Jaisi mile ajnabi…. my take on Madras Cafe , Shantanu M’s latest

There are some people who are known for their volume of work and there are others who are known for their quality of work. Shantanu Moitra , definitely falls into the latter category in my humble opinion. His recent work in films like paanch adhyay and aparajita tumi stands evidence to this fact and his latest soundtrack for Madras Cafe adds to the credibility of his stellar reputation.

Electric guitars and strings give lead to Papon in the simple and stunning Sun Le re . The song has minimalistic orchestra work involving strings and drums while the lovely sarangi playing peekaboo in the interludes enchants one and all. The tune is further embellished by the stunning string work which includes splendid carnatic music riffs.The song also has a reprise version , which to me sounds like a pale version of the original. The tempo is faster than the original and the arrangements are the same , yet the feel of the original seems lacking.That said the interlude of the reprise dominated by the guitar is something quite striking.

To round off Sun Le starts off as an anthemic number and grows into a completely different creature while the reprise has a stunning interlude which grabs one’s attention and holds it However one tends to forget all this as ajnabi ( which BTW is the best song of the album IMHO ) starts playing.

Guitars and great collaborators are mainstays of any Shanatanu Moitra soundtrack and more often than not , this powerful combination results in an intoxicated concoction which never fails to captivate. In the days to come Ajnabi will definitely be hailed as such. Featuring Zeb of the famous Zeb-Haniya duo on vocals , and a lonely acoustic guitar ajnabi is that number that one would hum on a friday evening thinking about missed chances and memories of days gone by.One can’t help but close ones eyes and sink into the song as the pipes and the faint accordion join the guitar and Zeb to bring the screen down on the song. The eyes open as the song ends , gently and smooth and one hits the play button again to soak in the feel.

If the electric guitars captivated in Sun Le , the electric violins leaves one spell bound in Khud Se. The song which is dominated by the lovely piano and the electric violin in the interludes  is helmed by Papon who charts his course quite well.If I have one complaint with the song , its that the electric violins could have been given a greater part to play.

The soundtrack also has a considerable instrumental portion with 4 instrumental tracks. The first of these , the titular Madras Cafe (theme 1) , has a celtic feel and features some splendid string work , including the mesmerizing violin.  The choral portions when featured are non obtrusive and add to the charm of the song.Just Like Sun Le Re , this theme has a second version , which features only the violin and boy what a difference the violin makes. At 3 min and 16 sec , this piece  is a showstopper , and nothing short of it.

Shantanu compensates for the lack off violins in Khud se in entry to Jaffna , which at 1 min and 7 sec , is the shortest instrumental piece but this short track is to me the most effective piece from a background perspective with the violins depicting the political unrest and urgency of Lanka with their intense yet discordant co-ordination.

The Soundtrack is brought to a fitting end with conspiracy , whose key attractions are the string work and the vocal segments rendered perfectly by Monali Thakur.The electric violins make yet another appearance and close the proceedings with aplomb.

To Summarize , Madras Cafe is yet another feather in Shantanu’s cap – one which tickles all the right musical bones .

PS : I personally believe the buying original music is the greatest acknowledgement one can make to the one who creates it. This album definitely deserves the honor and is available for purchase at : https://itunes.apple.com/in/album/madras-cafe-original-motion/id684217378

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