Amanat Ali: Kohram

From being a successful participant of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Middle East — Pakistan Challenge 2007 and a finalist on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007, where he placed third in the competition, Amanat Ali has come a long way.

He has garnered a lot of respect and praise, especially from across the Wagah border and notably from choreographer Farah Khan and ghazal singer Jagjit Singh. He has contributed to Bollywood productions by singing Khabar nahin for Dostana, for the film Bal Ganesh (with music director Bappi Lahiri) and also the title song for K.C. Bokadia’s Junoon.

After all this hype, it is his debut album, Kohram, which will reveal his true talent.

Albums by music contest winners can have a lot of preconceived notions attached to them; one-hit wonder being the most prominent. While Amanat Ali bagged votes from fans across the Middle East and the subcontinent, will these voters now purchase his Kohram?

The title track is loud but not in a good way. The catchy groovy rhythm dies amidst an avalanche of instrumentation frenzy. Clearly this was a bad decision since Amanat has a tremendous singing voice and it’s a pity to hear it drown amidst the ruckus. Teriyaan and Raha Jaye Na are pleasant listens, particularly the former. The ballad works because it puts the most important thing first: Amanat Ali’s voice. His vocals here make one realise why he was a part of the competition and why Bollywood is taking serious notice of this singer.

Rab Jaane is obliterated by the DJ whose overeager ministration distracts the listener from Amanat’s voice and the song quickly becomes monotonous. Thumri is yet again another example of Amanat’s talent, but the result here is different from Raha Jaye Na. Ultimately the song showcases his versatility.

Berung is a song that again suffers from too much tinkering. It starts off very moody and melancholy, but just when one sinks into the mood he’s jolted by the introduction of Spanish guitars in the first interlude. After listening to the first minute of Anymore I just couldn’t take it anymore. Like before, there is an abundance of flair but hardly any substance —Amanat’s voice constantly drowns amidst the tinkering.

Halka Halka and Roye Teri Yaad Mein are near misses. Whereas the former is slightly better — again because Amanat’s vocals are left on their own — it’s the latter where things fall apart. It sounds more like a Sonu Nigam track than it does Amanat Ali’s. Granted he’s just discovering his voice, but mimicking others will get him nowhere.

A techno addition that succeeds where all others fail is Wari Wari Jawaan. Although it has a catchy loop, listeners might get bored with the repetitiveness on the track. Tum Se He (Maa), another hidden gem in the album but not as mellow as the previous songs, is an enjoyable number nonetheless. The cover of Tujhse Naraz Nahin (a 1983 classic by Panchamda) was one of Amanat’s staples on the show. And it’s great to hear him finally perfect this track right down to a T. Thankfully, the instrumentation and production is at a minimum so that one can truly appreciate the talent that is Amanat’s.

Too many cooks spoil the broth and the same could be said for the amount of lyricists on this record: Asim Raza, Mubashar Hassan, Amanat Ali, Saaji Ali, Shahbaz Khan and Faisal Sheikh. With each writer pulling in different directions, its obvious Amanat would have had a difficult time focusing in one direction. And what’s sad is that most of his songs lack actual poetry and meaning. Most of it is just filled with clichés and film clichés at that.

The problem with this album is that he relies too much on a Bollywood-type approach to music and heavy input from techno DJs.

While Kohram is better than any other debut from Amanat’s league, it doesn’t match his potential. He simply spreads himself too thin all over the album. Trying desperately to be the Jack of all musical trades just isn’t cutting it for him, at least not yet. The kind of music here is probably best used to introduced artistes in India (or particularly to Indian film producers) but it won’t stand with the other great Pakistani acts that Indian music followers have grown to admire and respect.

The album falls short on many levels mainly because Amanat tries too hard to grab our attention. Some would say that this is Amanat’s leap towards the big league, when in fact it probably is the first step of a journey of a thousand steps. With careful guidance and attention Amanat can complete the journey in swift strides and with relative ease.

In short, Kohram is a disappointment. However, knowing Amanat Ali this is just a stumble in the journey of the young singer that will ultimately take him and his vocal talent round the world.

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