A Shekhar Kapur, Ramgopal Varma, Mani Ratnam production, with musical input by Gulzar and A.R. Rahman. A case of too many great chefs spoiling the broth? Not at all dear listeners. Dil Se... is Mani Ratnam┬┤s first official Hindi venture, starring some of the most talented stars today (Shahrukh Khan, Manisha Koirala and newcomer Preity Zinta).
Like Rahman┬┤s previous musical landmarks, the songs of Dil Se flow out of the soundtrack in epic proportions. In parts, typically Rahman-esque and in parts, typically (for Rahman) innovative. Gulzar supports with simple, none too complex lyrics.
"Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya" (and its blood brother "Thaiyya Thaiyya") is the album┬┤s piece de resistance and now my favorite song of 1998. The techno-heavy percussive beats and amazing ethnic singing by Sukhwinder Singh (last noticeably heard in Saudagar┬┤s wonderful "Deewane Tere Naam Ke") and Sapna Awasthi, is very dance worthy. Listen for this song in weddings and clubs in the months to come. (After two days of my owning the audio tape, my family and friends are already hooked.) It is deservedly one of Rahman┬┤s best compositions.
Lata Mangeshkar sings for the first time for Rahman in "Jiya Jale, Jaan Chale" and does an impressive job of it, backed by M.G. Sreekumar and a bevy of chorus singers singing in Malayalam. I have no clue what they are saying in Malayalam, but Mangeshkar evocatively expresses her angst and restlessness. (Rahman also does us a service by keeping Lata out of the higher scale of notes which her aging voice has been having difficulty with of late.)
The film┬┤s title song "Dil Se Re" is rendered by A.R. Rahman himself, with harmonic support from Anuradha (not Paudwal) and Anupama. Rahman interestingly sounds like Kumar Sanu in parts of the song which informs of all the internal turmoil a human visits when something/someone touches the heart.
"E Ajnabi" and "Satrangi Re" are songs which may grow on you slowly. As intentionally desired by the lyrics of the song, the former is beginning to endear itself to me. Udit Narayan sweetly asks a female stranger (Mahalakshmi) to give him a chance. Slowly and steadily she will probably agree, just as you will also slowly begin to enjoy the beauty of the song.
On the other hand, "Satrangi Re" appears to be too similar to the tunes of the mediocre Jeans for me to enjoy. Sonu Nigam and a haunting Kavita Krishnamurthy try hard to appeal but it is hard to get into the mood of this song. Hopefully it will be more appealling in the context of the movie.
On the whole, Dil Se... the album is not an experience to be missed. Let us take the opportunity to officially welcome Mani Ratnam (and the impressive board of the India Talkies production house) to Bollywood film-making. As we eagerly anticipate the release of this movie, enjoy the album. The experience can be likened to the invitation of the film┬┤s best song; "Come bask in the shadow of love".