Rahman’s Rang De Basanti

Ek Onkar Satnaam:
What can you say about sweet female vocal harmony that half-sing, half-chant a Guru Nanak prayer for about 90 odd seconds? Nothing much really, so fast forward.

Rang De Basanti:
A Bhangra 101 intro greets you at the outset – the impatient picking of a tumbi (which seems to go a little awry, but that’s Rahman for you), the background male voices with their already appreciative oh-oh-ah-ah and the dhol beat. But that’s only until 00:18, after which the Rahman sound begins layering niceties on the song. The staple Rahman bass sound that’s always a delight, followed by the strings, and finally the twist in the anupallavi(!) that makes even Daler Mahendi’s voice go mellow and you go “Nice”. Rahman even reprises the staccato synth ala ‘Noor Un Ala’ to increase the flavor. A pause and then…like a whiff of stale breath at 1:04, Daler goes off on a 30 second boring Bhangra binge that just plain sucks. Thankfully you don’t hear it again for a long time until 04:50. In between there are short interludes and charanams that are lifted beyond the ordinary by carefully placed trademark Rahman chords and the bass. But the absolute piece of sweetness in the song is the contrapuntal female voice that leads you out of the saranam. Chitra’s thin playful voice in the next charanam is in stark contrast to Daler’s, but it works. If not for the standard Bhangra-isms that the song descends to in the beginning and towards the end, it works as the foot-tapping number it’s meant to be. I’m not a big fan of the genre, except when it helps feed my drunken dancing frenzy at times. But just like with other Rahmanized Bhangra numbers, I’ll make an exception and listen to it more than once.

Paathshaala:
Lose Control – I’m a Rebel insists a chorus of voices amidst resounding bass beats. I half-expected a gravelly male voice add to that – “The Honda 350cc Rebel. Lose Control.” But no, it’s not an ad-jingle, but rather a big shout-out to well, maybe people younger than me. Hinglish takes a bow in this song, as Paathshaalas are taken a dig at. Geeky digs at that – Equations, Multiplication, Gravity, H2So4, the works. All with a tinge of the Dating song from ‘Boys’. Personally, I didn’t get into this song too much. It got tiring after the second listening, plus at my age, those loud beats can only be bad for my eardrums. All you young things out there, lose control though. I mean, Loose, Loose – this song is for you.

Tu Bin Bataaye:
I tried. I really did. But this song was just too *yawn* for my liking. It brought back memories of that other Rahman sloth-fest, Naalai Ulagam from ‘Love Birds’, a song which forced me to take a cigarette/coffee break even while listening to the CD. Don’t get me wrong, everything else in place. Lilting strings. Well actually, that’s about it. The interludes were too familiar (read high-pitched Duet-y). Full props to Naresh Iyer & Madhushree though. They did their best, even with vague lalalala-ing at the end, but sadly enough, the tempo let the song down.

Khalbali:
Did Yuvan Shankar Raja hum this tune into Rahman’s ear when they met for an Ilaiyaraja family event? Even the interludes at 3:37 sound very YSR-ish. Alright, a much better YSR. In fact, the one minute following that interlude is the best segment in the song. For everything else, I’m going to withold an opinion, cos’ of my fierce bias against anything Arabic sounding. For what it’s worth, this would have been a MUCH better title song for a former Radhika mega-serial. There, I said one more nice thing about the song.

Khoon Chala:
Finally, a song that grabs your attention after the lull caused by Siththy yells & Naresh Iyer lullabies. Mohit Chauhan sings this rather refreshing little ditty that clears the palate somewhat. Agreed, it’s a slow number too, but the first few lines are too good to write this one off. The easy piano accompaniment compliments the beautiful melody and the background humming. The beauty of the opening lines is exemplified when Mohit returns from a string-accompanied transition at 01:38. Most importantly, the song does not drag on, and just when it might have gotten too tiring, it ends with a decent musical flourish. Nice.

Paathshaala – Be a Rebel
To the Kumari of Kanya? Really Blaaze? That’s how you be a rebel? Singing retarded rap? Blaaze goes on, “They all have something to say”. That’s right, and I say this to Indian Immigration, “Terminate his Indian Visa already.”
As for the song, no more words will be wasted over it.

Luka Chuppi:
I loved ‘Vellai Pookal’, so I’m not going to complain about the familiarity of the intro. In fact, as much as I dislike Lata Mangeshkar’s geriatric voice, even she cannot mess this one up. Beautiful melody. Vocal processors are Rahman’s best friend, and they do him yet another favor when he takes over from her. The chords at 02:07 are *smack* delicious. The bass work is terrific too. Rahman shows off some of his Hindustani Classical scatting in the end. Not too bad. Play it on Mother’s Day and you’ll probably get a few extra laddus from Mommy dear.

Lalkaar:
Aamir Khan groans into a microphone. The low frequencies are turned way up. Not as hilarious as Arvind Swamy’s efforts in Iruvar, but needless nevertheless. Impress with a good film, not ‘deep’ crap meted out with voices howling in the background. Next.

Roobaaroo:
The guitar opens up with the fast-paced strumming of dual chords, and Naresh Iyer calls out ‘Aye Saala’. And it only gets better from that point forward with Rahman’s singing of the chorus which instantly hooks you on and never lets go. With the help of a panning flanger effect and a subtle rhythm, the song remains charming at every turn, including the bridge/interlude – Dhuaan Chattaan Khula Gagan Mera. On the return to the pallavi, Rahman even shows off with a funky drum-roll that almost seems to miss a beat somewhere. And as in a good Rahman composition, many more sounds show up for fleeting instants as the song draws to a close with more calls of ‘Aye Saala’. Nice.

Bottomline:
Considering the avalanche of crap that’s been flooding Bollywood in the name of music (‘My Dil Goes Hmmm’ is a hit, I’ve heard), their listeners have no excuse for not buying this album. For hardcore Rahmaniacs, this is of course another gem in His crown. For me, it’ll help complete a compilation CD of ‘Recent ARR Hindi songs’, while I wait for the next ‘Meenaxi’ to hit the shelves.

Update:
Never mind my blah-blah analysis, for an actually well-written review of the album, go here.

32 thoughts on “Rahman’s Rang De Basanti”

  1. At last one review that’s almost my opinion (esp about ‘Tu bin baataaye’, everyone out there is calling it as a ‘great’ melody). Looks like you’ve liked this album a bit more than me. I was very curious to read your review mainly because the other review over the net painted a picture that am seriously missing a nerve or two in my brain. Now, am happy that am not, at least am not the only one :)

  2. Excellent Review as always. couldnt help but smile on the YSR reference…in a short span he has managed to make several pairs of ears very sensitive to his music.

  3. Hey,
    this is an excellent revu – you almost said all that i wanted to say abt the soundtrack!

    Great one – keep ’em coming.

    Suyog

  4. Muthuvel, you ARE missing a nerve or two…why else would you agree with me? :))
    Sarat (looking forward to your podcasts) & Suyog – Thanks.

  5. Your review sucks big time!!

    Indian immigration cancel Blaaze’s visa? How can they? He’s an Indian dude.. atleast get ur facts right b4 u write a review!

  6. G.smack – :( Will try to write something that pleases you next time.
    Blaaze is Indian? Even worse. Then the Indian government should revoke his citizenship.

  7. I havent listened to it much, so all this post made me do was laugh.. and laugh i did :))

    What can you say about sweet female vocal harmony that half-sing, half-chant a Guru Nanak prayer for about 90 odd seconds? Nothing much really, so fast forward.

    ROTFL…..

  8. Thank God atleast you found something to laugh about. :)
    I shall now await the rest of the Rahman(/Blaaze) brigade to shred me. :S

  9. First time I’ve been here. Thanks for the plug-link.
    In turn, I liked the additional “musical” sightings (wrong sense term, I know) you’ve commented on – I don’t know all that technical stuff, so your post was very informative on those points.

  10. hi,

    Almost agree with you except for Paatshala song. Hey, the last line is the most impressive statement of this revu. Yes, Meenaxi is THE masterpiece of Rahman in recent past which went unnoticed by the most. I too am waiting for another Meenaxi but for that sake will not say this album is a let down.

  11. ramanand: Nice of you to drop by. Loved the details in your review too.
    suresh: I’m sure I didn’t call this album a letdown anywhere in the post. Rahman is always benchmarked against his own talent, and when you do that, this album falls short by a few songs.

  12. YSRish? Please clean out your ears and listen to the song again. Agree with you on Tu Bin Bataye. Didn’t dig Iyer’s work on Roobaroo. Your review has little to do with reviewing and more to do with people slaying to me. Revoke Blaaze’s citizenship? C’mon now!

  13. hi friends,

    please do not make any remarks without hearing the songs completely. do not hurry up. listen to all the songs of RDB especially with headphones. you will enjoy all the songs, especially luka chupi, rubaroo, tubin, etc.. read others bloggers views, all have rated the songs atleast 8/10. Here again, naresh iyer has proved that he is good in all types of songs. common friends, listen to songs once more and more when it really grows in you

  14. Srinivas: What? Not YSR-ish? Please clean your ears and… See, it works both ways.
    People slaying? I don’t like Blaaze. I think Lata Mangeshkar is past her prime. And having seen Rahman sing live, I know he’d be lost without post-processing. Who else did I “slay”? Cancelling visas/revoking citizenships was not meant to be taken literally (obviously). It’s just my way of saying I’ve had enough of Blaaze. Just like how you didn’t really mean for me to clean my ears. Or did you? :S
    Having said all that, I have no reason to defend what I wrote. I’m just being courteous here. I got an unusual number of hits for this post and I’m sure many absolutely disagreed with what I wrote. They probably left and will never come back. You could do the same.

    Saraswati:
    Please. No more Naresh Iyer plugging here, please. You could start your own blog to do that. I’ll even direct what traffic I can to your site (atleast 2 hits). :)

  15. Oh I’ll be sure to never come back again…after this comment. Appreciation of music is at best a subjective deal. I have listened to the song much more than you’ll ever think of, and therefore the YSR-ish?-please-clean-your ears-out comment. There is no way in heck(!) this song sounds YSR-ish. But if you feel that way there’s nothing I can say to change your mind for you. Lata Mangeshkar is well past her prime. Her geriatric voice normally annoys me to the point where I switch channels or move to the next song. But when she sings for ARR, she does a nice job. Lukka Chupi is a nice song, given that both singers aren’t exactly great at it. Please listen to a) Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagi b) O Paalanhare and c) Jiya Jale again and then read my comment again. Blaaze was awesome in Baba. He was rather good in Bunty n’ Babli number. This particular song is not great. But it’s passable. Don’t knock it before you hear it enough. This is ARR we’re talking abt. It takes a while before you can appreciate his music. And if you can’t, that’s your choice. I’m not asking you to defend what you wrote, I was just leaving a comment on what I thought of your review (or lack thereof). Like I said, I’ll make sure to not come by again. You critique someone else’s work. Someone who’s obviously a genius. Can you ever come up with some thing that sounds remotely like ARR?? But when someone crtiques your work you get you jocks in a twist. Oh get over it!

  16. Can you ever come up with some thing that sounds remotely like ARR??

    So his work should never be critiqued? Jeez! talk about flawed logic.
    I would write a longer reply but you won’t be reading it, plus my twisted jocks are hurting me.
    Buh-bye.

  17. Wow . Am eagerly awaiting your next blade analysis, that time please take up some Raja album :) And before doing so, find a better place to hide yourself.(incase if that album falls flat)

  18. I already blame this all on you Muthuvel, and now you want the ‘other side’ to shred me too? Sadistic, aren’t we? :))

  19. The best song on the album is Lukka Chuppi. The title track is nothing new that
    we haven’t heard of from Daler before. I like Khalbali and Paathsala.
    Lataji excels in the duet with AR doing a superb job in the classical part of Lukka
    Chuppi.

  20. You should be ashamed to call Lata’s voice geriatric in this song. Some(at most one or two) of her earlier songs could be called geriatric.

    But this one is awesome soulful renedition.
    I hope you don’t put comments just for the sake of saying something.

    Say something that makes sense dear friend.

  21. Rachit,
    chords are Amaj and Dmaj..

    hey blogger.. RDB cudn’t satisfy u thats 4 sure.. but it sure did satisfy a hell lot of ppl worldwide…. if u think ur ‘uniqueness’ and cheesy talking make u special….. then ur mistaken… its only empiteness and dicontentment echoing back at you… good luck for ur future

  22. Came across your review of RDB only today [Mar 30, 07]…Being an ARR fan, if I’d read this review a year earlier, I’d have felt like slitting your throat!! But now, I’ve just one fact to put in here: ARR won the filmfare award for the best music for RDB only.

  23. Really? You’d actually want to take a knife, put it to my throat and in one swift motion make a gash in my throat so blood spurted out, and I died? And all because I didn’t like a few songs on an album?
    Perspective. It’s a word. Look it up sometime.

    Also, the same Filmfare Awards gave the best actor award to Hrithik Roshan for Dhoom2.
    Once again. Perspective.

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