Sunday, September 5, 2010

A R Rahman Losing His Touch?

Of late, post Slumdog Millionaire Oscar and Grammy Glory, A R Rahman is losing his magical musical touch, according to music lovers. Rahman's latest Common Wealth Anthem is only loved by hard-core Rahman fans, while others felt that he was not up to his mark. Here are few of other musical compositions by A R Rahman that has not met with a super response.

  • • Robot - Hit in south, crashing elsewhere
  • • Raavan - Not so good
  • • Blue - Except for Fikrana, none of the songs were good.
  • • Slumdog Millionaire - Global phenomenon but Indians wonder what is so great in it?
  • • Delhi 6 - For the classes only
  •  Sivaji - Fans rejoiced but nothing beyond that.
  •  Yuvraaj:  Tu Hi Mera Dost is one of Rahman's best songs ever, but the rest of the album was mediocre.
  To sum it up, Rahman is crowning international glory but Bollywood is not so happy with him. Post Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na(2008), a lot of people feel that Rahman is not up to his best. Ghajini that folllowed Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na had two good songs, "Kaise Mujhe" and "Guzaarish"

There is news that Rahman is buying a five-acre plot in Los Angeles to set up his production facility with sound engineer Resul Pookutty. He is also accused of not concentrating totally in Bollywood projects and delaying them. Rahman's artistic ways: working in Chennai only, doing work only at night, doing work according to his standards only has made some producers in Bollywood distance away from him, particularly when he does not deliver his best.

Though some people think Rahman's best is behind him, there are many who think Rahman has still lots of amazing music left in him. “There is a divine energy there,” says filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who has shared an emotional bond with the composer since his Shikhar days. “It is not your usual sharaab-kebab kind of atmosphere that you encounter in most Mumbai studios.” Ghajini-producer Madhu Mantena, who has worked closely with Rahman since Rangeela, too says watching the maestro in his studio is like entering a very sacred space. Rahman continues to remain inaccessible and after Hollywood successes, this has become increasingly so.

“If you are a newbie,” says a producer who has met the maestro and is still waiting for his verdict on his proposal. “You have to make at least 10 trips to his studio to discuss your project with him. Unlike other music composers, money is no criteria for him. There is no saying why or when he will pick one project over the other,” the producer adds. Another ad-based film maker says that it can be quite tough to get his time and permission because he is not in India most of the time.

Mantena who made Ghajini is always thankful to Rahman. He says that Rahman has worked with new comers also including Abbas Tyrewala. This many feel is because of Rahman's Aamir Khan connection.“Besides, he is so dedicated to his work that each song probably goes through more changes than the script itself,” Mantena reveals, agreeing with other insiders like Ram Gopal Varma. “No matter how pressured he is, Rahman will never let a tune pass until he is happy about it.”

It can also be said that Rahman does not hurry his projects, it is more of Bollywood producers being in such great hurry.Mantena denies the maestro kept him waiting for months for the title track for his latest, Jhootha Hi Sahi. “There are nine songs and the time taken was the same as any other album,” the producer says.
However, there are reports that the Commonwealth Games theme took six months, and then it was back to the drawing board after the organising committee wanted Rahman to make changes.

Subhash Ghai, says that Rahman has a concentration problem. "While working with him on Yuvvraaj, I realised he was probably having trouble
focusing“. “When Rahman was working for Taal,” says Ghai, “he was completely immersed in the craft of composing. But while working with him on Yuvvraaj, I realised he was probably having trouble focusing with so much on his plate these days. You cannot blame him. He is an explorer who is hungry for more and wants to discover new sounds and new techniques. You have to allow him to grow. May be there are not enough challenges for him here. A film critic says, "Rahman still still has the mass with him. However, Rahman has not been showing his best elements on his recent works,” he adds.

“You cannot judge Rahman on the basis of one song,” says sitar maestro Pandit Kartick Kumar, who worked with the Oscar winner in the Jana Gana Mana project. “People have been comparing that tune to what Rahman has created. It is not fair to compare a classic with a more contemporary track,” Pandit Kumar adds “But, yes, maybe Rahman should not have sung the song himself. Just because his Vande Mataram clicked, does not mean he can bring the same energy to every song he lends his voice to,” adds Kumar. The veteran sitar exponent puts it down to an unfortunate error of judgement by an otherwise superlative production designer and musician.

Rahman fans and loyalists belive that Rahman is still the god of Indian film music. His music is not like fast food but a nutritious, gourment cuisine. Ram Gopal Varma says even Rangeela's music looked (or rather felt) bad in the beginning. He wrote in his blog‘...the compositions he came up with used to surprise me, though not always pleasantly. That is because his tunes were so original in his interpretation of the emotion of a situation that a conventional ear will take time to let it sink in.’Mantena too believes Rahman’s style is so ‘different’ that it shocks you the first time.

Sagar Desai, music director of Quickgun Murugan-fame, has an explanation: “May be Rahman does not feel obliged to make tunes that appeal to the humble rickshawwallah anymore, but is more interested in staying true to his artistic core, no matter what the consequences.”

At the same time, Rahman gets the respect that none of the musicians in India have got when they worked with other arrogant music directors.

“What makes him stand apart from the others is his ability to understand a musician and his comfort zone,” says Neil Mukherjee, who has played guitar for Rahman over seven years on several projects. “He will never make you feel uncomfortable.” And this quality of empathy, feels Mukherjee, is also tied to the maestro’s strong spiritual leanings.

Rahman's policy of asking a share of the movie's profits apart from his hefty fee has also made many producer distance away. This is the reason why Farah Khan decided to take a cheaper Vishal-Shekhar team than go overbudget with Rahman.
. “Any change is frowned at,” he said then, “I am standing up for what I think is right.”

Bollywood Trends feel that Rahman is still capable of making original music. Since his compositions are unorthodox and ground-breaking, they sound over the top or un-musical at the beginning. But slowly it begins to sink in and you hear the rewind button of your iPod again. Rahman is also the most tech savvy of music directors familiar with what is happening around in the world, in music right now. He directly uploaded his song in and asked for feedback in Facebook which was sweet. But many still judge his tunes with the first impression. Who would have loooked 'Hai Ramma' of Rangeela in the first listen? Today's people do not have much patience, which is why he should make some instant-friendly tunes also along with his classy stuff. How about Roja or Dil Se style masterpieces?

Give your comments about whether Rahman is losing his touch in Bollywood?


Anonymous said...

fantastic article......very well researched for any rehman fan......oflate i think rehamn i missing his raw ingredient that made the song really tasty.....most recent songs by rehman are just not that gr8.....yes we do expect too much from him... but still thers something missing nowadays with his music!!! i hope thats not the case in 2011

Anonymous said...

remember rd burman hard times during 90's?? it's usual nothing much to be hyped about .... he wil remain as one of the biggest musical geniuses of all times.

shekhar suman said...

music has no is a feeling which has the power to talk with the soul and purify it and ignite it to strive in the ever frustating is the music of Rahman Sir..if i am not wrong then he must have given millions of extra years to the music lovers..and criticising him is just like criticising Sachin Tendulkar..i think cwg theme should have been better..but others are excellent..luv u sir..jai ho

SPKORGSP said...

yes one must remember that Rahman and Tendulkar are human beings. They too succumb to pressure, demands and the material world...But they are the only few we have with us who are trying to be inhuman in terms of giving their best for getting quality. Yes we will have people with mediocre intelligence even booing AR RAHMAN and Sachin Tendulkar when they are not in form. Its sad that we have such people in our country who will never remember the gems they had produced in the past. One other thing is our north Indian counterparts will never get to enjoy 100's of tamil tracks which Rahman has composed and some of them have been horribily converted to hindi that people judge Rahman based on those horribly converted tracks...Their true worth can be realized and enjoyed only by a Tamilian. By the way i am a malayalee :-. if people question his skills in melody all i can tell them is listen to tracks from taj mahal, Kizhakku cheemayile, May madham, kadhalar dhinam, Pavithra, Thiruda Thiruda etc etc etc...list goes on...I am equal fan of I.R sir also...they both are wings of one bird called music...IR sir produces syrup like sweet melodies...AR produces a melody and then decorotes it like a new bride with jewels...we are lucky to have them during our generation...kudos to both of them...

Durga Nandan said...

Who said Robot was a hit in south? Only fans are going crazy over it..
And yeah, I think he is losing it.
In our land, there is a saying 'Stop your song, while your voice is good.'
I think he should listen to that..

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