Tuesday, February 17, 2004

posting after a long time. That too just because I want to do a b'day post. :) Even though its not yet 18 here in US, its already my bday in India.

What else? Oscars are coming close. And its becoming likelier by the day that King will get both the big awards.

Saw two movies and a documentary since last post. Khakee was ok-ish. definitely watchable due to a good first half but the second half sort of pulls it down. Amitabh was exceptionally good IMO. And Akshay's character had some good lines to speak. But the overall impact is dented seriously by some cliched dialogue, Ajay Devgan's cliched to the extent of being stupid character, Tusshar's inability to show any semblance of acting, and the three badly placed songs. I was surprised to see Prakashraj in such an inconsequential role. But then maybe he has done infinite other roles like this. My high opinion of him is mainly based on Iruvar. Someone who played Karunanidhi as incredibly convincingly as he did just doesn't look the part in a movie like Khakee. Same is the case with Atul Kulkarni. His character in Khakee just doesnt do justice to his immense talent.

Ek Haseena Thi was the other movie I saw, and it definitely was better than Khakee IMO. More gripping, less cliched, better performances overall and no stupid songs coming in the way of the narrative. Urmila was very good. She normally errs on the side of overacting but here she is near perfect. Though her character was a bit too naive to be entirely beleivable, she played it well enough. Saif did well too, specially as his was a character one doesnt expect to see him portraying.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I'm busy. That in itself is new to me but the incredible fact is that I'm not hating it. In fact I'm working reasonably hard. No real deadline to push me this hard. No nothing. And yet I'm working harder than I've ever thought possible. And I must say working hard has turned out not to be as hard as it sounds. :) Anyway, knowing myself I'm sure this wont last. In fact I'd be surprised if it lasts even a week more.

I have been so busy that I've heard "meenaxi" no more than 10-12 times since it released about a week ago. that is a ridiculously small number. Specially considering that its a superb album. If this album had released 2-3 weeks before it did I'd have completed 10-12 hearings in a single day, two at most.

Meenaxi. What can I say? Rahman is GOD. Tehzeeb was too experimental, Lakeer is a reasonably good score in what seems to be a crappy movie. I know "Rozana" will most likely not be in my favorite songs' list two years from now. Its too "noisy" for lack of a better word. But I guess I just dont like cheerleader songs. I wonder if anyone anywhere likes them. Take out the screechy cheering parts from the song and its pretty enjoyable. "Shehzaade" is similar. Take away the "bang-bang" part and it becomes a good youthful song. I wonder why Rahman has started this rap thing in his songs of late. Except for "Dating" it has never really sounded good. Also maybe in "kama kama". But it really ruined "Chori pe Chori". And now "Shehzaade". It seems its supposed to gel well with the picturization. I hope it does. "Sadiyaan" is really good though. As are "Nachley" and "Paighaam" but their originals were way better. I didnt like "offo jalta hai" one bit even though "Aiyyo Pathikitchu" was a favorite for some time.

Anyway, what started as a meenaxi rave in last paragraph turned into a Lakeer rant. :) so.. meenaxi... its absolutely fabulous!! Best of Rahman's hindi albums since "The Legend of Bhagat Singh" (exluding Saathiya most of whose songs were Alaipayuthey remakes). But even TLOBS wasn't quite as multifarious as Meenaxi. In fact it had one somewhat weak song in "pagdi sambhaal jatta". Meenaxi doesnt have ANY weak composition. Each and every song is a gem. And what's more, they are very catchy from the first hearing which is atypical of Rahman songs.

I had written the previous four paragraphs about a week ago, but didnt get time to complete the post since then. Meanwhile I have been able to hear Meenaxi many times (and not just mp3s - my CD has also arrived!! :) ), and I have no doubt that this album is one of Rahman's best original hindi albums. out of his 17 original hindi albums, I would put Dil Se, Taal, Rangeela, 1947-Earth, Vande Mataram and Meenaxi in the A+ catagory. Yes, Meenaxi is SOO good. Its a pity that it might have to go 1947-Earth way - a fabulous score in an artsy movie that not many people will watch, which means even the songs wont be famous.

I dont think I can pick my favorite song from this album as is true of all the A+ albums I mentioned above. Specially because it varies a lot over time. As of today I would give 10 points to "Rang Hai" and "Potter's Village". 9.75 to "Ye Rishta". 9.5 to "Dhuaan Dhuaan". 9 to "Do Kadam" and "Chinnamma Chilakkamma"and 8 to "Noor un Ala" and "Cyclist's Rhythm".

The Album starts with "Ye Rishta kya kehlaata hai". The song has a dream-like feel to it. Sung very well by Reena Bhardwaj, its a slowish song on the whole but the percussion makes it somewhat pacy. Its one of those songs that sound pretty ordinary the first time, so that you wonder why this song is being shown in the trailors and why is it the first song in the album, but it grows in some hearings so much that it all seems justified. Thats the reason for 9.75. By the way, it seems Rahman recorded the scratch version of this song in his kitchen in london!! Great song, good lyrics by Rahat Indori.

"Chinnamma Chilakkamma" is NOT a tamil/telugu song. Its a fusion of Sukhwindar Singh's high-pitch Chhaiyya-style northy singing and female chorus' telugu lines (I guess it must be telugu as one of the three cities the movie is based on happens to be Hyderabad). The song starts with the telugu lines and they are pretty catchy. Sukhwindar starts with his "Titli Daboch li maine" after some time and the song suddenly shifts to "Rut Aa gaee re" mode from something like "Jiya Jale" mode. On the whole the song is a light and catchy number, the sort that normally becomes famous with junta.

Though I would be disappointed if people remember this album by this song and not by Rang Hai. By the way Sukhwinder has written the lyrics himself and I have no idea what they mean. But then, I havent really thought about the lyrics yet. Maybe they are good.

"Do kadam aur sahi" would actually have been the title song had Husain not changed the title to Meenaxi. A soft (actually verrrry soft) song sung very well by Sonu Nigam. The song doesnt have any percussion and the main instrument is violin and that also leads to the "soft" and soothing feeling of the song besides Sonu's singing. Indori has done a very good job here.

"Badan Dhuaan Dhuaan" is the second song that I had heard from this movie. And it had raised my expectations manyfold. an extremely catchy song which reminds one of "Hai Rama" because of the genre and the percussion in the mukhda. but the antaras are more like "Rang De" as I mentioned in a previous post. Asha Bhosle has done a good job as always, but the star here (besides Rahman, that is) is Sivamani. He has outdone himseld in this song. Great song, though I must say that it has faded somewhat in later hearings but that might just be because of "Rang Hai" that has grown soooo much with each hearing.

"Rang Hai", as must be clear by now, is my favorite song of the album. There's a story behind this one too. it seems Tabu wasn't fit when she had to shoot for this song, but she went ahead and did it. Later she said "Its the music of the movie, its magical. It does something to me". I think I know what she meant. This song really is magical. I dont know what adjective to use except maybe "colorful". and not just because of the lyrics. its one of those songs that fill your heart with happiness for no real reason at all. Its just the way its sung (Alka Yagnik at her very best), its just the instruments, the composition, the lyrics.. its everything actually.. Listen to this song, and give it 2-3 hearings before saying "whats so special about this? its just your average hindi movie song"... beleive me, its worth it!!

"Noor Un Ala" is a qawwali penned by Husain himself. And I guess he sacrificed undestandability of lyrics in the process. I mean, you get the drift of the lyrics, but one has to look in online urdu dictionaries to really understand most words. As for the qawwali itself, its decent. Or maybe its good but hasnt grown on me yet. As of now I feel "Piya Haji Ali" and "wedding qawwali" were much better than this.

I dont think I can write much about "Cyclist's Rhythm" as I am yet to give it a good hearing and its not the sort of piece that captures you even though you aren't paying attention to it. Unlike the other instrumental piece, "Potter's Village" which is extremely good. Not among Rahman's all time best theme music pieces but superb nevertheless.

So, bottomline is, if you are reading this review, and if you aren't named Rahul Tyagi, and if you haven't yet listened to Meenaxi (I know this makes the second condition redundant) then go and do it rightaway... give it some time to sink in, and I assure you, you'll not regret you listened to my advice.