Saturday, 16 February 2008

Jodhaa-Akbar: Music Review

When I was small, I loved going to my cousin's house. One main reason, apart from them having a big pool, was that my cousin was an avid collector (and the only one I knew) of the latest Bollywood, Tamil and Malayalam music cassettes (my father growing to be a big hater of the concept of cinema was, unsurprisingly, not much help). So one of those times, when I was going through his collection I came across this new Tamil album. After a single play of the cassette I was hooked as the songs, just plainly, were banging. The album was Thiruda Thiruda and I kept a note of the music director - A.R. Rahman. So here I am, some 15 years, a long journey through various kinds and genres of music, and the slow and steady building of my own little collection of cassettes and CDs later. Whats new? A.R. Rahman's latest bollywood album; Jodhaa-Akbar. What about the love for his music? Aint a damn thang changed! What has changed though is that in this course of time A.R. Rahman has grown from the trendy-new-composer to the no.1-in-bollywood to a credible maestro in his own rights, one that can be ranked high up in a list of 'Indians that make you proud'.

So the movie is, as everyone knows, about the great Mughal emperor Jalal-ud-Din Akbar (Hrithik Roshan with a suspicious looking tach) and his strategic though romantic relationship with Rajput princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan), among other political matters, in a DJ Bollywood remix. So lets spin that...

Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah: Right into the first track we're welcomed by some grandeur drums and horns befitting a 40-crore budget movie and more importantly the majestic feel and sheer exuberance of the Mughal kingdom. Personally though Im not a big fan of this. But Id immediately tend to call this a great piece when Im reminded of pseudo-hiphop-n-folk-fusion-bullshit thats all over the normal bollywood fare brought to you by such men-of-the-moments as Himesh I-Blow-My-Own-Horn Reshammiya or Anu f*ckin-retire-heaven's-sake Malik.

Jashn-e-Bahaaraa: Sweet little melodious song with little plucked strings and some poetically romantic lyrics. But wait a minute? Why isnt Sonu Nigam singing this? This Javed Ali guy who's singing is not to be at fault though, as he does his job. But Sonu Nigam would have brought this a little more closer to perfection.

Khwaja Mere Khwaja: When its an album based on the greatest northern Indian empire, and considering the Mughals were great patrons of good art, there needed to be a Khawwali court-room number. So here we go. A.R Rahman's behind and infront of the boards, and the mic, and in the end, got his name all over this track like an obsessed kid with a crayon pencil and a newly painted wall.

Inn Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein: Sonu Nigam! Sonu Nigam! Another smoothie song that goes onto be an energetic piece. Some complex structures in the middle of the song with the chants and consistent tempo variance makes this an enthralling listen.

Mann Mohanaa: This is a religion/prayer based situational piece touching the story of Lord Krishna rendered by Bela Shende. I have not really heard of her before but the performance is good enough to keep a look out in the future. Like most religious based songs it has a strong melody, but the orchestrations make it stand out. Its probably not an everybody song, but sweet and well worked nonetheless.

Jashn-e-Bahaaraa (Instrumental): This is a flute based instrumental version of the opener. But surprisingly this is not just a vocals-removed version. The melody apart, the song is totally altered. The tempo, instrument, structure all. Good work.

Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Instrumental): Oboe based version of the Qawwali song. Once again totally redone. A must listen if only to appreciate the attention to detail and true artistic approach of creating a totally stand alone version of the song.

As much as I was enjoying the disc I was disappointed at the little-less-than 40 minutes play-time. Some 7-8 years ago DD1 had a series on princess Noor-Jehan. Through out the series they had some good
Hindustani based songs. And considering, the Persian connection of the Mughals, Miyan Tansen and other factors, I was expecting one in the veins of Ustad Rashid Khan's Kahe Ujadi More from Kisna. Musically, this album accentuates the proved fact that if you are producing a period film, Rahman's the one to goto for music. Plus on a general view its a masterclass on epic production and attention to detail work ethic. Im, personally, happy if he just releases 1 album of this quality a year than release 10 out of which 6 can be used as frisbees, 1 mirror and 1 drinks-mat. I'd rate this right alongside Lagaan, Swades, Devdas etc and its still only growing on me.

Listen to Inn Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein

A Presto.

1 comment:

Axel said...

The Indian Mozart brightens his glow by this album. Definitely a pure musical workout, after few regional releases which where not standing up to his greatness.