Saturday, March 25, 2006

music of 2005 destined for neglect [aka possibly incomplete retrospection toying with tense]

Be Warned! This is an incomplete first cut; I'm sure I've missed some very obvious entries (blame on the quantity and the passage of time). Gentle reminders will help warm up the old memory banks and let some tape sool [thanks for the note, Arun]

[Dedicated to the specious greatness of Black, the bland freshness of Parineeta, the Spanish inquisition of Bunty aur Babli, the riddled kaleidoscope of Paheli]

Black Friday: Anurag Kashyap's no-nonsense film and its subject matter seemed like the perfect choice for Indian Ocean's first movie soundtrack. With some nice improvisation on the background cues and some wonderful arrangements (electronic samples, brass, woodwinds), we also got three songs penned by Piyush Mishra (who, despite all attempts by the media to tout this as his lyric-writing début, has previously collaborated with another personal favourite, Vishal Bhardwaj, on films like Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!). This is not an album created to loaded with dance-friendly fatuous ditties of love and cool designed to set the cash registers ringing. This is an album created to complement the film it was made for. One can only hope that Kashyap's angry diatribe against the havoc and destruction wrought by ignorant rage sees the light of day before it's too late.
ये अंधी चोट तेरी
कभी की सूख जाती
मगर अब पक चलेगी

For those having issues viewing that extract above here's the same in iTrans:
ye a.ndhii choT terii
kabhii kii suukh jaatii
magar ab pak chalegii

If anybody's reading this using Firefox/Mozilla on Linux and has managed to get the font set-up right, could you let me know how. I've got things working on Firefox/Windows, but I don't have access to a Linux environment to be able to try things out and I have a feeling things ain't lookin' pretty.

haa.N mai.nne chhuukar dekhaa hai: This IMNSHO was the only aural artifact worth taking away from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black, a pompous attempt at film art -- the loudest movie of last year (especially ironic considering that this was about a blind, deaf and mute girl). Prasoon Joshi's lyrics offer a host of tactile visions and Monty Sharma gives them a melodic challenge that Gayatri Iyer takes up with aplomb giving the song the ethereal edge it deserves. This reminds me of Sunidhi Chauhan's underrated rendition of ai ajanabii from Deewangee (In a classic case of multi-filch, Ismail Darbar lifted the twisted melody from canção do mar, which featured on the OST of Primal Fear, the source for Deewangee).

My favourite film of 2005, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi was also (and still is, except perhaps for Yahaan)) my favourite soundtrack bearing Shantanu Moitra's name. Swanand Kirkire scores lyrically and vocally with baawaraa man; he joins lyrical and vocal forces with Ajay Jhingran to give us man ye baawaraa; he then renders Bhikhari Thakur's folk poetry with he sajanii. Despite Shubha Mudgal's rendition of the angst-laden title song and baawaraa man and Shubha Joshi's wonderful Thumarii na aaye piyaa, the soundtrack is a magnificent Kirkire showcase.

Onir's directorial début My Brother Nikhil deserved plaudits for its underplayed narrative, performances, and a toned-down look at homosexuality and AIDS. As if all this wasn't enough, music director Viveck Philip and lyricist Amitabh Verma (Chhal) gave us one of the best songs of the year le chale. Shaan, K K and Sunidhi Chauhan do the honours on three separate versions of the song and Viveck Philip steps up to the microphone to render lyrics in English tuned to the same melody. Lovely chords and arrangements give the song all the aching ethereal poignancy it needs. Viveck Philip topped it off with some appropriate background cues as well.

One of the most neglected films of the year, Kabeer Kaushik's directorial début Sehar sported not just a patient screenplay and great performances but also a serviceable soundtrack. With interesting background cues, a situational wedding song by Shubha Mudgal, Pankaj Kapur reciting part of the famous Faiz work that gave the film its title and a prayer for a new dawn in a world builty by dreams and hopes, Daniel B. George, who has been Shantanu Moitra's arranger for all (AFAIR) his films, makes his first solo venture a fruitful one and caps it with a delectable gem called palake.n jhukaao naa that figures in two versions, a tighter version by Adnan Sami and Alka Yagnik and a free-flowing version by lyricist Swanand Kirkire and Meenal Jain (is this the same Meenal Jain who was voted out of one of those thanksless Indian Idol rounds?).

When Antara Mali made her directorial début (sharing credit with Satchit Puranik) with Mr. ya Miss, she gave RGV's Factory its biggest cropper of the year. The soundtrack featured such cult-friendly gems like Shibani Kashyap's forceful rendition of fakr hai mujhe mai.n huu.N aurat and Sonu Nigam's effeminate playful rendition of fakr hai mujhe mai.n huu.N aadamii (General Note: for somewhat obvious reasons the word 'fakr' must be avoided in songs). Lyricist/music director Nitin Raikwar also wrote another (zi.ndaa hai zi.ndagii from D and zi.ndagii jiine kaa naam hai from James) ode to life with jiinaa hai to jiinaa hai and Vinod Rathod's kamasin kali (which went down the same road as unase milii nazar to in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon but lacked its forceful retro vibe). Buried in all this detritus was a gem destined for neglect: Sonu Nigam's bhajan kaanhaa jag kaa gorakh dha.ndaa with Satchik Puranik's lyrics tuned by guest composer Ronkini Gupta). This nugget (what raag is it based on? bhaTiyaar?) offered as much shock value to the soundtrack as the on-screen histrionics did to the viewing experience.

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