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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Master At Work : A.R.Rahman's "Yuvvraaj"

Okay, so I am the laziest bum that ever walked the hallowed sands of cyberspace.......can't get down to type a new post, so in the meantime, here's my post on my other blog, at can catch the original page here)

There is a very good reason why I have titled this post A.R.Rahman’s Yuvvraaj……because considering Subhash Ghai’s track record of late, (the seeped-in-cliches “Black and White” and the-lesser-said-the-better “Kisna” )the odds are that “Yuvvraaj” will be another Ghai film which will flatter to deceive…..and that should not come in the way of the fact that A.R.Rahman has given us yet another masterpiece of a soundtrack, one that(dare I say it?) might be his best yet.

The last time Subhash Ghai and Rahman worked together was the ill-fated Kisna, where Rahman contributed two tracks and a few instrumentals before he dropped out in favour of other assignments. Before that, they had famously collaborated in “Taal” 10 years ago, resulting in the creation of a watershed soundtrack which is still considered to be a landmark in the history of Bollywood music. The onus was, thus firmly on the maestro ever since it was reported that he would work on “Yuvvraaj”. Like “Taal”, this too had been billed as a grand musical.

Rahman does not disappoint. The album starts off with “Main Yuvvraaj” which is basically Salman Khan introducing his character, as the familiar strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony play on. The next song, the one which we have been listening to in the promos, is “Tu Meri Dost Hain” marks the beginning of the fun……Rahman creates a simple yet immensely powerful melody, one based on a steady Western Classical Orchestra sound. On this template, Rahman brings on the refreshing Benny Dayal(Pappu Can’t Dance and Nazrein Churaana from Jaane Tu..) Shreya Ghoshal(and himself for good measure) to weave pure magic on a track which will have you hitting the replay button again and again. A note on Gulzar’s lyrics: The old stalwart delights again… sample this

“Awaaz ka dariya hoon, behta hoon main neeli raaton mein….

Main jaagta rehta hoon, neend bhari jheel si aankhon mein…”

Rahman’s prodigious skill with Western Classical music is on parade for much of this soundtrack, including the next song “Tu Muskura Le” which, in the spirit of reunions, has Alka Yagnik hitting the high notes ever-so-sweetly again. This is again a keyboard-based track, albeit one in which Rahman doesn’t quite let his hair down. However, the track has an amazingly haunting quality, and as with so many Rahman songs, gets better with every subsequent listen. We then merrily segue along to “Mastam Mastam” which is characteristic of the recent Rahman(Guru etc.) subtle melody combined with earthy sounds and a general sense of joie de vivre. The highly innovative and thematic nature of the lyrics as well as that of the song is a standout feature.

The same “thematic” concerns continue with “Manmohini Morey” which combines classical Hindustani vocals set to a simple techno arrangement with the signature Grand Orchestra violins and cellos of the film keeping company. I suspect that these songs will be all the more impressive, when they shall be seen and not just heard. Rahman decides to have a bit of fun with “Shano Shano” which is a very unsual disco track, one which may seem lightweight in comparison to the melodious riches strewn around the rest of the album, but a highly infectious track nonetheless.

Next up is “Zindagi” which is a typical Rahman-soft track, featuring Srinivas(remember the soulful “Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut” from DCH?) whose honest-to-God vocals lend a delightfully fragile edge to the track. Finally, Rahman signs off in style, with the nearly eight-minute long “Dil Ka Rishta” which has as many as nine singers, including Sonu Nigam, Roop Kumar Rathod, rapper Blaaze and Rahman himself. I strongly suspect this will be the final scene of the film, as the melody has that operatic sense of climax about it.

There is no doubt in my mind that for sheer brilliance, variety and originality, this is the best Bollywood soundtrack of this decade. Ghai has smartly emphasized the Rahman-Gulzar combo in the initial teasers of the film.

Rahman had already done more than enough to ensure that his would be the career that would define the past 15 or so years of Bollywood music, but with “Yuvvraaj” he just raised the bar higher….. The only question in my mind is, what will he do next? The man who has already notched up more accolades and kudos at 40 that most musicians do in a lifetime(including the slightly cheesy epithet “Mozart of Madras” given by TIME magazine) has only himself to beat……

Finally, a word about the film itself: “Yuvvraaj” seems very much to be from the classic Ghai stable, with all the allure of grandeur, and his characteristially “epic” storytelling. The film stars Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Zayed Khan, among which Katrina is a cello player and the rest are singers.(From the teasers, it’s Kapoor’s character which intrigues me the most, and I suspect a solid performance from the veteran will go a long way if the film is to work….) I sincerely hope that the film is good, because I’m going to watch it first day first show anyway, just to watch Rahman’s gems unfold on the large screen, where perhaps they might sparkle brighter still.

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