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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Swa'des Music Review

Swades by A.R.Rahman

Rahman returns to the stables of Ashutosh Gowrikar after the grand musical success of Lagaan. The same combo of lyrics by Javed Akthar and music by Rahman has produced the magic again. Some of the people that I talk to feel that it is like Lagaan. They are not wrong - the musical structure/theme of the songs are very similar if not the same.

Without much further ado let us get right to the songs.

Yuhi Chala Chal : Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher, Hariharan

This is a typical Rahman number (critics - does not mean this is a repetition). Since 1995 when Rahman fever caught all the music directors throughout the country - there has been a deep divide in the 'type' of songs and 'sound' of songs. 'type' points to either traditional howling of bunch of violinists playing to a reach the highest note they can before the song starts ;) - the stereotypical hindi song or the ARR kinda a hum here, a stringed instrument there, a piece on the flute to back it up and a catchy rhythm. 'sound' essentially is the recording quality. Almost every song that has been ever recorded after 1995 falls under either category with almost equal representation. With such an elaborate definition of 'typical' rahman number, let us move on with the actual song.

It is a techno-funky sung starts with a brief but nice alaap and catchy rhythm with strings throughout. Udit provides the nice & easily melliflous flow to the song while Kailash brings the classical touch with an 'odd' voice -the best way to describe his voice is 'not run of the mill; but still nice'.With a brief interlude, the first stanza sets in along the expected lines with a melody line to finish the stanza. The second interlude is nice but sets the pace for the second stanza - where there is a nice improvisation by Kailash.The third stanza has a nice dreamy ambience to it and Kailash finishes it in style - where he sounds almost like Nusrat Fateh Ali.The song is a long one 7.30 ! - but enjoyable to the second.

Arvind's Rating 4 out of 5

Yeh Tara Woh Tara : Udit Narayan
This is what has come to be called nowadays as the standard ARR-Udit package. In structure it is very similar to 'Mitwa' from Lagaan.
The opening of the song is nice with lots of chords backing up which is not quite the usual ARR style. The interlude is a cutely arranged melodious piece in style of western classical and followed by the first stanza. The stanza is nicely done with Naveen having wonderful time on the flute, which translates into listener's joy!. The second interlude is quite lovely with a nice flute alaa. It borders along the lines of the song, very closely to speak :) - an extension of the 'theme' of the song. The second stanza is the same as first stanza. Kiddo 'Master Vignesh' follows the second stanza and he does his part nicely after which a faster paced tabla based rhythm sets in for the third stanza. The impeccable flautist he is, Naveen, does a wonderful job backing up the lines. (IMHO) digitally modified voice of Vignesh, who sang the first piece surfaces for a chorus ending of the song.

Rating 4 out of 5

Dekho Na : Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan.

This is a rehash of 'Baba Keechu tha' from Baba (Rajini's lifetime flop ;) ). IMHO this song is the only odd one out of the otherwise wonderfully done album. Not to say this is bad, this still is better than other run-of-the-mill junkies we are dished out by the so-called music directors(plural for the pairs -the more the number of people in composing the worser the quality of the album, with the exception of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) Occasional segments still ooze melody like the sections between 1.12-1.30. & 2.30-2.45. The first interlude is simply wonderful. The stanzas themselves are nothing much to write home about. The song just switches from one mode of melody to another - leaving a feeling of disconnect between the lines.

Rating 3 out of 5

Pal Pal Hai : Madushree, Vijay Prakash, Ashutosh Gowrikar.

Simply the best song of the album and ranks along with some of ARR's best of bests. It is a devotional song. Most people(I dont understand hindi)tout as wonderful lyrics extolling praises of Ramayana.

The song starts with a haunting melody that forms the backbone of the song with nice mridangam/tabla back up. The first few lines themselves gives you goose bumps with such passionate music and adequately sung

Interlude starts wonderfully to be intercepted by the narration of Ashutosh.

The first stanza is a very very nice work on harikhamboji,kaapi lines. Naveen once again plays the role of bridesmaid but what wonderful touch God has blessed this man with such talent. Long live his touch with flute!. One word 'Excellent'

Second interlude, is a stereo-typical Darbaari Kaanada flute/veena arrangement. Nicely done.

Second stanza is wonderfully done on Hamirkalyani. I felt that there should have been more in that stanza than what was offered. That is where I feel ARR teases you leaving you longing for more - intoxication/addiction ?

The grand finale is unbelievably passion evoking. One will start dancing unconsciously to the tune.

As said earlier, one of the best songs of ARR

Rating 5 out of 5 (can I rate it as 51/2 of 5 - it would be a better reflection on the song ;) )

Aahista : Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam.

ARR seems to have been in a mood for 'Charukesi' while he composed a set of songs like 'Udaya' from 'Udhaya' & 'Aahista' and from E20U18 etc

The song starts with beautiful hum by Udit - soothing to the core, melody flowing all over you like the river over the marbles in its way. This has become one of the favorites of mine for 'peaceful-balcony' hearing i.e. the world is dark, you out on the balcony with just earphones on - staring at the stars that seem to wink at you and pleasantly caressing mildly chil breeze and this song ! if only every feeling can be like this :) would you want the pleasure of sleeping or pleasure of listening to the song ? or would you sleep lightly to wake up to the pleasure of the song continuing to only lose your sleep to the music again ?

The interlude is simply beautiful with electronic version of xylaphone adding more pleasure to the opening. The stanza takes you through a path of tilting melody bordering on sadness adequately evoked by the background instruments. Second interlude continues from where the first one left off - second stanza starts with Udit's humming panning out and Sadhana taking over. Here i'd like to add a note saying that Sadhana, as wonderful as she sounds in other languages, for some reason i dont find her as appealing in Hindi !- she breaks the jinx with this song. Her voice expresses ever so slight in changes of notes like one would notice a coin rolling down a road.

I have to confess am deeply addicted to such kinda songs. Simple superb !
Rating 5 out of 5

Saanwariya : Alka Yagnik
This is another wonderfully done song by ARR. The song opens with a nice arrangement that evokes memories of 'Mahive' from 'TLOBS'. vocals themselves starts with unconventional notes - along the lines of 'Vennila Vennila' from 'Iruvar' continues along the same structure backed by a nice and easy rhythm. With occasionally so 'cool' chords thrown here and there.

The brief interlude is followed by a tabla setting for the first stanza, which in itself is very nice - but Alka once again sounds so shrill when she hits the high notes.The second interlude is very nicely done.Stanza follows without any surpises. Song ends once again with a lovely arrangement with a hum on the lines of raaga 'Maand'. The instrumental piece that takes over from Alka is excellent.

Feel Asha would have done better justice to the song

Rating 4.5 out of 5


Anonymous said...

Nice work there. Been listening to this since end-September, and although no words can quite express my feelings about it, yours have brought forth several emotions that I have felt when listening to the album. Just can't get enough of it, and now with visuals to accompany the song, it's an 'akhsay-patra' of joy and contentment. That bit about 'balcony-song' is so true!


Neil Panchal said...


Thanks for posting a wonderful review of one of the best albums by ARR, ever. I guess, you forgot the song, yeh jo des hai tera....

would NOT rate this song :), its unrated.

Vijay said...

stumbled upon your blog and read Swades review. Its kind of amusing that you didnt remember yeh joh des hai tera , my pick of the album, yet liked the album overall ;-)That the one song that gives the overall feel to the movie and the one that captured my attention immediately, due to the soulful rendition of Rahman and the minimalistic/earthy orchestration

Arvind said...

I know, it is ironic that i left it out....

The reason of it was coz, i was doing it in bits & pieces, writing one song at a time...and suddenly could not hold back on not posting it anymore :-)

As posted above, it would rather be better unrated ! ;p

Thanks for your comments. Do visit my blog often and read other reviews and express yourselves !

Anonymous said...

i'm really interested in finding out the name of the musical theme that comes on when Khan comes to the village.. i think it goes like, "aiyo re, aiyo re..."

Arvind said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you can point me to where i can hear that theme, i can try to help :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice review, the descriptions with the ragas, especially for the two songs you rate 5, made me want to go listen to them right away :)

(I think, though, I didn't find them as good as I expected... ;)


Arvind said...


Give it a couple of more listens, you'd love them.

ARR bug, it is called :-)

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. :) I guess I'm just much more a fan of the Ilayaraja-style melodies, and somehow, I expected that ;)

BTW, not like you're running out of songs to review or anything, but if you do some of the older favourites by Ilayaraja, I'd be very interested. :)


Arvind said...


Sure :-)