Rahman does it yet again.
Delhi 6 is a movie I have been awaiting with some excitement because of the interesting storyline (well, I have said that about so many movies this year and never got around to actually watching them…thus is life) and acting credits, but now the music is out and it has officially made my day. I mean, it has literally cheered me up, which I very much needed, simply because yet again I am baffled that Rahman’s genius just keeps stretching out. The maestro had just won some very well deserved awards internationally, including the Golden Globe, for his music of Slumdog Millionaire, and that is followed by yet another proof of how great he is. I really won’t be surprised if he wins the Oscar this year. To be honest I don’t care what he wins, but this whole process brings him into the light and visible to the world, and I think that’s the best part. He deserves the accolades, but the recognition means much more I think. He deserves to go down in international history, not just Indian history. I still remember my excitement when the Theme of Bombay started playing in a pivotal scene in Lord of War…or more recently, as a background to a nightly show in Singapore’s Night Safari. I’m proud of him like no other artist from the motherland. Kudos!
Back to the subject: Delhi 6 is now available for listening on Bollywood Hungama (www.indiafm.com) and his latest offering brings to you both awe-inspiring tracks and tracks that are not so easy to take in. For those who’ve been uncomfortable with his newer work, Delhi 6 is not as eccentric and experimental. For those who like his mixtures and innovation, there is plenty of that too, which might or might not be unpleasant to you. It has a slew of new singers like Sujata Majumdar and Kishori Gowariker, and some of those voices which I said I would love to hear more (Javed Ali, Benny Dayal, Rekha Bharadwaj, Mohit Chauhan!). The lyrics are actually pretty great (thank God, because lately I was worrying about the kinds of lyrics Rahman had been composing to), by Prasoon Joshi, and based on what I know of the story I think they’re aptly powerful and, in true Rahman-style, sometimes complex to explicate.
A word of warning…at times the album brings out the unexpected with a flair, and that might not gel with everyone. For example, if you expected Mohit Chauhan to sing the kind of lovely smooth ballad that he has been singing in the last year…well, Masakali is nothing like that at all. If you’re willing to take the risk, you’ll be amazed at how sleazy and rebellious and bold he manages to sound in this number. Similarly, the title track is a little wild, not in the least because of the singers and the free use of digitalization, but its also very characteristic of Rahman (think Paathshaala). The religious tracks are, as expected, melodious and wonderful, but they lack the power of Khwaja, Piya Haji Ali, or even Al Maddath Maula. Those are a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, because I always look forward to the Rahman touch on this genre, because he does magic with both Hindi and Muslim tracks (this album has both an Aarti and Arziyan, which is reminiscent to Piya Haji Ali).
Let’s start with Aarti. Very solemn, sober, but it immediately reminded me of Ishwar Allah from 1947 Earth and its too similar (apart from the lyrics) to stand out. Its like Rahman didn’t feel like making the effort to differentiate this aarti. Possibly the weakest song in the album.
Arziyan. Javed Ali is divine and holds his own with Kailash Kher, who usually succeeds with songs of this type. Apart from that, like I said already, it is very reminiscent of past efforts in this genre, and it doesn’t particularly stand out, apart from the different singers. The lyrics are quite good, however, and understandable, which will be appreciated by those who thought Khwaja was too pretentious in its language.
Bhor Bhaye. Tracks are being blended in this…and very obviously…one an old, old track of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali and one of Shreya Ghosal singing the same raag. Initially it is disconcerting, but it won me over soon after, because Ghosal’s voice is simply amazing. Her classical training (of which she is so proud) shines out and you can tell this is her area (once Kavita Krishnamurthy used to stand grandly where classical in movies was concerned…but I’m not sure whats been going on with her choices). I’m still unsure, though, about how I feel about Bade Ghulam Ali’s recording being used such, but I think this is a situational song that will have to be seen to justified.
Delhi 6. Delhi 6 is an ode to Delhi, and its quite a celebration. I can’t pinpoint which singer it is, I believe its Vivienne Pocha, whose voice can only be well utilized by Rahman. For anything else she would be too raw, too sharp, too coarse, but in songs like this (and Shano from Yuvvraaj), she really pulls an effect. Overall this is not my type of track but I enjoyed it.
Dil Gira Dafatan. Ash King is new (I think?) and he does all sorts of things with his voice here, and I like it. He goes high, he goes soft, his breath comes in deep and goes out…The melody is inconsistent on purpose (like he’s just singing and not really following any music) and there’s a constant tone running in the background…the effect is something that builds up and builds up in anticipation…Chinmayee comes in and adds her own sweet effect. Rahman mixes a lot in this song…at times it sounds Western, at times Asian, at times it sounds like something European…but for some reason it works (for me). Its a risky song because there is a lot going on, and I don’t think everyone will fall for it. Its also very dreamy and flows like something…not quite real.
Genda Phool. For some reason there’s very little wedding/marriage songs being made nowadays, and I miss them. I miss the Main To Chod Chali Saajan Ka Desh kind of songs! Genda Phool brings back that genre with a twist, and for that reason may be one of my favorite songs here. The lyrics and the voice of Rekha Bharadwaj and the use of the sangeet chorus makes it very earthy, very shaadi and mehndi suitable, teasing and playing with the relationships to come…but the music defies that. The rhythm and beats fused in are very modern (with only a jhanak of payal in the background) and the whole effect is very fusion. I like it.
Hey Kaala Bandar. Three singers I really dig–Karthik, Naresh, Srinivas–and Bony Chakravarthy do new things with their voices. Its hip hop but not, its British-Indo rap but not really. Its lyrics are confused, going deep but then stepping out. Its youthful. It tries to be Khalbali in its spirit but doesn’t really get to that level. Its music doesn’t hit the spot, but you feel your head start bobbing. Its going through a serious identity crisis. Yeah, that’s all I can say right now.
Masakali. Remember my post on the music of 2008 where I gave Mohit Chauhan my best playback award and I said I’d love to hear more variety in his portfolio (and I also mentioned the singers I’d love to hear more of)?? Well, I should have also wished for Himesh Reshammiya to stop acting/singing in that post because apparently my wishes are all coming true. Chauhan OWNS this song, and its like nothing I’ve heard from him before. At times he’s bold and almost sleazy in his rebelliousness…he inserts laughter and wildness and youth into his voice with ease, and in the parts where his voice freely yodels he reminds you how smooth and dynamic his voice really is. I can’t really describe it well, so just listen.
Noor. Amitabh Bachchan speaks. I’m not a fan. So I have nothing to say. Words are okayish.
Rehna Tu. The songs which Rahman chooses to grace with his voice will always be the best of the album. I remember my mom once was shocked that Khwaja and Ay Hairathe Tere Bina (I’m sorry, I got the names all mixed up…which is stupid…thanks Ashish for pointing it out…Ay Hairathe was sung beautifully by Hariharan) were both sung by him, because he sounds so different in each. His voice doesn’t change, but his emotion does, his persona does…something happens as a result of which he does not sound the same on any two songs. It can go without saying that Rehna Tu will come to be my favorite song from this album I love what Rahman does with it. I love its almost-R&B beat that switches into something more eclectic as the song progresses. I love what he does with his voice to really add passion and emotion and longing to the song. And I really like the lyrics. Just like I loved the strange but simple associations of Meherbaan, I love the lyrics of this love song which seem steeped in desire and not entirely conventional.
“Rehna Tu/Hai Jaisa Tu/Dheema Dheema Jhokha/Ya Junoon”
(Stay/The way you are/A soft slow breeze/Or a passion)
“Tujhe Badalna Na Chahoon/Radhi Bhar Bhi Sanam/Bina Sajawat, Milawat/Na Zyada Na Kum”
(I don’t want to change you/Even a little bit/[you are] Without decoration, without any impurity/Not too much nor little)
This is the slightly weird but sort of sweet stanza:
“Haath Thaam Chalna Ho/To Dono Ke Daayen Haath Sang Kaise?
Ek Daayan Hoga/Ek Baayan Hoga/Thaam Le…Haath Yeh Thaam Le…/Chalna Hai Sang Thaam Le”
(If we want to walk holding hands, how can both our left hands be together? One will be left, one will be right, lets hold, hold my hand, we have to walk together)*
(Um, I have forever been handicapped in being able to differentiate rightly between daayen and baayen in Hindi (i.e., which is left and which is right). So quite possibly I have them the wrong way, in which case, please point out kindly )
The song ends with a flute-like piece that is very traditional…a very nice touch.
That’s my thoughts! Heavily biased, but atleast I didn’t go out right crazy saying the album had no faults! It does, but it is still magnificent and stands glorious evidence that Rahman’s genius will continue on and on and on and on and on…