27th January 2014, 08:49 AM
Let's keep the discussions to ARR and Highway here.
27th January 2014 08:49 AM
27th January 2014, 08:52 PM
“Highway” – A.R. Rahman – Irshad Kamil – Music Review
**SKIP HALFWAY TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE REVIEW, AS THE FIRST HALF IS ALL BACKGROUND INFORMATION!** (though the review might not make sense without browsing the below.)
Baring “Patakha Guddi” (Female Version) and “Maahi Ve”, on initial hearing my attitudes toward the songs were highly clashing: Mundane, Repetition, Nostalgia, Rebellious, Innovation and Inspirational were the adjectives that struck me straight away. I think these six factors imprecisely skip our minds when listening to a song for the first time.
It is certainly not Rahman Ji’s best album, it only has one or two surprises but there is something beyond being surprised that has shackled me to songs. With relation to his recent songs, I usually question myself asking, would I give it a second listen or further more would I even bother listening if it were by some other Music Director. For time, I have been having an internal warfare between the Rahman Ji Devotee and the music explorer inside me. The former is more dominant but the latter thinks he has the last laugh in the long run. I think Highway will be an album that will give my inside explorer hope and motivation to go out there and see if I can connect with other composers, artists, music directors, etc.
In the beginning I was a Rahman Ji fan, the explorer inside me came at vicissitude roughly ten years ago, then I came back home to the former and now the explorer is trying to burst out again. It is Rahman Ji’s music that has given birth to this explorer and if his music didn’t have this much variation WRT to musical genres then I wouldn’t be as broad minded towards music as I am now. Post 2005, Rahman Ji and his music has given birth to new alter ego in me I.e. explorer 2.0 who now affects me musically and more importantly spiritually. Now, I try and make music (primarily electronic), try and listen to anything and everything focusing on nuances but it is always slow songs that melt the listener inside me. Highway comes with a share of slow melodies. Slow doesn’t generally reflect soporific and many composers have noted that it is more challenging to compose slow song compared to an up-beat peppy song. This probably wouldn’t make much sense to the average listener, as to them it’s all about connection.
Music is subjective and for some reason I have a feeling that “Highway” won’t have many takers. I don’t feel the need to promote the music or hype about the songs to anyone. I want this album all to myself and I don’t think I can stand discussing its content with others. I feel this soundtrack was deep imbedded in me ages ago but in hindsight that could be a reflection of songs that I have grown up listening to. Again, there is much contradiction in me as to liking the songs. The theory of liking songs the more you listen to them (Refer to the Mere-exposure effect) is the main argument my music explorer side has with my Rahman Ji Devotee side. The latter follows the theory thus the former is very weak. But “Highway” seems to give an upper hand to both of these personas in me, thus introducing a circular argument.
Whether I’ve heard the album a lot or not doesn’t matter. The first checkpoint on this “Highway” I reached was the portion of “Sooha Saaha” after the first flute, it was haunting me throughout the first day, the second checkpoint was “Heera” and now I have reached the third checkpoint, the part “Mann yeh mera puchata, mein Kahaan?” English: My mind is asking, where am I? In “Kahaan Hoon Main?” I feel I’m reaching the fourth checkpoint, the “Banjara” sound in “Patakha Guddi” (Male Version). So even if I’m not hearing the songs directly, certain portions have constantly been ringing in my head. Why is that? What next? Who cares? Let it Be!
** REVIEW STARTS HERE!**
“Highway” brings together A.R. Rahman and Imtiaz Ali for the second time and the former and Irshad Kamil for the third time. The last outing of these three, “Rockstar” saw a predominantly Male orientated album and this one is completely the opposite.
01 Patakha Guddi (Female Version)
Why are record labels hell bent on killing the hype for a Movie’s OST by releasing singles online before the album? If I ignored listening to the singles and waited for the album, then I seriously wouldn’t have come out of this song. It is everything I want to hear in music. When I heard “Tung Tung”, it was Rahman Ji who I had the thought of immediately. The flute portions are so Nineties aka my lovely childhood, the vocals are Punjabi aka me and the beat is a 808 drum pattern aka my favourite sound. Then there is an 8-bit/chiptune sound in the third interlude which was very well welcomed by the electronic sound freak inside me. But because I rinsed this song before the albums release I am now focussing more on the other songs. So this idea of releasing the single was for me to get immersed in it completely before paving way for the other songs.
02 Maahi Ve
A.R. Rahman behind the mic, need I say more? If there’s one thing I can conclude from Rahman Ji’s latest releases is there’s no need for a song to have long interludes for it to be great. That one second piano part before the second verse at 1:34 seconds is enough for me to keep revisiting the song. The last verse comes with the same beauty witnessed in the last portion of “Yuvvraaj’s” “Tu Meri Dost Hai”. The orchestral and electro layers in the climax give the impression that “Maahi Ve” doesn’t end but rather drives off into a distance. Great move by Rahman Ji!
03 Kahaan Hoon Main
The first question I had when listening to this was, is it a tribute to the late Whitney Houston? “Tu Bin Bataayein”, “Alive”, “Shaunk Hai”, “Rehnuma” are some of the songs that I feel have been recycled to make this. Jonita plays her part well with the Anglo-Indian melody which Rahman Ji usually tailor makes for Rashid Ali. The second interlude’s piano is another aspect which took me down memory/recycled lane. Once the Indian Classical nuances shined more on me I knew it will be sometime before I get out of this song, especially “Ooni ooni baadal mein, gayi simat” and the following stanzas. Sometimes I feel that Rahman Ji deliberately wants you to remember his previous songs by channeling them through his new ones. I went back and heard all those songs above and I appreciate them much more now. Rahman Ji probably made those individual tracks as slabs for a pavement to this song. Every step was equally important in order for me to appreciate the journey and not the destination. But I can hear Rahman Ji, shouting at himself “Kahaan Hoon Main?” which has been delivered as an easy listening paradox here. I think this will be a dark horse.
04 Wanna Mash Up
Where are the beats, where is the melody, where is the arrangements, etc.? Rap portions sound as if the girls are just speaking. And then comes the reggae cum dubstep sound! What a build-up that was. Rewind the song and the melody is now more obvious and the hook couldn’t have been better. But I still ask myself is this a result of the Mere-exposure effect. I don’t think so because that urban sound is so Rahman-ish, a sound that is innate. Gangster Blues, that collaboration with the Viva girls in “Lakeer”, etc. shall explain why.
05 Sooha Saaha
The generic Rahman Ji meanders his way back to the early nineties. This song has a distinct South Indian cum folk touch, which is why it’s probably my favourite song of the album. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rahman Ji had composed this during his “Nila Kaikiradhu”, “Anbendra”, etc. days. That soothing portion after the first flute will definitely be extracted and added to my ringtones of “Moongil Thottam”, “Enga Ponna Rasa” and “Anbin Sangamam”. To be honest I’ve given up looking forward to Rahman Ji’s movies, instead I just want to listen to the soundtrack. I’m highly sceptical of songs being used as bgm. But I really would like to see how this one is picturised with the vocals of two females.
06 Patakha Guddi (Male Version)
The indie guitar before the beat drop has this Pakistani pop sound, almost like the one in “Junoon’s”, “Sayonee”. Rahman Ji sounds very fresh and the accompanying harmonium paints an image of a “Dargah”. I’m not too sure about the Punjabi vocals in the first verse, they sound faux and almost blasphemous to the Punjabi culture. Rahman Ji occasionally sounds like a cross between Amit Trivedi and Rabbi. His voice sounds authentic after the speed metal interlude, which is a likely ode to “Rockstar”. The song reaches an all time high at “Maine toh tere, tere utte… Chhaddiyan doriyan…”. Some portions remind me of “Mere Yaar Mila De” from “Saathiya”. Overall, Rahman Ji has been a strict rebel throughout the song. Picking up musical genres and blending them in a melting pot has been wonderfully executed here. The pros easily outweigh the cons.
07 Implosive Silence
There is a distinct melody that instantly reminded me of Susan Boyle’s “Wild Horses”. Jonita Gandhi’s vocals get a handful of effects thrown on them including reverse, reverb, stuttering and flanging. The highlight of the songs comes at 2:16 second. I don’t know if that’s reversed or not but it strikes the chord. I do sense another dark horse with this one.
08 Tu Kuja
“Kun Faaya Kun”, “Tu Mun Shudi” and now “Tu Kuja” adds to the Farsi couplet list of Rahman Ji and Irshad Kamil. Vangelis meets Nusrat’s Qawwali sound with a Bhajan influence peeping randomly. With “Tu Kuja” I feel I am fan talking about another fan. Rahman Ji holds Vangelis and Nusrat Ji on a high pedestal so it’s a nice tribute from him but the show completely belongs to Sunidhi who walks through the park with this in this otherwise difficult to sing song. This song makes me cry tears of joy.
The strings are almost identical to “Desh Ki Mitti – Orchestral version” from “Bose”. Furthermore, the song has a Niraj Chag polish. But beyond that I feel that “Heera” is the best way to end the album. Just like the quote in 007 Die Another Day, “Diamonds aren’t just expensive stones. They are the stuff of dreams.” Heera is not just a mere song, it is a dream coming with soulful melody hinting a Rajasthani melody with Western Classical flourishing beneath it.
“Blue” and “Jhootha hi sahi” are two albums totally in and out of Rahman Ji’s comfort zone. I don’t ever crave to hear them compared Rahman Ji’s other albums but when I do hear them I don’t come out of them for days. I think “Highway” is an addition to them. I appreciate my review is long and the clarity might be jarring but I feel I’ve been abrupt throughout. I’m naive and probably haven’t realised the true beauty of this album yet. The more I listen to this album the more I go away from my original impression. Yes, I found the album mediocre at first, but the sound is so vast ranging from patriotic styled lullabies to techno, speed metal and dub step baselines that I ask myself I really missing out on other composers and songs by only being selective to Rahman Ji? The soundtrack has had an Stockholm syndrome effect on me and the songs want to stay with me even if I dont wan’t to give them a chance.
PS. I tried to be as unbiased as possible with the review and I want prove that me being a Rahman Ji Devotee doesn’t not make me a extreme fanatic!
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thanked for this post
29th January 2014, 02:43 AM
thalaivar's voice sounds different in patakha guddi. The accent is more pronounced and, dare I say it, artificial in some places. One can understand why some prefer Sukhwinder or Daler for this song but I thought thalaivar did a decent job. Still haven't listened to all the songs completely but atm "maahi ve" is more addictive and is on loop.
29th January 2014, 06:59 AM
Yes, Maahi Ve is damn addictive. And I prefer Noorans' version of Pattaka Guddi over Thalaivar's. Heera is another gem too. Somehow I became allergic to this Kash & Krissy. Having that in the back of my mind, I am not able to enjoy 'Wanna mash up'.
Comparisons with Rockstar is inevitable. But as of now, Highway is lagging behind.
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
- Bernard Shaw
30th January 2014, 08:11 PM
Just finished hearing out the album. Pattaaka Guddi and Maahi Ve, the standout pieces IMHO- instantly likeable these two. And the lyrics were so much in sync with the music. Enough to keep me hooked till the movie releases. The other songs are yet to sink in, but I guess their impact may increase once we hear them out with the visuals.
You never fail until you stop trying.
― Albert Einstein
30th January 2014, 10:03 PM
HIGHWAY SONGS REVIEW
Verdict: A timeless soundtrack crafted for the road !
3.75 / 5
31st January 2014, 04:36 AM
12th February 2014, 09:10 PM
16th February 2014, 11:36 PM
16th May 2014, 05:02 PM
0.0 Veera Abducted
1.36 Kirpa Karo Maharaj / Bustling streets
2.05 Tu Kuja BGM
7.07 Banjara Group
9.46 Sooha Saaha BGM
10.40 Maahi Ve Flute / Kashmir Valley
19.24 Maahi Ve / Patakha Guddi Transition End Credits