Ek Deewana Tha- Music Review by Ram Anand

The album has 12 tracks, including some famous, sought-after BGM scores that were missing in VTV and also one additional song to existing copyblock album of VTV.

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya (Will You Cross the Skies For Me) was one of the biggest hits in the Tamil cinema arena in recent years and it has gone on to attain a cult status among Tamil film followers- prompting Gautham Menon to finally make his long-awaited second attempt at directing a Hindi film. His first, a remake of his debut hit film with Madhavan, ‘Minnale’ didn’t turn out to be that much of a sweet affair. Probably keeping that in mind, Gautham produced ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ (There was a Crazy Guy), VTV’s Hindi remake, himself- to avoid the complications he faced with ‘Rehna To Teri Dil Mein’ producers.

VTV’s music, which represented Gautham’s first collaboration with AR Rahman, also attained a cult status and thus anticipations run high for the Hindi version of its music. The album has 12 tracks, including some famous, sought-after BGM scores that were missing in VTV and also one additional song to existing copyblock album of VTV.

Kya Hai Mohabbat (AR Rahman)

The album begins with an additional song that did not feature in the Tamil or Telugu albums of the same film. With delectable lyrics from Javed Akhtar, AR Rahman takes the mic to render a song that described the ambiguity of love itself. This song definitely will not have a picturization bestowed upon it- it sounds more or less like a song that would run on the background, or title credits. The song has a breezy jazzy touch upon it, similar to the composition of ‘Tu Bole Main Boloon’ from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. This will probably not become a hit on its own, but for those who have a good ear for slow music with excellent lyrics- this will be a gem. A good candidate for those slow mornings in which you would feel appreciating ambiguity itself.

Dost Hai (Naresh Iyer, Jaspreet Jasz)

As a reviewer, first I would need to take the standpoint of a neutral when reviewing this song. ‘Dost Hai’ is meant to portray the angst and frustration of a man who’s advances are constantly pushed away by a girl who shows her interest in him in spurts. Naresh Iyer’s vocals are good, the lyrics flow well, the music puts the emotions right at the forefront, and there is a generous dose of English strewn in the middle. This a good number. But sadly it could have been way better. ‘Kannukul Kannai’ the Tamil version of this song, was by mile a better composition, mainly due to the fact that the song was not interfered by any unnecessary rapping and mainly involved only its Tamil lyrics. What prompted ARR and Gautham to come up with a version that sounds like a club mix of the original composition, I would never know. Hindi listeners might still enjoy it, but those who have heard the Tamil version are in for a letdown here. There are also some techno sounds so generously added into the song.

Aromale (Alphonse Joseph)

‘Aromalae’ is a classic. There probably was not a single composition similar to it in the past decade or so in Tamil cinema. Aromale was about a man’s trance while writing a script and was fully sung using Malayalam verses- representing the heroine’s character. My understanding is that Amy Jackson also plays a Nasrani, similar to Samantha and Trisha’s protrayals in the movie’s Tamil and Telugu versions. Keeping that in mind, Aromalae could have been left untouched, but probably not wanting to repeat themselves, ARR and Gautham went for a twist for having Javed Akhtar write Hindi lyrics and make it a ‘Hindi’ song. The interludes in the middle also uses different Sanskrit versions compared to the ones used in the original ‘Aromalae’. This is a composition that will hopefully be appreciated in Bollywood as well, but for obvious reasons, the Malayali lyrics, though not understood, provided more feel to the song rather than Hindi lyrics. Not to take anything away from it though, Aromale is just as good as other Aromalaes. It’s just that, in my opinion, Alphonse’s voice did not have the same passion that it had in the Malayali version.

Hosanna (Leon D’Souza, Suzzane, Blaaze)

Ah. The delight of thousands of music lovers down south in 2010. Probably one of the most romantic songs in recent times, it succeeded immensely in both Tamil and Telugu. Now the Hindi version has arrived. And as if making up for the disappointment of Dost Hai, Hosanna seemed to have upped an inch in this Hindi version. The new addition here is the singer Leon D’Souza- who gives a very delectable twist to the listening experience of this Hosanna. The English interlude in the middle sees Leon chipping in as well, and the pronunciation is clearer and slower to Blaaze’s quickfix in Tamil and Telugu. In this Hosanna, you can almost hear every word that is being sung in the song- making it more melodious to the other versions- which I don’t think is an easy task. Javed’s lyrics fit the tone perfectly, in fact they sound more in tune with ARR’s musical notes rather than Thamarai’s lyrics in Tamil. Brilliant.

Pholoon Jaisi (Clinton Cerejo, Kalyani Menon)

Another beautiful romantic composition that was already made extremely famous down South. But again, ARR seems to notch it up a little with this Hindi version by bringing in a different singer- Clinton Cerejo. I did have a small problem with the Tamil version of Omanna Penne, where I felt Benny Dayal’s voice did not fit the song completely. But the popularity of the music video and the movie almost made the whole thing seem natural, but Pholoon Jaisi sounds natural as a composition itself thanks to Clinton’s voice. His pronunciation is clearer, as was the case with Hosanna, and this adds value to the song. Excellent.

Sharminda Hoon (AR Rahman, Madushree)

To be honest, ‘Manipaaya’ sounded a little awakward when I first heard it. There were some great moments of singing by Shreya Ghosal but the overall feel was a little awkward due to, as I said, the first time combination between Thamarai and ARR. But with Javed, ARR seems more comfortable in this Hindi version. His voice has more clarity, and doesn’t seem to struggle with jumping notes. The flow of the lyrics suit well with the composition, which again makes it more ‘natural’. I would natural prefer Shreya to have kept her place and not replace her with Madushree, by the effect is not much judging by the overall feel of the song. A slow romantic ballad that made Kerala look so beautiful (Allepey to be precise). Very Good.

Sunlo Zara (Rashid Ali, Shreya Ghosal)

Anbil Avan found its takers as a happy wedding song celebrating the union of a couple. The song is given a slight melodious twist in Hindi thanks to Shreya Ghosal’s female voice and also Rashid Ali’s soothing involvement. The choice of singers is spot on for this song, recreating the same affect the original created in its own breezy way. The traditional marriage instruments at the interlude have also been tweaked with, in a good way.

Zohra-Jabeen (Javed Ali)

I have mentioned in my music review of VTV itself that this song is a gem. It is the title track in its Tamil version, and the same magic exists here as well with Javed Ali crooning (the original was Karthik). Slow, melodious, and full of soul- this a brilliant song and here’s hoping it doesn’t become as underrated as the Tamil version became.

Instrumentals

There are three instrumentals included in the album. The first one is ‘Broken Promises’, where you hear the voice of Shreya Ghosal humming a sadder version of Aromalae. This is as good as a BGM gets. Shreya’s Cranatic influenced singing shows her vocalistic slyllables without as much as uttering a word apart from ‘Aromalae’. The music is slow, simple, and similar to Aromalae. VTV had one of the best BGM I had heard in a Tamil film, and one of those that will linger on after credits is the ‘Moments in Kerala’, a great BGM that appears when the Sachien visits Jessie in Allepey and they share some special moments together. This is followed by the composition that was ringtone for sometime, ‘Jessie’s Land’. I took pains to get hold of this number after watching VTV, but thankfully it was made available through the album itself in Hindi. This will appear at the title credits in all probability, and will set the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Jessie’s Been Driving Me Crazy’ will drive you crazy after you have watched the movie. It is a rather a full blown composition in Hindi, so it’s just simply awesome.

All in all, this is a great album- if you can stop comparing, and even if you want to compare, it still has improvised tracks- which makes it still a very good album.

With that said, Wait for Jessie!

Rating: 9/10

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)- Movie Review

I am pretty sure there will be many Aamir Khan fans who will wrestle for tickets of this movie when it got released a couple of days ago in Malaysia, but many of them will return home not feeling any kind of satisfaction of watching it. But the unique thing about Dhobi Ghat is that Kiran Rao (yes, the director) knows this fact too.

“I know this film won’t appeal to the general audience,” this was what she bluntly put forth when interviewed recently. She already knew the target audience would be connoisseurs of art-house cinema, and that’s why the film has been doing rounds in film festivals ever since its debut in the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) back in September.

Running at less than 2 hours, Dhobi Ghat is like a chapter from a thick, epic observatory novel called Mumbai Diaries (the film’s alternate English title). Dhobi Ghat isn’t about the entirety of those diaries, but instead just showcases a chapter of the lives of individuals involved in it.

The film is the story of four people: Arun, Shai, Munna, and Yasmin.

Arun (Aamir Khan) is a divorced, lonely introvert painter who had just shifted apartments. At his art exhibition he meets Shai (Monica Dogra), an American investment banker who is on a sabbatical in Mumbai, and has a one-night stand with her. He subsequently explains to her that he has no intention to take the relationship further, and though she concurs, she is smitten by his charm and begins stalking him.

At the same time Shai meets Munna (Prateik Babbar), a dhobi cleaner who does odd jobs to make his ends meet while at the same time aspiring to be an actor. Munna requests Shai to do a portfolio photo shoot for him and she does. He begins to get attracted to her.

At the same time, Arun, in his new apartment, finds some random tapes of a young woman named Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), a Muslim woman who has just arrived in Mumbai after her marriage to her city-dwelling husband, who was also the previous tenant in the apartment Arun currently rents. Arun watches every tape that she records in her videocam and later starts to attempt finding her whereabouts.

So, as you can see, this is not a love triangle, instead it’s a square. But here there no rejected proposals, every character has there own fears, their own hesitancy and so on. This is probably the subtlest film you will ever see in the history of Bollywood.

There is also the character of the neighboring aunt of Arun’s , who simply observes and says absolutely nothing- just like Mumbai. To add to that, the story starts when Arun shifts into his new apartment and ends when he shifts out of the apartment to a new place. That’s the thread of the story. It simply tells you what happens in between his shifting from one place to another.

Prateik Babbar, almost a Siddharth look-alike, is brilliant as Munna. He debuted as Genelia’s brother in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, and with this performance, he proves beyond doubt that he is an actor for the future. It’s almost a certainty that producers will line up at his door having been exposed to both his good looks and considerable emoting skills as a slum dweller.

Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra are both great finds by Kiran Rao, as they fit their characters seamlessly. Aamir Khan, the ever-reliable actor, once again shows his selection prowess. He hardly speaks in the film (due to his introvert nature), but he leaves behind a telling impact and the only point that triggers you to shed tears in the film is also due to his brilliant emoting when he finds out about Yasmin.

Do not expect to be immersed too much in the film, as the film is as detached as it could get. It simply observes without interfering into the characters, more like documentary. And the only engaging moment arrives when Arun finds out about Yasmin, and the film ends soon after. Kiran Rao has written a script specifically for that purpose and she does exactly that.

For a debutant, she shows abstract maturity that is not seen in many present day directors, and although the financial cinema world would expect her to be more engaging and aggressive with her next attempt, being passive and detached in the way she arranges her sequences requires a craft, a talent of its own, and that is something she definitely has.

Sometimes it’s easier to make a film aggressively and have the characters laugh, smile, shout and cry to tell their emotions rather than making a film using a character’s long stare into an empty space, their hopes, their dismay, their loneliness, their insecurity, their selfishness, the tragedy of being wretched from the inside.

Kiran Rao captures loneliness in a way no-one has ever done prior to her.

If you accept Dhobi Ghat for what it offers, then it is indeed a masterpiece.

For those who could not comprehend these genres of films, there is no disappointment to be taken home with this film.

As confessed by the filmmakers themselves, the film was made on a puny budget by the filmmakers themselves. They did not run the financial risk either. The film was shot entirely in Mumbai- there are no stunt scenes, no song sequences, no expensive studio sets- just Mumbai- and all about it.

The film did not even use huge tripods set up to shoot on location, as it was shot using the guerilla technique (real time, support-off, hands-on shooting on the go).

The question is- what have you got to lose? Open your minds towards a different cinema experience, watch it at least once, and if you don’t like it, just accept that this particular genre is not yours.

There’s nothing to like or dislike about the film, just whether you accept or don’t accept.

As for me, all I would say is I would go to Kiran Rao’s next movie.

Rating: 7.5/10