Raanjhanaa/ Music: A R Rahman
Genre: Hindi film music
Sony Music-Eros Music/ Rs 175
Rating: *** ½
FANS of A R Rahman have been anxiously awaiting his latest release ‘Raanjhanaa’. With his last two Hindi films ‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ and ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ receiving mixed reactions, a lot of hopes were pinned on the new film, whose audio rights were sold for a whopping Rs 6 crore.
To a large extent and despite a few flaws here and there, Rahman fulfils expectations in ‘Raanjhanaa’, using a good mix of classical-based, folk, Sufi and western-styled numbers. Indian instruments like the sitar, bansuri, shehnai and manjira have been used smartly. Most compositions have the Rahman stamp, and Irshad Kamil’s lyrics fit the tunes perfectly, whether the theme is romantic or rustic.
Yet, despite a few really marvellous numbers, we have one major complaint about the ‘Raanjhanaa’ music. And that concerns Rahman’s decision to sing certain songs himself, when he could have settled for singers whose voices and training would have been more suitable. Here, he completely messes up this number ‘Aise na dekho’. Even though it is a well-arranged smooth jazz composition with a hummable whistle part, it is marred by a completely insipid and expressionless vocal line.
To be fair, the composer has tasted reasonable success as a singer in the past. Songs like ‘Dil se re’ (from ‘Dil Se’), ‘Chale chalo’ (‘Lagaan’), ‘Yeh jo des hai mera’ (‘Swades’), ‘Khwaja mere khwaja’ (‘Jodhaa Akbar) and ‘Maa tujhe salaam’ (private album) have been fairly popular. This is besides many Tamil songs. But many of these were peppy songs which relied more on their tune and instrumentation, than on intricate singing technique. And in some of these songs, one has even noticed some obvious computer-generated pitch correction.
In ‘Raanjhanaa’ itself, Rahman also lends his voice to the electronica-meets-hip-hoppish number ‘Tu mun shudi’. Here, there doesn’t seem to be a problem, because it’s a song more dependent on the vocals of Rabbi Shergill, and on its orchestration. But then, Rahman isn’t a full-time singer, and should thus be choosy about what he sings. We’re sure there were many singers who could do better justice to ‘Aise na dekho’.
Barring that one huge flaw, ‘Raanjhanaa’ has quite a few highs. The title track, sung by Jaswinder Singh and Shiraz Uppal, uses the violin, sitar and dhol smartly. The lines “Raanjhana hua main tera, kaun tere bin mera, raunak hai tumhi se meri, kaun tere bin mera’ are simple yet effective.
The folk-classical number ‘Banarasiya’ contains some incredible vocals by Shreya Ghoshal, who is accompanied by Anwesha Datta Gupta and Meenal Jain. A nice sarangi and flute start, followed by a sitar interlude, give this a typical Uttar Pradesh feel.
The rhythm-heavy ‘Piya milenge’, featuring Sukhwinder Singh and the KMMC Sufi Ensemble, is one of the clear highlights. Lines like “Jisko dhoondhe baahar baahar who baitha hai chupke chupke, tere andar ek samandar kyon dhoondhe tubke tubke; akal ke parde peeche kar de, toh piya milenge” are simply outstanding, and the use of Sufi and classical elements adds class.
Also in the classical sphere is ‘Ay sakhi’, where Madhushree, Chinmayee, Vaishali and Aanchal Sethi sing sargams, taans and even some nonsensical syllables with great coordination.
If the first four songs are steeped in folk and classical flavour, ‘Nazar layee’ is a pleasant guitar-backed ballad, sung by Rashid Ali and Neeti Mohan, with the latter sounding very different from her chart-topping ‘Jiya re’ from ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’.
Next to follow are ‘Tu mun shudi’ and ‘Aise na dekho’, already discussed above. Strong rhythms and the faint sound of chants characterise the short piece ‘The land of Shiva’, which provides a brief diversion.
The album concludes with ‘Tum tak’, which is a pleasantly orchestrated number featuring Javed Ali, Keerthi Sagathia and Pooja Vaidyanath. It has a nice shehnai stretch and wonderful lyrics (‘Meri har dushwaari tum tak, meri har khumaari tum tak’), but the tune of the main line seems like a rehash of the ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ title song.
Some readers may wonder why this reviewer has given three and a half stars, and not four. Well, though this is his best set of songs after ‘Rockstar’ two years ago, only three of the nine numbers (‘Piya milenge’, ‘Banarasiya’ and ‘Ay sakhi’) can be called really extraordinary and one (‘Aise na dekho’) is a complete mess.
Many of the others have familiar overtones, as Rahman uses orchestral styles he has attempted before. Even his rhythm-structuring seem to follow the formulae that have worked in the past. Yet, though it doesn’t quite match up to his all-time best, it is definitely one of the better Rahman scores over the past three years. And that’s good enough reason to celebrate.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding