Mani Ratnam’s upcoming bilingual venture Raavan hardly needs an introduction. Nor does the composer of the album, A R Rahman. The name conjures expectations in the highest amount possible. Not to mention, every time the cinematic genius and the music maestro join hands for a venture nothing short of ‘amazing’ is the end product, be it Dil Se, Yuva or Bombay. So, does Raavan‘s soundtrack live up to its enormous expectations? Read on to find out.
Vijay Prakash, Mustafa Kutoane and Keerthi Sagathia commence the album with a track that can be described as being supremely rich. ‘Beera’ is rich in its vocals, its instruments and its melody. Rahman is known to experiment with a range of instruments. In ‘Beera’, he keeps up this unique style of his and uses a variety of peculiar percussion to give an almost tribal feel to the song. This use of percussion is a highlight of the album. Point to note is that one of the most celebrated musical maestros of the nation, the Late RD Burman, was well known for his use of odd instruments in attaining the sound he envisioned, a sign of a musical genius perhaps. Along with the peculiar percussion, there is the presence of the classic acoustics which create a great blend with the other instruments. Lyrics are given by Gulzar, who is perhaps the only lyricists in the industry at present who can match up to the brilliance of Rahman’s composition. The moment you hear the song you know that it’s describing the inherent qualities of Raavan (who guessing by the lyrics has been renamed ‘Beera’) that we’ve heard from Valmiki’s Ramayan such as his ten heads/ten foreheads and his character defining ego. One doesn’t expect a song describing the villain of all villains, Raavan, to be so enjoyable and catchy but the magic of Rahman makes the impossible possible. This one you’ll be singing along with just seconds into the song!
The next track is equally impressive and innovative. ‘Behne Do’ features Karthik in a totally divine avatar as usual. The singer has been hiding down South for way too long, so its great to see his talent finally getting more exposure. Additional vocals are given by Mohamed Irfan. The creating of a fusion with two vocals is quite impressive and enhances the track immensely. The beauty of the song is its ability to transform in various genres. From soft contemporary, it changes to rock beat at the chorus – the ability to transform compositions in this way has always been a strong trait of Rahman’s. Lyrics are once again by Gulzaar and are the highlight of this one. The lyricist uses the most creative ways to describe mad love, love that simply cannot be contained anymore. This song is likely to be used to set the scene of Raavan’s attraction. It’s a beautiful number that surely will bring a lot of acclaim for all those involved.
Thok De Killi
Sukhwinder Singh enters next with Am’Nico in a fusion rock number and once again Rahman uses a variety of percussion to create the track’s desired feel. Rahman creates a track that is loud without being noisy. It’s loud, but with a distinct melody, which 99% of composers fail to do these days. Gulzar’s lyrics are specific to the situation in which this song will be picturised, so you’ll surely be eager to see how this song is shown onscreen. It’s shame that we have been accustomed to such poorly crafted lyrics in recent times that a song like ‘Thok De Killi’ leaves us baffled because of the calibre of writing of Gulzar’s lyrics. When a lyricist gives us such profound words we struggle to understand – perhaps following the lyrics written in the album handouts will bring more clarity and understanding of the song. Sukhwinder Singh and Am’Nico are the highlight of this track because their distinct voices are the essential ingredients in creating a number like this. Another flawless number on the album.
At last a lady enters the album, Rekha Bhardwaj of ‘Genda Phool’ (Delhi 6) fame, and along with her is Javed Ali. This is another track that cannot be put in a specific genre. It strongly boasts of techno styled beats throughout the track, but at the same time it makes full use of electric guitars and has a melody and vocals that is very Indian. Gulzar’s lyrics are Punjabi predominantly – Punjabi perhaps because the song uses the story of Heer and Ranjha as its foundation. What’s most interesting about this number is that it seems to be a different rendition to ‘Pal Pal’ from Swades in that it also is conversation between Sita and Raavan in which Sita is waiting for Ram to rescue her and Raavan keeps intercepting her pleas to say that she should accept him instead. ‘Ranjha Ranjha’ is a brilliantly crafted song – this conversation is so engrossing you simply get sucked into their world. Rekha and Javed are outstanding to say the least!
Reena Bhardwaj (‘Yeh Rishta’, ‘Meenaxi’ & ‘Main Vari Vari’ – Mangal Pandey) brings in the one and only solo female track of the album, ‘Khilli Re’. This one is a traditional classical Indian track that makes full use of a variety of Indian instruments. Reena, despite being so underused, is nothing less than singers like Shreya Ghosal. Composers really have no reason to not use her more often. It’s been a while since we heard an out and out classical Indian number from Rahman, so this one is a nice change. Of course, this genre is one that is established and not a fusion of, which is what the rest of the tracks in the album are and in that way it’s the lesser innovative of the other tracks. Gulzar’d elaborate Hindi is perfect for the genre.
After the very gentle and soft ‘Khilli Re’ brace yourself for ‘Katta Katta’, which is along the lines ‘Beera’ as it is also another track that has that tribal feel. ‘Katta Katta’ is no doubt a celebratory number in Raavan’s kingdom when he successfully abducts Sita. The track is loads of fun to listen to because Gulzaar’s lyrics are just so innovative and truly give you an insight into the world of Raavan. The way the words describe Sita are especially intriguing – in particular the line “hawaayan pe chalti hai yeh chori parron se bhi halki hai” steals your attention as it seem to be saying to Raavan in a creative way “what a catch you’ve gotten”. Goes to show that the power of this beautiful language is so great to give a poetic take on the simplest of emotions. Now if only more of our lyricists wake up to this fact music in Indian cinema would be far more impressive. Give this one multiple listens as it’s got many things to discover in each listen.
Reviewing Raavan’s soundtrack almost seems pointless because honestly the review should just be one word “Brilliant”. Music lovers who’ve been pining for quality music, your prayers have been answered. It’s also relieving to know that because the film is being handled by a name such as Mani Ratnam, the songs will be done justice to on-screen. There’s nothing more hurtful than seeing a brilliant soundtrack destroyed in a film. Go buy this album with full confidence that it’ll be worth more than anything you can ever pay for it. It rises above any expectations you could have possibly set for it.