A.R. Rahman is a legendary musician at this point. The music director is experiencing a year that others could only dream about. From releasing amazingly diverse soundtracks like, “Ada”, “Jaane Tu, Ya Jaane Na”, “Jodha Akbar”, “Yuvvraaj”, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Ghajini” (each one of these soundtracks is a classic), to winning the Golden Globe Award for best soundtrack (“Slumdog Millionaire”). This creative titan seemingly holds the motto, that the sky is never the limit. All of us rahmaniacs are experiencing musical nirvana, as album after album comes out. Now the pressure is on to see if Rahman can continue his winning streak with “Delhi-6”, director Rakeysh Mehra’s follow up to the smash hit, “Rang De Basanti”. The film’s plot has been shrouded in secrecy, but we know that Abhishek Bachchan stars along with Sonam Kapoor, and the promos have been enticing to say the least. Mehra repeats Rahman and the extremely talented lyricist Prasoon Joshi for this soundtrack. It’s time for us to see if Rahman can surpass not only his previous releases from the last few months, but also if he can surpass the excellent music of “Rang De Basanti”. So it’s with great anticipation that I dim the lights, block out the world around me, and focus as we take this journey to “Delhi-6” together. Will your breath and mine be taken away? Let’s find out!
The first track is rushing up the charts due to the excellent promos running all over the music channels and the web. “Masakalli” grabs you by the ear right away with the sweet accordion sounds of the keyboard and soft percussion, but what really gets it going is the excellent singing by Mohit Chauhan (of Indi-Pop band Silk Route) who is finally given a chance to shine. His rendition of the title word, masakalli, but also the way he inflects his accent really gives the track a Delhi flavor. Rahman wisely lets the singer’s voice take center stage and provides just the right supporting instrumentation. Prasoon Joshi should be given special attention for writing the smashing lyrics, as they are a living breathing part of the song. This one has to be played loud as you dance that goofy dance that we do when no one is around! Thums up on this one…. way up!
From there we move into the world of classical music, with “Bhor Bhaye”. One can picture a beautiful Sonam Kapoor performing a classical dance to this. Shreya Ghosal is in top form and she is able to handle the swerving lyrical vocal effects of the classical raga. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan provides the masterji voice. The unique beginning of the track as if it’s being listened to on an old cassette deck adds a nice touch to it. Rahman backs the classical vocal styling with the traditional tabla and harmonium instrument combo. Fans of classical music will love this short but sweet track. Another thummmmmms up as classical dancers sway this way and that!
Amitabh Bachchan’s God like deep throated growl is the selling point of the next track, “Noor”, which is basically him talking over some celestial new age sounding music (think twinkling stars against the midnight sky). The shayeri styling is excellent. Short, sweet and to the point. Not really a song per se, but worth a listen.
Looped synth bass pervades the next song, “Genda Phool”, which is a traditional sounding track based on a family situation layered over a madman’s techno beat. It’s an interesting fusion by Rahman, and something that perhaps only a talented creator like him could carry off. It’s mad, it’s wild, and it’s strangely catchy. It’s cultured tradition for the techno crowd. Give it a listen, and you’ll be strangely captivated as your thumb slowly rises to say…thums up!
So far we’ve got ourselves the excellent “Masakalli” with the remaining tracks sounding quite situational. Beautiful though they are, perhaps you won’t be repeating them over and over until you see the visuals of the film, but give them a chance and you will find yourself enchanted by the beauty of the compositions.
The next song breaks through that; however, as it’s what I feel the best track on the album. “Dil Gira Dafatan”, simply takes your breath away from the beginning. What with the opening lyrics eloquently sung by Ash King. Keyboards (keyboard violins) and the strumming of guitars in a very meditative style support King’s vocals. It’s almost gives the listener a feeling of riding a horse over the hills of the countryside, while the sun sets behind you and your heart pines away for the love of your life. The musical interludes are a pleasant fusion of Irish sounding flutes mixed with a bit of Chinese styling added in very subtly. Chinmayee provides the female counterpoint at just the right points. The lyrics by Prasoon are poetically and lyrically moving. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful from beginning to end, this track showcases why A.R. Rahman is the best music director in India. Thums way up for this brave and beautiful track that will move your soul!
Whenever I listen to a Rahman soundtrack, I anxiously wait for what I call his track. The one for which he takes the mic. We didn’t get one of those in “Ghajini” or “Yuvvraaj”, but we did get one (sort of) with “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire”. Rahman has the kind of voice that just puts you in a meditative trance. It works best with heartfelt tunes. So, it is that the curtains are drawn and from the speakers the excellent next track of “Delhi-6” gently sways the listener. “Rehna Tu” starts out with a funky percussive beat with Rahman singing in a very jazzy style that immediately grabs your attention. The layered voices that support him include Rahman mainstay Benny Dayal and Tanvi. It’s jazzy, it’s funky, and it’s Rahman being playfully creative by combining different styles of music. The way Rahman enunciates…”Rahna Tu….hai jaisa tu” is very moving. The wah wah guitar is used to great effect at various points and touch of the Arabic along with the strumming guitars combine to form perfection. The melody and refrain are very catchy and will pull at your heartstrings. A soft romantic thums up for this one!
Yeh Delhi hai mere yaar…! You’ll be singing along to the next track “Delhi-6”. It’s funkedelic fun that will make you want to visit Dilli right away! The music is trip hopping with some mad guitar playing. Vocals by Rahman mainstays, Blaaze, Benny Dayal, Vivinenne Pocha, Tanvi, and Claire are suitably aggressive. The lyrics by Vivinenne Pocha and Claire fit the situation set up by the song. The female vocals give the track a reggaeton feel. Another great track that will leave you humming along, “Yeh Delhi hai mere yaar…bus ishq mohhabat pyar………” as you give it a Delhi thums up!
What an amazing musical journey it has been so far with this soundtrack. Rahman has given us styles that range from the folksy “Massakalli” to the classical “Bhor Bhaye”, to the higher level aarti “Tumre Bhavan Mein”, to the funky yet traditional “Genda Phool”, to the absolutely masterful “Dil Gira Dafatan”, to the quirky “Hey Kaala Bander”, to the soul stirring “Rehna Tu”, to the urban funk of “Delhi-6”, and finally to a masterful end with an irresistible qawwali, “Arziyan”. Javed Ali and Kailash Kher bring the house down with this track. You will clap along with them as they sing the higher power lyrics written by Prasoon Joshi. Rahman keeps the synths to a bare minimum here, instead relying on the classical based instruments dholak, tabla along with harmonium and that ages old human instrument, the clapping of hands. A perfect ending to this most perfect of soundtracks, this track will have you shouting, ‘WAH WAH Rahman bhai…ONCE MORE…THUMS UP!”
One would think that Rahman couldn’t raise the bar any higher.Just when you wonder how high he can go, he raises the bar even higher until one feels that he has attained true musical nirvana and we are lucky enough to be along for the ride. “Delhi-6” shows a Rahman that is at the top of his game. He is a league ahead of his contemporaries and an artist that transcends global boundaries to spread the joy of his music throughout the world. As of this writing, he has just won the Golden Globe award for the music of “Slumdog Millionaire” and has been nominated for best music by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. I am sure he will be nominated and win the Academy Award for best music as well. Being creative and re-inventing oneself over the years is no easy feat, but Rahman has proven time and again that his creative well never runs dry. “Delhi-6” is a masterpiece from a master maestro, and another soundtrack that will be treasured for years to come. I don’t know how the movie will turn out, but this soundtrack far surpasses “Rang De Basanti” in scope, variety and beauty. Do yourself a favor and listen to this one over and over. You won’t regret it as you let the music take you to the darkest and brightest parts of your soul. Rahmaniacs rejoice in the musical nirvana that is A.R. Rahman!