Tehzeebis Khalid Mohamedīs second directorial project after the highly acclaimed Fiza, yet he is no stranger to Bollywood. A Longtime film critic and screenplay writer (besides Fiza he has written Zubeidaa and Mammo) Khalid has a knack for strong female oriented subjects. His latest Tehzeeb is no different. Itīs a story of a mother (Shabana Azmi) and daughter (Urmila Matondkar, who is having a superb year) and their trials and tribulations. Considering the mother is a singer, music was important so Khalid roped in the best for the job, A R Rahman. Rahman has been working day and night on various international projects lately, but took a break to give Khalid a helping hand. The results are a mixed bag, which is quite unlikely from Rahman, but the audio is still worth a listen.
The album begins on a great note with Khoyee Khoyee Aankhein sung by the ever youthful Shaan. Numbers like these are tailor made for Shaan, and itīs not hard to see why. Give the song a listen and youīll realize why heīs so in demand these days. A R Rahmanīs instrument arrangement is interesting to say the least. While itīs a peppy pop tune at the core, the use of violins gives it an Arabic twist. Lyrics are traditional adapted from Shad Azimabadi, which makes the song all the more interesting. Taking lyrics from a bygone era and mixing them with music from the present MTV age would be an uphill task for most, but Rahman does it with style. The song will immediately have you floored.
Na Shiqwa Hota is a ghazal sung by Sujata Bhattacharya with lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Rahmanīs composition is average. Actually it would have been flat out boring had he not managed to spice it up with the interesting percussion beat. If you strip away the percussion you would be left with a piano, some violins and the occasional flute, but thatīs why we love A R Rahman, he takes even the most mundane and puts his signature twist on it making it all the more listenable. Sujataīs rendition is nice and easy on the ears, but does not leave an impression. Javed Akhtar produced some nice wording for the song which heightens the trackīs appeal, but only to some extent. The song is repeated again on the flip side in a one line version sung by Vijaya. Itīs over before you knew it began.
Meherbaan Meherbaan picks the pace up again. Sung by the unstoppable Asha Bhonsle and supported by Sukhwinder Singh this song has lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Rahman takes many different influences and blends them together for stupendous results. While Asha and Sukhwinder sing in a semi classical style, the composition is a mix of pop/dance and south indian percussion and flute. As usual Rahman does it with so much panache you canīt help but tap your feet. Itīs no wonder this song is fast climbing the charts. Javedīs lyrics are very refreshing, which compliments the freshness of the track. Often poetic, the lyrics suit the song perfectly. Asha Bhonsle effortlessly gives another great rendition, adding yet another feather in her already full cap. Sukhwinder Singh adds commendable support, and as usual he does a good job. The song is again featured on the flip side.
What in the world went wrong with I Wanna Be Free? Well for one itīs another reminder that English lyrics donīt go down so well on a hindi soundtrack, but then again the lyrics by Blaaze are thankfully minimal. Yet they still manage to disappoint, thatīs quite a feat. I understand Rahmanīs urge to experiment, but really this sounds more like a drug induced trip rather than a īsongī. Skip it!
Mujhpe Toofan Uthaye is yet another ghazal sung by Sujata Bhattacharya. As far as ghazals go this one is pretty routine stuff. Rahman doesnīt even try to infuse the song with any life, unlike Na Shiqwa Hota. The composition is pretty routine even for Rahman. Sujata Bhattacharya gives another decent rendition, she rises a notch above the aforementioned ghazal, but still doesnīt manage to leave an impression. The songīs saving grace is the traditional lyrics by Momin Khan Momin. Poetic and heartbreaking they significantly uplift the mundane track. The song is worth the listen solely for the stunning lyrics.
Just when you begin doubting Rahman he springs a surprise with Sabaq Aisa sung by Sujata Bhattacharya. What is instantly likeable about this ghazal is the music. Rahman mixes electronic beats with a typical composition, and the results are definitely ear pleasing. Itīs a perfect fusion of old and new music styles (more so than Na Shiqwa Hota). Sujata Bhattacharya singing has been okay thus far, but this ghazal requires her to stretch that vocal muscle a bit more and she gladly rises to the occasion. In yet another adaptation, lyrics are taken from Dagh Dehlvi. The bittersweet words are magnificent, itīs not hard to see why Dagh Dehlvi is revered as one of the worldīs better poets. This one deserves a rewind.
Itīs quite evident that Rahman has been spending a lot of time abroad and listening to different music. While Tehzeeb may pale in comparison to some of Rahmanīs other work, itīs still a good buy. What makes this album stand out is the fusion taking place on all levels. There is fusion in the music, the ghazalīs get a modern day makeover (Na Shiqwa Hota and especially Sabaq Aisa). And there is also lyrical fusion, Javed Akhtarīs lyrics mixing and mingling with the prose of some of the great poets of the past. And it can especially be heard on Khoyee Khoyee. Like Zubeidaa, this is an album which will most likely grown on you once the film releases, but for now buy it for Khoyee Khoyee and Meherbaan, and learn to appreciate the ghazals later.