Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blue Music (A R Rahman) Review: And an analysis of Chiggy Wiggy

Blue is an ambitious project. It is not only a very expensive project, possibly most expensive so far, but aims to combine mass appeal with classiness. So you have some of the best of the business roped in to ensure the best end result. What is contradictory is that the director and the writer, Anthony D'souza and Bryan Sullivan are newer names in the credit list that boasts of some of the biggies of not only Bollywood but also from that other tiny industry in LA that tries to come out of Bollywood's shadow.

So you have Oscar winner A R Rahman at the helm of the music department. We have all read a number of times how he was under pressure (not that he went scuba-diving) to deliver a soundtrack right after a new-found Oscar glory. Now that he has had his appearances with Pussycat Dolls, Akon and who's who of the world, he has to match up the expectations of possibly a very larger base of fans. Everyone has gone and heard Dil Se, Roja, Thiruda Thiruda now, and only expects more from him. He also has the best technicians at his service and we know that.

Which brings me to a rather unsung hero, Resul Pookutty. Technicians by their mere definition do not get the kind of fame India they deserve. The scenario has however been changing with a veriety of subject matters demanding the best technology. Love Story 2050 (a future classic, got released way before its time, precisely 42 years), Kaminey and some other films - appointed phoren technicians to achieve desired effects. Fortunately now we have Resul so we don't have to outsource that one job to foreigners. But then the action directors are the ones who choreographed for the Fast and the Furious. And there is one more foreigner involved (coming up). Yikes!

The music of Blue, well isn't that what the post is all about!!

The album opens with a weird sound which is like a shrill through the cold night. Well may be that was the case with our next outsourcing agency, err...singer, Kylie Minogue. I have known Kylie only from her two Billboard Number One dance songs, which worked as a comeback for her - Can't Get You Out of My Head and Come into My World. I am no fan of her pop sound but these two songs had quite that bye-bye-90's club feel to it.

Coming back to the Blue song, Chiggy Wiggy, is how it's called. Kylie calls 'I wanna Chiggy Wiggy 1 with you boy' at high pitch, a characteristic seen in male birds to woo females. The lyrics by Abbas Tyrewala is good with subtle layers displaying Kylie's commitment phobia and the music has a Britney feel to it. Quite an evidence that Rahman can produce like that Timbaland. Mid-way the song something unexpected happens, and no it isn't Akshay Kumar hanging high from the rope to slide down to the stage. He has done that a million times before in every award function. It is Sonu Nigaam (trivia question: how many 'a's in Nigam? answer: two) answering Kylie's call. He wants to 'chiggy wiggy' too with this 'soniye', 'hiriye' (revenge for the outsourced jobs on his mind may be) damsel, but not before he has displayed his knowledge of Urdu for better job prospects. The song is addictive, but then 60% of it is typical in how international female pop- singer would sing and what India's answer to international pop would be - bhangra.

Next is 'Aaj Dil Gustakh hai' sung by floral Shreya Ghoshal and macho-floral Sukhwinder Singh. The song takes the scenic route and involves terrific modern jazz piano play and a high energy, fast paced rhythm. Shreya takes the song to another level by infusing passion into the song, while Sukhwinder restrains the mood a bit (hear him sing 'Waqt ko itni jaldi hai kyon'). This seesaw effect works quite well between the two, and you can visualize a young woman breaking free, and an older (which rules out Zayed Khan) and mature (which rules out both Zayed and AK) man who can't run. 10 Brownie points if you guess who features in the song.

'Fiqrana' is a song that advises its listeners to live without worry and 'kham-a-kha' (full of immaturity, useless, in vain 2) in behakate gulzaaro, chamakte sitaaron and dehakate angaaro mein. The song has a good structure with round-shaped dhun, with a devil-may-care attitude of carefreeness in both its music and tune. It is in the league of Masti ki Paathshaala where the tune itself is free-flowing. Before you hear the lyrics you know this is going to be a song with fultoo attitude (I so wanted to use this phrase!). The singers are Vijay Prakash and Shreya Ghoshal.

'Bhoola Tujhe' gets the least footage in this post. It is a good song, or so I hear from others. I don't like it as much as others for two reasons - one it sounds much like Kahin to from JTYJN, a very cheesy soft-ballad'ish track from 80's, and I hate 80's cheesy romantic songs. Two, well there is no other reason. It sometimes sounds good but I will reserve my opinion for later.

But the 'Blue Theme' or 'Ba-loo theme' or 'Ballu theme' or 'Bi-loo theme' - whatever you want to call it - makes up for its low-energy precedent. Sung by a motley crew of singers (Blaaze - I bet he would rap even in ARR's bhajan songs, Raqeeb Alam, Sonu Kakkar, Jaspreet Singh, Neha Kakkar, Dilshad), it has the required degree of enthusiasm and punch for an action-thriller movie. I caught a glimpse of this on TV and they were messing with underwater creatures during the song. You get the idea.

That brings us to Rehnuma - a track that has already become famous as a James Bond theme-like song. I hear the haunting crooning by Shreya Ghoshal, I hear the dark chorus. What rather affirms my belief in viral spread of 'tags' in this small blogosphere on Indian films is that almost each review of Blue soundtrack I've read, and I read quite a few of them, mentions this James Bond thing. Why? Are there not other haunting tracks in English or Hindi or Tamil pop? Ever heard the Doom metal genre? Gothic metal? Atmospheric and ambient? Is the song resembling to any particular JB theme song? Is it The World is Not Enough song? No one ever noticed the oh-so-famous Kashmir guitar riff re-dux? Strange.

Rehnuma is a super-cool song nevertheless and demonstrates both the singers' - Sonu Nigaam and Shreya - versatility. The song starts on a slow passionate note by Shreya, which Sonu Nigaam takes to a pinnacle. It is quite remarkable how they sing the song.

Yaar Mila Tha Saiya is the dehaati chhed chhad song. Rahman re-visits this genre after Delhi-6 and fuses hip-hop beats and background vocals in it. The lyrics are quite fun and if properly played it can become a floor scorcher. Udit Narayan and Madhusree sing it quite well.

Blue belongs more to the music director and singers than its lyricists. Although the lyrics are good, I was unable to see a how even English pop-listening Indian audience would connect to 'Summer Barbecue' phrases in Chiggy Wiggy! This is vintage Rahman in a way that the overpower the lyricists (the PK Mishra and Mehboob-dubbed soundtrack days). Also unlike Jodhhaa Akbar and JTYJN, the album takes longer to register. Rahman experiments with the songs on surface by using modern jazz fusion and hip-hop and haunting melodies, and keeping them routine at the core. For example, the sad song is a ballad as one would expect, the Chiggy Wiggy song does not have any innovative beats and has the baap-of-cliches bhangra, but things take a novel turn with Urdu lyrics. Although I have written a rather long point of view, this album is best enjoyed with the true ambiance and without a baggage of analysis.

Footnote: 1 - alternate meaning of Chiggy Wiggy
2 - deeper spiritual meaning - at ease, with self; (ref: the secret spiritual dictionary of a certain Chopra)

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