11.27.2008

Ghajini

In Rahman’s recent Tamil soundtrack ‘Sakkarakatti’, there is this song ‘I miss u da’, where Rahman tries to bend the rules, break convention on how not just a Indian film song but any song should sound, but the song is just that, it just bends the sound but not the music. It is one of the classic examples where there is more of Rahman’s sound than Rahman’s music.

Some of the very deeply emotive and soul stirring melodic phrases are in “Ghajini” soundtrack like those hums, hoons and hymns of Sonu Nigam throughout the extremely catchy ‘Guzairsh’, which on surface sounds like a routine love ballad with a familiar repetitive rhythm. It is Sonu’s soothing interruptions that take the song a notch higher with its emotional content. Though Kavitha Baliga’s operatic interlude sounds like an after thought, it is rare to find a Rahman song with such a simple sounding interlude that creates an aural ambience around the listener.

Equally soothing is Shreya’s humming in Kaise Mujhe with which she starts her part of the song, after Benny quite uncomfortably wanders through a tedious melody that has more silence in between phrases which sounds more manufactured than naturally fallen, so as to bring out the effect and emotion in the melody fabricated around those silences in between. But inspite of a very unconventional flow of the melody, with some touching phrases of melody and with the clever and an aurally alluring orchestration (which is more so evident in its blissful instrumental version) Rahman manages to convince at least those for whom a song need not be instantly hooky.

Bekha is unarguably THE song of the soundtrack where Karthik seems to have had a blast singing it. The attitude, expression and rendition of Karthik is mind blowing in this song, just listen to the way he casually rounds off those rough western notes in a sweet classical way. Rahman goes a little further from where he left in ‘September Maatham’ from Alaipayuthey (or ‘Chori pe chori’ from Saathiya) in writing unconventional melodies that makes lyricists go mad in finding words to fit the tune. The song sounds as if all those complex phrases of melody and counter saxophone pieces just flew instinctively out of Rahman’s mind when he went into the same euphoric and romantic mood in which the character in the movie is when he sings this song.

The sound heavy ‘Aye Bachchu’ is an enjoyable Rahman cliché with abundant layers, e-sounds and loops and head banging rocking guitars and percussions. Once the song gains momentum with ‘Jhoom le’, it refuses to stop and make us swing with its rhythm. Coming to ‘Latto’, by using Shreya Ghosal, with the addictive ‘Yaar Yaar’ hook and the interesting vocal harmonies in the interludes, Rahman sold it to me. When you put these two songs on your noise canceling headphones, you are in a unique Rahman’s sound universe where each sound makes some sense and doesn’t add up as a cacophony.

To continue from where I left in the beginning,

When Rahman’s sound is almost in balance with Rahman’s music, we get a soundtrack like Ghajini. Sometimes while doing so, Rahman asks too much from his listeners, he takes them too far a place where they are so uncomfortable, not because they don’t like the place but because they haven’t been there before. But indeed by Rahman standards, it isn’t an extremely unconventional or path breaking soundtrack, it is just (just is just because it is Rahman) an enjoyable and a vibrant soundtrack apt for a commercial movie like Ghajini and the one that has its highs and lows and those who want to like it will like it for those highs, patiently waiting in those few lows for the next following high. And I am one of them.

8 comments:

Arun said...

Thanks Suresh! Though I'm a disappointed with the soundtrack, your review, as always, is a delight to read.

Sundar said...

I am following your blog all these days and know very well that you are a fan of Rahman.

But when you write a review, do you should not be biased to this extent.
You are no different from other Rahmaniacs on the web, who just can't accept that Rahman has given "lows" and talk too high of his "highs".

kanna said...

I'm going to have to defend Suresh there. Yes it definitely is true that he gives a bit more chance to Rahman, in the sense that while he might dismiss a song by someone else after the first listen, he might give Rahman a second hearing to see if it appeals this time. But the reason I like this blog is because Suresh isn't one of the crazy Rahman fans one sees on forums. His post on Sakkarakatti, for example, made it clear it isn't that great a soundtrack. There are idiots on forums who, when defending Rahman, claim that it is his best soundtrack blah blah. I think Suresh is quite sensible in that sense. If you want another example of him criticising Rahman, you can read the review of Jodhaa Akbar's BGM in the other blog.

That being said, I really don't think Ghajini is that bad a soundtrack. I initially didn't like it, but I think that is because I am constantly comparing it to Harris' Ghajini. Ghajini was one of the most successful albums in Harris' career, and most of us like at least a few songs from that album. So when these songs don't seem to fit into the template, we get upset. For example, judging by the promos, Behka is the new Oru Maalai I think. But it sounds very very different, and gives its own flavour to the movie. As much as I like every song in Tamil except for Rangola Hola, I remember hating all the songs when the album came out.

Try to think of this as a random new album, without associating it to the movie. It does have a number of songs worth your while. I really don't like Kaise Mujhe at all, but that's just my view. The other songs are good I think.

Nothing wrong with a fan liking the songs more than the average person, Sundar. There are people who like Yuvan's rap stuff, though I personally don't. Each person has a different taste.

Suresh Kumar said...

Kanna - Thanks for that long defending post. Even I wouldn't spent so much time explaining my stand again and again. And I completely agree with you.

Anonymous said...

i feel this is rahmans best this year

kanna said...

Personally I don't think it's Rahman's best this year. To me, the best album must have a flavour of its own, which transcends individual songs. This is true of Jodhaa Akbar and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. JTYJN would be my pick for the best of the year, because of the consistency of the album. All the songs had a tangy zest, reflecting the youth feel of the movie. The extensive use of guitar in mos of the songs gave it a distinct identity, such that even if Nazrein Milaana was released as a single, you can tell it belongs to JTYJN.

Ghajini didn't give me that feeling. The songs are individually good, but there isn't much of a collective identity. Rahman himself admitted in an interview that he had hoped to be able to use songs from the shelved Marmayogi for Ghajini, though he later composed new songs on Aamir Khan's insistence. Guzarish can be in any movie at all that has been released in the past two decades, and you won't tell the difference. It's a lovely song, no doubt, but will it make the cut in a Rahman's Top 10 cd which is made in 20 years? I doubt it. Behka is the only "new" song, in that it breaks new ground. Though Aye Bachu doesn't do anything new, I greatly enjoyed it and it is my pick of the album. Latoo seemed a bit pedestrian to me, and I hated Kaise Mujhe except for the first seventeen seconds, as well as some humming by Shreya.

In my opinion, Tu Meri Dost of Yuvvraaj has a chance. While Yuvvraaj, to me, wasn't perfect, it had some lovely cross referencing between Tu Meri Dost and Tu Muskura, and some songs like Manmohini were fresh. Shano Shano is Rahman's worst song this year. I'm not saying this anyhow; I actually sat down and compared Shano Shano to every single ARR song this year and realised this is the song I am least willing to listen to. Strangely, though, I enjoyed the remix.

Rahman's best album of the year? To me it's between JTYJN and Jodhaa Akbar.

kanna said...

Ouch, I realise I have a tendency to write quite a bit. Maybe I should start a blog within Suresh's comments page ;)

Suresh Kumar said...

Kanna - True. Ghajini is not Rahman's best. But they are quite enjoyable and I don't worry much about the coherence between the songs, as I know the purpose of these songs in the movie.