This was something I've been waiting for. Since yesterday, with my stereo headset on, I've been listening to the music of 'Guru' over and over for hours, and haven't yet been able to turn myself off it. I glanced over the early reviews on the net, and found most of them to be negative. The others were quite impartial, just providing information. While critics maintain that ARR did not rise up to his potential, for me, Guru is essential Rahman. If you take a wholesome view of his albums, you uncover his emancipated spirit of innovation that makes him return to every deficient attempt, complete his effort and create masterpieces and trends.
Aye Hairathe Aaashiqui was the first track that struck a chord in me, and made me sit up and listen again, this time with the headset on. It’s a really slow number, and getting to hear Hariharan in an ARR song, with Gulzar’s lyrics, is joy unbound. This has a ‘totally different’ label to it, with the Rahmanesque touch of perfection. When you hear the ‘dumdara’ refrain by Rahman, you return to the Tere Bina number, which starts with the same lines, but is faster. Rahman sings this time, and yes, this is in absolute continuity, though I went in an awkward order than what the album suggested. The old-ish feel that his compositions for Rang de Basanti gave me (of course, until I saw the movie) is here too. Precision, once again! Rahman really is one musician who knows to make the most of his voice. These two songs are enough for a Rahman aficionado like me.
And, as if two were not enough, there’s a monsoon song by Shreya Ghoshal, Barso re Megha, which again has a melodious beauty and an ability to make it rain within you. Just imagine dark clouds and swaying trees, and there you are, inside the song, dancing in the rain! A flute tune in the beginning, drums, a folk-feel, Shreya taking artistic liberties with her voice – this is what makes this song all the more dissimilar from other rain songs, counting Rahman’s own. The ‘na na re’ hum characterizes the flow of this song, but it is so refined that it mixes well into the song.
Another special is Mayya…(Tu neele samandar). Though it starts weirdly, it turns out to be an Arabic number. Rahman has brought-in Maryam Tollar’s magnificient voice to this song. (Note:If you came here just because Google led you here when you typed in Maryam Toller, I have something special for you at the bottom of this post, with the date 5-Mar-08) Maryam is an Egyptian by birth, brought up in
There are two more songs in this film which come out as normal. But, when you compare the rest of the Hindi music in the market right now, these are good enough. One by Bappi Lahiri, is sung under intoxication (Ek lo, ek muft), and Gulzar is in a unusual mood with his writing this time! This might get mass-appeal, but did not attract me at all. Another Udit Narayan song, Baazi Laga is also disappointing as it does not have anything special from Rahman.
The ending song of the album is Jaage hain, and is a great addition to the variety of slow songs by Rahman. It has a revolution/uprising tone in the background and the voice is Rahman’s own. The lines that go “Jaage hain der tak, hamein kuch der aur sone do” are thought-provoking. This definitely is international in flavor, and has the sort of music Rahman has successfully presented previously in Lagaan, which again, is exclusive territory for Rahman. Maybe, it has been made keeping in mind the intentions of Mani Ratnam to bring out an English version of the movie.
In conclusion, this does turn out to be another dazzling collection by Rahman. No, Rahman is not becoming worse with time, he’s becoming versatile and international. He’s bringing
Added, 20-Nov:And, like the last time, I get that feeling again: I should not be in a hurry to review Rahman. You start liking other hitherto unnoticed aspects of his work with repeat hearings, and then you want to rewrite all that you wrote!!
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(added 23-Nov) Here's a bonus video for all the Ash-Mani-ARR-Shreya fans around!
(added 12-Dec) An exclusive three-part video news-item from CNN-IBN,has all the leading people, and has clips of almost all the songs. Sights and sounds of Guru is not embedded here because its advertisement - which you'll have to bear with for the first few seconds of this video - starts even as the page is loading. And, remember, it has three parts!
(added 5-Mar-08) I find that I should be indebted to Maryam because she's bringing me such a lot of traffic! Therefore as a sign of gratitude, let me lead you to her personal/troupe website that Google rarely points to. The website is well designed and has her adorable voice greet you on its homepage. Go here for Maryem Tollar!