Rangoon – Music review

You can listen to my music review of Rangoon here  – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/media-38772961 

You can find out the glorious artist line up that is responsible for the music of Rangoon here – https://almostareview.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/rangoon-music-credits-with-a-bit-of-trivia/

There is a soul satisfying thump in Bloody Hell owing largely to the raunchy lyrics. I mean ‘Ishq kiya angrezi mein’ has got to ‘ring bells’ at all the right places, all puns intended. One doesn’t need to think long and hard as to what is being conveyed here. The whiplash and brass section compliment the grunt-ish singing of Sunidhi Chauhan like ropes compliment the ends of a bed. A song perfect for parties where mature adults are having fun — kids not allowed.

I wasn’t too taken in by Vishal’s choice of Arijit in Haider to sing the evergreen Faiz, because any half-good singer can get through these classics with a little help from a master like Vishal. It is for the same reason singers like Ali Sethi are looked down upon by those who argue ‘let him sing something original and we will talk’. Add to that, I always felt khul kabhi was Vishal’s song and not arijit’s and would have sounded better in Vishal’s voice. Cut to – Ye Ishq Hai. The self destructive, post-death experience of being ‘one’ with your beloved is what Vishal has achieved musically. And Gulzar drawing in Tabrez and Rumi completes whatever was left, to strike the fatal blow that leaves you smiling as you know you are about to cross over this life to meet your loved one on the other side. Oh and Arijit Singh is splendid, throughout.

There is a version of this song by Rekha Bhardwaj as well, and that sounds like a ‘Dervish collective’ twirling with Harmonium riffs and claps for company. This version gets a better bass-line at places than Arijit’s version.

Ha ha ha ha ha hahahaha Mere Miya Gaye England has a  tribute to ‘Mere piya gaye Rangoon’ that delights you if you have heard the song I refer to here. With tongue-in-cheek lyrics that oscillate between Eiffel Tower to Bus Stand, and aided with extremely good back up vocalists, Rekha Bhardwaj hits this one out of the park with the ease and twist that reminds you of ‘Ranaji’ from Gulaal.

Tippa stretches an old favourite (tap tap topi topi) to cinematic lengths where it is just not a kid song anymore. This however, doesn’t stop Sukhwinder, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sunidhi Chauhan and O.S. Arun from forming a vocal circle of mischief. Sukhwinder sounds intense, Rekha sounds happy-drunk, Sunidhi is bubbly and O.S. Arun sounds like that decent boy who is busy worrying about whether the elders will catch onto this masti that the kids are having. Sounding largely like a narrative piece, the track focuses on sounding grand, and as a result I couldn’t bring myself to hum it as much as I would have liked. This track is produced by Hitesh Sonik and Clinton Cerejo, and was recorded in 2006.

Ek Dooni Do is a breezy dance number that sounds cryptic to me, or may be I am over-thinking about the setting it invokes. The Spanish vibe isn’t overbearing and leaves ample space for Gulzar to use ‘Pahade’. Is it a good song? Yes. Will I listen to this on repeat? No.

Alvida – is probably the simplest song of the album, and the most devastating. This is exactly what a master wordsmith like Gulzar can do. There is Gulzar when he works with others (AR Rahman included), and then there is Gulzar when he works with Vishal. The Vishal-Gulzar collaboration is the best musical possibility of the times we live in and we must thank these two for drowning us in songs like this. What a treat Arijit is to the ears — my favourite song from the album, after Ye Ishq Hai.

Call it the effect of an overwhelming string section and an excellent ensemble of singers (Vishal, K.K., Kunal Ganjawala and Sukhwinder) who are equally intense in Julia. You feel a bit drained towards the end of the song, and it leaves you with the feeling that it could have been a tad shorter. My favourite moment is every time Vishal Bhardwaj says ‘Julia’; hear it and you will know what I mean. Also, Gulzar sahab draws the family tree of Julia by announcing that she is zalzale ki saali, in whose voice? Vishal Bhardwaj. Splendid! This track is also produced by Hitesh Sonik and Clinton Cerejo, and was recorded in 2006.

A flirty accordion, nadira-sque Rekha Bhardwaj and a vivacious tune greets you in Chori Chori and once again, in addition to a tight music arrangement, what stands out are the excellent lyrics. The use of ‘momfali’ instead of ‘moongfali’ is a touch of brilliance that only Gulzar can achieve — super song!

In what is easily the most criminal injustice of the year so far, we get a cinematic Rangoon theme that is just one and a half minutes long! It is as filmy and deep as one would imagine with VB at play. Strings used right. How I wish it were longer.

Be still and Shimmy Shake are both penned by Lekha Washington. Where Dominique lends depth to anticipation and waiting in Be Still, Vivienne Pocha ticks all the right boxes in Shimmy Shake, which ends with such a flash. Both the songs are in English, because in the time the film is set in, one used to hear a LOT of English songs like these: simple attention to detail that didn’t need an expensive Velvet case to understand.

The thing with Vishal Bhardwaj is — his music is permanent. It doesn’t sound like most Hindi film albums sound today, that can at best be equated with anonymous graffiti we see in toilets and forget about. When his music album is out, suddenly Vishal becomes very present in the room. Same is the case with Rangoon. It sounds grand and cinematic bearing the VB-Gulzar signature, which is equal to governor’s signature on a currency note in the Hindi-film music world. Rangoon doesn’t celebrate the cheerful tastelessness like other albums of today. On the contrary, it is a measured offering of perfectly mixed/rolled stuff. There are 12 songs, pick your poison and then thank God that it exists.

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