Archive for February 3, 2011

It is difficult to write a ‘review’ of the musical output of team VB-Gulzar. You generally listen with the heart and gut (and if you don’t then Lilaah!). The head is generally blissed-out by the perfection of lyricism and sounds so much so that even the imperfection melts in and doesn’t evoke question marks. So you understand my difficulties in writing a ‘review’. More so you wouldn’t be interested in reading if I just went by my gut and said, ‘Nahi boss, jama nahi.’ Or just gushed, ‘OMG, OMG, OMG, what genius!’ Jamta nahi na boss, so here is me trying my best to sound all knowledgeable and balanced, while blaspheming as I review VB-Gulzar. (Astagfirullah!)

Tere Liye – All of you, or at least most of you, have been going crazy about this one. So have I. It starts like ‘Ab mujhe koi’ but as it unfolds becomes totally something else. It is a soft, mellow ditty that matches Suresh Wadkar’s vocals perfectly. The light, pretty, romantic lines are matched with the equally light, pretty, romantic music. It makes u imagine chiffon sarees and Swiss hills, soft focus, diffused sunlight and well, Lata Mangeshkar 🙂 but it isn’t superficial. It is tender and soaked in love, the kind, gentle, warm type. It makes you want to hold your love by the hand and slow dance till forever ends.

Or just –

Jado ki narm dhoop aur aangan mein let kar,

Aankhon pe kheench kar tere daman ke saaye ko,

Aundhe pade rahe kahi karwat liye hue’.

Know what I mean? Gulzar’s lyrics do that to you. Savour this –

Halksi sardiya aur saans thodi gram ho,

Shamo ki shawl bhi thodi si narm ho,

Tere liye kishmish chune, piste chune,

Tere liye,

Humne toh parindo se baagon ke saude kiye,

Tere liye…

The piano is beautiful. And then its mixed with santoor-like strains. Suresh Wadkar’s redolent singing takes you back to ‘Tumse milke’ but with a lovely blend of western and Indian, the song is unique in itself.

Dil Dil Hai – Suraj Jagan ROCKS! Young and very unlike the regular VB. Reminds you a bit of Emotional Atyachaar rock version. Maybe the way the bass guitar has been used but then its rock after all. It doesn’t really impress me but I like the adolescent rebellion. It’s not intense or angsty, even a little rabble-rousing type. But since I can’t say anything bad about VB I shall simply say it’s the weakest of the lot and let it remain here.

Yeshu – Love the haunting tone. The way the church bells ring, suggesting an impending terrible doom. Like heralding the rise of the dark world. Builds tempo and becomes absorbing, enthralling and like a black hole hurtling towards you. It has a distinct dystopian note to it despite the fact that it’s a prayer. This contradiction is interesting and gives it the intensity. Rekha Bhardwaj’s sensuality adds an undefined aura, a mixed emotion of yearning, pain, searching, confusion, hidden desires. You start off wishing it wasn’t a ‘prayer’ because you don’t want her singing chaste songs really but it is amazing the darkness she brings to an already sinister song. The over-powering orchestration builds in a fine momentum throughout till it gradually reaches this sustained crescendo. And then it doesn’t end with a bang but on a gentle note. With Rekha crooning and church bells echoing alone somewhere in the background. The loneliness is ever-so-beautifully established. Ever-so lingeringly sad…

Darrling – I listened to the Russian folk song Kalinka (composed in 1860) after I heard this one and got a little more besotted by VB. Listen to the original, its all over the net! Darling wins the top-spot in my list hands down. Its verve, its energy and absolutely lip-smacking folksy gusto. And then there is Usha Uthup. I can like anything she sings even without listening to it. And my heart is torn to pieces here as I admit I like Uthup’s energetic dominance more than Rekha’s rumbling romp. The former has a command and the latter’s earthiness comes in the way, for once becoming her un-doing. To my ears the combination kind of doesn’t add up and Uthup clearly wins my vote. So when she sings with her fiery irreverence ‘public mein sansani ek baar karne do!’ I just wanna say, ‘Be my guest, can I join you?’ 😉

Doosri Darrling – Starts with a collective vigour that is difficult not to tap your feet to. Makes you wanna get into groups and dance away till your feet fall off. This other version is loveable because it beautifully uses RB’s mellowness. So much so that Uthup sounds a little lesser here in comparison. And love the Pushkin bit! (WHERE does Gulzar come up with stuff like this? :))

BekaranL’ilaah! The intoxication of love! That is this nazm. Doobne lage hain hum… saans lene dijye nayes, there is a sinking kind of ecstasy in the song, a dreamy smile that cannot be rubbed off. There is a slight crackle in the beginning which makes me want to imagine rain. VB does a perfect O Saathi Re again. The echoes in the background and the slightly mis-matched mixing is ever-so delectable. Again contemporary rhythms are used so well even as there is a light retro feel very reminiscent of 70’s ghazals which were pure melody.

Awara – Very mood song! Has a typical banjara feel and Master Saleem’s fakir-like singing bathes the Sufi song with emotion. The music is desert-tribe Arabic with its gypsy instruments mixed palette of a rousing orchestra. Will have you swaying from the time it kicks in. Its cyclical, repetitive rhythm with Saleem’s wanderer-voice is trance-like…makes me want to step out of my skin and look at my body doing restive moves to it. There are strains resembling ‘Naina’ from Omkara, ‘Albela Sajan’ from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and vague resonations with ‘Satrangi Re’ from Dil Se. But the way my gut responds to it, these influences don’t take away from the originality or power of the song.

Na shaakh jude na jad pakde…Sounds scary but think about it, wouldn’t it be lovely if that were to happen in real-life? Free-floating all of us, with no roots, no need to be rooted…bliss-like, gypsy-like…The song ends on a fade-away…narrowing as much as it becomes expansive. Love the fade-away…

Tip – Play and listen to it while doing something else. It will grab you by the…collar 😉

Mama – Rock again! Again, adolescent. And this time the lyrics sound more so. Begins with a promise, somewhat light and innocuous. I prefer it to Dil Dil Hain but then to my ears, heart, gut and other music-responding organs it really is not that hot. Guess both the music and lyrics were done keeping John Abraham in mind 😉 Oh, btw Wiki bhaiyya tells me Mohanlal was to do JA’s role. Errr…wonder if this song would still be the same way then? It owes a sort of allegiance to the original baap of under-ground rock, ‘Khuda Hoon’ from Paanch, also by VB but doesn’t really hold a torch to the power or hotness quotient of that one. But then KK does a brilliant job and the rest of the song, well, flows. Remember I said I can’t say anything bad about VB? 😛

And just when I was gonna wind up, the acoustic version comes up and this slightly disappointing O Mama becomes a love ballad that drowns me. KK’s soulful singing and the tempered version transforms this one completely! I’d listen to this one over the rock version, given a choice.

Like most VB albums this one grows on you on repeat hearing. Like most VB albums this one also reveals its beauties on every hearing. As it is Gulzar’s lyrics never have you say enough, so all in all, ‘Hit hain boss!’

Hrrmmppphhhfff! So much for restrain!