One might say 2008 was the year of Rahman. While songs from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Jodha Akbar, Ghajini, and Yuvraaj topped the Indian charts, A R Rahman enthralled international audiences with the extraordinary musical score he created for Slumdog Millionaire. As Rahman bagged the Golden Globe for Best Original Score, he left the Indian film fraternity delighted and proud.
The maestro commences the New Year by scoring for the eagerly awaited Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra vehicle, Dehli 6. Rahman and Mehra previously worked together on the critically acclaimed Rang De Basanti and gave the audience as powerhouse of an album. It is needless to say that audiences may very likely expect a repetition of that phenomenon.
The low down of the album is that Rahman is in the music director’s chair while the equally acclaimed Prasoon Joshi has penned the lyrics. The 10 track album has an extensive list of singers namely Javed Ali, Benny Dayal, Shreya Ghosal, Mohit Chauhan and Kailash Kher to name a few.
Dehli 6 stars Abhishek Bachchan and recent debutant Sonam Kapoor in pivotal roles and is slated to release early 2009.
The albums gets off on a winning start with Masakali. If the song’s promo did not impress you, the whole track is bound to change your mind. Mohit Chauhan is heard like never before. The playful, teasing and youthful rendition is to die for. What was he doing singing mediocre tracks for Pritam all this time? Joshi’s lyrics are particularly impressive this time round. The choice of words are incredible, especially ‘paank jhatak gayi dhool atak’. Musically, the track is obviously first-rate. The accordion gives the song a frivolous and soulful touch. It’s as if amazing musical and lyrical work was not enough, ‘Masakali’ proves to be infectiously catchy as well.
Next is Arziyan, a magnificent qawali by Javed Ali and Kailash Kher. Javed Ali’s recent offering, ‘Guzarish’ may have been half-baked but he gives a knock-out performance in this track. He and Kailash make an incredible pair and the result is outstanding. Memories of Rahman’s last qawali, ‘Piya Haji Ali’ for Khalid Mohammad’s Fiza immediately spring into mind. Prasoon Joshi has penned brilliant lyrics for this track confirming that what he wrote for Ghajini may have been a lapse of judgment.
The title track, Delhi 6, is up a next. A roller coaster of song that cleverly alternates between its soft and loud bits, this track is very close to ‘Patshala’ from Rang De Basanti. It is full of life with an enthusiastic ensemble of singers headed by Blaaze, Benny Dayal, Vivinenne Pocha, Tanvi, and Claire. Joshi’s lyrics are once again first rate even though the song is mostly made up of one-liners such as ‘yeh Delhi hai mere yaar, bas ishq mohabbat pyar’. It is certainly refreshing to hear a song about Delhi amidst the countless tracks out there about Bombay.
Rehna Tu defies the popular conception that compromise is inherent to all relationships and instead promises to love one for who they are, no changes necessary. Composed and performed by the maestro himself, ‘Rehna Tu’ is a loose amalgamation of ‘Behka’ (Ghajini) and ‘Tu Bole’ (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na). The complex melodies could not have been sung by anyone other than Rahman himself. Benny and Tanvi’s backing vocals only elevate the song while Joshi pens yet another excellent track.
Hey Kaala Bandar is easily the album’s low point. The hip hoppy, trendy number fails to impress and succeeds at being annoying. This is a surprise as the ensemble of singers (Karthik, Naresh Iyer, Srinivas, and Bony Chakravarthy) behind the mic are all talented performers.
Dil Gira Dafatan, on the other hand, can easily be one of Rahman’s best compositions til date. Ash King’s vocals are a sheer delight and while his voice may quiver at places, he more than makes up for it during the course of the song. Chinamayee’s backing vocals are brief yet equally delightful. Lyrics are the crowning glory of this track and Joshi gets bonus points for using the word dafatan (suddenly) which hopefully gets listeners to reach for a dictionary. It is a great joy if a mere song can improve one’s language skills. The joys of a well written song are such a rarity these days.
After ‘Kaala Bandar’, Genda Phool proves to be another low point in the album. Sung by Rekha Bharadwaj, with backing vocals of Shraddha Pandit and Sujata Majumdar, ‘Genda Phool’ aims to playfully give an insight into married life from a new bride’s perspective. Joshi impresses with the folk lyrics while Rahman’s clever fusion of folk and techno has to be commended. That being said, the likability of the track is strictly a matter of taste.
Shreya Ghosal excellently renders the classical Bhor Bhaye, a timeless classic sung originally by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Shreya impresses as she sings alongside the yesteryear legend.
The album draws to an auspicious end with an Aarti (Tumhare Bhavan Mein) to Goddess Durga with final words of shayari titled Noor by Amitabh Bachchan.
Needless to say, Rahman impresses once more. The low points, namely, ‘Hey Kaala Bandar’ and ‘Genda Phool’ have been largely offset by tracks such as ‘Rehna Tu’, ‘Dil Gira Dafatan’, ‘Masakali’ and ‘Arziyan’. In a day and age where musical scores all sound the same, Rahman has managed to steadily give audiences unique and innovative songs. Comparisons with his previous albums are absolutely pointless since each one is more creative and different than the last. If Yuva and Rang De Basanti were groundbreaking musical pieces, get ready for another tremor as Delhi 6 sets a new bar level for music.