Phillum TO pop

AT A time when the Hindi film music scene was dominated by a few duo-composers (we are referring to the likes of Jatin-Lalit and Nadeem-Shravan), Sandeep Chowta was probably the youngest music director to make an entry. The first impression of the critics was that he was nothing more than a chamcha of Ram Gopal Varma, as his first two albums were massively publicised Varma movies. But after the success of Mast and Pyar Tune Kya Kiya (which were again Varma initiatives), Sandeep became noticed for his unique music, which incorporated lots of electronic sounds into the vocals and background score. A few months back, Sandeep tried his hand at non-film music with his album Mitti. He is now back with his second pop album, Now That's Sandeep Chowta (Times Music, CD, Rs. 195).

Sandeep was born in Ghana, spent his childhood in Nigeria, and later came to Bangalore. According to him, his exposure to the music of Nigeria has influenced his music, as he tries to incorporate tribal Nigerian rhythms and even fuse them with Rajasthani folk music. After school, he took a keen interest in jazz, and with active support from his father, he began studying jazz music. Later, he collaborated with percussionist Sivamani and Suresh Thomas to form a band called Pulse. It was during this time that Nagarjuna, the well-known Telugu film star, noticed him and recommended Sandeep for his film, Ninne Pelladutha, and through his music for this film, Sandeep gained great popularity.

A few months before this happened, Sandeep had already got a break in Hindi film music with Satya (the song "Sapne Mein Milti Hai" rose high on the charts). Mast and Jungle followed, and by the time songs like "Ruki Ruki" and "Pehli Baar" became popular, listeners had already begun to like Sandeep's style of music.

Though he did not do too many albums, he made sure he had at least one hit anthem every year (Kambakth Ishq and Khallas are typical examples). When he was chosen as one of the judges for the first Channel V Popstars, his popularity and fan-following took a great leap, and ensured that his music for films like Dum and Boom ruled the music charts.

Now That's Sandeep Chowta is an eight-track album including remix versions of three of his popular tunes. "Khubsoorat Hai Tu", the first single, is breezy and the lyrics are very meaningful and soft (but the video is getting noticed for all the wrong reasons!). Sukhwinder Singh's vocals add feeling to the song and complement the voice of Sowmya Rao. "Yaara Teri Yaad" and "Dholna Maahi" are folksy and Sonu Kakkar's voice suits these tracks exceptionally well.

"Mama, I Love You" is meant to be a tribute to Sandeep's mother. The track features some impressive veena and flute accomplishments, but being purely instrumental, one tends to feel that the sounds lack continuity. The remix versions of "Laila Laila" (from Samay), "Rang Rang" (from Bollywood Hollywood), and the title song from Mast add some punch to the already energetic originals, especially the mix of "Laila Laila".

The album is definitely better than the run-of-the-mill Indipop albums, but someone of Sandeep Chowta's calibre doesn't really have to remix his own songs to sound good.


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