Bombay ki Baat Karen toh ….

Bombay is a fascinating city and the Bombay of 1960s all the more fascinating because of the transitional phase the city was going through. A lot of things were happening in Bombay in the 60s – the jazz scene , gentrification , migration . A city undergoing metamorphosis would make for a fantastic movie provided someone could spin a cohesive narrative from the chaotic happenings and therein lies Bombay Velvet’s problem.

Take Mistry and Khambatta , the childhood friends each running a magazine. Khambatta is    the gay capitalist , who has risen above genteel poverty . In a masterstroke , his character  is explained in a few words ” maine woh sab kiya jo kisi khambatta ne nahi kiya. Mistry on the other hand has married into property. Both men have sacrificed and gambled to build their fortune and fight on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Khambatta of the old money wants the elite ( his elite too) to control the economy and change the face of the city whereas Mistry , him of the new money talks about equality , help for the mill workers.  Their point of contention – an incriminating set of photos about a minister. Khambatta has his pawns Hiral and Johnnie to click his photos and Mistry sends his mistress Noronha to retrieve them . Both of them want to control the situation and force the outcome in their favor but are reluctant to get their hands dirty. This is a storyline that would make a hit. Plot this ” fourth estate” type narrative against the 1960s film and it screams blockbuster.

And then the love story , the fragile Rosie and Johnny who is quick to anger . In one of the telling moments of the film , Rosie sings naak pe hai gussa , sitting in a bathtub. Johnny comes home and she stops singing – perhaps she is guilty of romanticizing the angry outbursts (and probably abuse)of her man. He slaps her and she slaps him back. She loves him enough to give up singing and he does not love her enough – There in a dingy hotel room , cornered by adversaries and adverse situations ,she begs him to leave his plans and plots and run away. He refuses and she runs out , only to become a bait to draw him to his  death and there are those incredible push and pull moments between them.

The two narratives would have been great – provided they were made as two different movies. Kashyap combines these two narratives and they just don’t mesh. To me the movie struggled in finding the right balance between these two . The first half focuses on the conflict between khambatta , Mistry and the second half is dedicated to the love story making the balance go off kilter , and tragically the movie never recovers from this faux pas.

That said , it’s not a bad movie and has its moments of brilliance . There are fantastic performances within the film be it Karan Johar , Satyadeep Mishra or Manish Chaudry. There is that sizzling chemistry between Ranbir and Anushka. There is the jaw dropping music , taking the story forward , segueing with the situation and characters. I loved behroopia , sylvia , darbaan and I wanted to pause , rewind and watch dhadaam dhadaam again ( never mind I was sitting in a theatre ) cos I loved the way the narrative was mentioned in puzzle pieces.  I loved how the characters were named too – Rosie for she looks at the rosier aspects of life . Balraj , the brawny guy with little brain and then he gets that Johnny epithet added ( johnny come lately anyone ?).

This is not lazy filmmaking by any stretch – you can perceive that quite clearly when you watch the movie. I just felt that with separate narratives the movie would have worked better . May be years later , Kashyap would sit at the editing table , work on the footage he captured and give us those two movies about Bombay – but until then , I will love this movie flaws , warts and all for this is a labour of love . You might be bored , be disappointed with the jarring narrative , but you will take a piece of Bombay with you when you go back from the movies…..

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 :

The Raanjhanaa Distraction!

The Release of an AR Rahman soundtrack is like a festival for his fans . Rahmaniacs like self liken it  to being served with a feast after starving for a week. The wait for the album gets even more desperate when the music company decides to go for single releases. With the case of Raanjhanaa , the desperation , wait and the gamble seems to have paid off as the album is a winner. The songs hit your soul , creating an impact which will last forever and leave you smiling .This is not the review of the OST , and not a critique either. What this post is , is an acknowledgement of the sheer musical genius of  a stalwart and a nod to a director who knows how to get the best out of the said stalwart. Before you start reading further , I should warn you about disjoint sentences , abrupt exclamations and high number of spoilers – for reader , I am still listening to the songs on a loop as I write this !

You know you are in for a winner when a brilliant Sarangi wafts in followed by lilting percussion (the tic tic tic sound , kartal may be), mild strings and the ever dependable tabla – all within the first 20 seconds . That the song stars the ever dependable Shreya Ghoshal and the splendid flute (Naveen) is a very welcome addition. Banarasiya has super hit written all over it. Shreya Ghoshal nails her brief and I am sure that the lady will have a slew of award nominations this year , for this splendid outing.The Sarangi , flute and tabla set a sedate pace for Shreya and co to showcase their talents and cometh the interlude – the tabla hands the baton over to dhol even as you are blinded by the brilliance of the flute. The Dhols take center stage at this point and takes us through the latter half of the song which is equally brilliant. The bits and pieces of strings , the muffled kanjira and the thavil (not sure) vie for your attention even as Shreya lures you with her voice and you keep discovering more every time you repeat the song.

Rahman can hardly go wrong when it comes to sufi . Team him up with Irshad Kamil and you have a winner. Get Sukhwinder to render the vocals , and you have a classic . Piya Milenge is a classic example of a sufi ace from the Maestro. Right from the piano , violins and the backing vocal support from KMMC Sufi Ensemble – Rahman gets every thing right The sound of the ghungroos , the tabla and strings provide ample support to Sukhwinder , who hits the ball out of the park with his rendition.KMMI sufi ensemble shine equally and the segment from 2:04 – 2:40 where they take center stage is captivating to put it simply.The lesser said about this song  the better as the divinity and the musical brilliance deserve to be experienced rather than being read about. It was quite difficult for me to move on to the next song , as I kept hitting the replay button for quite a few hours. Raanjhanaa may have nine songs , but when one thinks of a stunner , Piya Milenge is the only song which comes to mind.

Aye Sakhi is rendered by an all female quartet – but Madhushree is the one voice which I could recognize very easily. I am sure I can recognize the other voices with multiple replays , but at the moment Madhushree is the one which comes to mind – for her spotless rendition. A fun song , along the lines of naina milake , this one makes for an engrossing listen and the verbal embellishments added by the maestro add to the masti element.I’ve been going tyu tyu tyu pe pe pein all over the house – so much so that the room mate has threatened to take away my sennheiser earphones and shut my mouth up with tape if I repeat it another time 🙂

Nazar Laaye sounds like a left over from Jhoota hi Sahi at the first listen . Is it because of Rashid Ali’s fluid vocals ? I am not sure and I do not want to take that road. Nevertheless , the song grows on you – thanks to Neeti Mohan , Rashid and the guitars ( Kebah Jeremiah – am not sure on this too). Nazar Laaye might not be the stunner that Piya Milenge is . It does not grab your attention and make you speechless neither does it make you wax lyrical.It eats you heart little by little and only when  you start swaying to the guitars you realize that this melody has taken hold of you.

Tu Mun Shudi to me has an RDB air about and I mean it in the best way possible.The percussion , the part-techno , part desi string work , the shenai and Rabbi’s vocals scream energy and wow what an energy pack this number proves to be.Rahman and Rabbi provide a fitting reply to the criticisms received for their earlier collaboration and  fans can feel relieved for the fact that Aanand Rai has better sense of music  when it comes to Rahman. Tu Mun Shudi is one number which will play on my music system if I end up taking the cross country trip I’ve been wanting to for a while.

ARR dons the singing hat again for the jazzish Aise Na dekho – a song which has vintage written all over it. The strings are a winner and the accordion makes a lovely cameo yet again . The whistle and the accordion in the interlude are soon going to become a rage and while this is not the best song of the album , this is the loveliest.

Land of shiva is all about percussion. The Damrus , the holy chants and the tinkling bells take you back to the 16th century Kashi in all it’s glory preparing for maha arthi. Short and impactful , Land of Shiva will serve to be a superb visiting card to Benaras where the movie is based.

Raanjhanaa is one of the two songs which were released as singles. Much has been talked about the Shenai and the singing featured in the song on which I’ll take a pass. What i’ll focus on is the strings you hear in the background and the sitar which appears in a cameo and takes your breath away. I do not know who played the Sitar , but whoever did merits a special merit. The kinikinis , the shenai motifs and the dholaks pale in comparison to that sitar and just for that Sitar , I’d sing Raanjhanaa hua main tera 🙂

Last , but not the least comes Tum Tak – the song which released first , the song which drew a lot of flak for the composition , the song I fell n love with almost immediately. The kinkinis , the strings , piano and sholkis providing ample support to Javed Ali , as he worships his lady love like a goddess. The shenai in the interludes give lead to the female vocalist Pooja AV mesmerizes one and all with her lovely voice. The song shifts into a bhajanish pace when Javed goes into the Nainon ki baant leja phase making you go Ada.

And thus ends my take on Raanjhanaa – which has completely erased the blemish that JTHJ had created in my mind. It is an album that belongs in the league of other classics like Delhi 6 and rockstar and Anand Rai deserves a pat on his back for giving Rahman full freedom and for his musical sense.

Rahman and Rai – Take a bow please !

PPS : Isn’t  Dhanush a lucky bugger ? Nothing for 13 years and then two back to back masterclass albums from ARR .

Ek Thi Daayan – Khatarnak but not quite

There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt and most people agree to it. As a good friend once mentioned , give a person Idli for three months day in and day out – he will run away from Idlis for the rest of his life , never mind how hungry he is. But that’s not the truth always – isn’t it. There are people who can add interesting twists and tweaks , that makes you long for the familiar and that’s what has happened with Ek Thi Dayan. There is that familiarity when it comes to the music but Gulzar and Vishal add their interesting tweaks and twists which makes for one wonderful listen.

Slow and mellifluous strings herald the beginning of Yaaram where a superlative Sunidhi Chauhan woos her love by listing out chores she can do for him and his love.In a twist to the conventional world where the hero woos the heroine by stating that he’d be her Ghulam for ages , Gulzar makes the lady sing out her promises with gusto and abandon. The strings build up the tempo and one keeps smiling as the lovely lady goes about handing her man his keys , glasses , phone , files , diary along with her lovestruck heart. Just as you wonder about the onesidedness of it all , in comes Clinton Cerejo to serenade one’s senses . The guitar becomes electric , the lyrics mushy but love struck you remain.

Guitars reappear again to play a major role , this time in a grungy avatar to kick start the proceedings for the ever dependable Suresh Wadkar – who has a ball with Tote. “Miyan ji Bach Bach ke chalna ; duniya hai harjaayi ; Hari Hari jo laage , Ghaas nahi hai woh Kaayi ; kaayi Pe Phisle jo Suurrrr Karke” – says Gulzar and he seems to be talking about the song . The tune is meandering and familiar – reminding one of Ibn-e-Batuta at times and Sapne main milti hain at other times – but you go on – thanks to the faadu lyrics and competent singing. Tote is not the best song of the album , but is certainly an ear-worm thanks to the lyric.

Kaali Kaali is where the haunting really starts . Strings , Piano and Clinton weave black magic which keep you entranced.Clocking 6:01 , this is one of the longest songs of the soundtrack – yet one feels that it ended too soon. Such is the magic that I ended up playing the song on a loop through my 45 minute bus journey back home . Rhythmic and rhyming in construction , Kaali is all about a man pining for his Daayan and reciting a kalma on her at the same time. Watch out the interludes where the strings segue seamlessly with Clinton’s choral segments. The song has an almost European/ old world charm that keeps growing on the listener with every strain of the violin/cello. The strings take center stage in the second interlude and stun you with the feelings of melancholy and passion they manage to convey. Kaali is yet another feather to the VB – Gulzar combo that will stay on one’s mind for perpetuity.

What’s a proper haunting without a dark song one may feel and to ease those feelings , comes Lautungi , where an Rekha-ish Rekha Bhardwaj (is it me or does she sound like Ila Arun at places) nails her brief. The minimal orchestra work is reminiscent of Paani Paani re at times , but the choral work and the flute when they appear make you forget the fact. Lautungi is all about angst and wait – the angst of separation and the wait for the beloved. Sombre and Dark Lautungi hits hard and makes an impact but for the last 30 secs which is filled with dialogue.

Age is just a number and Padmanabh Gaekwad proves the fact quite vehemently. This young lad pwns Sapna – his earnest and soulful singing adding depth to the poignancy of the song. Flutes and Strings court each other and serenade our senses with the pianos making them sound extra dreamy.The flutes , Padmanabh’s voice add strength to Gulzar’s lullaby which is one of the best lullaby’s to have been crafted by the duo so far.

As the album winds towards the end , one hits the play button again . The songs are haunting and the words even more so ; but what stays with you is a sense of familiarity and a heard before feel – just like that hint of bitterness you feel after you’ve taken your medicine – regardless of the sugar and honey you’ve been fed to make you ignore the bitterness !!!

Jab Tak Hai Jaan – Starring Yash Chopra – his brood , his khandani Dholkiwala and a Cameo by ARR

In an interview from a long time ago , ARR candidly admitted that there were directors who did not have a sense of what clicks when it comes to music , and in such cases it was a tad bit difficult for him to decide what suits the film and hence the output was not so great. Yash Chopra’s supposed Magnum Opus ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ does not fall into that category – not because the songs are epic ; but because the not so great output has more of Yash Chopra’s influence written over it than AR’s genius.

Remove the AR label and no one can find fault with Challa. The song begins with an addictive guitar hook and has lovely guitar arrangement. Rabbi Shergill makes his debut for ARR in a song which feels more like a part of one of his albums than a Rahman composition. The extra strong punjabi tadka and the out of tune singing at times , fails to prop the song up . A dated and middling effort from  the master which is pleasant on the ears.

Violins , Cellos , Flute and vocal harmonies circa Yuvraaj herald the beginning of Saans with Shreya Ghoshal and Mohit Chauhan doing the honor behind the mike . The song also features the standard punjabi beats which acts as a dampener. There is nothing extraordinary about the tune as such , but the orchestral work while sounding dated is commendable . I loved the flute and the string bits totally. What didn’t work for me in this case was the choice of singers : I felt that an Anuradha Paudwal or an Alka Yagnik would have made the staid tune work much better accompanied by may be a Vijay Prakash or Hariharan and yes the Dholki / Punjabi beats could have been done away with.

Ishq Shava begins with a neat riff that is more Rahman than Yash Chopra and you end up playing the song multiple times just to dig into the superb string work. Ragav Mathur and Shilpa rao do a commendable job with the vocals but its the string work which scintillates and serenades one into submission . Is it me or does the ‘Ajj Ki Raat kiski hai , kal ki raat teri na meri’ phrase (1:45 into the song) have a striking resemblance to ‘Mazhaithuli enna thavam thaan seithatho’ phrase from then merku paruva katru?  Ishq Shava is one of the better songs of the album and grows on you with multiple plays thanks to the string arrangement.

A rose is a rose by any other name . Similarly , call it whatever you want but Heer to me is one of the best picks of this album. Harshdeep Kaur enchants everyone with the dreamlike quality of her work and the dholki for once , adds to the beauty of the song instead of acting a spoil sport. There is also excellent guitar work to dig into and that whiff of violins when you catch it is very soothing.

Guitars and a peppy Neeti Mohan make a lethal combo and the fact is best highlighted in ‘Jiya Re’ which is where ARR makes his full-fledged appearance along with Gulzar.The Jiya Re phrase is a total earworm and the tempo used makes you want to tap your feet in tune to the song.If you liked Neeti in ‘Ishq Wala Love’ , you’ll love her in ‘Jiya Re’. In fact Jiya Re gives stiff competition to Heer in terms of standing and as I write this review , has tipped Heer to become no 1 song of JTHJ for me.

The lesser said of the title song , the better . Jab Tak Hai Jaan is one horrendous excuse of a song , and the superb beginning is ruined by what follows. One wonders if Rahman composed the first minute and then the baton was taken over by YRF’s khaandani dholkiwala – so misplaced and overwhelming the dholkis are – even distracting one  from Sakthishree’s hatke voice texture. Cutting and Otting scene from KanduKonden KanduKonden anyone?

Saans reprise has more of the Punjabi Beats and the tempo is slower than Saans . Even a kid can guess that this is the quintessential sad love song . One can even imagine Katrina Kaif dressed in immaculate designer wear , crying with desperation over her breakup/departure of her beloved . But does the song work – NO.

Remember that dance contest between Madhuri and Karisma in Dil Toh Pagal hai to an instrumental tune? Ishq Dance to me is just an upgraded version of that. While the fact that tune is dominated mostly by percussion instruments and choral segments is interesting , it is not that good to hold one’s attention.

The second instrumental , works much better with the guitars and sweeping string arrangements take the sting away from the inane poetry .

To sum up – quite an ordinary soundtrack for a supposedly extra ordinary love story

Aiyyayyayaaa – My thoughts on the Aiyyaa OST

There is a buzz amongst music lovers that Amit trivedi has become a master of orchestral work and tune smithy and is the only music director , fit to be called AR Rahman’s heir apparent. The fact that he is growing strength to strength , album to album was what started the buzz and his superb coke studio work lent credibility to the same after a tepid 2011. The buzz in fact will increase in volume as one listens to the Aiyaa soundtrack and here is my thoughts on Amit T’s work for this movie.

Dreamum Wakeuppum opens with the loud sound of the south masala songs of the late 80s and what starts is a wacky journey with the orchestra. The keys , the percussion and the guitars along with the percussion are so wacky and the mix improves when the Nadaswaram  gets into the fray.The only thing which spoils the song is the meaningless , loaded with double entendre lyrics and the yucky video I am not able forgive. All in all a competent opening song for the album belonging to a genre I call Hindi Kuthu.

From the southern most part of the country we travel to Maharashtra , straight into a Lavani performance thanks to Amit T , only thing is this Lavani has its own twists. Talking about Hindi Films and the protagonists’s desire to get into films , Sunidhi sleep walks through the song competently. What sets this song aside is the orchestral work , esp when the guitars enter the fray in the second interlude. A competent effort again and while one does not have anything against the song ,one feels its not special.

Think of a Marathi rock star and think Aga Bai. That slow start with the percussion and classical singing blows up into a riot of voices and synth & electronic work. The song seems like a club/disco number and I was not able to shake the feel off even after a couple of listens. What’s commendable is again the orchestral work and singing – the singers have got a Marathi accent going with hindi and it sounds very very authentic.Shalmali and Monali render this number and though I was not able to distinguish which was which , both the ladies  are in super form and are very very good.

One can be forgiven for thinking that Mahek Bhi is an instrumental . The first minute and half of the song is dedicated to a dreamy piano accompanied by Shenai , joined by a violin ,cello and whistle later on. Amit adds layer upon layer on layer in those 90 seconds that you wish the track was an instrumental or had an instrumental version. Shreya Ghoshal joins the song somewhere around the second minute and carries the song along with her dreamy voice. This is a song you play on rainy evenings sipping  a cup of tea or dancing to the waltzy arrangement with a friend.Mahek Bhi is slow poison . It gets inside your system slowly , steadily and refuses to let go. The backing male vocals are also splendid ( Amit T himself maybe). If you loved the Shenai lines in Amit’s Navrai Majhi , you’ll go crazy over the Shenai work in this song – its bloody brilliant of Amit to use the Shenai with a Waltzy arrangement.

People always say its nice to return gifts and Amit must think so too for he’s given Sneha K , the best song of the album in ‘what to do’. A santoor ( I’m not sure) leads the song and Sneha jumps into the fray immediately. The grungy guitars , keys . that percussion and Sneha K mean musical addiction with Amitabh Bhattacharya adding to the headiness. One goes vavvavvaavvaa with the song and goes wow after it.This is a song which has to be heard and the lesser said about the better – the wacky mix has to be experienced to be understood. Way too addictive , this has been playing on a loop umpteen times and one word to the readers – watch out for that wacky second interlude with Mridangams and what not .

Any tamil Brahmin worth his/her salt will certainly smile as Wakda begins with the trade mark moresingh and mridangam that kick starts wakda. The Nadaswaram adds to the wackiness and as Amit starts with Pa Pa you realize you are in for a fun ride. The orchestral work is once again out of the world and wacky. Amit T even has the back up singers sing Wakda in a very southie style. The nattuvangam in that first interlude along with the Mridangam is a win too. I guess this is a wedding song and there is a slight Marathi wiff too. Watch out for the guitars and trumpet in the second interlude ye readers – kick ass stuff this. In fact wakda stands shoulder to shoulder with Ijjat Papad and I am quite confused as to which is the best song of the album.

Overall , Aiyyaa is a wacky and mixed ride with some competent and some out of the world work. Amit T take a bow , for making us go Wakda !

Barfi – Matter of fact and earthy!

It is an almost indisputable fact that films often  use life’s misfortunes to lure their audience to connect with their protagonist and their story. In most cases filmmakers use disabled leads , contrived misfortunes , jilted lovers and self-sacrificing heroines almost always leading to loads of melodrama and bags of soaked tissues. Barfi uses all of the above plot tools yet stays so matter of fact and so real that you can’t help falling in love with it.

Barfi is all about three characters who form a love triangle – Barfi , Jhilmil and Sruti played by Ranbir , Priyanka and Ileana respectively. That Barfi is deaf and mute, Jhilmil is differently abled and Sruthi is married , does not affect the story arc and does not manipulate the audience into rooting for/against a particular character. Strip away the handicaps and what you have is a standard done to death love triangle and this is where Barfi as a movie succeeds. Anurag uses a very common story template , adds the above mentioned plot devices and includes spectacular moments to create a heady mix which appeals to one and all.

Often , when one has characters with disabilities or emotional burden , one tends to highlight their angst and plight so heavily that one ends up creating saint like two-dimensional characters. Anurag tosses this out of the window and ends up creating real , believable characters who do what they do , yet regret / resent doing it. In one of the first moments in the film , where one is Introduced to Shruti , one sees her room filled with photos of her and Barfi –  capturing what you assume as their life together.Much Much later into the film , at the fag-end , you end up realizing that the photos were not of hers and Barfi’s alone – they also include jhimil , who has been folded into invisibility by Shruti  – this despite the fact that but for Sruti , Barfi and Jhilmil would not have had a happy ending.

It is moments like these , that make you root for Anurag Basu the film maker , be it the moment where Jhilmil tries to check out if she’d look good in a Saree like Sruti which indicates her subtle jealousy or the tears in Sruti’s eyes accompanying her bright smile as Barfi marries Jhilmil indicating her heartbreak and happiness. These moments when they occur , makes you forgive the occasional dragging that happens and gives you additional insight into the characters , layer by layer. Jhilmil’s possesiveness  towards her man and her fear of Ileana is so subtly indicated as she comes forward , and forms a barrier of sorts with her hands . Much later  chronologically , she consoles a broken Sruti patting her arms lightly , letting the audience know that Jhilmil has accepted what has to happen whereas Sruti has not.

Yet for all the spectacular moments , brilliant acting  , soul-stirring music – rerecording included and captivating cinematography , Barfi is not without flaws. The movie drags at times and could have very well avoided the kidnap , robbery and mystery angle to the story.The ending , so notebookish also seems a tad contrived. But one forgives the flaws when one comes out of the theatre as what stays is Ranbir’s brilliant acting , Priyanka’s lovely outing as Jhilmil ( which is at Par with Sridevi’s act in Moondram Pirai) , the  lovely lovely Darjeeling brought to life by Ravivarman and the music which is undoubtably Pritam’s best till date.

Watch Barfi atleast once – for it is good cinema which appeals to a very wide palate. Watch it because , it brings a smile to your face , a smile which is due to the fact that the experience of watching this movie takes one back to a place where life is beautiful and real , despite the occasional brutality and unhappiness.

Barfi – A sweet treat , fit for a dessert

Barfi is a favorite dessert of folks at home . Its sweet , sweet and sweet making one go awww at the taste and the musical album sharing its name with the sweet , ends up the same way.

The Album begins with Ala Barfi. Mohit Chauhan Pwns the song which has a very interesting orchestral arrangement which takes one back to the late fifties / early sixties of the Hindi Music timeline. The song is very easy on the ears, the lyrics kinda giving an insight into the lead character of the movie, especially the second stanza. Swanand wins with his lyrics , with the mentions of Murphy Radio and Ceylon station. There’s also a second version of the song by Swanand with some changes in the arrangement . It’s quite good but Mohit is way ahead of Swanand when it comes to singing, however better the arrangement might be in Swanand’s version.

Pritam is no stranger to having multiple versions of the same song recorded and this album is no exception. However , both the versions of phir le aya dil are delightful, Rekha Bhardwaj and Arjit Singh nailing the brief to a ‘T’. Rekha’s version of the song does remind me of ‘Bahara’ at places , but that’s just due to the feel you get out of listening to the song.The orchestral work on Rekha’s version is also very light , with the gorgeous string sections acting as embellishments to a classic tune. Surprisingly Arijith’s version pips Rekha’s version for me. The tablas , the electric strings ( I think) in the background and his lovely voice scream melody. The piano and cello (I think) in the interludes are gorgeous.One of Arijith’s best songs by a mile , though his best is yet to come. On the flip side , I sense a faint resemblance to may be other songs , but  again that might just be me.

The next song is Main Kya Karoon , which is the most Pritamish song in the album.I haven’t heard Nikhil Paul George until now but he has a voice kinda similar to that of Ash King’s and has aced this song. To me this is one of the weak links of the album , not taking credit away from the arrangement and the lovely interludes.

Kyon is a winner from the starting string interlude . Papon gets behind the mike and bewitches one and all . At the risk of sounding repetitive the arrangement is kickass.The song reaches its zenith with the string interlude kicking in and the violins and cellos (I think) accompany Sunidhi into the second para. I also wonder if someone has messed up with the credits as Papon almost sounds like Mohit Chauhan and yes I wonder if I did hear an accordion somewhere. This one will be on a loop , until I find answers to this question and even if I don’t.

Aashiyan starts with a superb hook and queen Shreya starts off in magnificent form , singing itni si khushi. Nikhil Paul George accompanies her on this feel good number and once again Pritam has nailed the arrangements.It appears to one that aashiyan is all about the wishes of a couple to build their home  and to my limited knowledge , the lyrics convey that exactly.

Last comes Saawli Raat which is the best song of the Album. Arijhit sounds so different in this song , that you end up wondering  if it this was the same guy who sang phir le aya dil. Listen to this song on a dark night , standing by your balcony watching the trees dance and it will take you to heaven.The lyrics are splendid. Sample this “Saawli si raat ho , Khamoshi ka saath ho . Bin kahe bin sune , baat ho teri meri.” whimsical Stuff embellished by splendid string work , this is quite a lovesong cum lullaby and I’m completely in love with it.

So , to put it in a nutshell , Barfi is high on the melody quotient with splendid orchestral work. Pritam is spot on with his choice of singers and the lyrics are just beautiful.Pritam Da is back to form and How !!!!!!!!!