Soundtrack (2011)    1 Stars

Soundtrack (2011)

Director: Neerav Ghosh

Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Soha Ali Khan, Mrinalini Sharma

Synopsis: Loud music, substance and alcohol abuse wreck the life and career of a talented music composer.




Soundtrack is essentially a remake of the cult British 2004 movie It’s All Gone Pete Tong, a fact which it acknowledges during the movie’s end credits, although its claim that it is merely ’inspired’ by the original movie is perhaps a little disingenuous. While Soundtrack sticks fairly closely to the events depicted in It‘s all Gone Pete Tong, it largely dispenses with the comic elements, focusing instead on the more dramatic aspects of the story. This being a Bollywood movie, however, means that it applies a glamorous gloss to its protagonist’s pre-breakdown lifestyle by playing down many of the negative consequences of his hedonistic ways. So while we see our dissolute hero receiving the adulation of the dance crowd as he works his magic on the decks, as well as the sexual services of a small coterie of beautiful women, we never see him with his head down the loo or suffering from the post-party shakes.

Young Raunak Kaul (Rajeev Khandelwal), the son of a dead singer, arrives in Mumbai and is immediately enchanted by the music and rhythm of everyday noises he hears on the streets. After moving in with his uncle Raunak records a music track on an old computer using the voice of a blind beggar he met on the streets. The track is an instant hit, and with the help of club-owner Charlie (Mohan Kapoor), Raunak is propelled to stardom . However, as his fame and wealth grow, he becomes increasingly dependant on alcohol and drugs, and the constant exposure to ear-splitting music begins to take its toll on his hearing.

Bollywood movies have changed a lot in the last couple of decades; their style is growing ever closer to that of Hollywood, although you’ll still search in vain to see one of its actresses receive a kiss on the mouth on-screen. That’s despite the fact that it’s ok for a filmmaker to clearly suggest that the woman prohibited from locking lips with her leading man is performing fellatio on him, but there you have it – proof if ever it was needed that censorship without common sense rapidly descends into farce. Anyway, although Raunak’s heavy drinking and drug-taking are frequently shown – he never seems to be without a bottle in his hand in the first half of the film – it isn’t really depicted as a major problem, which means the downside of his intake is never explored, leaving Soundtrack with a distinct lack of flavour at times.

The movie’s pace slows noticeably once Raunak begins his long struggle to come to terms with profound deafness – after all, a man’s redemption is rarely as compelling as his self-destruction. Raunak hooks up with Gauri (Soha Ali Khan), who patiently teaches him sign language as they fall in love in a series of lengthy (and dull) montages. Sadly, Gauri’s role is poorly written, giving her little in the way of character other than that of the perfect woman. Although she is supposed to have been deaf since birth, she speaks as normally as a person with sound hearing would speak, that is without the guttural emphasis of a genuinely deaf person.

Despite that slackening of pace in the second half of the movie, Soundtrack delivers for the most part a solid entertainment that’s enhanced by a pulsating soundtrack that skilfully fuses Western and Indian music to good effect.