Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Music of delhi-6

musical, who hangs out at the Drift with us and has knowledge to match her interest in music takes an early listen of A. R. Rahman's much buzzed about soundtrack to Delhi-6.

Hello Drifters,

Aspi asked me to do a review for Delhi 6 music. And the album isn't even out, yet! But a quick search on the internet will reveal the mayajaal, the muzik is everywhere! Without knowing that the music wasn't officially available yet, and having looked up iTunes several times to no avail, curiosity won over (don't get me wrong, I haven't downloaded any songs) and I ended up listening to this marvelous soundtrack through that search. And again, and again and yet again.

A. R. Rahman opens 2009 with an album that easily is one of his more versatile scores. In his previous outing with Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, he gave us the fun and fresh Rang de Basanti. They team up again for Delhi 6 and the result is a fairly enjoyable soundtrack. What's more is that you get to hear different genres and great new voices, which, for me is always a plus!

People are calling it Rahman's comeback score. (Wait a minute, that's wrong on so many levels. I don't think he ever went away, did he?). But I digress.

The album brings us two devotional numbers: a Devi aarti 'Tumre Bhavan Mein' and a Sufi prayer 'Arziyan'. The aarti, sung by Rekha Bharadwaj, Kishori Gowariker, Shraddha Pandit and Sujata Mazumdar is a simple aarti, set to minimal orchestra, and has a soothing effect.

Arziyan is a Sufi qawwali, most likely in a Dargah setting, and has good vocals by Javed Ali and Kailash Kher. Rahman has, in the past, given us some really great devotional songs: 'Roshan hui raat' (Sapne), 'Piya Haji Ali' (Fiza), 'O Palan Hare' (Lagaan) and 'Khwaja mere Khwaja' (Jodha-Akbar). Somehow, these two songs from Delhi 6 are not quite in the same league (but a good listen, nonetheless).

We then have Shreya Ghoshal facing the challenge of singing along with what has been eternalized by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan saheb's vocals. 'Bhor Bhaye' is a beautiful morning song set to Gujari Todi, and it is refreshing to see a classical melody here. And while Shreya does a great job, the sing along concept sort of dampened the effect of this beautiful song. But based on the movie trailer (which showed Sonam singing along/doing Riyaaz), this possibly is a requirement of the movie.

Next comes a pleasant surprise in the form of Rekha Bhardwaj's voice in a wedding number 'Genda Phool', backed up by Sharddha Pandit and Sujata Mazumdar and packed with earthy, folksy flavor. Did I suddenly think 'Maa da ladla'?? Ah, the 'quack-quack' makes an appearance here. While it suited 'Maa da ladla' in keeping with fun spirit of the song, it only hinders the enjoyment here. A version of the song sans duck vocals, please? Try it for the sheer pleasure of listening to Rekha Bhardwaj.

Given the effect the title song of 'Rang De Basanti', I am sure the expectations from the title song here must be very high. 'Delhi 6' has Blaaze, Benny Dayal, Vivienne Pocha, Tanvi Shah and Claire gettng together for the title song. And what happens next? We get a mishmash sort of track, which opens fine, but derails soon! Are expectations getting the better of me here? Good instrumentals, but I found something lacking and can not place my finger on it yet. Help! But hey, the "gali hai deewanon ki dilli" line is really infectious :)

'Noor' unfolds Amitabh Bachchan's philosophical voice over and will be a pleaser for his fans.

Follow it up with some rap, shall we? 'Hey Kala Bandar' is a fun song with some innovative lyrics (props to Prasoon Joshi), and is performed by Karthik, Naresh Iyer and Bony Chakraborty (who is also responsible for singing the mad, mad 'Emosanal Atyachar' from Dev D). A cool track, this one, which scores on so many levels!

For those moments when you want a soft, feather-light number to soothe you, you have Rahman presenting us a delightful, whispering number in 'Dil Gira Dafatan', sung by Ash King and Chinmayee. It is a delight to see Chinmayee here - I've been a fan of hers since 'Kannathil Muthamittal'. Ash King does a great job, considering that (according to Chinmayee) this is his first song in Hindi. The song just grows on you like magic (cliched, but true)!

'Rehna Tu' is another song with very different lyrics and has Rahman singing this soft number along with Benny Dayal and Tanvi Shah, with really impressive results. This song is why I love Rahman as a singer. The song packs a lilting surprise, leaving you mesmerized! Rahman uses a new instrument - Continuum to great effect for the instrumental piece in Carnatic style. You really wish the song to go on forever.

And here comes the best part, the classic Rahman, in 'Masakali' ! Mohit Chauhan (Silk Route) opens this song brilliantly with cool sing-song lyrics "Masakali, masakali, ud, matakali, matakali". Rahman blends the old world charm with today's music and creates a song that will last a long, long time. This is an inherently versatile song! Apparently 'masakali' is the name of Sonam's pet dove in Delhi 6, and the song almost didn't make it to the movie. Thank heavens it did :). Clearly my pick of the album!

Waiting for the 21st, when the music gets officially released.
Enjoy!

The Delhi 6 trailor
Masakalli promo
Maula (Arziyan) promo

28 comments:

Aspi said...

musical, loved the review! And thanks for doing this for us. I'll wait for the release - still no reliable way for me to stream this music anywhere.

musical said...

Thanks! I had fun doing this one :). 21st isn't too far!

Deep said...

haven't heard it yet. and i'm not disagreeing with musical but that masakali song will be so annoying in 3 years you won't believe it. mark my words...

musical said...

Deep, i don't disagree with you either :). We all know how TV channels ruin a beautiful song by playing it over and over again, and again!

Ritha said...

aspi...the songs (audio) are on youtube. I luvvv rehna tu...magical!

Mann Mohit said...

Mohit Chauhan zindabad! What singing - JMLR!

svr said...

Loved it! The review, and the album -- which I checked out only coz of the review :) That Masakali song should suit Abhishek soooo well -- he is just not the Udit Narayan type of actor!! And I too have loved Chinmayee's singing since I heard KM -- I wish she'd had a bigger part of such an awesome soundtrack!

And @ Aspi, great going, esp. with the Shekhar interview! I'm still settling into new cities and new lives, but trust me, I sooo missed the comment feed when it went down for like, what, a whole month?!

On a different note, any interest in interviewing Chinmayee? She's got a blog, an e-mail address, and she seems pretty down to earth (and much friendlier) than many singers one could name... :)

Aspi said...

svr, would love to - but I have no idea what to ask her because I haven't followed her work at all!

But if anyone has questions that can be interesting, I'll gather them and find her.

svr said...

Awesome, Aspi! Now generating a handful is my next project. :) And hopefully other folks will chime in too :)

musical said...

Yes! Aspi, Svr, that would be awesome, I mean an interview with Chinmayee!

Anonymous said...

I agree about people calling this ARR's comeback.

This is ARR's "comeback" because yuvraaj was so bad? I read on the Drift that this was one of ARR's most profilic year. So what is he coming back from?

- Ritu

Anonymous said...

An Interview wuth Mohit Chauhan will also be great

Amrita said...

I love this soundtrack! But re: Shreya Ghoshal, I didn't so much mind the sing-along aspect of it (repeated listenings smooth it out I think) as I did Shreya's voice. She has a lovely voice but in this instance it was too soprano (or whatever the Hindustani equivalent is) for it to be pleasant. Towards the end I felt she distinctly got yelly and screechy. At least, it hurt my ears. If the point was to show her range then the composition worked perfectly, if the point was to have a pleasant listening experience this was a fail.

But it was more than made up by the rest of the album, esp Dil Gaya Daftaan and Masakalli.

Aspi said...

Hmmm...I'll go back and listen to that song now that I've read this.

The winner for me is Rehna Tu, despite the fact that ARR has taken a misguided crack at it. Its quite possibly Bollywood's definitive "Bump N Grind".

musical said...

Seriously, Aspi, do a review! Thanks a bunch in advance :). Though, why do you feel Rehna Tu a "misguided crack", I thought ARR's voice made this song unique.

Amrita, I get that feeling listening to quite a few Hindi movie duets. Guess that's the reason Lata Mangeshkar is so celebrated. But I wonder why do the composers have to make the singers sing at a scale they are not comfortable with, to put it mildly. I was once asked by a (non-desi) friend as to why female voices in Hindi movie songs are always so high-pitched :). Not always, but besides a few exceptions, this does seem to be the order of the day.

On another note, did anyone notice Alka Yagnik's voice in Yuvvraaj songs, it's sounding somewhat like how Lata's voice sounds these days!

Aspi said...

Man don't get me started on Alka Yagnik.

In any case, if a lot of men could hit their alto notes, the women wouldn't have to shoulder that burden. One of the worst in this regard is Adnan Sami. His warbling pretty much means his duet partner has to shriek to balance the song. If you go back and listen to his songs, there have been some great duets he's done. But also a high proportion of ones where the female singer came off smelling less than roses. And all because of marble mouthed Adnan.

Which brings me to this: how does a terrific composer like Adnan who insists on singing his own songs get away with it, but my gujju brother Himesh gets the stick for doing exactly the same thing?

Finally, ARR has a unique voice. Sure. But all he had to do was give that song to any of America's nu-soul singers (the streets of Chicago are littered with them) and that song would have been magic.

Hey they would all have been cheaper than Snoop.

musical said...

Okie, i see your point. Any particular singer you think would have made waves with this song? Though I think, in keeping with the meaning of this song, ARR's voice (not-so-perfect, yet charming in it's own way) does it ample justice? Or may be, he was far too attached to this song to have anyone else sing it.

As for Adnan vs Himesh, atleast Adnan's voice suits a major chunk of his songs. Him bhaiya on the other hand.....picks up a cpl. of words and repeats them over and over and like i've said before, i see beauty in songs only when someone else sings them. OK, may be his voice suits a cpl. of his songs, but the rest (like he says) is HISTORY ;).

Btw, don't mahila singers have an association or something, to fight against the high-pitch conspiracy? Seriously, though, this is one thing the movie music is yet to get over with. Even the best of composers (and singers) succumb to it. It is very grating when an otherwise beautiful song is ruined on this account. Hey, why not do a post on it?

Aspi said...

For a while I thought I'd do a post. But then it requires too much research. And I'm a bit lazy.

My biggest problem with ARR's voice is that its way too flat to be a mainstream talent. You could get a Sonu Nigam or Kunal G to sing that song. But you really need a D'Angelo or Maxwell wannabe to nail that song. Could Javed Ali have been that singer? Possibly.

svr said...

Finally there are other people who see how ... unattractive ... ARR's voice is!! (Along with Alka, etc.) I can't stand nasal, and I can't stand flatness, and put together, I tend to skip most of his singing That unless I'm forced to listen to it elsewhere and discover that it doesn't make me feel like I'm being killed with a million needles.

It sometimes makes me sad how he sings some of his v. best compositions... e.g., Tere Bina. There, I think the only redeeming factor of his singing was the contrast his voice made with Chinmayee's rich, clear and sensitive voice. But just imagine if Mohit Chauhan had sung that song.

Aspi said...

all right, svr! Hey, let's start a ARR backlash. What's with that hair?!

Heh heh. Too bad the man only produces one Yuvvraaj type turkey a year and doesn't give us reason to complain.

And speaking of Chinmayi, she's on board whenever you are ready.

musical said...

Awwwwwww! Svr, not unattractive, flat yes-or may be it's just me who lurvves it :). Though, i have to agree that in some songs, it just doesn't work.

Javed Ali singing "Rehna Tu", may be. But last night while listening to Sagar by Fuzon, i wondered what if Shafqat had sung it? His voice can be so mellow when it needs to be. But may be not. Ever since you mentioned D'Angelo, my mind can't picture anything else.

My mind is playing tricks, and i know y'all will beat me up for this, but i just imagined this song sung in Himanshu style ;).

Aspi said...

Himanshu would totally rock that song. It would be sufi bump n grind.

Aspi said...

I went back and listened to Shreya's song. Yes, but depends on the situation in the movie really. Are we talking about someone learning music - in which case the vocals fit. I don't know one way or the other. But given that Shreya is a pop singer, ARR must have picked her knowing she would fall wee bits short (and its not just in the end).

Amrita said...

hahah, so you're saying she was picked to suck? and I thought I was being harsh! :D

I guess that scenario would make sense but as Musical pointed out, there is something about high pitched girlish voices that really strikes a chord with Bollywood music.

Shreya's entire career seems to hinge on the fact that she sings soprano like the greatest of them all: Lata Mangeshkar. Alka Yagnik (and Anuradha Poudwal to some extent) have proven that you can coast on that resemblance for a while, but eventually it doesn't amount to much. I've always felt Alka could've been a true artist if she didn't have to combat the Lata hangover all the time (and if her best years hadn't come in the 80s but that's another story).

Sunidhi thinks she has it tough because nobody's going to be giving her the quasi Lata projects but in fact that's probably the best thing she has going for her. She might have to fight a little harder but she can do so much! Shreya, who does get the Lata projects, did her best work in Jism where she deviated significantly from the standard Lata model, rather than Devdas where she made her name with the whole "surilee awaaz" bit.

Hmmm... I guess this is a pet peeve. Stepping off the soap box now.

What's interesting to me about Delhi 6 is the synchronicity between the movie's supposed plot (of a young man coming of age) and the music (which has a bit of everything Rahman's experienced / experimented with over his career). On the surface this is a standard Rahman album: devotional + sufi + love song + techno/hiphop + folk + classical / hindustani lite...It hits every single note he's been interested in. But every song contains strains that remind you of all the other songs that he composed to get here.

I think that's why I like Dil Gira Dafatan so much - I like to imagine it's a little composite of tunes and notes he's been saving up for years for precisely such a patchwork quilt.

Aspi said...

ARR is Shreya's biggest ally because he continues to explore her voice like no other composer does. Sunidhi doesn't have someone that meherban on her, but she's made humongous inroads into the non-item territory in the last three years.

The problem with the preference for high-pitched voice is actually embedded in the way the songs are composed. If you have to hit certain notes, your voice will thin out. But there are ways to get around it - all of these girls should stop listening to Mariah Carey and get an earful of Beyonce.

I agree with you about ARR. Last year I heard two ARRs. In this soundtrack, both seem to have blended nicely. Delhi-6 is probably a watershed in ARR's career.

I wasn't so enchanted by Dil Gira - although its a pretty cool song and has some great texture. I think the surprise here is the way in which ARR has used Ash King. We know Ash can do R&B, but when he sings those hindustani notes with a bit of a soul twist, he sounds really good (and really different).

Anonymous said...

sorry I am coming into this too late. But, sorry Mr. Beyonce fan,just hitting a note at 21 is not the greatest thing. There is a reason to people admiring Adnan Sani or anyone else who can hit and keep the high note. It is not a easy thing, not only does it take years of practice and right instructor and the confidence of your own voice. And, you are right most of the singer take a easy way out. Talk about songs you would want to hear after 10yrs, it would not be Beyonce's voice, but I am sure Adnan sani will stay.
also, masakali is my favorite too, it has such nostalgia, but overall love all the songs in dehli 6, a very well done job.

Aspi said...

wavvu adnu dohu loola beyoo.

That's Adnan saying "Whatever, Adnan doesn't look like Beyonce".

I'm kidding. Adnan, I love you!

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