By Ryan Pike
Soundtrack albums are generally mixed bags, containing both the good and the bad of a film’s musical range. Even when a film’s music is nominated for awards, this adage seems to hold true, as is the case with the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated music located on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.
There are two musical worlds represented on Slumdog Millionaire. One is the award-winning score by veteran Indian composer A.R. Rahman. Famous for his work in Bollywood, the film’s music is very likely western audiences’ first exposure to his compositions. Luckily, the 10 songs he penned on this compilation are uniformly excellent, presenting traditional Indian fare injected with a smattering of western genres. In particular, the two songs nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar– “O Saya” and “Jai Ho”– bookend the album in an energy-infused manner, with the chorus to the latter begging for the listener to sing along, even with the language gap. On the other hand, the inclusion of two versions of MIA’s “Paper Planes” seems superfluous and unnecessary, given the strength of the film’s original music.
Albums of music from films can be spotty and uneven, but Slumdog Millionaire’s sound- track is anything but. The disc features an astonishing and refreshing degree of musical variety, presenting familiar western sound as complements to energetic Indian music. Fans of the film or of good music should be on the lookout. For those that hate those things, at least there’s two different mixes of “Paper Planes.”