First it was Snoop Dogg, then Ludacris and now, Akon is the latest Western singer to jump on the Bollywood bandwagon. The Senegalese-Ametrican RnB star makes his debut on the soundtrack to superstar Shah Rukh Khan's highly anticipated sci-fi superhero movie, Ra.One. It's no ordinary first appearance, instead of spitting 'gangsta' lyrics or simply crooning a chorus like Kylie Minogue on A. R. Rahman's Blue soundtrack of 2009, Akon actually sings in Hindi. Getting to grips with a foreign language is no easy feat, but Akon manages it – he 'smacks' it, you might say – for the fantastic Chammak Challo. His articulation is so impressive that he could arguably put some Indian singers to shame. It's also thanks to composers Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar's clever fusion of African, north and south Indian beats, plus a flirty vocal insert that Chammak Challo shines on this 15-track album. Akon repeats the feat on Criminal, but this time some hackneyed lyrics let him down. The same problem blights Right By Your Side, a sickly sweet Glee-style pop song, and Dildaara, a mushy Bollywood song. While pleasant, both struggle to leave a lasting impression, and sound out of place on an album that is essentially mysterious, heroic and digitally inspired. It's the murkier numbers like Bhare Naina, sung by Nandini Srikar, and Jiya More Ghabraaye, featuring Sukhwinder Singh, that add genuine interest.
On The Shelf
Our pick of the NOT-TO-BE-MISSED books
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin? For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask. Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.
Zone One: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild-ing civilisation under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street – aka Zone One – but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety – the "malfunctioning" stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz's desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.
Batman: Arkham City PS3
Batman: Arkham City, Rocksteady's first open world effort, swoops in to set the mark higher with its creation of one of the richest, most dread-inducing video game environments you've explored in some time. The eponymous Arkham City is more or less an overstuffed, melting pot of Gotham's nastiest goons. The game's gloomy tone is set in its outstanding opening moments, as Batman finds himself stranded in Arkham's dark heart, face-to-face with the absolute worst. Arkham City, as a game world, often feels hellish and hopeless in its abandoned city structures, crumbling streets, and bloodthirsty residents. But you're Batman, and you're not going down without a fight. The game's signature FreeFlow combat has seen several noteworthy expansions and improvements. The ability to quick-deploy several of Batman's gadgets adds an extra layer on top of it – what wonderful toys are at the Dark Knight's disposal. Handy new gizmos, like the Remote Electrical Charge and the Freeze Blast, create inspired opportunities to interact with the environment at large, and they often prove even more useful in the middle of a bloody brawl. A suite of new enemies and upgrades further add to the game's rich, rewarding combat.
MAG's Movie Picks For This Week
As they're held for ransom, a husband and wife's predicament grows dire amid the discovery of betrayal and deception.
Astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway has long been interested in contact to faraway lands, a love fostered in her childhood by her father, who passed away when she was nine years old leaving her then orphaned. Her current work in monitoring for extraterrestrial life is based on that love and is in part an homage to her father.
Sleeping Beauty is a haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.
The hitman Chev Chelios is poisoned by the criminal Verona and his friend and doctor Miles advises him that he must keep his adrenaline in an upper level to stay alive. Chev meets his girlfriend Eve and together he looks for Verona to kill him.
The career of a disillusioned producer, who is desperate for a hit, is endangered when his star walks off the film set. Forced to think fast, the producer decides to digitally create an actress "Simone" to substitute for the star – the first totally believable synthetic actress. The "actress" becomes an overnight sensation, with a major singing career as well, and everyone thinks she's a real person. However, as Simone's fame skyrockets, he cannot bear to admit his fraud to himself or the world.
Top Five Releases This Week
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space (PS3)
Dungeon Defenders (Xbox 360)
Naruto Ult. Ninja Impact (PSP)
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (3DS)
LEGO Halloween Creationary (iOS)
Bombay Bicycle Club – 'Lights Out Words Gone'
Kelly Clarkson – 'Mr Know It All'
Nero – 'Crush On You'
Nicki Minaj feat. Rihanna – 'Fly'
Veronica Falls – 'Veronica Falls'
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Seizure: A Virals Novel by Kathy Reichs
Double Dexter: A Novel by Jeff Lindsay
Triangles: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins