A.R. Rahman disappoints in 'Yuva'

Apr 3, 2004

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Film: "Yuva"; Label: Venus; Music by A.R. Rahman; Lyrics by Mehboob.

After the sumptuous success of Anu Malik's tracks in "Main Hoon Na", everyone hoped to see the music industry waking up from its slumber with "Yuva".

After all, A.R. Rahman is the man who set many musical milestones in the second part of the 1990s, changed the format of film music and weaned us away from the norm.

Furthermore, "Yuva" brings back the potent and lethal A.R. Rahman-Mani Ratnam combination. More than a decade ago, director Ratnam had ruthlessly discarded composing genius Ilaiyaraja from his cinema to take on the then rank newcomer Rahman.

Together they created history in "Roja", and then "Bombay", "Alai Payuthe" ("Saathiya" in Hindi) and "Kannathil Muthamittal".

So is "Yuva" the path-breaking potential chartbuster that we expected it to be?

Not quite!

Rather than charts, this soundtrack breaks one's heart. "Yuva" is a huge disappointment. In terms of the musical territory it covers, and the resonance that the rhythms reach out for, this soundtrack is the weakest ever in the Ratnam-Rahman oeuvre.

Sure, the vitality of youth and the first flush of unbridled romance come pouring out of "Dhakka laga bukka" and the virile "Khuda Hafiz".

Then what's the problem here? For one, the lyrics.

Mehboob, who did such a wonderful job of writing in meaningful words for Rahman's pre-composed tunes in "Bombay", seemed totally bankrupt on this occasion.

What's this: "Dhakka laga bukka/khaega re mukka/hat jao re hat jao/hat hat..."?

Do the words have to get gibberish to get the pulse of today's youth?

The rebellion of youth was so precisely captured by the lyrics of "Arjun" and "Ankush", so what gives?

Some songs seem like poor second-hand replications of what Rahman did for Ratnam's "Saathiya".

Coming from the man who virtually reinvented film music in the last decade, this is truly alarming. Barring "Meenaxi", all of Rahman's soundtracks in recent times have been letdowns.

Not a single track recreates the exquisite tonal temptations provided by Rahman for Mani Ratnam's first Hindi film, "Dil Se", where every track -- from Lata Mangeshkar's "Jiya jale" to Rahman's "Dil se re" -- was replete with rippling sounds that echoed the very heartbeat of life.

All we get in "Yuva" is a cocksure composer hitting all the accurate notes without touching the nerve centre of any of the emotions of anger, rebellion, love and nostalgia that the characters seem to be taken up with.

This is a soundtrack without soul.

Indo-Asian News Service

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