Narendra Kusnur Writes About A.R. Rahman’s New Fare

Narendra Kusnur Writes About A.R. Rahman’s New Fare

Suddenly, A.R. Rahman is all over the streaming platforms, with two of his soundtracks released in the second half of March

Narendra KusnurUpdated: Saturday, April 06, 2024, 10:48 PM IST
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Suddenly, A.R. Rahman is all over the streaming platforms, with two of his soundtracks released in the second half of March. Aadujeevitham, or The Goat Life, has music from the original Malayalam film, with adaptations in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. At the other end of the spectrum, Amar Singh Chamkila has a Punjabi flavour. Besides these, a couple of songs from the sports drama Maidaan are out too.

Opinions on the music would obviously be subjective, depending on individual tastes. And there is no point comparing every new Rahman album with the glorious work he did in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s been 32 years since Rahman got nationwide attention with Roja, and that’s a really long span for any composer. Suffice it to say that both The Goat Life and Chamkila have their strong moments, with a few fillers thrown in.

Let’s look at the soundtracks separately. A theatrical release directed by Blessy, The Goat Life is about a worker (played by Prithviraj Sukuraman) who goes to Saudi Arabia to earn money, but ends up with a slave-like life as a goatherd. Though the songs are available in five languages, it would be advisable to check out the Malayalam versions even if one doesn’t understand the language, as the nuances are more natural and effective.

The first three songs are vintage Rahman. Periyone, released as Meherbaan O Rahmaan in Hindi, has exceptional arrangements, with Jithin Raj’s voice rising above the ordinary. The strings and back-up vocals are executed beautifully. While Rafiq Ahamed has written the Malayalam lyrics, the Hindi version by Prasoon Joshi has the catch-line, “Meherbaan o Rahmaan barsa de raham”.

The same tune has been converted into an instrumental called Benevolent Breeze, featuring flautist Naveen Chander. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most melodious instrumentals by Rahman. The romantic Malayalam duet Omane features fabulous vocals by Chinmayi Sripada and Vijay Yesudas, with support by Rakshita Suresh and chorus. On the Hindi version Khatii Si Who Imli, Armaan Malik joins Chinmayi. Again, it has shades of the Rahman of yore, though the chorus seems like a rehash of an earlier tune.

The other songs include a Palestinian folk tune, featuring the haunting voice of Sanaa Moussa, but seems a bit too long when heard on its own. Istigfar, sung by Raja Hassan and Faiz Mustafa, has an Arabic flavour.

Naturally, Rahman uses a different sound in Imtiaz Ali’s Amar Singh Chamkila, to be streamed on Netflix from April 12. All songs re written by Irshad Kamil. Starring Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra, the film is based on the life of a Punjabi singer, known for his brash lyrics.

The soundtrack is a mix of earthy uptempo numbers and soulful tunes. Ishq Mitaye, sung by Mohit Chauhan, is a vibrant piece with smart use of dhols. It’s a pleasure to hear Alka Yagnik on the folk-dance ditty Naram Kaalja, as she’s joined by Richa Sharma, Pooja Tiwari and Yashika Sikka.

The faster pieces, including the multi-artiste Baaja and Kailash Kher’s Bol Mohabbat, are predictable, but the ballads are impressive. Yashika has a wonderful composition in Tu Kya Jaane, and Vida Karo shows good expression by Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi.

The Maidaan songs have been written by Manoj Muntashir. Here. Javed Ali and Richa Sharma render Mirza, which doesn’t offer anything special. Team India Hai Hum, as the title suggests, is a motivational team spirit song, using a subject which invariably works.

Both The Goat Life and Amar Singh Chamkila have their highs. Though he’s had some Tamil hits over the past five or six years, Rahman’s only well-received Hindi film in that period has been Atrangi Re in 2021. Many fans of his older work would want hm to get back to the consistency he showed in Taal, Lagaan or Jodhaa Akbar, not to talk of early gems Roja, Bombay and Rangeela.

Though dates haven’t been announced, he’s got films lined up with Rajkumar Santoshi and Aanand L. Rai. Till then, let’s await the fate of The Goat Life and Chamkila music.

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