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Raavan : Maoist Connection & Music Review

Have been listening to the music of Raavan non-stop. I had tweeted quite sometime back that rahman+gulzar = magic; and that’s coming true again. The album has been an overwhelming experience with some fantastic and fresh sounds that haven’t been heard before. Rahman’s musical notes and Gulzar’s thoughtful lyrics make for a great listening experience.

Let me start with the controversial topic of maoism/naxalism. Like Dil Se, Bombay and Roja, Mani Ratnam has picked up another socially relevant theme for the silverscreen. I loved his terror ravaged trilogy and this time around I am hoping that he has got it right again. The theme of naxalism is sprayed around by Gulzar in a strong yet poetic charm in two of the songs.

I shall first discuss the comical song Kata kata bechara bakra which is fun to begin with, but has the references to naxalites. The theme of the song is age-old, of a man getting married and hence being called ‘bechara bakra’ ready for the chopping block.

kata kata bechaara bakra kata kata bechaara
mana mana le khair maanale aakhari raat kuwaara

But soon after that follows these words :

dulhe miya dulhe miya dand-vand pelo
dulhe miya chhodo joru jhaarkhand le lo

The village folks ask the guy to do some body-building [dand-vand pelo]; forget about his wife and chase the cause of ‘jharkhand’. Gulzar slips in the message with such subtlety. The song has a beautiful earthy feel with Sapna Avasthi and Ila Arun bringing the Rajasthani folk flavor and turning it into a celebration of sorts. This is only the second time that Sapna Avasthi has sung for Rahman, 10 years after Chaiyya Chaiyya, and she still sounds as energetic as she was back then. Although the credits mention Kunal Ganjawala, his voice is totally lost amidst so many voices in the chorus.

Since we all know that the movie is titled Raavan for a reason. And where there is Raavan, there has to be a Ram and Sita too. This melancholic song Behne De sounds like Ram’s heart bleeding for Sita after she has been kidnapped by Raavan.

Umeed ko aag laga zara
Sehra ki pyaas bujha zara
Ghan itna baras ke galne lagoon
Mei paani ke upar tarne lagoon

A man missing his sweetheart very badly, that’s what the song is about. It also speaks about the deep bonding and love between two inseparable beings. It has the feel of emptiness that is expressed beautifully in words and perfect pitched voice of Karthik.

Shart lagi hai mar jaane ki
Jeena hai toh pyaar mei
Dil kahin bhi ho mera
Jaan rakhi hai yaar mei
Behja behja hai saagar ka kehna
Behja behja hai nadiya ko behna

Coming back to the theme of naxalism, there is another song Thok De Killi which has been powerfully sung by Sukhwinder Singh. Its a scorn against the caste/class barrier, about the have’s and have-nots. It first describes the condescending look that the upper caste/class people give to the downward trodden:

Sabko ghoore aankh dikhaye
Tanashahi kare daraye
Oh baakad billi hey

And then, the song goes on to say that no one has ever discussed the problems of people below poverty line.

Aaja milke baithe
Haal sunaave dil ka
Kela woh khaate hain
Humko phenke chilka chilka

The despair of being teased as ‘backward’ is brilliantly penned in the song. The instrumentation is fabulous and the drum beats are that of an uprising against this class/caste barrier.

Pichde pichde keh ke humko
Khoob udaye khilli dilli
Sehte sehte ab toh
Gardan ghar rakh kar jaate hai
Choti ho gayi kabren
Bin mundi hi mar jaate hain

The gross violence inflicted against the backward castes by the upper-caste is very well described in the last 3 lines of the above stanza. It speaks of the gruesome acts of terror where people are beheaded callously and the body being buried while heads are being tossed out. Such a painful act of violence has been put down so effectively. I am sure the movie will capture the essence of the song well.

sadiyon se chalata aaya hai
unch ninch ka lamba kissa
abb ki baar hisaab chuka le
chir ke le le apna hisaa
apna khun bhi laal hi hoga
khol ke dekh le gaal ki jhilli

And finally, the vengeful act of the maoist is spoken about. How they have decided to take law in their own hands and settle the score. The song will remain with you for long, that’s for sure. This is one of the best songs of the movie, but unfortunately people will soon forget all the stanzas and only the start will be hummed.

Another song which will remain with you for long is Ranjha Ranjha Kardi Vey. A perfect song tailor-made for Rekha Bharadwaj to lend her vocals melodiously. Originally written and sung by Bulle Shah, we have had many versions of this including Abida Parveen’s. Its a part of folk legends and this time Gulzar picks up this one.

Ranjha ranjha kardi vey mai
Aape ranjha hoyi

The song has a rustic rhythm and folksy feel to it. Rekha does complete justice to the song. Its a sad romantic song that describes the woes of love and the look out for that elusive lover who is nowhere to be seen.

Waqt katata bhi nahi
Waqt rukta bhi nahi
Dil hai sajde mei magar
Ishq jhukta bhi nahi

The pangs of separation is evident in the musical notes. And the soft singing adds to the sadness. Although I believe that Sonu could have done a better job because Javed Ali has a hollow voice which does not emote much. There is no expression in his voice and that is one reason I have never been able to like Jashn-e-bahara song for Jodha-Akbar.

There is another romantic number Khili Re rendered by Renee Bharadwaj. That’s the weakest song for me. Haven’t liked it much until now. Its a song very typical of Rahman and reminded me of Sawariya Sawariya Mai To Huyi Bawariya from Swades; it has the same soft feel to it.

Finally, I come to the new-age Raavan named Beera this time around. A naxalite out to fight against the system.

Beera ke dus maathe
Beera ke sau naam
Chhede jo beera ko
Dhama dham dham dham

The reference of dus-maathe could be about having a brilliant mind that does organizing, planning, plotting, communicating, executing the plan; all in one go. And the sau-naam would well be the many aliases that he is known by, just my guess of the interesting lyrics. The song has a lot of African drum-beats which gives it the much needed energy and aggression. At around 3 mins length, I felt it was short. I wished it was long 7-8 minute piece, but nope.

The album is a sure-shot success with great sounds, superb lyrics, fine instrumentation and some inspired singing. A great album indeed.

By the way, I got some clues on the storyline of the movie. If you can recall Khalnayak, its on those lines is what I can make of it. Madhuri Dixit aka Ganga is chsing Sanjay Dutt aka Ballu, while Ram is on the lookout for both. And when Ganga finally returns, she has to give her testimony in court to prove her innocence, much like Sita had to do after returning to Ayodhya. The difference is that, in Khalnayak , Ganga did not get kidnapped. In this movie, the leading lady gets nabbed by Beera. Another new addition is the presence of an emissary in the form of Govinda., the man who knows the jungle terrain inside out. This angle was not there in Khalnayak.

But I am sure it will not be this simple, Mani Ratnam definitely has some other plans; maybe a few twists in the storyline will make it interesting. Whatever it is, I am waiting for the movie to release. Desperate to watch it. Till then, let me immerse myself in the soundtrack of the movie.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in bollywood, music review

 

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filmfare awards 2009 … bucking the trend

https://i0.wp.com/www.filmfestivalworld.com/fileadmin/media/resources/FilmFare_Award_trophy_1_full.jpgFinally, sanity is being restored, or at least an effort is being made to do so, in the 54th Filmfare Awards. I was so glad to see movies like Rock OnOLLO and MMJ winning, and movies like RNBDJ and Dostana taking a backseat. Although the nominations were a little fuzzy[some categories had 5 nominations and some had 6, just to please a few people I guess], but given the limited scope of the nominations, most of the awards were well deserved.

Let me start with the Lifetime Achievment Award section. Bhanu Athaiya was a very good choice, especially because costume designers have never really been given their due. In fact, the Best Costume Design category was introduced so late, in 1994, only after seeing what Manish Malhotra’s costume did to Urmila Matondkar; from a demure girl next door he turned her into a sex symbol overnight. Back to Bhanu, she won the Oscar for Gandhi[1982] and that’s been her greatest achievement till date. But considering her work in Bollywood, she did a good job in Lagaan, Swades,1942ALSChandni and Razia Sultan. Her list of work shows her predilection and brilliance for period dramas where she has a fantastic sense of color, fabric and designing.
Om Puri being awarded this, ahead of Naseeruddin Shah, that was a bit of a disappointment. I think they should have been awarded together at least. These two giants of the arthouse cinema in the 1980’s did some terrific work. They have not been given enough credit, but this award is probably a way of doing so.

Coming to the Critics AwardShahana Goswami was deserving of it. Her work in Rock On was awesome, her raw talent and the spontaneous expressions shone through very well. But at the same time, Manjot Singh for OLLO was not a very good choice in my opinion. In fact, Paresh Rawal and Abhay Deol deserved it more than Manjot. And outside ofOLLO, Paresh Rawal for MMJ or Naseer for A Wednesday would have been a much better choice. Nishikant Kamat forMMJ was again a good pick, but I don’t understand this Special Jury Mention for Prateik Babbar and Purab Kohli. What does this award mean? And why Prateik Babbar?? For slouching on the couch, being untidy, and having the foresight that Sushant Modi[Ayaz Khan] is not the right guy for his sis?? And Purab Kohli! He had nothing to lose in Rock On, he was just caught in-between Arjun Rampal and Farhan Akhtar’s ego clash. When they called the band off, he happily joined his dad’s business; when the band was reinstated he started driving around in the SUV once more. He was happy either ways and did not help further the cause of the story.

Talking about stories, Best Story for Rock On was a little surprising. Lots of films in 2008 had amazing stories to tell, like AamirA WednesdayMMJ. I kept cosoling myself that Dostana and Ghajini did not win it. Best Screenplay was awarded to MMJ and Best Dialogues to OLLO and I had no complains with it.

In the techincal awards section, two awards that I didn’t agree at all are Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction. I thought OLLO was shot on location, so where was the Production Design. And the costumes looked like everyday stuff, jogging suits, sneakers, waist-coats, casual wear. In fact, Jodha-Akbar deserved both these awards, for the elaborate sets and the intricate jewellery and costumes. I would like it if someone can explain this to me.

I was happy with all other awards, like Best Cinematography and Sound Design for Rock OnBest Editing went toMMJ, it could have gone to A Wednesday or Aamir too[except for the dragged last 20 mins]; and I cared less for Best ChoregraphyBest Action and Best Visual Effects where the winners were Pappu Can’t Dance SaalaGhajini andLovestory 2050, respectively.

I was totally ok with the debut award for male, being shared by both Farhan Akhtar and Imran Khan; similarly the female debut award should have been shared by Asin and Anushka Sharma, instead Asin took it home.

Arjun Rampal for Best Supporting Actor was good, but Kangana Ranaut for Best Supporting Actress was unexpected and undeserved. Shahana Goswami for Rock On or  Ratna Pathak for JTYJN would have been a much better choice. The problem with Kangana’s performance is that, she is unidimensional and has no range. Give her such a role, and 9 out of 10 times, she will just sleep-walk through it like in Life…In A Metro or Gangster or Woh Lamhe.

Music awards were doled out pretty judiciously. Sukhwinder Singh for Haule Haule and Shreya Ghosal for Teri Orewere really good choices. For the award of Best Music Director, I am sure it must have been a close fight betweenShankar-Ehsaan-Loy who produced some great score for Rock On and ARR who was also competing against himself with 3 nominations. But, ARR winning for JTYJN did not go down well, I shall consider this as an award for all the good work Rahman did in 2008, i.e., Jodha-Akbar and Ghajini included. And ARR for Best Background score of Jodha Akbar was good news. Regarding the RD Burman award, not sure how this is rewarded, but I think Amit Trivedishould have been awarded. Finally, the lyrics award for Javed Akhtar was also fine for his simple and meaningful words in Jashn-e-bahara.

Talking now about the mainstream awards, no complains about the Best Director and Best MovieAshutosh Gowariker did a great deal of research and a lot of hardwork went into Jodha Akbar. There was nobody more deserving than him, in the category. I would like to contest the Best Actor and Best Actress, though. Taking for granted that its more of a popular vote, Hrithik and Priyanka still did not deserve it; they may have won but they were not the best. In fact, newbie Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai did a better job in RNBDJ and Jodha Akbar, repectively. Even if it was popular vote, then Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai should have won.

All said and done, I think the awards were balanced out pretty well. I would any day accept these results than watchRNBDJ/Ghajini/Dostana take away awards and accolades. I would like to see some transparency in the entire process, though. The system should change, at least introduce a jury for popular award and give 50-50 weightage to public votes as well as jury members votes. That way, there will be more clarity in the process.

At the end of the day, good cinema won. At least the awards will help further the cause of independent cinema and meaningful work, and be appreciative and motivational for film-makers who want to tell us new and different stories. And I hope this trend will stay, not just prove to be an abberation. Perhaps, haule-haule se hawa lagti hai

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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Music Review : Kaminey

This is the best music album until now, and I am quite sure that it would be the best for this year. Vishal Bharadwaj is at his experimental best and Gulzar is just amazing with the pen.

The song Dhan Te Nan is already doing the rounds in disc and the video is allover the music channel. The song has high decibel energy and is sung with great enthusiasm by Sukhwinder Singh and Vishal Dadlani. The lyrics are amazing … read this :

koi chaal aisi chalo yaar abke
samandar bhi pul pe chale
phir tu chale us pe ya mein chaloon
sehar ho apne pairo tale

The music is really racy and the energy gets to you. Vishal Dadlani has surprisingly matched Sukhwiner’s verve.

Trust Gulzar to whip people and drive home the message on AIDs and he does it verbally, fatak! That’s the song – fatak. He belts the lyrics with great sensitivity and talks about the spreading germs:

jitna bhi jhoot bole thoda hai
keedon ki basti da makoda hai
raaton ka bichoo hai kaatega
ye zehrila hai zeher chaatega
darwazon mein kunde ko
dafaa karo ye gunde
ye shaitaan ka saaya re
fatak

Sukhwinder Singh and Kailash Kher give a folksy touch to the song. And then comes the Ghalib take on ye ishq nahi aasaan and this is how Gulzar modernises it:

ye ishq nahi aasaan
aji AIDS ka khatra hai
patwaar pehan jaana
yeh aag ka dariya hai

His pen has the magic to weave words on any topic, and he does with with such beauty. Observe the way he uses patwaar to mean the word condom. It drives home the message, loud and clear. I just wonder how this song will be picturised in the movie.

Vishal Bharadwaj himself takes up the mike to belt the title track of Kaminey. Its a solemn song about lost dreams, lost friends and unfulfilled hopes. And Kaminey is not just a reference to characters but the ambitious dreams, untrustworthy pals etc. Its a soliloquy.

meri aarzoo kameenee
mere khwab bhi kaminey
ik dil se dosti thi
yeh hazoor bhi kaminey

After the Delhi-6 song of Genda phool, Rekha Bharadwaj is back again. This time, singing to her hubby’s tunes and the song is Raat Ke Dhai Baje. Its a fantastic fusion of western music and rustic lyrics. The song is rendered by 3 other singers – Sunidhi Chauhan, Kunal Ganjawala and Suresh Wadkar. It has a fine rhythm that gets to you slowly. A nice song indeed.

ishq mein jalte hue
saans tezabi lage
raaz khulta hi nahi
koi toh chaabi lage

chikne chikne lachhe hain
reshmi se phande
chupdi chupdi baaton mein
bhole bhale bande

tanhai ne fursat di hai
arey pehli baar mohabbat ki hai
aakhri baar mohabbat ki hai

Mohit Chauhan finally gets to sing Pehli Baar Mohabbat Ki Hai, which is nice romantic ballad. After his ok-dokie song in Love Aaj Kal, this sounds refreshing. He should sing more often. This song may sound like reprise of Raat Ke Dhai Baje, but its not. The similarity lies only in the lyrics. The mood is different, the song is different. I think there must be a reason for the similar sounding words, though.

thode bheege bheege se
thode nam hain hum
kal se soye voye bhi,
toh kam hain hum
dil ne kaisi harkat ki hai
pehli baar mohabbat ki hai
aakhri baar mohabbat ki hai

The album also has the remix of Dhan Te Nan and Raat Ke Dhai Baje. And then there is a small musical instrumental piece called Go Charlie which is a medley mix of other songs. All in all, its a great album with awesome music, great vocals and fantastic lyrics. Its a must-buy!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2009 in bollywood, movies, music review

 

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