Published On: Fri, Jun 15th, 2012


By Rohan Thomas


Since his thunderous entry into the music scene with Roja in Tamil and then later, nationwide recognition with Rangeela, Dil se and Taal, A.R. Rahman has been sitting on the throne of the Indian music scene for almost 2 decades, not only overshadowing his seniors and contemporaries, but vanquishing the millions of upcoming musicians that have tried to emulate his style. He is the only musician present in all the Bollywood power lists published by different magazines, to charge as much as an actor for a movie (for Blue he apparently charged more than Akshay Kumar), to scorn conventional methods of choosing projects based on the production house and the star cast and solely on the basis of the scope of music, the movie offers. He is the only Indian musician to win an Oscar and collaborate with the legendary Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. The whole country bows down to this genius, who promoted Indian music to an international platform.

But has his time come? Has he finally met his match in Amit Trivedi, whose work in Dev D took the entire country by storm, winning several accolades. Not content with the success he got from Dev D, he went on to write music for Udaan,Aisha and Ishaqzaade,all which fetched him rave reviews from the crowds and critics. Winning the National Award for Best Music Direction at such an early stage in his career is again, probably the biggest feather in his cap. The country is witnessing Trivedi climb the steps to success one at a time, and continuously lauding him for each project he embarks upon ,but in my opinion ,looking at all his work to this day, nothing holds a candle to the genius he exhibited in Dev D. The soundtrack of Dev D is chutney of 18 DIFFERENT GENRES……that itself is testimony to his genius. While listening to the album, one’s ear ventures into new territory. Take for example, Mahi Mennu(sad version); if you have watched the movie, it comes when Dev and Paro break up. But listening to the song individually, one gets a feeling (at least I did) that the singer is actually mocking the relationship, but secretly inside, is filled with self loathing. I did not get this from the lyrics, but from the manner in which the singer sang. You feel that the singer is laughing, but you also know that he is broken inside. Another stand out track is Aankh Michole. Just listening to it gives you that eerie feel, like you are watching a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie, right before blitzkrieg kicks in. The listener gets a slightly confused, scary kind of feel before the song kicks into a violent trance groove

But my favourite song of the Dev D soundtrack is Emotional Atyaachar(Rock Version).Emotional Atyaachar is the blitzkrieg of a man’s frustration and urge to lash out at the world after pondering on his train wreck of a life. It is a song which I connect to very personally (I know it sounds cheesy, but it is the truth).It is fast, brash and gets the adrenaline going in your body. Another song of Amit Trivedi’s I like is Thai Thai Piss, which showcased Maharashtrian folk music (WWWWWWAAAAAYYYYYY before Chikni Chameli).His jazzy background score in Aisha is also commendable. And last but not least, the genus he has shown the world while writing Pareshaan……I mean, what a song!!!!!!A blend of Indie Rock and Bollywood romance, with a tinge of Qawali, this song has given a new life to the whole romantic genre for which Bollywood is famous for.

Other musicians to watch out for are Ram Sampath and Ajay-Atul of Delhi Belly and Agneepath fame. Both these musicians were lauded for their efforts and each album consisted of a smash hit (Bhaag DK Bose and Chikni Chameli).Unfortunately they did not get the opportunity to exhibit their full potential in their breakthrough efforts. Delhi Belly did not require an exquisite background score and Agneepath had a stellar background score, but the song list on a whole did not leave much of a mark.(Other than Chikni Chameli and Deva Sri Ganesha, nothing impressed me very much), but I am sure they will leave listeners spellbound with their upcoming releases. I would like to mention Ram Sampath in special light, as Delhi Belly, I felt, had one of the best collection of songs. From the guttural screams of Jaa Chudail to the head banging anthem, that was Bhaag DK Bose, the album had a hard rock flavour. A song that really caught my ear was Saigal Blues. It had a very psychedelic, ”Trainspotting” kind of vibe, something which had never been introduced in India. I felt Ram Sampath did a brilliant job on that song with its classic Bollywood style vocals and its new age psychedelic Audioslavish beats. He is responsible for resurrecting the 70’s disco style with I Hate You like I Love You.

A.R.Rahman’s brand, in my opinion has been decreasing by the day. His new stuff, with the exception of Rock Star, has not been up to the mark. The music critics had a field day when his song for the Commonwealth Games came out. Last, but not least, he is running out of resources. You can find a pattern in most of his songs. He changes a bunch of notes and increases/decreases the tempo, but the basic tone of his songs are the same, and frankly speaking, he is too expensive. The new breeds of musicians have that raw energy to reach the stars and are much more commercially viable. To a certain extent, you can say Amit Trivedi is narrowing the gap between the A.R. Rahman and the rest of the world as Udaan, his second movie got an award at the Giffoni film festival for best sound track. Comparisons have to be made to Rahman, as he again, won a lot of international recognition, right at the beginning of his career. If a perfectionist like Aamir Khan, who was an A.R. Rahman purist for years, can shift minds and take Ram Sampath for his next movie, Talaash, which has been creating waves with its trailer, then Mr. Rahman seriously needs to buck up.

I am not writing this to wilfully put A.R.Rahman down. He is a genius and has changed the Indian music scene. He has carved a niche in the annals of Indian entertainment. A.R. Rahman is and will always be the man that took Indian music across international borders. He is the man responsible for introducing the word Jai Ho in the dictionary. All I am trying to notify the readers that, his time has finally come and he should retire in full grace and give way to the upcoming talent, which have created a sort of underground sensation. It will be interesting to see how A.R. Rahman will subdue the barrage of upcoming talent, how much research he will perform in order to create songs, of the same standard, as his earlier work.

What do you guys think? Do you think A.R.Rahman is invincible or do you think the new breed has a chance to make the Academy Award winner go “Main Pareshaan Pareshaan…………”


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