Tag Archives: Rahman

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Mohenjo Daro Music Review

AR Rahman is generally at his best when in partnership with his friends.

His greatest works have come in collaborations with Mani Ratnam, Gautham Menon, Imtiaz Ali, Shankar and Ashutosh Gowariker. It’d be interesting to hypothesize about the success of these filmmakers without Rahman’s music, but that’s for another post.

Ashutosh Gowariker is back with his next film, and it looks like it took him six years to recover from the debacle of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se. He’d earlier taken a six year break after Baazi, coming back with Lagaan.

Gowariker’s earlier stints with Rahman were all major winners, and the two of them come back along with their third musketeer – Javed Akhtar. So does Mohenjo Daro live up to the filmmaker’s earlier collaborations with Rahman?

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Track 1: Mohenjo Mohenjo

The first track in the album begins with Rahman’s tribal sounds, a set of gibberish accompanied by Shivamani’s thumping beats. In a few seconds, you’re looking forward to what’s coming. You see, listening to a Rahman album for the first time is almost a spiritual experience.

If the songs are good, that is. If they’re not, like Blue or Yuvvraj, you begin to question the purpose of life in the first place. It’s alright to listen to Anu Malik make bad music, but for Rahman to do it, is tragic.

The first track sounds familiar, a bit from Behne De, a bit from Ghanan Ghanan. Arijit Singh croons to Javed Akhtar’s rather simplistic lyrics, a problem I faced throughout the album. Lines like Chand aur Suraj donon ne dekha, Mohenjo Daro mein Rangon ka Mela just don’t cut it anymore. They were in vogue in the early 90s, but the analogies sound rather stale now.

Rahman manages to make Arijit sound the most un-Arijit-like, and that’s what keeps you interested through the track, which ends in a crescendo by Shivamani. All in all, the song feels like a performance in a reality shows, where Rahman seems to half-heartedly smile, like he’s itching to get back to his studio and call Hariharan about a new song idea.

Mohenjo Mohenjo leaves you gasping for more, just as the second track, titled Sindhu Ma takes off.

 

Track 2: Sindhu Ma

Undoubtedly the track of the album, Sindhu Ma begins with Sanah Moidutty’s sensuous overtones, and truly kicks off when Rahman comes into the picture. This is the song that plays in the trailer (though that doesn’t seem like a very bright idea in hindsight!).

Rahman makes even gibberish sound magical, and performs a ‘scat-aalap’ that only he could have. Every Rahman album has that one song that gives you goosebumps, Sindhu Ma is that track in Mohenjo Daro.  

The sound doesn’t sound completely original. There are shades of ‘Tum Ho’ (Rockstar) and ‘Kaise Mujhe’ (Ghajini). The track doesn’t bother with staying true to the time period the film is set in, using violins and synthesisers, but all that’s forgiven since it’s Rahman.

Javed Akhtar’s lyrics continue to disappoint, with lines like Paas aake bhi maun hai tu, Yeh toh bata kaun hai tu. The kind of lyrics Sameer used to churn out in the 90s – Tu hai jeevan mera, Tu hai jaaneman mera.     

The song ends in classic 90s boy-band love-track manner, opting to shift to a higher scale at the end. I felt a tinge of sadness as the song came to an end, perhaps as a premonition about the rest of the album.

 

Track 3: Sarsariya

Crooned by newcomers Shashwat Singh and Shashaa Tirupati, Sarsariya begins on exotic footing – gibberish, flute, and drums. And yet, it has the half-hearted feel of the tracks of Asoka. I have a feeling this track will be used as the heroine’s entry song. Javed Akhtar continues to dish out lazy lyrics with lines that go – Sab hai mere sapne, rang hai sab apne.

Shashwat Singh has an interesting voice, but the track switches tracks too quickly for you to invest in it. In fact, the track is quite annoying and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

 

Track 4: Tu Hai

This is a rehash of Sindhu Ma, but a more sanitised version of the song. It lacks the magical beginning of the Sindhu Ma, and if the trailers are anything to go by, will be sung by the leads when they find love in each other.

There are traces of Rahman’s beauty in the track, but having heard the earlier version, this seems like yesterday’s Chicken Biriyani that’s been refrigerated and reheated. It’s Rahman nonetheless, and I gave it a full listen out of respect for the man.

 

Tracks 5, 6, 7 : Whispers of the Wind, The Shimmer of Sindhu and Lakh Lakh Thora

What sets Rahman apart from his contemporaries are his stunning background tracks. While most music directors lazily employ pieces from songs in the film as background music, Rahman actually composes stunning pieces of music.

Listen to Slumdog Millionaire’s Latika’s Theme, or the haunting Bombay theme, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Which is why I wanted to listen to the three tracks that come with the album.

However, these are mere rehashes of the songs on the album, and nothing to write home about. You might enjoy Whispers of the Wind if you’re smoking a joint alone in the night. The Shimmer of Sindhu is a rehash of Tu Hai, and Lakh Lakh Thora is the last track of the album.

 

VERDICT:

Mohenjo Daro fails to stir up the kind of emotions that Rahman is used to when collaborating with Ashutosh Gowariker.

If my theory – Rahman Knows – is anything to go by, the album and the impending film might be headed for a disaster. But one can never be sure about these things. The soundtrack of Mohenjo Daro is strictly ordinary, and only for die-hard Rahman fans (which is probably half the nation anyway!).

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(If you’re a Rahman fan, you should check out other articles on the man – Rahman on Coke Studio, and How I Knew Jab Tak Hai Jaan Would Be Crap)

How I Knew Jab Tak Hai Jaan would be crap

Long before the film actually released, I knew that the film would be crappy. Just another pink, velvetty stepping stone into whatever SRK is planning to make of his career in the coming years.

And how did I know?

From the music.

The first song that was aired was the Punjabi number Challa. Sung by Rabbi Shergill, the voice seemed out of sync with Shah Rukh, who has been steadily serenading beauties with the voices of Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu.

The music seemed to pique my interest for a bit, and then slid down into disappointment.

And moreover, the song featured SRK doing what I call the Guitar Bullshit.

For decades, Bollywood has fooled us into believing that heroes can play the guitar. Pull off legendary riffs, pick out heartwrenching ballads by the ear, and strum along to anthems.

final guitar

Shah Rukh, of course, is no stranger to music bullshit, having earlier done the Violin Bullshit, Flute Bullshit, and Drums bullshit.

So anyway, I went on to the rest of the songs, and one of the tunes seemed to grasp my attention for more than a few seconds. But then quickly slipped out like sand. Not one of the songs seemed to capture my attention.

Now, let me introduce my theory. It called ‘Rahman Knows’.

Rahman, whom many Indians worship as a living God, knows when the film is going to be good. He recognises the value of a well written script, and has a fair understanding of the film maker’s abilities.

It’s only a theory. But the sheer facts and numbers that back the theory can be quite surprising.

Over the years, Rahman has produced music that has been in line with the kind of film that is being made.

Rahman’s music for Hindi films can be broadly classified into four categories.

THE EPIC: In this category, it is a sureshot winner. The director is good, the actors are good, there is a good story, and the music, like the scale, is epic.

There are numerous instances of this. The theme as the last day of cricket unfolds, the track that plays when the minister is being killed, and the grandeur of the Mughal kingdom – the music walks hand in hand with the film, producing a profound effect, that only elevates the film to a different experience altogether.

THE INTENSE: Here, the story is intense. It is not your average soppy Hindi romance. The film might not be an epic hit, but it definitely has a story to tell. Rahman’s music for these films has also been like the films.

The music is not epic, but it is intense and soul-stirring. The heart thumping beats in Dil Se, or the smooth, tragic tunes of 1947 Earth. Or that bit of music, the theme of Bombay that is uplifting and depressing at the same time, Rahman’s music has been on par with the films, and the canvas that they were trying to paint.

THE AVERAGERS: These were films that treaded the line between sensible and your average idiotic Hindi film. These films had their moments, kept you involved, but were not something you would devote time to, after returning home.

If you look at Rahman’s music for these films, it will be like the films themselves. There will be a few good tracks, neither epic, nor intense. Just songs that occupy the large space between great and average. Songs that you would hum for a while, and then relegate to the back of your mind.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Ghajini, Pukar, Saathiya – the examples are endless.

And finally, comes the last category.

THE BULLSHITTERS: These are the kind of films that are made to squeeze out the superstardom from actors. The stories aren’t much to write home about, and the films are driven more by the status of the leads at the time, rather than the story of the film.

rahman

When these films are offered to him, Rahman knows. He happily signs on the dotted line, and makes the music.

And the music, is like the film. A shadow of what it could have been. Songs that will play on MTV for a few days, and 9XM for a few more, and then will live the rest of their lives on Youtube, that old age home where songs spend their twilight years.

Examples of this, again, are aplenty. The songs in Blue, then the most expensive film – starring Sanjay Dutt as a deep sea diver, but visibly pregnant by 7 months – are a grim reminder of what happens if you try to fuck with Rahman.

Then, there is Yuvvraj. And Kisna.

So when I saw the trailers of JTHJ, Shah Rukh holding the guitar and strumming away on the wrong chords, about Challa or whatever, I stood up, and stretched out my hands.

I took a deep breath, ran my hands through my hair like the man himself, and muttered.

Fuck you, I’m not watching your film.

Your film of eternal love and pain.

I shall partake not of your cup of love,

So no matter how much you cry,

No matter how much you ham.

I’ll sit at home and eat bread,

Jab Tak Hai Jam.

Jab Tak Hai Jam.