Archive for the ‘Music review’ Category

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A good music album is a blessing.

When we discovered the Israeli Qawwal Shyz Ben Tzur’s designs on Indian music scene sometime back, we couldn’t wait for more. However, we had to wait till 14 Nov 2015 for his new album.

Any fusion attempt involving Rajasthan runs the risk of ‘kesariya-oing/mharo dholna-oing‘ the sound and playing it safe. This album doesn’t fall in that trap. What you will come across is an innovative brass married to part funk and part pop sound, sprinkled with superlative lyrics. Take for example Junun, the song. The groove is familiar yet the entry of brass band is almost shocking. The singing in this song is slightly predictable. Yet, chances are you won’t be able to remind yourself of a similar song in a long time, watch out for the  faint harmonium/organ on the left channel throughout the song! The brass version of the song is just a smart example of how you can mold the sound of any song with local flavor and ‘there are birds in the eho chamber’ was recorded when the brass version of Junun was being recorded with birds chirping. Great touch, that!

Roked, is a dance beat prayer to God almighty which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet it presents an alternative way to ascend in God. When Hu starts, you would be excused to think that a song of Kabir is about to start. However, what you get is an insightful offering about life in Hebrew. If language isn’t a barrier for you in relishing good music, you might even find yourself swaying like a dervish. The entire band is in top form in this song, yet – not a single loud note. Isn’t it fascinating to actually come across the varied sounds of far off lands and to see how they pay a tribute to the infinite, the creator? Hu is a drug. Simple!

In Chala vahi des, you will be amazed at the percussion with the ever so beautiful manjira and harmonium mesmerizing you. Razia Sultan &  Afshana Khan are a delight, and my favorite part remains the effortless bringing in of ‘meera ke prabhu girdhar nagar‘. I cried when I heard this portion for the first time. This is why the creator has given us all humans faculties to hear. The infectious composition is impossible to unlike. Similarly in Kalandar, you would have made peace by the 5th minute of the composition, it’s a beautiful instrumental piece that requires nothing else. Wait for those simple 4 lines which will take your breath away before the flute reminds you to keep dancing, because after all you are a kalandar. Aren’t you?

A repetitive chanting like Eloha might weigh on the senses due to its psychedelic presentation with nearly silent musical arrangement. Julus (जुलूस) stays true to its title. This piece is all brass and the tune would remind you of your favorite roadside dance moment with the brass bands which are popular with marriage/Happy procession parties. Allah Elohim is a message of piece and reminds us that Hindu-Muslim look best when they stay peaceful and love each other. With excellent guitars in the background and splendid brass Razia and  Shye Ben Tzur would surely make you sway. Ahuvi is a song of longing and the Sarangi by Asin Khan and Khamaicha by Dara Khan would make you forget that most of the song is in Hebrew, and then the last 1:20 mins of the song will pierce your heart. Hear it to know what I mean. Azov has a simple message of ‘let go’, and this flute dominated piece ends fairly quickly.

The element of finality in Mode, which is ‘thanks’ to the creator for giving us everything is infectious, thanks to the neat gayaki and yet again, the language won’t matter here.

I have to thank my mother for introducing me to ‘Chala vaahi des’ – the Lata Mangeshkar album, when I was in class 6th, which had the sounds of birds and animals in the background in most of the songs. No wonder this album uses real bird and their chirps to create a similar sense of calm that just adds to the beauty of the end product.

Barring few sparks of brilliance, the current music scene leaves a lot to be desired, and that is insulting to a country as culturally rich and varied as ours. With this album, we come across yet another good attempt at fusing languages with familiar music arrangement and treatment so sensitive, it would melt your heart.

This is an album which is produced with a lot of heart work and hard work and it dazzles!  Thank you The Rajasthan Express, Shye Ben Tzur and Jonny Greenwood!

Good music is a blessing, it is the reason to live. If you don’t trust me, consult this album 🙂

Rohwit

(P.S. – There is a delightfully decorated digital booklet along with the music @iTunes which is beautiful and has translation for all the songs. Grab it!)

Tamasha

Matargashti is a song that is filled with fantastic sounds, although it sounds over the top a lot of times (especially when Mohit tries hard to reduce A R Rahman’s burden of polishing the song – in high notes), but the simple notes are Mr. Chauhan’s forte in the studio, and he rules it. Somehow I felt there was too much happening in the song and nothing new hit me.

Mika is always hungry, and he chews on words making it impossible for most of us to understand what he is trying to sing. Heer to badi sad hai is no exception. Rahman has composed this with a lot of love, and it shows. Irshad Kamil can be quite cheeky and in this song, it works like magic! Not saying Mika didn’t suit the song, but this song would have been so so good had Sonu Nigam, Nakash or Javed Ali would have loaned their voice.

Alka Yagnik sounds unlike herself when Tum saath ho begins, and you can’t help but think it is a slow tempo ‘Maahi ve’ beat that is embellishing the song, which is easily the best penned song of the album. Making Arijit sing in two different pitches (or tracks or whatever it is called) and keeping both in the song is a shot of genius because it doesn’t allow the Arijit fatigue to creep up. Good to have Alka Yagnik back. Sadhna Sargam in DLKH and Alka here, this is a good year for us 90s kids!

Wat wat wat wat – Shashwat Singh (not ‘Sashwat’ as iTunes would have us believe) kicks it, and my God, does he do a great job doing it! A somewhat street treatment to a Bhojpuri song filled with moans and exotic ‘la la’ at strategic places, this song is easily the ear-worm of the album, and don’t bother liking it because once you hear it, you will not be able to ‘un-play’ it in your head. I am sure it was a situational demand to do so but Arijit drags the song down and is no match for Shashwat. There is a vengeance mix of the song which is groovy and electric and has no Arijit Singh. Even ARR knew it would be great to let Shashwat have a go at it, alone. It is like ‘Wanna mash up’ in Bhojpuri and I LOVED Wanna mash up! Not to forget the excellent lyrics of the song – udat chidiya ke haldi ragad ke lagawat…WTF! Superb imagination!

Chali kahaniappears to be a stage song but it cannot hide under this fact for being awfully low on melody and cacophonous at places. We have enough examples of great stage songs and that is why this song is quite a put off especially coming from ARR. Sukhwinder shines but Haripriya and Haricharan have been given the worst lines (and tune) of the album so they made peace with it. The song  wanted to be an ‘Aao na’, skirtedsheher’ and ‘ishq bina’ but failed miserably at achieving anything even in between, and what is with that ‘Subhash-Ghai’s-sque-attempt-at-deafening-in-your-face-grand sound’ ? No, No, No!

Safarnama – Lucky Ali has always been a king of flat tunes which do not challenge the singer to go high. Nothing wrong with that. People have their niches. In this song, he tries again to step out of his comfort zone and am sure it needed a lot of ‘studio work’ to make it ‘better’. The song has a nice vibe to it mostly when he is humming or when that beautiful music arrangement is taking its toll without him singing. In other parts, the song is a torture.

Parade De La Bastille – is a magnificent piece which has shades of matargashti but with no vocal parts in it to spoil the song for you. The metal flute and other exotic instruments along with strings and accordion sit comfortably and request your senses to rest yourself in their lap, and perhaps sleep. I absolutely loved the way the tune ends. Hi A.R. Rahman!

Tu Koi aur haistarts with the all too familiar ARR style of luring your senses to give up everything and pay attention to what the Mozart from madras is whispering in your ears. Sadly, the song loses itself quite quickly in the murky overalls of a bad tune and ordinary words. This is the longest song of the album, and what can be worse than the fact that you literally wait for the song to end.

I am quite sure everyone will find their reason to like the album because they have to, just like some of them argue and tell me how great the music of ‘lekar hum deewana dil’ was. To me, the album comes across as being too self aware having great sense of occasion but terribly low on melody. There is too much indulgence, sometimes, in between, and at times, towards the end of songs. In a bid to keep the sound theatrical, I guess, the background music got merged into songs…which weighs you down and doesn’t let you soak into the music.

The album, from ARR standards is underwhelming and I think this thing toh  utter sad hai.

Rohwit

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Coke Studio Pakistan remains Coke Studio Pakistan even when it isn’t quite Coke Studio Pakistan. This was evident in the last season when the studio got it wrong more times than it got it right, but still gave us some good melodies to weather the storm of life for few months. Strings were retained for Season 8, and right from the first promo that presented the artists line up, it appeared that the new producers have got it right. We have reviewed all episodes and you can find those reviews here. In this post I am listing down my 10 absolutely favorite songs from this season. Are these the only songs I liked? No, but in the interest of keeping the post shorter than a Sooraj Barjatya film, have cut down the numbers. You can click on the title of the song to watch the videos. In order of preference, here it goes.

10. Chiriyan da Chamba – Not so much for any breathtaking musical arrangement, the song makes it to the list for the simple reason of Anwar Maqsood’s recitation. It’s been a while since we heard a recitation in the studio. Suraiya Khanum kept the singing more or less simple.

9. Kinaray – Mekaal Hasan band made a heroic entry to the studio with Sayon but it is Kinaray that gets our vote for being the better of the two. The tonal structure was more or less similar to Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty’s rendition of the same qalaam which you can listen to here. Apart from Sharmishta’s beautiful singing, the back up trio was top class in the song, but then they have been like that throughout the season this time round.

8. Khari neem – Take an iconic classic like in this case, this iconic song by Mai Bhagi and put some flamenco influence coupled with killer violins and spot on singing, you have what is Coke Studio’s style of paying tribute with their unique signature on it. The flute by Sajid Ali just adds to the tempo of the song and sprays an image of a playful banter between two lovers. What a beauty!

7. Bewajah – After winning the Sur Khsetra, there couldn’t have been a better stage for Nabeel Shaukat ali to showcase his talent, and boy, did he grab that opportunity or what! The beauty of this song is that it reminds you a classic ghazal style treatment of antras but doesn’t bore you with a constant mellow mood. The pop treatment and that velvet voice of Nabeel package the entire song into what could be one of the most romantic songs of this year.

6. Ve Baneya – Fizza Javed and Mulazim Hussain is quite a unique combination to be featured in the same song. While both Fizza and Mulazim have excellent range, in this song it is Fizza who took the song to a completely different level by singing a banna-banni song(?). Mulazim was quietly paying tribute to Reshma by giving his version of this song. It’s been quite a while that the song is in public domain but it is difficult for me to control tears at every antra that Fizza sings. Be it those long alaaps or the way dholak (by Baber Ali khanna) changes the pace in the second line of the same. Truly beautiful stuff!

5. Hare hare baans – Having grown up listening to a lot of Pakistani songs, Shazia Manzoor was not an unfamiliar name. What took the anticipation level to unmanageable proportions was when we were shown that the Rizwan-Muazzam group would be teaming up with her. As a result, we got an awadhi song that again touches a genre which is always out there, but somehow the producers of today are busy ignoring it. Any music movement is judged with the variations of genre it touches. Coke Studio Pakistan wipes the floor with the ‘others-music-movements’ for this simple reason and they keep things melodious as well, just like this song. What a pleasure to hear Rizwan-Muazzam complimenting the ‘pitch and note perfect’ Shazia in their own powerful style, yet not compromising the feel of the song. How many songs like this can come to your mind in the recent times? There is a tuneful pain in the word babul that you have to hear to experience. (Not to forget the song touching the familiar raga pattern as piya tose naina lage rey between 5:25 to 5:31 mins)

4. Umran lagiyan – was a mix of Umran lagiyaan by Asad Amanat ali and the Chan chan chankan by Allah Ditta Lonaywala. The original songs have a momentous mounting already. It took the uber talented, clean voiced Ali Sethi to retain the emotion of the song as he crooned Umraan lagiyaan. Even if someone is made up of steel, they are likely to develop goosebumps thanks to the melodious yet intense beginning of the song by Ali Sethi. What’s more, Ali is gentle, suave and desi in equal measure throughout the song. It is songs like these that define the entire season of a program and this song did exactly that. Nabeel was good in his rendition of Chan chan chankan but the song belongs to Ali Sethi…Watch (Yes watch!) the way he brings the song back at 4:11 mins onwards and you will know what I mean.

3. Tajdar-e-Haram – It has become some sort of a fashion to dislike Atif Aslam. While I have always liked him, there are times when he goes overboard. In this song, however, he hits the bulls eye with the same ease with which you just blinked your eyes reading this sentence. Holding a cult classic like one holds a new born baby and delivering a soul stirring song that connects you to the powers that be is what Coke Studio does most often than not, and it works. The tune would have been a hoot for the houseband to keep up for the duration of the song and for that we cannot write enough good things. High point – Aao madine chalein..

2. Rockstar – Like Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar also got three songs in the season, and what’s more surprising is both the artists delivered their best in just one of those three songs. Rockstar is a song that either you will like or absolutely abhor. It came very close for me to label it as the song of the season. Lyrics full of pun (including a jibe at being allowed four marriages!), that desi detour in between, the mention of Kim Kardashian, the excellent back up vocals, that mild lullaby like whisper in between, Omran on Guitar, and so MUCH more! The song has too much going for it and I doubt if Ali can ever better this effort. I hope he proves me wrong tomorrow itself! Ho Socho Ghalib ne pehna ho designer se leke coat neela! WTF! Mind blown!

1. Sakal bann – If music programs cannot give the generation of today a reason to look up our traditional compositions which have stood the test of time, it is all quite pointless. Thankfully, Coke Studio has always excelled in this area. Rizwan-Muazzam group have given us a song that would have made Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab proud, and has surely put a smile on Rohail Hyatt’s face. The sheer power of the composition is so infectious, you would start head-banging. Tanveer Tafu, who can play burnt wood in his sleep apparently, took the song to a level that would remain unmatched throughout this season. Songs like these are the reward for lesser mortals to keep going with their messed up lives. The entire song is worth every second in gold but the way the song ends, it gives me goosebumps to even type about it here.

 Aaj Jaane ki ZidThere are always people around who would be horrible singers but in their head, they would think they are Tansens. Nothing wrong with that. The trouble is when they start putting their ‘talent’ out to public at large. That’s a punishment. Every tom, dick, harry and sally has put her/his ‘tribute’ to this evergreen Nazm out in public domain and they are all quite pointless and some are downright embarrassing. Farida Khanum graced Coke Studio in an emotional 3:10 mins recreation of this ghazal. They have made a fascinating video of the song which you must not miss, Farida Khanum’s presence is undoubtedly the biggest thing to have happened to Coke Studio Pakistan and it left us all in tears.

I want to write about 9 more songs, the houseband, and a lot more but the post is already way too long. To sum up, about 19 songs out of 29 songs were top class, and some of them outdid the best work of artists so far across albums/genres. A thoroughly enjoyable Season comes to an end and should there be a season 9, the expectations would be sky high…Strings take a bow!

And what do we do in India? We make music vidoes of songs which aren’t even 1% near the melody that oozes out of the lights on the sets of Coke Studio Pakistan, let alone compare them with actual songs.

And remember, all this is distributed free, legally.

–  Rohwit

UPDATE – Thanks to Ankit, he has made a playlist of all the songs.

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Harpreet’s album has been in the news since 2014 when he released his single ‘Ajnabi’, and if I am right, there was an FB post where crowdfunding as an idea was being tossed around for the completion of the project.

Here’s the good news – the album released last month and we have been tripping on it ever since.

Call it the effect of the much awaited rains in Bombay, but in spite of average lyrics, the song Ajnabi sounds top drawer. Harpreet sounds comfortable, soothing and musical without making a big deal of it. The song ‘Kutte‘ has a ‘bulleya ki jaana main koun’ vibe in the beginning, but the similarity ends when you observe that the tune and words are too direct and aggressive. The superb music arrangement of the song lends a ‘wanderer’ feel perfectly. The song is in Punjabi, but trust me that wont matter one bit. It’s been a while since man with all fallacies have found a expression, and this song is a beautiful exception to that. ‘Man can’t live alone and can’t live with people’…a crisis we are all too familiar with, aren’t we?

Nirala is what takes my breath away every time I hear it. The melodious possibilities are endless when you mix Hindi poetry with contemporary fusion-sque presentation, and boy is this song a case study to that or what! For the want of better expression, this song is about 6 minutes of continuous goosebumps. Harpreet is a joy to listen to…mujhe gagan ka dikha saghan wah chhor…By God, I saw the chhor with Harpreet when I heard this part, so what if I was sitting in the confines of my room. Easily, the best non-filmi song of the year so far.

Even in the song like ‘Maati‘ whose composition is more like a continuous fast pop nazm, he keeps it simple and free flowing without overpowering the composition with too many instruments. The long taans in the beginning of Ajab Jodi, paired with fabulous guitar and percussion might well work better than Kerala ‘stuff’, if you know what I mean. The tune isn’t easy and that is hardly an issue for him who sings it  with an ease that would put most of the auto tune wonders at discomfort. The lyrics are pure and insightful.

We can never have enough of good ‘Heer‘ and this album adds to the glowing collection of ‘Heers’ with its tribute to the same. The composition is the clear winner here. The track is Punjabi and even if it is not your first language, you will love the track, I am quite sure. Sonapani has a lullaby like treatment and is perhaps the easiest composition of the album to hum along.

Pipli is again a Punjabi track but you listen to it once and you will know what I have already mentioned time and again…’language-doesn’t-matter’! Breezy composition and passionate singing make up for any linguistic limitations this song might present itself with.

I would love to hear what you have to say about the album, but personally speaking, all the new talent that comes up these days has just bollywood aspirations, and that leaves us music fanatics to look to our neighbors and get jealous. There are very few bands which try to present themselves as viable alternatives to the ‘drum-dholki-dafli-autotune-infected-Bollywood’ sound company. Harpreet represents a new sound which I hope gets popular and sells!

Art speaks differently to different people. To me, a good music album always makes me want to become a musician and explore the wondrous heritage of music that our country has. Take the old sounds, mix them with new, let nothing be what it has been since ages. Change, because it is wonderful.

We always tag the foreign music with ‘genres’, this album is Indian, and boy, what a genre it would be if paid attention and money.

For once, I wish we would give out ‘star’ rating because this album and the supreme effort would have got 10 stars out of 5. Illogical? Well, which star rating isn’t?

Highly recommended.

You can listen to my review on BBC here.

@Rohwit

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I am sure there is an innate desire in all mainstream filmmakers to see their audience dance on one of the songs of their films. With Banno, Anand Rai has achieved that aim quite easily. Banno tera Swagger (Not Sweater) is a  cracker of a song which isnt just ‘dinchik-dinchik-boom-boom-*random-punjabi*-boom-boom’, the song is word rich, clever and that harmonium towards the end. Orgassssssssssssssm! We wondered here last year if the ‘ooper ooper ren de’ duo of Tanishk-Vayu would be able to match up to their own ‘high’ standards. Fair to say, they did and with aplomb.

It is in vogue to dislike Ankit tewari, more so because of the sameness of all of his tunes. Thankfully, with Krsna at the helm and the burden(?) of composing off his shoulder, Ankit doesn’t try too hard to over express the pain in Mat ja re. Terrific lyrics are a calming factor which generally isn’t the case with songs these days…उम्मीदों से है  घायल,उम्मीद पे  जिंदा है…आस भरी अरदास…I can go on and on. If you excuse the slight ‘oye raju’ like sound  of the song, you will not have much to complain here. Also, I loved the ‘Oye raju’ song.

Jyoti Nooran has successfully filled in the folksy yet सुरीली  place in bollywood, and almost all her songs do garner a lot of excitement. Ghani Bawri is easily likeable and Jyoti is in her top form like most times, so that is hardly a surprise. What surprised me no end was how well the remix of this song has been treated. Not a fan of CD filler रुपी  remixes in film albums, I was in for a huge surprise with this remix. Thoroughly enjoyable attempt and my favorite part remains the stanzas of the song. Superbly done!

Old style Jazz setting, a meandering piano and Anmoll Malik get along very well in Old school girl which has enjoyable lyrics. The jazz setting isn’t managed by परदेसी बैंड वाली कम्पनी लिमिटेड, still it sounds rich. The lyrics are cute. Talking of cute, the Haryanvi version of this song sung by Kalpana Gandharv easily impresses although it will work more in the film (if used). हम में से कुछ लोग है, जिनकी  first language अंग्रेजी नहीं है. ये गाना किसी ऐसे व्यक्ति से ही परिचय कराता है…पहले हरयाणवी में सोचो, फिर Translate it to english and then sing! To be honest, Kalpana’s singing isn’t very convincing (Haryanvi-shly I mean). Still her ‘Babby’ and ‘Telepone’ makes up for everything. Did I like both versions? Yes. Will I play it on the loop? Unlikely.

Move on – Perhaps the weakest song of the album, the song has a catchy hook but dies quickly because of that hook itself! The song sounds like a ‘Mehboob mere’ gone wrong. Normally a big fan of Sunidhi, this song refused to do anything that can make me play it  on the loop.

Dev Negi has an interesting voice which doesn’t put you off. In ‘Ho gaya hai pyar tumse’, he is given a simple tune to which he does full justice. May be it is just me, but I felt I am listening to a fresher version of ‘Kitne dafey’ by the time I made it to the Stanza of the song.

I cannot write enough good things about O Saathi mere, so I will keep it short. The layered composition, married to beautiful lyrics and decorated by the faithful singing by Sonu Nigam has makings of a classic. The tune of the song is creatively handled and very rarely we come across such experiments these days in Bollywood. Easily a song that will outlive the film. One of Sonu Nigam’s finest, ever!

This is an album that is ‘small town’ at heart but very urban in execution. Through the songs, we get closer to the narrative without being too serious about ‘How-much-trouble-the-musicians-are-taking-to-put-it-all-together’. The art is to keep it simple, silly!

A mix of fun, बवाल, दुःख, दर्द and romance, this one for keeps, just like its predecessor, and slightly younger! Now How often does that happen?

@rohwit

Fatema Kagalwala dives into the music of Bombay Velvet and comes out mighty impressed. In fact, it seems like she doesn’t want to come out of it. Read on.

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Disclaimer – This is not a music review. Just rambles. Just my experience of it.

Back in 2009 when Dev D music hit the market it hit me (and many of us) like a thunderbolt. I drew everyone around mad by listening to it like my life (and theirs) depended on it. The things it did to me, the things it evoked, the things it made me want to do – it was these unexplainable things that make the album unforgettable to me even today. And now it’s Bombay Velvet songs that are doing unthinkable things to me. Maybe its just me, but I thought it warranted an un-review, its too good for anything else.

I’ve been listening to Bombay Velvet songs, on loop since it came out. At first, I couldn’t differentiate one song from another except maybe Sylvia and Darbaan and the remaining 12 merged into one another like milk and water. Give it all to my complete ignorance of the jazz music harmony but I’ve never been the one to listen to music with anything but my heart. I connected to hard rock the same way, till date I don’t know anything about yet I love it because it speaks to me in ways nothing else does and I respond like I never knew I could. Bombay Velvet’s retro-jazz does something similar to me.

Is it the haunting darkness of it? The style, the retro-style which is very modern at the same time. Or the upbeatness of the track covering up the darkness? Every song reminds me of a lot of things, songs, references but when I try to pick one I can’t. The song suddenly gains a credential, an identity of its own. Which is when I realise how homogenous is Trivedi’s mixing of a multitude of elements, moods, strains into something with its own uniqueness.

It’s an album that is a visceral experience of ethos of the 60’s Mumbai, steeped in its still predominant Anglo-Indian culture that continued to give shape to the idiom of modernity in society and our films of those times. We may also call it neo-colonialism. And there are three things that when combined have created magic in the past as well. The resident Kashyap quirk, dystopia and desperation. The typical Trivedi touch of using prevalent sounds in new ways and hence fucking up mainstream music once again. And the staple Bhattacharya habit of taking us to newer worlds within amidst the commonest of commonalities.

Darbaan – Papon’s honey-soaked voice over uncluttered, single or two instruments only music track. Love the way the words melt into each other.

Baadshah sadko ka tu, sadke hi teri taqdeer hain,

daakhila oonche makaanon mein kuchh thekedaaron ki jaageer hain.”

Somehow, this refuses to leave me. It touches a little more, just a little than how much it is meant to and I am wondering if it’s the Papon-effect or the words or the sweeping, swaying nature of the tune. It’s got the ‘Hain apna dil toh awara’ abandon, the gypsy-fakir tone but with a disheartened voice. Also, it seems like it’s a 3rd person pov, commenting on the protagonist or the Everyman as we may want to see it, and that gives it one of those singing fakir kinda moods, which is what I love.

In the seductive and tempting mode, a male version of this is super interesting, such moral kind of songs are generally sung by women in films – the upholder of all things virtuous.

The Bombay Velvet Theme – Rarely do I listen to themes, I enjoy them while watching the film but hardly ever take them back home. Except the BV theme. I’ve been imagining Amitabh type swashbuckling fights over it, Humphrey Bogart-Cary Grant type chase sequences, Baz Luhrman type grand bars and ballrooms with a sweep of darkness, intrigue and debauchery. It’s what film theme music used to be back in the 60’s thrillers. Grand, sweeping, moody, dark. It literally takes me back to the 60’s, without any help of visuals. And I am already loving what it is making me expect from the film which I shouldn’t be doing. Let’s stop here.

P.S.: Take a bike ride while listening to it, Especially ghats. You won’t regret it.

Aam Hindustani – I was tickled no end when I first heard this –

“Roothi hain mehbooba, roothi roothi sharab hain,

Aam Hindustani teri kismet kharaab hain!”

*insert rolling on the floor and laughing my ass off smiley here*

Oh but it doesn’t end there!

Pyaar mein thenga, bar mein thenga,

Inki botal bhi goronki gulaam hain’.

Whoa! And I love the slightly scathing tone Shefali Alvares has sung it in. Of course, what else would do justice to this! But I’m thinking about the very idea of having a scathing song at all to mock the guy. Back in the 50’s and 60’s our filmy women, even in bars, only sang encouraging songs (Tadbeer se bigdi hui) or teasing ones (Babuji Dheere Chalna) to the man. Interesting subversion I really wanna know more about from the film.

Circus music! I laughed when I read this description of the unconventionally long prelude. Coz by then I had already started tripping on the soundtrack ‘like crazy’. The waltzy-jive feel is too good to ignore, feet begin tapping on their own. And then follows a sweet la la la and bang! There is that Trivedi whiplash – it is followed with a curt, snide ‘Dhobi ka kutta kaisa ghaat na gharka!’ in Shefali Alvares’ boisterous and refreshingly uninhibited vocals and you’re like ‘whaaaaa…’? . This is Bhattacharya in ‘paan mein pudhina’ zone 😛 full on quirk!

“Lalach ne tujhko aisi patti padhayi

Khwahish huyi hain degchi, khadai

Taqdeer teri abhi bhi chamach hain!”

In lesser hands this would have become ‘tujhko mirchi lagi toh main kya karoon’.

There are so many turns of the tune, dramatic ones that I wonder how the song has been used / picturised. Hide-n-seek, chase, robbery, in bits, in parts, in whole? Phew!

Behroopia – Of shadows, of doubts, of lies and half-hidden truths, mysteries and the subtle threat of it all…This is the wine of the album for me. Classy, seductive, romantic, moody, dark, a slow high. The fabulous trumpet giving way to almost minimalist vocals and that giving way to a full-blown orchestra is a transition I can’t get over right now. Between this, Darbaan and Sylvia what would I choose as the best? I’m still trying to figure out. And after Rockstar, in my imagination, Mohit Chauhan is to Ranbeer what Balasubraniam was to Salman at one point 😛

Dhadaam Dhadaam – This one is ‘Duniya’ level good. The operatic touch gives it that grandness of lost passions, a passion critical and deadly at the same time. Throughout the album Bhattacharya uses words we used to use in cinema back in time, but don’t anymore like ‘malaal’, ‘sehra’, ‘gila’, ‘daga’, (the Urdu influence fast disappearing from our films and lives today but immersive back then). This infuses a refreshing old-world-ness to the song only to be taken down with a dhadaam, literally! Someone, once said, everything that had to be discovered has been discovered, now we just create newer meanings and expressions by playing around with those discoveries. And AB puts a very quirky and unpoetic ‘Dhadaam’ bang in the middle of light and beautiful Urdu. The effect.

Ka Kha Ga – The fabulous trumpet makes an appearance again, with a band taking over. And then a seductive, drunk ‘Ay’. Geeta Dutt would have been so happy! This one I love singing! And I do, chilla chillake. (The corridors at Girls Hostel echo, all the more joy :P)

Naak Pe Gussa – Here’s my ‘Tadbeerse Bigdi Hui’ but as modern as it could get! Bhattacharya’s choice of words is so mellifluous, it’s a delicious thing to keep listening to. Teasing, warm, naughty, and one of those rare happy songs in the album. And it sounds like it has been literally sung with a smile on! (Like one feels about Ashatai’s songs!)

Sylvia – This is the true-blue retro song of the album, lovingly and truthfully recreating the O.P Nayyar-verse.

“Bhavra tha sayana, mukar hi gaya na,

Rusvayi reh gayi, (Oh ‘rusvayi’!)

Ghosla suhana, ujad hi gaya na,

Tanhai reh gayi

Tanhai…

Aankh ke surme ko daag banaya,

Kaanch ke aashiyan ko phook jalaya

Fitrat mein hi thi bewafai

Tu pyaar pe tohmat chhod gayi

Yeh kya kiya Sylvia !”

Rusvayi, aashiyaan, fitrat, tohmat haye!

Mohabbat Buri Beemaari – I’m not much of a fan of this, something is very laboured about it…something isn’t right and I can’t put my finger on it yet. I’ve simply stopped listening to it.

<detour> (Sylvia is playing right now. And yet again I am giving myself up to it. My first favourite of the album, its retro-ness calling out to those long-lost childhood memories. Growing up on O.P.Nayyar in a family that hailed him as a path-breaking musician when he was somewhat of an outcast in the mainstream more Indian-classical-is-music-alone world, the quality of his songs and sounds make me smile even today.(really wanna know if it’s a conscious hat-tip). There is something searing in the rendition and the use of march rhythmic chorus to underline that entire effect wanting to overpower…well, succeeded there!)

Shut Up – Drum rolls!!! Drum beats now, foot-tapping, jubilant trumpets and others follow. All upbeat and celebratory. And when things are about to settle down, Trivedi throws a spanner in the works. And then the song starts. Then you realise the effect this juxtaposition has on the expectation of the opening and the surprise in what follows.

Aisi kya, aisi kya, aisi kya bhookh hain…The first time I heard this I tripped on how the use of repetition fits in so beautifully! And lately I’ve been noticing how ‘harqatein’ almost sounds like ‘harqutein’ and suddenly it gains more quirk. Remember ‘sufed’?

And the merging of light, lilting, Urdu words with a crude ‘Shut Up!’ Why isn’t this today’s ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ of the youth yet?

Conspiracy – ‘Conspiracy’ is so well-named! And Trivedi plays with extremes once again, kabhi silent, kabhi ceiling-crashing, extremes – tempo mein, scale mein, aur emotion mein. Leaves me a little breathless every time I listen to it. And I love that feeling of anticipation as the music keeps picking up scale only to peter out, without any fulfilment, without any answers…letting a dullness set in that’s ‘safer’.

Out of 15 tracks, 12 are with vocals. Out of the 12, 11 are romantic songs. Only one is about the overarching ambitions of the protagonist, the central conceit of the film. Let’s see how the film treats the music and vice-versa.

For now, let the trumpets and trombones lull me to sleep, like they are used to by now. I wonder which one of these I will wake up singing tomorrow morning! Will let you know 🙂

Bombay-Velvet

There is so much that has already been ‘lectured’ to us on Bombay Velvet that I would refrain from saying anything else and just begin with whatever I thought of music of the film.

The film is 1960s and quite loudly so in whatever we have heard or seen so far and with whatever little I know, the words like tattu and nikhattu were surely not heard in the jazz of those days. To me, they dilute the feel of the song and even though it might go with the situation of the song, it is quite a put off for me. If you leave this slip aside, Aam hindustani is top class. Shefali has stressed on pronunciation a lot which is quite refreshing and goes with the attitude of the song. The tempo of the song varies teasingly and creates a great club like atmosphere.

Mohabbat buri beemari by Neeti Mohan is dominated by brass and even during the antraas, you can hear a faint notes of brass in the corner of your ear. The song is filled with tease which can, in terms of setting remind you of ‘mud mud ke na dekh’. Neeti mohan and her ‘come on!’ Is grey, purple and all shades of Stimulation. Another version of this song which is sung by Shefali Alvares is cute and sounds fancy but is not as aggressive as the one by Neeti Mohan. Both versions end with flourish and are of exact same duration.

Neeti Mohan’s Ka Kha Gha has an adorable tune but the words are a big let down. I am sure this would not be a common opinion but when you produce such a rich tune, you have got to have better choice of words than ‘sab bhula ke jo doob jaye kyu wo hee tair paata hai‘. Neeti Mohan cannot be praised enough for her exquisite singing. Sadly, she is stuck with ordinary lyrics in a song that has everything going for it otherwise. Easily the most ordinary song of the album and ONLY because of the lyrics.

An insightful guitar, quiet brass, whip-smart set of violins and a general evening-ish atmosphere is what makes up dhadaam dhadaam. Neeti Mohan has poured her heart out in the song and the part where she goes ‘malaal mein’ can actually be used as a ‘goosebumps checking device’ for all humans to see if their bodies are adequately producing goosebumps at right moments or not. Call me fussy, but the use dhadaam dhadaam is the only thing that put me off in the song. It sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise superlative song.

Naak pe jo gussa features a madly in love Neeti Mohan who is playful, yet stays within the ‘jazz’ brief of the song. Successful attempt is made to recreate a bar scene with the lead singer of the bar trying to cajole her love interest to give up anger. The lyrics of this song are terrific to say the least. A top class song.

Sylvia is an enjoyable song which has a generous pace and lyrics that tell us everything about a certain ‘Sylvia’ who enjoys a stranger’s touch more than someone who loves her. The song has a sad undertone to it in spite of being fast paced and that to me appealed a lot! Did I like the song? Yes. Will I hear it again and again? No.

Darbaan by Papon has a lot of sadness laced around a hummable tune. Generally the first hurdle between the disadvantaged and the rich of the society is the darbaan (gatekeeper) who doesn’t let the poor get as much as a peek inside the club where ‘mem log and babu sahabs‘ have fun, high society style. Singing wise, a strictly average song because the composition didn’t give much to Papon to play with. It might be a great spectacle on the screen (or not) but it is unlikely this would be a ‘repeat’ song in the playlist.

Shut up is an interesting song with Shefali Alvares asking the ‘lecturers’ to shut up. The bass lends good depth to the setting. Brass swivels along with Shefali and what we get is a thoroughly enjoyable song about something sinister, something vulnerable and someone being way too naughty.

Behroopia is perhaps the lightest song of the album, arrangement wise. Even here, you will find a quiet appearance of brass. The tune of the song is oddly familiar at times but nothing to complain here. In fact, it doesn’t sound like a typical Amit trivedi song and that is such a relief. An easy song, worth a play or two.

A nearly 5 minute Bombay Velvet theme is my favorite piece from the album without a doubt. Of course the film is touted, hyped, over propagated as noir and what not, and the theme heightens this feel to maddening levels! This could easily be one of the best theme music we have heard since Bombay Theme. The sense of occasion is palpable and the build up is magnificent. Kudos to Amit Trivedi for smartly using brass, clarinet and that Guitar…ooh la la! Such themes are the reasons we wait for films to be out! So filmy and so bloody good! You want ‘grand’? Here it is.

Conspiracy, like the name suggests has ominous written all over it. The violins build up the atmosphere and don’t be surprised if you start expecting a ‘twist’ in everything after you listen to this track. The clarinet keeps the track grounded and concludes it leaving an air of uncertainty. Nothing play worthy on repeat, but for film buffs, a track to re-live the film.

Tommy Gun in reality shuts up everyone forever so it isn’t surprising that a track with the same title will have nuanced presentation of the shut up song among other things. Again a film piece and good of makers to include it in the album.

There are two rather embarrassing remixes in the album and I would refrain from mentioning anything else about them. Perhaps, the makers wanted to see the name of McCleary in the film credits. In what is an extremely rare occurrence, McCleary makes you want to skip the tracks. The tracks are a misfit in the overall scheme of things and that is just what it is.

The film pertains to a set time period revolving around jazz music and to create the music of the film Amit Trivedi with his team have really given everything to the soundtrack and what’s more sound oozes the effort. My complaint is only with somewhat lazy lyrics and at times, the over produced sound. Unlikely that all the songs will remain in your playlist after the film goes out of theaters but a good effort which is worth an applause or two, club style!

For an ordinary music-booze lover and someone who is least bothered about jumping the ‘social class’, and who doesn’t care if it is a local, cheap beer or an expensive wine with an unpronounceable name, the songs might take a while to grow but they will grow for sure. The others are well, already busy revealing how they found the music to be ‘magnifique’.

Overall, a good album that fits the narrative.

@Rohwit

(Ps – Click here to get the credits for each song)

 

 

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When there is no competition, you generally don’t get good products, because sooner or later, producers of those products would hallucinate and think they are Gods, and their consumers are insignificant. This theory fits perfectly when we think of film music in our country. If you don’t believe me, try to remind yourself of 5 film albums which you liked last year. Got my drift?

We live in times when everything should make money for the makers. Music has to be catchy enough for caller tune. Who cares if people forget about the music 3 days after the promos end! Last year, it was Haider, a music album that enveloped the feel of the film and not compromising with the melody in the process. The first quarter of this year has ended and Dibakar Banerjee has given us Detective Byomkesh Bakshy.

The album starts with immensely talented Madboy/Mink jiving on Calcutta kiss. I don’t know about you but I never thought we will witness such vibrancy and joie de vivre in a film song. The song kicks it and does a kick ass job at it. It has a deliciously flirtatious vibe, and my God, it is amazing! Saba Azad is a Goddess and I love the way she economizes her vocal spend on Hindi film songs. A wise man told me long time back that Sneha Khanwalkar might create good sound but she has a long way to go for making a melodious song that sticks in your head. Now I don’t know how they will use all songs in the film, but if used well, I challenge you to come out of the hall and not have ‘Bach ke bakshy…tu jhoootha hai makkaar playing in your head. With this song, Sneha builds a villa on the already cemented spot that she occupies – one of the few, very few good musicians of our times whose songs will outlive us all and future generations will try unsuccessfully to find out the ‘formula’ behind the varied sounds she produced in her lifetime. I don’t know Sneha but I would love to know the questions she asks the maker when she is given the brief on the song that she has to make for a particular film. She gets it right every time!. Double pat to the lyricists of the song (Sneha and Dibakar, we are told)…whoever came up with beh gaya jo khoon uska kya blood type hai?!! The ‘bach ke bakshy tu jhootha hai makkar‘ has the same deadness to it, which some of us would remember experiencing when we heard kiley ka rahasya‘s title song.

I have always had a bone to pick with the non-film music scene in India, which has more often than not tried hard to bollywoodize itself to get validation (read recognition and money). The almost disgusting attempts at aping our innovative and rich neighbors’ music scene have failed because we try to put a bollywood touch to everything, and the sound gets hijacked. In comes ‘Byomkesh in love‘, and you feel not everything is wrong after all. The song has been fused well and in spite of English words in between, you will surely smile at the thumri-sque complaints of the singer asking her beloved to stay with the ‘other’ woman. The only other time it was done so beautifully was when Ram Sampath created this beautiful song. That was 13 years ago. In spite of somewhat average lyrics, what will arrest your attention in jaanam’ is the tripping Synth arrangement in the song. Suryakant Sawhney does a great job at giving us a retro but not dated love song.

There was a time when to make your film song ‘hep’, you had to have a song from Suraj Jagan. It worked but not totally, may be because the songs always wanted mass acceptance from Bollywood music lovers who are overfed with silly items songs and template of rondu-rotlu songs. Thankfully ‘Life’s a bitch’ by Akshay De is NOT at all like that. The song doesn’t try to pander to ‘General population’ and keeps the death metal ( is it?) feel alive. Akshay de is angry and his rough (yet never out of tune) singing makes it up for a song which you will either love, like I do or hate! Nothing grey here. Chase in Chinatown marched passed all of us in the first trailer of the film. The music and the mood of this track is elevated a great deal by Vyshnav Balasubramaniam. The rap is rough and much like ‘life’s a bitch’ this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but the track is trippy and one that fits the stealthy title to the T. Yang Guang Lives – is a meandering track that has interesting sound to it.  IJA has created this more like a background score with occasional commentary. Thanks to the superb pace of the entire O.S.T., this track might wear you out because it breaks off a lot in between. It won’t be wrong to conclude that the track is more a film piece than a song piece. That said, the track will give multiple orgasms to bass junkies.

Dibakar got 7 composers to make 7 songs. I am not the most vocal advocate of bringing hajaar composers in one O.S.T because I feel that the sound of the film gets compromised and doesn’t stay uniform. Thankfully, it is not the case here. For all we know, Dibakar would do a ‘kahaani’ and not include any song in the film. Even then, every note that you encounter in this album wraps itself around the feel of the film so well that it makes you want to see the film immediately!

We dont know what the film has in store for us. All we have got so far is just an eerie anticipation of something sinister which is about to unfold and the music just enhances that feeling. I cannot ask for anything more from an O.S.T..

Super like!

Let us know which song worked for you and which one didn’t.

@rohwit

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There is a distinct smell of honesty in things which are fundamentally correct. You have got to love anything when it is done with utmost sincerity and no sluggishness. This is why we wait for Vishal Bharadwaj’s films and music. His latest offering is out, and we strongly recommend you get a taste of it. Here’s why:

So Jao – The eerie calm of a dark night perpetuated by heavy bass notes and a near mourning dead voiced ensemble consisting of Bashir Lone, Bashir Bhawani, Muzamil Bhawani, Mayukh Sarkar, Aalaap Majgavkar and others take upon themselves to scare the life out of us in this calm yet intense song. The singers might all be mourning but they are in perfect sync and you will find yourself reaching for the repeat button without a doubt. The sound of shovels attacking mother earth is impactful, to say the least. Top class!

Jhelum – Yet another dark song where the music arrangement is spread out. The magical electric guitar surprises you as it creates an atmosphere of contemplation. Vishal, helped greatly by the words from Gulzar, paints a picture of grief, the kind that will suck you and might make you sad, very sad. I might be thinking too much but then I feel the words ‘jhelum hua kharaa’ came out right from Gulzar’s heart as he reflected on the massacres he witnessed, during partition. That perpetual sinking feeling owes a lot to the wonderful Simaab Sen who has produced this song in the album. Vishal Bharadwaj doesn’t sing much in films. We wonder why.

Gulon mein rang – The thing with good poetry is that it can never be badly performed (unless of course, KRK decides to rap it). To make it even better, words have been modified and what’s better than to see Gulzar and Faiz in one song! We honestly didn’t expect much from Arijit Singh, (who is breathing these days with microphone attached to his throat) because we knew, the sound would be indistinguishable from most of his songs off late. I won’t say we were shocked and surprised with his rendition here. It is strictly average but the music arrangement takes it a notch higher, especially the hopeful note on which the song ends. Talking of this iconic kalaam, even Mohit Chauhan did it nicely here.

Ek aur bismil – With an adorable arabian touch and sufi setting, this version paints a fantastic belly dance setting in the mind. The clarinet in the song is exact and lends much richness to the song. Unlike the ‘bismil’ song (to which this song owes its title and tune) which has a podium/stage setting, this feels more intimate, street like and humble.

Do Jahaan – Call me an incurable romantic, but I cannot wait for Suresh Wadkar singing a ‘suresh wadkar वाला’ song. No, I don’t mean ‘totey udd gaye’ (ek thee dayan) sort of song. I mean ‘tere liye’ (7 khoon maaf) sorts. A lazy setting that somehow has become Vishal Bharadwaj’s forte along with Suresh Wadkar’s depth is something to look forward to. This song is exactly like that. An added bonus is to hear Shraddha kapoor’s voice which doesn’t sound processed and adds a ‘real’ feel to the song.

Aaj ke naam – After her fantastic ‘har ghadi’ in D-Day, Rekha Bharadwaj gives us a ‘by the tabla’ ghazal that has ‘tragedy’ written all over it. This is also a work of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Vishal Bharadwaj quietly sneaks in gentle keyboard notes to give a contemporary feel to the overall setting. Since the ghazal talks of so much sadness (With the excellent use of ‘new’ words for hindi film songs like – ब्याहता), extreme caution is advised because it will leave you sad, very sad.

Khul Kabhi – Good things were said about this song by Vishal Bharadwaj himself in a recent interview on Radio Mirchi, Bombay. Perhaps what Vishal Bharadwaj didn’t estimate was the flood of Arijit Singh’s songs with whom we are playing ‘catch up’ on daily basis. This song is good and we couldn’t help feel that this should have been sung by Vishal Bharadwaj himself. No doubt that would have been the thought at the time of composing it. It is a ‘FVBV’ song all the way (For Vishal, By Vishal). Arijit is efficient and average at best, what is lacking is the exclusive, infectious feel that this tune and crazy romantic song deserved.

Bismil – The ‘stage’ song! With Sukhwinder, there is always a danger that perhaps he will sound too ‘sukhwinder’ and hijack the song. It doesn’t matter in this case because there is an army of excellent back up vocalists, and a ‘beyond awesome’ rabaab at work along with him. The song paints a dark picture of deceit with an upbeat tune. The lyrics give away everything there is to correlate with Shahid Kapoor’s anger in the film. These days when music composers take pride in saying ‘ये गाना डांस फ्लोर पे महिना भर बजेगा’ , here is a song which might become a hot favorite of people who are into stage dramas. The overall feel reminded me of ‘Sheher’ of gulaal which can also be re-created on stage with impact, if only some people are up to it. A thunderous song that gives you a feel of large auditorium. Kudos!

Aao Na – I feel Vishal Dadlani somehow saves his ‘year’s best’ when he teams up with Vishal Bharadwaj. While I still maintain that ‘Dhan te nan’ is his best, this song stands right next to it. The passion, drums and singing, all are just top notch. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, that bloody mother of a tune on guitar. I cannot write enough good things about this song. Double thumbs up!

Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar have given us a brilliant album that has right shades of dark, much like the background and context of the film. In a year that has been marred with too much trash and vomit inducing tracks, Haider is what leaves a lasting sweetness on our taste buds.

As Vishal says, क्या बात है!

– by @rohwit

It’s that time of the year again. Time for a new season of Coke Studio India. That time when we will again become hopeful about it, and then finally give up, and go back to the edition of Pakistan. Aha, still not there.

Rohwit earlier wrote this post wondering if this new edition will finally deliver what Coke Studio really stands for in our neighboring country. This season opened with A R Rahman. And then? Well, play the songs and keep reading. And let us know in comments section if you agree with our views or not.

Coke Studio1

The much awaited Season 3 of the Indian Version of Coke Studio kickstarted with a bang on August 17, with none other than ARRahman and his team of musicians. The anticipation was 2 inches above sky high because of the hype that MTV successfully created with systematic ‘leaks’ and a million teasers. Let’s see if it did what it has to do and must do!

ZariyaAni Choying Drolma sets the pace with superb bass accompanying the arrangement. She chants, and enchants! Not before long the backup girls spring into action (One of them is the Indian Idol Season 1 contestant Prajakta shukre as well). Couldn’t help but feel the girls were singing on that all too familiar ‘ishwar allah’ (1947 The Earth) tune. But that’s when Farah Siraj makes an entry and stays till the end of the song. A typical ‘hook’ in the song is missing and arrives just 2 mins before the song ends. It’s not a ‘typical’ song. It’s a prayer, a call for love and we have never experienced Tibetan chants the way this song makes you experience them. There are 3 vocal characters in the song – Ani, Back up vocals, and Farah Siraj. Farah is the ‘hook’ and she soon infects the backup girls to sing to her tune as Ani goes about with the chants. Music equivalent of the word ‘heaven’ was explored with this song and HOW! The percussion is spot on, ARR on fingerboard was spot on so much so that he was smiling, swaying, something we thought we would never see! The arrangement feels studio, Coke Studio!

Naan yen – Rayhanah calls out and while the call in itself sounded a little rough, AR Rahman brings in polish with this free flowing composition that gives the soul some rest the same way Nenjukulle soothed us in Unplugged. We would have liked a bite more from Reyhanah though. A Tamil track that makes the entire ‘language barrier’ incidental and almost insignificant. Highly recommended!

Aao Balma – Padma Bhushan Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan (one of the doyens of Indian classical music and the uncle of Ustad Rashid Khan) in all his glory takes the dias in this song. A Hindustani classical piece that flirts melodiously with Carnatic. The song starts delicately giving an overall feel of a beloved welcoming her lover. The sargam in between was arranged well and even though at times the arrangement dominated the voice, nothing went out of sync. The percussion in between did very little to lift the song and in my view it broke the continuity of the song. Towards the end it felt a little scattered. Will I hear it again? Not much. Will I see it again? YES! perhaps a million times! The visual delight that we have come to associate with Coke Studio is there for all to see in it’s full glory in this song. Be it the Juganbandi between Ustad and Prasanna (who makes the electric guitar sound like an electric bulbul tarang at times in the song). The grandson Faiz Mustafa sounds promising along with Murtuza, Qadir, Rabbani and Hasan Mustafa.

Ennile Maha Oliyo – The shortest offering from the episode and we wish that was longer. Issrath and Rayhanah sing the song together and you can make out easily how well prepared they are. Easy on ears, the tune will lead you to play this on repeat (just like Naan Yen) and I am referring to people who don’t understand Tamil (like me). That’s what ARR does and does it in style! The guitar man (Prasanna) flirts with carnatic notes yet again and does a huge favor on our senses. The percussion by Sivamani is fragile yet perfect!

Jagao mere desh ko – AR Rahman tries his hand in Bangla in the opening part of the song and does rather well. However, the continuous descending tone of the opening notes is what will catch your attention first. It is from there, the song goes up up and away! Fusion at its (Coke Studio) best! It is quite tough what to praise most. The superb arrangement, the excellent Suchi, the superlative backups or Blaaze. Back in Pakistan they used bohemia in turns and not together with the singers but here, ARR gets Blaaze to sing along and boy does it sound good! Of course there were some pronunciation issues and towards the end you feel the song if going a bit off track, but when you can live with someone pronouncing ‘ghut ke’ as ‘gutkhe’ here, you can certainly let go of these minor glitches. We did! And it felt superb! Try it.

Soz O Salaam – Again the three generations team up to present this song. The magician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab welomes us to the composition and his grandson Faiz Mustafa holds his ground well. The song could have done slight better had the words been clearer. The tune makes up for it though. Tune wise (even though the rest of the season remains to be seen), this would be one of the best this year. The ‘ARR’ continuum fingerboard adds an overall feeling of a spaced out composition which is unmatched by any other song from this episode. Ironical that this song wasn’t featured on August 17 episode (but is available here). Word has it that this will be featured on T.V. in the ‘sum up’ episode that will have one song from each producer.

With so much already being said (rightfully so, most of it) about Coke Studio India, this episode has set the right tone and it looks like we are in for a cracking season, finally! With the promising line up ahead, we have all the reasons to believe so.

It also reinforces the new formula that a lot of music shows would want to imitate….’When in trouble, call Allah-Rakha Rahman’