Posts filed under ‘Music (Bollywood)’

Delhi 6: A Motley Microcosm

“Delhi 6” tries to realize a lot of things as a film – and even though it succeeds mostly, this, in itself, turns out to be its nemesis. Rakeysh Om Mehra brings alive the eclectic and rich sights, aroma and flavours of Chandni Chowk through its characters and music. But for anyone who has yet not been touched by the diversity of “Purani Dilli” (Old Delhi), the movie might be little overwhelming.

As a story, it is the oft-repeated tale of an NRI boy coming to India and falling in love with the country and the country’s girl, but the script elevates the film to another level. Though, some sub-plots in the film tend to feel awkward at times, Mehra largely manages to imbue his story with the perfect hues that turn the chaos of Old Delhi into a visual splendour. As a director, he adds subtle touches of brilliance to seemingly ordinary proceedings, some of which would make you laugh, but some which you would just miss – as the scene in which the local politico barges in the middle of a Ramleela. Someone who has not attended the night shows of the local Ramleela is most likely to miss the satire behind the episode. In another scene towards the end, children throw the monkey mask onto the burning effigy of Ravan. It is an understated moment but symbolically, it says a lot. Mehra has these, and many such snippets, strewn throughout the movie, for which one needs to watch the movie carefully and be able to appreciate the localized influences.

The movie’s narrative relies heavily on the characterizations and the director must thank his entire cast for ably supporting him. Each of the characters lends authenticity to their part and though it is difficult to say who was the best, Divya Dutta gets my vote for her small yet powerful role as the fiery Jalebi. Deepak Dobriyal as Mamdu shows a great potential (I happened to like him in Shaurya as well) as he metamorphosed from a happy-go-lucky neighbourhood guy to a distraught fanatic. Watching Atul Kulkarni as the simpleton Gobar, it was hard to believe that he was the bellicose Laxman Pandey of RDB; truly a versatile actor! Vijay Raaz as the vile policeman makes you loathe him, which is proof enough of his superb performance. Waheeda Rehman has perfected the role of the affectionate grandma, and she seemed to be having a lot of fun along with the affable Supriya Pathak and co. Rishi Kapoor played his part with aplomb, as did veterans Prem Chopra and Om Puri. (It seems that I am just left with the pigeon Masakali and Pavan Duggal to say a good word about, so I shall move on… 🙂

Despite the huge ensemble of supporting actors, the lead pair manages to deliver impressive performances as well. Sonam has a stereotypical role which didn’t give her much scope to showcase her potential but she proves her acting prowess in many frames, particularly the “Masakali” track. Abhishek Bachchan, who has met with some criticism for faking an accent, doesn’t really deserve the brickbats. He brings out the initial apprehension of accepting India quite naturally; watch him as he dances with the woman folk in the “Genda Phool” track, cute.

A. R. Rahman’s score in “Delhi 6” is notches above his Oscar winner, “Slumdog Millionaire”. The film’s music evokes so many emotions so much so that it becomes a character in itself. The “Arziyan” qawalli leaves you spellbound as the camera panoramically sweeps across the expanse of Jama Masjid – it is one of those moments that stir your heart. The divine invocation of Goddess Durga in the Aarti “Tumre Bhawan Mein” is soft and pious and is used to great effect in the film. Enough has already been said about “Genda Phool” and “Masakali” which are ruling the charts because of their musical merit. Being an ardent advocate of including more classical music in films, I must thank Rahman and Rakeysh Mehra for reviving the magical vocals of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in the “Gujari Todi – Bhor Bhayi”; Shreya Ghosal does an outstanding job of rendering it as well.

Hand in glove with the music is the awe-inspiring camera work. The surreal song “Dil Gira Dafatan” is remarkable in its concept. In this masterpiece, the music and cinematography complement each other so well that it is hard to blink your eyes as you watch bylanes of Chandni Chowk mingle effortlessly with the streets of New York. The Ramleela sequences have been conceived and shot very well; and they have been juxtaposed effectively with the events running throughout the story.

The Black Monkey (“Kala Bandar”) urban myth finds prominence in the plot, but ideally I would have like the story treated differently. The film tackles communalism in a clichéd fashion, as is evident in the hasty and somewhat half-baked ending. But I’m ready to forego all that for the vivid portrayal of Old Delhi that “Delhi 6” leaves on my senses.

“Delhi 6” is a thought provoking film, which might not appeal as much on first viewing. In fact, it is tempting to write off the film as boring and preachy. But as you think about it, and there will be moments which will keep coming back to you even after you have left the theatre, it grows on you. I am already in a mood to go and watch it a second time.

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February 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

Adi Ne Bana Di Jodi!

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a commendable attempt by Aditya Chopra to provide the audience a wholesome family entertainer. But let me warn the viewers beforehand. In order for you to enjoy this film, you have to acknowledge the cinematic liberty Adi has taken – he wants us to believe that a wife will not recognize her husband after he shaves off his pencil moustache and undergoes a wardrobe change. But isn’t cinema all about bringing alive a make-believe world! So, just as we embrace a Spiderman or Krisssh, knowing very well that it is fantasy, I’d allow Chopra this expediency.

Through a not-so-long-back flashback sequence, we are introduced to Surinder Sahni who, least expecting, gets to marry the girl he has fallen in love-at-first-sight with. Only problem is, the marriage is a result of circumstances rather than love or even a pondered arrangement. The end result is two individuals, with very different love quotients, set up to live life together.

It is a very interesting premise and what makes it more so is the manner in which Aditya Chopra paints his characters.

Surinder Sahni is a person who is as diffident as it gets, and depicts a love so pure that it is almost incredible. Shahrukh, in this avtar, excels and is at his winsome best. Your heart goes out to him as he goes about his daily chores, or requests his wife to entertain his friends, if she can, he politely adds. In this another scene, where he gazes the lunch box, prepared by his wife, he leaves you in splits. This perfect look of naivety, love & admiration has King Khan’s signature all over it. This and many such brilliant moments etch out the ingenuous character of Surinder Sahni.

On the other hand is Taani, the once-ebullient girl, who is willing to forego her past self to a new life as Surinder’s dutiful wife. But even while she would pack his lunch, clean his room and entertain his guests, because she has “willingly” accepted this marriage, she can’t love her husband and tells him so. There is a real element to Taani’s character and Anushka Sharma brings forth her predicaments with a quiet confidence.

Also, praiseworthy is Vinay Pathak’s portrayal of the loud-mouthed yet sensitive friend of Surinder. Like all his performances before, Pathak makes his character believable. He has some good dialogues to boost of and he fits well in the method of things. It is he who helps Suri transform into Raj, so he can woo his better half by being the “hero” she craves.

This might seem a silly premise and it is actually that, but still Aditya manages to add some substance to it through his screenplay and dialogues. He has generously used SDIPA (Shiamak Davar’s dance school) and their actual instructors to take the story forward. I wasn’t whole-heartedly convinced of Raj’s character as it could have been depicted better from the over-the-top yet inadequate Jat that came across. Also Shahrukh’s performance of this manifestation pales in comparison to the taciturn Suri.
What I think Aditya wanted to show was a clash between the extrovert and the introvert and he was out to (predictably) make the underdog win it. And I think it is this bias that shows.

At a point in time, when I feared that the film would turn into another musical (Dil To Pagal Hai – II), Aditya carefully, and thankfully, steered the screenplay back to the main plot of Suri and Taani. What however, he could have done better was to emphasise more on Suri’s display of love (even though Suri mentions to Bobby that he wants Taani to see it on her own) which would have made the choice Taani makes more convincing. Perhaps Aditya wanted things to be more subtle and left it for the audience to fill in the lines. The end message that he wanted to convey is that, with time and patience love conquers all!

The music, which has always been the hallmark of an Aditya (or Yash) Chopra presentation, is surprisingly understated in the movie. The songs are situational and again far fewer in number in comparison to earlier movies. When I first heard the songs, I found them of a pretty low standard for an Aditya Chopra movie, but after watching the film, they grew on me. In the same breath, let me add that it is still nowhere near the high standards that Yash Raj has set for itself.

The predictable story could have been a damp squib had it not been for splendid performances. The screenplay keeps slipping but picking up soon after at many places. The cinematography is adequate and though there are no Swiss locales to be shot here, Amritsar has been captured well.

As director, Adi Chopra sparkles in a number of places. Consider the scene where Surinder places the rose on the table and then, true to his reticent self, puts it back, or the lunch box scene, or the heart-to-heart tête-à-tête between Suri and Bobby. And I’m sure thanks to Adi, a number of Amristari lads will queue up for being recruited in Punjab Power so they can propose to their girl in the innovative manner Raj does!

In this quite unlike Yash Raj film, the medley song “Hum hain raahi pyaar ke, phir milenge chalte chalte” stands out with high production value. It is a tribute to Bollywood’s yesteryear actors and you wish it goes on and on as one leading actress after another is serenaded by Shahrukh.

No matter whether or not, you like the movie, but please do stay till the end credits roll. Adi had saved the best for the last. Suri’s narration of their honeymoon to Japan is the high point of the movie, it’ll surely make you laugh and you’ll come out of the hall wanting more of the endearing Surinder Sahni!

December 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm 2 comments

Miss you Nike!

Ya, that’s what I called my iPod nano – Nike.

I still remember the day when I pulled Nike out of that uber-cool packaging and held it tenderly in my hand, lest it got scratched. The shiny back of the first generation Nano was the first thing I noticed and once I it switched on to see the small display light up in colour, I knew I was in love.

The love affair had actually started a couple of weeks before, when I first saw the pictures of the newly launched iPod – Nano, they called it – on Apple’s website. I had already heard about iPod’s sound quality and I couldn’t wait to have one of my own. It was overpriced considering my budget and I was in a dilemma if I actually needed this expensive music player, when there were cheaper options available. Obviously nothing, at that time, matched the aesthetics of Apple’s products. And the opportunity of possessing the latest from the iPod family (and be able to show it off once I returned back to India) was too hard to resist.

I spent the next hour intuitively playing around with iTunes and added the few mp3 songs that I had on my laptop to my new toy. I hooked up the earphones and caressed the outer wheel with my finger, lightly making a circle on it. The songs scrolled by and the Nano made a light “clik-clik” sound; happiness suddenly had a new sound! And as I played my first songs on Nike, I could not help but marvel at the incredible clarity of the sound that filled my ears.

I’m not one among those persons who blindly copies entire albums from the internet to their music players. I have a distinct, even if eclectic, taste in music and I ensured that unless I really liked a song AND I had entire information about that song, it did not find a place in my Nano. Consequently, I devoted a lot of time in the next days with my audio CDs, internet and iTunes swelling up iPod to a sizeable library.

I noticed the many apparent deficiencies of the iPod Nano – not having an in-the-box charger, no FM Radio, no sound recording, no ability to add tags, no sorting of songs – but I chose to live without them. And this was because iPod did what it did, best – play amazing music! I’m not exactly an audiophile, but I love to hear my music in its pure and brilliant form and Nano did an awesome job of it. In the initial months, it used to stay with me constantly whether I went to office (even though it wasn’t exactly allowed, I fitted neatly in my pocket to go unnoticed) or out on trips. On a bus journey, it made hours go past like minutes. I can’t keep track of how many times I’ve fallen asleep to the tune of my favourite songs playing on this little thing.

I still remember that rainy day very vividly, when I had to urgently be at work and had no means of transport to take me to office. I yelled out to rickshaw-wala outside my apartment and as I settled under the leaky hood of the rickshaw, I carefully pulled out Nike from my pocket. So fond am I of rains and rain songs, that I created a special Genre for Malhar and Classical Songs of Monsoons in it. Just as I played Anand Malhar sung by Kishori Amonkar, I was transported to a different world. Suddenly, the incessant blowing of horns by vehicles around ceased to exist. The only sound that remained was that of the divine notes praising the rains and clouds. It seemed as if the rain drops had started dancing to the exquisite notes of “Barsat Ghan Aayo Rangilo”. It was truly an ecstatic moment and one that will stay with me forever. And I have to thank my iPod Nano for many such special moments.

I’ve had a wonderful time playing the Music Quiz on the Nano, and in fact it is a great way to remind yourself of a certain song that you’d have forgotten existed in your library of some 400 songs. I almost always got all the songs right, considering I had every song hand-picked and tagged correctly.

I’ve had to buy accessories for the bare Nano in the form of a USB charger and an FM transmitter. The FM transmitter is a handy tool which turned my Nano into a mini-radio station; a great way to listen to it on long road trips in my car with an outdated music system. I found the iPod covers available in the market way too pricey. My mother very lovingly made out little sleeves at home, so I could keep my Nike snug. My thoughtful sister brought a cover for it when she came back from USA. I never had the heart to remove the transparent film that came stuck on the front of the Nano, even though it had started peeling off from a side.

A couple of weeks back, after Nike turned 3, my wife least-expecting asked me for a mirror to check her makeup. I polished it against my shirt and held out the shiny back of my Nano to her face. She smiled and I proudly returned it to its case.

Then last week, out with us on a trip, Nike vanished. I got down at a couple of places during the journey and by the time I realized, I couldn’t figure out where it was; the thorough search of the car was in vain. I still cannot come to terms with the fact that I’ve lost my favourite possession. This piece is an ode to Nike – my iPod Nano. I’m not sure when I can replace it but definitely it is a must have for any music lover.

December 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm 2 comments

KANK – The Music For Me

I had huge expectations from Karan Johar – and his track record of KKHH, K3G & KHNH (though KJ wasn’t the director, he was quite involved in the film) had me eagerly anticipating the music of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. The immensely talented trio of Shankar Ehsaan Loy try hard to recreate the magic of Kal Ho Naa Ho, with the hangover going beyond just the range of songs.

The title track here finds resonance in KHNH title track, however the lyrics do not live upto the optimism in the words – “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna”. For a title track, the antaras have more pathos than there should have been; the magical piano strokes throughout the song fail to find an echo in its words. “Aansu Hain, Ke Hain Angaarey, Aag Hai Ab Ankhon Se Behna.” Surely, I would have appreciated the song to be one of hope than melancholy.

Shafqat Amanat Ali in “Mitwa” makes the song instantly likeable; his vocals are powerful & it will repeat the success like other songs of this genre (read Pakistani touch). However, had the western bit of this song been avoided, it would have been a purist’s delight. The music directors have experimented a bit too much with their sounds, which may not appeal to everyone. They could have left it to “Mitwa Revisited”, which is the remix version, and to be honest I haven’t felt the need to listen to this remix in its entireity.

“Where’s The Party Tonight” is catchy but again I feel the sounds become very electronic after a while. Agreed it is a disco song, but it doesn’t weave the same magic as the very retro “It’s The Time To Disco” from KHNH. Maybe I’m comparing too far & too early, considering the fact that I got hooked to KHNH disco track only after I saw the movie. One can’t miss the zing with which the phrase “Sapno Ke Din Hain, Sapno Ki Rateein” sounds through the track & will surely make you want to groove.

“Tumhi Dekho Naa” moulds the title track tune into a happier version (thankfully!) this time. The lyrics are mushy & singing mellifluous. This is perhaps the only true romantic number of the album.

“Rock n Roll Soniye” is the run-of-the-mill Punjabi number on the lines of “Pretty Woman” & “Shava Shava”. This song is good while it lasts though again I wish the music directors had not relied heavily on mish-mash of western & punjabi sounds. Much like the others, this song will gain popularity after its video airs (for the uninitiated, it features Kajol).

“Farewell Trance” would be a treat for fans of this genre but again it doesn’t really have my attention due to its techno feel. Maybe that was the intention KJ had the with musical theme of KANK.

All in all, the album didn’t hook me enough on its first hearing. However, I guess with the visuals & movie unfolding over a period of time, the songs have the potential to grow. I, no doubt, look forward to seeing how he weaves these songs in the movie.

P.S. Initially, I didn’t think the music was a winner like KHNH but as I write this I do see the tunes filling up my mind. The music is already “growing” on me – I am beginning to rethink this review but I’ll let it stay.

July 14, 2006 at 12:23 pm 20 comments


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