The soundtrack of Aamir Khan's forthcoming film, GHAJINI, marks the return of maestro A.R. Rahman for the fifth time in 2008. Needless to say, he's had himself a very prolific year. What is even more astounding are the towering heights of musical superiority that he has showcased and maintained throughout the year. Mentioning that A.R. Rahman is a class apart would be an understatement.
In January we experienced the deliverance of one of Rahman's most ethereal and epic soundtracks to date - Jodha-Akbar. Fast-forward to May, and we were caught off-guard by a diminutive project titled Ada...A Way of Life, which boasted of a playfully nostalgic Rahman. A couple days later, we were softly caressed by the youthfully poignant Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na. Continuing his remarkable trend of excellence, October witnessed the delectable sounds of Rahman smudged synergistically within today's commercial genres. While each work distinctively showcased a wide-array of tones and styles, they all succeeded in preserving Rahman's signature touch..."Vintage Rahman" as its come to be known.
However, the streak ends with Ghajini.
Guzarish opens with the soothing hums of Sonu Nigam, who features as guest vocalist. He sets things up for an extremely breezy composition. Reminiscent of a sluggish Euro dance mix, Rahman superimposes a fetching melody courtesy the vocals of Rahman's newfound favorite, Javed Ali. Rahman spices the arrangements up with certain Arabic percussions/strings. On the whole, he tends to stick with a uni-rhythmic composition. All in all, the song is appeasing for the first 4-5 exposures and will slowly begin to fade soon after.
Kaise Mujhe is Ghajini's strongest offering, with a hauntingly poetic melody by Rahman and some bewitchingly romantic lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi. In the backgrounds, Rahman sticks with arrangements that are highly percussion and drum-centric (reminiscent of the styles of Monty Sharma). He adequately limits the arrangements to place more importance on the composition's physical presence, which is soulfully inhabited by Benny Dayal and Shreya Ghoshal. The pair renders a stunning duet. Rahman's instrumental highlights, which include sitar, clean guitar, strings, oboe, and piano to name a few, serve as the aesthetic icing on this very ornate cake.
Behka introduces a lounge-esque flavor into Ghajini. Despite a valiant effort to stir up new musical emotions, Behka fails to hold your attention. The arrangements are your run-of-the-mill stuff with the horn and sax riffs doing little to class things up. Rahman's melody has its moments, yet lacks the Rahmantic brilliance that we've come to love and admire. Vocalist Karthik and lyricist Prasoon Joshi do justice to their roles. Verdict: Albeit a decent composition, Rahman is unsuccessful in scratching beneath the surface to inject his trademark ingenuity.
The mediocrity continues with Latoo. Rahman provides us with another depthless composition that's all show and no go. Lined with pounding beats and acoustic dance styles, Rahman provides little space for creative interjection, placing all the more emphasis on melodic value. Unfortunately, the melodic riffs are unsustainable in their attempts to continually earn your attention. Not to mention the endless chorus lines, which begin to grind on your nerves. That being said, Shreya Ghoshal is spectacular with her performance, pouring just the right amount of electricity into her rendition. Verdict: Should make for a nice show on screen...nothing more.
With only one truly soul-stirring composition (Kaise Mujhe), it is safe to say that Ghajini derails Rahman's excellent record in 2008. Despite a superficially appeasing album, Rahman is incapable of delving deeper into his sound to expose the soul...the beauty...the poetry that is his music. The mysterious X factor that has made Rahman a living legend has surreptitiously vanished amidst the thumping harmonies and brisk melodies of Ghajini. We can only wait until it returns to once again ravish us...sooth us...bless us...