hindi film music

Soundtrack review: Are ‘Sultan’ and Salman interchangeable?

The music for the upcoming wrestling drama bears Salman Khan’s indelible stamp more than the sound of composers Vishal-Shekhar.

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.

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‘Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai’.

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.

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The ‘Sultan’ jukebox.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.