Wednesday, January 26, 2005

from the personal vault II [being notes on music acquired during my recent trip home (Pune, Maharashtra, India)]

Ab Tak Chhappan [Crescendo; CD-40519] Imagine my surprise when I spotted this CD in the racks at Rhythm House. Hadn't heard a murmur about its release (even the release of my first Hindi film soundtrack album, Sandeep Chowta's cues for Satya, had merited a review!). Most of the cues (especially the title track) are familiar, but it's nice to hear the nuances imparted in the other cues that were superseded by the action on screen. Now if only someone had the gumption and leverage to get the other Salim-Sulaiman efforts out.

Piya Basanti [Sony; 498461-2] Sandesh Shandilya got his guru Ustad Sultan Khan to team up with Chitra for this non-filmi effort, which boasts a handful of tunes that are easy on the ear. The big surprise for me (since I had only heard of this album before without a chance to actually it!) was finding the Raag Maa.nD-based dhiimo re, which I had heard for the first time on Maqbool. Since the melody was familiar, I could now focus on the arrangement -- while Vishal Bhardwaj's take was in keeping with the dark mood of his film, Shandilya exercises the flexibility he enjoys to mix the sarangi and acoustic guitar fills (with bass runs) into a club crooner's backing setup of the ivories and some nice brass. Marvellous.

99.9 FM [EMI/Virgin; 7243 473525 2 2] Just like HB2, here's another soundtrack album that relies on a compilation of tracks instead of getting a music director to churn out songs based on the moods in the film (or those of the director). The mix here is definitely eclectic. I'm sure the choice of tracks was also influenced in no small way by the fact that this is a Virgin Records release. We begin with Ustad Sultan Khan's kaTe naahii raat extracted from a Salim-Sulaiman electronica-meets-Indian-folk-traditions adventure called Bhoomi. There's Biddu's when-will-this-end single-groove track called Nirvana -- just the kind of track you can loop forever in the background of a noisy chat party. Zila Khan gives me yet another kesariyaa baalam for my personal collection. Shubha Mudgal (who clocks the highest number of tracks on this album) appears with the lounge-tinged i.ntazaar (from an album called Mann ke Manjeere, an attempt at presenting a musical idiom for the woman of the millennium) [review on], followed by Shaan's wonderfully-arranged tanhaa dil. It's always a pleasure to hear Usha Uthup, and especially since her recent appearances (Bhoot, Joggers Park) have been rare. sau fiisadii kuchh bhii nahii.n ("nothing is 100 percent", literally) is also the exclusive track on this album (that is to say, recorded for the film), with music by Piyush Kanojia and lyrics by Amitabh Verma (see also: Chhal). And we're back to another instrumental mix break with Sum's Raindance (from an album called Cultures of Rhythm -- not surprising given the presence of Taufiq Qureshi along with Ravindra Rajabhatt, Shridhar Parthasarthy and Rajesh Rajabhatt). Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's famous saanuu ek pal is a welcome follow-up. The mellow tone of the performance is counterpointed by impassioned vocal taans throughout. The familiar comfortable melody of Zoheb Hassan's muskuraa_e jaa (time to bring out those old Hasan Jahangir tapes...). You may remember Zoheb as Nazia's brother, who also featured on Disco Deewane (another Biddu-produced watershed). Sum returns with Movement, which had me counting out a 7+7+7+5 beat cycle over the melody before the tabalaa took over. Nice! Shubha Mudgal's is pal from her mainstream hit album Ab ke Sawan is up next. Zia Mohyeddin reads some Faiz while a flute plays what sounds like Raag Kedaar in the background, before Shaan embarks on gum\-sum (another track from his hit album Tanha Dil), followed by the return of Zia. The legend called Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has a guaranteed salvo with jo bhaje harii ko sadaa in Raag Bhairavii. We end with the theme of the movie itself, which works in itself, but if only they had put it as track one and left the Bhairavii as the last track (thus making for some musical comfort).

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