Monday, September 15, 2008

The music of Drona

While listening to the Drona soundtrack the one thing that jumped out at me was that composer Dhruv Ganekar seems to love mellow stuff. More accurately: his heart is set on simmering rather than exploding. (He's the anti-Himesh!)

Drona wallpaperWhat does the music of Drona sound like? Its touching, sometimes visceral and its different enough that it stands out. But despite Ghanekar exploring (relatively) new musical territory its also very commercial. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, Ghanekar isn't in Sajid-Wajid territory (Partner, God Tussi Great Ho) when it comes to commercial tunes, but he sure knows how to create a mainstream hook. And second, thanks to the influx of mavericks who have cut their teeth on the independent music scene in India, Bollywood music is undergoing a slow but sure change. And that change is beginning to redefine what mainstream hits sound like. This suits Ghanekar's sound well.

Take the title track for starters on which Ghanekar man's vocal duties. There is a soft percussion and a neat edge in Ghanekar's voice. There is a simple up-tempo beat that is paced with an electric guitar. And despite building up the drama, Ghanekar leashes it enough that it doesn't quite blow up in your face. And this bit of restraint makes Drona a neat piece of counter-programming as far as title tracks go.

Ghanekar constructs Oop Cha gradually with nifty tribal beats. He's playing to the galleries here because he asks Sunidhi Chauhan to sing with that singular high note followed by the speaking note that adorns so many of her hits and unfairly marks her as having limited depth. Predictably, the rap hooks follow.

But for some reason Oop Cha is tremendous hook to have in a song. I couldn't get it out of my head the first time I heard it. And there is a reason this singing formula works for Sunidhi - it just sounds really good! So it is that Oop Cha is hugely listenable - even when the mandatory remix arrives.

Past these two songs, Drona gets more interesting. On Bandagi, Sunidhi and Roop Kumar Rathod sing a laid back semi-classical composition. Ghanekar uses brief harmonies combined with a spare set of instruments: mostly synths and tablas to create a clean, almost still sound.

He uses the same Rahman-like formula to create the one truly memorable composition of the CD - the gorgeous lullaby Nanhe Nanhe.  In a terrific move, he hires Sadhana Sargam to sing the song. And Sadhana is such a singer that although she lacks Lata Mangeshkar's legendary throw, she can hold some of the legend's notes without losing the sweetness that left Lata's voice with age. Its a long song (it clocks in at 6:04) but a lot of the tedium is resolved by Ghanekar who introduces new instruments or arrangements with each verse - a rousing, strident percussion that appears by the second chorus being one that I loved in particular. Ghanekar brings the song to a close with an extended rendering of the melody by flute. Its a nifty move because he uses your memory of the sound to tie in his next composition with the CD.

Drona wallpaperWhich brings us to Khushi, Ghanekar's hugely interesting pop-jazz composition, notable for being uncompromising in its musical arrangements' fidelity to its genre. Shaan - who sings this song - avoids mimicking jazz-swing straight notes, thus giving Khushi a somewhat distinctive sound.  Suzanne D'mello sings backup on this and unleashes her gorgeous wail to end the song - its worth a listen.

There is one more song on the album - a version of Drona rendered by Sunidhi which has more of the mainstream drama and pace you'd expect in a big title track. And despite the fact that it showcases Sunidhi's vocal range in a way the other tracks don't, I was happy with Ghanekar's original choice.

I have only one critique of Ghanekar to make. Yes, its a big break (congratulations are in order on producing a gutsy set of compositions) and the expectations and schedules have to be met. But I would have loved to have seen a better variety of voices on the tracks.

It would have been a fitting way to announce the arrival of a  talent who will - in all likelihood- continue to nudge if not push the envelope.

37 comments:

Bella said...

This sounds interesting... must get the CD. As it is I am bored of the music now playing in my car

BappiDa said...

Aspi achacha hua tumne bataya. Nahi to mujhe pata hi nahin chalta ki Ghanekar ka itna shunder gaan hai....

bappida again said...

ek baat bhool gaya...aspi ko mera aashibaad.......mera phavorite hai aspi....mauli se bhi jyada

Aspi said...

Bappida, thanks. But I cannot leave Himesh for you. Also be careful how to put your words together, Dhruv might be offended when he reads this :)

Thanks for the ashirwaad. When you are you composing the next Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re?

Parveen S said...

Excellent - Your reviews enhance the pleasure of listening the music to the unintiated like me.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Can you add who is the composer used by Behl for Drona ?

Aspi said...

Anon, Dhruv Ghanekar composed the music.

Garmi Se Pareshan said...

http://harryjerry.com/movies/abhishek-bachchan-in-drona/

Anonymous said...

Thanks Aspi - I also read the name but asked you for some more info on him

Aspi said...

Anon, I've reached out to Dhruv. If he decides to stop by here, we'll ask him anything you want (erm, within limits of course).

maxdavinci said...

thank you sirjee, I shall get(you know what I mean) this album ASAP.

its because of all this new talent that guys like our fav anooo maalik, jatin lalit etc are out of work and judging shows!

I just saw the promos fro II4 where kailash kher does a 'ek garam chai ki pyali ho'... fundoo stuff

Amitabh Bachpan said...

.
Ain saala mein to aspi ko pakadne ki soch raha tha or Aspi ne to meri aankhon mein khushi ke aansoon bhar diye..Ab Aspi ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin namumkin hoga

I bow down to you Aspi for reviewing the music of my son's film. Dhruv is one of the most talented music directors! Nanhe nanhe is my favourite song.

Jaiyya Bachpan said...

I have stopped making public comments...just like that

Maharashtracha Raja-Raj said...

Aspi aata marathit lih....nahitar.......

Chai garam said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjY0jyX_cH8

He also composed for MP3 Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar and Bombay Boys

ammacinji said...

Mein mere UT pe Dhru Ghanekar ko le ja raha hoon...hum 40 days ka tour kar rahe hai

Amitabh Bachpan said...

UT - ain woh to abhi abhi khatm hua

Ammacin said...

UT wapas ho raha hai - matlab hum Uttar Pradesh tour kar rahe hain..

Aspi said...

Chai garam, thanks for the link. For some reason I didn't get to that - it was cool to watch.

BTW, whoever the Bollywood junkie is - I love the detail and oblique references in the fake comments.

megan said...

hi guys..

i had my Hrithik and Ash fan video removed from Youtube cuz those Yashraj f**kers complained.. i had so many views on it too..i just used the footage but the editing etc was done by me.. those a**holes were probably angry that my video had more creativity than theit last 4 movies combined..

UGH!!

I hope every single movie of theirs is a big ass flop, i hope Aditya has impotency and can never get it up and makes Rani bitter and curses at him all day driving him nuts, Uday bhandar i would get banned from here if i start cursing at him UGH

on another note i am 21 now... teehee..i had an eventful weekend..

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Bollywoodjunkie said...

Hey Aspi.

I was just having a good time...yeah I m a total bwud junkie...but i just realized that i shld not have put all des comments for a serious music analysis piece such as tis one. Next time I will be careful wht pieces i m responding to!!! U do a grt job....seriously

dockaul said...

@ Aspi - Sorry the link below is out of context , but do watch it in its entirety for an education in the "weirdness" of Anuu Kapoor .

http://www.dailymotion.com/search/junoon/video/x6g7z8_junoon-kuch-ker-dikhane-ka-15th-aug_shortfilms

Aspi said...

megan, sorry about the vid. Censoring fan vids seems to me to be a bad business practice. But the film industry in India is full of retro-thinkers. Maybe that is unfair of me to say because until recently the American Music biz was covered in the same cobwebs.

Aspi said...

bollywoodjunkie, you can leave any comments on any post whenever you feel like it. Your humor is welcome around here and there are no rules in terms of relevance to post. In fact, I like comments that are irrelevant because they allow us to cover more ground than what's in the post.

There was the billion in one chance that Dhruv might have read all this and said: "I'm not going to talk to that nutty Aspi if he asks me for an interview" but that would have be acceptable in the larger context.

dockaul, thanks. Will absolutely check it out.

girlie girl said...

Nice review aspi...I dont quite know how i feel about this movie yet. It just looks really out there. The music is catchy though!

SOrry to hear about your youtube video Meg...it's all about money in that business now. Next thing you know, they'll make you pay for everytime you mention their movie names or stars somewhere. But you have to remember, they ahve to do stuff like that cause their movies aren't making any money so they have to find alternatives to make money! hehe

Aspi said...

YouTube recently turned on ads. So now you can make money off of those vids. And YRF needs whatever it can get these days, no?

j said...

It will be while before these songs grow on me. The title song is the only one I have listened a few times.

But I am finding this movie pretty intriguing. The character sketches for all three Abhi, PC and Kay Kay are quite elaborate.

Here is a short write-up on Kay Kay's role - http://www.india-forums.com/bollywood/article.asp?id=6022

Wonder who the costume designer is but I see huge creativity and orginality in the costumes.

btw, Is Sonali Bendre one of the judges in Indian Idol?

Aspi said...

The II4 line up is: Javed Akhtar, Anu Malik, Sonali Bendre and Kailash Kher.

I did read that article about the producers spending a fortune on Kay Kay's villain. But the fight sequences that I've seen in the previews look somewhat lame. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Dhruv Ghanekar a child model/actor or teenage TV star or something? His name sounds very familiar for some reason.

dockaul said...

Acted in 2 films acc. to IMDB -
Trikal 1985 & Susman 1987 .

Aspi said...

Dhruv founded Chakraview and along with Ashutosh has been on the music scene for a very long time. He recently put up his own shingle - Blue Frog - which is fairly ambitious but a great 360 model (kind of the like Madonna signed recently which shook up the music biz).

He's a very accomplished (and musically educated) artist.

His movie career I don't know about - dockaul, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Aspi,have you listened to the music of U Me Aur Hum?If so,how did you feel about the album?

Aspi said...

I did listen to it and liked it. A lot of people I like flayed the movie though so I never watched it.

Pitu said...

Aiieee do *not* remind me of U, Me and Ho-Hum. Arggh!

Deep said...

nanhe nanhe song made me cry. a very cute song.

aspi, you are right dhruv is a thoughtful musician and doesnt try to do big band bajaa all the time. He is an ARTIST not a pretentious ROCKER!!

Amrita said...

I really liked this album, esp Nanhe Nanhe. I had an idea of what this album would sound like, but they actually managed to defy my expectations which was a good thing in this instance. What really struck me about it, though, was that this was an album that had a cohesive "sound". It wasn't a sad song + romantic song + upbeat song formula kind of thing, even though it actually had all those things. It's a trick that very few composers in Hindi cinema seem able to pull off and it's impressive that someone this new can do the same.