Yay! We are so happy that A R Rahman (Rumen.. as they said it ) won a Golden Globe for his score in Slumdog Millionaire. All and sundry in that room on Sunday night, were ecstatic at the win. Anil Kapoor, justifiably, could not contain his glee and, amusingly, was one of the first to jump up at the announcement. Sweet no?
Okay, so just how good is the soundtrack? Let’s dissect. First let’s talk about the non-Rahman pieces. Aaj ki raat from Don by Shankar Ehsaan Loy features in a pivotal moment in the background, but it’s the track Paper planes by the Sri Lankan singer M.I.A. which stands out in a scintillating montage sequence.
The song appeared on her 2007 album Kala. Its main riff is sampled from the song, Straight to hell by The Clash and its chorus lyrics are borrowed from Rump shaker by Wreckx-N-Effect (All I wanna do is). The lyrics of Paper planes are a satire on immigrant stereotypes (read Indian) which have been well characterised by other films in the genre. Paper planes also has a Record of the Year nomination at the Grammies this year. M.I.A. is a superb artiste to check out in case you haven’t already.
O saya, which opens the film, is a frenetic piece of classic Rahman, a percussion laden thumper that kicks in with a rap that brings its own medley to a slamming end. One of my favourites. Riots is a piece which frames a sequence in the film which features riots. Deep and ominous. Mausam and escape is Rahman at his sublime best. A beautiful fusion of an Indian classical-electro-industrial arrangement, that carries the story to its next act.
Ringa ringa is a throwback to the classic early 1990s cheesy Hindi film songs, bringing back Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun to do the honours. The song is actually a remake of Choli ke peechhe from Subhash Ghai’s Khalnayak (remember that one?) Kitschy and camp.
On another level
Liquid dance is a throwback to the Rangeela days with a touch of Thiruda Thiruda. A fun piece. Millionaire is another montage piece which is okay. Gangsta blues is a cool swing piece which features master rapper Blaaze doing his thang. The end credits feature Sukhwinder Singh doing his rousing Jai ho routine, set to the two lead actors doing a Bollywood dance, some clips of which you may have seen in the promos.
But the two most poignant and resonant pieces are Latika’s theme and Deams on fire. Both pieces feature the silken voiced Suzanne D’Mello on vocals and take the scenes in the film to a different level. Soft melodies set to a minimal orchestral score which absolutely tear your soul. Pure redemption.
This is a historic event for Indian composing and scoring. This only reaffirms my earlier statements about a background score being the backbone of a film, which has been much ignored and undermined in Hindi films. Now go back and watch all the films A R Rahman has done the music for (well.. the good ones, at least) and listen to the film…if I may say so.