Feb 25, 2009

RMIM Puraskaar 2008 - the results

The soundtrack of Rock On emerged as the top Hindi film album of 2008 after a painstaking process of selection for the RMIM Puraskaar 2008. Academy Award winner (yay!) A.R.Rahman won Best Composer, while Javed Akhtar won Best Lyricist. The awards are a labour of love by Vinay Jain, who was kind enough to invite me to participate in the process as part of the jury (not that I have great music appreciation skills, but I am an enthusiastic listener :-)). I and 11 others spent about a month listening to the 70-plus shortlisted songs (see note on nomination process here), rating them on their individual components of music, lyrics, and singing, as well as the song as a whole.

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.

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.

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.
Previous results: 2006 and 2007
With thanks to friends who responded to a straw poll on Best Album


daemon said...

Rather interestingly, you haven't included Yuvvraj in your top albums list. To me, it was one of the most melodious/varied to come out of ARR stable. And I definitely think that "Manmohini more" is the best song of the year - very classical and modern at the same time, very well sung, composed, arranged. Never mind the freshness of "kabhi kabhi Aditi". The former stops you in your tracks and doesn't let go until its over. The latter, rather contrastingly, induces a skip and a beat in your step. "Yuvvraj" also had at least couple of additional gems in "Tu meri dost hai" and the other disco/retro themed song. So, covers both depth and breadth for me.

Unknown said...

Daemon: thanks for the opinion. As you may have read in my views on the album on this blog, found the album to be a mixed bag. But then you have also experienced the songs in a theatre and its effect may have been a lot different.