Mini-Review: Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack

Right from the chase scene near the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire, I knew that this was a movie whose soundtrack I was going to have to own. The music actually got better as the film went along, from the love theme all the way to the final triumphant Bollywood dance number.

The soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire was finally released on iTunes yesterday, but the CD won't be out until December 23rd. You can click here to buy it from iTunes but I chose not to exercise this option for two reasons: 1) The quality of songs from iTunes isn't up to par with that of a CD, and 2) The songs are still locked down by restrictive DRM. But with my overwhelming desire to listen to the soundtrack, a desire which has dogged me ever since I first left my screening of the film, what was I to do?

Turns out, it was Rhapsody that came to the rescue! For those who aren't familiar with Rhapsody's service, they offer you the opportunity to listen to 25 free tracks per month (the service is ad-supported). While they usually don't have a lot of music I want, they happened to have this soundtrack, so for those of you who want to listen to the entire soundtrack legally and completely free of charge (assuming you haven't already used up your 25 free tracks this month), just click here. Note that the last track, "Jai Ho," is only available for purchase.

My initial thoughts on the soundtrack: As with most soundtracks, the music loses some impact without the images and sounds that accompany them on screen, and this is especially true here. The imagery of Slumdog Millionaire is so dynamic and colorful that it's hard for them not to be intertwined with the musical motifs and vocals. That being said, I still love this collection of songs, most of which were composed by the monstrously popular A.R. Rahmam. In the end, though, I think I like it more for the memories it brings up of the movie rather than as an independent work of art in and of itself. That's just a personal feeling though; this soundtrack is certainly worth a listen for anyone with even a casual interest in the genre.

Some highlights:

  • The opening track "O... Saya" has a spectacular, expansive vocal track that evokes the scenic vistas of India that Boyle sprinkles liberally throughout Slumdog.
  • Here's a clip from this track:

  • "Mausam & Escape" is percussive and bold, effectively capturing the urgency of Jamal and Salim as they flee for their lives.
  • "Ringa Ringa" is a catchy tune that drips with exoticism.
  • "Latika's Theme" is brief but beautiful. To this day, I still get a bit weepy when I hear this track, so effective it is at evoking the intimate moments from the film.
  • Here's a clip from this track:

  • "Jai Ho," the music that accompanies the final dance sequence, is still as exuberant in audio form as it was on screen.
  • If you're a fan of M.I.A., "Paper Planes" is here, along with an entertaining remix.
  • Discuss: What do you think of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack?