Ada: A Way of Life

(A guest post by Amrith)

Rahmaniacs were still in Mughal times. Jodha Akbar was still fresh beyond its seemingly period setting. It had been more than 3 months and in May, came Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. May 20, to be precise. Aamir’s nephew was acting and all that. Rahman was scoring the music. I was waiting with bated breath. I downloaded it. Yes. Unfortunately, we were all young and stupid once. Some of us still are (stupid, not the young part). I digress. So then I put Aditi on. And I’m hooked. Oh my God! What a song! And then came Pappu and the gang. ‘Ah! Fantastic!’ I remember thinking.

On the homepage of that site, however, was one more album. Ada said the name. Music: A.R. Rahman, it said. Ha! Ada? Really? Had anyone even heard of such a movie? Of course it was a hoax. So I did what every self respecting amateur quizzer does: I wikied it. And sure enough, ‘twas true. Holy cow! Rahman! Two releases in one day?! Wow! And so I downloaded the album. And I sat down to listen. And I listened. And I listened. And I listened. I still listen.


Ishq Ada (male) was first out of the screws. Rashid Ali’s voice floated through. Rashid Ali? Where had I heard that name before? Of course. Aditi! Ah! Ishq Ada was the longing to Aditi’s innocence. His voice creates a sense of yearning; not really pain but not euphoria. Just that something; Something just right. Laughing ever so slightly, sobbing a pinch, the tone is quite fantastic with the layering of ‘oh ohhh’, the effect is almost melancholic and yet somehow ecstatic. To borrow from an Indian Ocean track, it is melancholic ecstasy.

Ishq Ada (female) next. If someone held a gun to my head, threatened to pull the trigger if I failed to describe the song, and more specifically the voice of the track in two words, I would have remained silent. My fate would have been those two words. Mind blown. I still can’t get over that voice. It haunts me. It really does. And it saddens me. Saddens me to think that she has not sung since (to be best of my knowledge; please do point out if she has, I would love to listen). The song itself is the notated version of the chorded version that the male version essentially is. The music is simple, minimal and easy but her singing elevates it to the next level, nay, to many levels above. I could just stop this right now and play it on loop but that would not be fair. Go listen. (After reading the rest of this of course for once you hear that voice, you shall be mesmerized.)

Gum Sum is a playful flowing number with Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik providing the enticing vocals. Sonu is at his teasing best tantalizing you with just that right bit of taunting in his voice while Alka is at her strong best. The music is quite simple with a nice rhythm that you will tap your foot to.

Gulfisha starts off with a French chant that sort of lays the path for the song to follow. Sonu Nigam is at the helm again but this time, he is not really tantalizing and teasing you but is out there mixing it up nicely between bass tones and slightly higher pitched ones. Sunidhi Chauhan pretty much takes over with her familiar pitch changes and generally excellent singing. The song is not really something that you could tap your feet to but there is a certain exotic and at times Arabian feel to it.

Tu mera hai is one of those Rahman tracks that are pretty much standard fare. Chitra is, well, Chitra. Sukhwinder lends support but is very limited. Naresh Iyer adds some humming, and pretty much nothing else. Chitra fans would quite like it. The others will probably skip the track after a couple of listens.

Hai Dard has Udit Narayan crooning and he is at his nasal melancholic best. The general tone of the song is one of longing and Udit fits the bill to the hilt. The songs flows along and rarely punctuates his singing which really stands above the music, and intentionally so. Just listen for the guitar riffs that support some of the high pitched portions.

Hawa Sun Hawa is the second Sonu-Alka track of the album. A most beautiful track that glides as smoothly as the voices of the lead singers of the track. Sonu Nigam is enticing with Alka almost flawless. A beautiful dialog-style rendition punctuated by the most mellifluous flute interludes make this a must-listen.

Milo Wahan wahan waltzes through with Alka again taking you through the song with seemingly effortless ease. The reason, however, that one ought to listen to listen to the song is that Jayachandran lends his voice to a Hindi feature film for the first time. Although his scope is somewhat limited, you can so easily find shades of Kannathil Muthamittal (Kannathil Muthamittal) in the song. Worth a listen. Or a few.

I have this ritual, so to speak. I always save the Rahman songs for the end. I always listen to them last. Ada was no exception. I was eight songs down. There were two to go. Meherbaan and its instrumental version. I took a break and sat down again. I hit the play button. The piano sounded. Eight of the most simple notes on the piano. And then His voice. A bass voice. And then a high pitched one. There was some raspiness in the voice. There was almost a playfulness in parts. There was a touch of solemnness. There is just about everything. Oh! And there is humming too. It is A R Rahman, a piano, a drum beat, some guitars and not much else. In other words: there is brilliance. Just like Vellai Pookal (Kannathil Muthamittal), there is something that touches your soul and lifts it up. You close your eyes and after 3 minutes and 51 seconds, when you open them again, you feel light, heady and almost floating. So you put it on again and listen to it again. And somehow, the world seems like a more serene, a more peaceful and generally a much much more beautiful place.

Meherbaan (instrumental) is, well, Meherbaan minus the words. However, there is the humming. And it adds just that little extra to the composition. Sanjeev Thomas’ guitaring just adds a depth to the piece with his alternating of the electric and acoustic guitars for the high and the lower parts. While the guitar does not really make up for the voice of ARR, it is, honestly, not quite fair to compare the two just as it is not to compare apples and oranges. Perhaps Rahman just challenged the age old saying that you cannot have the cake and eat it too.

If you’ve made it this far, fantastic! If it has taken you many minutes or hours of listening to the tracks again and again at the mere mention of them, you are excused. It took me quite a while to write this as well seeing that I had to go on multiple infinite loops of a few of the above mentioned songs. Excuse me for I ramble.

I would li
ke to say that this is not really a review but more along the lines of an appreciation; an appreciation of a pretty much lost Rahman album, for unless you ask hardcore Rahmaniacs, chances are that most people would not have heard of it. My own experience suggests that the answer to ‘Do you know Ada?’ has evoked responses that have included ‘nope’, ‘what is that?’ and ‘who is that guy?’

You really must excuse my lack of the technical knowledge of music. I really am quite poor at that and hence I write, pretty much as a layman. I am, however, a Rahmaniac and Ada is something that has fascinated me, as it should you. After all, any journey is an interesting one and one that is undertaken by Rahman is doubly so. Ada is just that. A soundtrack that was seven years in the making – a musical journey; A R Rahman’s musical journey.



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