In the July 6 release Sultan (2016), directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Salman Khan plays Haryanvi wrestler Sultan Ali Khan who represents India in the 2012 London Olympics. The fictional film, which also features Anushka Sharma and Randeep Hooda, packs in nine songs, which presumably give its characters ample breaks between fighting bouts. The music is by composer duo Vishal-Shekhar, but this is a Salman Khan show all the way.
A Salman Khan starrer’s introduction to the masses is a thumping soundtrack and Sultan begins with “Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai”, a bawdy mix of lyrics and beats to which he can set his indescribable dance moves. The hook line is a double entendre about a woman who likes bass music. Sultan points out to his thrusting derrière in the music video, suggesting that Aarfa (Sharma) likes his “base”– that a homophonic slang reference cannot be ruled out is an added attraction. Sultan clarifies his moral stance on the subject by naively singing “Mujhko uska face pasand hai” (I like her face). Irshad Kamil’s lyrics allude to wrestling through words that invoke images of male bodies displayed in clingy langots (undergarments). Singers Vishal Dadlani, Shalmali Kholgade, Ishita, and Badshah pep up the ditzy score with their spirited vocals.
The alleged ousting of singer Arijit Singh from the soundtrack by Salman Khan lands “Jag Ghoomeya” into Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s lap. This is the song that Singh had initially sung for the composers. It is the most melodious song, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is well suited for the job. The soulful song is reprised by singer Neha Bhasin in a more mellow version.
In “440 Volt”, Mika Singh belts out a quasi-qawaali number like only he can in his droll style. The title track “Sultan” brings together singers Sukhwinder Singh and Shadab Faridi crooning at the top of their voices as if competing for a vocal calisthenics title in the wrestling ring. It’s a loud rock anthem designed as the titular hero’s victory song.
“Sachi Muchi” puts the country music of a Texan ranch in the background over which singers Mohit Chauhan and Harshdeep Kaur indulge in a frothy ditty, punctuating it with a loud chorus in the end. “Bulleya”, sung by Paponm has a lovely couplet about relationships as an overture and a coda evoking the philosophy of the 18th-century Sufi poet Bulleh Shah.
The Nooran sisters Jyoti and Sultana collaborate with Vishal Dadlani on “Tuk Tuk”. It bears a passing resemblance to “Tung Tung”, the song they sang for composer Sneha Khanwalkar in the television show Sound Trippin in 2012. “Rise of Sultan” is another chorus-led jingoistic paean to the muscular prowess of Salman Khan.
The film’s music does not reinvent the wheel but merely repeats the regularity with which Salman Khan starrers routinely worm their way into our ears.