Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Music of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

On Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, A. R. Rahman tries meticulously to reconstruct his reputation as a mainstream music composer. He continues to reach for the stars but ends up walking on clouds here. Yet he leaves us with a densely interesting soundtrack.

Imran Khan Genalia DsouzaRahman eschews youthful exuberance here, instead putting together a vibe of laid back young romance. He picks singers with thinner voices that can convey youth, gives them simple melodies but makes them work hard. And to be fair, he works just as hard with them.

Rahman gives Kabhi Kabhi Aditi to Rashid Ali, a singer with a fluid voice that can hold most of its sweetness at high notes. But it comes at a price - Rashid has a tendency to go nasal and jiggle his notes ever so slightly.

Fortunately Rashid is good with the guitar - creating a delightful little tune with pulled string notes to power the song. Probably because Hindi isn't Rashid or Rahman's first language, they have a funky way of breaking up a phrase or compressing words. And this allows them to give the tune an exoticness - the song sounds peppy and different.

Rashid's voice is clear enough that Rahman wisely uses only an amped down scattered bass line in the song. Around the second verse, he throws in a gorgeous flute - it instantly transforms the song and gives it a wistful mojo.

Rahman unveils another singer - Runa Rizvi - on Jaane Tu Mera Kya Hai, a song where he mixes the melancholy of a strummed mandolin with the restlessness of repeated triplets on a keyboard to give the song a nifty unease. Like Rashid before her, Rahman makes Runa's lungs work hard (despite the benefit of a couple of takes). Runa's voice has a relaxed stillness that plays well in this track.

Her song has a companion piece - where the male lead now works out his feelings for his friend. Rahman hires one of his old favorites Sukhwinder Singh, fast becoming one of India's leading vocal lights. Its the third outstanding composition of the CD and Rahman blends a thick flute with keyboards against a backdrop of stabbing violins to start the song. He knows he's on to something special because he takes his time - Sukhwinder doesn't open his mouth until nearly a minute and a half have gone by.

Both Rahman and Sukhwinder exercise notable restraint. Rahman creates underwhelming, winding, operatic tunes to propel the song and Sukhwinder carefully holds his voice back and lets it simmer.

There is more fun stuff on the album if you care to explore. In the song marred by a rather foolish controversy, Pappu Can't Dance, Rahman employs a host of singers to create the only truly uptempo track on the CD. There's a nonsense Hindi rhyme, an island rap and all kinds of sonic bells and whistles thrown into this track. Rahman uses his singers in interesting ways - its worth listening to if you thought Rahman couldn't be silly and have some fun.

There are two larger observations I would like to share.

Thoughtful as Rahman is about his compositions and careful as he is to not buckle under his own musical weight, I get the feeling he often plays it too safe. On the Rat Pack influenced, you me are chalk and cheese rumination, Tu Bole Main Boloon, Rahman (who assumes vocal duties) uses a piano, cello and trumpets. But in a musical genre ripe with fusion possibilities, its a tragedy Rahman doesn't throw in a sitar or a shehnai or something else that might have sounded good to him.

Second, lyrics for these kind of songs are hard to write because the situations are so rote. There's the falling in love song, the discovering love song and the crazy in love song. But Abbas Tyrewala (Munnabhai, Main Hoon Na) does a fine job arranging well worn phrases in interesting ways. He shrewdly inserts the words in the movie's title in multiple songs. He's positively terrific on Kahin To which is reflective of what he's trying to do here - write for a character rather than a situation.

Many thanks to Sidekick for recommending this CD to me. Uss ladki ke ghar mein pau nahin tikte but she always has a home here on the Drift. Thanks Motorsandal for helping me figure out the guitar notes and entertaining me simultaneously.



Anonymous said...

this movie is so overhyped just because the girly boy is aamir khan's nephew. I can't stand him already.

Anonymous said...

and the girl looks like Amrita Rao part 2.. the average looking girl with a cute smile that will make every desi young girl love her for her "bubbliness" and non threatening looks and older women will love her for being so sweeeeeeet and lovely and angelicccc OMG her face just breaks my heart such a QT pie.. MEH

yeah the music, i might download it when i can be bothered because i love Rehman's compositions most the time

maxdavinci said...

blarin in my car for the past three weeks!

I loved the way the tirkitaana blended along with pappu cant dance saala!

First look it seems like yet-another-teen movie and reminds you of those mindless college films of the early 90s. It's been a while since we've seen something like that though.

Luckily the competition is a super thanda 'fifth-element-meets-star-wars' movie. I hope I'm wrong lekin I could tell the story by just looking at the trailer.

How hard is it to guess that two kids with the help of a scientist are sent to the future, where love blooms and after a few escapades they find a way back home!

I guess i'm watching too many movies off late...

Unknown said...

Aamir does seem to be doing the ghasa-pita circuit. But then few can truly escape Bollywood even when they pretend not to. Naseer, anyone?

I've noticed that Genalia D'Souza's eyebrows are as intimidating as ever. In fact, this could be the definitive romance between bushy eyebrows types.

Anonymous said...

It's like the Indian back-to-the-future! sounds terrible. I have no desire to see Love Story 2050.

I loved the music of Jaane Tu...I thought it was so much different from Rehman's usual style...nothing wrong with the way he does things but this keeps us on our toes. My fav is Kabhi Kabhi has such a tune and just the general feel of that song is nice. Also, for some reason, I like Pappu can't dance...I think it's such a catchy song! Great job on the review Aspi!

Kanan said...

Only heard the first song on their site until now. Will check out the others soon. Thanks, Aspi, for the review.

Btw, I think Genelia looks like younger sister of Sonali Kulkarni. No?

Never Mind!! said...

Nice job Aspi! Forsome reason Kabhi Kabhi reminds me of a Telugu song and I dont think it is worth the hype. Pappu cant dance is my fav in the album so far. I have been overwhelmed by Aamir music and need to get over it to like anything else.

Anonymous said...

Yay, awesome review. Digging the songs. I swear I kept thinking the jazz number would go the Potato Potatoe way. Also, that Genelia looks so ornery. Reminds me of that other buck toothed female Hrishtaa Bhatt. But Imran,ooooooo!

ppl said...

The last time Aamir worked with family, we got Mela. Hope this fares better.

The main dude looks capable enough, but the 'too cool for school, uber college badass' styling always makes me a little wary. Genelia has a pageant smile, which is a good thing in bollywood.
The songs however are promising but while Rehman hardly ever disappoints one can't say the same about the movies he works in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Aspi.I go by ur reviews, and then decide which songs I should listen to:).
Genelia started off as a model for some 'pen' company with Amitabh..she was supposed to be this gushing fan who keeps taking his autographs....It looked like she was overacting....I hope she underacts in this movie.

Anonymous said...

I dont like the name Genealia, you add a T between the name and it sounds gross.. EW

Unknown said...

Like megan mentioned before, Genalia does cute well - she acts her heart out. On the other hand, because she pushes the envelope of cuteness, she can come across as borderline annoying.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked her in Masti. She has promise. I wanted to see her more and am glad she is making sort of a comeback.

Unknown said...

Genalia was in Masti? No kidding - I don't remember her at all. But I do remember her (and her humongous curls) in Bomarillu.

Anonymous said...

Awesome review!

Any relative of Aamir is worth a dekho.

Anonymous said...

eww I hated all the gals in Masti esp that horrid Ms Lispy Sharma. Genelia's name is just begging for a Seinfeld episode. Remember that one? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, she was Ritesh Deshmukh's wife - the one with Archana Puransingh as her mother.

I hate Tara Sharma too. Not sure why I dislike her so much. She has barely done anything to earn my dislike :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pitu and Joules...tara sharma is freakin uber-annoying. I know she hasn't done anything to earn that status but she hasn't done anythign to NOT earn it either...and then you add her annoying-I'm-an-adult-and-I-still-use-a-baby-voice voice and it just makes her unbareable.

Loved, loved LOVED Genelia in Bommarillu...

Anonymous said...


I know what I'm about to post has no relevance to Jaane tu..., however, I got this list via email, and I thought it was funny, so I'm cutting and pasting it :

"Top 22 things a desi does after returning to India from "US".

22. Use Nope for No and Yep for Yes.

21. Tries to use credit card in road side hotel.

20. Drinks and carries mineral water and always speaks of health
conscious subjects.

19. Sprays deo so that he doesn't need to take bath.

18. Sneezes and says 'Excuse me'.

17. Says "Hey" instead of "Hi".
Says "Yogurt" instead says "Curds".
Says "Cab" instead of "Taxi".
Says "Candy" instead of "Chocolate".
Says "Cookie" instead of "Biscuit".
Says " Free Way " instead of "Highway".
Says "got to go" instead of "Have to go".
Says "Oh" instead of "Zero",
(for 704, says Seven Oh Four Instead of Seven Zero Four)

16. Doesn't forget to crib about air pollution. Keeps cribbing every time he steps out.

15. Says all the distances in Miles (Not in Kilo Meters), and counts in Millions. (Not in Lakhs)

14. Tries to figure all the prices in Dollars as far as possible (but deep down in his heart, multiplies by 43 times).

13. Tries to see the % of fat on the cover of a milk pocket.

12. When he needs to say Z (zed), never says Z (Zed), repeats "Zee" several times, if the other person unable to get, then says X, Y Zee(but never says Zed)

11. Writes date as MM/DD/YYYY, on watching traditional DD/MM/YYYY, says
"Oh! British Style!!!!"

10. Makes fun of Indian Standard Time and Indian Road Conditions.

9. Even after 2 months, complains about "Jet Lag".

8. Avoids eating more chili (hot) stuff.

7. Tries to drink "Diet Coke", instead of Normal Coke.

6. Tries to complain about any thing in India as if he is experiencing it for the first time.

5. Pronounces "schedule" as "skejule", and "module" as "mojule".

4. Looks suspiciously towards Hotel/Dhaba food.

Few more important

3. From the luggage bag, does not remove the stickers of Airways by which he traveled back to India , even after 4 months of arrival.

2. Takes the cabin luggage bag to short visits in India , tries to roll the bag on Indian Roads.

Ultimate one:

1. Tries to begin conversation with "In US ...." or "When I was in US..."

Unknown said...

Teddy, funny! How about "Suddenly realizes the Indian road is too dangerous to drive on"

Joules I'm with you re: Tara Sharma. Although on that Heyy Babyy song, she was so ridiculously sleazy, she made Amrita Arora look like Catherine Deneuve. And that's no mean feat - so credit where it is due.

Genelia, I like overall. Perhaps it is because I never had a sister, but she makes me want to do a fist bump and say "chhoti, pikchar dekhne chalte hai". Of course, I'm a little too old to be her brother. But nevertheless.

Never Mind!! said...

Aspi, while on music reviews, may I request you to review the music of AAMIR? I think debutant Amit Trivedi has done a terrific job!

Unknown said...

never mind!! will listen as soon as I can get a hold of it. Amit Trivedi, huh?

I've been listening to Haal-e-dil. Its pretty good, too bad no one will listen to it :(

ppl said...

You took the words out of my mouth Nevermind.

I saw the movie (Aamir) and heard the soundtrack on it. Very effective. I can't get that 'chakkar ghumyo' song out of my head.
Amit Trivedi actually sang and composed my favorite songs on there. I like the 'haara haara' song as well, somehow the drums in it sound like gunshots to me, gets the adrenalin going.
Please Aspi, I add my desire to hear your review. I learn a lot of interesting technical lingo from them. Adds another dimension of enjoyment to the song, to have it deconstructed that way.

*~mad munky~* said...

i'm kinda looking forward to this flick, although knowing me, i'll probably watch it in a few years from now *cough*

i like a bit of lighthearted froth now and again...blame it on the sunshine :o)

Anonymous said...

nice article..u must listen wonderful BGM especially meghna intro..u can listen online and download from contains whole HQ voiceless background music from jaane tu and many other arr films