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Untimely effort

Untimely effort
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First Published: Sat, Feb 02 2008. 12 49 AM IST

Jodhaa Akbar: Looking back
Jodhaa Akbar: Looking back
Updated: Sat, Feb 02 2008. 12 49 AM IST
After hearing and reading director Ashutosh Gowarikar say that the theme of the movie didn’t require impressive music tracks, one wasn’t expecting too much from this overdue album. And as it happens, low expectations mean the listeners will not be too disappointed by this UTV presentation produced by Gowarikar, with music by A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Javed Akhtar.
Jodhaa Akbar: Looking back
In Jodhaa Akbar, there are five songs in the genre of praise, devotional and romantic. But one cannot understand why the flavour of the period was not maintained for the music. In the 16th century, the style of music was raag-based classical music followed by a slowly evolving thumri-dadra culture. If the costumes, jewellery and sets of a film can ape a time period, why can’t the music? Are listeners not able to discern and appreciate these subtleties?
Simply put: Couldn’t the songs have been more Indian? This epic could have done without the predominant Western arrangement, Turkish and Japanese drums, keyboards, et cetera. How about some unadulterated Dhrupad? Or just the form of music that Mian Tansen sang for Akbar? Rahman’s sense of aesthetics is good, and his presentation and packaging styles are benchmarking Indian music standards, but this music does not fit a period film. Any song from this film could easily be used in any modern-era film situation. And the songs are too long.
The silver lining is the use of several new voices such as Bela Shende, Madhushree, Javed Ali, Mohammed Aslam and Bony Chakravarthy. Having sung for the big boss of Indian cinema music, these singers can surely hope for a bright future. Rahman himself has fabulously sung Khwaja mere Khwaja, a peppy hummable qawwali number. Sonu Nigam excels in the pleasant but ordinary creation, In lamhon ke daaman mein—never heard him sound as sexy as he does in this love song.
Bela Shende does a Lata Mangeshkar in Mann Mohanaa. Here is a sweet, thin, high-pitched voice, but the singing is superficial. It’s obvious that she is following Madam M’s style, but that trademark punch of the prima donna is missing. This is something all female singers of the day need to note and work on. But what is this overdramatic bhajan doing here in the first place? It not only fails to sustain, it just goes on and on! Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah and Jashn-E-Bahaaraa are easy on the ears and will be accepted by fans of the Chennai music-maker.
The slight use of classical taraana-type pieces and two miniscule sitar works are some efforts to bring in the flavour of the subject—a stark contrast to an otherwise Western-influenced Rahman submission.
But pick up the album, definitely for the fantastic photographs, designing and printing of the CD. UTV Music distributed by Sony BMG, Rs 160.
Kushal Gopalka is an archivist and student of Indian music who writes for Swar Aalap, a monthly newsletter.
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First Published: Sat, Feb 02 2008. 12 49 AM IST