5 Hindi films were composed by Rahman in 2008. 1 Tamil and a Hollywood film, with Oscar hopes, and Hindi numbers.
It has been a mixed bag year, with some truly brilliant compositions and some that were mediocre. The lofty expectations from a Rahman album is to be blamed, but that’s the flipside of setting high standards, isn’t it? So what worked and what didn’t?
Jodha Akbar: If not for a bunch of teens that recreated the magic of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, this could have been the best album of 2008. Every composition was a dream, aided by brilliant singers at their best. Rahman himself, often accused(!) of singing the best of the lot, was impressive in Khwaja Mere Khwaja. Then there was Jashn-E-Bahara, of which, the slow version devoid of instruments impressed me more. It’s difficult to pick a best song between Khwaja and In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein which I think is one of Sonu Nigam’s best. Especially the, “Nagmein Hai Nagmein Hai, Jagti Soti Fizaon Mein, Husn Hai Sari Adaon Mein, Ishq Hai Jaise Hawaon Mein” part.
Ada: Ada didn’t entirely work for me. It’s probably because the movie was in the making for a long time and am not sure when Rahman composed these songs. Some of them had the Rahman stamp over them and some sounded pretty ok-ish. Meherban is still a superb song with Rahman keeping the best number again for himself. Hawa Sun Hawa is another breezy number that played in the car stereo repeatedly on every road trip during summer. Ishq Ada Hai is another notable number from the album.
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na: Quite possibly, Rahman is best when he is left to experiment as much as possible. From the jazzy title track rendered by Rahman to Kahin Toh by Rashid Ali, this was Rahman reigning supreme. Dare to call it an anthem, shall we? Kabhi Kabhi Aditi could have very well made some parents name their daughter Aditi. I am not sure why the Runa Rizvi track never played in the movie because it has been beautifully sung. Any idea if she has sung before?
Yuvraaj: I really loved Tu Muskara. It brought back Alka Yagnik to the spotlight and is a very well composed number. Zindagi was also done very well by Srinivas but on the whole, the album did not sit in my head for a long time. I liked Mastam Mastam quite a bit but then lost interest in the album.
Ghajini: Like every reviewer had pointed out, this was again Rahman left to experiment, but the results were not as great as in JYTJN. It’s an awesome album nevertheless, with a terrific song like Behka. I saw the movie yesterday and thought this could very well be the best picturized song of 2008. Superbly done. Kaise Mujhe and Aye Bachu also worked for me but Guzarish and Latoo sounded like songs that any music director could compose.
The Tamil album Sakarakatti was very good but lost a lot of it’s sheen as it had rehashed numbers from Meenaxi. Also, the lyrics were quite puke worthy in some of the songs. Slumdog Millionaire was fantastic and much has been written about it in this blog. But definitely, O Saya is a gem.
One noticeable thing though has been Rahman’s form waning when it comes to background scores. I haven’t seen Yuvraaj and Ada but Ghajini was just ok and too loud. Slumdog, JYTJN and Jodha Akbar were superbly done. I liked those pieces when Jodha and Akbar meet(I saw the movie only yesterday), the music very subtly done, using very few instruments and really gets the audience involved. It just reaffirms the fact that Rahman always needs a good director to back him up and deliver. I still feel Swades is his best work when it comes to BGMs, irrespective of all those Mani Ratnam movies. You can sense the fun he is having in some of the sequences. I saw the movie again last week and repeated a few scenes just for the BGM. Notable scenes are the one where Mohan asks Gita to hide a cigarette packet, Mohan entering the village, Gita tying the dhoti for Mohan(My Dil goes Hmmm from Salaam Namaste), when a boy’s family comes to see Gita etc. Probably I should put them up here!