge? Is it even a challenge? Wouldn't it be fun for someone as trained and versatile as Ghoshal to play with an Anushka Manchanda number or an Alisha Chenoy trip? what's with the vanity?
I suppose Tum Mile illustrates for the entire Hindi music fraternity, that the concept of cover songs should be encouraged. It would stimulate listeners so much more! And, chalo, Pritam does a bit of an overkill with the three versions in the same album, but surely over time, with changing trends, this sort of thing done over a longer period would bring fresh perspectives to an otherwise single reading - I guess I'm delving into Death of an Author here...