Monday, July 03, 2006

OMKARA rocks

(last post in thread)

[July 05, 2006] A slightly modified version of this appears on

[July 05, 2006] The same modified version appears on

Aah. Sheer bliss this. Worth every nano-ounce of the wait. Gulzar's way with words, Vishal's sense of sound and the flavour of the region where the movie's events transpire come together in a delicious aural offering. I don't remember sitting back like this with a smile on my face since ... Maqbool.

The title song OMkaaraa opens with an infectious plucked-string riff that situates the song in its locale. Sukhwinder's voice is accompanied by more rustic percussion (the pattern's the same as the one on City Don't Cry from No Quarter), a swirling sound sample, and an enthusiastic multi-part chorus. There's even a riff from the strings that's as addictively dissonant as the central riff on David Bowie's The Hearts Filthy Lesson. Gulzar's lyrics mix onomatopoeia and dialect and metaphors that only he is capable of.

Up next, Vishal steps up to the microphone and joins a restrained dulcet Shreya Ghoshal on o saathii re. The jaw drops as he begins to sing. This man is (to borrow cricket metaphor that's not so inappropriate for triviamongers) an all-rounder. So far, he has written lyrics, composed music, scripted and directed films. All that is left is an acting turn. The lovely second interlude played out the guitar is a reward for people like me who love listening to songs on headphones. It's a wonderful split across the ears... and I'd love to see how it was done. Lovely segue from the mukha.Daa to the a.ntaraa sans interlude. With wonderful lines (aa chal din ko roke.n / dhuup ke piichhe dau.De.n / chhaa.Nv chhue naa) Gulzar also gets away with more than murder (terii merii aTTii-baTTii / daa.Nt se kaaTii kaTTii). This man never loses his power to amaze.

With her effortless impassioned performance on bii.Dii, Sunidhi Chauhan's going to have a tough time shaking off her image as an "item song specialist." Sukhwinder Singh, Nachiketa Chakraborty and Clinton trade turns as Gulzar goes on a wild rhyming spree (naa Gilaaf naa lihaaf / Tha.nDhii hawaa bhii Kilaaf). There's a receptive chorus complete with harmonies and then smack in the middle there's a segue to the harmonium. A minute later, the harmonium and the tabalaa take over for about 10 seconds or so.

When was the last time a lorii began with the words jag jaa? The bouncy interlude featuring the flute and the string section (the Chennai String Orchestra) doesn't help matters much. The irony is absent in the calming rendition from Wadkar or in the short first flute interlude. And lines like halkaa-saa kosaa, subah kaa bosaa help. Stay tuned for a reference to king dasharath's promise.

Rekha's first song on the album finds me still at sea about just how talented she is. namak, with its earthy flavour, percussion, the harmonium, the occasional tinkling piano, able support from Rakesh Pandit, and a host of supporting singers is a revelation.

The first thing naiNaa does is give me a far far better idea of what Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is capable of than man kii lagan had in Paap. Toss in a rippling electronic riff, a motif on the guitar and a swirling heady trance mix. The eyes have been a familiar object of Gulzar's poetic interpretation (juuThe nainaa bole, juuThe tere nain) and their fickle intent receives a fresh salvo here: bhalaa ma.ndaa dekhe Naa paraayaa Naa sagaa re / naiNo.n ko to Dasane kaa chaskaa lagaa re / naiNo.n kaa zahar nashiilaa re.

laaka.D is Rekha's second song on the album. It opens with the sound of oars hitting water before Rekha's voice breaks in against a 14-beat cycle. Vishal's uncomplicated melody includes a wonderfully expressive touch when Rekha sings the word khaak the first time. The arrangements mix multitracked echoes and reverbs, acoustic and electric guitar riffs and rich sweeps lending a general feeling of suspension to the lyrics: laaka.D jal ke koyalaa hoye jaaye / koyalaa hoye jaaye khaak / jiyaa jale to kuchh naa hoye re / naa dhuaa.N naa raakh / jiyaa naa jalaiyo re.

the tragedie of omkara rounds up the album; it's the sole instrumental cue on the soundtrack release. Carmina Burana-esque with a portentous crescendo fraught with despair.

This is the best Hindi film soundtrack of the year.

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