"No weapons", he said.
I believed him.
I was a fool.
"We're gentlemen", he said.
He wasn't one.
(Don't believe that doctor.)
"By the ledge".
"Doesn't the spray make it slippery?".
He smiled and shook his head.
There I was, defenceless, staring into a Smith and Wesson.
"Jump", said Sherlock Holmes to me.
Feb 26, 2009
Feb 25, 2009
Though lengthy, this was a highly enjoyable task and resulted in many fascinating questions on what I look for in a film song, and what kind of subliminal biases and preferences were in operation.
Vinay took our individual scores and comments, and compiled a list of winners in various categories. The results can be viewed here (the Hindi version here). The complete list of songs also contains comments made by various jury members. You'll spot that we were a varied bunch - mixed feelings were articulated and that is true of all listeners like us.
My picks for some of the categories were different, so even though these results show what the collective scores say, there is room for dissent. But I definitely agree with the decision not to award the Satish Kalra Sammaan to any 2008 film album. It was a relatively weak year for Hindi film music, despite its few bright spots. (In comparison, 2009 is already off to a smashing start with Dev.D and Delhi 6, with Vishal and others waiting in the wings).
Before I move on to reveal my personal picks, I would like to remind readers of that one of the principal aims of the puraskaar is "to have a review of the year's music and document it for posterity." (read this post for the whole premise). So, if you would like to record your opinions and disagreements, do send feedback to Vinay [giitaayan at gmail dot com] or leave a comment. Would love to hear them. The complete set of scoresheets is not available (I myself haven't seen any of the others) and is left to the discretion of the jury individual members to make available. I'd be happy to send my scores and comments to anyone who wants to have a dekko at them. Vinay's announcement on RMIM covers a few such details.
My own pick for top album was Jodhaa Akbar, which was a very tough choice to make out of my four candidates: Jodhaa Akbar, Jaane Tu..., Rock On!!, and Aamir. My summarised comments on these :
Aamir: had superb lyrics and very good music, especially for a debutant film music composer. It also had depth, with its lyrics forming a partnership with the music that was greater the sum of their parts. I thought it fell short on breadth, that's all.Obviously, this is just a point of view. The exercise also illuminated the fact that despite what we hear on FM stations, a lot of decent Hindi film music gets made in one year, and sometimes there are quite a few minor gems that never get the attention they deserve. If a selection like this enables one to broaden one's mind just a touch, it'll have achieved some of its aims.
Rock On!!: interesting concept, nice texture, loved the female solos; the lyrics and the singing (though acceptable for the film's concept) were where it went down a notch. Especially as in comparison to the others. I didn't give it the benefit of a 'rock' album, choosing to apply more conventional hindi film music parameters.
Jaane Tu...: like the film, the album went in familiar territory but managed to come out fresh. Full of pastel colours. But inherently, it didn't have the same depth for me. Perhaps it wasn't meant to.
Jodhaa Akbar: perhaps not everyone's choice of top album. IMHO, there was a lot of inventiveness in this particular album, especially in taking a period piece and applying modern touches to it - which needed some guts. As a result, this album sounds different from other Rahman 'period' soundtracks. The lyrics were competent, the arrangements superb, the melodies dulcet, and embellished the movie well.
Previous results: 2006 and 2007
With thanks to friends who responded to a straw poll on Best Album
Feb 18, 2009
Dear [so-and-so],One could not help but laugh (Harish had tears streaming down his face).
Please find the attachment of resume. He is my cosine brother. He is in a software Eng.
On reflection, this spelling makes a lot of phonetic sense. Initially, I thought this was a case of "when spell-checkers go wild". But thanks to the wisdom of "English is a very funny language" (a.k.a अंग्रेजी बड़ी अवैज्ञानिक भाषा है), I can see why there would be quite a few Indians making that mistake (as this Google search shows).
Thanks to Niranjan for inspiring the headline
Feb 17, 2009
"I say,I'm sure if Stilton Cheesewright, 'soulless clod' extraordinaire and muse for the poem, was to see this image of the morning sky from a few months ago, it would doubtlessly remind him of some scrambled eggs.
Doesn't that sunset remind you
Of a slice
Of underdone roast beef?"
Caliban at Sunset
Feb 16, 2009
Most of the stories are brilliant, both in narration and content. Those rocking coffins have inspired a variety of minor sagas, differing in flavour and treatment. That famous names appear on-screen and behind the camera only enhances the appeal.
To choose from, there's the squirmingly funny H0rny (potentially uncomfortable if you have XY chromosomes!), the musically eloquent Bone (directed by Ewan McGrrreggorr), or the very clever Mr. Cool (Kelly Macdonald as the object of his attention) that opens the compilation. There are comic and dramatic twists, unexpected losses, the supernatural, and the poignant (like Jude Law's A Bird in the Hand). Add to them the pulsating background score.
Feb 15, 2009
A credits page to weep for
The album's credits has a power-packed batting order: Mohit Chauhan opens with a bang. Javed Ali & Kailash Kher at one down. The music director snatching a dreamy song in the middle. And then all the cameos: the uber-talented Rekha Bhardwaj. A blast from the past in the voice of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Amitabh Bachchan rounding things off. There's even Rajat Dholakia in the background as well.
Unusual, unpredictable, and largely unmatchable.
Dove, oh dear
It takes but a few seconds into masak kali to know this one is up there in Rahman's all time best, which is an astonishing feat even for the man himself. A splendidly onomatopoeic avian paean (take a bow, Mr. Joshi), Mohit Chauhan and the now-trademark accordion (played by Rahman) vie for top honours here. If ever there was a modern song made for Kishore Kumar (something Salil also observed), it was this one. Adding to nostalgia is the old device of the violin-backed lead-ins. I always wish I could find an instrumental dissection of songs - this one in particular.
The best explanation as to the meaning of the term masak kali came from Vibhendu: masak is a term for the roof (a.k.a the chajjaa). Thus, the eponymous pigeon is literally the the bud/darling of the terrace.
Another Rahman trademark is that of the Sufi song. So remarkable has he been in this genre, that a Rahman sufi/qawwali/devotional top 10 is merited. arziyaa.n would comfortably fit into the top echelons of such a list. Many of the others showered praise; this qawwali pleads for succour. Prasoon Joshi's notes for this song in the inlay (a nice touch that) say it was almost a year before he finished writing the lyrics for this tune. With phrases such as marammat muqaddar ki kar do, the time spent was well worth it.
Like khwaaja mere khwaaja, these songs are all about 'feeling'. The singers nail it. The ending with the Bulleh Shah kaafi mora piyaa ghar aaya is neatly placed.
Electric guitars and the rhesus factor
The title song is as far removed from the previous two as one can get. The French lyrics and drawn out female vocals, the electronic modulations, the clever hooks in lyrics and music - very snazzy. kala bandar is interesting: one is prone to dismiss it on a superficial level: we are quite conditioned by the mindless use of rap in Hindi albums. But the lyrics, loaded with some kind of political metaphor, deflect that simple interpretation. This song comes closest to the "the journey within" sub-title of the film. This causes some disorientation in our story expectations: along with the 'ramleela' scenes and the film sub-species of the returning NRI, are we in for a revisitation of the Swades territory?
dil giraa dafatan taught me a new Urdu word (dafatan means 'suddenly', my dictionary informs). Ash King sings, croons, touches the falsetto ceilings, returns and dwells. The string section breaks out in a lush Celtic melody. There is no full takeoff - the singers soar and swoop. I wrapped my head round this to make sense. Many have spoken of how Rahman and Vishal subvert the traditional grammar of Hindi film music. This song is part recital, not full-blooded Bollywood song. As was rehna tu
The obvious faults in Rahman's Hindi diction are always overshadowed by the sheer sincerity in his singing. That he turns rehanaa tuu into rainaa tuu hardly matters when there are so many interesting elements dotting the canvas. Such as the guitar riff in the background, or the way the singing begins in the middle of the beat cycle, or the lyrics themselves (liked the imagery of people right-hand-in-right-hand).
My big complaint of the album was the lack of an instrumental track. But the 2 minute piece at the end of this song assuages this. Rahman's interest in The Continuum has been noted on this blog earlier and he chose a spectacular way to introduce it to Hindi film music. From what I know, the continuum is after all just an electronic synthesizer whose resulting instrumental feel can be controlled - say, strings or woodwind or others. Here, he goes in for an ethereal flute-theremine sound, playing it with great élan over 2 minutes in a Carnatic classical vein. Goosepimply stuff.
I've yet to get over the disappointment of finding out that Rekha Bhardwaj did not have any Rahman originals to sing. She features in two traditional songs ('supervised' by Dholakia): a smartly mixed folk song gendaa phool (intriguingly, a 'courtesy' credit to Raghuvir Yadav) and a bhajan. A similar effort is Shreya Ghoshal 'jamming' (as the inlay notes put it) with the voice Bade Gulam Ali Khan - a very interesting concept. Wonder what shape it takes on screen.
There's just 50 seconds of Amitabh Bachchan reciting a short ghazal called Noor, but that was enough to make me smile in contentedly. In 17 years, A.R.Rahman has never composed music for an Amitabh Bachchan film (discounting such narrations as in Lagaan or Jodhaa Akbar), and this guest appearance (in film and voice) is the first.
Delhi 6 is easily a career highlight for the composer and the lyricist. The album is not just figuratively heavy, but literally so, with an actual mirror on the front side! An 'in-your-face' rendering of the introspection referred to in the movie sub-title. A satisfying musical effort that awaits a similar outcome on-screen this Friday.
Feb 9, 2009
Without ever tresspassing on 'preach'-ery, the film works both as a piece of socially relevant material as well as pure story-telling. If all this wasn't enough, perhaps you may be interested in the facts that the film was shot by Guillermo Navarro (Pan's Labyrinth among others) and is based (partly) on a story idea by screenwriter Matthew Robbins.
The film can be viewed online. While you are at it, have a look at the others in this pack of four (Mira Nair, Farhan Akhtar and Santosh Sivan completing the quadruple).
Feb 8, 2009
No what-if projections either, of what things would have been like if a different path of the fork had been chosen.
So at the end of it all, how do you know if you're falling or still on your feet?
Feb 5, 2009
Here you go:
We have a bunch of writing-related workshops and participatory events for children and adults at Kala Ghoda this year. For more information and information on how to register, please follow the links below.
A series of fun, interactive sessions for children of different ages A Mystery for MindNuts
Some stuff for people who may be of voting age but who still want to learn and have fun doing so.
Also on the cards: