Friday, November 17, 2006

Music Review: GURU (A.R. Rahman; 2006)

Mani Ratnam's much discussed penchant for duos returns as drunken parody in Ek lo Ek muft. This crazy bit of inebriated revelry is especially welcome inasmuch as it shows (for the second time this year, after Sillunu Oru Kadhal's Kummi Aadi) that Rahman's ear for "low brow" rambunctiousness remains as sharp as ever. Bappi Lahiri's enthusiastic neo-quaver is the perfect vehicle for this chattering number that takes many a detour, bringing the basti into one's living room, until one is reduced to gibbering idiotically "ye-maw ye-maw ye-maw ye-maw leeeeeeeeh". And that's not a bad thing.

Speaking of Sillunu Oru Kadhal, if you thought Machakari was a fine example of decadent globalized sound (and even if you didn't), Mayya ramps up the intensity several notches. If Ek lo Ek muft was carousing revelry, this one is drunken lewdness given form, oozing sex and overripe fruit from every second. Full marks are owed to Maryam Toller and Chinmayee for demonstrating that mere vocals can in themselves push the boundaries of the censor code. And there's a lot more in this song: in particular, the tension between the come hither vocals and Gulzar's chic lyrics makes an unforgettably stylish yet unrestrained number -- and that's even before the song erupts toward the end.

Imagine a cross between the Madan Mohan classic Lata solo from Woh Kaun Thi -- Lag ja gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho -- and A.R. Rahman's own Azaadi from Bose, then add night and solitude, and you'll get the haunting Jaage Hain. The best way to describe this song is as a lori for adults, perhaps the most private song in this film that appears to be another Ratnam take on power that is "public" in some way, shape or form. Appropriately enough, the seclusion does not last, as choral voices meld into the song after a point. Perhaps even the dreams of those whose lives are lived in the public gaze are populated by multitudes.

Is this the year for retro? For Baazi Laga (Paisa Chale) appears to be Rahman's attempt at a 1980s Laxmikant Pyarelal or perhaps Lawaaris-style number, and while it is very catchy it lacks the nuanced richness I associate with Rahman's work. Not to mention that its lyrics are far less cynical than the thematically similar Takay Takay from Mangal Pandey, the latter possibly a reflection of Javed Akhtar's own Marxist inclinations to a certain extent, but which also make the cheerfully hustling and bustling Baazi Laga a fitting anthem to an urban India that is increasingly optimistic and enthusiastic about commerce.

Barso Re is a saawan song, once a staple of Hindi films; although my first impressions of this song are not especially favorable, it is elevated from "mere" sweetness by Rahman's use of an urgent -- and rousing -- vocal refrain that insists upon the listener's attention. I doubt this will ever be a great Rahman number in my estimation, although I do expect it to grow on me with time, as Sandha Kozhi/Kabhi Neem Neem from Aayitha Ezhuthu/Yuva did.

Rahman's passion for the neo-qawwali love song remains undimmed, as Tere Bina shows: the chorus is smoother, less edgy than Bombay's Kannalane/Kehna hi kya or Alai Payuthey's Sneghidane (indeed the song is shot where Bombay's was), but Chinmayee's voice is throatier, earthier than anything Chitra managed (or was aiming for) in Kannalane/Kehna hi kya. Unquestionably, Rahman stresses the repetitive aspect of the qawwali in this song rather than the virtuosity he has explored in qawwali-ish songs in the past, and the result is less energetic and more decorous, yet heartfelt and (for me, I predict) ultimately addictive.

Ae Hairat-e-Aashiq is the most conventional song in the album, a reminder (if any were needed after Khamoshiyan Gungunaane Lageen from One 2 ka 4 and Sunta hai mera Khuda or Qismet se tum humko mile ho from Pukaar) that Rahman's command over the traditional Hindi film duet is second to none among his peers. A "classic" love song by Hariharan and Alka Yagnik, this is for me musically the least surprising song here, although its evergreen freshness ensures that it will age well, and with a wide audience.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful review. I do wish I can get a copy of the CD/songs. But I live close to Toronto and am not sure where and when they will be available and don't have the songs as yet. :(.

Shah Navas said...

Mayya Mayya will be all over the Discos after Fanaa

Great Album!!

Anonymous said...

Aren't u just overtly generous to Rahman?

Qalandar said...

No subhendu, the more I listen to this album the more I like it.

Anonymous said...

Rahman please skip period films we need stylish rahman songs when r u going to stop this period film

Qalandar said...

Siva: it's hard to get more stylish than the song "Mayya" in this album in my opinion...

Anonymous said...

post this complete music review of guru on along with your link to this blog on

Qalandar said...

Thanks anonymous I did, but I can't see it on indiafm...does it take some time to show up?

akshat said...

Hi Qualander,
Akshat Here.Hope you remember.
I always wished I can post comment on naachgaana, but Rohit have some issue I think (may be I had told Him that I am not Shahrukh Fan)

Ok its very genral observation.Few guys have issue related to Shahrukh Fans.I was agreed.
But I now found that same members are behaving even worse.just read satyam boxoffice this week.
Even abid does not has gone to such a lenth to support Shahrukh as he has gone to support AB.
I found it hard to beleive.Shahrukh is atleast a star whether one like him or not.But AB he is not a star and thats what UJ BoxOffice shows.He was the Hero of movie.
Same time these guys always try to shows Hrithik some what lesser than what he is.
Other thing why satyam puts up his views in his boxoffice report when he objects abid to do so.
Boxoffice is meant to show boxoffice results not reasons and if you have some views regarding certain movie put it in review of the movie.He has objection regarding so called mediocare movies ASMM and vivah.Movie is accepting by the people and thats why its HIT.All other logics not hold for vivah.

You remember, In my last post to you I said I wish LRM will be big hit than Krissh.
I was right .
This time Its not vene wish, I am sure,Vivah will be Bigger Hit than LRM.I had seen the movie and no movie ,I have seen this year,has such strong second half.Beleive me I have seen it in multiplex at noida and in the hall I can listen the sound of my chair when i was shifting(except ofcourse movie sound).I hope you understand what i wnat to say.
I had spend most of my life in small towns of country and I know why its going to be universal Blockbuster in India
LRM may be different, strickes at different cord but no where in movie you think yourself as munna or circuit or even any character of movie.In vivah you can relate.
I am not as old as aloknath,even I am not married but can relate to him. As I have two sister who got married and I know how it feels after your sis/daughter got married.If I can relate to him then I have no doubt how many others will relate.Not only Alok you can relate to other characters very easily.

Its individuals choice what one like or not.If Satyam finds the movie's end not good or some other crtic has an objection ,say it as simply as that we have this objection and did not liked it.But to say that medicore film is earning and so called his/her high quality film is not,its total bullshit.
I am unable to understand why so called critics think that movie goers are fool and they are the intelligent one.And what is standard of our critics,people knows.Thats why they donot go on watching the movie based upon critics rating.

Qalandar said...

akshat: to be fair satyam's point might be that he has never claimed to be merely reporting news and is giving his opinion like anyone else, whereas the so called trade pundits and BO gurus claim to be unbiased and merely reporting. i.e. satyam has never denied his support for AB Jr..., whereas those who do plug other stars by means of their BO columns pretend that merely news is involved...

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I liked Barso Re and Baazi Laga more than you did.
I guess Baazi Laga will be a background track (Recall the visuals of Abhishek standing still in a stock market with other traders around him in fast forward mode).

I think Guru soundtrack works more in the context of the film. Incidentally, I had same feelings when I heard Alai Payuthey soundtrack for the first time :)

Qalandar said...

Akshat: PS: I think that when satyam was referring to mediocre films making money he was talking about Apna Sapna Money Money no?
He wrote (at
"In contrast mediocrity triumphs once again with Apna Sapna Money Money on its way to some sort of success and Barjatya's return-to-roots Vivah also pulling in impressive revenue for its low print count. One wouldn't find the latter's success so problematic were it not for the fact that true to his history the director after offering the most sacharine film for about 90% of the narrative (and one which at least has the virtue of representing small town Indian life) resorts to a somewhat sick twist in the final segment of the film. This twist relies on some rather offensive tropes on the one hand and is on the other a part of the film's moral fabric in the most perverse sense."

Anonymous said...

Imagine a cross between the Madan Mohan classic Lata solo from Woh Kaun Thi -- Lag ja gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho -- and A.R. Rahman's own Azaadi from Bose, then add night and solitude, and you'll get the haunting Jaage Hain.

The more I listen to this track the more I agree with your description.

I think Baazi Laga is India's first Stock Market song. Great lyrics. I think the biggest problem with Yuva was Mehboob; Ajay Devgan comes a close second.

Guru appears to be a "Bouncy" film. Mani is hitting all the right buttons. This time around Mani will make money.

Qalandar said...

Re: "Mani is hitting all the right buttons. This time around Mani will make money."

I have that feeling too anonymous-- and I certainly hope so, because it couldn't happen to a more deserving director!

Anonymous said...

Hairat-E-Aashiqui is actually Aaj kal paaon zameen par nahi.. inverted.

Gulzar nevers fails to amaze.

Anonymous said...

Simply awesome review Q. I'd waited to read this till after I'd formed my opinions about the music, and this is excellent work. Baradwaj

Satyam said...

I join the chorus. Absolutely outstanding review. What I particularly like here is the passion that comes through.

Qalandar said...

Thanks guys! You are all too kind...

Anonymous said...


Sorry qualander
But i am really disappointed about ur and satyam views in NG forum.
Look at latest views on Dhoom2.
You and particulary Satyam behaves like they are going to kill Hrithik for getting such a review from all others and AB jr getting not only nothing but the bad reviews.
See the Satyam line: Hrithik is a joker in the movie. What one can say about that.Only tells that how frustrated the person is.
But one thing proves again:
In 2000 Hrithik was the star and AB jr was none.
In 2006,after seven years,Hrithik now a Super Star and AB jr is ....
I am agreed with Taran on Amitabh and Sashi Kapoor analogy.
Shashi Kapoor was not bad but he was not amitabh.
Ab jr not bad(he even not equal to sashi when comes to career hits) but not Hrithik


Qalandar said...

Akshat: no need to apologize, but when did I badmouth Hritik Roshan in connection with D2? Certainly if satyam did so I am hardly responsible!

I did say that Hritik is not as good as Abhishek in the dialog-oriented scenes, and I stand by that. I also said that Abhishek couldn't compete with Hritik on the high octane stunts, and I stand by that too.