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 .

Maryan – The deep and mysterious ocean…..

If there is a musical equivalent of magic , it should be Allah Rakha Rahman’s music . This may not be the universal truth , but it does sound true when one listens to some of his soundtracks which deserve to be called classics. This evening when I laid my hands on Maryan’s OST – I had a question on whether it will be magic to the ears . It took some time for me to get my answer , but once I had it , i felt it had to be shared and hence this blogpost.

Nenje Ezhu kicks off with chords and percussion which remind you of Rahman’s earlier works . The man himself takes center stage thereafter to sing about eternal hope , a hope which is born out of divine love. The song talks of never ending hope and eternal love and the superb lyrics make you repeat the song again and again and again. As ARR croons kadhal endrum azhivathillai , the song reaches it’s crescendo and takes you another world – a world where fairy tales come true. Yet this song is not without glitches. The tune has a heard before feel which I couldn’t shake off and I felt that the pronunciation of the inspirational words could have been better. That said , the flaws seem minor when compared to the feel of the song.

Innum konja neram is true to its words. By the time the song ends you wish that the song could have lasted longer , that lovely it is. The ghatam , accordion and the flute create a lovely menage e trois , which becomes all the more lovely thanks to the fantabulous lyric and the superlative singing by Vijay Prakash and Shweta Mohan. As the song goes on , one is taken back in time to a journey in a bullock cart , with the lovely bells from the bull’s anklets ringing in your ears .The singing , tune and the orchestra work is so very reminiscent of MSV , so much so that one wonders if this is ARR’s tribute to the maestro. The song clocks 5 minutes and 14 secs , yet once the song ends , you wonder why the song was short. Innum Konjam Neram Irunthathan enna indeed.

Vijay Prakash is on a roll these days. He completely pwns Innum Konjam Neram with his Hariharan-ish rendition and nails down the brief completely with Netru – so much so that , when one listens to this songs with eyes closed , his rendition reminds one of a young K.J yeshudas in superlative form. Vijay creates magic with the mellifluous tune , Chinmayi and the orchestral work adding to the glory. The orchestral work is very minimal but sweeping – like a banked fire , if one can call it that. In a matter of hours , this song has become a favorite and to me its one of the best songs of the OST , if not the best – you know you’ve hit pay dirt when you listen to a song for 30 minutes on loop.

Sonna Pareeya is the masala song of the album , if one can call it . To me it is that song of the album , where people take a break from the analysis and just go ho hum to the tune. To me it is one of the weakest song of the album and sounds almost like a kuthu song. What redeems the song is that nayanam in the interludes and the guitar work in the background in addition to the orchestral work. May be it’s because the song appears after two killer melodies , it didn’t stick with me at all.

Sakthisree Gopalan sure can make a living out of angsty tracks . She is almost as heavenly as she sounded in Nenjukulle and it is her singing which redeems the song along with the splendid tune and superb string work. Just like Aditi Paul’s version of ayyayyao was called a lady and the violin , Enga Pona can be called the Siren and the guitar – as they are the only things that stay with you even after the song ends.What works against the song are the horrendous lyric – wonder if the lyricist was not paid enough or on time , to turn in such third grade work .That said , a superb sophomore effort from Sakthisree.

Africa can as well be used by Africa’s tourism department or by the African Cricket team – cheenu mama able and willing. Blaaze collaborates with AR Rahman after a long time and ends up creating an almost Carribean sounding visiting card for the African Continent.One need not be an oracle to know that this song will be placed when the titular character lands on Africa and the song may sound better with Visuals.

Last but not the least comes Kadal Raasa. When I heard that yuvan had sung this number for AR Rahman , I thought it was prone to be a disaster but Yuvan surprises ( with or without processing) and how ! Kadal Raasa is all about a man’s yearning for his land and roots. The nadaswaram makes an appearance yet again and segues infinitely with the percussion work which goes on to take center stage.The lyrics are again crafted beautifully and give away the titular character’s feeling and condition and an inkling of the story. The song is a keepsake , just for the nadaswaram in the interludes , which stays in one’s mind hours after one is done listening to the song. While Kadal Raasa is not the best song of the album , its not the worst either and may be could have sounded better had Velmurugan sung it as initially planned.

To sum up , Maryan is not the masterclass that kadal was but its not mediocre like Jab Tak hai Jaan. What it is , is the musical equivalent of magic , thanks to innum konja neram , netru and yenga pona raasa.

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 !!!

David – A tasty and innovative aviyal

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth and its true in most of the cases . The reason being that too many techniques and differing opinions will pull the end product across different spectrums and render it incomplete. Some say that the proverb applies to music too. I tend to disagree and the soundtrack of the tamil film ‘David’ does nothing but strengthen my opinion.

Lovely string work , French words and a carnatic based tamil melody seem like a recipe for disaster but MaatiBaani take all these ingredients to give us the addictive and attractive Theerathu Poga Poga Vanam. The song seems like a Jugalbandi between Nirali and the seemingly French Rapper ( not quite rap but almost) with the string work and flute interludes making you go ‘Besh’ and ‘Sabash’. The last interlude is again so reminiscent of a Jugalbandhi with the singers conversing in their own styles .Theerathu is a very nice beginning to the soundtrack and will stay on my playlist for quite a while.

It is all about percussion . Atleast That’s what Prasanth Pillai must think so. The most striking part of Manamey is the percussion. The minimalistic string work and Karthik’s strong voice add strength to the song , but the majesty of the percussion work is all I remember once the song ends. The sounds of ghungroo , the brass drums ( I guess) and the native percussion instruments create a seamless framework and one wants to give full credit to Tao issaro ( the percussionist, who is also a protege of Ranjit Barot I am told) for nailing his brief and topping it by miles.

Manamey also has a dubstep version , the expansive percussion from the original , replaced by electronic sounds , and the song still works. You can still hear lovely percussion work in the background and Dub Sharma gets the mix just right. While the dub step version works when you listen to it as a standalone song , it still pales in comparison to the original.Its worth several listens nevertheless.

Prasanth uses Naresh Iyer and Swetha for the frothy Iravinil Ulava. The click sounds , the whistling in the second interlude , the electric string work , the faint sounds of flutes and piano ( I think so) in the background and super percussion work create a heady mix when combined with the mushy lyrics and the grogeous song reinforces the thought the Pillai and Nambiar are a match made in heaven indeed.

Think Goan Music , think Remo Fernandes . Maria Pitache has the goan stamp written all over it – energetic guitar work , foot tapping percussion and that suranaganiesque sing along lyrics stand true to the Goan spirit. Vikram donning the singer avatar is quite competent too ! Yet you feel something amiss. May be its the other songs of the album , or done to death goan template , Maria has this heard before feel. It still works as a song and will most probably end up becoming a college anthem for a while.

What Remo lacks in Maria Pitache , he more than makes it up in lighthouse symphony. Its a recipe for a true blue melody in the beginning with the whimsical string and chord work , with the whistling and humming reminding you of a lazy walk by the seaside on a saturday evening . Then the drums and Remo make an entry and along with the goan punch. The lovely humming remains though until the near end which when added to that catchy flute notes , takes you back to this tatched hut on the goan seaside where fun and frolic are the main agenda.

Machi by Modern Mafia is the shortest song of the Soundtrack but my what an impact the song makes. Kick ass Guitar work is the best part of the song and Modern Mafia work around the strings to create a short anthemic no. The tamil rap segments and that La La La vocals accompanying the guitar work , scream repeat and repeat I did , until I knew the lyrics by heart. This is Indie Music at its best in the Tamil music scene.

Vaazhkaiye by Bramfatura is moody with a capital M and the electornic sounds coupled with Siddarth Basu’s lovely singing pull of what I call Tamil electronic rock/pop. It’s not the best of the album , but not the worst either. What it lacks in impact , it makes up in the vocal department and you end up with a song that will figure on your playlist but will not be played on a loop until you go deaf.

Kanave by Anirudh rounds up the soundtrack. claps of thunder , a solitary string instrument and a lovely flute & violin tadka herald the beginning of yet another love ballad by anirudh – one which is strongly reminiscent of part nee partha vizhigal , part po nee po that I almost expected Danush to make an appearance. The strong resemblance to 3 apart , Kanave is a lovely melody , filled with signature Anirudh elements of expansive string work and that haunting flute ( He can go light on it though – cos these elements were strikingly similar to 3 work ) that make you hit the repeat button quite a few times.

To round-up , David is quite an eclectic mix , with the individual composers having nailed the brief to create an impressive soundtrack.

Elay Keechan – A Harbinger of Joy

This past month had been part frustrating , part interesting thanks to the wait for some huge sound tracks to release – Viswaroopam , Matru and last but not the least ARR -Mani’s Magnum Opus : Kadal. Ever since Sakthisree sang her way into our hearts with Nenjukulle , people have been waiting for the OST to release and the official release of Elay Keechan makes the expectations increase a hundredfold. Here are my thoughts on what will be the song of the year unless another song from Kadal upstages it.

Whimsical Guitars with a Reggaish rhythm , ARR going hey and that hmm hmmm humming make you realize that there is nothing wrong with this song. ARR takes what could have been a simple fisherman’s song and adds layers of musical magic to make it memorable. The super choral work and that catchy percussion along with that slight Tirunelveli/Toothukudi slang , not to mention ARR’s voice create a heady mix making you hit the repeat button multiple times. You do take a break only to start humming the song and its back to the repeat button.

The song begins with

Elay Keechan Venthachu Namma Susa ponnu Vathachu , hey Eesaa varam pozhinchachu!
Vaa le Kondale , kattu Maram Konda le , Gundu Meena Alli Vara Konda le!
Ela – Pai Viricha , Ayyo Ava Ava vasam Thedi Thedi Varaan Keechan

and then delightfully takes a deviation and starts describing the title character ( I assume ) with the nickname Keechan. Come the interlude , the song starts talking about Keechan’s ( I assume) feelings for a lovely lass who I guess would be the soosai’s daughter .

Your efforts to decipher the song ends as that kick ass guitar interlude begins , and you simply close your eyes , tap your fingers and dance , not bothered about who is watching and who is not. Once the song ends you simply hit the repeat button and the process repeats itself again…

Moondru Per Moondru Kadhal – Sleeper hit

Listening to a Yuvan Shankar Raja can be an interesting experience. This is due to the fact that you never know which Yuvan will turn out – the one who is a worthy successor to his genius father and superbly talented brother or the commercial MD who sleepwalks through his composing sessions. The last Yuvan album I heard was Billa II and it seemed to me that he slept through the entire composing session for the same. Hence it was with trepedition that I picked up MPMK and boy I was surprised – this featured the good yuvan – one who was capable of catchy tunes and rich orchestra work. Here are my thoughts on the album.

Imagine being asked to sing at a gathering and you start after a pregnant pause. Aaha Kadhal is a typical example of the same. Nandini Srikar helms this lovely song , which talks about the effects of cupid’s arrow on a person. The song starts with a lovely guitar which soon merges with keys , violins et al, to create a heady mix. The violin plays an extended cameo in the second interlude with the flute , creating so rich a feel that one wonders if Karthik Raja had any hand in the orchestra work. This one had me hitting the repeat button so many times that I didn’t progress to the rest of the album for quite a few days. Aaha Kadhal is one of Yuvan’s best in recent times and definitely worth the hype its getting.

Neha Bhasin is one of Yuvan’s favorite singers and Kadhal en Kadhal does nothing but reinforce the fact. Neha croons her way into our ears and hearts , the morchang and Nadaswaram helping her a lot. What stays with you for a long time is not her superb voice quality but the addictive Nadaswaram hook – so much so that I’ve taken to humming the hook at my workplace , earning quite a few stares and am in the process of creating an entire ringtone from the hook – and yes while it’s not the vintage wine that Aaha Kadhal is , Kadhal en kadhal holds its sway on one’s ear thanks to that Nadaswaram hook and percussion.

A piano begins the proceedings for Mazhai Mazhai which is a tad bit jaded tune wise. Karthik takes the center stage with the lovely Swetha Mohan to ace this number which is a very pleasant listen. The interludes feature a lovely flute and string segment , which is faintly reminiscent of Yuvan’s Paiyya days. I know for sure that it will be a rain song or will be shot in mountainous terrain. Rumor says that this was initially recorded with Sonu Nigam and I wish the makers had included his version in the OST too. It would have definitely made a very interesting listen and I think Sonu’s voice would have suited the song a tad bit more.

Padapadakuthu is quite an interesting song but the processed voices spoil it for me. The orchestra work is spot on , and its quite an engaging tune but the excessive processing of the vocal segments spoil the song for me. Nevertheless this is a number which will do a round of quite a few discos . The best part of the song for me is the organ segment from 2:23 – 2:56 – nothing else stands apart.

The last time I heard Yuvan Shankar Raja sing , I cringed in distaste . That was because Saayndhu Saayndhu could have been a super number but for the crappy singing. But one has to agree that sometimes Yuvan’s off key singing has its own charm , unakkagave being a stellar example. A love ballad with electronic sounds , the song grows slowly , new age sounds and all that. As I speak , I’ve started humming touch by an angel , much to the amusement of my roomies.

The Soundtrack ends with another stunner helmed by Ramesh Vinayagam. The nayanam and trainesque percussion herald a ultra modern kutthu pattu / love failure song. Stop the pattu has Vinayagam crooning away to glory about his ex to the accompaniment of the superb nadaswaram and thavil. This is Yuvan in splendid form and the song will stay on the FM radio circuit for a long long time. Thakathimichak Thakathimichak indeed and watch out for the guitar , nadaswaram interplay in the second interlude – naughty and nice

To round up – MPMK brings baclk Yuvan of the good old days – the one who knew about crafting addictive tunes and showstopper melodies. Listen once and stay addicted amigos!!!!

Nenjukulle – a translation

I’ve tethered you within my heart
I’ve tethered you within my heart
In which direction is my livelihood destined?
You gave me a sweet glance
And this heart of mine became a mirror glazed by water

A colorful pearl ornament , that watch in your right hand
That presence commanding enough to tame elephants and tigers
Your shadow has stayed back even after you’ve left and has imprinted itself in my heart
This lass who looked up then has not lowered her glances since , her mind erect like an umbrella’s stick.

I’ve tethered you within my heart
I’ve tethered you within my heart
In which direction is my livelihood destined ?

The birds have slept , the milk curdled
The leaves on the eechi tree have slept too
In an hour where even TB patients have slept
this lass afflicted by disease of desire has not slept a wink

I’ve tethered you within my heart
In which direction is my livelihood destined?

Not a bite has gone in ,
The throat has not been wet for ages ,
For the past week or so , even saliva has refused to be consumed
This poor young lass is not able to say anything
Rubber bangles do not have the capacity to make sound

I’ve tethered you within my heart (a repeat of stanzas 1 and 2)

Note : This is a very rough translation of the song done in a hurry for a friend. I will update this post as and when I get time

Paanch Adhyay – A feast to the ears !!!

People often say that Music transcends barriers of language and it is with this absolute belief that I set up on a journey to discover and share fantastic music – Paanch Adhyay definitely falling into that category of musical excellence. Shantanu Moitra is no unknown name to fans of music – thanks to the high quotient of melody in his compositions. Off late he’s largely been absent in the bollywood music scene , not counting his excellent coke studio work or his TV stint as the judge of a musical show. I’m not sure of the exact count of people who’ve missed him as a composer ; I don’t have a count of folks who listen to his earlier works like Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi or Khoya Khoya Chand and wonder why he’s not doing more work ; I don’t know the count of filmmakers who want to work with this wonderful artist – What I know , is that the numbers whatever they are will go up once they listen to Paanch Adhyay .

Phire Paoar Gaan (whatever it means) begins with whimsical guitars crooning a highly memorable hook , as Ash King takes his place behind the mike. Guitars , gentle percussion and Ash make your fingers click , feet tap and eyes dance with sheer ecstacy.Close your eyes and imagine sitting in front of a huge campfire , on a cool winter night , a cup of hot tea in your hands ; watching time fly by. Thats the feeling you get when you listen to this song and you almost feel that. The feeling stays with you even after the song ends as you keep humming the pam pam para bit !

If you are dazzled by Phire , you’ll be blown off your socks by ‘you and me’ . It’s the same tune , with guitars still playing a major role  – only difference being Usha Uthup , the language and boy what a difference. Usha sounds like an enticing siren and takes the tune to even greater heights. Her singing reminded me of  this woman in a club , sitting with a guitar singing about her beloved. The arrangements are again noteworthy and a tad bit different from phire , adding to the novelty.

Baavri is again characterized by splendid arrangement and lovely singing. Shreya is in top form and as expected from her does a fabulous job. The string work continues from where it left off in the previous songs and is excellent. The only flip side if one can call it that is the fact that I’m not Bengali and hence can’t understand a single word of the song. That said I’ve been looping this song through the weekend and it ain’t going off my playlist that soon.

Ura Jaye/Uda Jaye again has two versions : Hindi and Bengali , Swanand on vocals for Hindi and Shuba Mudgal for Bengali – both of them , long time collaborators with Shantanu. Uda Jaye is a lovely track ,with Swanand doing super justice to the vocals. The only deterrent for me was a very slight resemblance that I seemed to notice with the pooche jo koi track from Yahaan – that said the resemblance is not at all overwhelming and can be attributed to a passing mention.The flute interlude in Uda Jaye is totally kick ass and left me wanting more of it. The Bengali version – Ura Jaye is more sedate by comparison and Shuba sounds fantastic and almost in a reminiscing mood . I also loved the detour she took into the Aao Balam part. The flute again is splendid , and absolutely wonderful as in the case of Uda Jaye.

Rahoon Tere Piche to me is the best song of the album along with you and me. Kaushiki is in top form as she goes on about a woman in love ; eyes open yet dreaming ; losing herself to gain more of her beloved. That addictive hook from Phire, You and me , makes an appearance in the interludes and hints of a connection between the songs. Slow and heady , Rahoon is like the poison that gets inside your system and refuses to leave , however strong the medication may be – and the best part you don’t mind getting addicted to it.

Agontuk to me seems to be the weakest song of the album , due to the fact that it doesn’t hold a candle to the other songs of the album. That said , the singers do a competent job with Shreya edging ahead of Shaan by quite some distance. It’s however lovely to hear Shaan after a long long while. Hopefully this song will be propped up a splendid video to make the inadequacy disappear.

To round up , Paanch Adhyay is one album I would absolutely buy , never mind the fact that the songs were shared by a music pal and I don’t understand a stitch of Bengali. Flipkart are you listening ?

PS : Special Thanks to @Rohwit , who shared the songs across!

PPS : If you are one of the people who are reading this review and are quite competent with Bangla , Please Please Please translate the songs for me !

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 !