'SWADES' - An experimental album from AR Rahman.

Sep 28, 2004 Vamsi Deepak Gadey Sep 28

The return of Ashutosh Gowariker-AR Rahman-Javed Akhtar. Need no introduction to these makers of "Lagaan".

As opposed to the other big release "Veer-Zaara", "Swades" is a mixed bag of inconsistent quality. (Sorry, Rahman fans!)

"Yeh Tara Woh Tara", a management song (parallel to "Mitwa" in 'Lagaan') illustrates the spirit of team-work, taking a wonderful metaphor in the constellations of bright starts. (Shahrukh is a NASA scientist in the movie)

"yeh tara woh tara har tara

dekho jise bhi lage pyara

yeh sab saat mein jo hai raat mein

chamkaye aasman saara"

"Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera", sung by ARR himself, is the theme song. Here is another experimental song. It never goes jingoistic, but still it manages to reverberate you to the overtones of "dharti-ma-i-luv-u". But mind you, there has been extensive use of shehnai, which takes time to settle down. You almost wish that it was instead a flute aka Bombay. Now, that's Rahman for you - the man of experiments.

"Yun Hi Chal Rahi", the best song of the album, is peppy, yet experimental - a rare combination, which needs a stroke of genius. An instant chartbuster, its orchestration, vocals, lyrics, everything is just perfect.

"Pal Pal Hai Bhari", a village-gathering-for-a-folksong (parallel to "O Paalanhare" in "Lagaan") is absolutely brilliant. Though Rahman has given Lata a miss this time, its one of the best bhajans I've ever listened to. Rahman's simple orchestration does full justice to Javed Saab's enchanting lyrics. Here, Javed Saab takes a leaf out of Ramayana, and explains its essence in such lucid lines that can only be called historical. Javed Saab, why don't you ever cease to amaze me?

"Ahista Ahista", a lullaby, takes you into deep slumber almost instantly. Now, that's what a lullaby is supposed to do, right? Very silky, its kind-of strange that Udit Narayan sung this, and yes.. Succeeds. But then, I would have loved to have a Sonu Nigam take me to sleep.

Now, the real culprits are... "Saawariya" (a girl-wait-for-her-boy song) and "Dekho Na" (parallel to "O Re Chori" in "Lagaan", though no where near it!). They are absolutely passable. You would have to pinch yourself to believe that they are by ARR. They are an absolute misfit in an album of this stature, and do their best to degrade the rating of Swades as one of the best of Rahman's factory. But then, history does remind us that Rahman's songs teach a lesson or two to even the best of music pundits.

So just wait and see, if "Swades" hypnotizes you or not.

Both "Veer-Zaara" and "Swades" pay a glowing tribute to the seven fundamental notes that the entire universe of music encompasses. I would shy away from meaningless crossfire between Rahman and non-Rahman departments, and just thank Yash Raj and Ashtosh Gowariker for these beautiful sounds of music.

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