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Music,Musings et al

Month: January, 2010

Music Review:Karthik Calling Karthik(Shankar Ehsaan Loy)

First things first,KCK is as breezy and as naueasy as it gets.For most parts it levitates with such a upbeat-SEL-lightness of being,it’s facile.Facile it is then,afflicted as it is with the WUS & LBC syndrome that seems to insidiously creep in whenever the trio get down to making music.Yet,inspite of my patience wearing thin with this dismaying,incessant predilection for cliche’dness,the OST assures me of atleast one good song and a few average ones to ponder upon.

The lone bright star,Uff Teri Ada,is itself not pristine from the trio’s platitudes but all of it is forgiven once Alyssa Mendonsa starts crooning in a silken,thready timbre,undoubtedly aided by some tweaks here and there.Providing solid support is Shankar Mahadevan who manages to do a same same but different act.The sunny Hey Ya! takes off through Clinton Cerejo’s hep vocals which sound really good when relishing on the lines-Tumhe Kaise Main Bataoon,Tum Jo…The harmonica interspersed Jaane Yeh Kya Hua is orchestrated with the faintest of drums but is a let down tunewise.Although it is KK behind the mike,you can almost sense he is being led by an unforseen Shankar Mahadevan prompting him from the back and dhan te nan he does arrive in the chorus portions.Supplant the the same in place of KK and perhaps even that iota of dwindling freshness would have been choked.The piquant flute opening doesn’t forbode one of a lacklustre,dolorous-they make a rueful couple-ditty in the form of Kaisi Hai Yeh Udaasi.The grim backdrop and Shankar’s studious vocals make for a contrasting pair but they do go along well in the title track.Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale’s re-interpretation of the same doesn’t add much apart from the usual DJ mixer notes and thankfully doesn’t take away much as well.

My Pick-Uff Teri Ada

My Rating-Two Cheers!!

Music Review:Kedi(Sandeep Chowtha)

Sandeep Chowtha is that esoteric being who is difficult to comprehend.He started with a sunshine lilt in Ninne Pelladtha which included,inter alia,Yeto Vellipoyindi,a song I still play in a loop.Later on he vanished,doing some OSTs while on the fringes,only to break in with Super.But thereafter,strangely,he abandoned his single greatest asset-The ability to come up with uncanny melodies while spiking them with his own brand of accompaniments.

This is thankfully brought back,atleast in part,and the result shows.Kedigadu,featuring a diva like rendition from Sunidhi,where she lets it fly,does have shades of Greeku Veerudu but is orchestrated refreshingly well,taking away some of the déjà vu.Enduko Enthaki is literally out of the blue.The raindrop notes of tabla and the occasional sounds of the potent electric guitar energise it in a totally different way while Saleem Shahida,who does sound like his namesake Master Saleem and Kailash Kher,breathes life into it with a flawed yet graceful drawl.Muddante,a throwback to ANR’s Adhrushtavanthudu,is no doubt enjoyable but the MD could have retained some of the retro flavour instead of clinically wiping it out with some unimaginative arrangements.Sandeep Chowtha again excels in cranking up the trance with techno in Janiya Jane apart from melding into it Neha Kakkar’s dolce whisperings.Rahul Nambiar settles down with the functional Neelo Emunnade while Sonu Kakkar scrapes through in Relarey.Ideally,the latter should have been sung by an ethnic singer who would have brought out the intricacies of  folk better.The MD strikes gold again with Neeve Na Neeve Na,a flowing melody with absorbing turns.The singing again  threatens to spoil the show while Chowtha,himself,chips in with Short And Sweet which is sweet but,thankfully,not short.

Sandeep Chowtha is back in form after a bout of complacency.Maybe a bunch of local singers might propel him to greater heights,the next time around.Also,he needs better lyricists.Inspite of all,he is seeing the ball well.

My Picks-Enduko Enthaki,Neeve Na Neeve Na,Short And Sweet

My Rating-Three Cheers!!!

Music Review:Namo Venkatesa(Devi Sri Prasad)

For all those of you who tried to listen,listened,heard,tried to hear some or any part of this outstanding soundtrack,I have only this to say-You survived.By the skin of your ears.But how,considering this is Devi Sri belting out his best in one bloody soundtrack? Maybe that’s what people refer to as destiny or divine intervention.Time to say Namo Venkatesa…….buy yourself a ticket to Tirupati if you can….but don’t splurge on the coconuts…enjoy your laddu.

My Rating-Four Tears!!!!

Music Review:My Name Is Khan(Shankar Ehsaan Loy)

Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music for this soundtrack is absolutely beauteous.And all this is brought forth with a broad and expansive brush stroke of tassavuf colouration,that elevate these otherwise unadorned ballads into enjoyable,homely melodies.SEL have often been castigated for their over-reliance on a feel-good brand of concoctions,particularly when teaming up with Karan Johar,but they take the same to such exalting,gratifying levels here,that it’s hard not to be swept over,on one’s own volition,by a gushing tide of sacchariferous warmth,that permeates all around.

SEL whip up a trancelike fervour in the celebratory Sajda.Rahat and Richa Sharma,virtuoso performers both tuck into it with disarming passion and sing with much joyous ardor and gusto,thereby,tinting the veritable piece with a robust and earthy flavour,that it soiree’s along with visible contentment.

Orchestration,though a lesser being vis-a-vis the tuning,can sublimate a song and take it to a higher plane.Simply put,it is like the topping to a pizza.The most striking example of this could be Noor-e-Khuda,wherein the composers spin a modest tune but weave into it stirring counterpoints and intermezzos apart from employing the vocals of Adnan and Shreya,who are amiably at their best.There is the harmonica riff,the lilt of an acoustic guitar and most astoundingly the piercing trill of a maudlin violin(precisely at around the 5:18 mark).Just Gorgeous.

The soundtrack visibly hits cruise control with the dulcet Tere Naina.A touch formulaic,it is nevertheless buoyed by a seamless rendition by Shafqat,who,as is his wont,sings with characteristic flair.The song also reminded me of its namesake from the ill fated Chandni Chowk To China.That was one gorgeously wrought song,moulded along the Hamsadhwani raagam apart from containing exquisite vocals from Shankar,himself,and Shreya Ghoshal,which deserved more attention.

Allah Hi Rahem isn’t tuned as enthusiastically as the first two songs but is backed by more than serviceable vocals from Rashid Khan which ensures that it lazes along.

Rang De,on the face of it,is a decent song but given the fact that SEL,here,are merely stretching the proverbial Rock On bubblegum beyond breaking point,and that too after Wake Up Sid and London Dreams,means that this is nothing more than a jaded brew.The trio should do better than to hardsell a song with,what are now becoming,their,‘All Rights Reserved’,dreadfully predictable accoutrements.

It is sad see the law of averages catching up in the same soundtrack.

My Picks-Sajda,Noor-e-Khuda

My Rating-Three Cheers!!!

Music Review:Ishqiya(Vishal Bharadwaj)

For a man who was yanked into public consciousness,Ishqiya is like going back to where it all began,to the roots,away from the glare of spotlight and all the talk about Tarantino,Guy Ritchie,The Coen brothers….It’s back to basics with a renewed vigour,a sated ego and lots of replenished ingenuity.For his listeners,it is back to the staple that many of us have come to love.

But wait! Vishal might keep his newfound popularity afloat,as well,with  the screwball of a song Ibn-e-Batuta.Personally though,the song felt frustrating and tiresome for me,mainly,because I couldn’t make out where exactly,the genial genius,Gulzar was leading me.He starts of on an impish note,exhuming the long forgotten Arabic traveller Ibn-e-Batuta which feels like rummaging through a bunch of Romila Thapar’s history books.And then equally bizarrely he juxtaposes ‘Bagal Mein Joota” after that.”Pehne To Karta Hai Churrrrrr” after that is ofcourse understandable.But thereafter he,again, queers the pitch as he beckons a bird with grain,a pigeon possibly or perhaps even Masakkali from Chandni Chowk,straight from Prasoon Joshi’s creative nest.Frankly,I found it impossible to stay in sync with that madhouse loop consisting of such a bunch of obfuscating,larky segues.

Funnily enough,I feel sad,as well,at my helpless inability to comprehend those lines,for somehow I have a hunch that I’m missing out on something truly memorable,something really kickass,something wildly Gulzarish.Hell, this isn’t even a David Dhawan leave-your-brains-behind gag to just smirk at and forget.As far as I know,even beneath this seemingly puzzling veneer,the man must have left a sane message that would,I hope,undoubtedly,foist itself upon repeated listening.It may not,as well.But atleast,in this case,I have the solace of not having understood *Gulzar* and not any good-for-a-giggle lyricist.In that case the manipulation would have felt like an insult.Here it is but a mere chastisement for,probably,not being,well,good enough. Anyway,all I can visualise at present is a blaze,through which I see Gulzar and Vishal having a hearty laugh and perhaps they are wallowing in all the guilty pleasure for having exquisitely hoodwinked,smothered and suffocated the listener with such unimaginably dense esotericity.I wonder whether they had the same joy when they were tuning Dhan Te Nan with all it’s gloriously zany “Samunder Bhi Pul Pe Chale“, “Aaja Ke Oneway Hai Yeh Zindagi Ki Gali Ek Hi Chance Hai” lines.There,atleast,we had an insanely catchy hook to hold on to,albeit sheepishly.But here,with no such aids and props to hang onto,one is exposed,rather shamelessly,to the vagaries of Gulzar’s,merely,whimsical  prose.And mind you he’s only having fun here!

Moving onto the next song….There was this comment on Dil To Baccha Hai Ji‘s page on youtube describing it’s beauty in a simply delicious manner.The comment stuck with me ever since.And I reproduce it here for all your benefit.It read oh so pithily-“Dil To Baccha Hai Ji….Accordion Kitna Accha Hai Ji“.My first reaction was to laugh at the cheekiness of the thought but after that,I realised,that I couldn’t remotely summon anything that would come close enough to describing it as perfectly,for the song itself has lots of good humoured cheek.Rahat lets his guard down and shrugs off the halo of senti that has come to surround him these days and sings with a spring in his step and probably a twinkle in his eye.Hail Oh! Hail,Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s nephew is having a good ol chuckle,enjoying himself visibly,in a song that seems to be enjoying itself,basking in the afterglow of Gulzar’s merry lyrics.

I must point out at this juncture that Vishal’s turning more and more listener unfriendly from his Satya days.See,we are no longer fed to the likes of Sapne Me Milti Hai or Kallu Mama.Leave alone that,we don’t even get a whippy Fatak here.But that is probably the sign of a man in control.He believes that what he likes to create would be liked by his audience.So no more consumer appeasement and mass pandering.That can wait until,maybe,another Kaminey!

Instead,and I’m not complaining,we get to hear in rapt attention to Rekha Bharadwaj who fluidly switches from vocalising to a danseuse to a distressed damsel,twice over,in the phlegmatic Ab Mujhe Koi and Badi Dheere Jali.Vishal treats them both with his usual classical influences,especially in the latter wherein he dusts off a tanpura and plucks furiously at a sitar,and also peppers them with a broad loung’ish flavour,a possibility emerging from neo-age technology and creative arrangers.Rekha,meanwhile,sounds just as silken and earthy and emits as much of a lazy elegance as we have come to expect of her while singing in an otherwise restrained pitch.These two songs make for two of the most exaltingly anguish ridden songs of the year.And,yes,we have barely begun.

The wisest thing to do with Vishal’s songs is to be patient with them.

My Picks-Ab Mujhe Koi,Badi Dheere Jali

My Rating-Three Cheers!!!

The Laundry List Of Best Songs(2009)

Most reviewers,however callous,would testify that separating the best from the rest is fraught with high risk and is akin to digging up your own grave and laying down in it.The mud is usually bombarded by scornful connoisseurs and purveyors of music who can’t sight their favourites in the list.Given that music is an art and art is abstract,it is indeed difficult to decide which one’s should make the cut.Perceptions play a vital role here.Yardsticks like the score,the lyrics,the singing can all be considered,but then even if the best features when amalgamated may not mean a beautiful face.

Here what I attempt to do is a centrifugation process wherein I separate the cream,the good ones, from the milk i.e. the year’s harvest.I haven’t tried to give them any rankings as that would be like setting them up against each other.

So,here they come,the creme de la creme-

HINDI (Not in any particular order)

*Emosanal Attyachaar(Brass Band)(Dev D,Amit Trivedi)–With captivating songs,one usually takes note of them.But,this was one song that grabbed at one,literally.”Who is this guy?” was my first reaction as I saw the now iconic and then comic gyrations of the two band masters,on TV,as the promos played out.Amit Trivedi it was.And as if he was making up for the impending drought(Dev D was the only he composed this year barring Iktara) Trivedi heaped on us an eclectic OST with no less than 18 different songs.The brass combined with the crass this one was for both the class and the mass.

*Yahi Meri Zindagi(Dev D,Amit Trivedi)–Another gem from the jewel encrusted OST,this one stands out for its ballet like singing and the extremely evocative Yahi Meri Zindagi Hai hook.

*Khudaya Khair(Billu,Pritam)–This was a charmer of a song with ideal ingredients from Gulzar,whose angelic lyrics make for true melting moments,and Pritam,who ensconced them into an eminently hummable package.

*Dil Gira Dafatan(Dilli6,AR Rahman)–This was a total surprise coming as it was even from Rahman.Set to the strains of a continuum,allegedly,Dil Gira paints an ethereal landscape,one that traverses from Chandni Chowk to Times Square.The soaring interludes and delicate renditions from Ash King and Chinmayee are out of the world.

*Aasma Odh Kar(13B,Shankar Ehsaan Loy)–Another divine song that many wouldn’t even have noticed after the film got of to an inconspicuous start.Shankar Mahadevan’s and Chitra’s vocal chemistry is magical and drips honey.There is a beauty,as well,to the stretched out pallavi which descends like a cascade and the consequent charanam that motors along at a leisurely pace.

*Sapnon Se Bhare Naina(Luck By Chance,Shankar Ehsaan Loy)–Arguably featuring the finest prose of Javed Akhtar,this year,this pseudo qawwali was immediately enrapturing.The execution of the song was remarkable in itself with an imaginative fusion of techno beats and classical accordion riffs.Mahadevan was in his best form and given that classical is his forte,he took to this one like a fish to water.

*Aisi Sazaa(Gulaal,Piyush Mishra)–Immensely atmospheric in its feel and classical in appeal,it’s lifeblood is Shilpa Rao’s dazzling singing.Piyush Mishra,take a bow for the ingenuity be it for composing or the lyrics.

*Aaj Din Chadheya(Love Aaj Kal,Pritam)–Pritam takes a pretty simple tune but throws in such a lush,teeming melange of sounds that the music is a song in itself.There’s the harmonica and the guitar colliding softly.Add to it the heartfelt rendition of Rahat.Deeply affecting,mainly,because of its childish innocence of an era gone by.

*Yeh Dooriyan(Love Aaj Kal,Pritam)–An effulgent show of singing by Mohit and a meaningful set of lyrics,signifying the distances between the protaganists,by Irshad Kamil light up this otherwise low-key track.A song that was largely overshadowed by its largely boisterous brothers,this one slowly grew and conquered.

*Dhan Te Nan(Kaminey,Vishal Bharadwaj)–Undoubtedly the big daddy of all club numbers,Dhan Te Nan was the loudest firecracker heard.Croonsters Vishal Dadlani and Sukhwinder create a riot with their combustible singing even as the queer mix of sound yanks one by the ears.Gulzar’s odd lyrics add to the razzmatazz.

*Kaminey(Kaminey,Vishal Bharadwaj)–A perfect counterfoil to the pulsating Dhan Te Nan,Kaminey actually surpasses it in terms of engagement.Mellow and restrained,the song has a vibrant,splash of a background score of which the serendipitious violins stand out.Gulzar is in familiar territory and his lyrics evoke a sense of biting irony.They are insightful and speak through a cryptic,brooding imagery.Gulzar clinically throws moth-eaten phrases out of  the window and comes up with lines like- Kya Karen Zindagi Isko Hum Jo Mile…..Masoom Sa Kabootar Naacha Toh Moor Nikla….Spellbinding.

*Morey Saiyaan(Teree Sang,Sachin Jigar)–Sachin-Jigar made an inspired debut with Tere Sang of which this blend of Pritam and Pakistani pop stands out.The soaring zitar notes are pieces of art in themself.

*Iktara(Wake Up Sid,Amit Trivedi)–Strangely,in a soundtrack featuring SEL,Amit Trivedi was the man to provide the piece de resistance,completely overshadowing the trio in the process.Amitabh Bhattacharya does a stellar turn both as a lyricist and a singer.The lyrics shun platitudes and seek freshness,increasing this song’s appeal.Kavita Seth’s earthy vocals are a treat to listen to.

*Aaj Dil Gustakh Hai(Blue,AR Rahman)–In progression with the name of the movie,Aaj Dil was a very buoyant and bluesy concoction with an undercurrent of jazz .Rahman also stitches together a tender,luxurious sound with each note forming a wavy pattern.Shreya never sounded so gossamer and she sings with a gay abandon after a long time,probably after Barso Re(Guru),while Sukhwinder is effortless.The classical base,though not noticed,gives thrust to the song in the charanam portions.

*Tum Mile(Tum Mile,Pritam)–A striking song from Pritam,from arguably the year’s best OST,the song featured three variants of which I personally favour the Shafqat Amanant Ali rendered version.The song is bestowed with an impeccable tune,one that grows on one immediately.

*Barson Yaaro(London Dreams,Shankar Ehsaan Loy)–Vishal Dadlani and Roop Kumar Rathod make for a contrasting pair but contribute in one to the amazing intensity of this song.With a stadia feel to it,the Hanuman Chalisa adds to the zing at the end.

*Khwab Jo(London Dreams,Shankar Ehsaan Loy)–The OST grew slowly much like how Rahman’s music legendarily does(they are many who are listening to Shano Shano in the hope that it will grow on them.The only thing growing is,well,their age.).Suffice to say,here Rahat and Shankar set up a fascinating jugalbandi with each trying to outshine one another.Nuff said.

*Tu Jaane Na(Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani,Pritam)–Stuffed to the gills with euphony,this song leaves one with sweet feeling in the ears.Add to it Atif’s uniquely throaty caught-a-cold crooning.

*Kurbaan Hua(Kurbaan,Salim Sulaiman)–Dadlani blitzes through this one with his high voltage vocals.Also credit to Salim-Sulaiman for the pulsating techno additions.

*Mudhi Mudhi(Paa,Ilayraaja)–Ilayraaja makes a foray into hindi films for the umpteenth time and gives us this enchanting song.Shilpa Rao’s misty vocals add to the flavour while Shantanu Moitra’s lyrics are literally trippy!

TELUGU (Not in any particular order)

*Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam (KIKK,Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
*Poovune (Ananda Thandavam,GV Prakash)
*Naa Maharani (Pista,Mani Sharma)
*Nuvvakkadunte (Gopi Gopika Godavari,Chakri)
*Seheri (Oy,Yuvan Shankar Raja)
*Oy (Oy,Yuvan Shankar Raja)
*Atu Nuvve Itu Nuvve (Current,Devi Sri Prasad)
*O Nene O Nuvvani (Kalavaramaye Madilo,Sharreth Vasudevan)
*Kadhile Padham (Baanam,Mani Sharma)
*Nalo Nelena (Baanam,Mani Sharma)
*Ek Niranjan (Ek Niranjan,Mani Sharma)
*Ringa Ringa (Aarya2,Devi Sri Prasad)
*Aunana Kadana (Leader,Mickey J Meyer)
*Chinna Polike (Om Shanthi,Ilayraaja)                                                                   *Yele Yele(Ganesh,Mickey J Meyer)

Special Mention:-Maa Telugu Talliki (Leader)

Wish you all a melodious and joyful new year!

Music Review:Veer(Sajid-Wajid)

Renowned for delivering ear smashing hits,one after the other- mind you- with no respite,Sajid-Wajid as an entity bring to my mind the picture of a cold turkey.Not an eatable one,though.But frankly,Veer is the finest they have produced.Period.Part of this praise can be attributed to wordsmith Gulzar whose endless palette of phrases flush this soundtrack with remarkable poise and elegance.

Much of Gulzar’s metallurgy hinges on a magical interplay of words that alter,in some cases subvert,conventions and consequently evoke a deep sense of gushing irony,sometimes hardhitting and in some cases soothing.In Veer,though,he opts for the latter,lissome prose-evocative and pristine,it is.The handsomely tuned and effervescently sung Surili Akhiyonwale is an elucidation of this.When called upon a few writer’s would have written something like-

Behti Hai Neendon mein sapnen…

Whereas the Gulzar,while dissecting the phrase into two,dotes-

Behti Hai Neenden….

He hastens to land te definitive coup de grace,lest we think that was all-

Aur Neendon Mein Sapney…

Dipped in somewhere is also a inadvertent homage to Keats(Keats wrote in his deliriously famous Endymion-An endless fountain of immortal drink,Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink).In a wondrous turn of phrase Gulzar applies similar imagery.He writes-

…Kabhi Toh Kinare Pe

Utar Mere Sapnon Se…Aaja Zameen Pe Aur Milja Kahin Pe…

This kind of longing and disillusion washes over again and again in these lyrics and is best brought out by Rahat who pours life into it and probably he left a touch of his own in it.The song also goes to show how accomplished men can add a dash of quicksilver to any song they put their hearts into.

Meanwhile,the composers run with the baroque leitmotif in Salaam Aaya.Rook Kumar takes over from Rahat while Gulzar is in cruise control evoking a leisurely passion through the lyrics.

The ode to Kanha,in thumri form as the label mentions,is deftly tackled by Rekha Bharadwaj whose vocals are a sell out in a semi-classical avatar.The tune moves in serpentine ambulations with hardly a pulse on *today’s* immediate music.

And it is from hereon that the musical caravan stutters.Sajid-Wajid take a quick detour and it shows in Meherbaaniyan.The tune is a mere excuse here.

Finally,the OST is brought to an abrupt and thoroughly unsatisfactory halt with Taali,a piece that is finely orchestrated but erratically tuned.It is characterised,therefore,by sedate spurts of action leavened with wholesome dormancy.Sad coz,for a warrior’s full throated machoism,this should have bristled with energy and verve and instead it plods on wearily.

The composers make a sunny start until the strains start to set in and the OST unravels.

My Picks-Surili Akhiyonwale

My Rating-Two Cheers!!