Friday, June 27, 2008

summer of quintus

While Bill Gates chalks off his last day at work at MSFT today, we mark another year without the baadashaah of the breathtakingly non sequitur musical interludes, the late great Rahul Dev Burman. Ironically, two recent Bollywood movie soundtracks sport a Panchamesque sprinkling or two.

De Taali marks another Vishal-Shekhar excursion into fun and aural adventure what with two versions of the title track (one dance floor-friendly and the other a sprightly crisp version meandering around the edge of an acoustic guitar riff), a blend of club and Rajasthani folk, a curiously arranged equation of self to a drop of rain and a gentle whimsy ballad of love that deliciously tosses in an English phrase as a punch. What stands out in the context of this post is the Anushka Manchanda/Shekhar Ravjiani duet hone lagii. It's playful like the mischievous Asha Bhosle songs the 70s and the rhythm pattern on the acoustic guitar says it all. This isn't an overt tribute like Jhankaar Beats, but it represents Vishal-Shekhar presenting a tribute to the late Pancham that retains a lot of their creative identity.

After the lushly energetic arrangements and strong melodies of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Ismail Darbar has evolved to becoming more famous now for his tiffs, temper and arrogant veneer. This might explain why the mention of Rasiya Sajan might draw a blank stare from a lot of people. One wonders if a similar fate is in store for his soundtrack for a film starring Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt and Manisha Koirala (will this be the (Yeh) Majdhaar of the 21st century?). In a tragic case of irony, this clearly-germinating-in-the-cans celluloid sin shares its name with a standard Bollywood paean to reincarnation in 1976 that sported one of RDB's most famous songs and one of the best songs in Hindi film music based on raag shivara.njinii. One also fears that the songs will be reduced to smithereens once some hideous visuals are cut together to their melodic shifts and percussive cues. This would, ironically, be in keeping with tradition as far as some of RDB's finest compositions is concerned.

Reportedly, Darbar was channelling Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the soundtrack. The mixed bag includes dilarubaa, which stands out as a fine addition to the long list of songs peppering B-grade flicks like Shiva Ka Insaaf or Raat ke Saudagar as it runs Laxmikant-Pyarelal through a Nadeem-Shravan filter (although the end tosses a brass/drums cue that portends Rafi's voice opening o hasiinaa zulfo.nwaalii). kuchh kar lo boasts characteristic traces of Darbar in the refrains while Kwaabo.n kii raanii joins Anu Malik and Bappi Lahiri in stomping on Beethoven's grave as it recycles Für Elise before sending out musical quotes from Jatin-Lalit.

The most obvious blatant traces in the other songs, however, seem to suggest that the inspiration came from the talented Pancham. You can't miss the a-haa quote from chunarii sambhaal gorii in baabuujii. tuu merii mahabuubaa starts off threatening to sound like Ilayaraaja (or perhaps as Anand-Milind recycling the master), but as soon as the rhythm sets in, you know you're in Pancham land with a Jatin-Lalit wisp. That's ab ke saawan (Jaise ko Taisa) or, rather appropriately, a subset of the composite rhythm of mahabuubaa (Sholay). This brings us to achchhaa to mai.n chalataa huu.N, which is rich with slices from the master. Who would have known that it would take one flick destined to be DOA to revive a song from a flick long forgotten from years ago featuring the one and only Mithun Chakraborty in a double role? The similarity to merii aawaaz ke dosto.n from Aamne Samne is unmissable, although the rest of the mukha.Daa devolves into what sounds like the heavy punchy beat-backed bulk of The Nose's ouevre. It's a song that would fit well in a B-flick although the brass and the heavy vocal sighs bring back memories of Monica and her unnamed man cavorting to piyaa tuu ab to aajaa from Caravan.

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