Tamasha- Music Review by Ram Anand

Nah, I’m kidding. This song is more than seven minutes long. Discovery? Fuck that. I’m getting lost in this number. I’ll lose myself. I’ll rediscover myself some other day. I’ve been taken over by the music.

There are two things that I look forward the most when it comes to Indian cinema- a Mani Ratnam film and an AR Rahman musical. With “Tamasha” (Show), the legendary Rahman teams up with filmmaker Imtiaz Ali for the third time, and their previous two collaborations is enough to cause pangs of excitement.

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First, there was the timeless album Rockstar (2011), in which the range that was brought out by Rahman made it one of his best albums in a career spanning over two decades- while Highway (2014), was a hidden gem that contained some of the most carefully composed tunes you’ll ever hear, if you are bothered to listen carefully.
Hence why, the first thing I did this morning was to get my hands on a Tamasha album, and quickly ensured I had listened to each tracks at least three times before I posted this review.
And there is not gonna be a review more apt for me to end my hibernation from Thou Art So Beautiful, as I had not written much here this calendar year.
Here goes.
Matargasthi (Mohit Chauhan)
Now, the promo video making rounds since last week had already captured the imagination of millions. Ranbir Kapoor’s quirky dance moves, with Deepika Padukone’s energy, had already promised a great musical number with a mix of unconventional sound mixing. If anyone remembers what Mohit Chauhan did for ARR in Rockstar, this is right up that classic alley. Once again, Rahman brings out a new range in Mohit’s vocals, and both of them combine to deliver an absolutely mental, breathless, and soothing number.
Where Rahman stands out in the deluge of Bollywood hit numbers is the fact that he does not relegate his dance numbers to all of high pitch noise and blasting music. Keeping in mind that the song is shot in the outdoors of Corsica (a gorgeous island), Matargasthi tells a story of its own with the flow of its music. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics flow seamlessly with the music- resembling “Hawa Hawa” from Rockstar, which was shot in Prague.
The highlight, apart from Mohit’s vocals and that cute “ding a ding” and that minute pistol sounds (all part of the storytelling elements)- is of course the rather melodious second half of the song- where Mohit switches his vocals- and the violins come in to allow Ranbir to do his effervescent impersonation of Dev Anand. An absolutely Tamasha way to start an album to begin an album that Rahman fans had been craving for months now.
And man, he did not disappoint.
Rating: 10/10
Heer To Badi Sad Hai (Mika Singh, Nakash Aziz)
Mix that Punjabi folklore tune with Mika Singh’s voice, you’d normally expect a high pitched dance number- but again this is AR Rahman’s touch. With Irshad’s lyrics, this song describes the female protagonist (Heer)’s sad emotions and frustration. There is a journey element in this number (Imtiaz’s films always have an element of travel interconnected with personal emotional growth).
The beats are absolutely catchy- for a song that has the word “Sad” in it, this song is far from a sad hearing. Mika gorgeously goes high pitch at the middle stanzas, and this must have been one of the best numbers he had sung in a long, long time.
Then, comes the final one minute in which ARR takes it to another level with a gorgeous beats that have become the theme of the film’s trailer. Captures your imagination- and your musical senses. Sumptuous..
Rating: 9.5/10
Tum Saath Ho (Alka Yagnik and Arjit Singh)
Look who’s returned! Aka Yagnik is behind the mic for ARR after a long time, and my, the results are as sweet as her voice. An out and out, soulful, romantic number- ARR kills it with his use of flute and two different tempos for Alka and Arjit’s portions.
This stands right up there with the likes of Tum Ho (Rockstar), and Heer (Highway)- songs that takes you to a different plain altogether.
The soul of AR Rahman’s songs in this album is captured in this extremely delectable number. “Teri Nazrein Me Sapne, Tere Sapne Mein Narazi”.
This is beautiful poetry mixed with beautiful sound mixing, with the voice of one of the best female singers of the recent generations. And it has everything- tablas, flute, you name it.
Not to forget, Arjit does an exemplary work with his parts as well. You do not expect anything less from an AR Rahman album do you?
Rating: 10/10
Wat Wat Wat (Arjit Singh and Sashwat Singh)
This is another song that has Punjabi folklore elements- and elements of a personal journey. This tells a story of a man who, literally, got “done over” by a woman he loved- hence the “Wat”.
The percussions are absolutely quirky but it all settles nicely in a soulful rhythm. Arjit does an excellent job and seems to be having fun behind the mic.
On another day, this could have been a situational song- but as situational the lyrics sound, this song comes out as catchy as Heer To Badi Sad Hai.
Rating: 9/10
Chali Kahani (Sukhwinder Singh, Haricharan, and Haripriya)
Begins with a slow flute, and suddenly you have a grand orchestra coming in. Probably the richest composition in the album, Chali Kahani is the central song of the album- the one that befits the theme “Why always the same story?”
Fittingly, this composition never settles in a monotony. The tune changes orchestra to carnatic effortlessly. Sukhwinder Singh, needless to say, does what a veteran like him does so best- anchor the different tunes so well, before Haricharan flexes his sweet vocals for a brief time- along with Haripriya.
This song is an important backstory to the film- and befitting to an album like Tamasha, is so bloody high in musical quality. Three or four listens, and you’ll be taken in by ARR’s stunning background musical mix.
Now, it’s time to wait for the story.
Rating: 9/10
Safarnama (Lucky Ali)
Who would have thought Lucky Ali will get one of the best songs in the album? Soulful, rich, and spiritual. “Shuru tumse, khatam tumse”.
ARR uses minimal instruments for this song, but the effect is almost magical. It’s deeply emotional too at the same time. You really don’t get compositions like these often, even in an ARR album.
This packs so much soul and depth that even if you don’t understand the language, the heaviness won’t be lost on you. A man’s search for his love encapsulated so well in its music and BGM work.
You can only take your hats off.
Rating: 9.5/10
Parade De La Bastille (Instrumental)
Now- imagine a track named Parade De La Bastille, starting with some Sufi humming, following Mediterranean touches, and then flute, and then a rehash of Matargasthi.
Nothing left to say- it’s just pure creativity- AR Rahman way. Listen.
Rating: 9.5/10
Tu Koi Aur Hai (AR Rahman, Alma Ferovic, and Arjun Chandy)
There, finally, with the final track, ARR goes behind the mic- and how. Such rich orchestra, and such soulful lyrics. A song about self discovery, Tu Koi Aur Hai is something you should listen on a quiet morning overlooking the sea- because the richness is so vast and can move you places and also invoke so much emotions.
Alma Ferovic returns to the mic after Rockstar and again provides ample support for ARR with the orchestra parts.
And there is also the use of opera vocals, which goes along with this beauty of a composition. Discover yourself. Discover the music.
Nah, I’m kidding. This song is more than seven minutes long. Discovery? Fuck that. I’m getting lost in this number. I’ll lose myself.
I’ll rediscover myself some other day. I’ve been taken over by the music.
Rating: 10/10
There’s nothing left to say. Some albums leave you speechless, and this has done exactly that. Beauty. Perfection.
Thank you Imtiaz, for providing a script that has clearly enabled ARR to weave his magic again. Apart from Mani Ratnam, it seems only Imtiaz brings out such richness in ARR compositions. This is a hat trick of stunning albums.
Never stop collaborating.
Now, Phir Tamasha Dekh!
Whole a album rating: Sumptuous. Delicious.

Chennai Express-Movie Review by Ram Anand

CE delivers exactly what it was supposed to deliver and makes no bones about masala intents. So, if you know what exactly to expect from this film- abandon your brains at the entrance of the threatre and go in for a fun ride. Yes, it is worth the admission price.

When it is Red Chillies, Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty rolled into a single package called “Chennai Express”, you know you should walk into the theatre expecting loads of fun, some southern masala elements including flying cars, slapstick comedy, and some roaring stupid villains.

So in that sense, there’s nothing to surprise us from what CE delivers over its normal 2 hours 30 minutes duration. The story is about Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), a 40-year-old who accidentally travels south while wanting to disperse his grandfather’s ashes, and gets involved in a mess caused by Meenama (Deepika Padukone), a southern Tamil girl who is trying to run away from her father, the don of a fictional Komban village, Periyathalai (Sathyaraj).

But one thing about CE that northerners might fail to appreciate is the fact that the movie pays heavy tribute to famous south indian films by literally parodying snippets from many famous southern scenes. There is a scene that parodies a famous comic scene from Rajnikanth’s Muthu, while there is also a scene that parodies Vijay’s heroics in the blockbuster Gilli.

What you have is a film that packs all the punch in a comic way- plenty of colours, well choreographed songs, a gorgeous actress, an underdog hero who wins the woman with courage at the end of the movie, a bunch of goondas who want to kill the hero, and even an item number.

But what sets CE apart from your regular Tamil masala that southerners might be accustomed to is the characterisation of the hero and also the goondas.

Instead of being made as the “winner” and the “saviour”, SRK and Rohit team up to write SRK’s character with such humour quotient that his vociferous dialogue delivery during the climax comes as a pleasant surprise. At times, SRK happily allows Deepika’s quirky Meenama to overshadow him on all levels.

And the goondas provide great humour. The filmmakers’ decision to cast regular south indian actors to play pivotal roles in the movie is one of the best things going for the flick.

Shah Rukh Khan being the able entertainer that he is, pulls this off rather effortlessly. Since his character itself is aged 40, he wasn’t trying too hard to be young, and this adds to Rahul’s charm. Although he does over-act in some sequences at the beginning of the movie, his comic timing is impeccable from the time the movie shifts to the Komban village setting with plenty of southern colours.

Deepika Padukone could have spoken better Tamil (or maybe an actress who knew actual Tamil), but there’s no denying that she is the superstar among all Bollywood actresses currently. Her screen presence lights up the whole movie, and her own comic timing almost matches the much more experienced SRK.

Vishal Shekhar’s music is not the best they could deliver, but still a couple of numbers stand out- Titli was beautiful and Kashmir Kanyakumari was also sweet to the ears thrown in with a pleasant choreography. The song 1,2,3,4, though not fully in tune with southern beats, is a pleasant watch thanks to the sizzling screen presence of Priyamani.

Rohit Shetty deserves praise for carving out a tight screenplay without adding any unnecessary masala elements- in fact, the first song of the film does not arrive until a quarter into the movie. CE hardly has a boring moment as a result of the well-worked screenplay.

CE delivers exactly what it was supposed to deliver and makes no bones about masala intents. So, if you know what exactly to expect from this film- abandon your brains at the entrance of the threatre and go in for a fun ride. Yes, it is worth the admission price.

Highs: SRK comic timing, Deepika Padukone, Cinematography, Choreography, Dialogues, Screenplay.

Lows: No-brainer story, no suspense element, Sathyaraj under-utilised, a catchy yet unrelated Lungi Dance, and some moments of over-acting by SRK in the first half.

Rating: 7.5/10