Author Archives: Aishwarya

Happy Birthday A.R.Rahman

(Written by Aishwarya)

I think I’ve been listening to Rahman’s music forever. There are old home videos where Telephone Manipol plays in the background at a birthday party. There was a time my friends and I choreographed dance moves to Chaiyya Chaiyya when Dil Se came out. Once Sangamam released, I remember dad being enthralled by Shankar Mahadevan’s voice in Varaga Nadhikarai. I repeatedly danced to songs from Lagaan in school. But it wasn’t until years later when I started to take a special interest in Rahman’s music, and eventually music in general.

As an impressionable 12 year old, the Boys album changed my life (about which I have written on the blog with a cheesy title). I went through Rahman’s entire discography one by one between August and December 2003. Dad bought me a CD burner, and I used it to burn the songs of Enakku 20 Unakku 18 on it. I am sure I still have the CD somewhere. When Kangalal Kaidhu Sei released in early 2004, I remember my distinct disappointment. It was a Saturday morning, and I was home listening to the songs on Oosai.com. I thought, “What are these songs….I DON’T LIKE THIS.” I eventually changed my mind.

I welcomed my teenage years with Aayitha Ezhuthu. Before the official launch, I obsessively listened to little snippets that were leaked online. I visited the movie’s official website every day. I had never been more excited about anything, and I have never felt that kind of excitement again either. When the album released, I lost my mind. I had cassettes of the album that I would play every night before I fell asleep. One day Yaakai Thiri was my favourite. The next day it was Dol Dol. On Tamil New Year the same year, I sat in front of the tv to watch a Rahman interview even though I had a final exam the following day. He played this amazing version of Jana Gana Mana. There was another interview with actor Vikram that year in which he was asked what songs he was listening to at the moment. Vikram said he was listening to Nenjam Ellam and that he loved the album. That made me ECSTATIC.

I spent my adolescence listening to Mangal Pandey during power outages, playing Swades on my grandfather’s cassette player, watching the RDB title track everytime it was on tv (which was once very hour), memorizing the lyrics to Machakari with my sister, trying to understand what was going on in the Sivaji soundtrack and so on. Also, I must confess that I gave Dil Gira Dafatan a serious listen only after Amit Trivedi mentioned it in one of his interviews. Thanks AT.

My anticipation for Rahman’s albums is different today. The manic energy is replaced by a mixture of nervousness and curiosity. I put the album on loop, and more often than not, I am left exclaiming, “Ah! Vintage Rahman!”

Happy Birthday to the man whose music has constantly given me company, challenged me and opened me up to a world of possibilities, and given me something to look forward to every few months. Rahman’s music also still makes me want to stop everything I am doing when Humma Humma is on.

 (My sister and me)

That One Song: Part 2

This is Part 2 of the 4-Part ‘That One Song’ series. You can read Part 1 here

Krtgrphr

Rasathi, or the Big Voice and Brief Life of Shahul Hameed: Unfortunately, most of us will never know what Shahul Hameed looked like when he was singing Rasathi from Thiruda Thiruda. The closest we can get to that knowledge is through this striking cover, and the visible effort put in by a very talented lead singer. What remains to be said about Rasathi that hasn’t already been said in many different ways? Nothing, except that even today it surprises and takes back in its various different forms. Back to where cows amble, time stands still, and the green rolls on for miles — a perfect and misty, quiet, cold morning. In paradise.

Akshay Bhatnagar

I’ve never had a favourite song when it comes to Rahman. But one song that particularly comes to my mind is “Yeh Haseen Wadiya“. The beauty of this song is not just in its lyrics, but also in the freedom you sense when you listen to the music given to this masterpiece. It awakens my soul to a point that I lose track of my worries and troubles. This has been one song which I’ve listened to for years but never got bored of it ever. There was never a point where I started resenting this song because of listening to it on repeat for days on end. The lyrics are good, but the music makes it outstanding.

Harshitha Ravi

Choosing one favourite is going to be impossible, so I’ll just talk about the one song that cropped into my head the minute I thought of A. R. Rahman. Well, New York Nagaram is the chosen one. The album, Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, had two of Rahman’s most popular songs in recent times. While the whole world went for Munbe Vaa, New York Nagaram stuck with me from the very first listen (rare trait in Rahman songs). A song sung by the genius himself, he starts with a very interesting bit of humming. He then takes it to a whole new level, a level which induces goosebumps each time one listens, in the verses that follow. He brings the perfect tone to the song – keeping it soft and low. It is a song that showcases long distance separation in a relationship, and to this day it is the one song I go to when I undergo the feeling of separation from near and dear ones.

Dipak Ragav 

For me it was 2003 The Unity Of Light Concert that made me a proper fan. If I have to narrow it down to one song, I will say Maula Maula (Arziyan) from Delhi-6. It is hard to give reasons especially considering I don’t understand Hindi, so I have no clue about the meaning of the song but there is such a divine effect every time I hear it. Also, Kailash Kher is simply brilliant in this song.

P.S. Sureshkumar 

“Isn’t this the best A.R.Rahman song or just the best song ever?” I ask myself whenever the song “The Journey Home” is on loop in my mind. If I have to settle with just one moment in a song to illustrate Rahman’s innate genius, it would be that second in this song when the strings swell up and pour down heavily like a rain to reprise the main motif towards the end of the pivotal line of the song “Sometimes standing still could be the best move you ever make”. The exhilaration in having to make no choices at all couldn’t be expressed better in music. Most of us in today’s world are perennially in-transit, hanging on to a place or something while always longing for a return to home, whatever, wherever or whenever the Home is. Journey Home is one song that fits all ever. And to me, Rahman’s music is home, and irrespective of what I listen to, the journey has always been towards that moment of listening to a new piece of Rahman’s music for the first time.

 

That One Song: Part 1

It’s a big week for us here. Rahmania is celebrating its 4th anniversary on 14th November 2014! To mark this occasion, we reached out to a bunch of fans asking them to write about one Rahman song that is special to them. The response has been overwhelming! This is Part 1 of a 4 Part Series. We hope you enjoy it! 

Gradwolf

The unending fascination for 90s A.R.Rahman is one thing. The belief that he is no more the force he was then is completely another. 2008 was a monster year for Rahman. The quality may depend on the individual but by sheer quantity, Rahman was everywhere, the Oscar buzz notwithstanding. And then came the behemoth called Delhi 6. While the album is full of tracks vying for a position in Rahman’s top 20 tracks (if that is even possible now – 6 years have passed since 2008, 22 years since Roja), the one that stands out is Dil Gira Dafatan. The video – once we are ready to pardon the bad visual effects – works beautifully within the film’s context – the story of an NRI, coming to grips with his new Indian surroundings and struggling to coexist in a shared space. It may just work as well for Rahman of old, he of the new sound of 90s that drew us all in and the Rahman of new, he belonging to the ones who grew old with him but suddenly found him inaccessible. Or so they thought. Delhi 6 (and this song) is the logic endpoint (or starting point?) of that journey. The captivating Rahman of the 90s coexisting in harmony with the new experimental Rahman. At one point in the video, Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) runs but remains stationary. We thought that was Rahman. But Rahman went miles ahead. It’s us who had to adjust for this quantum leap much like Roshan trying to come to grips with all the changes. (Tu magar hai bekhabar, hai bekhabar)

Rivjot Brar

Bombay Theme is probably the finest composition by AR Rahman. I consider myself a hardcore music fan. Yet, there are hardly any songs that can bring tears to my eyes. Bombay Theme was the first track that got me emotionally drained and tears could not stop coming out of eyes. Despite listening to this song over 1000 times, every hearing still brings goosebumps. Undoubtedly, this composition is one of Rahman’s favorite as well, because the flute performance of Bombay Theme gets featured in almost all of his concerts. The song has been featured in countless international compilation albums: that says almost everything about the quality of this composition.

Dinesh Jayaraman

Pachai Nirame (Alaipayuthey) was, at 11 years old, the first song that I had ever genuinely liked, and the effect it had on me took me quite by surprise. It became my gateway drug into Rahman and Tamil film music in general when I bought the film’s audio cassette (with Kandukondein Kandukondein on the B side as a bonus!). Trying to figure out why I liked this song so much, discovering its various layers and hidden complexities and the interplay between the music and the lyrics taught me my first few lessons in appreciating music. PC Sreeram’s visualization of the song is a treat in itself, and all through my teens, Pachai Nirame was what I imagined falling in love would feel like.

Varun Varghese

Unlike many others, after watching Swades I actually wanted to go out of India only so that I can come back after listening to Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera. I used to have this small globe with me, which I used to rotate while playing Yej Jo Des Hai and stand there like SRK and wait for India to appear.

Shasvathi Siva

Vellai Pookal:

A tune that can make me smile when I’m happy, weep when I’m sad. There’s something very comforting about the song, and at the same time something extremely disturbing about it. The first ever time I heard this song, tears flowed down my cheek mercilessly. It’s not everyday that you can listen to a song as this, because once the play button is pressed, it’s impossible to lay a finger on any other button, other than the replay one.

To sum it up in one line: Magic met Music, and a Maestro sat right in the middle and coalesced the two of them into a single track of bliss.

 

 

The White Dandelion

Rahmania is back! We apologize for the very long break. We have no excuses.

A very Happy Birthday to A.R.Rahman. We have a special post written by Amrith. Enjoy! 

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                                           White-Dandelion-Flower-640x400

A long day’s work. A long bus journey to get back home. The usual grind. Unfortunate but, needs must. The bus journey, you look forward to a little less apprehension for you know that you have the comfort of your music.

So you get on the bus and you, hopefully, find a seat on it. You sit down and put the earphones – or headphones – on. You then play something. You feel better. And then you play something else. You feel better still. Slowly, you begin to relax and as you do, music takes a step in the backward direction. Before you know it, the songs that you had lined up are done. You are far too busy looking at something else – a pretty girl, a sleeping child, the bus conductor’s rhythm. Something else.

And then you come back to the music. It has stopped. Something is not ajar. There is nothing in your ear. But now, anything will do. So you do the easiest thing you can – put the playlist on shuffle and settle in once again. You, maybe, close your eyes. The world of the bus is exhausted. The world outside the bus window is uninteresting. So you look inward. And then you try to enjoy the music. And yet, you can’t really do that.

At first, the music fills your mind; it captivates you. You sing along. And then the mind wanders. You think of the unfinished piece of code, that stray comment that you meant to add but did not, that report that is not quite formatted, that template that is due first thing in the morning. Just as easily, the mind thinks of what is to be – the food that you are going to make, the vegetables that are there at home, the fruits that are to be bought, that shirt that needs to be pressed for tomorrow and all else.

The music, all this while, is still playing. It is, however, a mere detail.

While all this happens in your head, your destination arrives or, rather, you arrive at your destination. You alight. You walk towards your house, the usual packet of milk bought at the corner store. You exit the bustle of the main road and leave behind the traffic. The music is still playing. You are aware of this, no doubt. And yet, it is still only a detail. Your mind is still thinking of what you’re going to cook.

You glance, that usual cursory glance, at that balcony of that building hoping to catch a glimpse of that friendly man who waves at you. He is not there. You are impatient. You want to be home. You want to be rid of all the grime and the sweat. Your eyes wander. You look at the opposite side of the road. A couple of silhouettes emerge from the distance, the yellow streetlight almost halo-esque behind their heads. The silhouettes – An old man and a child – approach. And then they stop.

Suddenly, you are aware of a silence. The music has stopped. You notice, surprising yourself. The child is holding on to the outstretched index finger of the left hand of the old man, presumably, his grandfather. The little one stretches to hang on to the finger. The child does not really know what a pull-up is, as yet, and yet, he is executing something that resembles it.

Suddenly, he lets go of the grandfather’s hand. Something else has caught his fancy. Suddenly, you are aware of the strumming of a guitar. The strumming builds up. It is interspersed with notes. Twenty seconds pass. Time, it seems, is a four-beat cycle. A voice. It is not the greatest you have heard but, somehow, it is apt.

You stand. You are transfixed by the child. Or is it the voice? Or is it the music? No, it cannot be the music. It is way too simplistic. It cannot be the voice; it is nothing extraordinary. It must be the child, you think. Surely.

And so you continue to look at the child. He is jumping up and down wildly. You squint to see why. At first, you don’t see it. And then, as the song lilts and flows, you see it. Three and a half minutes have elapsed. Another instrument, you hear. A flute. You see what the child sees. You see the white dandelion. The little white flower bobs up and down. As soon as the child thinks that he has caught it, it just escapes and bobs up before coming down to tease the child again. And then again. And then again.

The flute, meanwhile, has merged with the voice. Four minutes have elapsed. The guitar joins in, albeit, most succinctly. And then the voice goes higher. The flute follows. The guitar strum becomes more pronounced. It all just comes together in only the way it can. The result, it seems, is magic. And then the flute fades out. It has done its bit. The guitar strums a little more loudly. The voice is steady.

And then the voice begins to fade in volume, ever so slightly. The guitar is in its last throes. You know it is. You suddenly snap out of it. You leave the magical world that Rahman has transported you to for the past five minutes. You realize just in time, that the voice is now completely gone. There is one last strum of the guitar left. You look up, instinctively.

The child looks at you, a look of satisfaction, neigh, achievement writ large on the face; a face lit up by a wonderful smile. You know that the guitar strum is not going to last much longer. You know that the end is now and yet, you do not want it to end. And yet, it must. You wait for that last strum. It comes. You are hit with a pang. You look up. The child extends his right hand.

He has caught the dandelion, the white flower. You look at that and you smile. The world, suddenly, is a much better place.