It's A R Rahman's 52nd birthday today and Bollywood has been missing his impeccable compositions for a while now. Who can take away the charm and excellence of what Rahman did in his best work for Bollywood?
Out of the plethora of work the music maestro has contributed to the industry, here are my 5 favourite Rahman soundtracks:
1. Roja(1992): Revolutionary, the sound was radically removed from what we were used to in Hindi cinema. Songs like Roja jaan-e-man and Choti Si Asha continue to be much more popular than what Rahman did years later in films like Ghajini and Blue. Time magazine listed this among the 10 best soundtracks of all times.
2. Saathiya(2002): An absolute heartwarmer, the songs of this Shaad Ali directed film are romantic, vivacious and lilting. Melody it at a premium in Chupke se and Chalka re. The focus here is on creating variety without tampering with the basic romantic mood of the theme. Some of my enthusiasm for the songs evaporated when I came to know that Rahman had almost wholesale recreated the songs from the Tamil original (Alaipayuthe) into Hindi. But that’s okay. If Salil Chowdhary and Hemant Kumar Mukherjee could recreate their Bengali songs into Hindi, why not this?
3. Water(1998): This is the most underrated Rahman score of all times. So rich in texture of sound, such inspired poetry (by Javed Akhtar) and such ebullient singing by Sukhvinder Singh in Rut Aa Gayee Re and Hariharan in Dheemi Dheemi. Sadhana Sargam’s Banno Rani is one of the best wedding songs in Hindi cinema. If you haven’t heard the music of Water closely then do so now. It’s timeless.
4. Dil Se(2002): I resolutely believe---like many others—that Mani Ratnam brought out the best in Rahman. Dil Se in many ways was even better than Roja. The greatest singer of India, Lata Mangeshkar sang for Rahman for the first time. The result in Jiya jale was magical. I have to admit Udit Narayan’s Satrangi Re is also a beauty, and a joy forever. Though I’ve never enjoyed Rahman’s singing, his rendition of the exhilarating title song is a class act. Take a bow, Rahman Saab.
5. Rang De Basanti(2006): Suffused in the sounds of a nationalistic fervor, the soundtrack pulsated with a patriotic passion. If on one hand there was Daler Mehdi giving his all to the title song, on the other hand Rahman got together with the indomitable Lata Mangeshkar to sing the heart-rending Lukka chuppi, a mother-son song that moves you to tears every time.
Image source: SpotboyE archive