'Veer-Zaara': Melody has a rebirth in Lata's voice

Sep 22, 2004 Subhash K. Jha, IANS Sep 22

Music Review

Film "Veer-Zaara"; Music Sanjeev Kohli recreated from oeuvre of the late Madan Mohan; Lyrics Javed Akhtar; CD Rs.145.

We could see this as a son's majestic homage to his legendary father. Sanjeev Kohli recreates his father Madan Mohan's music with such feeling and depth that it makes you think this is what Madan Mohan would do if he were alive.

Or we could see this stunning soundtrack as an ode to the nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar, who has made life melodiously meaningful for millions of Indians for nearly 60 years now.

Then again, "Veer-Zaara" is music that tells us how far Yash Chopra has come as a music-minded filmmaker. From the tunes of N. Dutta in "Dhool Ka Phool" to Ravi in "Waqt", Laxmikant-Pyarelal in "Daag", Shiv-Hari in "Silsila" and "Chandni" and then Uttam Singh working wonders in his "Dil To Pagla Hai"... it has been a rich haul of melodies all lit up by the voice of Lata Mangeshkar.

Besides that unconquerable voice, the one constant factor in the music of Yash Chopra's cinema is the pursuit to transcend trends.

The quaint majesty of Madan Mohan's tunes go straight into our hearts. In an era when music has been reduced to aural coitus ("Dhoom machale", "Bheege hoot tere...") "Veer-Zaara" comes with a quality of sound that reminds us of how far film music has deviated from its original purpose.

This is what a complete film soundtrack is meant to be. And we cannot thank the A-1 team enough for bringing the staggering progression of film music back on the right track.

It isn't enough to say "Veer-Zaara" steers film music back to its original course. It's also important to see how the score spreads itself out to accommodate a whole tradition of popular expression in our cinema.

From the "Lodi" to the patriotic "Aisa des hai mera", the spectrum of sonority is stupendous. And so is the score's will to win over an audience that has long gone into pop jingles for entertainment.

The sumptuous score accommodates 11 tracks and as many moods, all culled together to pre-empt all out tomorrows in a clasp of beauty and harmony which is as precious for its fragility as it is for its strength.

The romantic duets are saturated in pain and nostalgia. Lata with Roop Kumar Rathod in "Tere liye", with Udit Narayan in "Yeh hum aa gaye hain kahan", and with Sonu Nigam in "Do pal" and "Kyon hawa" form a compelling crescent of romanticism. Within the quartet of duets we hear lyrical and musical expressions that fill our hearts with hope for the future of the much-abused genre known as film music.

Javed Akhtar's words are austere, to the point, visually rich (the breeze blowing through a mustard field like a comb through the hair, he writes in "Aisa des hai mera") and sometimes so deeply effective, you feel this man understands the function of a film lyric better than any living poet in Hindi cinema.

Writes Javed: "Zindagi le ke ayee hai bitey dinon ke kitaab/ghere hain ab humein yaadein behisaab/bin pooche mile mujhe kitne saare jawaab..."

And we're stuck by the beauty and simplicity of the world that Yash Chopra creates through his music.

Madan Mohan's original tunes are beyond outstanding (specially in "Tere liye", "Yeh hum aa gaye", "Tum paas aa rahe ho" and "Jaane kyon", the last two are bonus tracks not part of the film and yet so much part of the aura of enchanting melody that you wonder where the film and its music part ways!).

Sanjeev Kohli's recreation takes Madan Mohan's tunes to places where the heart waltzes and the soul sings out in sheer ecstasy. In many tracks, for instance the visually outstanding "Aisa des hai mera" and the Udit Narayan solo "Main yahan hoon" (brilliantly rendered) the trademark Yash Chopra style of picturisation steals seductively into Madan Mohan's range of creation.

Finally it all adds up to an album of tremendous melodic value. Yes, as a diehard Lata devotee I would like to say I expected more of her in the album. I feel there are too many male vocals by an array of undoubtedly skilled throats from Udit Narayan (in fine shape) to Sonu Nigam to Jagjit Singh, all joining in with the mighty Mangeshkar to transport us into a world of heart-stopping beauty.

I expected more solos by the 'Nightingale'. There are two. The first, "Hum to bhai jaise hain", is a more complex piece of pop art than it outwardly seems. Lata tells me this was the most difficult song for her to do.

Listen to its undulating spiral of sauciness and you'll know why. Her second solo, "Jaane kyon", which isn't part of the film, is her and the album's best creation. At 75 her voice soars to a threshold of pain and longing that is in one word exquisite.

Her indescribable virtuosity carries us through a universe of romance, nostalgia, patriotism and festivity that is a feast for the ears. What a wonderful birthday gift for her fans!

And what a splendid reiteration of the great musical tradition of Yash Chopra's cinema and its musical backbone!

The soundtrack comes with an additional CD where we 'see' the creators of this historic album, including the late Madan Mohan, at work on the tunes. This is the first time that we are actually made a part of the creative process in a movie soundtrack.

Film music cannot get any more intimate and resplendent. Not in this day and age. Melody was almost dead. But Madan Mohan has been awakened to revive it. Click the Movie button below for more info:


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