Planet Bollywood
Kailash Kher & Kailasa: Yatra (Nomadic Souls)
- Amanda Sodhi           Let us know what you think about this feature article

Kailash Kher, Naresh Kamath, Paresh Kamath...since Aawargi (2005) their yaatra (journey) has indeed been a memorable one, full of soulful songs coming from the depths of the heart, transporting listeners to the magical realms of musical heaven...kailasa.

After Kailasa (2006), Kailasa Jhoomo Re (2007), Kailasa Chaandan Mein (2009), they are now back with Yatra: Nomadic Souls (2009), their first international release, under the Cumbancha label.

Out of the 14 tracks included in the CD, 4 are from Kailasa, 2 are from Kailasa Jhoomo Re, 6 are from Kailasa Chaandan Mein, and 2 are tracks specially created for this album.

Okay, enough idhar-udhar ki baatein, let’s jump right into the CD!

The CD starts off with Kaise Main Kahoon—International Version (4.15), originally found in their album Kailasa. I remember Kher once telling me while touring in the States he was surprised audiences didn’t request he sing this song. Well, never fear, this time they certainly will. The use of instruments such as the dholak, rawan balta and the rustic style of singing all recreates a folk village setting. As Kher himself says, “ultimately it’s in the villages and in the soil that I find my inspiration...that’s why folk traditions are very important to me.”

Lyrics to this song convey the confusion of realizing one is in love and figuring out how to express those feelings. They convey a state of wandering...”Yahan wahan jahan kahan uddti phiroon,” and an innocent heart...”Bhole bhaale mat waale dil kaa kyaa karoon?” My favorite lines would have to be, “Apne piyaa ko lekin sab se chupaaoon main. Unko paddi hai kyaa main jeeyoon yaa maroon?!”

Dilruba—International Version (3.56), also originally found in Kailasa, contains elements of Qawwali tradition. However the alaaps and harmonium are meshed with reggae elements, too. The build up of tension with “nee saa saa saa” is beautiful, and indeed, the song really does put you into a trance like state.

As most of you readers must have discovered by now, I have this bad habit of always drawing attention to songs’ lyrics. Aadat se majboor, here’s drawing attention to the lyrics again: “Khaanaa nahin peenaa nahin tere intezaar mein, rog yeh anokhaa milaa mujhe tere pyaar mein...”

Now to the new songs!!

Guru Ghantal (3.58) begins with a conch shell sound followed by a loud “Bhoom Shankar!” grabbing your attention right off the bat. The song will remind you a bit of Babam Bam (Kailasa Jhoomo Re), especially the references to Shiva. The increased pitch in “ho jaa, ho jaa, ho jaa, ho jaa, ho jaa” is fun to listen to, and I bet you’ll soon be singing along to the lines “Hoye guru, hoye hoye guru, ho jaa shuru, ho jaa shuru.” It’s one of those songs that lifts up your spirits. In the booklet, Kher mentions, “The composition is dedicated to my Kailasa bandmates who live life to the fullest, and this song has become a theme of our many travels together.”

Turiya Turiya (3.08) draws directly from the poetry of Baba Farid. The first 17 seconds of the song are absolutely spell-binding. In fact, I wish they had put an extracted portion of just these 17 seconds in the CD to leave on nonstop loop! Oh well. 18th second a stretched pronunciation of “Faridaa” kicks in and the song takes an upbeat tempo which doesn’t match the pathos in Kher’s voice. Do pay close attention to the beauty of the Baba Farid’s poetry—“Rukhi sukhi khaayike paani peeyo, Dekh paraayi chokkdi mat lalchaaye jeev...”

Yup, so that was it for the new compositions. The rest of the songs are from existing Kailasa albums. I suppose the reason 12 out of 14 tracks are from previous albums is because the Kailasa team wanted to expose international audiences to the best of their work since most Western world listeners probably haven’t heard their earlier 4 albums...

Chaandan Mein (4.13) and Kar Kar Main Haara (6.36) are both from another 2009 Kailasa release—Kailasa Chaandan Mein. Chaandan Mein features Tapas Roy playing the Saz, a seven string Turkish folk instrument. It’s interesting how Kher calls “chaand” “chaandan.” The song is quite soothing, and the lyrics are about a state of waiting...waiting for the phase of waiting to be over...My favorite lines in this song are, “Tu dhare jaahaan paaon toh muskaaye yeh dharti, saiyaan, saiyaan...”

Kar Kar Main Haara has one of the most beautiful lines I’ve heard this year—“Yun toh teri yaad mein bhi swaad hai tera, par aankhon ko manaaoon kis tarah?” Waah! Kyaa baat keh diyaa! The sitar at the opening is a nice addition. The booklet mentions the song was composed and recorded in just 3 days.

Tauba Tauba—International Version (3.51) can originally be found in Kailasa (2006). The song is influenced by Middle Eastern elements and the lyrics address maayaa/illusion. The way Kher sings “Uff” throughout is quite playful and the speed with which he sings the “Tenu jidde vale rab ne banaayaa mere yaara, dildaaraa disse rab daa nazaaraa” is awesome! It’s a very, very fun song to listen to, yet the lyrics are rich with meaning—“Tu khwaab hai yaa hai dhokaa? Thaggni hai yaa koi maayaa?...Tere sang sang doloon, teri khushboon mein gholoon, ang, ang, rang, rang, rang saaraa...” Uff!

Bheeg Gaya Mera Mann (5.00), Piya Ghar Aavenge (3.58), Na Batati Tu (3.46), and Rang Rang Ma (4.02) can originally be found in Kailasa Chaandan Mein. Bheeg Gaya Mera Mann is inspired by a song Naresh and Paresh wrote and they were inspired by Cherapunji (Meghalaya), a place which gets about 12 meters rain each year! Kher mentions in the booklet that the song was recorded in almost one take. Just the phrase “bheeg gayaa meraa mann” is so beautiful in and of itself...The flutes (Naveen Kumar and Ashwin Srinivasan) sound absolutely gorgeous...Listen to this song and let your soul be drenched in the beauty of music…

“Mastiyon ke ghoont pi, shaukheeyon mei tehr jaa, Ishq ki galeeyon mei aa, in palon mei tehr jaa.

Rab kaa hai yeh aayinaa,Shaql haan iss ko dikhaa, Zindagi gudhdaudh hai, Do ghaddi le le mazaa.”

Piya Ghar Aavenge is an outstanding composition—everything from melody to lyrics to vocals is perfect. Kher’s voice is full of pathos, and he actually dedicated this song to his father who passed away in 2008. The flute is also used beautifully in this song to enhance emotions. Just check out these touching lines—

“Sabr sunaao jo, Khushi re bataaon jo, Aaj mere piyaa ghar aavenge.

Meri sakhi magal gaavo ri, Dharti ambar saajaao re, Utaregi aaj mere peeh ki sawaari. Ari koi kajal laao ri, Mohe kaalaa teekaa lagaao ri, Unki chav se main dikhoon toh pyaari.

Rango se rang mile Naye naye dhang khile, Khushi dwaar mere daale hai deraa,

Peeho peeho papeehaa ratte, Kooh kooh koyal jape, Aangan aangan hai pariyo ne gehra.”

Although Sanket Athale’s “dhaa, tirkit” vocal percussions are fun to listen to, I’m not too fond of Na Batati Tu...perhaps a bit too much is going on here. Yes, it is a fun, enjoy-it-when-you-first-hear-it type song...But, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been listening to Kailasa Chaandan Mein, and this song has failed to grow on me.

Rang Rang Ma is THE most contagious song of the album. The fast tempo, party mauj-masti feel...it’s all too good! Kher’s random uttering of “Oye’s” and “Oh ho’s” and “Arrey’s” at the end will make you smile. It’s one of those songs you’ll want to unwind to and just twirl and twirl...Rang Rang Ma! Rang Rang Ma! If you didn’t listen to this song when it first came out months ago, then...then boy do I feel sorry for you.

Jhoomo Re—International Version (5.02) is originally from Kailasa Jhoomo Re. The first two stanzas draw from Baba Bulle Shah’s poetry. The lyrics address how God can be found within us all and questions traditional rigid rules of worship...”Teri kayaa nagar mei Ram Ram, tu jungle jungle kyaa dhoonde? Tere rom rom mei Ram Ram, tu patthar pe sir kyun mare?...Masjid toddo toddo ve, madir toddo toddo ve...Par dil mat toddo kisi kaa bandey, yeh dar khaas khudaa kaa hai...” The harmonium (played by Feroze Shah) and percussion arrangements add a zesty feel to this philosophical song.

Yatra also comes with two Unplugged tracks—Teri Deewani (5.27) from Kailasa and Joban Chalke (4.02) from Kailasa Jhoomo Re.

Joban Chalke’s unplugged version is a nice variation to listen to...But...confession time—Teri Deewani happens to be one of my all time FAVORITE Kailasa songs...I mean, come on, how can you not be amazed at a song with lines such as “khoob lagaa lo pehre, raste rab khole! Yehi ishq di marzi hai, Yehi rab di marzi hai...” Yet, I didn’t like the unplugged version at all...Kailash seems to be trying too hard in the unplugged version to cram in as many harkats as possible...it takes away the heart-felt rendition found in the previous version of this track...Just sing from your heart and don’t worry about how many twists and turns your voice can take...For example, the “ko” in “bal bal jaaoon apne piyaa ko” is way too stretched out just as the “mohe” in “mohe sudh budh” is stretched out unnecessarily. Anyway, there is an interesting piece of information in the booklet about how Kailasa performed this song at shows and didn’t record the song until much later in Kailasa’s first album. Well, the version found in the Kailasa CD really is breath-taking...I recommend you listen to that instead of the unplugged version.

Now a few side notes...When oh when are they going to include “Main Aur Meri Aawargi” in another album? Not many people have heard of that song since not many people have even heard of their album Aawargi...They’ve included previous songs in most of their albums, so I hope “Main Aur Meri Aawargi” gets put into an album soon so more people listen to it.

Personally, I think two songs which would have been worth including instead of the Unplugged versions are Babam Bam and Chhap Tilak (listen to the 'Aa Sajnaa' opening and you’ll see what I mean).

Anyway, before signing off, I’d like to say YES, even if you have all of their previous CDs this one is still worth adding to the collection for those 2 brand new tracks! I’d also like to point out the CD booklet is a really nice collector’s item as it features interesting anecdotes about the songs and English translations of the lyrics. It also tells about Kailash’s journey from Merut to New Delhi to Bombay.

Chal phir...hoye guru...ho jaa shuru! (AKA, go check out the songs ASAP)


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