Wednesday, December 31, 2008

summARRy :-)

A roundup of this year's releases

It’s been a wonderful year for ARR fans! And since I couldn't review a single album this time around, felt I'd atleast summarisze my opinions on the music that the maestro has given us this year.
While Sakkarakatti was the only release in Tamil this year, it had Taxi Taxi staying atop mediocrity and getting record aritime on radios!! Personally the best song in the album in my opinion would be Naan Eppothu. Yes, I've always rated Meenaxi as one of Rahman sir's all time best albums, and I can't find a better song in Sakkarakatti than the dubbed version of Yeh Rishta. Yele would probably come second, albeit the surprising Corrs inspired violin piece! Taxi Taxi was a good commercial number to shake a leg to, and it was destined to be a hit among the masses.

Coming to Ada, in Rahman sir's words, it's been a musical journey over years. And the journey shows. There were probably a few disappointments initially while listening to this album. But quite a few of the songs have grown and assumed a place in the heart. Be it the two versions of Ishq Ada Hai, with special mention to the singing in the female version, or the lilting Mehrbaan and its instrumental version, or the pick of the album, Hawa Sun, Rahman sir's quest for novelty shows. And how! Yes, personally I expected a lot from Gumsum and Gulfisha and was let down, but the songs I mentioned, just about made up for the disappointment. Overall, a good album.

Jaane tu...Jaane Tu Ya Jaane naaa(trumpet piece plays). Every time Rahman sir forays into Jazz, it gets a select few admirers all excited. And I proudly belong to that elite group :D Yes, this is easily one of the best jazz influenced songs Indian cinema has ever seen. And this song set the expectations sky high. Maybe the average listener would find it too profound to enjoy and might settle for a foot-tapper like Pappu can't dance, Jaane Tu has something magical about it. Not to forget the lovely strings bgm in the sad version of Jaane tu meri kya hai and that beautiful progression when she sings "Jaana jaana kaise tune na jaana" in the female version of the song! Trademark Rahman! Not to forget the two songs by Rashid Ali, Kabhi kabhi and Kahin To. I liked Kabhi kabhi instatnly, and though the passion to listen to it may have waned now, I still think it's the simplicity and honesty in the song that made it a chartbuster. Nazrein milana is one song I still enjoy every second of. Be it the wonderful use of vocals, the country-ish arrangements or the overall happiness the song creates, this song comes a close second to the classy title song in this album.


My initial reaction to Yuvaraaj was - what's with the synth arpegiator and scale changes in every song! Btw the synth arpegiator is my way of putting the "ta-ta-taun ta-ta-taun" thing that is evident in a lot of Sir's songs these days :-) Dil Ka Rishta, Mastam, Man Mohini, Tu Meri Dost, Tu Muskura, Zindagi... I choose to leave out the rest. Each song grew on me eventually to the point I dreamt about meeting Shreya and crooning Tu Meri Dost with her. There are different parts of each song that stand out. Tu Meri Dost with great singing by Benny and Shreya, Rahman sir's lovely take and the counters between him and shreya are mesmerising. Tu muskura, Manmohini and Tu meri dost, with traces of each other in them, yet standing out individually as brilliant compositions have always stayed in my playlist. Zindagi is a typical ARR melody, but should've been a Tamil song. overall what I initially thought was ordinary fare has grown tremendously to become on of my top favourites from Sir this year. I didn't expect the movie to do well, and it went on to become one of the biggest flops of the year. Rahman sir, please stop giving wonderful songs to mediocre filmmakers!
Ghajini had all the hype one expects of an Aamir Khan movie. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the songs are already topping the charts. Behka is brilliant, and that sax tone is out of the world!! Next comes Aye Bachu. Guzaarish might the public favourite, but I find it pretty normal, Take nothing away from Javed Ali, who has been one of the best finds of late. But this song simply fails to live up to the standards Rahman sir has set for himself. Shreya's feel in Latoo is worth mention. Coming to Kaise Mujhe, apart from Benny's pronunciation, everything about this song is mesmerizing. And Shreya Ghoshal, if you are reading this, let me tell you, I'm totally in awe! Thank you for becoming a singer!

Slumdog Millionaire came as a pleasant surprise this year. And it’s a matter of great pride that it is winning Rahman sir accolades all over! Liquid Dance, Mausam and Escape, Latika's theme and of course O Saaya are pieces I’ve been looping for long now. With Boys, Rahman sir started a new trend of programmed electronic music. Every other film that followed had thumpy vst driven numbers. With Slumdog, Rahman sir has raised the bar and redefined the art of programming in music.
Overall I’ve noticed a general tendency to use multiple vocals in the same song, increased use of ooh’s and aah’s, that synth arpgiator I was talking about, and a melodeon/harmonica type sound these days in Rahman sir’s music. Of course we aren’t complaining J
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning a dark moment in Indian film music. The passing away of H.Sridhar sir. The man behind the Rahman sound. Listening to Slumdog Millionaire, I wonder why providence didn't let greatness last a little longer in the form of Sridhar Sir. You will be greatly missed sir.





To sum up, here are my top ten picks of Rahman sir's music this year:

Tu Bole
Liquid Dance
Tu Meri Dost Hai
Hawa Sun
O Saaya
Jaane Tu meri Kya hai
Man Mohini
Mausam and Escape
Dil ka Rishta
Nazrein Milana Nazrein Churana
Behka

Songs that almost made it:
Ishq Ada Hai
Mehrbaan
Kaise Mujhe (for Shreya!)

Disclaimer: These are solely my individual opinions and you are welcome to contradict them (in your own blogs of course ;-) )

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The concert!!!

This post is a couple of weeks late, and I know I have incurred the wrath of many an ardent fan! My apologies, duly attributing the delay to the bane called work...I bet software professionals would empathize with me!
DAY 1 :

In every concert by Rahman Sir, the wise know when to reach the venue : the day before, when the rehearsals happen. And my enlightenment came in the form of a call from another ardent Rahmaniac, Manasa. This was at around 9.30 PM and I was still in office. The news was : Rehearsals are on at ymca! And anyone is allowed!

I bet the office cab driver would've been pretty annoyed at my constant pestering to drive faster, but then I was about to have one of the best Friday evenings of my life!! Never before did 20 mins seems like 20 hours!

Finally I reached the entrance of the ymca. And rushed inside... The ground where the concert took place was pretty far from the entrance. Almostt half a kilometer! But the distant thumping I heard seemed to grow nearer with every step..err leap I took. Was that Azeem O shaan I was hearing?? Hell yes! I had reached! And there was the stage! There were the musicians! There was the MAN!!! A.R.Rahman!!

They were all there! Hariji, Chitraji, Naresh, Chinmayi, Mohd.Aslam, Naveen on the flute! Manasa had come by now, and we went near the stage, seating ourselves in the second row! If only I had a pass for the show! Earlier, Raihana akka had told me she'd give me a pass if she got one. She was there too, singing for the chorus. I had contacted her earlier that day, and she had told me she didn't get any passes yet. So I forced myself to be contented watching the rehearsals.

Azeem-O-Shaan was followed by Thamizha thamizha, followed by a break for the artists. Now this was the best part. The artists had come off stage, but Rahman sir was on his keyboard, and were a couple of videshi percussionists. What started as some random chord punching by ARR ji on the keys, turned into a mini jazz performance with complex chords and time signatures. Sheer magic!!

Raihana akka came down stage and I said hi to her. Immediately she took out a pass and handed it over to me! I can't describe how happy I was in words! It was about 11.30 pm and Manasa had left by then. There was quite a crowd still, and the rehearsals resumed with Tere Bina. Rahman sir was having trouble with the pitch and from what I could hear, his throat was pretty sore from practice. I later came to know from my piano master who was the sequencer in the show, that they had been practicing since 3 pm that day!

I am spellbound by Neeti Mohan's singing! And she happens to be an amazing performer as well. Here was an extremely talented lady, dancing and singing Mayya Mayya with not the least deviance from pitch, almost exactly like the original! All we could do was watch and clap!!! Which we did more than willingly!

I met some of our fans from the yahoo groups, and they asked if I had a camera. A bike ride back home, a sleepy mom opening the door for me at 12.30 AM only to find out I was returning to the venue, and we now had a camera. And ofcourse Nazeef Bhai to help us meet the artists! He's one fan whom the artists come and meet after their shows :) I took up the job of photographer, and if it had been official, I would've been fired then and there, for I couldn't get the flash up and running! :(

The initial few pics we clicked with Chinmayi, Naresh et al, were kinda hazy, thanks to bright lights everywhere except the flash :( It was finally Sayonara who figured how to get it on (now don't puke at me for not knowing how to operate a Cybershot..its was just two days old, and the 5-6 fans with me, who were probably hundreds of days older than me couldn't figure out either :P )!

I'll have to cut back to the part before miss Sayonara made me wiser in life... the sad part of the day. The rehearsals were over and Rahman sir was gettnig down from the stage. We were eagerly waiting to get a snap with him. The camera was in my hand, and after a lot of convincing(the people who were with him), a visibly tired A.R.Rahman stood for a photo. If only the convoy with him hadn't been so impatient, and that jerk (dunno who, hence I take the liberty to call him one) hadn't pushed me, the pic would've come out well. Alas, the camera shook. But all people heard, was the click! And Rahman Sir was whisked away...to the disappointment of all the fans... much to the disappointment of Vijay Narain, who was just a mere spectator, watching, wishing the ones he photographed would return the favor...wishing the one he wanted to be photographed with, would wait just long enough for him to take a snap with...Now I'm getting too senti! Heck I already have more than 2 great photographs with ARR sir, but every time I egt an opportunity, it just doesn't matter! I consoled myself, saying next time I'll be up there on the stage, singing, instead of down here, watching...Wishful thinking?? Maybe... but what do I have to lose!!

And then we took more photographs, with Blaaze, Naveen et al. And I returned home and slept (yes the day ended rather abruptly :P )


Day 2: THE DAY OF THE CONCERT!!

-> Reached venue by 4.30 pm.
-> Met the fan group guys
-> Entered the ground by 5 pm and took first row seats
-> Were told to go out again, due to security issues :(
-> Entered ground again at 6.30 and took first row seats (ie behind some 40 rows of VIP chairs)
-> Concert by Guitar Prasanna, Keith Peters et all, and some random presentations by the event sponsors
->Show started by around 8!!

The first song was Jaage Hain, sung wonderfully by Chitra ji and Rahman sir. Now I choose to highlight only the best aspects of the show:

Naveen sir's flute: This complimented every song, including ones like Paathshala, and how! Beautiful!!

Hari ji: If the rather subdued Kaathal Rojave , without his staple sangathis was anything indication of what was to come, it couldn't be wronger. All the songs he performed were amazing! I am running out of adjectives (and this phrase is getting cliche :P)

Chitra Ji : What you hear on record, is what you get live! And more...

Rahman Sir's piano work: The acoustic part of the show, where Hariji sang Uyire with Chitra ji, who went on to sing Anjali, and then Chinmayi sang Sahana. Rahman ji on the piano was the best piano I've heard!!! The wonderful ebb and flow of notes, and that bass chord punch!!! omg!!

Neeti Mohan: Barso Re was almost 100% Shreya Ghoshal-ish, and Mayya Mayya was better than the previous night's rehearsal performance (maybe because she'd changed costumes :P)

Mohd. Aslam: Here's one singer whose voice instantly transports you back to yester years! His rendition of Jashn-e-Bahara was better than the original in my opinion.


And now coming to the flipside of the show:

The audience was not allowed to stand up and dance :(

Most of the songs were sequenced, due to which, there was a lack of synchronization between the signers and the track... Rahman sir himself missed a beat while singing Tere Bina and also forgot some lyrics..but Sir, you rock anyways!! :D Roobaroo was very very slow... some error with the track tempo apparently...There was no female chorus on stage, while the female chorus parts of Maduraikku Pogathedi(from the minus one track) was playing the the background. Apparently more than myself in the audience noticed...

A few singers went offkey, now and then. Chinmayi, who sang many a song, went off shruti in quite a few places. Also she missed the cue given by Rahman Sir for Sahana, and started off the song in a completely different Shruti. But then Rahman sir somehow managed to adjust and immediately switched scales!

The concert ended sooner than expected... We were anticipating a few songs which were done during rehearsals but not performed on the show including Ai Hairathe and Ellapugazhum.
Before we realized it, Vande Mataram had started and there were fireworks!


The show had ended. But more than the show, it was the experience that was absolutely fantastic! Eagerly awaiting the April Concert! (and a not-so-silent prayer to God that I sing in that show :D)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Music Review: Jodha Akbar

Film: Jodha Akbar

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Music: A.R.Rahman

Azeem –O-Shaan-Shahenshah:

This opening song of the album sets the tone for what is to come. With grandeur written all over it, if you let your imagination play, you’ll find yourself amidst the crowds in the era, saluting the Mughal Emperor! The chan-chan female chorus interludes, and the brass and rhythm sections stand out. The dheem-thom-thanana remind you a little of the piranthom-iranthom part in the Ellapugazhum song in ATM. I’m waiting to watch this song on the big screen!

In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein:

A lilting melody is what the Tamil industry is yearning for, from you Mr.Rahman. And Ashutosh Gowarikar walks away with this one! And 3 more!

Again the western classical backing blends mellifluously well with the Hindustani classical vocal chorus and sitar. When the credits read Sonu Nigam and Madhushree, you know what to expect. You are not least let down! The ebb and flow of the song leaves you listening to it again and again…

Jashn-E-Bahara:

You almost mistake Javed Ali’s voice for Sonu Nigam’s in the first few lines of the song. Only as the song progresses do you realize it is actually different. Yet another excellent find by the maestro! The phrasing of words in this song gives you a feeling of deja-vu. Listen a few more times, and that feeling is gone, as you discover many aural pleasantries intricately woven into the apparently common basic tune. In typical Rahman style, this song grows on you with repeated listening. I’m still discovering!

Khwaja Mere Khwaja:

It seems to have become routine for a Quawali in every Hindi album that Rahman does these days. But hey, no one’s complaining! The average listener might draw a parallel with songs like Piya Haji Ali or Tere Bina. Listening to these kind of compositions, you realize the devotion with which he composes. I’ve always held Noor-un-Ala(Meenaxi) as his best Quawali till date. I still stand by that, but this song comes close to the top! It would be a gross understatement to say Rahman and his co-singers in this song have sung superbly well! With typical Quawali elements including the tabla, harmonium and the characteristic claps, and the Rahman stamp provided by some wonderful strings, bass and an instrument that I reckon is an Oboe, this song leaves you mesmerised!

Mann Mohana:

Speaking of devotion, we all know Ashutosh Gowarikar can’t do without a bhajan on Krishna or Rama in his films. With Man Mohana, its Lord Krishna again. This song takes me back to the good old days when I used to listen only to Piya

Ho(Water) throughout the day! Another wonderful melody that grows on you… leaves you thanking Rahman and Ashutosh for this album! The flute compliments excellently, Bela Shende’s voice, which I have run out of adjectives to describe, lest I sound redundant!

Jashn-E-Bahara Instrumental (Flute):

Remove the vocals from Jashn-E-Bahara, and add a flute instead, and you get this song. The flute is one of my most favorite instruments, and so I love this version!

Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Oboe):

If I’m right, this is the Oboe version of Khwaja… This 2-odd minutes version, with beautiful western classical arrangements. sounds rather melancholic. Again, an experience that might be more enriching while watching the movie

Overall, an excellent album from the Mozart of Asia, after a rather disappointing Azhagiya Tamil Magan. I wouldn’t put it among Rahman’s best just as yet, for I haven’t heard it enough to let it sink in completely. But my intuition says this is one album I’m going to love in the long run!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Music Review: Azhagiya Tamizh Magan

Film: Azhagiya Tamil Magan

Music: A.R.Rahman


I bet the makers of this movie would've chuckled quietly at the irony of the title with respect to its hero. How they managed to rope in A.R.Rahman baffles me. I kept my expectations under check, and I'm glad I did.

Ellapugazhum, the intro song, was probably composed in very less time. Rahman's singing is as usual mesmerising, although the tune hasn't made an impact just as yet. Frankly I'm disappointed by this song, for more than one reason, including Rahman scoring and singing for Vijay, Vaali writing these lyrics for Vijay.


Valayapatti is a folk based song, with a pleasant blend of Indian and Arabic percussions, multiple raaga changes, and some earnest singing by Naresh Iyer and Ujjayinee. The melody is good, albeit a little reminiscent of Kummi Adi.

Kelamal sounds like any other house song, only the melody is semi-classical. Sriram Parthasarthy's vocals leave you wishing he sang more for ARR. An average song, judging by Rahman's standards.

The initial harmonies in Maduraikku take you by surprise, and the dappankoothu-ish arrangements are very unlike ARR. However this is the one song in the album that bears the maestro's stamp. Benny Dayal turns out to be a revelation, doing full justice to an excellent melody.with awesome chord progressions and strings. Arguably the best song in the album.

Instantly catchy and commercial would be the words to describe Nee Marylin. The arrangements are more or less hip-hop, with the tabla peeping in occasionally to say hello. This song with vocals by Benny and Ujjayinee, is bound to be a hit with the masses. The lyrics are very wannabe hep. Sample this:

…Pengal Oru Mixie Vandhal Chutney
Pengal Oru Cricket Aangal thaan wicket
Chessboardil queenukku check vekka mudiyathu…


Rahman retains the original melody of Ponmagal Vandhal. It is a disappointment that someone like ARR has also been forced to churn out a remix.

Overall, an album the masses and Vijay fans would happily lap up, but followers of Rahman's music wouldn't be too happy about. As a hardcore Rahmaniac, I can only wish Jodha Akbar releases soon…

Trivia: Ujjayinee tells me Rahman Sir wanted a different start for the Marylin song, and asked her to try making wierd sounds. After trying for a long time, she finally gave up, and was chatting with Sivamani in another room in the studio. Little did she know that her giggling during the conversation was being recorded by Rahman, and has made its way to the song!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review : GURU (the real one)

Finally saw Guru. To put simply, it exceeds all expectations. And what does one expect of a film by the cream of the Indian Film Industry ( I hate the term "bollywood") ? Well, the best of course! Mani delivers a classic with Guru.

I wont go into the details of the story, as whatever we've seen and heard in the promos is exactly what the movie is all about. Gurukant Desai is a village lad who dreams of making it big. All he has when he goes to Bombay is some paltry sum of money, his newly wed wife and her brother. What follows is a rags to riches story, one of hope, dreams and the fire within to achieve. If Abhishek Bachhan got a career boosting role in Yuva, this one should consolidate his position as one of the "actable" actors. That Mithun Chakraborthy's name appears in the title credits before Abhishek's, speaks volumes of his performance. The veteran fits his role to the tee, and pulls it off with aplomb.

A fresh looking Madhavan plays Guru's nemesis. It sounds kinda repetitive to say he's matured as an actor..heck he was always a matured actor! I only hope he doesn't get labelled as a cameo performer in Hindi films! Vidya Balan impresses, though in a short role.

All those wannabes whose idea of a romantic scene is lush locales, saccharine dialogues and plenty of male and female tears should learn a thing or two from Maniratnam. The scene where Abhishek leaves his village for Bombay is one that deserves to be in the textbooks! Dialogues are to the point and carry the film forward wonderfully. Rajeev Menon's cinematography is excellent and one of the main reasons the film creates an impact, the others being a haunting soundtrack by A.R.Rahman, and crisp editing by Sreekar Prasad.

As for negatives, the film sags a bit in pace in the second half. Aishwarya Rai's acting(I save the worst for the last) is as usual: artificial. But it is better than many of her other performances that I've seen. And yes, you can see she is growing older.

Overall an excellent film to watch if you have the patience.

Rating: 8.8/10

Reference:

Kannathil Muthamittal:
8.8/10

Ayudha Ezhuthu:
8.5/10

Alaipayuthe:
7/10

Monday, January 08, 2007

ARR turns 41!!

And this blog turns one! And with this comes great news: Boss's official website will soon be up! Here's what the developers of this site have to say:

This is a desire driven by all of us culminating into reality.
We take great pride in letting you know that the official website for a r rahman - www.arrahman.com is ready however since we would like to soak in the spirit of the new year with his birthday and the wonderful gesture shown by fans worldwide by contributing to the a r rahman foundation, we thought it was only fitting that we 'go live' with the website shortly so as to not dilute the focus and importance.
For the moment, you may log onto www.arrahmanworld.net
What you get as fans through this is a first and exclusive look at what's coming your way...
the music, the mystery and the man unravelled like never before.....
Remember, this is just a teaser....the full fledged website will be launched by a r r himself shortly.....the official website domain is www.arrahman.com and the domain currently being used www.arrahmanworld.net will be migrated.
To start off with, you can post your messages directly on the website which will be read by a r r. You can also register for updates on emails.
Obviously, what is expected of you is to go full fledged and spread this on as many forums and to as many people as possible.
Remember, the arrahmanfans@yahoogroups is the first and exclusive audience for this.
Thanks for all your love & support
Vijay Iyer
Gopal Srinivasan



Courtesy: arrahmanfans@yahoogroups.com

Proud to be an ARR fan!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Waterworld


Water is essential for survival. And the music of Water seems to hold equal significance.As a matter of fact i've been breathing water ever since I heard it the first time! And water's what my eyes shed even as i drown deeper and deeper into it, wanting to consume more and more of it. Ultimately it is water that has consumed me!! The mouth wants to speak but the words have deserted the tongue, and what comes out are mere bubbles of awe. As I sink in this bottomless sea , I am encompassed by an ethereal bliss and there's just one thought, one message that the mind wants to reflect...
Blessed is the soul that made thy!!!
Thank you A.R.Rahman