They are back! Mani Ratnam. A.R. Rahman. Gulzar. One of the most talented and artistically explosive combinations in filmdom is back with their next collaboration. The soundtrack of Ratnam’s upcoming Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Raavan has been unleashed and what a force of music it is. Rahman brings to Raavan a sound that leans more toward folk and tribal traditions, something which will surely be enhanced by the situation in which the songs appear in the film. However, he maintains his trademark eclectic charm throughout, experimenting with different sounds and voices with each track to prove once again why he’s among the best.
The album kicks off with Beera Beera, which is destined to be a chartbuster. Sung by Vijay Prakash and Keerthi Sagathia with additional vocals by Mustafa Kutoane, this track is instantly catchy. The sound is very tribal, heavy on percussion and accompanied by energetic vocals that add a chant-like mood to the song. With simple and easily memorable lyrics like “beera ke dus mathe, beera ke sau naam” (“Beera has ten heads, Beera has a hundred names”), this frenetic number is sure to be ingrained into Hindi music fans in the weeks to come. Never has a song about a demon been so perky.
The second track Behene De is Rahman’s signature love ballad but with an intoxicated and somewhat dark feel throughout. Sung by Karthik, this song gracefully fuses folksy beats with more classical-themed stringed instruments. Throw in some electric guitar in the middle and Rahman proves yet again why he’s the best at this game. If the promo of this song is anything to go by, Ratnam and cinematographer Santosh Sivan have given this song stunning visuals.
Rahman’s regular Sukhwinder Singh finally makes an appearance in the third track of this album, Thok De Killi, joined by Am’Nico. Unfortunately, this is the weakest song in the album. It sounds very ordinary, like a pale imitation of Dhaka Laga Bukka from Yuva. However, Gulzar’s lyrics here are innovative with words and phrases that are new to Hindi film songs, some that the ordinary listener may not even understand. The musical interludes with the shehnai are the best part of this track, while the vocals and overall tune don’t live up to the quality of the rest of the album.
With Ranjha Ranjha, Rahman fans are in for a real treat. This instantly likeable number brings together two very talented singers Rekha Bhardwaj and Javed Ali, with additional vocals by Anuradha Sriram. A simple tune and beat, occasionally injected with Arabian sounds, places the focus of the song on the rustic voice of Bhardwaj in an invigorating duet with the very polished Ali. This one has the potential to be as big as Genda Phool from Delhi 6.
Khili Re, a soothing melody crooned by Reena Bhardwaj (not Rekha) echoes the same mood as Saawariya Saawariya from Swades and has a strong classical base to it, which also reminds one of O Paalanhare from Lagaan. The music, sweet voice of Bhardwaj, and poetic lyrics combine to make this another accomplishment in Rahman’s ever-growing repertoire of love ballads.
The album closes with its loudest and most explosive track – Kata Kata. Sung mostly in chorus and with an enviable ensemble of singers, this is a fun song about teasing a groom-to-be on the last night of his bachelorhood. This one is sung by Ila Arun, Sapna Awasthi and Kunal Ganjawala, with a host of other singers providing backing vocals. Rahman makes good use of a whole variety of instruments, including the very refreshing sounds of oud paired with the shehnai. With the theme of what is essentially a bachelor party with the most folksy music, and dominating vocals by Ila Arun – who is just fun to listen to any time – this one may just become a favorite with baraat bands in India.
The soundtrack of Raavan faced gargantuan expectations because of its legendary collaborators, and thankfully, it does not disappoint at all. We can trust Rahman to give each song a truly unique combination of voices, experiment with different sounds, and most importantly, make you want to listen to the songs over and over again. This is one of the best Hindi film albums of 2010!
To listen to the album, click here (opens a new website).