Magix 'n' Curses
..the argument continues

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sheher Mein - Rockstar

I think it'd be unfair to the music if I tried to review the album in one go. It would be equally unfair to the readers (yes, all 3 of you!) to read 14 pages of superlatives. So whenever a song evokes any kind of imagery in my head, I'm going to try putting it up here. Individually. First up - Sheher Mein.

I don't consider myself a hindi pundit. Heck, not even a Prathmik/Madhyama case. At best, a shade better than Ek Gaon Mein Ek Kissan. And even I found it easy to grasp the context of Sheher Mein from Rockstar. In the midst of epics of massive proportions, this is a shiny little gem that, I hope, won't go unnoticed.

A typical, cliched bollywood song recording in progress. Full dinkchak only. Person 1 teaches the lead how the song goes. Cue surprise #1 : Karthik! Raised on a staple of Rahman masterpieces, he must have been tickled pink to be forced to sing in such a stereotypical manner. Rahman had once famously asked Karthik to "sing like a Saxaphone" to evoke the mood. I'm pretty sure ARR played him a video clipping of Udit Narayan's recording and gave him the following brief:

"Smile wide. Oscillate your body along an arc turning 18 degrees left, then 18 degrees right. Keep your hand in a 'kya baat hai' pose. Dhinkchak start. Right, you're all set to sing the following lines!"

And Karthik does exactly that as Rahman pulls off a little Jatin Lalit - Udit Narayan number from the 90s. Cue surprise #2: Mohit Chauhan, in the voice of the lead, refuses to conform and goes off on a tangent. The music director in the movie (I assume) very politely tells him that the tune "is a wee bit off".

Tararara *doof*
Tararara *taaak*
Tararara *doof*
Phir se sun lena

Rahman then decides to turn up the cliche meter to full tilt (bring on the tablas!). And what better way to do that than invoking the spirit of Abhijeet. Listen to "Chitti daali thi aaoonga main tere ghar" with your eyes closed, you'll understand what I'm talking about!

Haaye haaye haaye lyrics to dhoom machadega UP Bihar mein!

This song is a case study of Rahman's genius. With Karthik, he gives you the typical bollywood number (4 lines one tune, next 4 lines same tune), and with Mohit, he opens up your mind to possibilities beyond the banal. Let loose with a license to go wild, Rahman makes Mohit sing each line with at least 4 variations. At one point, the lead loses himself in the music, and just as he realises what he's doing - Cue: The Mohit Chauhan special chuckle! (remember Masakkali?)

The music director in the movie tries one last time to yank it back to his comfort zone. The director (again, I assume) is pleased as punch.

Wah wah wah wah reeee.. kya ringtone banega!

Naah, forget it. We're in for a Rahman special for the remainder. It's almost as if he takes the hook lines of his songs as his life's philosophy (Break the rules/Lose control/I wanna be free)

Whattey beauty, ARR! Thank you, Imtiaz Ali!