Great music - as a soundtrack

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am

It would be interesting to give this soundtrack to two people, one who has seen Slumdog Millionaire and one who hasn't, and compare their reactions. If you are one of the has-nots, you are likely to feel that this is purely a 'soundtrack', a string of pieces that brilliantly accompany the onscreen action, but do little as standalone tracks.

Set and filmed in India, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who does very well on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (See our review on page 12.)

The music does recall colours and flavours of the East, ranging from rap with an oriental twist to more classically 'Indian' refrains. But without the scenes the tracks accompany, the CD soon loses its fire.

It's easy to see - or hear - how this music adds depth to the movie, and creates the necessary dizzying atmosphere. But when you listen to the album by itself, you soon realise that the two go hand-in-hand - these beats make little sense without the setting to which they drum.

Paper Planes (Bollywood-Brit-rap) and Dreams on Fire (Celine Dion on an Indian vacation) are successful stand-alone tracks - songs you might happily load to your iPod - but they are the only ones. To appreciate the rest, you really do need the bigger picture.