The silence is a kind of serendipity: it allows one to sense what very few people know. Rahman’s music — always new, groundbreaking, wildly intuitive, experimental, a kind of sound that masters of cinema craft like Baz Luhrmann, Shekhar Kapoor and Danny Boyle say “they had never heard before” — is deeply rooted, in fact, “sourced”, from Rahman’s idea of divinity.
From The Mystic Master. A beautiful read (I love his take on ego -- what was that Margaret Thatcher quote here?), and perhaps a fitting segue to a discussion on A. R. Rahman's latest product. Think of the soundtrack to the upcoming Delhi-6 (lyrics by Prasoon Joshi) as a compilation of the vibes that evoked tranquility, aura, mystique, love, and religious symbolism in soundtracks to Guru (2007), Jodhaa Akbar (2008), and Ada: A Way of Life (2008). If you liked any one of these soundtracks, I'd highly recommend you buy a copy of the Delhi-6 soundtrack. You can listen to it at this link.
The film releases February 20 and is directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (who gave us *drum roll* Rang De Basanti (2006)!) and stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Divya Dutta and others (including perhaps, in a guest appearance *Spoiler* the lyricist of the songs to the most talked about film on this blog (hint: its title begins with an 'L') *Spoiler end*. It also brings together the music director and lyricist duo whose previous products were Rang De Basanti (2006) and Ghajini (2008).
And its music is certainly top notch.
There's the jolly and beautifully worded Masakkali (it might just be the name of a dove who features prominently in the film, in which case, here's a shout-out to Handsome!) by Mohit Chauhan, who also sang Khoon Chala in Rang De Basanti. If Maskkali is indeed a bird (and I'll sound real dumb if it isn't :), think of the possibilities with its picturization! Here's its trailer, and I'm loving the accompanying dance moves.
A catchy, playful and funky Hinglish track in Hey Kaala Bandar (Black Monkey) by a number of vocalists contains chorus interludes that are an instant reminder of Dil Ka Rishta from Rahman's Yuvvraaj (2008). Also the third among Rahman's last five soundtracks with a reference to an explosive (Nazrein Milaana in Jaane Tu, and 'E-x-p-l-o-d-e' in Shaano Shaano in Yuvvraaj). I must admit I cannot wait to discover who the black monkey is. Maybe I'm being too picky about it (and it is premature). After all, if Singh is Kinng (2008) did, as some people from Punjab seem to say, 'do the community proud' (I don't see it as clearly at all and disagree, sorry...and I'm not Punjabi), then a black monkey shouldn't be too bothersome. Even if it sounds, per the last paragraph, that the subject is a politician who makes a positive difference.
Genda Phool (Marigold) by Rekha Bhardwaj and others is not only a well sung folk song, it's a fun experiment with folk and techno beats! It pokes fun at the in-laws, and its chorus reminds one of the music to Behka from Ghajini. Almost my favorite track from the album is Bhor Bhaye, nothing short of an excellent tribute to the late Hindustani classical music legend Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. The original song is available at this YouTube link, the song in Delhi 6 a fitting attempt by Rahman and Shreya Ghosal. It's a treat too, but I wish it involved a vocalist from the classical music scene, or a veteran from Bollywood who specializes in the genre -- Shreya's great and very versatile, but any fan of classical music knows this song could have been even better. A lot can be made up for with the right choreography, though, so fingers crossed for its depiction:
A couple of devotional tracks -- a qawwali Arziyaan and an aarti Tumhare Bhavan Mein -- have me wondering whether to expect significant commentary on Hindu-Muslim relations (it can work effectively when done with subtlety). The trailer to Arziyaan is great (the Old Mosque/Jaama Masjid of Delhi, its construction was ordered by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan), and seems to include footage from the aarti as well. And how can one mention Shah Jehan and not mention the Taj Mahal? I hope it makes an appearance in the film in a form other than in the picture. Raise your hand if you think there will be a love story around the religious angles!
Because there certainly is a love story, if two love songs offer any indication. Rehna Tu is sung by Rahman, but it is Dil Gira Dafatan which is the one truly unique track in the album. It brings an entirely new flavor to Bollywood music, integrating Indian folk with a Celtic ambiance, all in the scope of a love song that begins in very Boyzone-ish fashion and contains an unrestrained strumming in the background, which is lovely. Also lovely is the use of the word 'dafatan' ('suddenly', also translated as 'often'), often found in non-filmy ghazals and hardly ever in popular film songs.
What makes it all the more interesting is that, per the piece quoted at the beginning of the post, he [Rahman] got R&B singer Ash King from the bylanes of London to sing Dil Gira Dafatan for the forthcoming film, Dilli 6 [this was later changed to Delhi-6], although King didn’t know a word of Hindi, just because he liked the texture of his voice. Of course, he knew well what he was doing! And Chinmayee's voice is quite amazing too! Take a listen:
Here are the lyrics and my translation, the only footnote being that 'ghazal' was translated as 'love song', because the origins of this form of poetry (not of this song, but of the kind this song alludes to) lie in the composition of love poems (where the love could be one of the love of another person, or, in its purest form, of the love of God -- it's obviously used for the former here):
Brief, but one that should sound really good with Sonam Kapoor as the subject. I am probably one of the very few people who didn't dislike Saawariya (2007) at all (that's not to say I loved it), but does anyone deserve blame for being absolutely easily swayed by a beautiful belle with a beautiful smile in a beautiful shalwar kameez (or saree)? ;)
The soundtrack to Delhi-6, although reminiscent of some of Rahman's recent works, stands alone well as a fine product of music. Definitely recommended, and clearly the soundtrack to beat in 2009. I've listened to it enough times to have the opinion it's not going to be among Rahman's most memorable albums (he competes only with himself). That could certainly change with the integration of the songs in the film. Given the director, it would be unfair to expect anything less than very good.
Music rating: 4/5 (Excellent!)
Here's the trailer to the sultry title song, which reveals two sides to Sonam! This film is going to be worth seeing in theaters for the cinematography alone. Keep spoiling us, Rakeysh Mehra! If you have yet to see Rang De Basanti, try to see it (and Ashu Gowariker's Swades (2004)) before seeing Delhi-6. There might just be a connection ;)