Qalandar’s Music Review: RAAVAN (Hindi; 2010)

The music of “Raavan” — supposedly a modern day re-telling of The Ramayana — wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead of a self-contained album confining itself to the world of the film like several other collaborations between composer A.R. Rahman and director Mani Rathnam (such as “Alai Payuthey”, “Yuva”, or “Kannathil Muthamittal”), this album hearkens to the music of the greatest Rathnam film of all, “Iruvar”, in its anthologizing of almost an entire film music tradition. But whereas Rehman’s mode in “Iruvar” was history, with each song representing a different Tamil film era (Rehman’s genius ensuring that none of the songs seemed derivative or stale, as merely nostalgic numbers would have), the “Raavan” album cannot imagine such continuity: the Hindi film musical tradition is here, but in shards as it were. The cumulative effect of the album is thus somewhat disorienting, as musical moments from Bollywood’s past — a 1990s song here, a Punjabi beat there, a tapori jig elsewhere, even strains reminiscent of some who have followed in Rahman’s wake, such as Mithoon — occur when least expected. Fitting: for nothing so linear as chronology (even where history is refracted through Rathnam’s eye) makes sense in the realm of myth (and the power of myth), even if, in the case of Rathnam’s Ramayana, by virtue of being a contemporary tale, the myth is itself is heir to several histories…

The first song on the CD, “Beera“, would have been more at home in “Yuva” than at least one song in that Rahman/Rathnam/Abhishek Bachchan film (think of “Kabhi Neem Neem”): the soaring, clean instrumentation, the in-your-face lyrics, the urban vibe (that is to say, not music targeted at the self-consciously urbane, but music that takes its bustle and restlessness from cities) that was practically invented in Hindi and Tamil cinema by Rahman — “Beera” shows that six years on, the Master still has it, and he doesn’t need to repeat himself to show it. Gulzar’s lyrics owe more than a few debts to his earlier work on the title song of “Omkara”, but musically the two are as different as can be; and if the lyrics of “Beera” are nowhere near the equals of those in the earlier song in terms of epic grandeur and the sort of myth-making this sort of “hero” song cries out for (although Gulzar shrewdly uses the word “Beera” (“brave”; or “warrior”) as a refrain for entire lines of song, almost seeking to obviate the need for any other poetry), musically the solid and assured “Omkara” cannot match “Beera” in fleetness of foot or deft touch. And if this emphasis on charm seems a bit incongruous in a film named after Hinduism’s most famous villain (or, from the perspective of Dravidian nationalists, its most vilified hero), perhaps it tells us something about the film: virtually all of the album’s quintessential “hero” songs are lighter, more upbeat, than its dark, fretful love songs. A quibble: at just a shade over three minutes, I wish it were longer — Keerthi Prakash, Vijay Prakash, Mustafa, and Rahman’s vocals didn’t begin to satisfy me, giving this song the air of a tease.

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119 Responses to “Qalandar’s Music Review: RAAVAN (Hindi; 2010)”

  1. As always Qalandar your ‘reviews’ of Rahman’s music are definitive. Not much more to add to this.

  2. Qalander,

    Very good review..

    BTW i read your article published in “”Outlook”” on naxalism and arundhati ray..It was a fantastic piece indeed..Agree to most of the points there…

  3. As with any ARR album, every subsequent listening digs up precious gems of notes/sounds which hook and mesmerize the listener completely. After about 8-10 re-listens, I am still not convinced that it beats Yuva/DilSe/D6 yet, but who knows, these songs might grow tremendously in the next few days.
    BTW, interestingly, JrB has been the recepient of exceptional largesse by way of having some of the best ARR music in at least 3 of his films now. Unfortunately, both D6/Yuva didnt click much, I hope Ravana bucks that trend.

    • he also had Guru.

      • True, but in the pantheon of ARR works, I wont rate Guru anywhere close to D6-Yuva-Ravan-DilSe. So in fact, Guru despite having a mediocre ARR album, became a hit movie. Hope this is not some sort of ARR genius curse on Abhi movies!

        • LOL!

          I am glad to see you rate Yuva that highly. I wouldn’t place it with D6 or Dil Se or Raavan seems a greater work yet Yuva is a work that that I like extraordinarily and one of those Rahmans I’ve listened to (though in Tamil) more than most others. Goodbye Nanba (khuda hafiz) and Fanaa are especially remarkable and the Adnan Sami song also has a very distinctive flavor. Don’t care for Kabhi neem. Raavan in some ways splits the difference between the more experimental Yuva and the more accessible (though I think you underrate it..) Guru.

          In terms of his Hindi works I find Dil Se and D6 to be the absolute summits. I think a fair case can even be made for D6 being the very greatest Rahman album in Hindi (with the advantage of more numbers of course). But Dil Se is ‘stranger’, certainly has Satrangi (to my mind the pre-eminent Rahman composition in Hindi) even if D6 seems to represent an embarrassment of riches). With D6 I continue to believe that Dil gira dafatan is the most interesting track on the album and again one of his peaks in Hindi. But I have a sense that I personally like Raavan more for what I think is a more distinctive tone. With Mehra Rahman creates these important, lavish works that are also very ‘accomplished’ and even. With Rathnam there are more often those triumphs of mood and tone. It is not that every Rathnam-Rahman collaboration is automatically a great Rahman album but it is very distinctive for one reason or another. In Hindi Guru remains the most iconic effort from these two (for all of D6’s popularity I don’t know whether Maiya’s or bin tere kya jeena’s currency can quite be matched.. perhaps it has something to do with the film’s success). I do think Raavan has a shot. Certainly the extremely positive reviews have surprised me. It’s clear that the reviewers have liked this more than many recent Rahman efforts with the exception of D6 and even D6 I don’t think was liked more than this one.

        • the single most underrated Rahman in Hindi continues to be MP.

          • I definitely rate Yuva highly. In fact, personally, I score Yuva over any other ARR albums. D6/DilSe come second for me!
            Khuda Hafiz captures the essence of sun,sand and beach like no other piece of music. It is a must listen for me whenever Im in those environs, especially with a Corona on the side. Fanaa, Yuva and Neem-Neem are exceptional in themselves.
            Nothing from ARR is ever mediocre, as compared to other composers. Even the maligned ones like Blue have gems in them. Its really difficult to not let ARR songs grow on you. Also, its best to listen to ARR on a very HiFi system. At the least, Bose speakers are a must, the accentuation of all the subtle tones which he infuses in his works just sparkle with superior quality sound. You almost need a composer like ARR to justify the cost though.

          • wow, you’re an even bigger fan than I am (of Yuva)!

          • And yes, MP too remains extremely underrated. “Mangala Ho” alone justifies the greatness of the album.

  4. Great review, Qalandar. It’s always a pleasure to read anything that you write about ARR soundtracks. I must add that I wasn’t aware of your views on the slow ARR numbers.

    Aside: Another ARR soundtrack coming up on May 7th:

    Binod Pradhan + ARR without ROM.

  5. Fine review – although I balk a bit in reading that Dil Se Re is “unsatisfying.” In the context of what you’re saying I guess I understand, but that’s still a bit of a pill to swallow. It’s also interesting that you tie Iruvar into your discussion. While I see what you’re saying as far as “shards” of a tradition go, what I thought this album does is braid threads from two distinctive film-musical traditions. Rahman has always been a “pan-Indian” composer in any number of his works but here the music seems “interestingly disjointed” in this way. Whereas when he’s working on a single album deal you can more or less go with the flow, this album makes you do a little bit more work as a listener, especially if you’re attuned to his body of work as a whole. This was and continues to be my experience of Raavan. It’s an interesting deal where you can sense that certain parts of certain songs will appeal or emerges out of either the Tamil or Hindi film traditions. The presence of the former is especially apparent to these ears perhaps because that tradition, especially in the last decade or so, has felt rooted to its own history in a way that Hindi film music doesn’t at all. And considering the rooted nature of the subject matter here, I think it makes sense that Rahman’s tapping into his Tamil musical reserves and instincts here more often than not. My own sense is that while Ratnam’s “Ur-work” (as Satyam puts it) is the Hindi film, Rahman’s interestingly enough, is possibly the Tamil album.

    • I must say I am with Qalandar on Dil Se re. This song never quite worked for me. I do however agree with you(or Qalandar.. I think you guys are sort of saying the same thing) that he’s really ‘borrowing’ from both Hindi and Tamil traditions here. In the Kata kata song for example you can definitely ‘hear’ Rahman’s 90s history or a certain vein of it (there’s even a refrain somewhere that sounds a bit like a Shankar song though I can’t place it off the top of my head), Then Killi re (not a song I like otherwise) has that magnificent interlude that hearkens to Iruvar. And of course Thok de killi too comes out of his percussion history in Tamil though as Qalandar notes it is structured rather too regularly like a Hindi film song. On Ranjha there is sometimes just a hint of R D Burman’s arrangements and Behne do again reminds one of Rahman’s more ‘Western’ orchestral moments in the classical sense.

      But putting Qalandar’s point into sharper focus I do like his choice of ‘shards’ here because there is something of that here. In other words the ‘rough cut’ is element more obvious than in something like Guru or Dil Se. The song that I like the most, Ranjha, fascinates me because this is otherwise a song with a somewhat regular structure, it can be assimilated to Hindi film canons for sure and yet there is something very strange about it also. Perhaps the ‘riffs’ that open the song, perhaps the arrangements throughout.

      There’s yet another perspective that one can bring to this. It’s not so much the Hindi and Tamil traditions that Rahman is ‘fusing’ here but his own ‘histories’. In other words this is a very ‘autobiographical’ album in this sense. The Tamil bits reference his own past but equally the North Indian elements aren’t really out of ‘classic’ Bombay film music but owe more to either his ‘qawwali-esque’ mode (Behne de) or the more earthy elements that he’s done a lot more of in Tamil but to an extent in Hindi as well (in MP for example and of course more significantly Taal). This kind of very strong folk element has never been part of Hindi film music canon till very recently. Earlier you had the obligatory folk song in a female voice relegated to a corner of the film. But it never defined film music in that earthy a vein even if obvious it does inform Hindi film music. Much as percussion in the true sense really begins in Tamil music with Rahman. The rustic elements of course have a history.

      So ‘shards’ ultimately seems right. As does the sense of a ‘rough cut’. This is an album with a ‘haunting’ if you will. I’m certain that the Tamil might yield other ghosts!

      In terms of the two Kata should be a marvel in Tamil, thok de killi should be better too because anything with percussion just works better in Tamil. I doubt Ranjha will be because it seems much more grounded in Northern elements (though Rahman can surprise one). Behne de could go either way. Beera again seems a more Northern deal. With Yuva/Aayutha Ezhuthu I always preferred the latter greatly. Never much listened to the Hindi. Here too I eagerly await the Tamil which could well be better (certainly there is the promise of that additional song as well). My one objection remains that he’s used Northern singers a bit too much for this album.

      On your final point I think Tamil is really Rahman’s ‘Ur-text’ in any case. There’s no doubt about this. And I like his music most (even in HIndi) when he is more informed by this ‘event’. which is to say not music that sounds very self-referential but builds on that initial impulse. When he departs more profoundly from this structure there are still some very strong works but to my mind are ultimately ‘lesser’.

      • I await the writer who is up to the task of reviewing or doing a comparative piece on both of these albums side to side, which might also be an interesting exercise for the films.

      • “I must say I am with Qalandar on Dil Se re. This song never quite worked for me”

        I’ll again steal your phrasing. My commiserations to you both!

      • Great review Q bhai.
        I did not know in perspective of Dravidian nationalists ‘Ravan’ was its most vilified hero.
        BTW , I must have missed a link here to your “”Outlook”” article naxalism. I will get to it.

        • Thanks Rajesh — not suggesting all Dravidian nationalists have that view, but to the extent “Ram” and “Raavan” have in Indian politics been mapped onto the North/South divide, they tend to fall on opposite sides of the divide. Reinforced by the fact that the Ramayana’s geography — with Ram journeying South to get Sita back from Raavana’s kingdom in Lanka — is somewhat susceptible to that sort of framing…plus traditionally in Tamil Nadu, Ram has not been a very important deity, certainly nothing like his position in “the North”…

  6. Raavanan audio on May 5

    On May 5 Sony Music will launch straight into the southern market, the audio of Mani Ratnam’s Raavanan. Sources have confirmed that there will be no formal audio launch.

    The reasons given out are the non-availability of the stars mainly AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam. The director is busy giving the final polish to the film which he plans to screen outside of the festival at Cannes.

    However Big Pictures and Sony Music are planning to hold a promotional press meet for Tamil Raavanan at a later date.

    • Delayed once more. Extremely annoyed. But also why this step-treatment? Not even a formal function?!

      all of this does not affect the initial of the film in any way. You just have to tell people it’s Vikram and they show up. And of course there’s the rathnam combo this time. Ash as well But nonetheless I was really hoping for an equivalent audio release function here.

      • It just smacks a bit of second-class treatment here which is unexpected. No one’s pretending that the Tamil film is the precedent here but it would be nice to have something distinctive as far as pre-release stuff goes.

        • Now it is true that in Tamil the advertising volume for a film is far less on average than in Hindi. Usually there’s one proper trailer and then a couple of song trailers and that’s more or less it. Kandasamy was an exception in this regard as is Shankar for the Bollywood-like excess in this regard. In this sense it is reasonable to start the campaign later specially when you know that you are guaranteed a great initial (unlike Hindi.. not just because Abhishek and Vikram are not equivalent box office ‘values’ but also because even the biggest such stars in Hindi have seen remarkably depressed initials when they’ve not stuck to strength genres.. Swades, JA, Tasveer are good examples where in each instance the initial is far below what it ought to have been even accounting for genre.. in Tamil you cannot at the very least get a very good initial with a major star in any kind of high profile film) and you don’t have as much volume to deal with.

          But all of this would be fine with a ‘Tamil only’ deal. When there’s a bilingual there should be a certain symmetry at all levels. And I must say I am rather disappointed that Rathnam of all people has done this. Irrespective of the reasons both campaigns should have been comparable at all points, or at the very least in terms of the basic release dates. and yes I too hope that the Tamil trailers are not mirror images as the stills have been.

        • Completely agree with satyam and GF, am disappointed by this sort of casual attitude.

      • It may be as probably Ash is away with Abhi in Greece and she could be in person for the May 5 th event. Hindi audio launch had most of the cast present, Tamil could follow suit.

        • Ash should definitely be there. Even though Abhishek is not in the Tamil version I’d love to see him attend as well but that’s probably unlikely to happen.

  7. okkay..unrelated to this question..
    satyam ..can u plss.enlighten me on d meaning of “smokescreen” as in when someone says..”this guy is a smokescreen”..just heard it on tv today.checked google nd checked d dictionary!! still not getting d meaning completely..didn’t know whom to ask..then thought would ask you..
    p.s.sorry for turning this into an education forum..but plss.can u tell..curious to know!!


      I think the second meaning is probably intended.. normally it is not used for a person but a colloquial usage might have developed along these lines.

      • cool..thanks!! had seen this actually..just wasn’t sure how is it used in context of a human being!!

        • Personally, I think it would be rare to use “smokescreen” in the context of a person. It’s best used in the context of something abstract, like an argument (e.g. one could say that the BCCI’s position that Lalit Modi is corrupt is a smokescreen – to avoid people focusing on the fact that Modi isn’t the only person who could be accused of corruption, conflict of interest, etc…)

          • yup.. dats y i was also a bit confused..dat how is it used in context of a human being..although d picture is a bit clearer now!! neways thanks 4 d help!

  8. alex adams Says:

    A fitting “review” equal to the stature of those “reviewed”. The review is as enjoyable as the music itself. And both need time to be understood and unravelled…

    • Good grief, man: get a hold of yourself. I genuinely appreciate the compliment, but little in contemporary Hindi cinema is as enjoyable as Rahman’s music!

  9. alex adams Says:

    Dont be humble, qalandar. most of my comments are off-the-hook and reflexive- mostly not v coherent. However, the words in my compliment above were carefully chosen ( for a change!). A masterly piece of work- Im talking bout your review here!
    about rahman-well, as i have said, he is a man on a mission. Nothing compares to him.
    Also, the “replies” below by satyam and gf are likewise fitting the level of the “review” & the “reviewed”.
    Like they say in the commentary box–“good bowling, batting, fielding and running between wickets..excellent cricket all round”

    • Well Said Alex..
      –”good bowling, batting, fielding and running between wickets..excellent cricket all round”
      that happens the case always when Satya, Q and GF exchange notes here.
      But Rajen always hits a sixer with his end lines and wit !

  10. Splendid review and an equally splendid ensuing discussion.
    Am with GF on Dil se re. For me, it would make my list of all time top five Hindi songs.. An absolute gem.

  11. Preview of Veera from Raavanan (Tamil) from ARR Official Facebook Page!/arrahman?v=wall&story_fbid=389225856719

    • thanks! We at least got a snippet in Tamil!

    • Now a snippet of Kodu Poatta (Thok De Killi) is up on the same facebook link.

    • I wonder if media will attack ARR for this:

      A.R. Rahman: It gives me immense pleasure to be commissioned by the Govt. of Gujarat to compose a song for the Gujarat Day celebrations. The song is called ‘Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat’ and has been written by noted writer Kavi Narmad. Other Gujarati writers on this song are Dilip Rawal, Ankit Trivedi, Sairam Dave & Chiragh Tripathi. The… Hindi version has been written by Prasoon Joshi.

      A.R. Rahman: The people of Gujarat are some of the nicest that I’ve come across whether in India or across the globe. Also, the fact that my wife is from Kutch, gave me additional impetus to compose this song. I sincerely hope this song helps people celebrate and come together as one. The film is being directed by my long term asso…ciate Bharatbala who has demonstrated his unique vision and I’m looking forward to the video.!/

  12. ROONEY Says:

    q bhai read about beera .. loved but read further after i get my hands on album… hoping to get my copy today!

  13. salimjakhra Says:

    Q, this was an awesome review – I feel it has enhanced my listening pleasure of the album. I’m completley hooked on Ranjha Ranjha at the moment. This album for me is not in the same league as Rahman’s greatest productions, but I def like it a lot. I think it has the Yuva vibe to it…which means I think it’s awesome, but not magical.

  14. hooked to Beera !!
    aside- I had my mom bring the DVD of MNIK from India but the damn thing is in PAL.
    aside-2- DVD of MNIK is alredy out in India- proof kee picture ab flop hai dost !! LOL!!

    • Yeah Karan Johar himself tries to talk about the ‘international’ numbers more than the Indian ones. Don’t blame him!

  15. quinqart Says:

    theres no doubt that MNIK has been rejected by people.but stupid people like KJO and SRK will never be able to understand this bcoz of extraordinary reviews this film got.
    KJO and SRK will blame the genre for MNIKs failure.

  16. A snippet of Usurae Poghudey – like it better than Behne De already…

    • salimjakhra Says:

      i’ve never really bothered listening to rahman’s tamil work (i know, my loss entirely) – but this sounds wicked!

      • Salim: there are a few easy-to-get (in the US or UK) 1 or 2 volume ARR anthologies which contain good selections from his Tamil work. There’s the Mondo India B’wood CD, there’s “Indruvarai”, and iTunes has a few others too.

        • salimjakhra Says:

          i’ve always found it frustrating listening to stuff i dont understand…but if anyone can induce me to i guess it’s Rahman. I’ll try to buy one of the compilations u’ve suggested. Cheers :=)

          Actually the other stuff I’ve listened to a little that I don’t understand is a few Bengali Lata songs from the 60’s…magic.

          • I had the same problem, but the first time I heard a Tamil song in 2002, that hangup went in a few minutes… but if that is an issue, perhaps you should start with one of the “bilinguals”, as you’ll already be familiar with the music and perhaps the general lyrical sense. Alai payuthey’s lyrics are very far from Tamil versions of the Hindi/Urdu of Saathiya, but they aren’t completely other; then there is Aayitha Ezhuthu/Yuva and I guess the Tamil version of Raavan…

    • It is fantastic for sure… can’t wait to listen to the Tamil album…

    • While I am sorry to miss these numbers (I wish they would release these; not to mention background music of films too), it is a good sign for a film when the director is so ruthless that he won’t succumb to temptations, such as using an Asha or Nigam song just because it is there…

      Sonu’s relations with ARR cannot be good: earlier too he had complained about not being given more songs in ARR albums, and now he has been given one, and it isn’t used. Plus, to add insult to injury, ARR seems to keep using Nigam-clones and/or inferior singers like Javed Ali and Kunal Ganjawala! I do feel bad for Sonu Nigam — he probably won’t win it, but based on the first 4 months this year, he deserves the best male singer award everywhere for his song “Cham Cham” (from “Striker”)…

    • too bad.. hopefully he’ll use these tunes on a future soundtrack..

  17. posted this elsewhere too..

  18. Rahman rhapsody

    The score of the much-awaited Raavan is proof that A.R. Rahman saves his best for old friend Mani Ratnam

    Here’s a Dare. Try keeping yourself away from not tuning in to this album. The songs will find you no matter where you go for the next three months — as ringtones, caller tunes, friend’s car stereos, before it finally takes over your iTunes playlist.

    “Raavan” is further proof that A.R. Rahman always saves some of his best stuff for old friend Mani Ratnam. That appetising teaser playing on TV with chants of Beera is guaranteed to make even the cynics take that dive straight into the album.

    The magic of sounds

    “Raavan” begins with a paean to Beera (Vijay Prakash, Mustafa Kutuane and Keerthi Sagathia) with an African tribal vibe, a little “Lion King”-ish, thanks to its jungle rhythms and the percussion pepping up the ode to the riotous Raavan.

    The song establishes the character of the protagonist, and we see him as a grown-up Mowgli, bursting with energy, cruising through the jungle, and gearing up for a ride into the wild, warned not to mess with Beera — because he’s all about Abhimaan (pride or ego as we’ve heard from the myth).

    Gulzar has a lot more to do in the melancholic second track “Behene De” that begins with a pall of gloom (faint drum beats and ambient sounds) — sort of an aftermath song.

    Despite the hurting, we see that Raavan hasn’t lost his sense of pride. Beautiful similes of fire and water punctuate this mood song that packs in the pain and angst of Raavan. Soulfully rendered by Karthik (and additional vocals by Mohammed Irfan). The energetic “Thok De Khilli” (Sukhwinder Singh, Am’nico) comes up next as an anthem for revolution. The situation seems to be inter-cut with a wedding sequence as the shehnai smoothly blends into the revolt song, and we can be assured of some intense drama in the choreography, what with lyrics such as “Kisme Dum Hai Ki Suraj Bhujaiye?” (Who has the guts to extinguish the sun?) and a crescendo. Rahman sets it up for a volatile encounter. The song suggests that Mani Ratnam’s “Raavan” is tired of decades of the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

    ‘Ranjha Ranjha’ (Rekha Bharadwaj, Javed Ali and additional vocals by Anuradha Sriram) seems to be the outlet for Raavan’s angst of his unrequited love, and Rahman packs in some more soul. Again, a great opportunity for Gulzar to delve into the pangs of love and longing.

    Love ballad

    We suspect this happens after the abduction when Raavan finds himself crazy in love with his captive. This could also be the only opportunity for the item number, with Rahman infusing slow dance beats into this pathos-filled love ballad — maybe a couple of street performers echoing his sentiments.

    There’s a certain vulnerability about Rekha Bhardwaj’s voice that helps Rahman churn out the album’s only slow song — a beautiful melody, done Hindustani style, with Naveen’s flute and tabla giving ample scope for Aishwarya to showcase her dancing skills. This song is bound to sound way better at the end of a long day, a soothing song about a girl’s love for her piya (husband). Probably, the only song Ram gets in “Raavan”’s album?

    There are going to be numerous comparisons between “Kata Kata” (Ila Arun, Sapna Awasthi, Kunal Ganjawalla) and “Rukmani Rukmani”, both being wedding songs involving a group of singers, but if “Rukmani…” was a mischievous set-up for the nuptial night, this one’s sung like a warning (“Kata Kata Bechara Bakra”), but with equal amount of revelry and fanfare. ‘One more bites the dust’ is the sentiment, but the shehnai and the dhol, coupled with Kerala-flavoured percussion building up to a riotous climax, may make it a favourite at weddings.

    There’s no escaping “Raavan”. Or Rahman. They will get you.

  19. Kassam Says:

    You can listen to full song of Usure Pogudhey on youtube. I’m sure all songs will be there soon. Loving the way this sounds

    • I might prefer the Hindi one here but it’s hard to say instantly because this version is much more energetic. In general both love songs sound a notch ‘higher’ on the Tamil. I think Rahman is just subtle enough in terms of varying the ‘effect’ in each instance to remain true to two different traditions. My vote goes to the Tamil! But unlike Yuva/Aayudha Ezhuthu where I found almost no use for the Hindi here I think the ‘double’ album offers worthwhile contrasts.

    • In some ways the love songs offer better contrasts than Veera or Kata..

  20. Incidentally Vikram said in a recent interview that some moments in Hindi were more low key than the Tamil counterparts and vice versa. In other words the very same scenes are tonally not the same in both versions because of the different interpretation of the lead star. But there is no consistent direction in one interpretation versus the other purely in terms of how ‘high pitched’ the moments are.

  21. This I had no doubt would sound better in Tamil. Right from the start it sounded straight from Karuthamma-era Rahman. And stands as one of my very favorite pieces in the soundtrack. The Bharatanatyam aspect here is going to look great on screen.

  22. I wonder if the sound quality in general is better on the Tamil. This is a Sony of course whereas the Hindi is T-Series (Sony lost out on the Hindi).

    • the two soundtracks are ‘complementary’ in many ways…

      1)Killi Re/Kalvare — easily Kalvare even if I am not a fan of this number
      2)Ranjha/Kattu sirukki — the former but there is greater energy and ‘strangeness’ to the former.. certainly wouldn’t want to do without either one
      3)Behne De/Usure Poguthey — the Tamil rather easily
      4)thok de killi/Kodu potta — a draw here
      5)Beera/Veera — slight preference for the Tamil, not much to choose
      6)Kata kata/kedakari — the Tamil though the Hindi is stronger here than I thought it would be in the direct comparison

      the only song that I prefer on the Hindi is Ranjha though I still love the Tamil. But for this song I could just listen to the Tamil. But the Hindi is definitely not like Yuva where I got really nothing from the album after Aayudha Ezhuthu. Raavan on the other hand is still a very strong work in Hindi and many weeks of mine will now be taken up between the two versions!

      • I enjoyed hearing the Tamil soundtrack. I liked all of them except the slow songs on the Tamil soundtrack. But I cotton to and prefer the Hindi version of the music. I think the Hindi soundtrack of Raavan is more smooth, melodic, and seamless in my view. However AR Rahman has done a bang on wonderful job on both soundtracks for Raavan/Raavanan.

      • having heard the Tamil a few more times I think Ranjha is definitely significantly superior to Kaatu sirukki (though I still like the latter on its own). This is the song in which the ‘tone’ changes most.. Shankar Mahadevan has really made it much more energetic.

  23. masterpraz Says:

    A stunning review Q. Been so long since I read a review from you (and been so insanely hectic with work of late)..a pleasure as always.

    Hope everything else has been going well. I’ll be putting this up on MP too :)


    • my response:

      Superb set of responses Baradwaj!

      I think there’s a larger point to be made here. The inability of many to really separate informed opinion from the opposite kind. In other words I find your writing interesting irrespective or whether I agree with you or not. On the Raavan(an) soundtrack(s) I like it a great deal so my impressions here are obviously different. But it doesn’t matter! Because your piece ‘informed’ me, educated me, enlightened me.

      There isn’t a ‘correct’ view in these matters as indeed anywhere else in art or entertainment. Even the very greatest works can be and are debated. But again some authors ‘justify’ their views, some don’t. It’s too facile to believe that Rangan does not like Raavan. The way to understand it is that Rangan has issues with the Rahman of Raavan and he lays these out lucidly and whether one likes the album more than him or not one can ‘understand’ his argument. This is all that matters. There should not be this monomania on matters of informed opinion.

      One can certainly have a debate with you on your review but it should also be of the informed sort that somehow tackles the terms of your argument or at least launches a separate one in an equally rigorous sense. One is not obliged to do this, one can assuredly offer impressionistic one liners (‘I loved it’, ‘I hated it’ and so on) but this does not really address the points you make. This would normally be fine except that (and as in the examples you’ve cited) there is too much ‘defensive’ posturing.

      Nothing is beyond debate, nothing at all. At the same time not all opinions are ‘equal’.

      • Rangan:

        Satyam: “It’s too facile to believe that Rangan does not like Raavan. The way to understand it is that Rangan has issues with the Rahman of Raavan and he lays these out…” Yes, that’s exactly it. But over the years I’ve seen that regardless of how much I try not to “evaluate” the music (and merely “analyse” it), readers almost always read the piece with that “evaluation” aspect in mind. As in: Did I like it? Or did I not like it? That’s all that’s usually taken away at the end of the read.

      • someone made the point on Rangan’s blog that people ‘like’ every Rahman-Rathnam combo because they feel they have to and also that many songs were like more than they otherwise would be because these carried the name of Rahman or Raja. I responded this way:

        [NullPointer: That could however be said for many things in life. For many fields of art, for many illustrious names in the arts. Remove the name Tolstoy from a story.. does one like it as much?

        There is a flip side to this however. Sometimes one does give the benefit of the doubt to the artist if one is persuaded that nothing quite happens within that artist’s work ‘without reason’. Which hardly prevents misfires of course.

        I’d make two other points about Rahman. People keep referring to a Rathnam-Rahman combo. Yes this has often delivered fine music but these have not always been the most ’superlative’ soundtracks from Rahman. But these have always had an afterlife where these have been re-imagined as the most cutting edge works. I think it’s more useful to think of he Rahman-Rathnam combo as being a very distinctive one irrespective of whether one likes the music or not. Connected to this is another point — Rahman does not quite repeat himself. The soundtracks have been canonized and it’s harder at this stage to be ‘objective’ about them. Kannathil.. for example has a title track which to my mind is one of the jewels in the maestro’s oeuvre but I do not find the rest of the album extraordinary by Rahman’s lofty standards. But there are other factors at play (the lyrics of Vellai Pookkal for example) that enhances the experience for many people and this then bleeds into a more ‘objective’ understanding of the album. Let’s take also the example of Iruvar (which I consider Rahman’s most ‘exquisite’ soundtrack, which does not mean ‘the best’). Narmugaiye is again one of his great compositions. Is anything else as remarkable on the album? Yes, he is limited by the fact that he is also ‘recounting’ Tamil film history and a lot of the song reflect this but every film has such limitations. On the other hand Thiruda Thiruda has Rahman going almost from strength to strength.

        But also I think Rahman is never too burdened by history. I don’t believe he starts out thinking that he needs to better every great collaboration with Rathnam.

        Finally, it is also equally true that the ways in which Rahman appeared revolutionary when he first appeared on the scene simply cannot be replicated today no matter what he produces. Because the revolution was ‘institutionalized’ a long time ago, his traces survive on so many talents in both Tamil and Hindi cinema. He cannot represent the ’shock of the new’ the way he once did.

        I must make this observation — the Hindi media has certainly given Raavan superlative reviews which surprised me a bit because even as I love the soundtrack I thought it might be a bit of an acquired taste. Yes the Hindi media doesn’t give Rahman poor reviews (this perhaps makes your point) but even by those standards Raavan has been very well reviewed. Really on par with D6 which certainly surprised me.]

  24. agree with Rangan.
    Beera Beera- reminded me of Mast Mast yeh Mastam from Yuvraaj

    Behne de- it reminded me at some places of Khalbali( RDB) and of the climax song of Taal ( pyar bina kya jeena yaron)

    overall it is like Yuva- too much “Shor” too less “Soul”

    • also after Dil Se…, the only other Rehman albums I really enjoyed and have repeat value for me are- Taal, RDB, Swades and D-6 .
      The ones I kind of liked are Yuvraaj, Jodha- Akbar, Lagaan

      The ones that did not do anything for me would be-
      Yuva, Guru, Blue, Kisna, SDM etc.

  25. Villain songs:

  26. screen top 10:

    * 1Raavan (T-Series)
    * 2Kites (T-Series)
    * 3Housefull (T-Series)
    * 43 Idiots (T-Series)
    * 5Badmaash Company (Yash Raj)
    * 6Paathshaala (T-Series)
    * 7My Name Is Khan (Sony)
    * 8Prince (Tips)
    * 9Karthik Calling Karthik (T-Series)
    * 10Love Aaj Kal (Eros)

    • It’s pretty striking that 3I is still on this list; shows that even mediocre music is helped when the film is successful. Conversely, Prince (featuring multiple atif aslam numbers; man I am getting tired of this dude’s voice) has the most creditable achievemeny, given what a BO turkey it was…

  27. someone sent this on…

    TheSkeptic: I finally hunkered down and listened to Raavan’s songs with some care, and this is an excellent Rahman album, as dense and layered as ever – you could be unearthing details for a long time. As is often the case with Rahman, you get simplistic hooks (Kata Kata, Ranjha Ranjha, etc.) to lure you in, but once you are “hooked”, you are rewarded with a bouquet of melodies (if one does not work, another surely will) over thickets of busy percussion that beg to be teased apart – how many rhythms and sounds are in train exactly? What is also very pleasurable to my sensibilities is the intense folk feeling of many of the sounds, instruments, voices and tunes. Great to hear after the mostly slick, pop sound (programmed beats, Westernized vocals) of most mainstream albums.

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