First Impressions

The One and Only has released what might be the most anticipated music album of the year – yes, I’m talking about Rahman’s Raavan* –  and as usual, I’m about to review it for The Magazine. It’s not that I’m anticipating being torn apart by the Rahman fanboys and having the article Rediff-comment-boarded, it’s just that I love analyzing what works and what doesn’t.

So – some initial observations:

  • Whoa, Lion King! This might sound bizarre – or perhaps I’m just really bad at identifying sounds – but Behene De and parts of Beera sound like they were influenced by African tribal music. The heavy drums, the plink-plonk sounds… and in Beera, the opening voice. See, this is what makes Rahman Rahman. N suggested Vishal Bhardwaj, and I kind of get what he means, but this kind of subtle, pervasive influence of other sounds is what makes Rahman the maestro he is. Remember Masakali? French accordion and ghatam. Yes. Only Rahman.
  • Rhythm. Not since Pal Pal Hai Bhari‘s fantastic ending have I liked Rahman’s rhythm elements so much. Of course, I’m a fan of the drums, so that might just be me. But here, nearly every song has a sort of strong underlying layer of rhythm that’s incredibly effective. Kata Kata and Thok Di Killi, especially, have a sort of rhythmic climax at the end where the beat speeds up. Beera‘s strong on the drums as well, and the African tribal beat thing really works here. And Kata Kata – lovely use of the double-beat clapping sound.
  • Please, Rahman sir, for the love of god, use Vijay Prakash for something other than his voice. Do you know how many music directors write music just for Mohit Chauhan? Why can’t you do the same for Prakash?! I love Chauhan, but Prakash is actually, technically, better! You’re breaking my heart, sir, breaking it.
  • Something is lacking in this album – some sort of gentleness, some kind of tenderness. I know the trailer doesn’t exactly suggest that, but Khili Re is, I assume, a nod in that direction. But really – only a nod. The touches of minor key helped, and Reena Bhardwaj has a lovely voice (she did Yeh Rishta! I love her for that) – “suri la”, where her voice leaps, is amazing. The bridge, with the chorus – nice touch there, sir, with the breaks. But overall, the melody isn’t impressing me very much. I dunno.
  • What was up with Ranjha Ranjha? The beginning sounded like something out of Harris Jayaraj. Er, okay. Anuradha Sriram – whoa, barely recognized her, Shubha Mudgal-voice going on there. Okay, nice. Electric guitar. Nice touch, good job. Western drums? Eh? Javed Ali? Eh? The electric guitar makes no further appearances, the plinky-plonk thing (the non-African one) is back, and Ali’s voice is mellow. What kind of vibe are you going for, sir? I feel like Rahman could’ve used someone with a stronger voice (like Vijay Prakash, there you go! A bit obsessed, maybe, yes) or else used Alka Yagnik. Except this was a strong song. Or was it? I’m just really confused now. The drums, okay – it was like ketchup over malai kofta.

N thinks, and I agree with him, that this is more context-driven than anything. I can only imagine listening to these songs while running, or while trying to wake up without coffee. Rahman understands energy – I mean, Rahman understands everything about music, it’s just when he tries to experiment with some of it that he lets the reins go, a little.

My humble opinion 😀

*I know it’s Mani Ratnam and everything, but I can’t really warm up to Aishwarya R-B + Abhishek Bacchan. I’m still in shock that Papa/FIL Bacchan is not involved in this venture.

Edit: Something about Ranjha Ranjha is starting to make more sense now… there’s a slightly Middle Eastern twist, a minor key modification to the song that takes it slightly out of the ordinary. And okay, sorry, not Anuradha Sriram, that’s Rekha Bhardwaj there (Laakad and Raat Ki Dhai Baje, really cool voice). Even the ketchup is almost making sense.


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