I had deferred making an entry to my blog today because I had planned to write something about the Ayodhya issue and a pending verdict. It had been a request from a friend, and I had planned to read up a bit more about it before airing my opinion. But, then happened.
I am a late sleeper. And by extension, a watcher of many late night programmes on the telly. And this day was no exception. A few channels later, I find the news anchor telling us that a AR Rahman’s ’tweaked’ anthem for the Commonwealth Games is ready! As is, I have already heard so much negative about it that I almost change the channel. I am now thanking God that I didn’t.
Kind of a paradox there, because Rahman is one of my Gods, and has been so since his Roja days. I remember defending him when others panned his music as repetitive, or too Westernised. I even remember getting one of my relatives to concede that Rahman can give as good Indian classical music as Western by making her listen to Hai Rama from Rangeela! (Forget the picturisation of the song, and concentrate on just the music. You will be amazed.)
Over the past few weeks or so, I have been seriously reconsidering my beliefs. I heard the songs of Raavan, and it had Ranjha Ranjha which I could not get out of my head. It had a haunting, forest-y quality about it, and more so did Behne De. That was ok.
But then came Robot, and I was disappointed! Just days ago had come the Commonwealth Games anthem, and had been panned by all. I had thought that it did lack a few things, but had also typed my fingers numb defending his stand. Then came the music of Jhootha Hi Sahi, which, I had thought, had soul but lacked that *spark*. I even said so on Facebook, but friend and a fellow fan asked me to give it some time, because Rahman’s music grows on you. Thankfully, some of the songs have indeed grown on me, but I feel that they still lack the spark. But that’s just me.
And then, there was this news item on Headlines Today. Before in the interregnum between two programmes, they showed the Rahman’s ’tweaked’ version of the song. Around 15 minutes later, its still running in my head! And the elation is so heady that I feel going out onto the road and shouting for joy! My guru, my God has done it again! In an event that is falling down like a pack of cards, he will be the only person standing tall!
Elation is the only word I can use to describe this feeling, so forgive me if you are subjected to it quite a few times in the next few paragraphs. The energy that the song has infused in me is so high that my adrenaline seems to have gone on overdrive! I recognise the feeling, though. It’s the same as when I first heard Vande Mataram in crystal clear tones on my first portable music player. The same as when I first heard Chhaiyya Chhaiyya and Dil Se, and then almost went into a trance with Thaiyya Thaiyya.
But I recognise this feeling the most from when I first saw the Airtel ad that featured Rahman. I remember it was a cricket match, and they showed it after every wicket fell! Worshippers of the game and the Indian cricket team are invited to lynch me for this, but it’s true that I was wishing that Indian wickets fell more often, just so that I could see my god make music once again on the TV screen! The tune did become a bit mellow after that initial peppy additions, but I loved it nevertheless!
It was this kind of an elation that filled me when I first heard heard the ’tweaked’ anthem, and I hate the word ’tweaked’ now! But back to the anthem! It has all the trademarks of Rahman that the others somehow miss out on! The power chords on the guitar are hit at the right moments, the beats are clearer and vibrate sonorously yet soothingly! The ups and downs are a bit expected, but they do make the song peppier. And I’m a believer! Again!
I guess this is one of the reasons why I had dedicated this blog to cultivating the heart. The past two days, the surroundings had brought only negativity to my heart, and my outpourings had been bitter. But Rahman’s music has sown the seeds of hope in my heart now, and the world suddenly seems a brighter place to live in! I hope that reflects in this post!
PS: Rahman has always been a strict guardian when it comes to releasing his children (another way to describe his creations) to the world. On one occasion, he asked his sound engineer to remove all the sighs and other sounds of breathing from a song. He came back sometime later to listen to the ’finished’ product, and felt as if the song had lost its soul! He made the sound engineer re-insert all those sounds! If you want to hear the end-result, listen to Tu Hi Re from Bombay.
Another example was once narrated by Sonu Nigam. Oh sorry, I mean Sonuu Niigaam. He was singing Satrangi Re for Rahman, and it was quite a difficult task, especially with Rahman at the helm! (Why are we not surprised?) The time came to sing the last paragraph, where Sonuu was asked to hit a very high note, and to his own surprise, his voice cracked in the process! He had to regain his composure, pray to the gods and his guru, and then try again. He still admits that it was one of his most difficult songs!
What else but the best, and beyond, can you expect from the man who recorded Asha Bhosle singing Rangeela Re to just a flute playing, and then mastered it in such a way that Asha tai herself could not recognise herself after a few months?