AR Rahman is angry. ‘Rahmaniacs’ across the world are angry, and the cause is Masakali 2.0 — an idea that never should have been brought up in the first place — and its subsequent music video starring Sidharth Malhotra and Tara Sutaria that is on top of the YouTube trending charts.

That T-Series managed to successfully provoke Rahman, generally regarded as someone who keeps a cool head, with Masakali 2.0 is not entirely an unexpected turn of events; it was a question of when, not if. A simmering issue in Bollywood over the last decade, music labels have turned to sanctioning remixes of hit songs from the years past — much to the original composer’s disappointment — only for the end product to sound like something a wannabe DJ cooked up. Does this suggest a creative drain in Bollywood’s film music? YouTube connoisseurs, who have been reliving the golden era of film music far too often during the 21-day lockdown, seem to suggest in the affirmative.

That said, before Bollywood even suggestively glances at another AR Rahman track with the faintest hint of remixing it, be warned. As the maestro so eloquently put it on his Twitter post, these tracks take “365 days of creative brainstorming” with the sole purpose of producing “music that can last generations”.

It means: these tracks are already perfect the way they are. No, we don’t want them remixed. Back off!


‘Mustafa Mustafa’ — Kadhal Desam (1996)

Bollywood has already remixed three of Rahman’s iconic ‘90s tracks: the Urvasi song from Kaadhalan, ‘Andha Arabi Kadal’ became ‘The Humma song’ in Ok Jaanu, and Street Dancer 3D had Muqabala (also from Kaadhalan).

The immortal friendship anthem ‘Mustafa Mustafa’ is where we draw the line. College-themed subjects have dried up across film industries; perhaps, college life isn’t as romantic as the ‘90s made it out to be anymore. But when has reason ever defied logic when it comes to the decision-makers in Bollywood? With lyrics by Vaali, Rahman’s evergreen beats take you all back on a trip down the memory lane. Feels like creativity, doesn’t it?

Dil Se Re — Dil Se (1998)

More than Rahman, this song has Gulzar’s stamp all over it. This line: “Dil hai toh phir dard hoga, dard hai toh phir dil bhi hoga, mausam guzarte rehte hain”, which talks about the cycle of love, is an example. The purists may find issues with how Rahman sings, but for a generation of Rahmaniacs, there is noone better in the high notes. Sounds like originality, doesn’t it?

Kannalanae — Bombay (1995)

A song of longing. There is an air of authenticity about these Rahman songs, isn’t there? Maybe, this should be the social distancing anthem for the Tinder love birds already experiencing date night withdrawal due to the lock down. At the risk of sounding like a YouTube commenter caught in the web of emotions this lock down has caused, we want to say: “They don’t write songs like these anymore!” There also was the ‘Kadhal Rojave’ in Roja (1992), which was equally adept at eliciting the emotion of separation and distance out of the listener.

Roobaroo — Rang De Basanti (2006)

Masakali 2.0) belongs to the ‘Mustafa Mustafa’ ilk but is, at the same time, a polar opposite in terms of the emotions that it conveys. An example of unison that cuts across class, caste and religious borders; a timely reminder of the truest threat to Indian unity, and an exemplary song to conclude the journey that was Rang De Basanti. “Aandhiyon Se Jaghad Rahi Hai Lau Meri, Ab Mashaalon Si Bhad Rahi Hai Lau Meri” — listening to such words in these dark times, accentuated by Rahman’s upbeat tune, is just what the doctor prescribed.

‘Roobaroo’ is one of those few songs that will stand the test of time on its own. No remix needed. Knowing Bollywood’s penchant for remixing tracks featuring foot-tapping beats, stay off ‘Rang De Basanti’ by Daler Mehndi too. Up to T-Series now to not get Diljit Dosanjh in trouble!

‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ – Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Is there any feeling truer than peace? Blissful peace is what ‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ offers its listener. This was a song that Rahman had composed for himself to listen to. It took an Ashutosh Gowariker to coax the maestro to let go off one of his gems for us lesser mortals to consume and be enthralled with. When Rahman goes “Khwajaji….” with the harmonium playing in the backdrop (at a time when no musician in Bollywood thought the harmonium had what it takes to appeal to a mass audience), it is our hearts that melt. Using a qawwali, at a time when the industry preferred to use electronic sounds even in period films, was a master stroke. If remixes are about reinvention, then no remix ever comes close to this reinvention.

Aathangara Marame – Kizhakku Cheemayile (1993)

Remember this was the year 1993, a long time before CDs and electronic music hit us. Remember this was the year 1993, just one year after AR Rahman had debuted in films. Also remember, this was the time when the music composer was probably criticised for being ‘too Western and hip.’ With this Mano-Sujatha-headlined track, sprinkled with some zingy flute interludes, Rahman proved to to the world that he could do folk too, with the same passion and vigour that he pursued other genres.

Raanjhanaa Hua Mai Tera – Raanjhanaa (2013)

This romantic song has everything that would defy AR Rahman’s usual song logic – that you have to listen to it many times before you like it. The title track of ‘Raanjhanaa’ would probably have you falling for it immediately. There’s a catchy loop line, a consistent beat that never caeses to rest and apt vocals (by Jaswinder Singh) that headlines this track. The big bonus in the video is Dhanush’s oh-so-natural expressions in the rustic Varanasi landscape: do check out the part from 2:10 in which he dances in the middle of the road. If you are so insistent on listening to a ‘remix version’ of sorts for this one, there’s the impressive one that the Sunshine Orchestra and KM Music Conservatory put together.

New York Nagaram – Sillunu Oru Kadhal (2006)

Because of its simple, straight notes that caught on to us even before we realised it. Because no one else can infuse the throaty ‘oh’ between ‘Thanimai-oh’ and ‘Kodumai-oh’ as well as ‘singer’ Rahman did. Because the sound he used in this, back in 2006, will sound fresh on your headphones even today. And yes, because, no other song

Yakkai Thiri – Ayitha Ezhuthu (2004)

It has been more than fifteen years since this came about, but check it out today, and chances are that you’d imagine yourself dancing in a crowded pub, full of people. The beats are very basic, 2000s-style ones, but the strong chorus and the repeat whisper-like renditions of ‘Fanaa’ and later ‘Sa Pa Ma Pa’ will make this song give any modern-day fast song a run for its ‘Mani’.

Matargasthi – Tamasha (2015)

If ‘Masakali’ has been remixed, ‘Matargasthi’ (Tamasha), probably an inhabitant of the same musical world, might not be far behind, we fear. The voice of Mohit Chauhan, a favourite of AR Rahman in Bollywood, stands out in this peppy dance track featuring cute Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone showing off some ultra-cute dance moves. Tingalina-Tin-Ton, anyone?

News Source: The Hindu


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