Movie Name: 99 Songs
Directed by: Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy
Produced by: A. R. Rahman
Starring: Ehan Bhat, Edilsy Vargas, Tenzin Dalha, Aditya Seal, Lisa Ray, Manisha Koirala, Thomson Andrews, Ranjit Barot, Rahul Ram, Remo Fernandes, Kunal Kamra, Ashwath Bhatt, Kurush Deboo
Genre: Musical, Romance, Drama
Release Date: 16 April, 2021
Running Time: 133 minutes
The film is a sensual story about art and self-discovery of a struggling singer who wants to be a successful music composer.
99 Songs is a 2021 Indian Hindi-language musical romance film directed by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, and co-written and produced by A. R. Rahman, who thus makes his debut in both roles, apart from composing the original score and songs. The film stars debutants Ehan Bhat and Edilsy Vargas in lead roles, alongside Aditya Seal, Lisa Ray and Manisha Koirala among others portray supporting characters. The film is a sensual story about art and self-discovery of a struggling singer who wants to be a successful music composer.
This film is the debut directorial of Vishwesh, who worked as an advertisement filmmaker, before Rahman offered him to direct for his production. Vishwesh, also a musician, is well-known for the Mumbai based hardcore band Scribe. The scripting and finalizing process, which began in 2014, continued till four years. The casting process done by Mukesh Chhabra; around 1,000 auditions took place, until the makers finalized Ehan and Edilsy as the lead actors. The cinematography was handled by Tanay Satam and James Cowley, while editing was done by Akshay Mehta and Shreyas Beltangdy.
The world premiere of 99 Songs was held at the 24th Busan International Film Festival which was held at Busan, South Korea, where the film was screened in the Open Cinema category on 9 October 2019. The film produced by Ideal Entertainment and YM Movies, with entire rights were bought by Jio Studios. The film is scheduled for release on 16 April 2021, and will be will be dubbed and released in Tamil and Telugu in the same name.
The project was expected to kickstart production in the end of 2015 after completing Rahman’s works in Tamasha and Mohenjo Daro, however the delay over the casting process had prompted the makers to put the shoot on hold. Later the principal photography of the film began on 10 March 2017. Shooting of major portions of the film had silently progressed in India, and when Rahman on announcing the cast, he further added the team had completed a long shooting schedule in Ukraine. The makers have completed 90% of portions as of October 2017, with the exception of patchwork scenes and some other sequences which were wrapped up within mid 2018.
The background music and soundtrack for the film was composed by A. R. Rahman. The album which was in production since 2015, consists of 14 original compositions for each language (Hindi, Tamil and Telugu). The lyrics for the original Hindi version were penned by Navneet Virk, Abhay Jodhpurkar, Dilshaad Shabbbir Shaikh, Raftaar, Munna Shaukat, while the lyrics for the Tamil version were penned by Madhan Karky and Thamarai, and Telugu version was penned by Anantha Sriram.
99 Songs became the first Indian soundtrack album to be released in Dolby Atmos Technology. After two singles – the theme song from the film titled “The Oracle” and the male version of “Jwalamukhi” – were released on 7 and 21 February 2020, the full soundtrack in its entirety was released by Sony Music India on 11 March 2020.
99 Songs Movie Trailer:
99 Songs Movie Review:
When a young musician embarks on a journey to make the song that can reunite him with the love of his life and also change the world, things don’t go quite as planned. As he hits rock-bottom, will music come to the rescue?
Jai (Ehan Bhat) has only two priorities in life – his music and his girlfriend Sophie (Edilsy Vargas). While he hasn’t hit big on the music scene yet, his rich girlfriend’s father Sanjay Singhania (Ranjit Barot) challenges him to compose a 100 songs before he can think of marrying Sophie. And thus begins Jai’s arduous journey that takes him to the beautiful and picturesque rolling hills of Shillong, where he has his task cut out.
AR Rahman’s musical attempt is crafted with love and passion for his art and that is the one thing that is constant throughout. This is definitely a plus, but the film’s overall soundtrack is high on quantity and much lower on the quality that one would expect from a musical genius like Rahman. That said, there is more to 99 songs than just its music and some of it sure works, in parts.
For starters, Debutant Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy navigates sensitively through the subject, telling us a story that keeps its focus on music. The execution and cinematography (Tanay Satam and James Cowley) is decidedly dark and sometimes feels overbearing, but many portions stand out for their vivid and imaginative visual treatment. The treatment is what gives this film, a deeply emotional touch that sadly isn’t so strong in the writing itself. The writing could have been more convincing.
Ehan Bhat looks every bit the brooding musician, deeply in love and his portrayal is honest. The role gives him enough space to showcase his emotional scale and for his first film, Bhat has done a decent job. Debutante Edilsy Vargas had a more difficult role to only emote without being able to talk. She looks glamorous and intense as Sophie, but her transformation isn’t very convincing. Also, we wish the two young actors had more scenes between them to show off their chemistry, which is crucial for a love story like this one. Manisha Koirala and Lisa Ray are very well-cast in their respective roles. Tenzing Dalha as Jai’s best friend tries too hard to be cool and casual, but a more seasoned character actor here would have done wonders.
Overall, ’99 Songs’ has all the elements of an emotional love story with music at its core. With better songs and more conviction in its execution, this one had all the potential to become a chart-topper. After all, as Manisha Koirala’s character says, “Music is the last surviving magic in the world.”