The Rahman effect (the Hindu)

thanks to Utkal..

They say that music affects the way we live. Our thoughts, our joys and sorrows, the way we think and the way we dance; all of it moving to the unending melodies and patterns of the soundtrack of our lives. In our country, this particular soundtrack has been crafted by a master magician over the past two decades. This particular individual has achieved certain things unimagined, constructing a web so expansive that the entire world has now been moved by his music. You can hear his music everywhere — from little villages in the Indian countryside to some of the most expensive performance venues in London’s West End. His musical output can present itself to you in little-known commercial jingles or even the incidental soundtrack of “An Accidental Husband”.

Most of us willingly search for his music, craving its warmth, its musical richness, its subtlety and its uncanny ability to reach deep within our hearts. A.R. Rahman is undoubtedly one of the few Indians who has achieved that critical transition from being a national icon to being a globally bankable musician. And all this for a reticent, deeply focussed composer ensconced behind a studio console in Kodambakkam.

Rahman is one of those composers who require little analysis. Every aspect of his oeuvre has already been examined and written about. He is among the few composers who has had books written about him while still in his 40s. His collaborations are far too many for one article to encompass but include the world’s best known musicians. The Roja man has come a staggeringly long way since that classic soundtrack emerged in the early 1990s. The dizzying heights of international stardom and multiple accolades aside, this analysis looks at his musical trajectory to comb for insights into that beautiful mind.

Game changer

To visualise Rahman’s music is to be cushioned by a ‘bed of sound’ — a hitherto unpredicted marriage of electronics with aesthetics. The music assails your senses, calming the mind in one magnificent sweep of transcendental sound. Each layer of carefully woven musical texture subsequently unfurls. An instinctive craftsman, each layer of instrumentation and voice is carefully proportioned. For instance, close your eyes and think of the theme song from Bombay for a delectable moment. The ‘bed of sound’ formed by string instruments in the lower registers open the first few bars, while a seductive flute softly announces itself slightly later. The piece broadens to herald the arrival of a welcomingly understated percussion before the entire string section takes over, each element enjoying adequate deliberation. To some extent, this loyalty to sonic proportion has proven highly popular to a global audience and continues to be one of his greatest assets.

This quest for elegance in sound and avoiding excess in every aspect has also prompted this master musician to introduce new voices into our lives. Indeed, Rahman can be credited with an entirely new paradigm where the voice becomes an ingredient to the whole, rather, being the basis of the composition. Who can forget Minmini’s ‘Chinna Chinna Aasai’ from Roja or Shahul Hameed in ‘Usilampatti’ from Gentleman ? Or Chinmayi’s haunting rendition of ‘Oru Deivam Thantha’ ( Kannathil Muthamittal ), Naresh Iyer’s brilliance in ‘Roobaroo’ ( Rang De Basanti ), Rashid Ali in ‘Aditi’ ( Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na ) or Benny’s youthfully exuberant style across multiple tracks?

Rahman’s talent for variety has seen the use of some of our best known classical vocalists: Unnikrishnan, Bombay Jayashri, Nithyashree Mahadevan and Kalyani Menon to name a few. Neither has he ignored the iconic Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and K.S. Chitra who can all be heard in multiple albums.

for more follow the link..

313 Responses to “The Rahman effect (the Hindu)”

  1. Thanx utkal uncle: wow what a link…
    Btw what is your top ten ( think it should be top twenty!) rehman tracks….
    This is an opportunity for the top twenty rehman tracks, folks….


    • Interesting idea Alex..

      Think I put up a top 10 or something a long time back, will have to dig it up, but might as well do a new one as opinions change over time. A top 20 is a good idea anyway, a top 10 is hard to do for Rahman, don’t have the time right now, will contribute to this another time.


      • Here’s a couple of lists from 2008 or maybe a bit earlier (will still add a new one as I doubt all my choices would be the same today):

        Here are my ten favorite Rahman albums in no order though Alaipayuthey would always top any such list for me and Iruvar would possibly be second:

        3)Kandukondein Kandukondein
        5)Ayudha Ezhuthu
        7)Aa Aah
        9)Dil Se
        10)Thiruda Thiruda / Indian

        Here are what I consider 30 outstanding Rahman compositions in no order:

        1)Narmugaiye (Iruvar)
        2)Pookodiyin Punnagai(Iruvar)
        3)Snegidane (Alaipayuthey)
        4)Pachchai Nirame (Alaipayuthey)
        5)Satrangi (Dil Se)
        6)Goodbye Nanba (Ayudha Ezhuthu)
        7)Fanaa (Ayudha Ezhuthu)
        8)Thiruvellikeni Rani (Udhaya)
        9)Kannalane (Bombay)
        10)Kannathil Muthamittal (Kannathil… female version)
        11)Sowkiyamma (Samgamam)
        12)Veerapandai kottayilae (Thiruda Thiruda)
        13)Usalampatti (Gentleman)
        14)Ottagatti Kattikko (Gentleman)
        15)1NY Nagaram (Sillunu Oru Kadhal)
        16)Thirupachi (Taj Mahal)
        17)Kannamoochi (Kandukondein Kandukondein — female solo)
        18)Anbe Aaruyire (Aa Aah)
        19)Kappaleri (Indian)
        20)En Peru Padaiyappa (Padaiyappa)
        21)Jhumbalika (En Swase Katrea)
        22)Jaage hain (Guru)
        23)Yeh jo des hai tera (Swades)
        24)Ale Ale (Boys)
        25)Vaari Vaari (Mangal Pandey)
        26)Al Madad (Mangal Pandey)
        27)Taal se Taal (Taal)
        28)Zikr (Bose)
        29)Sehra Main (Between heaven and Earth)
        30)Oudhu vellai Mazhai (Roja)


        • Satyam, i am so pleased that u mentioned Zikr. Some other not-so-famous Rehman tracks i like- Aye Hairatein Aashiqui (Guru), Aye Naaznee Suno Na (Dil Hi Dil Mein), Dheeme Dheeme Gaaoon (zubeida), Paighaam (Lakeer), Do Kadam Aur Sahi (Meenaxi), Ham Hai Is Pal Yahaan (kisna), Khamosh Raat and Dheem Ta Dare (Thakshak), Milgayee Milgayee (Kabhie Na Kabhie), Kheva and Tararam Pum (Doli Saja Ke Rakhna), Columbus (Jeans), Sunta Hai Mera Khuda(pukar)- think Rahman has reused many of his Tamil compositions here


        • Terrific list. One can’t conceive of a true Rahman list that doesn’t include Tamil works as one outlandish comment below requests!


        • ah aah, Satyam…really? I am surprised with that choice..except for mayilirege and arori kodi..did not find it to my liking! Not to forget the horrible picturisation!!


          • the film was miserable in every sense but somehow I’ve always had a great weakness for the album. Like pretty much everything here. Admittedly it is a ‘middling’ album but some of these are my favorites from Rahman.


        • Satyam,

          As much as these lists are personal, I find it weird that this doesn’t include anything from 1947 Earth! What an album!


        • Delighted to see Thirupachi song from Taj Mahal on the list. I too would have it in my Top 25.


  2. Yes Satyam: would be great to get your updated list
    Unlike certain other genre, you know your rehman 🙂


  3. A v good list there Satyam (as expected)
    Though will appreciate a ‘non tamil’list -if possible ….though appreciate that some of the tracks here have been remade/dubbed into Hindi …
    Can we have the list of others as well..
    Ps–““Unlike certain other genre, you know your rehman ”
    Thanx – though I would like to believe I have ‘functional’ knowledge of all genres 🙂


  4. OT,
    Satyam, Hilarious and Brilliant ( applies here also, change context ) 😀


  5. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    AR Rahman: My favourites

    With Rahman, picking up favourites is so tough for me , since I love practically everything he has done. And I listen to them in cycles. But here are the ten that I think I like most at this point of time. They are not supposed to be a unbiased critic’s list of top 10 or something. These are albums that I actually like to listen any number of times. I can unthinking ly put one of these CDs on the system and won’t have to fast forward any of the tracks. And I would be actually listening to each of these tracks with attention , getting solid pleasure and genuine thrill.
    Hindi Albums

    1. Dil Se ( The rhythm of Chhaiyan Chhaiyan are genuinely infectious. It can get the lame scrambling on to the dance floor. Anda whata pair of fresh voices in Sukhwinder Singh and Richa Sharma! If Dil se re can’t get you into a trance your soul needs to get through afew more human births. Jiy Jale can turn you into a woman in an instant, a veritable Radha in fact. Ai ajnabi transports toa the north eastern hills in the dead of the night as Pakhi pakhi pakhi re caress your ear drums with a ticklish feather. Sat rangi re brings on the sufi finale to the magnum opus)

    2. Rang De Basanti ( What Mohe rang de basanti kicks up is some real dust of our god Indian earth. Rubaru is the souls of young people anywhere soaring into the sky on the wings of some snappy guitar chords. Khalbali gives you the Goosebumps with its eerie vocal pyrotechnics. Luka Chhupi can actually bring tears to my eyes and the tarana portion by Rahman make me smile though my tears, sublimating my sadness into something transcendental. How can one escape the grip of Tu bin batayen as its melodic tendrils wrap around every synapse of your soul never to let go? Mast ka paathshala shows why Rahman is Krishna, full of deep meanings and total earnestness, yet so playful. Ik Onkar takes you right into the middle of the waters reflecting the Golden Temple. And Khoon chala introduce us to that singular voice of Mohit Chauhan which mixes silk and gravel in a melodic concrete mixer to come out with that raspy texture that scrapes your feelings to leave you ecstatically numb. )

    3. Rockstar ( One of the complete albums from the maestro. And a special treat for all music aficionados as it is an album about creating music as well. From the inadequacies of words to express what the soul wants to say ( Barbad kare alfaaz mere) to the way mundane traditions try to kill originality Sheher). But is also about deep philosophical thoughts ( Phirse Ud Chala), sufi love ( Katiyan Karoon, ) Spiritual longing ( Kun Faya kun) and social conscience (Sadda Haq) > But what really breaks my heart ultimately is Mohit Chuhan laying his pain bare in ‘ Tum Ho paas mere ‘ and Kavita Krishnamurthy echoing the feeling in ‘ Tum ko’ – and the high notes she hits effortlessly is true of the album as well. It’s got such high ambition and wants to cover so much musical and emotional territory, and yet not a single false note it strikes all through its 10 plus tracks ( The two instrumental tracks are of course a bonus) .

    4. Taal ( Subhash Ghai can be forgiven hundred Yuvraj’s for catalyzing rahman to come out with his first true-blue north-Indian score. Every song a complete edifice of melody, rhythm and vocals with a magnificent facade , sky-kissing spires and intricate jali-work illuminating the interior with mesmerizing patterns of light and shadow. When your ears are temporarily staed with the obvious charms of straightforward winners like Taal se taal mila or Ramta jogi or Ishq bina ( what a start , what a hook , what melody and what a choral section!) , you can sample the ethereal wiles of Nahin saamne , the rustic charm of Kariye na and the feisty Punjabi thrust of Nim Samajh Gaya. )

    5. Rangeela ( This is easily the most dramatic of Rahman’s score , where every song tells s a story, and plays a big part in g the narrative context of the film. Ho ja Rangeela re, defines the character and world view of the heroine Mili both with its lyrical content (Itne Chehron Mein Apne Chehre Ki Pehchaan, Oh Ho Pehchaan Oh Ho, Bade Bade Naamon Mein Apna Bhi Naamonishaan Oh ho) and musical attitude. Tanha tanha is eternally wedded to the image of a nubile Urmilla , fully innocent of her sexual fire power, cavorting on the beach with total abandon. It is as iconic an image of a Hindi film heroine gilded with an accompanying song as you will find in the annals of Bollywood. Mangta hai Kya is such an audacious composition, that can happen only I the innocence of one’s youth. And Shweta Shetty had nothing to lose in giving it all she had. My two personal favourites area Kya kare kya na kare and Hai Rama. The first is one of the very few songs where Rahman is more keen on getting the dramatic content of the song expressed rather than just compose a great song. The wonderful tapori lyrics by Mehboob is of course a big help. (Roz roz ham sochta yehii, Aaj ham ko voh agar mil jaa’e kahii.n, To aisa bolega (saala) vaisa bolega, Kkhula-khula us pe dil ka raaz ham kholega, Voh saamne chamaktii hai saa.ns hii aTaktii hai, Aaur yeh zabaan jaatii hai phisal, Kya kare.n kya na kare.n yeh kaisii mushkil). Udit Naryan who is sucha great singer of the lip sync songs gets the intonations just right. And Hai Rama! What can one say about this ultimate song of seduction.! Whoever knew Puriya Dhanashree could be the cause of so many wet dreams! And Hariharan, what has he done here ? He deserves to be anointed the presiding deity of of aural erotica. And the album has such masterly use of syncopated bursts of violins and flute, which goes on to become the signature of Rahman in subsequent albums. )

    6. Lagaan (One great thing about Rahman ( among many great things of course) is how he really composes each album as a disatinct piece of creation with a distinct personality in tune with the film for which it is meant. A roja is different from a Bombay which is different from a Rangeela which is different from an Earth which is different from Rang De Basanti and so on. Coming to Lagaan the soundtrack is so much in sync with fairytale innocence of the film. I have lost count of times I have replayed the CD on long drives to Mysore, Coorg and the like . Mark Tully includes Ghanan Ghanan among the 8 disks he would carry if he was to be marooned ina desert island (, and it’s great song, but the quintessential Lagaan song for me is Mitwa. Javed ‘ s appropriate moral sermon is translated with 100% sincerity, but pepped up with an incredibly bouncy beat at the start of the phrase “ O Mitwa’. Aamir’s dance steps were cute, so was the ektara interlude and the ta-na-nan-na by Alka Yagnik. And Udit’s full-throated rendition, complete with Bhojpuri / khadiboli ‘asa’ instead of ‘ asha’ was faultless. Radha kaise N Jale is an alltime classic. I have found Javed’s lyrics quite often labored and lackingin genuine poetic flourish. But here he is in full flow, capturing the maan-abhiman of Radha –Krishna love-leela like a true-blue Vaishnav poet. And what can one say about Ash’s singing! She is saucy Radha, who can give back to Krishna as good as she gets. (Bahoon Ke Haar Jo Daale Koyi Kanha Ke Gale, Radha Kaise Na Jale Radha Kaise Na Jale). Baar baar hum was aptly inspirational, O palan haare was touching in its simplicity and Oh Re Chhori with its East-West encounter was baayan haath ka khel for Rahman.

    7. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na ( I am very fond of this album because it is one of the few youthful and frolicsome album in Hindi that he has done compared to the more weighty and conceptually heavy-duty albums that he is usually offered in Mumbai. Kabhi kabhi Aditi was of course a winner the first time I heard it. How does get a melody like that in his head was my immediate thought and that is the thought each time I listen to it. Papu can’t dance saala is great fun and is only deceptively simple. Kahin to hogi who is wonderful western pop kind of a song. Nazrein Milan is another fun song to drive to and is sung by a lot of youthful gusto by all the singers. But aprt from aditi my absolute favourire from the album is the jazzy ‘ Tu bole mein bolun’ by Rahman himself. It is a genuinely good jazz number and is best heard in middle of the night ( as I am doing now) ( Behka from Ghajini is another successful composition in the jazz idiom from the maestro). To sum up, what makes the album an absolute winner is its youthfulness and innocence.

    8. Earth ( The proof of Rahman’s genius ( if ever it was required) is how he scores equally well whether it is a full-blown commercial film or a off-mainstream art house film like Earth oran experimental effort like Meenaxi) . In Deepa Mehta’s Earth he came out with a very uncanny sound, a very eerie kind of melodies., which nevertheless were very accessible and could be hummed after a first hearing. Rahman had just discovered Sukhwinder and he used him to great effect in a couple if songs: The bouncy Rut aa gayi re as well as the dark and foreboding Raat ki daldal hai. Banno rani sounded so authentic you would think it was a traditional song. But the absolute winner, that took my breath away in its ethereal other-worldliness is ‘ Dheemi dheemi ’. Ah Harihran, the Gandharva child again!

    9. Roja ( The first time I heard it was when my Tamil driver put this cassette on in the car and I was zapped! What is this? A Tamil film song? Hard to believe. But from a film it was and the film was as much of a revelation as the song. The wonderful thing is that the songs work as well in Hindi, in spite of the workman like translation of PK Mishra. I mean this is puremusic at iyts best. Roja Jaaneman would work in any language. So would Yeh haseen wadiyan. The Rukmni song was ribald in right proportion and was remarkable for use of aged voices. But the piece-de-resistance of the album for me would alwys be ‘ Dil hai chhotis, choti si asha’. A great reggae song, without a hint of rebellion of course.

    10. Meenaxi: This is actually a charming film and I wish Husain had stayed alive to make more films. Yeh rishta kya kehlai is of course the kind of song that would warm the heart ofa born romantic like Husain. I like “ Koi anjanee see chij meree sanson se lipatne lagatee hai, mein dil ke karib aa jatee hu, dil mere karib aa jata hai” Chikamma Chilkamma is another classic in evoking the earthy sauciness ofa Hyderabdi bordello. He gets the Andhra lit so right. The there were Rang hai and allan un nor. But what made me put this in my fav 10 is Sonus’ “ Do Qadam aur Sahi”. Again another of those Rahman songs which makes you wonder from where does he pull out thse melodies and those beat patterns from?

    Fav 20 Hindi Songs

    1. Dil se re ( Dil se)
    2. Chhhaiyan Chhiayan ( dil se)
    3. Kehna hai kya ( Bombay))
    4. Tuhi to mera dost hai ( Yuvraj)
    5. Nahin saamne ( Taal)
    6. Kabhi Kabhi Aditi ( Jaane tu ya jaane na)
    7. Rubaru ( Rang De Basanti)
    8. Nadaan Parinde ( Rockstar)
    9. Kaise mujhe mil gayi ( Ghajini)
    10. Yeh jo desh hai mera ( Swades)
    11. Mitwa ( Lagaan)
    12. Mangal Mangal ( Mangal Pandey)
    13. Chinna Chinna Asai ( Roja)
    14. Chanda Re chanda re ( Sapnay)
    15. Yeh rishta kya kehlata hai ( Meenaxi0
    16. Do qadam aur sahi ( Meeenaxi)
    17. Bheeni bheeni khushboo hai ( Earth)
    18. Kal nahin that who kya hai ( Vishwavidhata)
    19. Hai Rama ( Rangeela)
    20. Kissa Dil Ka ( Doli Sajaa Ke Rakhna)

    ( Not in precise order of course)


    • @ utkal
      pleasure to read.
      ur enthusiasm and passion(which the eclectic few in their blandness find disturbing and label as hyperbolic)…is the best thing about ur writings.

      its sad u did not include my favorite rehman number: “tuu hi re,tuu hi re”..from bombaby(which is my fav for some personal reasons)


      • Anjali : can we have your list as well
        ( after ‘tu hi re’)


        • @
          wud like ur list first.
          havent heard much of not an expert like sense of music honestly speaking is very undeveloped.


          • Anjali–
            Nowadays I’m more of a music buff than a movie buff
            Unlike movies, one can always get time to enjoy music..
            Have even attended some amateur music workshops, guitar etc..
            As for Rahman, I rate him higher than any indjan composer ever ( over folks like rd Burman !!)
            But being so close to something destroys ones objectivity –most of these have been my favorites at some point
            Currently unable to come up with a list on this But will try in a day or two maybe./
            Will keep sprinkling the random tracks that I currently enjoy /play..
            Ps: Infact headed an amateur european group ‘performances’ recently on rehmans work (one of the songs was ‘naadaan parinde’!)


  6. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Fav 10 Tamil Albums

    1. Iruvar
    2. Kadhalan
    3. Boys
    4. Kandukondein Kondukondein
    5. Alaypayudhe
    6. Indian
    7. Kadhal Desam
    8. Kannathil Muthumittal
    9. Thiruda Thiruda
    10. Tajmahal

    ( Not that I don’t have enough to say about each of these albums. it’s just that I am physically exhausted. So some other time.)

    Fav 20 Tamili Songs

    1. Porale Ponnnuthayi ( sad) ( Karuthamma) (
    2. Usalampatti ( Gentleman) (
    3. Manipaya ( Vinnaithandi Varuvaya) (
    4. Kuliridhu Kuliridhu ( Taj Mahal)
    5. Nila kaikarithu ( Indira) ( Hariharan) (
    6. Snehagide ( Alaipayudhe)
    7. Telephone ( Indian)
    8. Muqabala ( Kadhalan)
    9. Anjali Anjali Pushpanjali ( Duet) (
    10. Marghazi poove ( May Madhyam)
    11. Thendrale ( Kadhal Desam) (
    12. New York Nagram ( Sillum Oru Kadhal) (
    13. Girlfriend ( Boys) (
    14. Ennuyir Thozhiye (Kangalal Kaidhu Sei) (
    15. Kannathil muttha mittal ( Kannathil Muttuha Mittal) (
    16. Kandu kondein Kandu Kondein (
    17. sAKIYAMA ( SangamamaM) (
    18. En Peru Pdaiappa (
    19. Kannai Katti ( Iruvar) (
    20. Mustafa Mustafa ( Kadhal Desam)


  7. Wow utkal uncle
    Now thats something …
    There’s a reason I rate your comments so highly ..
    Just skimmed thru bits but will read it properly later today..

    Ps: more than the actual choices, it’s the descriptions that u come up with that have a poetic quality
    Shared by another member here (anjali !!)
    Ps2: utkal uncle : we’re u quite a romantic person in your younger days
    U must be a ‘Rajesh khanna’ of those times … Pray tell us 🙂


  8. Satyam :
    Just like the indisputable ‘ripping apart’ numbers of ETT, can u dispute the brilliance and ‘passion’ of this guy utkal uncle
    Sometimes it’s good to sit back, accept and enjoy


    • I appreciate Utkal’s passion in many ways but in terms of his opinions and with all due respect I can understand very little of what he says.


      • Agree but Passion must be mixed with Reason, or in Hindi there is wonderful term for it

        “ज्ञान मिश्रित भक्ति”


    • Until someone pointed me, I thought utkal is some 20 year old kid who always defended his positions vigorously and rarely changed his position. I must say, he never uses any uncivil words. For most part my views are very different than him but at end of day we all have views. If views are not of outlier category then one can not claim to be more correct/better than others.


  9. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Anjali: Tuhi re could as well feature in the Top 20. I was trying to balance the dolorous with the joyous… and I put in Kehna hai kya. But it could just as well be Tu hi re. But actullay i like the Tamil version even more. The phonetics sit much better.

    I don’t understand Tamil. Few words here and there.

    (But I have been watching all the films of Mnai Ratnam, Shankar and Bala. Kamlahasan, Bharatirja, Balu Mahendra and K Balachnader before them. Many times I used to sit through a film just because of Kamalhasan’s presence and Iliyaraja’s songs and background score – one vague thriller with Kamal and an actress called Nirosha comes to my mind.) .

    But I like the sound of ‘ yanna monnod kalanda vidu’ for example.

    Try checking it out here :


  10. Find my incapable of compiling a list of top ten or twenty list of rahman tracks…
    Will keep sprinkling my ‘current flavours’ till then…
    NOT an alltime favourite or anything …but one that allures me..
    Rehna tu–Delhi 6


  11. Another track thats among the ‘good’ Rahman tracks(by his standards!) -just revisited it today…


  12. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Thanks Sureshkumar / backgroundscore for posting this wonderful link. You have opened a new avenue of unending pleasure for me. Should be downloading the e-Book soon.


  13. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Hey Suresh, I just downloaded the book and read it in one go. Maybe it took me about 45 minutes or so. There are people in this forum who think I am talking in hyperbole what Mozart was to music in his time. Actually I am quite convinced that the music of Rahman will live on for hundreds of years and maybe in 200 years from now his music will be treated the way the music of Mozart or Bach or Beethoven is treated. The god part is Rahman knows it too – that’s why his keenness to own the rights of his own music. More importantly, he is equally protective about his own genius, not letting unimportant thins distract him from his life’s true mission. That’s another cue for me that he indeed is as great as I think he is. Like you, I too have been mulling over a book on his music. I will do it one day. But it will be a very different kind of a book. Actually I should not be talking any more about it…for that is a sure of way letting the book not happen.

    hope to see From Roja to Rockstar in print soon.


    • Is this your comment Utkal or is it someone else?

      Whoever it is you know I worship Rahman in many ways but once again why we need this sort of appalling overstatement I do not know! It is sacrilege to talk about Bach/Beethoven and Rahman in the same breath. It really is. and no one would be more shocked than Rahman himself. One can accept his seminal stature in every sense, one can talk about his influence in pan-Indian terms, one can talk about his high profile globally. But is this sort of exaggeration needed? Nino Rota was one of the greatest film composers. Stunning soundtracks to his credit. No one would even half-asleep compare him with the greatest composers of the Western tradition! What’s going on here?! My responses might seem too blunt, even harsh, but this is simply ridiculous. 99% of great composers in the Western tradition aren’t Bach or Beethoven. And Rahman is going to give them a run for their money? Please!

      The idea that Rahman insists on copyrights because he considers himself Mozart is about as bizarre an idea as I’ve ever heard.


      • for once i agree with satyam.

        but what utkal meant is that rehman is the mozart of modern times…..
        we cannot have a mozart again…the world has changed…the aesthetics have changed…..rehman is as great as mozart was in his time.

        but…though i dont know much about music…..if yu compare the richness in mozart’s music with rehman….there is no comparison….the opera…don juan by mozart….is sublime.
        rehman can never… 5 percent of what mozart has done.


        • “we cannot have a mozart again…the world has changed…the aesthetics have changed…..rehman is as great as mozart was in his time.”

          I totally reject even with this formulation. For more reasons than one. Chiefly because this analogy is just wrong-headed no matter how one slices and dices it and it does violence to both giants.

          The place of the Beatles is unparalleled in popular music globally. This doesn’t mean they’re Bach! Michael Jackson was a singular force but he wasn’t Beethoven. But this is not a ‘problem’. It only becomes one if puts up such senseless analogies.

          I talk all the time about Salim-Javed’s scripts, a film like Deewar and so on. But if the comparison is with Ray or Kurosawa then it’s a different deal altogether. There’s no reason to have this comparison but if one did I would abandon Javed-Akhtar in a minute despite the fact that these films are personal favorites. Because great as these works are they just can’t match the richness (in every sense) of those other works.

          For a comparison to be ‘sane’ the terms of the comparison must be picked with care. Juxtaposing any two terms does not a comparison make.

          Of course the pragmatic question that one must also ask here is whether Rahman would become like Mozart in terms of his global reach and influence even if he ‘were’ comparable to the latter! There is an important case to be made that without a culture become a global empire in some fashion the influence of even the greatest works remains relatively limited (even religions do not become world religions without empire!). So there are any number of ways in which this comparison is simply false.


          • Ok, wasnt enough to do a Balan – De Niro comparision, now Rahman becomes a Mozart equivalent.
            The day is not far when Imran will be the next James Dean and Kashay the next Scorsese. or may be Kashyap has overtaken him already.


          • @Rajen

            at some other site, Utkal has already declared Imran khan as new Marlon Brando 😛

            U do visit that site, so You can confirm it 🙂


          • @ rajen
            “and Kashay the next Scorsese. or may be Kashyap has overtaken him already.”

            you r inadvertently correct.
            both danny boyle and his indian clone kashyap have overtaken scorcese.
            the rebellion/subversion in the scorsese films of the 70s and the 80s have been pushed several notches further by danny boyle( except for his fairy tale slumdog)…and in the indian context kashyap.
            boyle and kashyap infact r making fun of the kind of anger/rebellion which inform the protagonists of taxi driver/raging bull,etc.
            king of comedy which i watched recently…is a tottally different kettle of fish though.
            i am going to write something big on this..kashyap/boyle kind of subversion….and the kind scorcese made famous…some time soon.
            kashyap/boyle( watch his trainspotting…127 hours,etc) are more relevant to modern times than scorsese.


          • Re: has already declared Imran khan as new Marlon Brando

            Ah, well. If you gonna reach why not aim for the top??
            Good thing Brando was cremated otherwise would have been in a perpetual state of Status Epilecticus!


          • Rajen, your statements should come with a ‘sarcasm’ or ‘irony’ warning. As you can see some take them literally!


          • Re: both danny boyle and his indian clone kashyap have overtaken scorcese.

            See – this is why I visit the site. Get such enlightenment.
            May be someone should inform Scorsese that he has been overtaken by an upstart loudmouth with insufferable fans from BW!


      • BTW satyam, since u spoke of Bach, thought i might butt-in…In Benegal’s Kalyug, Shashi Kapoor’s Karan listens to Bach when he returns home from work- have not heard any composition of Bach in any other Bollywood film


  14. Dr shaurya Says:

    India is sitting on communal Dynamite friends…. Any day there can be a massive nation wide problem… We should have a discussion panel on this too..


    • dr shaurya
      have u ever thought of converting to islam?


      • I have always believed this Anjali that Hinduism or for that matter any religion is not simply a religion in the literal sense of the word- i think a religion is ‘a way of life’


    • ” India is sitting on communal Dynamite friends…. Any day there can be a massive nation wide problem”-what’s goin on folks -plz upd8…
      We discuss ‘serious’ topics as well (not only music /films!)…
      Answer shauryas q


  15. Dr shaurya Says:

    Honestly I have.. But didnt


  16. Thanx’ backgroundscore’ for providing more raw material to soak my time n consciousness with this Rahman e-book…
    Have nearly stopped viewing full movies to save time –had thought of resisting even musical clips erc
    And then ‘good wishers’ like u leave such stuff
    To take my attention
    Thanx a lot anyways 🙂
    Ps: the succinct yet dense description of the Rahman albums uve given above –well, will read it slowly …but surely
    Do come up with the book u are thinking of writing utkal uncle ..


  17. Rahmans non-Hindi works has always been an issue with me..
    And some like satyam /gf has rightly pointed it out..
    Hoping to correct it slowly..(maybe)
    Started by the Tamil list given by utkal uncle–
    Heard this one but couldn’t understand anything (maybe just a word or two)
    But the melody by rahman just takes over ..
    To avoid ‘language compulsions’–check out this instrumental piece
    Folks –an amateur take by some folks using their own replacements
    But the impact & melody still shines thru..
    The simplicity and effortless lack of glitz yet retaining the elegance-hopefully should get me thru more work 🙂
    My intro to
    ‘anjali anjali’


  18. I talk all the time about Salim-Javed’s scripts, a film like Deewar and so on. But if the comparison is with Ray or Kurosawa then it’s a different deal altogether.

    ingmar bergman was a lot deeper than both ray and kurosowa.

    dont know much about music..but ur comment makes sense not withstanding that we are often blind towards the dead holy cows


    • “ingmar bergman was a lot deeper than both ray and kurosowa.”

      Disagree with this also. I think you define a certain kind of ‘spiritual quest’ as deeper than any other kind of questioning.


      • @ satyam
        “I think you define a certain kind of ‘spiritual quest’ as deeper than any other kind of questioning.”

        yes i do.

        to quote ghalib:
        baacheeza e atfaal (child’s play) hai duniya mere aage
        hota hai shab o roz (day and night) tamaasha mere aage

        the eternal/spiritual…. quest/perspective is deeper and more of a challenge to tackle directly than to seek the universal in the quotidian.


        • I will take Surdas over Ghalib everyday of the week. And since you spoke abt spiritual depth, what did u think of the opium-induced work of Coleridge, ‘Kubla Khan’- the imagery of the Alpha Male in the last stanza or so of the poem can easily be the supposedly ‘perfect male’ (bodily and otherwise) which lot of females desire and lust after 🙂


  19. ^ Adab arz hai …
    ( wow what Urdu I’m speaking !!)


  20. Haha btw Blissy gal–
    What is the literal meaning of ‘aa-daab’…


  21. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam : I think it is absolutely wrong that The Beatles and Bach cannot be compared or be uttered in the same breath. It has been done before and not just by one or two.

    Here is the opening line of Eric egal;s ‘ Love Story’. :

    “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?”

    Well since Oliver Barrett IV cannot claim to be Mozart or Bach, we will let that pass. But what about this?

    Here is composer Todd Machover:

    “Also, I think you’ll feel the influence of my four favorite composers, the “4 B’s”—Bach, Beethoven, Byrd (of Shakespeare’s time and, I think, the greatest composer before Bach), and The Beatles, the greatest composer(s) after Bach???!!!—throughout the album. I think the CD has a bit of everything: memorable melodies, punchy rhythms, booming bass lines, and kaleidoscopic textures.

    Or this?

    “In January 1963, the Beatles had one Top 20 hit to their name. By the end of the year, they were Britain’s biggest stars, with two hit albums and the accompanying singles, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney were being heralded as “The outstanding English composers of 1963” by William Mann in The Times. The Sunday Times went even further, calling Lennon and McCartney “The greatest composers since Beethoven.” The latter statement is particularly remarkable, considering that it came as the Beatles’ recording career was just getting started, years before such classics as “Revolver,” “The Beatles” (aka The White Album), and “Abbey Road” were released.”

    You may not agree. The point is it is not as preposterous as you make it sound.

    Now let us take these lines about Bach.

    “Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and organist. He lived in the last part of the Baroque period. He never traveled very far, spending all his life in central Germany, but he studied all the music he could find by other composers of his time. His own music shows that he learned from the music of Italian, French and German composers. He spent several years working at courts of noblemen. Here he wrote most of his chamber music and orchestral music. Most of his life, however, he worked in a church where he was expected to write church music. Bach wrote almost every kind of music except opera.

    Bach was largely self-taught in musical composition. His principal study method, following the custom of his day, was to copy in his workbooks the music of French, German, and Italian composers of his own time and earlier. He did this throughout his life and often made arrangements of other composers’ works.

    The significance of Bach’s music is due in large part to the scope of his intellect. He is perhaps best known as a supreme master of counterpoint. He was able to understand and use every resource of musical language that was available in the baroque era. Thus, if he chose, he could combine the rhythmic patterns of French dances, the gracefulness of Italian melody, and the intricacy of German counterpoint all in one composition. At the same time he could write for voice and the various instruments so as to take advantage of the unique properties of construction and tone quality in each. In addition, when a text was associated with the music, Bach could write musical equivalents of verbal ideas, such as an undulating melody to represent the sea, or a canon to describe the Christians following the teaching of Jesus.”

    Why can’t similar lines be written about Rahman 500 years from now? Except that instead of working in the church he would have been working for Indian films. And one form of Indian music he wont have composed is . let’s say ghazals. And instead of “ a canon to describe the Christians following the teaching of Jesus.” It could be a quawali to describe the magnificence of Allah.
    I am not saying I am sure it will happen. No one can. All I am saying it is a possibility.

    If we take our times, with computers, Internet and global travel, as an exciting era of great churn, who are the musicians who echoes the throbbing creative energy of our times that the future listeners centuries hence can turn to?

    Thyagraja and the holy trinity are already there from a few hundred years back. Rabindranath Tagore , yes, from one hundred years back.

    If we talk about composers, who would be part of the new canon? There are Loius Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and a whole lot of other jazz greats. The Beatles. The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix. And from the Indian subcontinent , Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ravi Shankar, Iliyaraja and ARR Rahman.

    I am putting my bet on Rahman, because ofa number of factors. He started off in the Tamil film industry where the demand of musicianship is higher. The music in Tamil film sis more ‘ serious’. It could be due to the proficiency of the average listener in classical music as compared to the north and a greater merging of the classical and the popular . It is only in the South that you will find a revered singer of classical music like Yesudas also doubling as a popular playback singer. And it is only in the South that you will have a classical concert by Yesudas drawing audiences in excess of 20,000. It is again only in the South that you will find hair-cutting saloons, mutton stalls and backs of auto-rickshaws sporting photos of Iliyaraja and Rahman. Operating in an environment like that it is possible for Rahman to strive for musical excellence within the folds of film music. Iliyaraja had already created the path for Rahman just as Bach had shown the way for Mozart and Beethoven.

    I have already mentioned how the music of Rahman has obliterated the North-South divide, a feat no other film musician had achieved earlier except again for Iliyaraja. That speaks of the universality of their musical idiom.

    There many other pointers. I have a colleague who listens to only Carnatic classical music. And he can sing any Carnatic raga even after imbibing a full bottle of rum. The while driving from Bangalore to Erode I found out he would as gladly listen to AR Rahman ( I was carrying my collection on a pen drive) . And he was as ecstatic listening to Hariharan’;s improvised version of Hai Rama as he was about any number by his favourite Yesudas. ( He borrowed the pen drive to copy the song.). And he could wax eloquent about the nuances of composition in ‘ Ae Nazneen Suno Na ’ from Dil Hi Dil Mein as about any composition by Thyagraja.
    I have a client who were celebrating the silver jubilee of their organization and wanted to have a very special celebration. I took a would leap and suggested Shakti with McLaughlin and Zakir et al and send the CMD and CFO, both Tamilians, few CDs. Boy were they scandalized! They just could not take the adulteration. They compared it to have a drop of poson ina glass of milk. But the same CMD was happily relishing Telephone from Indian, wondering aloud to me while driving to Electronic City how adroitly Rahman had manged the swith from the upbeat mukhda to the more mellifluous antara.

    AS I said I am not sure. But I have a strong hunch. Rahman is special. I mean how would you know Jesus if he was among us. He would turn water to wine? Rahman has already done that. Two Oscars, two Grammies. An Indian composer doing that..isn’t that a miracle?

    It has been more than 300 years since Bach and Beethoven strutted their stuff. So has the world ended in 2012 that we will get no great composers ever again? And where will they come from? We have no musicians employed in the churches or temples. We have no kings, no noblemen. Business barons don’t patronize musicians either. So are films, the pre-eminent art form of our times such an unlikely place to incubate the next topwering musical figure for the next centuries?

    Think about it.


    • I am amazed why we act like bull : Narrow, I m right alwys. I know All and What I like is refined taste….

      I can also quote Lata on rehman but I know someone will than question Lata and say She doesnt know Music, even though Eric segal is Quoted as If he knew all abt Music…

      any creative artist today are famous here and across sea because World has condensed into One Village and accessibility is full circle… Same rehman or any other good artist would have been known only to respective target just 50 yrs back…

      Oscar is no achievement, Its just our pathetic inferiority complex to get recognition from west and SD music didn’t deserve Oscar.. why are we not objective on that also…

      Ps: I also think Anu malik and Pritam will be recognised as Mozart and beethoven in next 200 yrs … there music is played more streets and villages, much more deeper penetration 😀 😀 😀

      I can also be Prophetic 😛


    • Not sure what a line from a pop work like Love Story means! Also not sure what one Todd Machover’s opinion means! One doesn’t have to take them all that seriously either. People sometimes say things in half-jest or at least not quite as seriously as one might think.

      Frankly you could open up a museum of outrageous quotes. These are hyperbolic to the point of meaninglessness. First off Beethoven was less than 200 years ago, not 300. Secondly who said there hasn’t been anyone since him? There were giants like Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner in the 19th century (this list could be expanded quite a bit). There’s Schoenberg’s great atonal revolution in the 20th. but the point isn’t even these lists. It’s about understanding the nature of a work. What does winning an Oscar mean? There are great film score composers that no one would compare with the giants of classical music! So on and so forth. Great art isn’t about arbitrary awards (the number of titanic writers who didn’t win the Nobel are at least as many as the ones who did! similarly many relatively less worthy talents routinely win it) and IMDB ratings!

      I’ve already said this but I worship Rahman. But comparing him with anyone significant in the western classical tradition (and not just a titan like Bach) is a bit like comparing a rather good pop artist to Picasso! One must have a sense of measure in these matters and not just say whatever comes to mind. We’re talking about one of the richest high art traditions in human history (that of Western classical music for a period of 3-4 centuries) and you’re invoking Rahman. The truer analogy here is with the maestros of Indian classical music. This is not to ‘underrate’ Rahman. He is brilliant much like the Beatles are brilliant within a popular strand of music. Rahman can nonetheless produce extraordinary stuff (he owes a great deal to Bach himself) but his work is a kind of bridge between the sheer popular music and high art. It is intermediate. Much as a film like Deewar is meaningful entertainment that falls somewhere between sheer escapist fare and the high art of a Ray or a Ghatak or whoever. Of course since you consider Cocktail comparable to Guru Dutt’s work at some levels it’s hard to bring this point across to you!

      Fame doesn’t mean anything either. It would be hard for any artist to mean as much as Michael Jackson (even including the Beatles) to so many people (including in the slums of the planet where he’s universal currency). But this doesn’t make him Wagner. Why? Because they are not comparable figures. Much as everyone writing a serious or half-serious play isn’t Ibsen or Kalidasa!

      So saying all of this doesn’t belittle Rahman or Deewar or the Beatles. But there is no common scale of reference here. Agatha Christie is a universally loved author who’s been one of top sellers in history. This doesn’t mean she’s Shakespeare or Dickens! There are distinctions. One can love all of these figures or works at the same time. Rahman doesn’t have to be Bach for me to love him or have great regard for his talent! These are just different things. There’s a difference between a wonderfully designed building and a Frank Lloyd Wright work! There’s a difference between R D Burman and Ravi Shankar. There’s a difference between Bala and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. In each case I have great esteem for each figure in the opposition. But one person is practicing a higher art than the other. I find it crazy that I even have to explain all of this.


      • And I say this rather candidly (though not impolitely) that you [Utkal] have the most supreme self-confidence in these matters without anything even approaching a comparable ability to truly ‘learn’ what needs to be learned or a sense of openness about at least more informed opinion. Of course you’ve also said that for you your opinion is more important than that of any great critic or what have you (which then begs the question as to why you ‘cynically’ provide these examples from time to time.. it’s not as if the same people having different views would change your mind!) so perhaps this whole ‘debate’ is pointless since I certainly do not esteem my opinion on anything more than that of someone who’s either trained in that field or at least has an immense understanding of it one way or the other. This too gets to a point I made just the other day. I don’t have to like every film a great critic recommends but I can’t start arguing with him on say that film’s editing patterns unless I truly ‘know’ what he’s talking about. This humility is important in life. No matter how much one is exposed to different stuff there has to be the ability to truly learn things. It’s not just about finding ratings somewhere or ripping out quotes here and there. An opinion to be worthwhile or debatable has to be well-founded. Throughout your Cocktail opinions for example I couldn’t find a single sentence as to what made it comparable to Guru Dutt. You kept ‘saying’ it of course. One day you put up a whole paragraph on a video from the same film where you simply described it frame by frame without telling us anything about what was so ‘special’ or consequential here! Again don’t think I am doing this to belittle you. But you do need a doze of humility. You might have seen many films or whatever but some of your statements really suggest you haven’t understood anything. We all have our opinions but to be taken seriously these opinions have to mean something. If I start saying that Sunidhi (who’s otherwise gifted) will become Lata Mangeshkar this would be a laughable claim and it would still be more restrained than the stuff you’ve been saying. It’s just outrageous in every sense and actually this characterization is itself restrained! I have forever had this argument with you. You are way too dogmatic. It’s one thing if one is educated in a certain kind of thinking and is dogmatic about it. I still would not appreciate such an attitude but at least I wouldn’t argue about the person knowing his or her stuff. But here it’s not even that. You’ve been exposed to a lot of things but you’ve taken your very impressionistic understanding of things and converted them into the most dogmatic opinion that you then think is as valid as anyone else’s no matter how ‘educated’ they might be in terms of their fields. I for example wouldn’t argue with Rahman over his understanding of music. You would! To be absolutely clear I don’t suggest that everyone should first go to ‘school’ in something and then offer opinion. Absolutely not! But one should at least have some humility about the same. If I go to a good restaurant and end up not liking some of the stuff I usually think it’s about my taste. I don’t think the chef doesn’t know his or her job! A well-experienced food critic might be able to pass that kind of judgment. I cannot. But I still have every right not to like the flavor(s). Democracy entitles everyone to have an opinion. But one cannot take it further than this.


    • Anyone who quotes Eric Segal’s ‘Love Story’ is immediately discredited and can be ignored.

      Since when is he a great writer and Love Story anything but melodramatic crap masquerading as literature?

      No wonder you loved Cocktail as high art.


  22. “It has been more than 300 years since Bach and Beethoven strutted their stuff. So has the world ended in 2012 that we will get no great composers ever again? And where will they come from? We have no musicians employed in the churches or temples. We have no kings, no noblemen. Business barons don’t patronize musicians either. So are films, the pre-eminent art form of our times such an unlikely place to incubate the next topwering musical figure for the next centuries?”
    Good points…utkal uncle
    Your thoughts ‘stimulate’ me (not in a dostana way!)
    Btw are u interested in paintings by any chance
    Check out the ‘black square’ I’ve posted in the poor tony Scott’s rip thread ..


  23. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    qBliss, instead of threatening to do a lot of things like to ‘ quote Lata on rehman” why don’t you just do it. someone may as well say Lata does not know music, which may as well be true , since apart from being a extremely gifted singer, I have never seen her exhibit a great knowledge of music. But it would not harm to hear what she has to say about Rahman. come on Bliss , out with it, don’t be coy!.


    • Where was threat in my comment ????

      Yes I agree Lata doesn’t know music 🙂 and thus Quoting ignorant her is not worth it.

      In this universe only 2 ppl know music .. Only 2 .

      I am tempted to quote Socrates on those who think they know all …. but I let it go 🙂

      ps: when one evaluates anything be it art or person, One must have full circle view. Personally I have very low opinion of those who believe in hyeprboles, hyperboles and deifying or extremity in any aspect of life is bad… same hyperbole’s in religion creates demo Gods and modern day Avtaars and Bhagwaan.. there Logic is same because 2 Extremes are always same and have same logic..

      Not in any way intended at You, Utkal but just my general observation here


  24. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    ” Oscar is no achievement, it is our pathetic inferiority complex.’ I guess being Bach or Beethoven is no great achievement either, it is our pathetic inferiority complex.


    • The Oscar is not even close to being the last word on great cinema let alone great music. Anyone who knows even a little bit about cinema understands this!


  25. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  26. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  27. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  28. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Oscar is not the measure of great film music score. Then to the extent such things have a measure, what is?


    • Not sure why you’re putting up these classical music videos! But if I now asked you what interpretation of the Brandenburg Concertos you prefer and why what would your response be?


  29. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Tyler, Eric Segal has not been quoted as creator of great art or an authority on music. So pipe down. That was just to get your goat. so don’t fall for it.


  30. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Anyway I must admit getting an Oscar is no confirmation of your talent being on par with Mozart, just as turning water into wine is no proof of one’s divinity ( which even PC Sorcar jr can do.) Therefore the parallell was brought in. Since no one is in mood fora joke here, the question in all seriousness is : Supposed we had a Mozart among us today, ho would we recognize him or her?


    • I don’t know How would we recognise him/her but one thing is dead certain He won’t be giving Filmy music, All filmy music are bounded by commercial constraints of various variables. It’s music given for films so inherently limited…

      Eben though Music is shortest way to ones own self/god or some different world… Every individual is affected or touched by music in its own inexplicable way, some by pure classic, some filmy, some pop, some rap and so on…

      U don’t have to tell the ppl about Sun… the sheer light and heat of sun will tell its own story and greatness


  31. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Bliss: the ‘threat’ was used as a rhetoric, meant to ask, why don’t you just give the quote and be done with it, unless of course there is no quote to give to start with.


    • 🙂

      Quoting doesn’t prove anything save one’s own rigidness of being right ; to prove himself/herself right. even though proving oneself right and what is right are 2 different things …


      • Bliss, but once in a while we should also accept this possibility that Utkal Sir’s knowledge abt music may be more than some of us. I am completely against the way his opinions are being pulled down


        • No one is pulling down anyone’s opinion

          Its Just hyperboles and deification and quotes I am personally against…

          Did someone here said rehman is not good or V good ????

          Again, ppl are taking sides w/o reading all comments just on Favorites, IMO. I may be wrong also.

          If Lata doesn’t know Music but some segal or Machover knows because Utkal quotes him … That’s crux…

          Ps: Presently its only Rehman, Trivedi and Sneha that are my personal fav. but that doesnt mean I be blind worshiper and never Question 🙂


  32. omrocky786 Says:

    SS is becoming the civilized version of other forum- there the fight is SRK ka bada ya Salman ka, here the fight is Gurudut saahb bade ya Cocktail……
    there- it is main teri keh kar loonga, here it is -main teri loonga lekin tere ko pata bhee nahi chalega kee kab ley lee……
    at the end of it , it is still wohee saali- tu tu- main main…… .


    • I posted madhu trehan’s IE article… Briiliant 🙂

      Ps: Aaj Satyam mood bana k aaya hain ki sab ko sheeshay main uttarega 🙂


      • omrocky786 Says:

        Satyam arguing with certain here people reminds me of my Mom who never misses an opportunity to get the better of the Kaamwali……jab tak kaamwali yeh na keh dey – achch maa jee main galat thee..unko chain nahee padta….
        I tell my mom kee it is futile arguing with her….LOL


        • LOL….

          Lagta hain Janam din per dair saari Sheeshay( Bottles) khali hovi hain aur phir sataym ne soncha hooga khali bottle main kya baro and Rest is history 🙂


        • omrocky786 Says:

          is it Satyam’s birthday ?
          Happy Birthday Satyam..where is Rooney’s post today ?


          • Aap ko pata bi Nahin… Zyaada ‘Right’ articles na pada karo

            Anyways for u



          • kal tha…aaj belated hai yaa baasi birthday hai. Humari baccho kaa tho mahina bhar birthday chatla hai.
            roflol on “there- it is main teri keh kar loonga, here it is -main teri loonga lekin tere ko pata bhee nahi chalega kee kab ley lee……” hats off to Anuraag for giving this line (jiskay existence kaa humey pata bhi nahi tha)….pata nahi aisey aur kitney gems hongey. Rahi baat Rahman aur bach ki…yaa imran aur brando ki….toh…I only have to say this…isn’t this colonial mindset, hain? Why not compare Imran to young balraj sahni or young dilipkumar…compare rahman to miya tansen…why do we have to bring western music or western actors. Agar compare karna hai toh Zubin mehta ko karo…jo waha gaya tha….mere do paisey ka opinion.
            P.S: y’all shouldn’t punish people for hyperboles…there are bigger crimes in this universe


          • Rocky’s greetings are evergreen!


          • to paraphrase a US Congressman there is ‘legitimate’ hyperbole and the other kind!


          • omrocky786 Says:

            agree Di with your colonial mindset point, as for keh kar loonga – several variations of it were and are very common in Delhi/U.P…Kashyao as usual got undue credit..LOL


          • omrocky786 Says:

            The US Congressman’s views will cost Romney- Ryan very very dearly…..


          • legitmate rape statement and illegitimate hyperbole….ha…what an apples to apple comparition!


  33. Re: main teri loonga lekin tere ko pata bhee nahi chalega kee kab ley lee……”

    Bade bade blogs mein aisa hi hota hai!
    Constant resort to hyperbole is criminal as it typifies
    a. A disconnect with reality
    b. An inflated view of one’s own sensibiltiies
    c. A blatant disregard and insensitivity for differing views
    d. Inability to make cogent,effective and relevant points to justify one’s opinion
    e. An udnerlying insecurity regarding validity of one’s position.


  34. I had typed a rather long comment, but before posting I thought why should I rise to the bait? Given the way things are proceeding on SS for the last few weeks, I believe people should give silent treatment to certain ‘things’. I mean what next, Chetan Bhagat in time will become greater than Shakespeare? Maybe this will become a new topic for discussion, afterall not many people now understand what Shakespeare wrote, you’re more likely to find a Chetan Bhagat novel in your local barber shop, 3I based on Chetan’s novel is the biggest hit of BW, he’s so much on TV, and he was also on Time 100.

    PS: I’m a big fan of AR Rahman and probably his music has given me the most pleasure. But I won’t declare he’s an equal of Mozart because honestly I’m not qualified to make that judgement neither is anyone on SS. Those who make that type of judgement are akin to someone who goes to the toilet in the next hour and exults I’ve the biggest d**k in the word!!! 🙂


  35. @ bliss
    we r still eagerly waiting for ur quote on rahman by lata.
    has the mighty quote arrived as yet?


    • Rahman is the single greatest composer India has seen (though can’t talk abt Ilaiyaraja since i haven’t heard much of him)- R D Burman and the likes, great as they are, aren’t even in the same league as Rahman. Infact he is among the top (if not the topmost) composers in the world rt. now- Hans Zimmer and Andrew Lloyed Webber have themselves said so- and if we talk abt who has ‘influenced’ music the most in India, i think even giants like Kishore and Lata will be dwarfed by Rahman.


    • And regarding Lata, the fact is that when she was getting no work some yrs back, it was Rahman who gave her the fabulous Luka Chhupi (RDB)- that’s her only worthwhile song from the past decade or so. Infact the only truly super songs she has sung in the last 15 yrs or so are Jiya Jale (Dil Se- again Rahman) and Geela Geela Pani and Tu Mere Paas (Satya- Vishal Bhardwaj)


  36. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  37. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  38. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  39. Utkal Mohanty Says:


  40. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Here is why I would take a quote from Eric Segal a little more seriously than comments by most ( since I cannot claim to know all) members of SS on classical music and The Beatles:

    ” The son of a rabbi, Segal attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and traveled to Switzerland to take summer courses. He attended Harvard College, graduating as both the class poet and Latin salutatorian in 1958, after which he obtained his master’s degree (in 1959) and a doctorate (in 1965) in comparative literature, from Harvard University.

    Segal was a professor of Greek and Latin literature at Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University. He had been a Supernumerary Fellow and subsequently an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.

    His first academic book, Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus, revolutionized the great Roman comic playwright best known today as the inspiration for the Broadway hit, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum] In 2001 Harvard published his The Death of Comedy, the all-encompassing literary history.

    In 1967, he wrote the screenplay for The Beatles’ 1968 motion picture, Yellow Submarine, from the story by Lee Minoff
    In the late 1960s, Segal collaborated on other screenplays, and also had written a synthetic romantic story by himself about a Harvard student and a Radcliffe student, but failed to sell it. However, literary agent Lois Wallace at the William Morris Agency suggested he turn the script into a novel and the result was a literary and motion picture phenomenon called Love Story. A New York Times No. 1 bestseller, the book became the top selling work of fiction for 1970 in the United States, and was translated into 33 languages worldwide. The motion picture of the same name was the number one box office attraction of 1970.Segal went on to write more novels and screenplays, including the 1977 sequel to Love Story, called Oliver’s Story.

    He published a number of scholarly works as well as teaching at the university level. He wrote widely on Greek and Latin literature. His novel The Class (1985), a saga based on the Harvard Class of 1958, was also a bestseller, and won literary honour in France and Italy. ] Doctors was another New York Times bestseller from Segal.”


  41. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Bliss: While I wait for your Lata quote on Rahman ( Regardless of my opinion of Lata as a musicologist, I would like to hear an artiste Rahman has worked with has to say about him, honestly. ), let me provide you few quotes from Amit Trivedi :

    “ I would dedicate my success to AR Rahman. He has inspired me to go against the rules.”

    One of AR Rahman’s self-proclaimed fans Amit Trivedi lists some of the mestro’s albums that richly deserved an award too.“ The Grammy award is too small for Rahman. He definitely deserves one, but at the same time he is way above it. In fact he deserves a special Grammy for 16 years of art that he has created. According to me some of the best albums are:


  42. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    My biggest disappointment in this discussion has been that those who have objected to Rahman or The Beatles being mentioned in the same breath as Beethoven , Mozart and Bach have not given a single line of reason for this. There only line of attack has been : How dare you? Now I am never intimidated by that. I owe that to our family tutor in our village who was a true visionary educationist. For example , he did not start teaching the the Odia alphabet starting with a, aa, i, ee , etc as it’s usually done. He would make us look at something g around say our house, called ghara in Odia. And he would make us right ‘ gha’ and ‘ ra’ . Similarly ‘ga’ ‘ chha’ for a tree. That made a lot of sense and made the process pf learning fun. I was learning g some letters with which I could concretize a real object the way I spoke its name. I used to cry if he missed coming for the tuitions any day. Now can anyone tell me why one should learn to write ‘A’ ‘B’ “ C” “D” in that sequence except for the fact that is it is traditionally done that way? Fortunately I was taught to disrespect tradition in my very childhood. Our teacher avoiding using formula while solving mathematical problems. It had to be done using the first principles. It is hard work , but highly rewarding. And it has stayed with me. Not relying on received wisdom, but thinking for myself.

    Which is not to say I am disregarding all that other people have said about Bach, Beethoven or Mozart. I know Bach is a master of the counterpoint, melodies came to Mozart fully formed in his head , and Beethoven’s music encompasses all the emotional registers know to mankind. So I use these as guides while listening to their music. But ultimately I value them for what their music give me and the same goes for the Beatlers, Hendrix, Nusrat, Ghulam Ali, Amir Khan, Malikarjun Mansoor, Paban Das Baul, Rahman and whoever.

    So what is that one looks s for in a musician to call him great? Here I will narrow it down to composers, because that is the category we are concerned with right now. What are the precise characteristics that make the top three composers in the Western classical canon much like Thyagraja, Shyama Shastry and Muthuswamy Dikshitar of the Carnatic classical tradition?

    One: Originality. A unique signature
    Two: Their ability to assimilate all the best in music that has come before them and create an organically wholesome new idiom that is significantly different from any of the older forms. The corollary to this is that he should have a demonstrable influence on the great creators that come after him.
    Three: The appeal of music is not transitory. It has shelf life. It is not just trendy but has a long-term appeal.
    Four: What they create is well-formed and has a definite , clear-cut identity. It can be clearly differentiated from a hundred others – even though it has taken from all those who came before and there will be hundreds of imitators and hundreds who will borrow from it.
    Five: It will resonate at the deepest level of human emotions and not just skirt the surface. It will engage with the real pleasures and pains, eternal questions and searches, the key issues of human existence.
    Six: Like all real works of art the creation should possess beauty, elegance and the all the elements in right proportions
    Seven : The works should be accessible to a significant number of people. The key elements of the creation should be clearly discernible to this set of people. It’s not about being the MTV Viewers’ Choice, but no work of art can be called great if, for example, it t appeals to just one person, or just one community. There has to be some degree of universality. ( A Mozart appeals to not just Germans. A Rabindrasangeet appeals not just to Bengalis. A Thyagaraja composition appeals not just to South Indians.)

    Well, these are some of the criteria I could think of. I am not going into the detailed examination of how Rahman meets most of these , but I believe they do, except for the fact of longevity, permanence vs evanescence, which only time can settle with certainty.

    A word of clarification here. When I said Rahman is the Mozart or Beethoven of our times it is not meant to be an exact equivalence. He as well could be the Liszt or even Gershwin of our times. The point I was trying to make is that he is a unique musical talent who towers above all the composers of today and is going to be regarded as a composer of some import hundred years from now.

    I have ignored most of the irrelevant barbs at my post. The one sincere response came from Bilss who at least replied to my query of how will we recognize the Mozart of today if he was amongst us with ‘I don’t know How would we recognise him/her but one thing is dead certain He won’t be giving Filmy music, All filmy music are bounded by commercial constraints of various variables. It’s music given for films so inherently limited…” Now this line of reasoning is patently wrong. What do you mean by commercial constraints? By that logic no film could be an work of art because all films are produced under commercial constraints. So there is nothing to look down on ‘ filmy’ as ‘filmy’ is the dominant art language of our time. More people quote and relate to Godfather , La Dolce Vita, Memento, Taxi Driver or Pulp fiction today than Shakespeare or Tolstoy. So If films can be art why not film music? Charles Dickens wrote his noels as serialized stories in magazines and made a lot of money. So did Shakespeare as the owner of his theater troupe’ Kings Men’. That did not stop what they crate from being art.

    Yes the time and place of that commercial art is important. That si why I mentioned that the Tamil film of the last 50 years provide the right breeding ground for commercial creations to bloom into art . Because it is here that you geta Kamlahasan, a Mnai Ratnam, a Bharati Raja, a Balu Mahendra , a Shankar,a Bala … a Nayagan and an Iruvar.. a Pushpak Vimana and a Moonrum Piravi… and therefore an Iliyarja and an AR Rahman. On the very question of the ability of film music to be high art you must remember the format of high art in every art form has changed over the years. The novel initially was a low art form, catering to middle classes with leisure and money to buy books, while poetry, essays and belle letters were high art. Today it is novels that have taken the center stage. Carnatic music treats five minters kirtis as the mainstay of the classical repertory while for North Indian music it is the hour-long khayal. But before Amir Khushru and the Sadraang brothers it was dhrupad and other forms but not khayal. Even in the realm of Western Classical music there troubadors singing, there were madrigals, then there was opera, it was not always the chamber or the symphony orchestra. So instead of calling something ‘ filmy’ and dismissing it we have to go back to the first principles and look at how well it meets the criteria of great music.

    WE should also remember that once upon a time we had kings and noblemen. And all the great musicians of the past worked as court musicians. Do you think that wasn’t a constraint> Don’t you think they woyld have had to compromise? And do you think all kings had great taste? The fact is genius cuts though all these and shines through. Today we live largely in democracies. There no kings. We believe we are better off because the collective wisdom of a community is superior to that of any king. So an art form patronized by this collective should be in no way inferior to those patronized by kings. That’s how great films are being created. And great music.

    If you have seen Midnight in Paris you should know that the golden age was not anytime in the past, the golden age is now. Always.

    Here it is instructive to note how Iliyaraja and Rahman are different from most film composers. By and large, typical film composers like Nadeem Shravan or Anu Malik, or even SD Burman and Madan Mohan did not do the orchestral arrangements for their songs, it was done by an arranger. Maybe Salil Chaudhury was an exception. And they never did the background score of their films. So in a sense Iliyaraja and Rahman are the first true total musicians who created full-bodied musical compositions. When we think of film music we just think of the songs ( That’s why most Indians ignorantly ask how did Slumdog deserve the Oscar.) But there a whole body of work, hundreds of hours of it, as background score which are as rich, as rewarding and as long lasting as the songs. But as I have said there is nothing to sneeze at the songs as a five minute song can contain as much great music as a hour-long symphony or khyal, just as a one page poem can be as grata piece of art as a 100-page novel.

    Just to repeat, I may be wrong. Rahman may fall short of being a Mozart or even a Gershwin. It is entirely possible. But it is equally possible that he is someone in that bracket. So let no one tell me that I cannot take the name of the Beatles in the same breath as Bach, or that I cannot compare the song picturization of Kannathil Muttumittal with that of Awara or I cannot compare the use of a song in Cocktail with that in Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam. That would be like telling me I cannot possibly start learning the alphabet starting with ‘ M’ and ‘ A’, because I know very well I can.


    • @ utkal
      You have raised some very pertinent points which go deeper than the issue of rehman versus Mozart.
      You are talking about the human tendency to be the lakeer ka fakeer…..the hierarchy endorsing …..the grammarian…..which is indifferent and unempathetic to anything that subverts the dominant narrative……in which a Mozart/Bach is the sacrosanct and the others cannot even be compared to them. their insistence is almost the insistence of a grammarian that this is the rule of language…the “a priori” principle so to say….. to deviate from it is to deviate from reason.

      They must have the humility to understand that grammar is often and always imposed upon the language and not vice versa .The strict rules of grammar in fact kills the language as languages are born in the cauldron of daily human interactions ..they r symbols for varied human expressions….under changing contexts….the more u frame them under water tight compartments and regiment them and force them to follow immutable laws…the more you r choking life out of something that is organic and playful and non serious. Sanskrit is the only language in India which follows perfect grammatical rules…because Sanskrit is a dead language…no one speaks it. Where ever there is life in the language it disregards all the rules and mores of grammar and gleefully mutates…… there is a constant effort at subverting the dominant narrative…… a constant effort at comparing Beatles with the Bach and Rahman with the Mozart… the river of time flows the stones by the two shores have to become mellower and change….similarly the meaning of words change not withstanding all the rules of grammar purists….
      The insistence that Noooo….yu cannot even compare a contemporary composer with the dead greats…is symptomatic of a society that has become like a standing water in its mental vision/motivation….which is stuck with the rules (made for fools)..of the dominant narrative…..the grammar……and is unempathetic with the present…where real life is.
      Rehman must be compared with Mozart….that is the best courtesy we can do Mozart…… that comparison the dead Mozart will become alive again and give us something new.


      • Good thoughts there^
        Again: while im not for this comparison, utkals plea that another ‘Mozart cannot be ruled out’–needs correct perspective
        It’s nota rule that someone can surpass Mozart ..
        Btw utkal uncle : thanx for recommending the south indian song
        ‘anjali anjali’-link above –heard it for the first time-good job


      • The more u insist that mozart cant be compared to rehman… a deeper level yu r saying we r not going to change….we are not going to replace our older gods with the newer gods…replace the older festivals with the newer carnivals…replace the sanskrit with the hindi…..
        the result is that …sanskrit will go on dying and becoming formulaic and lifeless and the possibility of hindi…something new to grow up….is never given a chance either…
        the cultural intelligence of the society goes on diminishing…..


        • I think some people here need to become better readers of the English language. That would be a start. The education can follow later!


          • Satyam: u should learn Sanskrit first…
            Apparently the ‘pure’ language 🙂
            Btw folks :
            Let’s move away from poor Mozart and enjoy Rahmans music for what it is –that will also protect utkal uncle from those waiting to latch onto him


          • “Satyam: u should learn Sanskrit first…”



    • Think I’ve said all I needed to on this and in the most comprehensive ways. I will finally take some good advice here and not pursue this further!


  43. Utkal uncle :
    I personally don’t believe in comparing rehman with Mozart —
    not Only it is unfair, but moreover who will the ‘judge’
    There’s nobody who can assess it truly!
    On the rest of your thoughts, I agree
    And infact applaud u..
    Dont think u should get worked up by some here–don’t wanna comment on them / that..
    Yes there is hyperbole in utkal uncles comments
    But there are bigger sins ..
    If someone reads it carefully–he himself says he is not sure of the comparison but can’t rule it out and anyhow it is difficult to disprove it either..
    Again he may indulge in ‘hyperbole’, but that’s a small price to pay for the all round brilliance and care he puts in ..
    Before dissing his comments–one should atleast appreciate the effort and care he must have put in accumulating all those rehman top 10 Hindi and Tamil and their descriptions..
    Infact the blog owner should be glad that someone is takin so much careto contribute some thing meaningful to his blog
    Rather than coming around and saying a default ‘I agree’ and so on
    Anyhow that’s just my opiNion
    Kinship and ‘back scratching’ is also important 🙂


    • Agree here AA. Utkal has his own points to which I definitely beg to disagree but he has maintained his civility even in the most adverse of punches. It is very impressive the way he has maintained that decorum and hasn’t crossed/subverted the line and more importantly, unlike some, has not been condescending with Hey I read more books/watched more movies than you stuff. To me, this is the primary mark of a grounded person.

      Intelligence should be a pre-requisite to arrogance; not the other way round…


      • @ ann jo
        in total agreement with ur views on utkal.

        re:”unlike some, has not been condescending with Hey I read more books/watched more movies than you stuff.”

        agree with this too….but what to do yaar…not everyone is humble and grounded like me and u.
        gimme a high five!
        we belong to the elitist group of those who r non condescending!


      • but sometimes it is the greatest arrogance to have a view on something that one doesn’t know enough about. For instance I actually don’t have an opinion on whether Beethoven is greater or Mozart. I know what is said about them but I don’t have the kind of understanding where I could even begin to agree or disagree with the proposition either way. Nor do I have the kind of understanding where I could even read important critical voices on the subject reasonably.

        However if I were in a debate with someone and started taking a position on exactly this the assumption would be that I ‘knew’ some of these things. Of course I’d expose myself rather horribly in a debate with anyone who really did ‘know’ this stuff. How would things then proceed? I could maintain my civility, my interlocutor might tell me beyond a point that I had a few things to learn. I could choose to accept this or not but maintain my civility. That civility wouldn’t give any greater weight to my argument! It would highlight other admirable traits in my perhaps but it would mean nothing whatsoever on the subject.

        The problem with opinions is that many have opinions on things they ought not to have opinions on! I’ll repeat the restaurant example from yesterday. I show up at a great French restaurant. I end up not liking what I’ve ordered. I have every right to do this, I don’t have to explain why it didn’t appeal to me. It’s just my personal taste. However, problems begin if (and when) I start critiquing the chef and start comparing him with another one at another comparable restaurant which too I have visited and have liked more. Again in each case I have a perfect right to my preference. But if I start arguing about the caliber of each chef I am being dishonest because I do not have the training or the understanding in this area.

        This example is not a bad one with which to approach the popular arts. Anyone can watch a film or listen to a song or whatever. And one can then have an opinion on this based on one’s experience and preferences. However that opinion in the absence of a greater understanding of this stuff is completely arbitrary and doesn’t mean anything within the context of a more informed debate. So sure I might prefer Stallone’s Cliffhanger to Fincher’s Zodiac. However if then start judging Fincher to be the ‘lesser’ director that’s a more ‘objective’ statement and requires serious informed opinion to back it up. Even when the figures are comparable (say Fincher and Nolan) and even when there isn’t one ‘right’ opinion, even when there are a variety of thoughts that could be brought to the subject the fact is that to be taken seriously each one of those possible opinions always assumes a certain understanding of the subject. Just because ‘democratically’ we can all access the same stuff, and just because we assuredly have the same right to like it or not, does not mean that this is all that matters. Civility is great and something to be aspired to without doubt but a non-serious claim does not get brownie points because of this! Just because I can taste the entree, like it or not, doesn’t mean I can talk intelligently about the chef’s expertise.

        Of course it is arrogant to parade one’s understanding (assuming one has it) but sometimes the ‘necessary’ has to be pointed out. If I keep debating what chef is better at which restaurant wouldn’t a proper food critic or at least someone with an understanding of these things wonder what background I had to even engage in a serious debate on this stuff?! And once again I wouldn’t have to explicitly say how well-versed or not I was. My claims and the way I argued would expose me instantly. This is something people don’t realize.

        So humility is called for either way. But an arrogant SOB might still be authoritative on a subject while a very civil person might still be completely ignorant. We should not confuse these things. A brain-surgeon might be very arrogant about his skills and knowledge and even offensive in his conduct and I might be the most polite, the most civil guy around. This doesn’t mean that my opinion is somehow comparable to his!

        And again all of this ought to be obvious. No one has to become a film student to offer opinions on a film. However if certain kinds of more ‘objective’ claims are being made, let alone completely extravagant ones, one will be called upon to answer certain questions. This is true for anyone.

        If I keep arguing about the chefs and someone tells me he/she understands this stuff while I don’t based on certain reasons what do I say? You’re being arrogant!


        • “But an arrogant SOB might still be authoritative on a subject while a very civil person might still be completely ignorant. ”

          Couldn’t have said it better. It’s not a coincidence that many of these debates eventually hit the point where there’s a lot of back-patting about someone’s wonderful manners, which immediately follows the dead end they’ve reached on their side of the argument. It’s the best sort of consolation prize I guess.


        • @ Satyam:

          Firstly, my observations were NEVER about you. If I call you or the way you put across your points arrogant. Apologize if I sounded so… would need to get get enrolled in Human Behavior 101.

          Secondly, let me assure that the debate between you and Utkal was enriching to us–me atleast– as a passive audience. I am not trying to patronize or sound politically correct but there are lot of things you guys covered/uncovered which I would not have known otherwise. So in my personal opinion, I do not think it was a waste of time and web space.

          My opinion about Utkal is not a mutually exclusive one; his civility does not make the other party automatically uncouth: all I said is that it is admirable that he comes up with more and more points — whether they are academically weighty/pertinent or not is another matter — to address the debate/issue. I have never seen him hit anybody below the belt or make a snide remark. I do not have that kind of patience; If i find somebody simply trying to ‘over-power’ without logical reasoning, I just withdraw.. I cannot keep coming back to debate…so I find it interesting that somebody has a strong resilience to do so…

          Please keep these debates coming…


    • @ alex
      “Before dissing his comments–one should atleast appreciate the effort and care he must have put in accumulating all those rehman top 10 Hindi and Tamil and their descriptions..
      Infact the blog owner should be glad that someone is takin so much careto contribute some thing meaningful to his blog”.

      as i have always maintained you r the only voice of sanity.
      while others r playing…… “which side u r on?/the titanic sails at dawn..
      u have a non vindictive temperament.

      hope u r not averse to a positive feedback… 🙂


  44. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    AA, it is not I who is comparing Rahman to Mozart. Mozart of Madras is not a term I coined.


  45. Utkal uncle:
    Though I personally don’t believe in that comparison, I get your point.
    Your point that it is not that inconceivable or blasphemous and even if some ‘Mozart’ does turn up–he won’t start doing ‘black magic’ to prove it!
    He/she will be from amongst us.
    Unfortunately for some, these points seem difficult to understand, some others dont want to understand just to find a point to discredit your thoughts etc
    So why to give them this chance..(it doesn’t matter-they may find another chance!)
    Enjoy the music of Rahman 🙂


  46. Utkal uncle : I wanna encourage u to write the book U talked about earlier .
    On any forum like this,only Rarely, folks like u actually make effort ..
    One can see it –hyperbole or not!
    As for some of the criticism against your thoughts (in the name of ‘hyperbole’) -I would reserve my personal comments 🙂
    Keel it up-I always love reading you stuff…


  47. OT-
    To lighten the mood of utkal uncle and others
    Came across this on BBC!!
    Indias first girl to feature on playboy —


    • Ya man…just waiting for a ‘hot’ copy in ‘cold’ snowy November on the east coast!!!


      • No problems mate..U will receive a ‘copy’ ..
        Though am not aware of Sherlyns ‘body of work’
        Infact hadn’t heard of her before this respectable piece from bbc…
        If anyone has-Any related pics/info won’t be entirely unwelcome on this (for educational purposes!) ha


  48. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    AA: As I said I did not start the Mozart association with Rahman; Padma Laksmi did, in the 2000 issue of TIME. And let me tell you there was no outcry from Mozart aficianados anywhere in the world.

    ” Rahman is a shy and quiet man, but his music has emotional force. Renowned for his immense range, he’ll do a traditional score for a conventional film, then blend exotic vocals with Japanese music and Western classical arrangements in his next project. A veritable Pied Piper, he has no competition, yet he makes it a priority to discover new talent and promote it. He has shaped modern India’s music for more than a decade. Now the “Mozart of Madras” has the world’s foot tapping along with him.

    Read more:,28804,1894410_1893836_1894435,00.html #ixzz24Ldt6eIn


    • Don’t take these labels that make for good media copy so seriously!

      Martin Amis is fond of calling the crime writer Elmore Leonard (whom he considers underrated and a very important American novelist) the Dickens of Detroit. Once in an interview the two were together and Leonard laughed at this saying ‘what if I were from Buffalo?’ to which Amis said he’d then dub him the ‘Balzac of Buffalo’! On another occasion he came up with another city and writer as reference though this escapes me just now! The Mozart of Madras has very little to recommend it beyond its alliteration! Someone who knows a great deal more about this stuff than I do told me that Rahman is more Bach than anything else (if one is using Western composers as a model). Rahman said in an interview once that he grew up on Bach and Beethoven.

      There was no outcry because people saw it exactly as a catch-phrase and nothing more!


      • Incidentally Raaja is specifically preoccupied with Bach and if I remember correctly thinks of him as possibly the greatest Western composer. I’ve heard some knowledgeable folks say he’s ‘like’ Bach in terms of his prolificness and so on. But again, that’s just what I’ve heard people say offhand.

        In any case, Raaja is someone who has actively engaged with classical music (Western as well as Carnatic but the former ‘precedes’ so to say) and his compositions have often transcended the boundaries of mainstream film music (without ever ceasing to be that) and become as high art. I wouldn’t say the same of Rahman at all!


      • And Raaja is to my mind unparalleled in Indian film music. (I’ve not listened to some of the other giants exhaustively — but certainly Rahman — but listened enough to risk such a conclusion.) To see him only as a figure (even as a giant and so on) in the lineage of Indian/Tamil film music is to rather miss the aspect of transcendence that I’m referring to.


        • here I’d disagree with you Zero.. I see where you’re coming from but I think you’re vastly underrating Rahman.


          • But what are Rahman’s ‘peaks’ where he surpasses any of the titanic accomplishments of Raaja?


          • any number of soundtracks to be honest. First off in terms of orchestration Rahman is leagues ahead. Even accounting for the poorer state of technology for most of IR’s peak. But I’d also say that the Bach-like contrapuntal element though discernible in IR is vastly more developed in Rahman. IR is a giant without doubt and so I wouldn’t overly belabor this point but I think that Rahman is something else. Though Rahman has claimed both IR and RD as figures he’s learnt from I think RD Burman comes the closest to the Rahman kind of achievement. In terms of his superior but also surprising orchestration choices, in terms of a genuine fusion and so on. Of course RD was still very entrenched in ‘film music’ whereas with Rahman you get very many compositions that aren’t just film tunes but do something more. RD points in Rahman’s direction though more than anyone else to my mind.


          • “First off in terms of orchestration Rahman is leagues ahead.”

            Actually this is probably the first time I hear anyone with a minimal interest (and of course, in the know with the works of both composers) and seriousness in the matter say something to this effect. I’m not knowledgeable enough to articulate a comprehensive response to this startling statement but I’ll say this much. Rahman’s orchestration is (without introducing the ‘degree’ that sets them apart) not at all as rich as Raaja’s. As Baradwaj Rangan said once, for those fed on Raaja’s music (I was not one, very much a Rahman generation person), Rahman’s sound “was the very definition of lightness.”

            There are tons of blogs out there that attempt to analyse and dissect Raaja’s orchestration in songs that range from absolute classics (in terms of popularity) to several, several songs from totally forgotten/nondescript films.


          • Zero, a lot of those blogs (I don’t know what you’re referring to) are run by IR diehards. But I’ll stand by my claim.

            On the Rangan bit you’re referring to I was surprised as I didn’t remember such an interview. I then googled it and found the complete piece. I don’t believe I’ve read this before but in any case I’m happy to see Rangan make the same RD point and also others I’m trying to get at. What especially thrills me is his invocation of Schoenberg. This is a very fine piece. I don’t quite agree with his assessment of early Rahman as being a bit rough in some ways, I’d say that there is a certain improvised quality here at times that I miss in some of the later works. But that’s a different debate. If you check out the whole piece you’ll notice that he’s not quite saying what your quote suggests:


            And again towards the end you can see how Rangan establishes decisively (in his own terms) a Rahman singularity.

            I’m actually quite surprised anyone could examine tons of Rahman soundtracks and consider him lacking in orchestration capabilities! Just in the early years you have an embarrassment of riches. One would just have to place Roja alongside Thiruda Thiruda. There’s so much else. Among the more recent ones I love this piece he did with Vanessa Mae:

            and again not to make up lists here. His work (or Raaja’s) is too immense to simply start listing. But I am surprised by the orchestration thing because sometimes the charge on Rahman is ‘he’s only about orchestration’. And so while I can see why someone might prefer IR to him I’m just surprised there’s a debate in this sense. But on the blogs it’s often like the SD/RD deal. again it’s a serious debate. Not suggesting there’s anything absurd about it. I too am hardly an expert in these matters but Rahman is the finest I’ve heard in Indian cinema followed by RD Burman in the same sense (orchestration). And when I say orchestration I also mean the element of surprise. So even as there are contrapuntal elements in the music itself RD had this ability and Rahman has it too where a somewhat unusual or at least unexpected instrument would be introduced to produce that contrapuntal strain. Going against the beat or rhythm if you will.

            But Rangan is also perfectly accurate in saying that Rahman also goes a bit beyond film music. IR has some of these elements to be sure. One can again see some of the influences when one goes back to his music having heard Rahman.


          • “Though Rahman has claimed both IR and RD as figures he’s learnt from”

            This is not true. Rahman has more than once said that he’s more influenced by MSV’s style of composition (he has added that he learnt discipline from Raaja) when specifically asked about the influence of Raaja on him. He does mention Naushad and RD Burman. He’s also said that he consciously avoided composing in Raaja’s style (sincerely or not, the reason he gave in a famous interview was that he would be caught in a situation where people would compare him to Raaja perhaps unfavourably).


          • I’ve seen more than a few interviews where he’s talked about both figures though admittedly sometimes these statements are not meant as exclusively as the short responses make them sound.


          • “Rahman’s orchestration is (without introducing the ‘degree’ that sets them apart) not at all as rich as Raaja’s.”

            Strike “at all,” meant to remove it when I said I don’t want to introduce the question of degree. 🙂


          • Nobody said Rahman is “lacking in orchestration capabilities,” Satyam! The point was just that he’s not as good as Raaja. Never made any such absurd statement. I am a huge fan of Rahman myself. There’s actually a history of criticism against Rahman in his early days about being limited to programmed music etc. – a massively reductive assessment no doubt but it got spawned off precisely in comparison to the rich orchestra that typically backed Raaja’s songs. In Tamil film music world, “Rahman does only orchestra” has never been the charge, it’s primarily been “he does only new sound technology, synth” and so on.

            I will respond in detail later but wanted to respond to this bit right away!


          • I look forward to your response Zero..

            I’ve heard the technology argument too. I made this point when the SD/RD debates were going on pointlessly but note how whenever there is the anxiety of a newcomer who’s instantly judged to be a genius on the way to greatness that these arguments surface. So for example why is there even a debate on specific areas like orchestration or what have you? With a lesser talent one wouldn’t need to dissect things this way. One would just say, Raaja is greater, and be done with it.


          • Rahman > ilaiyaraja
            I know this is an overstatement for some and one that even Rahman won’t agree to (publically!)
            Inspite of not being conversant with most of Rajas works–
            This is NOT the only point —-
            My biggest objection to him is the restricition to “regionalism’..
            Dont think Rahman is an outgoing opportunistic showman either, but these gifts are like ‘fragrance’ –they spread and like to reach afar!
            In rahmans case they first reached Andrew Lloyd webbers before crossing the Atlantic!!
            It would be foolhardy to not take into account the gains in connectivity /Internet aiding Rahmans ‘transatlantic pollination’!
            But in the case of the Rajas, this pollination couldn’t even reach beyond the south !!
            To prevent misinterpretation, this is only ONE objection to those like Rajas but not the only
            Rahmans music is simply more superior with or without orchestration , Internet, processed sounds etc


          • “Inspite of not being conversant with most of Rajas works–”

            LOL, you should have stopped there!


          • Haha the likes of rd burman and ilaiyaraja and their fans should start a signature campaign or something like that
            And start @ the oscars and Grammys to begin with
            Followed by ‘time’ magazine…
            But for all that one will have to get out of Bombay (unfortunately he is no more anyhow) and the other has to move outside south India (atleast reach of music wise)–something both of whom couldn’t really manage (Barring diaspora)
            Once (& if) that’s achieved, one will then talk of genres and styles ….
            Once that’s reached –quality issues crop up 🙂


          • Satyam,
            It’d take me a lot more time to be comprehensive here, so I’ll just post some quick thoughts on and off.

            Firstly, I’ve heard only some (just a little, actually) of RD Burman and might have heard SD Burman only accidentally. So I might be really off the mark here but here’s what I feel. I think you’re hastily mapping the Raaja-Rahman equation with that of SD-RD. (I say this because this is a common mistake those not organically familiar with Raaja’s work make. They just think he’s a traditional composer who does the native/folk very well and so on.) Raaja was not at all this purist old-school classical *song* composer whom Rahman succeeded and brought in the dimensions of orchestration and such in full force. In fact, Raaja was precisely that intervention in Tamil film music. Raaja was junior to RD Burman and right from his first film, he was full-on into fusion (though Raaja himself denies this term for different reasons, what he did was fusion as it’s generally understood, anyone with elementary familiarity with his work would attest to this) of WCM with folk and Carnatic music. This is his SIGNATURE style. It’s impossible to listen to Raaja without encountering the WCM legends.

            And if you’re not aware of the blogs I’m referring to, I wish you would refrain from slotting them as run by hardliners, diehards etc! The blogs I refer to are dedicated to Raaja’s music, yes, but they’re not at all interested in debating his relative stature with respect to other composers. They’re just pure music blogs that analyze his compositions and nothing else, run by people who know a lot of music. They don’t so much as pass even a judgement of other composers as I have done here (of Rahman). My point when I referred to that was this: There is so much to say about Raaja’s compositions in terms of their classicism (WCM, Indian classical), folk, fusion, arrangements, chorus and so on. Rahman has been here for 20 years. And the writings on his music continue to be only ‘light’ works. Of course I understand this doesn’t mean there isn’t more to uncover in his music. All I’m pointing to is the rich repository of critique of Raaja’s music that’s available all of which obsess over his orchestration, arrangement style, rhythm patterns and so on. Next to which your hasty judgement seems to require a whole lot of backing, I mean justification.

            Here’s one blog which I think would be a very good start point: (I hope you don’t dismiss it aside because of the title.)


          • Zero, thanks for the comment. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. You are however assuming some things. Firstly SD Burman himself was often quite innovative with respect to the general tradition he was a part of. He certainly wasn’t the Raaja kind of figure who revolutionized film music. Incidentally I have called Raaja ‘Rahman before Rahman’ so I am full aware of his historic significance. However I see him as roughly akin to Balachander/Bharthiraja before Rathnam. The two were giants, considered seminal in ushering in a new age in Tamil cinema. But after Rathnam they were nonetheless superseded. Now Raaja is something more than those directors. I certainly grant this. But I think you’re taking my Rahman statements as being dismissive of Raaja. That’s not true at all. I am not debating anything you’re saying about his music but the fact remains that sound technology when Raaja had his peak period just wasn’t at the level (in Tamil cinema) that it came to with Rahman. You only have to listen to Bombay film music from the 50s and 60s, let alone the 70s to see how profound this difference is. I for example couldn’t imagine Rahman coming about in the Tamil scene of the 70s. By the way this does not mean that his music is ‘about’ technology. Just that the latter has to be at a certain level whether one uses ‘synthetic’ resources or not. So (and in my preferred example) the score Profokiev did for Alexander Nevsky sounds pathetic on the soundtrack because the state of Soviet sound technology was pathetic at the time. The same score when presented a decade or more ago sounded magnificent. But Profokiev wasn’t a film composer. Raaja was. And so the state of technology impacted his scores in certain ways. But again all of this is not to deny that he’s a giant. I just think Rahman’s in a different league. It does not belittle Balachander (even if I’m not a fan) to say that Rathnam might be greater. The counter-argument ought not to be to ‘show’ how Balachander knows how to make films and so on. When you have someone of the stature of Andre Lloyd Weber call Rahman the future of music, when you have him going crazy over a handful of soundtracks he’d heard more than a decade ago, when you see him so animated about Rahman’s richness and connecting him with a Western classical tradition, specially Bach, I don’t think one needs too much more testimony. And he’s a guy who’s far more aware of new sounds and composers around the world. So he isn’t even just talking about the Indian scene. and he isn’t the only voice by any means. But one doesn’t even have to go to some of the ‘expert’ testimony. Just listening to Rahman’s soundtracks over the first five years or so of his career I think it’s impossible to not be impressed with all the very qualities that you are here defining for Raaja’s music. Much as I adore RD. I find him extremely impressive for the same Rahman-like reasons. He even had access to the technology Raaja didn’t. But I would still probably put Rahman over him in the same sense. This isn’t to do violence to RD or Raaja. They belonged to different eras, worked with different limitations, they were still about the ‘film song’ in a traditional sense and they innovated with this format a great deal whereas Rahman is often not even creating the film song. It is a ‘song’ that makes its way into a soundtrack. So I accept all of this. But these are the ‘accidents’ of history. Rahman wouldn’t have been Rahman in the 50s. Shakespeare would not have been Shakespeare in 19th century England. But then Raaja or RD also wouldn’t have been who they were had they not arrived at their respective points.

            On the blogs I wasn’t dismissing those either. But it is true that many of these blogs start out with a ‘pre-supposition’. This doesn’t disqualify anything they’re saying. There’s a lot of serious discussion that goes on here but they do start with a certain agenda and bias — Raaja is a genius and legend, let’s establish how. One can still learn a lot here but this gets back to a debate I often have in similar contexts. So for example how is this different from say a Shakespeare scholar who keeps writing books on Shakespeare trying to establish how great the Bard is? Do we just say that such a critic or scholar is ‘biased’? No! and I’m not saying this (at least by definition) for the Raaja blogs either. However the question is whether that ‘difference’ that one is trying to establish for one’s subject is truly illuminating in every context. If someone asked me why I thought that highly of Amitabh bachchan as opposed to say Kamalahasan or Mohanlal v Kamalahasan I would have a ‘theory of the case’. One could disagree with me but one would understand where I was coming from. Now if my preferences from Hollywood were asked the same ‘theory of the case’ would apply. Now I would have a ‘bias’ of course but it would be a ‘theoretical’ (for want of a better word) one. Put differently one could say (to rake up an old debate) that Shakespeare is brilliant at mixing the genres (scenes of high tragedy followed by those of near buffoonery and so on). However from a more ‘classical’ perspective he is completely violating a certain ‘theory’ of drama. Both positions are respectable ones. On the other hand if someone compared Shakespeare to say Sophocles by pointing out how Shakespeare wrote great lines and had a great sense of drama and had better characters… etc etc this would not be saying much. Because one would be dealing in generalities or saying something for Shakespeare that could easily be transposed to the other figure in a different context. But if the Shakespearean difference is to be established or if the Mohanlal difference is to be established (or whatever) then there must be something said about each figure that could not be said about any other (if one’s aim is to present each as supreme). So to my mind Mohanlal does something that no other actor I have come across does. But I don’t define this as ‘great acting’ or ‘great comic timing’ or ‘range’ or whatever the usual terms are. Because these are still too general. I could use these terms and offer examples but my framing would still have been too uninteresting. The same terms and similar examples could be used with other actors (obviously those at a certain level). what then is distinctive about Lal? When people say Amitabh bachchan is the best because he ‘acts’ better than everyone else that’s a very ‘abstract’ way of framing things. How is he ‘better’ than everyone else? What are the resources he brings to bear that makes him so? On and on.

            To use an example from the blog you’ve referenced just on that very first page there is a detailed consideration of scat singing, it’s roots in jazz and perhaps elsewhere, how it’s been used in some Hindi sources, how Raaja used it, and how he sometimes altered the tempo of the music to achieve certain effects. All of this is fine, even very informative. But nowhere is one enlightened on why this makes Raaja singular. Given that no one’s denying his talent, everyone considers him a giant, this ‘example’ might add to the list of his interests and experimentation when it comes to Western music but these are nonetheless terms that could be applied to others. And note how I was arguing the opposite even with Rahman not so long ago. Because there are elements of Bach present in Rahman doesn’t mean he’s a great (high art) composer. Because at that level the question is what do you do with whatever you’ve learned from Bach. Most of the Western tradition that follows owes something to him in any case but does Rahman offer ‘riches’ comparable to all the illustrious names that followed in Bach’s wake?! Of course not! I once read a piece on the Swades soundtrack where it was suggested that Rahman had used a very unusual raaga for one of the songs. I forget which one and what the raaga in question was. But this choice though obviously interesting doesn’t by itself constitute a full-blown accomplishment. There is still the further question of whether that raaga was employed effectively or not. One could debate this matter but this would constitute the real discussion. what often happens on many of these blogs (not just Raaja ones) is that even though the writers know a fair bit about the music they are not willing to ask this second more significant question. A couple of years ago I was watching an episode of Saregama where one of the contestants sang Haye Rama from Rangeela and Sajid-Wajid were part of the panel. One of them said that he’d always found this sound extraordinary (among many others in Rahman’s oeuvre) because it operates on two different rhythms and swings pendulum-like between the two. He felt he had never heard something like this because it wasn’t just a fine song but a very unusual experiment and even though he’d heard it many times he couldn’t quite fathom how Rahman had pulled it off. Here you see a more singular claim being made. At least one that gives you a certain sense of where that singularity might lie. He didn’t say that Rahman had used these Western elements or those Indian ones, he focused on something very specific. Specially if one is going to compare Raaja and Rahman (a debate that I don’t find odd in the least even if one falls on Raaja’s side of the equation) one has to get beyond Raaja’s atypical rhythms or interesting fusion attempts or surprising changes in tempo and so forth. Because all of these Rahman is assuredly a master of. One has to come up with a ‘profounder’ difference. and in my experience these blogs (not just on Raaja) rarely have this kind of commentary. Now in fairness I can’t claim to have gone through this stuff in detail. This is just an impression. But yes these blogs start off with certain pre-suppositions. They’re not saying, let’s figure out whether Raaja’s greater or Rahman, let’s explore things and ‘discover’ what the truth is. They’re just saying ‘Raaja is greater and we’ll show you how’. There’s a difference. Which too is fine if one truly justifies one’s choices. I’m not sure how much of the commentary does it though. As a last example Raaja did some symphonies. Obviously he was gifted enough to even attempt them but would any otherwise take those symphonies seriously?! I mean what’s the comparison here?


          • “’ve heard the technology argument too. I made this point when the SD/RD debates were going on pointlessly but note how whenever there is the anxiety of a newcomer who’s instantly judged to be a genius on the way to greatness that these arguments surface. So for example why is there even a debate on specific areas like orchestration or what have you? With a lesser talent one wouldn’t need to dissect things this way. One would just say, Raaja is greater, and be done with it.”

            Of course there was/is a lot of anxiety among a lot of Raaja fans (and in all likelihood Raaja himself) about Rahman. Surely that doesn’t delegitimize all such dissections?! And again, no one argued against Rahman being a formidable composer himself! His intervention was singular and his music was clearly great enough to make the comparison complex as opposed to a simple “Raaja is greater.” (Someone who’s fully familiar with both works might say so as if it’s self-evident, that’s a different thing. But the opposite could be said in much the same way. So yes, the debate is not an obvious one like Bachchan vs. SRK (but hey, I’m sure there are a lot who think even this is debatable).


          • never said the debate was an obvious one. And this gets to the heart of my point. I don’t have an issue with anyone who might prefer Raaja. Much as I don’t have an issue with anyone who prefer Kamal over Bachchan or RD over Rahman or whatever. Beyond a certain level of accomplishment these things do become subjective and it’s certainly about the perspective one adopts. My only question with the blogs is whether such perspectives are even available on many of them. A lot of the commentary falls in the ‘descriptive’ category as opposed to being truly enlightening. One final example here: everyone loved Bachchan in Paa. At one level I agree with the reviews, I find it a very impressive act and so on. On the other hand I do not agree with the reviews for the reasons they provide. Because after that kind of prosthetic makeover the actor’s ‘face’ is absent from the performance. What we are left with is the body language, the voice and so on. At this latter level there is indeed much that is very impressive about the act. However I am still ambivalent about it for the other reason. Similarly a lot of Kamal performances are praised a great deal because he has these makeovers (‘disguises’ if you will). Obviously it requires an accomplished actor to do something with these getups. However I am unsure if I ever get the spontaneous, ‘surprising’ actor of his earlier more ‘normal’ outings in many of these parts. So it’s always about how the debate is framed, where the faultlines are drawn. But these have to be done in ‘interesting’ ways. To say that Kamal acts well, can do dramatic and comic roles, has good body language, can dance and so on… is to say very little.


          • Thanks, Satyam, for the response. Will read it when I’ve the time and respond.

            For now, to respond to the second comment, I’m not saying you said the debate was an obvious one, just clarifying that neither did I! I was responding specifically to your point relating the anxiety of diehard fans and dissecting specific aspects of composition and so on. Otherwise I agree with what you’re saying here.

            For instance, the blog I linked to is not ‘descriptive’ in the sense you mean. It does IMO illuminate the readers regarding Raaja’s composing style and the specific innovations he has done in various compositions. Otherwise I’m generally in agreement with what you’re saying here.


          • Haven’t read the whole thing (it’ll take me quite a while to do that and it’s already time to retire for the day!) but just on this bit…

            “You are however assuming some things. Firstly SD Burman himself was often quite innovative with respect to the general tradition he was a part of.”

            As I noted upfront, I have listened to SD Burman only accidentally when generally listening to some old Hindi film songs and have never specifically listened to his works. I’m sure he was himself innovative and must have departed from the traditional classical music boundaries (as most film composers always have). I don’t mean to question his innovations in orchestration and so on. I was merely stating how I understood your comment on the Raaja-Rahman equation being quite like the SD-RD deal. Having said that, my understanding was indeed based on the progression that I do observe (based on my very limited exposure) in orchestration from SD Burman to RD Burman. I didn’t say anything to slight SD Burman’s own achievements in anyway otherwise.


        • Don’t know where this get posted but I agree with Zero on the orchestration aspect between Ilayaraja and Rahman. As much as I love Rahman’s music Ilayaraja win’s the orchestral debate any day anytime. On a comic n cultural note Ilayaraja is so much associated with ‘orchestra’ image that in films when they spoof Ilayaraja they use a small orchestra in the background. As Zero said in terms of orchestra and I would like to add background music, there is just no parallel with Ilayaraja.


          • Zero…I am a diehard Rahmaniac, grew up on his music..I am sure we can argue till the cows come home on who is greater or influential, but seems like I have Satyam in my corner, so I will let him debate you on IR vs ARR.
            IR is a titan no doubt, so please let this not seem as a diss of his skills or genius. Also I am no music expert, so thoughts below are based off my own opinion!!

            I however, have this qn for you, which I have posed to several IR diehards who dismiss ARR (you of course admire ARR)
            Why could not IR dominate Bollywood or go beyond the Indian diaspora abroad in terms of popularity and reach?
            1. Is it because B’wood had RD much at the same time and he could not make headway?
            2. Was his music too rooted in the Tamil folk, Carnatic tradition to make the transition?
            3. Was it due to the politics of the north vs south divide. If yes, my respect for ARR increases that much more since he made B’wood look up and stand in line to have his music. Considering stalwarts such as Mani, Kamal and IR could not make a dent in B’wood, as a South Indian I feel proud and emotionally connected to ARR’s success. I know fans of above mentioned stalwarts will say they could have made it big if they wanted to, but there will be an equal number who will say they were rejected.
            4. Lastly, having caught upto IR’s past works I will agree that on melody he beats ARR for sure, but on all other counts – innovation, fusion and orchestra, I’d take ARR over him. He is a trailblazer par excellence in my opinion.

            I also admire ARR’s humility greatly, which obviously does not matter in a discussion on music, but reason I state that is his humility is an endearing quality that biases some people in his favor! Again my opinion…thanks for reading!


          • gss,
            Oh I wouldn’t know why Raaja didn’t make it big in Hindi cinema. Actually I’ve no patience for arguments along the lines of “he could have but he didn’t want to,” as it’s just a whole lot of speculation without taking into account what Raaja’s music was actually like. Raaja’s film music was bound to Tamil film music traditions in many ways and his innovations happened within this framework. But a good part of his oeuvre also transcended the framework within which it operated. This is why his music has grown to become a thing of its own today, have a mythology of its own in Tamilnadu. So while Raaja’s reach is limited compared to the phenomenal strides Rahman has been making in many parts of the world, it’s also true that Rahman’s stature hasn’t (yet) touched the level of Raaja’s iconicity in Tamilnadu.

            One thing that can be said here is that Raaja’s music/sound was never global(ized) in the way Rahman’s music/sound profoundly was.

            [Btw, I find the “ARR admirer” label odd! I grew up with/totally adoring Rahman’s music myself (pretty much belong to the Rahman generation) and discovered the monstrosity of Raaja proper (though, of course, his music was always very much around) only later in my life.]


          • I agree completely that Raaja being successful in Hindi cinema or not, wanting to transcend those boundaries or not, has really no bearing on his accomplishment.


  49. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam: I know it is a media generated catchphrase. But if it was absolutely ridiculous or something one or the commentator would have commented on it. And obviously his music will not have an exact parallel with Mozart , Bach or Beethoven. His music is actually a combination of Mozart and Bach. It has the structural complexity of Bach and the emotional accessibility of Mozart. The idiosyncratic turmoil of grand emotions expressed through extreme musical phrasing is not such a prevalent feature of Rahman’s music.


  50. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Quite coincidentally, this TIME article of 2004 talks of Gershwin and The Beatles, the other two musical entities with whom I find closer parallel to Rahman;s music. And they too talk about the ‘ personal and universal’ qualities of Rahman’s music, and about ” devouring many older forms and transforming them into something gorgeously new” – two of the major yardsticks to stamp any music great in my book.

    “The billboard outside the Broadway Theatre reads, A R RAHMAN’S BOMBAY DREAMS. That name may mean little to musical-theater devotees, but in the rest of the world it’s golden. Like Gershwin or Lennon-McCartney, the name stands for melody, quality, energy, instant hummability–a sound both personal and universal, devouring many older forms and transforming them into something gorgeously new.”

    Read more:,9171,994077,00.html#ixzz24Lqxcf2m


  51. Thanx utkal uncle for providing that link from time magazine..
    Again: I’m personally not a fan of this comparison since don consider myself capable of judging the two –bit as pointed out before i don’t have a ‘problem’ with this comparison as the ‘blasphemous’ reaction by some here indicated…
    If the time magazine found the comparison tenable, I dont see why some here could negate it competely to the point of extremes
    This also uncovers some deeper mental issues —
    A) absolute inability to visualise a scenario that soemone came equal /better the past greats (here Mozart!!)
    This has Other sociopsychic lacings of ‘respect’ and ‘aura of the unseen’ and nostalgia and so on
    But seems to be v active here
    B) and this is a slightly disturbing trend
    How the hell can a humble soft spoken normal guy from madras (!!) ever be thought of as Mozart –even the thought seems repulsive to some .
    I’m taking out folks like satyam, gf from this but there are some with this mentality given the extreme responder to utkal uncles statement!!
    If I had brought out an obscure name from Deutschland or one of the swiss villages of a musical troubadour that some won’t have even heard of (forget his /her music !!) the acceptance would have been perhaps easier for some
    C) in a tangentially similar vein, the way some are hellbent on discrediting the obvious brilliance of kashyap and GOW while on the other hand being ‘hesitant’ in taking someone like Nolan to task for the ‘ordinary in some ways'( to be polite) TDKR; one sees a pattern.


  52. ^ nice editing there satyam
    As I said- u are a true gentleman


  53. That’s fine satyam–hopefully the point has been (more than) made to the relevant person and we don’t need to run it in any more 🙂
    Ps: though one wishes that u were equally prompt in editing out threats of ‘strangulation’ and ‘idiot’ comments directed towards another commentator !!
    Needless to say that like in the juvenile foolish attempt made at me yesterday, I will be perfectly capable in not only countering it but making it a ‘memorable’ one for the offender …Hoho


    • I let milder comments stand in many cases. But yesterday things went a bit too far. I deleted all comments on both sides. Today I am editing yours because you’re needlessly raking things up.

      I do what I can. Only human! Many have doubts about my ‘fairness’ from time to time. You might have to get in line if you think the same!


  54. Satyam : am not doubting your ‘fairness’.
    And yesterday’s was initiated not by me if u remember –i just reaponded aptly and decisively esp since your usually swift ‘editing’ suddenly didnt work!!-though as usual the offender ‘paid the price’!

    As for ‘milder’ and ‘being human’, it is obviosly v difficult to gauge that threats of ‘strangulation’ to soemone praising kashyap or calling that person an ‘idiot’ are much ‘milder’ than utkal comparing rehman
    to Mozart !!! Haha
    Ps: will stop taking your ‘class’ now-it’s your blog and u are an effective moderator -surely u may have your own compulsions like everyone 🙂


    • actually depending on contexts sometimes ‘idiot’ is less of an affront to one’s sensibilities than a ludicrously exaggerated opinion! Also (and though I haven’t seen the comment) think taking the word ‘strangulate’ that seriously seems a bit put on to me! Leaving all else aside Alex I have been told my some in the past that you engage in too much obscene language and/or sexual innuendo. They felt that I allowed you to get away with too much! As I said the other day you have more latitude than most. So you might not be in a position to throw stones here!


  55. Yes satyam : hmm u have a point there -those terms like ‘idiot’ or ‘strangulate’ werent said to me or else would have taken them in the correct ‘perspective’ and conclusion..
    Yes: u do allow me too much ‘latitude’ (no pun intended)..-I agree
    Hence I’m not throwing ‘stones’ but engaging in a pleasant discussion..
    I will help u with this quote–
    Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t change clothes with lights on
    Except in the case of perverts/ voyeurs 🙂


  56. Taking of perversions —
    What’s happening to your fetish of wearing saris (when alone)


  57. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    An Jo: ‘Utkal has his own points to which I definitely beg to disagree.”

    Could you mention which are the points you disagree? My posts are essentially conversations with myself, knowing that thee are eavesdroppers. I allow that with the hope that I can come across a different point of view and can refine my hypothesis.

    On the topic under discussion, thee two aspects , focusing on which is helpful. One: what are the criteria for deciding what constitutes great music and how far does Rahman’s music meet those criteria. I have put down 7 or so criteria and over different posts elaborated on how Rahman comes out pretty good in meeting these.

    Do you disagree on the criteria? How?
    Do you disgaree on how far Rahman meets those criteria? How?

    May say appreciation of any art is subjective. True. But unravelling the factors underlying this subjectivity is what is so exciting. That si why we have Aristotle’s principle of aesthetics. That is why we have the Natyashastra.

    But these are ancient texts. And the world has come a long way since then.

    So I will give you some exciting contemporary thoughts on how our brain responds to art. It is by prof V Ramacjnadran, the neuro-scientist. He formulated these during the course of his BBC Reith Lectures. The series is fascinating. But let me quote the beginning of his thesis on the way we appreciate art and you can read more if you are interested.

    ” Professor Ramachandran’s suggested 10 universal laws of art”

    1. Peak shift
    2. Grouping
    3. Contrast
    4. Isolation
    5. Perception problem solving
    6. Symmetry
    7. Abhorrence of coincidence/generic viewpoint
    8. Repetition, rhythm and orderliness
    9. Balance
    10. Metaphor

    The first law, I call peak shift and to illustrate this I’ll use a hypothetical example from animal behaviour, from rat psychology.

    Imagine you’re training a rat to discriminate a square from a rectangle. So every time it sees a particular rectangle you give it a piece of cheese. When it sees a square you don’t give it anything. Very soon it learns that the rectangle means food, it starts liking the rectangle – although you’re not supposed to say that if you’re a behaviourist. And it starts going towards the rectangle because it prefers the rectangle to the square.

    But now the amazing thing is if you take a longer skinnier rectangle and show it to the rat, it actually prefers the longer skinnier rectangle to the original rectangle that you taught it. And you say: Well that’s kind of stupid. Why does it prefer a longer skinnier rectangle rather than the one you originally showed it? Well it’s not stupid at all because what the rat is learning is a rule – Rectangularity. And of course therefore if you make it longer and skinnier, it’s even more rectangular. So it says: “Wow! What a rectangle!” and it goes towards that rectangle.

    Now you say: Well, what’s that got to do with art?

    Well let’s think about caricature. What do you do in a caricature? Supposing you want to produce a caricature of Maggie Thatcher or a caricature of Nixon, what do you do? You take Nixon’s face and you say: What’s special about his face? What makes him different from other people. So what you do is you take the mathematical average of all male faces and you subtract it from Nixon’s face. And you get the big bulbous nose and the shaggy eyebrows. And then you amplify it. And then you get an image that looks even more like Nixon than Nixon himself. Now if you do it just right you get great portraiture, even a Rembrandt. But if you overdo it you get caricature, it looks comical. But it still looks even more like Nixon than the original Nixon. So you’re behaving exactly like that rat.

    But what’s it got to do with the rest of art. Let’s go back to the Chola bronze of Parvati. Let’s talk about Indian art. Well the same principle applies. How does the artist convey the very epitome of feminine sensuality? What he does is simply take the average female form, subtract the average male form – you’re going to get big breasts, big hips and a narrow waist. And then amplify it, amplify the difference. And you don’t say: “My God, it’s anatomically incorrect”. You say: “Wow! What a sexy goddess!”

    But that’s not all there is to it because how do you bring in dignity, poise, grace?

    Well what you do is something quite clever, what the Chola bronze artist does is something quite clever. There are some postures that are forbidden to a male. I can’t stand like that even if I want to. But a woman can do it effortlessly. So what he does is he goes into an abstract space I call “posture space”, and then subtracts the average male posture from the female and then exaggerates the feminine posture – and then you get elegant triple flexion – or tribhanga – pose, where the head is tilted one way, the body is tilted exactly the opposite way, and the hips again the other way. And again you don’t say: “My God, that’s anatomically inappropriate. Nobody can stand like that.” You say: “My God! It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful! It’s a celestial goddess”. So the image is extremely evocative and it’s an example of the peak shift principle in Indian art.

    OK, this is all about faces and caricatures and bodies and Chola bronzes. That seems quite reasonable, but what about the rest of art? What about abstract art? What about Picasso. What about semi-abstract art? What about impressionism, what about Cubism? Van Gogh? Monet? Henry Moore? How can my ideas even begin to approach some of those artistic styles?


  58. 🙂
    More fun now…
    Keep it coming folks!


  59. Not sure if there is a parallel but comparison of Rahman to Bach or Mozart could theoretically have a parrallel with Kuhns “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” or even how Ptomelys school of thought on the movement of planets was deemed to be irrlevant by a better frame work that was eventually developed by both Galileo and Kepler. The comparison could be unthinkable now and totally blasphemous but maybe in a the next 4 decades, as paradigms shift, it would be okay. In the future people might better understand the biases and conventional wisdom that held them back and would frame the question in a better light. I might be reaching here with this comparison though 🙂


    • But a paradigm shift comes about with roughly equivalent frames of reference (in terms of their seriousness). so whether it was Ptolemy or Galileo or Newton or Einstein they were all giant figures in science and very comparable. It’s not as if the frame ever shifted toward the practitioners of alchemy!

      In the same sense one could talk about R D Burman as a paradigm shift within Hindi cinema or Illaiyaraja as one within Tamil cinema or Rahman as one within both. But the frame of reference for Rahman is precisely film music. It is here that his greatness can be judged (wherever one wishes to place him). One can’t go about comparing him with Ravi Shankar because that’s a different frame of reference. Much as one wouldn’t compare Bill Gates with Einstein!

      It is definitionally impossible for a film composer to have the same kind of work that a high art composer can because (and as either Bliss or Matrix pointed out the other day) there are certain constraints on film music. Unless there is the exceptional example of a Profokiev doing the Alexander Nevsky score you always have ‘inferior’ work in film music, even when it’s titanic within its frame of reference. And this too sounds reductive because there’s no reason such a comparison should be done. But again Javed-Akhtar no matter how greater as film writers cannot hope to compete with proper literary titans.

      I’d also say this leaving aside all these comparisons. The historical significance of Rahman is being greatly misjudged. How? Rahman is not the progenitor of a new tradition. he is the ultimate capstone to Indian film music. Obviously he is enormously gifted, he has been remarkably influential but he is not ‘beginning’ something the way R D Burman or Illaiyaraja were. after him there literally is the deluge. There is nothing and no one. What you get occasionally are scraps of interesting stuff that do not offer any sort of advance. Again such an advance is sealed after Rahman. There will continue to be film music but not something really worthy of the appellation ‘new’. There are in the arts great figures, genius figures who end traditions. Rahman is one of them. Not because he has done something to ‘kill’ tradition but because the traditions in question were already exhausted. There was nothing more to do except become that last radical figure to somehow ‘sum up’ things. There are parallel moments in the arts. I could think of Western classic music, the Western novel, and so on. This doesn’t mean interesting work cannot be produced after this but even art has a history or a set of histories. There are movements that are completed over time. Not all last as long.

      The rest is about the Indian diaspora. Everything about Indian cinema is more well known around the world than some decades ago (or to be more precise more well-known around the ‘West’). Rahman is the great beneficiary here. Obviously he has the gifts to be able to do a variety of things. All of this is not to diminish his talent much as it is not to diminish Picasso to say he might be the last seminal figure in Western painting. Or that Schoenberg might be the last such figure in Western music. So on and so forth. Which is again to say the paradigm changing figure who is an end unto himself. Who cannot engender a tradition because he (or she) comes at the end of one.

      Rahman is a composer of last days in this sense, not one of new beginnings. He’s dazzlingly gifted, a genius at film music, a prodigy in very many ways but he’s not dealing in a tradition that could make him occupy the same spectrum as important historical figures. Forget Rahman, what Western film composer could one think of as comparable to Bach or whoever?! There are great prolific names but no one compares the two. Again the frames of reference are completely different. If there is a paradigm shift in painting it involves names like Titian and Monet and Picasso and so forth not the otherwise brilliant artists of Batman! Rahman has become ‘the’ Indian composer in a global sense but this doesn’t mean anything more than the obvious. Could he become the one of the most well-known figures from Indian cinema? Possibly or even likely. But that’s a completely different debate. We don’t compare Michael Jackson to a great opera tenor just because he’s so seminal in his field!

      I frankly can’t even say Rahman’s a Toru Takemitsu kind of figure so far. Because Takemitsu had his great scores but he was also a serious composer (and theorist of music) otherwise. No one would dream of comparing him to Bach or Mozart but he’s done stuff that’s in a similar strain. Rahman isn’t that kind of figure. Nor are 99% of film composers.

      Also one of the things that gets lost in the discussion is that people focus obsessively on benchmark figures like Bach and Beethoven and so on. As if no one else existed. There are tons of people in this tradition.

      Finally, and to repeat, all of this sounds more reductive for Rahman than it ought to. I have no such intention. But certain distinctions have to be made for the sake of sanity!


      • Wonderful summation Satyam 🙂

        To add to it, ” your lips are like rose” I agree with it and all most all do such “upmaa’s” and comparison in “LOVE”.
        In LOVE. Period
        In Love we can do anything as they say if there is no madness is love then its not Love 🙂 but than it doesnt mean whom we love is great, seminal figure and ‘The Greatest’. Its our love or Dopamine that makes us do or say such things… It is one to one feeling and has no relevance and legs out of that context.

        there is also a alternate story that Laila was not beautiful at all but to Kais( majnoo) she was most beautiful. There it ends. its True as long as its between Laila and Majnoo but the moment majnoo takes it outside than laila has to stand on the anvil…

        Our problem is If I open Chemistry book and start talking about Biology and other opens biology book and starts talking about Physics… The problem is we are opening wrong books and we never realise that


  60. U r not reading too much here
    It’s a brilliant point pranav
    With time, not only does memory of past events fade, they also get altered as per the socioeconomic and cultural dominant milieu.
    That combined with the all encompassing inevitable change makes this paradigm change possible!!
    If one takes a look at the people who are called greats now,
    Unsurprisingly lots of them weeds ordinary, even outcasts of their times (sown till years after wards !!)


  61. Thanks Alex. I am not taking any sides here but just have an objective observation. Per Kuhn this happens in three phases:

    The first phase is the pre-paradigm phase, wherein there is no clear consensus on theories. In the normal science phase, there is a dominant paradigm which is followed. As a lot of theories cannot be explained with the existing framework, this paradigm is eventually questioned leading to the revolutionary science wherein new paradigms are established.


  62. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Well a couple of words I have been hearing in this discussion is ‘ hyperbole’ and ‘ arrogance’. And I support both. Arrogance is what makes a great artist great. Muhammad Ali was right when he said “ I am the greatest’. Klaidasa thought he was the greatest. ( Those days they used to have open competition in the king’s court. My village tuition master told me of one such contest where the first line given was ‘ A woman’s lips are not sufficiently red until…” and the poets were to complete it with a second line. Some lesser poet, I forget his name, said ‘ until she has partaken of ‘ tambula’.’ Kalidasa is supposed to have come out with ‘ until she has participated in ‘ madanostava ‘ ora bout of lusty lovemaking. Naturally he won..and it sounds much better in the original Sanskrit.) Any way back to arrogance. I not only like Anurag Kashyap’s films , I like his arrogance. It is a guard against falling into mediocrity. With your arrogance you set a higher standard for yourself. AR Rahman might seem modest but he is as arrogant as they come. He knows how good he is. And thank god for it. When he refuses Om Shanti Om because SRK and Super T refuse to have a right over the royalty he was stating his own worth to himself. Satyajit Ray was famously arrogant. Once a friend after being featured on the cover of the Bengali literary journal Desh, managed to get himself invited for tea with Ray. They had tea together, and then without much ado the great man said. “ Now, I will see you to the door.’ He knew the worth of his time. If he didn’t he would not be able to make all those films as well as write all those books and do all those illustrations.

    Now to ‘hyperbole’. When a lover says to his girl ’ Your lips are lovely as a rose” . that’s a hyperbole. But how boring it would be if he just said your lips are lovely. WE all know there is a lot of difference between the girl’s lips and a rose. But we get the gist. And what is interesting here is that to the guy, her lips could actually be more beautiful than a rose. That’s what love is about. And I would take a lover over a critic any day. As someone said , you can visit as many cities in as many countries you like, but you will not find the bust of a critic in any town square. The only kind of critic I can take is one who approximates a lover, in his passion, in his boldness. Like John Landau, for example: 1974, 25-year-old Bruce Springsteen played at the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge. Although popular with the college crowd in the Northeast, Springsteen was not yet a star. That night, he and the E Street Band opened for Bonnie Raitt. The influential music critic Jon Landau was in the audience. Overwhelmed by what he heard, Landau wrote, “I saw my rock and roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” In the years since that momentous spring night in Cambridge, the Boss has had 14 albums go platinum, has won20 Grammies and an Oscar, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    I don’t hesitate in declaring’ after seeing GOw 1& 2 , “ I saw the future of cutting-edge of Hindi films. And it bears the signature of Anurag Kshyap.” And after listening to 20 years of Rahman., I am not afraid to announce, “ I heard the composer who will rule the music world as the most towering icon from this sub-contiment a hundred years from now and his name is Allarakha Rahman.”


    • While you’re at it you might want to add: “I have seen the pinnacle of filmmaking achievement in our time, and its title is Cocktail.”


  63. Utkal uncle-wow
    Pray spare the ‘kids’ 🙂


  64. [edited]
    U also come up with pearls like–
    “Now to ‘hyperbole’. When a lover says to his girl ’ Your lips are lovely as a rose” . that’s a hyperbole. But how boring it would be if he just said your lips are lovely. WE all know there is a lot of difference between the girl’s lips and a rose. But we get the gist. And what is interesting here is that to the guy, her lips could actually be more beautiful than a rose. That’s what love is about. “


  65. nice article but it exaggerates a bit to

    rahman his his fair share of inspiration including jai ho ( he has taken refrence many times from old classic bollywood and tamil songs …its just they where not reacable to west and unexploited thanks to pre liberalisation period)

    (the theme ) and this is copied from mozart and this itself says it all


  66. Btw utkal uncle –just an innocent clarification-
    Which ‘lips’ are u talking about here …?
    (& whose?)


  67. old bollywood composition of harris jayraj itself took inspiration from mozart( in today’s uts same tune with different rhythm)

    infact many old bollywood songs have taken inspiration from mozart as well:

    infact many will will remember roza but how many will remember mgr’s song

    or very recently jaane tu jaane ja,… these subtle refrences are many but as they say in today time nakal ke liye bhi akal chahiye( even when you copying you need brain)


  68. the thing which article doesn’t stress on digitalization of sound and how today with different technologies around one can reproduce sound with better quality

    rahman has utilised technology very well and is good in using instrument and at times fusion which can only come with dedication and a very sound knowlege of desi stuff( folk stuff combined with sufism comined with pacy rock at time) and what is going on in world music


  69. Less popular rehman tracks -contd-
    Someone mentioned Srk and dil se and yashraj’s latest mood with rehman!
    There was another movie Srk did with rehman –music wasn’t awesome but Not bad–and check out the lyrics



  70. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “I’ve heard the future of music
    And it’s Indian. Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer of Bombay Dreams, explains how he was inspired by a man known as the Asian Mozart”

    This time it’s not me that’s saying it, it is Andrew Lllopyd Wbber.

    And this time it’s not Mozart of Madras but Asian Mozart. So it could not have been due to reasons of alliteration. Again no shock at the or any kind of reservation about the association.

    The composer of ‘ Cats’, ‘ Phantom of the Opera’ and ” Jesus Christ superstar’ could have chosen anybody. But he chose Rahman. Why?

    His reasons:

    ” The obvious reason is that I admire Rahman’s unique sense of harmony, his staggering rhythms and his melodies that take an unexpected twist that no Western composer would dream of. ”


    • For you Utkalji:


    • I am still following the advice of Matrix so I wont extend this debate even this time except to add that I have no problems whatsoever with Webber’s interview because I can ‘read’! I could point out a few reasons why I don’t have a problem but again I’m not going to extend this debate. Said everything I needed to.


  71. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    I find it very strange when someone says that film music cannot be high art because it is bound by commercial constraints. Really? When film produced under the same commercial constraints can be art? Charulata is produced bya someone who wants his investment back, so does that constraint preclude the possibility that Charulata is high art? Does the fact that Charles Dickens wrote serialized fiction in magazines for money make his novels less of art? Does the fact that Shakespeare worked in commercial theater make his play less of art? And working as a court musician or a hutch musician does not have constraints? What if I call the music of Bach as Church Music and the music of Mozart as Court Music? And if the opera ( not particularly high as a dramatic art, an average is much high as art compared to an average opera) can be the vehicle for great music why not the film?

    Of course a lot of film music is banal. So was a lot of Church Music and Court Music I am sure. What we hear after 400 years is obviously what is exceptional. And I am saying what people after 400 years will hear from Film music is what is truly exceptional : that is Rahman , and Iliyaraja and maybe a few others to lesser extent.
    It would be also instructive to remember that when Bach and Mozart was around there was no film music and of course there were no films. If Shakespeare was around today he would be writing and directing films. And Mozart would be leading rock group.
    I gain find it strange to hear that if it was Ravishankar that was compared to Bach that would be more acceptable. How ridiculous! If that was so Ravi would have been called the Mozart of Asia a long back. The fact is Ravishankar is a performer-improviser not a composer,. ( He has composed for a few films , but his body of work in that terrain is not substantial. ).
    People who say today’s Indian Mozart cannot come from film music simply do not know what they are talking about. Where does composing happen in India today? Who are the great Indian composers after the Trinity of Carnatic Music and Rabindranath Tagore? In India where would the most talented composer be but in films?
    But of course a Bach is to be found among a thousand church musicians. So is it with Rahman. Among hundreds of film composers only he and Ilyaraja are the only two who have attained a level of musicianship that has a level of quality that can measure up against a universal standard.
    The problem with people who go by labels and not the reality as it is fail to see how different is what Rahman creates is from most of film music. I was areenager when RD Burman was doing Kati Patang, Amar Prem , Hare Ramam Hare Krishna, Mere Jeevan Saathi. Of course I was crazy about him and would see dud films like Raja Rani and The Train just to hear his music. But he did not shatter the mould of film music the way Rahman did. RD Burman’s songs were still the single melodic line songs with the lead singer carrying the song along witlh clearly defined mukhda and antara. Occasionbally there would be a second voice in a different scale in songs like Jaane Jaan Dhhondta Phir Raha and Dum Maro Dum. He was supremely talented, but he did not change the format of the Hindi song. It still needed a star singer RD might have opted for Kishore and Asha instead of Rafi and Lata, but it was still about star singers and a dominant melodic line carrying the song forward.
    Even more than Iliyaraja, what Rahman creates is a total soundscape. The voice is just one of the many ‘ voices’ like in a Western classical composition. That is why we do not havea Kishore or Asha today, not only in Rahman’s songs but even in songs of Visjhhal-Sekhar, Shankar Ehsan Loy , Pritam, amit Trivedi or Sneha Khanwalkar. This man has caused paradigm shift. The traditional Hindi film somg had a mukhda and two or three antaraas which were exactly alike , separated by instrumental interlude. Rahman shattered that structure to smithereens. In songs like Tu bin bata from RDB or Bhini bhini from Earth and in so many others you don’t know where the mukhda ends and the antara starts.

    The conventional appeal ofa Hindi film song was that you could sing it easily, whether you are in the bathroom or in a picnic bus. From Naushad to Shankar Jiakishan to RD Burman to Nadeem Shravan. Not with Rahman. With half the songs no one even knows the words. Do you know the words to the song ‘Khalbali’? Or Khoon Chal? Or Tu Bin bata? I don’t. But every inflection of the sound is clearly etched in my mind.

    But it is much more than just breaking forms. Rahman does wonderful things with a song. Even die-hard fans of him don’t realize what that man is doing in a song. He often is creating veritable musical novel, he packs so much into one song. Sometimes it is like a piece of majestic architecture it has a scheme, it has a structure, it has outer and inner regions , it has ornamentation, it has doors, it has windows, it takes your breath away with its beauty, and it is entirely livable.

    One reason commercial or even artistic constraints don’t rein in Rahman because he just does not give damn, he composes what he likes. Quite frankly, often enough it is bad for the film, but which is complaining? The music of Dil Se has nothing to do with the film. It is sufi music through and through. So is the music of Ghajini. In fact he is doing sufi music in the guise of film music. That is why you will not find Rahamn’s name under any of the big item number hits of the day: not Shiela ki Jawani, not Chikni Chmaeli, not Munni Badnam Hui. He is incapable of doing it. An item song will become a sufi song under his baton.

    Take a song like Luka Chhupi. The image that comes to my mind is Yashoda blindfolded a as Krishna runs all around her. There is no trace of him. Then as Rahman’s voice kicks in there is ahinto of Krishna. Then he vanishes. As the re-ga-ma-pa tarana of Rahman starts I can see Krishna happily dancing away to glory with the cows and the calves. Yashoda knows it and criess plaintively with her tarana . Oh, magic!

    A song like Jiya Jale or Ishq Bina has enough melodic subplots for five different songs for another composer. Even seemingly innocuous songs of Rahman have so much chromatic variations., it reminds me of my friend who joined an art class in Kolkata just to be able line maaro a pretty girl student there whom he eventually married. The teacher had asked them to paint an earthen pot with its shadow. Wanting to strike a conversation, he showed her what he had done and asked , “ Is this alright?’. “ No, the shadow is not right. You have done it in black and white” “ Why, I think I have painted it just as it is!” “ Are you blind or something? Can you not se the yellow, the muted red and a bit of green? ‘ That’s how it is with Rahman’s music, his shadows too have colours. But most of us are too blind to see.


  72. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Thinking of problems with labeling by conventions that by one’s ontological perception, I realise how one can blunder. And my Kolkata story brought to my mind the picture of a fish market, where there are many varieties of fish, including prawns which are known in Bengali as Chingdi Maachh. Now it is true the chingdi comes from rivers and seas kike the fish, it is sold in the fish market along with other fish, and it a vaguely tastes like fish, ( quite different from most fish actually). But is it really a fish? It is actually a crustacean, more like a crab or a lobster actually. Now if you take fish as Hindi film composers, Prawn as Rahman, and Crab as Bach or Mozart and Lobster as Gershwin or The Beatles you will get the drift of what I am saying.


    • “Now if you take fish as Hindi film composers, Prawn as Rahman, and Crab as Bach or Mozart and Lobster as Gershwin or The Beatles you will get the drift of what I am saying.”

      Thanks for proving all my points so succinctly..

      I suppose bugs are next in line.


      • @ satyam

        utkal is not really engaging in a debate here…so u can quit being over defensive.
        he is merely kick starting himself… order to launch into writing his book on rehman.

        @ utkal: if u ever write a book on rehman……pls dont make it into the rants of a rehman struck fan…..done in a poetic/hyperbolean style….i assure u it will not sell.

        sounding like a musicologist and doing dry analysis …of the ragas….in a cold ..measured,critical tone wont help either.
        one has to marry the two…. and let them do what a newly married couple does inside the bedroom.

        and the soul of the work MUST be the juicy anecdotes about rehman …which i feel yu r very good at recounting.
        so go for it…..


  73. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    The Kolkata connection brings me to another aspect that was brought out in an earlier post about Javed Akthar’s lyrics not having any poetic merit. Agree hundred percent. Though why pick Javed, if one wanted a pet one should try Gulzar. But even then I wont proclaim that Gulzar is the Ghalib of the next millennium. No way. And I wont accept that it is because today’s generation does not understand Urdu. Yes, if you say today’s directors dont understand poetry I could accept that to some extent. ( That is why I plead for more hyperbole, more poetry, and less of dry reasoning. As Kabir would say: pothi pad pad jag muaa pandit bhayo na koe,
    dhaai akshar prem ke jo padhe so pandit hoye)

    But yes, I was talking of film lyrics reaching the level of poetry. Sahir, Kaifi and Shailendra did it to some extent. Neeraj and Anand Bakshi wrote some nifty lines. Even today it is possible. If any of you know Bengali you sure must have heard of his ‘ aamake aamar mawto thaakte dao’ and all his songs from Autograoh, Baaishe Shrabon and Hemlock society. I must confess here he is a friend andan alumnus of our institute. But I am not really plugging him here. Just pointing out the fact that much of his lyrics get near to good poetry,. If he was in America he would be a singer-songwriter with band. Here he is singer-songwriter , scoring for films. See?

    But then again, no Ghalib in sight on the horizon, I must admit.


  74. let alone hindi films…there is a dearth of great poets even in the urdu mushaira circuit.
    there is nida fazli,wasim barelvi…but they are not contemporary.
    the tehzeeb is lost…..the sad demise of this culture was best captured in the film in custody…based on anita desai’s novel.
    the film is studded with the gems of faiz ahmed faiz…..whom i will call the greatest urdu poet of the 20th century….after iqbal and jigar.

    btw the father of javed was a good poet and even javed can write nice poems.i rate javed higher than gulzar as an effortless poet. gulzaar is more of a virtuoso words/images peddlar…has too many edges.

    another thing…the lyrics of almost all of anurag’s films are shit.
    piyush mishra,varun gobar,etc are headache inducing….lyricists.

    i feel bollywood……after the demise of the illustrious urdu tradition …..and the birth of a new contemporary cinematic ethos is still struggling to find its groove and voice in the department of lyrics composition……i feel they will never find it.because indians dont respect their mother tongues….we have been mentally groomed too deeply to be the lackeys of english.


  75. Utkal uncle: it’s a pleasure to read your stuff-from lyrics to various varieties of seafood…keep it up
    Satyam: imo u should be happy at the type/quality of stuff utkal is contributing to your blog….
    Btw watched bits of tchaikowsky bbc prom 2012–Though jurowski was damn irritating…
    Don’t think tchaikowsky was any lesser than Messrs Mozart and bach though he acknowledged the influence


    • “Satyam: imo u should be happy at the type/quality of stuff utkal is contributing to your blog….”

      with all due respect the ‘quality’ is precisely what I’m disputing! I commend the passion. That’s another matter!

      The amusing thing is that you didn’t seem to have as much democratic deference for the Kashyap/Sippy claim I was making the other day (that too a very careful claim)..! But here your position is that even if you consider something ‘absurd’ at least respect the ‘quality’. This would seem to be a contradiction in terms!


      • Ha –I encourage those who need ‘encouragement’!
        I’m the voice of the ‘defenceless’!
        I spot new ‘talent’ & ‘groom’ it!!
        And u are not a ‘new’ talent and don’t need my encouragement anymore 🙂
        Ps: though the ‘learning process’ should never stop imo
        For eg I learn something useful here every time –the advantages of being a ‘humble student’ hahaha


  76. Read bits here (above) where rahmans acknowledgements of influence by ir or some others being seen somewhat negatively —
    Think it is true merit that credits influences and is a positive facet…Nobody comes ‘trained’ from birth and it’s only natural that one derives influences from the PREdecessors!
    Excerpts from someones research thesis on tchaikowskys influences-
    “This declaration suggests that it was Beethoven’s symphonies in fact which kindled in the young Tchaikovsky the zeal to write music himself, rather than just escaping from everyday reality into the magical realm of Mozart’s opera. Moreover, the feeling of “sadness” which overcame him whenever he heard Beethoven’s music is one that would remain with him all his life, and, if around 1860 it was perhaps mainly due to his despair at the thought that he would never be able to write anything similar since he knew nothing of compositional technique, in later years it was certainly the “tragic struggle with Fate and striving after unattainable ideals” expressed in many of Beethoven’s works that struck a chord with Tchaikovsky. This affinity he felt with Beethoven and the element of ‘struggle’ in the latter’s life and music is perhaps most interestingly revealed in the additions he made to a compilation of biographical material on Beethoven which he started writing in 1873 but did not complete—’Beethoven and His Time’. These extra observations of his own suggest that Tchaikovsky clearly empathized with some important moments in Beethoven’s life: the early loss of his mother [3], the German composer’s struggle against adverse circumstances and against the failings of his own character. Thus, far from being merely a remote, awe-inspiring Old Testament God to him, Tchaikovsky recognized in Beethoven a kindred spirit, namely an artist who was deeply aware of the tragedy of human existence, and who sensed that the only true happiness he could find in life was in music. The comparison in his diary between Mozart and Beethoven, at first sight so ‘unfavourable’ for the latter, might therefore be interpreted, firstly, as a way of expressing how Mozart’s music acted like a balsam on his troubled soul as opposed to Beethoven’s, which reflected back his own suffering, and, secondly, as an implicit confession of how daunting it was to have to write music in the wake of Beethoven—a feeling that was shared by almost all the other great composers of the nineteenth century!”


  77. Utkal,
    Hard not to admire your passion and convition while at the same time hard not to get irritated by your obstinacy.
    Let me address arrogance first. You bring up M Ali’s arrogance but you get mixed up there. We are not talking bout the arrogance of the object of our idolisation but that of his fans.
    Next, comes hyperbole. Hyperbole is all fine and dandy when wooing the loved one but when trying to perform an informed, intelligent and objective assessment of relative merits of two ( or more) artists or craftsmen, it is as out of place as a pair of capris on a middle aged hirsute male trying to woo much younger females!
    If this is your ode to RAHMAN, wax lyrical and be as adulating and hyperbolic s you please. BUT,the moment you want to analyse Rahman and his position amongst all time greats, you need to shed those.


  78. Utkal uncle : pray don’t shed those ‘capris’ –for the sake of your orgasmic female fan following here 🙂


  79. Contd–‘lesser’ ‘ordinary’ rahman tracks …
    Ignore the grotesque dutt, and don’t mind ‘entities’ like zayed khan!!

    Bhoola tujhe..
    Kaise kahaa
    Hua tujhse kab juda…


  80. Satyam: ” Ravi Shankar scored the music for many of Ray’s films”. I mentioned it . And fine scores they were too. In fact Ali Akbar Khan’s score for Kshudita Pashan is one of the most brilliant scores ever. Ravishankar has scored for Hindi films like Godan and Anuradha, Gulzar’s Meera , and Gandhi. But as I stated their bodies of work as composers is not voluminous enough. The world will remember them as performers of Indian classical music with some outstanding international collaborations.

    Rajen: “If this is your ode to RAHMAN, wax lyrical and be as adulating and hyperbolic s you please. BUT,the moment you want to analyse Rahman and his position amongst all time greats, you need to shed those.”

    I would gladly do the former. This all-time great business is futile at the end of the day. Appreciating and developing the musical timber to love his music fully what I would rather devote my time to.

    The analysis I leave to others.

    Unko khuda mile hai khudaki jinhe talaash
    Mujhko ek jhalak mere dildar r ki mile



    • “Unko khuda mile hai khudaki jinhe talaash
      Mujhko ek jhalak mere dildar r ki mile”


      Ekdum maakul ashaar hai….Sau baat ki ek baat keh di aapne ….in the context of this debate.

      Magar deedar e yaar itni bhi sahal nahi…..jiist ke “proverbial” chaar din ….do aarzuu mein,aur do intezaar mein kat jaate hain….magar kaabe se parda nahi sharakta…

      Hullar Moradabadi ne Zafar(Seemab?) ki ish purkhej zameen par apni fashal yuun ugayi hain:

      “Masuuk vada karke bhee na aaya dosto
      humne kya kya na kiya uske payar mein
      uske vaste padosi ke murge churaye chaar
      Do aarzoo mein kat gaye do intezaar mein.”


      • Thanx utkal uncle for showing me your handsome Facebook profile-u look great…
        @ mr/ms anjali-brilliant poetry!
        If this is coming from an actual gal, it’s even more creditable in today’s day n age where folks are ‘forgetting their culture & heritage’ unlike some others 🙂


        • i saw too 🙂

          pavan k verma is in his friendlist, along with some other celebrated ppl.
          have been long trying to find the book pavan verma wrote on ghalib…is there a soft copy available?
          is it better than the one written by ralph russel?…i hv read the was okay.

          @ ms/mr alex….y is it even more creditable if it is coming from a gal?


          • “y is it even more creditable if it is coming from a gal?”
            Bcos mr/ms anjali:
            Most (if not all) ‘gals’ (even on blogs etc) indulge in ‘political correctness’ or put on certain concepts of ‘feminism’ or coyness or various other stuff…
            It’s creditable to be honest, cool and fun 🙂
            Ps: that reminds me: what happened to miss Amy and miss Oldgold –hope they are ok
            Btw theres news of ‘forced marriages’ hahaha


  81. Rajen : While I might have been defending the role of hyperbole in any discourse, when it comes to the discussion on Rahman I have been largely sticking to informed, intelligent ( ?) and objective assessment , much more than others in the forum. I have enumerated the criteria for considering any music or musician as great. And I have tried to show how Rahman fits the bill, with the help of my own analysis, as well quotes from other musicians, music lovers and reputed publications. ( Amit Trivedi, Anil Srinivasan,Andrew Llloyd Webber, Mark Tully, Danny Boyle, Time, Telegraph).

    Let me sum it all up very briefly.

    1. Great music must have a timeless quality not dating too quickly.
    2. It must appeal to the higher sensibilities and stir the centers of our deepest feelings.
    3. It must exhibit the highest levels of musical craft.
    4. A great musician must exhibit he abilities to have assimilated the all that has been created before him and out of that create something that is significantly new.
    5. A great musician’s work has to be significant enough to create a paradigm shift in the prevailing musical norms. He or she has to tower above his or her contemporaries in the genre he or she is working in. Additionally, if the music can inspire and affect other art forms or other disciplines that would speak some more in its favour.

    As to why we can expect the great composer of our times to as well emerge from film music, my reasoning has been as follows:

    1. The nursery of art music has been different at different times. The king and noblemen’s courts , churches, temples were it in the times when we had kings and religious institutions were the dominant cultural institutions.
    2. Today we live under democratic governments and arts operate in a more egalitarian atmosphere. The greats of arts in different fields in recent times, from the novels of Dickens and Dostoyevsky , to the art of Picasso to the Films of Hitchcock , Ray and Bergman to the music of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles or Duke Ellington were born and have flourished in the commercial environment.
    3. Films are the dominant art form of our times, attracting the best of talent from all over the world. There at least a hundred if not more working I the field today who can be called artists in any sense of the word. If the opera can be the carrier of great music, cinema which is a more evolved and fully realized art form of drama can surely do that.
    4. The tradition of composing music in India is not very developed in India. There is no formal composing by an individual in the Hindustani tradition, it is a eternal continuum. Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Shyama Shastry, Purandara dasa ( and few more) from the Carnatic tradition and Rabindranath Tagore are among the notable composers of India. Any kind of composing of quality in India is likely to be happening in films rather anywhere else. In the west, apart from films, rock and its derivative forms, jazz and musical theater offer alternatives for composers.

    On how Rahman fits the bil, I can write pages, but in brief:

    1. On the nature of appeal of Rahman’s music , which can be subjective, I will let others speak. If someone like Mark Tully when picking the 8 pieces of music that he chooses to carry to a desert island chooses Rrahman’s Ghanan Ghanan along with his Bach, John Tavernier, Nurat, Vilayat Khan, Bismilla Khan, it says something abiut to which heights film music can rise. The example here is of course one at random. .
    2. On his musical proficiency I will quote Lloyd Webber in Telegraph, UK: “ I admire Rahman’s unique sense of harmony, his staggering rhythms and his melodies that take an unexpected twist that no Western composer would dream of.”
    And from Richard Corliss in ‘ Time’ : Like Gershwin or Lennon-McCartney, the name stands for melody, quality, energy, instant hummability–a sound both personal and universal, devouring many older forms and transforming them into something gorgeously new.

    3. Most of the great Indian composers from Thyagraja and Tagore work in the prevalent tradition of Indian music concentrating on melody and beat, keeping away from harmony, counterpoint and other leitmotifs of western classical music. That is equally true of Indian film compers as well, including the greats like RD Burman.
    5. Rahman caused total paradigm shift in composing film music ( the movement started by Iliya raja was further pushed by Rahman.) Instead of a single dominant melody he introduced harmonies. Instead o f tunes he composed soundscapes. Instead of giving prominence to the lead singer’s voice he treated it as one of many ‘ voices’.
    6. He treated each song as a complete creation, complete with a structure, a concept, a feel and the musical creation proper. Unlike most film composers he did his own arrangement. Actually there is no such thing as arrangement in his music. It is an organic whole.
    7. Unlike most Indian film composers ( with the exception of Raja) he composed the background scores as well. And he was the first to include parts of these in released CDs. The point to note is that these scores are serious pieces of music accompanying serious works of drama.
    8. His music displays the successful assimilation of the widest varieties of different steams of music that the world has heard so far, from Carnatic and Western classical, to South Indian and North Indian folk, to African and Middele Eastern rhythms , to Wste Classical , to rock, jazz, hip hop and rap, to Hindu devotional music to sufi qawali. In his music, these don’t appear as patchwork but show singns of having been completely internalized.
    9. His influence on contemporary compsers is immense. All the new breed of composers from S-E-L , Pritam and Visal Sekhar to Amit Trivedi Ram Sampat and Sneha Khanwalkar belong to the Rahman school of composing rather than the old school. Non-dependence o renowned singers, creation of a total sound and incorporation of elements other than melody and rhythm characterize their music.
    10. The role of music in Hindi films is changing too. Except for out and out masala entertainers songs are being used in the background rather than lipsynced songs. That gives a lot of latitude to what composers can do with a song. A sing like Jane Nahin doonga Tujhe by Sonu in an unusually high pitch could never have been recorded if it was to be lip sync. The same goes for the dub sound version of Kehke loonga. Which means a whole new world awaits ts Hindi film composers along the path shown b y Rahman.

    Just one last caveat. It interests me little whether someone agrees that Rahman can be compared to Mozart or whether film music can be compared to classical music. Such labels mean little. After all ‘ Classical’ is the term we give to Mozart’s music today, it was not called classical in his time. So I don’t know what Indian film music will be called two hundred years from now. ( It would be interesting to speculate on though purely as an exercise in socio-anthro-linguistic exercise)What I do know is Rahman is an extraordinary composer whose music will last centuries. Honestly, I don’t need anyone’s endorsement for that.


    • Great comment here, Utkal and agree with a lot here.
      I doubt if anyone would claim ARR is not an extraordinary composer and very likely his music will endure for years or perhaps centruries.
      I hope you have not lost sight of the fact that most arguing with you here are huge Rehman fans including myself (and rest are useless mischief makers) I adore most that ARR has given us and I feel shivers down my spine everytime I listen to Vande Matteram. So, in many ways when you extol ARR’S accomplishments, you are preaching to the choir.
      The bone of contention here is the equivalnce you find neccessary to draw between ARR and some of the universally acknowledged artists of superlative distinction whose greatness is appreciated an acknowledged scores of years later.
      ARR may be a better composer than Bach or Mozart or Beethoven but at present time these comparisons are meaningless,premature and unfounded.


  82. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    ske vaste padosi ke murge churaye chaar
    Do aarzoo mein kat gaye do intezaar mein.”
    @ Anjali: Ha..ha.

    This was nice. but I don’t agree with you on two counts. One: let me tell you there is no comparison between Gulzar and Javed as poets. Javed is no poet, or he barely is. He is supremely intelligent. May even an IQ close to 140. He has written some of the greatest scripts in Hindi cinema ( HIs Deewar I think is in the class of Shakespeare, but I dont want to start that debate now. But he does not have the heart of a poet. He writes with his head. His logic is impeccable. His craft with regard to meter , etc is faultless. But he lacks in poetic imagination. Take a song like Ek Ladki ko dekha.. It’s list of cliches. Temple bells. Morning mist. Not one fresh imagery. I mean he is not bad. But nothing to make you leap in surprise. He is just serviceable. I mean the first man who said Your lips are lovely like a rose is a poet. The second man who said that is an insufferable fool. When you hear Eliot say’ Let us go you and I, Where the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient on an etherized table.’ the imagery fires some neurons in your head. That’s poetry. Tarqaash has some good poems. But most of his lyrics are very functional. Prasoon Joshi comes with stuff that is more fresh.

    On the other hand atke Gulzar: Shaam se annkh mein nami si hai, aaj phir unki kami si hai. He gets the mijaz of a ghazal right. I have memorized about 8-10 poems which I recite to myself during my morning walk. Among them are about four are from Gulzar. ( Two are in translation, and they still work as poetry) ‘Mujhko bhi tarqeeb sikha do yaar julahi’ ‘ Subah subah ki khwab ke dastak par darwaja khola, Dekha sarhad ke us paar se kuchh mehman aaye hain’, ” A cold wind blew throughout the night, As we kept the bonfire alight, All night long.”, Your arms lie tangled, like the jumbled lines, of a poem, I will open them.. ( The others are Banolata Sen by Jibananda Das, ( in my own English translation), Dover Beach by Mathew Arrnold, A Neruda poem that goes ” I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair. Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets..” , ” Tetrish bachhar kaatlo keu katha raakheni’ by Sunil Gnagopadhyay and Atmamilan by Amrita Pritam. ( It would be nice to have cyber poetry reading.)

    But back to Gulzar. Fresh thoughts. Fresh imagery. Fresh phraseology. That’s makes Gulzar a poet. That’s why he could get the Ghalib film so right.

    The next disagreement is about lyrics in Anurag Kashyap films. THey are not all bad. You must remember while it is alright to get moist-eyed about Urdu seeing I Custody, one has to accept the next great poet will perhaps be in Hinglish. Urdi sytarted out asa hybrid a lnguage used in military camps when Pharisee and Arabic were the langugae of the serous poets. EVen Ghalib wrote a lot in Pharisee, using Urdu perhaops to connectwith ordinary people. Rushdie has used Hinglish creatively , and the lyricts in Kashyap camp are trying. I love Emotinal Atyachar a lot. ‘ Tauba tera jalwa, tauba tera pyaar, Tera emotional atyachar.’ NIce. Womaniya is nice too. Badele rupya ke dena chavaniya. Nice. ‘ “Frustiyaao nahi moora…Narbasaao nahi moora…Anytime moodwaa ko…Anytime moodwaa ko…Upsetaao nahi mooraa..Jo bhi wrongwaa hai usse… Set right-wa karo ji…Naahi loojiye ji hope…Thoda fightwaa karo ji…
    Thoda fightwaa karo ji… Moora…. That’s p;retty god.

    You dont need highflownlanguage to write great poetry. Jyadev wrte his lliting lurical poems in much simplified Sanskrit, closer to verancular languages. Beatles convey a lot wth simple everyday words’ It’s bena hard days nigh I have been working like a dog, It’s been ahrd day’s night I have been sleeping likea log.” or ” The love you mkae is equal to the love you take’. Dylan does not need any big poetic words to write. : ‘ The answer my friend is blowing in the wind’ or ‘ It’s oall over now , Baby Blue’ or ” Come in, she said, I will giveyou shelter from the storm.’

    So while I adore Ghalib and ‘ Diwan-e-Ghalib’ is my constant bedside companion, (The Faiz volume with translations I bring from the shelf once in a while) , I know that from among Amitabh Bhttacharya and Varun Grover and the like will come the next poet to touch the hearts of my son and dughter. Amitabh and Varun are not the one. But someone from people like them will come along and speak out fresh thoughts, relevant to this generation., in the language of this generation. And there will be poetry.

    I am an optimist.


    • On Javed Akhtar’s poetry:

      “HIs Deewar I think is in the class of Shakespeare”

      Once again Matrix’s advice comes to mind..


      • I personally rate javed Akhtar higher than any other filmi lyricist or writer currently
        Gulzar is brilliant as well, but as anjali mentioned, he can be more of a ‘words gimmick’ or plays around a bit too much sometimes as if saying–hey, I’m gulzar here !
        Comparatively javed has more ‘stability’
        But again, don’t have problems with someone choosing either since both are v good…
        Ps– have a weakness for javeds interviews or speeches
        Has anyone seen his speech in the Indian parliament –was fun-I posted it somewhere
        Ps2: utkal and anjali : was just having fun-I’m sure u don’t mind my jokes 🙂


        • Know this film has been panned for dealing with problems of the ‘affluent’ and for being pretentious etc
          But personally like this film and
          Some poetry I enjoyed –nothing hifi but fitting the milieu and effectively done !

          Some original poetry I wrote —

          Ik baat honthon tak hai jo aayi nahin
          Bas ankhon say hai jhaankti
          Tumse kabhi, mujhse kabhi
          Kuch lafz hain woh maangti
          Jinko pehanke honton tak aa jaaye woh
          Aawaaz ki baahon mein baahein daalke ithlaye woh
          Lekin jo yeh ik baat hai
          Ahsas hi ahsas hai
          Khushboo si hai jaise hawa mein tairti
          Khushboo jo be-aawaaz hai
          Jiska pata tumko bhi hai
          Jiski khabar mujhko bhi hai
          Duniya se bhi chupta nahin
          Yeh jaane kaisa raaz hai

          Wow AA-daab arz hai 🙂


        • I don’t know any poetry and I rate Gulzar higher than Javed Saab.

          Aside – I am not not sure how many people like to be called uncle :).. If you know the person well you can anything but we are rather anonymous here..we should stick to screen names.


    • @ utkal
      In total disagreement with your above post.
      you bring in a modernist like eliot in love song of prufrock to compare with the baasi metaphors of akhtar…?
      akhtar is a lyrical poet…he is faultless not only in meter but the images he conceives have more roundness and r more complete…and more often than not have emotional wit,psychological insight and is in the tradition of the urdu poetry.
      whereas, gulzaar indulges in word play(though he is a good poet….but lacks in the emotional maturity of urdu tradition)
      mirza ghalib claimed that a sher by momin…has more appeal than his whole divaan. the sher is goes:
      tum mere paas rehte ho goya
      jab koyi doosra nahi rehta

      sometimes its hard to be simple and yet profound.i don’t see the logic of denigrating this sher by comparing it with the verses written by there is no comparison..both r totally different domains.
      gulzar has a penchant for verbal gymnastics….he creates images…but more often than not those images are vacant and shallow….and do not touch a chord.if gulzar had the originality of ghalib or the philosophical monism of iqbal…or the satire of akbar allahabadi,etc …i wud have tolerated his indulgent…jarring images(even if they have edges and r not in urdu tradition and have a barbolapan which alex pointed out….but he has nothing of that sort….he is saying the same ghisa pita things and trying to sound different…i find that funny)
      btw i am not saying either akhtar or gulzaar is great as there have been a lot better poets than them in the past and there r even in the present.
      my fav living poet is nida fazli:
      some random shers of nida fazli

      muhabaat mein wafadaari se bachiye
      jahan tak ho adaakaari se bachiye

      mujh jaisa hi ek aadmi mera hi humnaam
      ulta seedha woh chale mujhe kare badnaam

      koi mila toh haanth milaaya,kahin gaye do baatein ki
      ghar se baahar jab bhi nikle din bhar bojh uthaaya hai

      kabhi kabhi yuu bhi humne apne ji ko behlaya hai
      jin baaton ko khud nahi samjhe auron ko samjaya hai

      doh aur doh ka zor hamesha chaar kahan hota hai
      soch samajh waalon ko thora naadani de maula

      darasal main patthar chaba rahi thi
      doston ko laga mushkura rahi thi

      khwab mein duniya khreedti huun main
      aur haqeeqat mein roz bikti huun main

      phir raasete ki thakan hi chhatri samajh ke khol li
      jab dhoop mein darakht ka saaya nahi mila

      the last three couplets r from my pen 🙂


      • “darasal main patthar chaba rahi thi
        doston ko laga mushkura rahi thi

        khwab mein duniya khreedti huun main
        aur haqeeqat mein roz bikti huun main

        phir raasete ki thakan hi chhatri samajh ke khol li
        jab dhoop mein darakht ka saaya nahi mila”

        the last three couplets r from my pen ”
        AA-daab arz hai…

        “sometimes its hard to be simple and yet profound”–agree-
        spot on!!
        Gulzars verbal gymnastics are interesting enuf but not necessarily better…


      • Don’t know why these absolutist positions are necessary. Not just referring to you but when you have two eminent figures like Javed Akhtar and Gulzaar it’s clearly not a reasonable proposition to assert either that one of them isn’t a poet at or to imply that one of them doesn’t know how to write even at a basic level so that the stuff is ‘shallow’ and so on? There can be no discussion with such absolutist positions. It’s one thing to say one has no taste for one poet or the other and quite another to be so dismissive.


      • problem with gulzaar is…he is trying too hard….there is an element of a virtuoso in his poetry….he is groping….whereas poetry is born naturally….
        when sachin plays a reverse sweep…he is trying too hard…courting risk…is doing something different and new…..
        but the real sachin is the sachin who plays an effortless cover drive or straight drive…..thats where real class is.
        it may look deceptively simple…and a reverse sweep may look really tough….but we know where class lies.


        • “when sachin plays a reverse sweep…he is trying too hard…courting risk…is doing something different and new…..
          but the real sachin is the sachin who plays an effortless cover drive or straight drive…..thats where real class is.
          it may look deceptively simple…and a reverse sweep may look really tough….but we know where class lies.”
          Wow mr anjali- that was impressive 🙂


        • but sachin also invented paddle sweep , upper cut and various other cheeky shots and ya in indian cricket a certain sunil gavaskar inspired even sachin in those shots and at times played it better

          in terms of writing gulzar is way ahead even at this age a kazrare or bidi jalai le connects more with roots than what javed ever aspires to be


          • and ya no one in indian cricket played straight drive or cover drive better than gavaskar

            original words should not be mistaken as trying to hard but ya for me anand bakshi was better than both gulzar and javed


          • don’t know what paddle n upper cut is.

            regarding your kazra re and beedi jalai le
            we are talking about poetry here…..not some kindergarten songs….like kazra re…


          • what is kidergarten is again depends on perception

            aankhen bhi kamal kart hai personal se sawal karti hai

            ( only a master can glorify the trait of a p*******e echoing so well with picturisation) and better we should not talk out original words because then it would indeed be a kindergarten debate

            and ya sophestication in even crass donates a real master


          • @ rockstar
            here is a poem:
            “yeh samay nahi hai rone ka
            yeh samay hai bachcha hone ka
            ush samay kyun nahi royi thi
            jab lipat chipat ke soyi thi”

            this is fun too…just like ur aankhen bhi kamaal karti hain personal sawaaal karti hain….but is this poetry?
            there is a difference between poetry and gimmickry…… like tera emotional atyachar.
            those who have seen the films of prakash mehra starring amitabh like namak halaal…sharaabi etc…will notice that in some of the songs prakash mehra himself has written lyrics…like padh ghungru baandh meera nachi thi…..or that one song in sharaabi…that goes jahan chaar yaar mil jaayein…..
            in the latter song there is a brilliant stanza written my mehra himself:
            “one o’clock, in my house, there was a cat, there was a mouse
            khel rahe the, dadaa gilli, chuhaa aage, pichhe billi
            chuhe ko pad gaye, jaan ke laale, bolaa mujhako, ko_i bachaa le
            chuhaa aage, pichhe billi, pichhe billi, chuhaa aage
            chuhaa aage, pichhe billi haa!

            bad jharokaa, bad thi khidaki, bigadi hu_i thi haalat usaki
            mere paas thaa bharaa gilaas, pi gayaa chuhaa saari whiskey
            akad ke bolaa kahaan hai billi, dum dabaake billi bhaagi
            chuhe ki phuti kismat jaagi
            dum dabaake billi bhaagi, chuhe ki phuti kismat jaagi”

            this again is brilliant and in a way deep also…about the chor/sipahi…powerful/powerless dichotomy and the role of whiskey
            but is it poetry?did mehra become a great poet becoz of it and started getting offers for writing songs? did he become a shahir,majrooh or badayuni?ir these lines comparable to….seene mein jalan aankhon mein… shryar?
            there is a difference between poetry and mere gimmickry.

            gulzar is a poet..has written some deep proper poetry also….
            we r analyzing that side of gulzaar…
            and when we analyze that side…i find javed a better n a more complete poet.
            even the famous dil dhoondta gulzar has been lifted from the zameen of ghalib.
            pls debate proper…and grow up from the kindergarten


          • from gulzar and javed to now amitabh and emotional atyachar actually this defines clear immaturity as they are part of commercial stuff not poetic so you are not fit enough to give advice on growing up dear

            “Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushboo hai, tera aana bhi to garmiyon ki loo hai” and for me this is raw rustic stuff greatness dear

            one wonder where ghalib has come ….was he part of commercial mainstream bollywood

            cmmon don’t try to hard



          • and ya for record javed has not even credit many of his ancesstors including shabana’s father kaifi aazmi and shamelessly used those in movie

            amitabh was not a poet but harivash rai bachchan was and that will be better refrence dear

            a fun and proppy madhusala is part of best seller ever in hindi lierature and an agneepath diction is part of commercial cinema history


          • “Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushboo hai, tera aana bhi to garmiyon ki loo hai”

            thnx rockstar.
            now the above lines are absolutely garbage.
            there r the kind of shit images gulzar paints…which r basically hollow.
            on a similar is a better verse:
            “kisne bheege hue baalon se yuunjhatka paani
            jhoom ke aayi ghata tuut ke barsa paani”

            this is poetry…..what gulzar wrote is bullcrap


          • ok dear its shit and so is gulzar and earth is flat and i am obama



          • btw randomly quoting pankay udhas to mock another legend which is becoming trend is hillarious

            dear its a part of private album not a part of commercial mainstream cinema ever


          • Rockstar glad that u pointed out that Azhar was the 1st exponent of ‘paddle sweep’ in India- actually in that ’87 WCup match against Aussies at Chepauk both Azhar and Kapil looked to be easily taking India home when Kapil went for a slog and holed out in the deep and then Azhar unnecessarily tried to paddle-sweep and got out- our batting crumbled and we lost the match by 1 run. Btw Azhar even now remains my all-time fav cricketer- was a die-hard fan of this guy


        • I actually disagree with that. Sachin is known for his playful, cheeky shots. These don’t qualify as the best textbook cricket but they’re certainly part of his persona.


          • ya upper cut to even at this age

            vintage bakshi saheb:


          • I actually agree with anjali here.
            Sachins cover drive is sublime and his signature..
            The risk involved in his ‘cheeky’ shots exceed the potential benefit.
            A batsman of his range of shots doesn’t need these iffy shots though they are good to view for spectators …
            Ps : impressive to see such an adept cricketing comment from anjali 🙂


          • I disagree here Satyam. Also as far as i remember Sachin has NEVER played the reverse sweep- infact he never even plays the ‘normal sweep’- what he does play is ‘paddle sweep’ (which as we all know is different from ‘paddle scoop’ and is not cheeky). A cheeky shot he started playing later in career (which Sehwag too plays) is ‘uppercut cum chinese cut’ over the slip-cordon. Though a decade back in his prime he used to play a rather audacious ‘straight scoop’ over the bowler’s head


          • my point though wasn’t about the reverse sweep in specific (even though that was Anjali’s example and yes this is rare for him) and more about the playfulness of various aspects of his game. He does do certain unorthodox things.


          • just like cheekiness don’t comes naturally to everyone similarly everything serious is not a poetry

            btw paddle sweep was invented by azhar but sach specialized it


  83. Btw utkal uncle–
    After seeing your handsome Facebook profie–
    Anjali is very impressed by you..
    She is ‘shy’ to say so herself
    So being an ever helpful person, I’m acting as a ‘mediator’


    • AA – Please avoid such comments. Most of the people who know you would understand but there is always an assumption that other person is amiable to your comments.


  84. Agree munna
    I think that’s a very sensible interjection
    Though I’m sure utkal uncle won’t mind this thought, anjali might 😉
    So plz feel free to delete this, but utkal uncle may not be happy haha 🙂


  85. On a serious note–
    Utkal uncle– u seem to have lots of artistic friends
    Like shoojit Sarkar –isn’t he the ‘sperm donor’ director!
    Are u also involved in film making or
    Are u interested in being involved in film making (including European films)


  86. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Rajen: I am glad you mentioned Vande Mataram. It firmly established Rahman’s ability to work with original musical concepts outside the film domain . What a brilliant work this is even at a conceptual level, forget the execution which with Rahman can be taken for granted. Here is a song that was written more than 100 years ago. It has been used in many films and had many versions before Rahman did his version. There have been many versions after that as well. But after the original version ( said to have been composed by Pt Ravi Shankar), it is the Rahman version that stands out its stark originality and musical brilliance. All other versions appear nothing more than minor tweaking of the original. There is new version composed by Bickram Ghosh and sung by people like Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahdevan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shubha Mudgal et al. But it cuts no ice. The revolutionary leap of imagination that brings an original creature into the evolutionary trajectory can be mustered only by Rahman. I rember a dicy=tym froma business guru which most of these other composers ignore : You cannot cross an abyss in multiple leaps. Rahman does it in one big, bold and risky leap. There is no other way.

    But I was talking of the conceptual level outside the pure musical realm. For long the song has been a bone of contention between the Hindutva brigade and the Islam traditionalists. The muslims were opposed to the idea of paying obeisance to anyone other than Allah. They also had problems with the reference to goddess Durga in the subsequent stanzas of the original song. Rahman and Mehboob solved the problem in a very rationalist manner. Maa Tujhe Salaam : what a brilliant idea. ! They don’t avoid the phrase Vnade Matram but just translate it’s as salutation to the mother rather than obeisance to mother. What is the big difference as far as the essence of the emotion concerned? None. The actual body of the song also taklks directly about a modern Indian’s attachment t the motherland instead of the traditional poetic effusion about the natural bounty etc.

    (I really feel sad here for Mehboob who never got his due. He did such a brilliant job in Rangeela nd Bombay. Aand here, not just in the title song bit also numbers like Gurus of Peace. Now It is Gulzar and Javed and Prasoon who het to work with Rahman because of their more urbane, English-knowing personality which goes well with today’s director, while the native talent, and original vision of the ‘ bird-seller of Bombay’ gets sidelined. How I wish Mehbob nad Rahman would something together gain! I wish Rahman does not forget this simple soul amidst his jetsetting schedule)


    • popular write up’s and popular history are very easy to accept

      (Iin 1986, Mehboob met music composer Ismail Darbar who used to play the violin in film orchestras in those days. And it was Darbar who taught him the difference between poetry and film lyrics.[1] Darbar introduced Mehboob to filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma and he began his song writing career with Varma’s 1992 film Drohi whose music was composed by R. D. Burman. He then worked with A.R.Rahman on Varma’s Rangeela. Rahman liked his work and introduced him to Mani Ratnam and Mehboob penned the lyrics for the Hindi (dubbed) version of Bombay.[2] Mehboob went on to work with Rahman on films such as Thakshak, Doli Saja Ke Rakhna and Dil Hi Dil Mein. He has also written the lyrics for Rahman’s non-film album Maa Tujhe Salaam as well as Ratnam’s Yuva.

      for record ismail darbar is the biggest critics of rahman these days and who sabotaged carrers is big mystery…

      prasoon johi may be urban but gulzar is very well connected to roots and political understanding clearly visible from his films

      gulzar being a sikh has beutifully demonstrated khalistani struugle in maachis and lyrics like chaapa chappa charkha chale are as much connected to roots as one get rather than one dimensional version


  87. finally a good point rather than usual hyperbole :

    btw when sir bankim wrote the song history is he was tired of city of life and wrote it away from it and while you watch rahman’s video of same you can clearly see there is not an iota refrence of urban india in the rahman’s version which shows how much he was inspired from thought process and also biggest praise which he got here was it clears nehru’s distortion( the song which was edited by nehru earlier in name of appeasement)

    (here is kanchan gupta on it on part and ironically she is the one whose twitter handle is blocked by government as a rather fear on her wrteup’s and how it exposed the government)


  88. sounds like a girlish name but his/her write up’s are very intelligent though

    ya he is he …just checker his twiitter handle


  89. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Anjali Singh: Before discussing the relative merits of Gulzar and Javed a non-issue as far as I am concerned. Gulzar is a born poet. Javed has worked himself into one. As lyricists they are comparable and more or less on the same footing. But Gulzar has an independent existence as a poet and also many of Gulzar’s lyrics are bona fide poetry, which is not the case with Javed.

    But first: your concern about Urdu poetry tradition. When y I give the example of TS Eliot to define the changing idiom that characterizes modernity you say I cannot compare Modern poetry with poems in the Urdu tradition. You see there is the basic flaw in your stance. You talk of an Urdu tradition but not English tradition. Actually there can be nothing like Urdu tradition in poetry just like there cannot be an English tradition in poetry. The tradition changes with times in culture that is alive. Shakespeare wrote sonnets. Keats wrote odes and elegies. Eliot does not write sonnets or elegies. Ezra Pound and Whitman talka different language. Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg. JIbanananda Das did not write in the tradition of Rabindranath tagore. Sunil Gangopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay did not write in the tradition of Jibananda and Joy Mukhoapdhyaya doe s not write like Sunil and Shakti.

    So there cannot be anything like ‘ Urdu Tradition’ in poetry unless you concede that it’s dead language that’s nit changing and evolving. The English of Martin Amis is not the English of Shakespeare. The Bengali of Sunil is the Bengali of Tagore. Urdu meaning g camp itself was a hotchpotch language born by mixing Pharisee , Arabic and Hindi. The mode of expression also changes with time. Picasso does not paint like Leonardo.
    Tagore used nature extensively in his poetry. Omar Khayam, the tavern. Dast-e-tanhai has an earnest meani ng for someone who has seen a desert. Today’s poetry must use imagery that confront us in our urban life. The kind of abstraction used has to be different.

    God poetry is characterized by powerful thoughts expressed in few words, in new expressions that shake you out of complacency , and give youa jolt, make you take notice, make you look at the familiar froma different perspective. Makes you think of things that you had never imagined before. All this cannot be done by routine craft and stale imagery. As Javed himself says, “ Hu hain naya, andaz kyon ho purana?” Its’ the andaz that is half the story in poetry. As Ghalib says about himself, “ Hai duniyamein aur bhi sukhanwar ache, Kehte hain ki GHalib ka andaz-e-bayaan aur. ( There are amny good poets in the world, but they say Ghalib’s style of expression is different) It is this anadz-e-n=bayan, this signature, that is so important in poetry, in any art form actually. Pvasso has it. Rahman has it. Comparatively speaking Gulzar has it, Javed does not.
    Coming to modern expression, Anupam roy who ahs becomea household name in Bengal with his lyrics in films like “ Autograph’, “ Baishe Shravan ‘ and ‘ Hemlock Society” write lines that today’s youth can empathize with. “ aamaake aamar mawto thakte dao, nijeke nijer mawto guchhie niyechhi>.” ( Let me be the way I am, Now that I have organized myself in my own way”

    The songs of legendary Bengali band ‘ Mohiner GHoraguli ‘ and singer-songwriter Kabir Suman have written in a similar modern idiom. (In a song titled “ Tomay Dilam’ or “ This is what I I gift you” the lyrics goes: This is what I gift you. What else can I give you? Long lines of old processions and old tramcars. The balloon carts skirting the footpath. The reds and whites tied to the thread. Are the rhododendrons of this city of mine.
    This is what I gift you. What else can I give you ….)

    Javed did a nice job in the Rock On song “ Present Mili Ek Ghadi.Pyaari Thi Mujhe Badi.Mary Jaine Ka Ek Pocket.Meri Denim Ki Jacket.Do One-Day Match Ke Passes
    Mere Naye Naye Sunglasses.Pichhle Saat Dinon Mein Maine Khoya.Kabhi Khud Pe Hansa Main. Aur Kabhi Khud Pe Roya’ That’s why I was disappointed with the arcaic stuff in Zinadgi Na Milego Dobar. It should have ben much more contemporary stuff. In America. It sit e rapppers who are voicing the contemporary angst. And that si kind of poetry that connects with the young audience in poetry slams.

    I will once again quote Javed to show how he could do much better: “ Hum hain naye, andaz kyon ho purana?” .

    ( and in the next couple of posts I will give an example of some great ideas that Gulzar has expressed in his measured poetic andaz, with imagery taken from everyday life, not talking about gulab and sharab, or shola and shabnam. )


  90. Utkal Mohanty Says:


    A cold wind blew
    throughout the night
    as we kept
    the bonfire alight.
    All night long.

    I collected dry branches
    from the past.
    You picked up the leaves
    of spent moment.
    I took out
    my withered poems.
    You opened
    the faded letter.
    I wiped off
    Worn out lines
    From my palm.
    You brushed away
    the dried wetness
    from your eyes.
    Whatever emerged
    we consigned
    to the flaming bonfire.
    We blew into the flames
    of our bodies
    All night long.
    To keep the bonfire burning.

    All night long.
    We warmed
    our waning relationship.


  91. Hail utkal uncle ..
    Your point about that ‘rock on’ song is pertinent.
    That writing coming from him makes it even more
    Creditable -infact it is hard to believe how relatable it was to the current gen..
    Btw anjali has raised some worthwhile pertinent pints about ‘life after death’ in AK hangals thread
    Folks here are more interested in ‘halkat jawaani’ and katrina kaif than that serious topic.
    Would invite your mature views on that serious topic -thanx


  92. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Mujhko bhi tarkeeb sikha de

    Mujhko bhi tarkeeb sikha de yaar julaahe:

    Aksar tujhko dekha ek taana bunte,
    jab koi taaga toot gaya ya khatam hua:
    Phir se baandh ke aur sira koi jod ke usme,
    Aage bunne lagte ho.
    Tere is taane meinlekin
    Ik bhi gaantth girah buntar ki…dekh nahin sakta hai koi.

    Maine toh buna that ek baar ek hi rishata
    Lekin uski saari girah saaf nazar aati hain mere yaar julaahe:

    Mujhko bhi tarkeeb sikha de yaar julaahe::

    ( My translation)

    Teach me the tricks of your trade, my weaver friend

    I have often seen you at the loom,
    When a thread breaks or comes to end
    Joining a new thread and tying it
    You start to weave again
    But in this weave of yours
    No knot or joint can be seen by anyone

    I had weaved just one relationship in my life
    But its knots are clearly visible for all to see, my weaver friend

    Teach me the tricks of your trade, my weaver friend.


  93. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Banalata Sen
    JIbanananda Das

    ( My trnslation)

    For thousands of years I wandered around on this earth,
    From waters round Sri Lanka in dead of night to the Malayan seas.
    Much have I travelled. I was there in the grey world of Asoka
    And Bimbisara, pressed on through darkness to the city of Vidarbha.
    I was a weary heart surrounded by life’s frothy ocean.
    To me she gave a moment’s peace — Notore’s Banalata Sen.

    Her hair was like an ancient darkling night in Vidisha,
    Her face, the craftsmanship of Sravasti.
    Like a rudder–broken sailor, adrift far out in mid-sea,
    chancing upon a grass-green cinnamon island, through darkness
    I saw her. Said she, “Where have you been so long?”
    And raised her bird’s nest-like eyes – Notore’s Banalata Sen.

    At day’s end, like soft-falling dew
    Comes dusk. A hawk wipes the scent of sunlight from its wings.
    When all of earth’s colors fade and pale patterns come into view,
    the glimmering fireflies start their storytelling.
    All birds come home, all rivers; all of this life’s tasks finished.
    Only darkness remains, as I sit face to face with Banalata Sen.


  94. Here is a gem from the master Javed Akhtar.
    Admire it’s simplicity and depth.

    Shaam hone ko hai
    Laal suraj samandar mein khone ko hai
    Aur uske pare kuch parinde kataare banaaye
    Unhi jungalon ko chale,
    Jinke pedon ki shaakhon pe hai ghosle
    Ye parinde wahin laut kar jaayenge, aur so jaayenge
    Hum hi hairan hain, in makaanon ke jungle mein
    Apna koi bhi thikaana nahiN
    Shaam hone ko hai
    Hum kahan jaayenge

    (my translation)

    Alas! The dusk is drawing closer
    The red sun is about to drown in the seas
    And beyond it, a flock of birds are homing for the woods…
    To their nests in the trees
    These birds will return to their perches and sleep
    Alas! but we are the lost ones….
    We don’t have a shelter in this jungle of concrete
    The dusk is drawing closer
    Where will we go?


  95. Naqsh fariyaadii hai kis kii shokhii-e-tahariir kaa
    Kaagazii hai pairahan har paikar-e-tasviir kaa

    The etchings(naqsh) display(fariyaadi) whose brilliant expression(shokhi e tahrir)?
    For the drawing(paikar e tasveer) is dressed(pairahan) so delicately(kaagazii)

    Evocation of the brilliance of God’s handiwork in creating this world.
    I wonder why this couplet by Ghalib is still the subject of research and interpretation…the meaning is so plain to see.

    Oh am I the first to crack it’s meaning? 🙂


  96. Anjali: That precisely is the problem with Javed’s poem that you have quoted. It’s too simple. There is no new imagery ( red sun, sea, bird’s nest), no new phrasing, no new association between imagery, no particularly new thought, no irony, no surprise. Poetry or music for me has to be the highest form of entertainment. It has excite, stimulate, tickle, shock, surprise…. This one does none. It is very very flat and prosaic.


  97. @ utkal
    these are the lines from the song my name is anthony gonsalves:
    “You See The Whole Country Of The System
    Is Juxtaposition By The Hemoglobin In The Atmosphere
    Because You Are Sophisticated Rhetorician
    Intoxicated By The Exuberance Of Your Own Publicity”

    there is new imagery,phrasing,new thought in it. it shocks,excites and surprises us….but these are not the main thing in a poem. the real diamond in the poem is the sense you have conceived and are expressing.
    gulzar is not conceiving something new and ecstatic…he is banal and shallow…but his mode of expression is full of verbal ding dong….that is unjustifiable.
    ghalib used a new and exciting urdu persian mode of phrasing beacuse his sense was so deep they cud not have been articulated in any other way…this is not so with gulzar.
    his poems have a disconnect with urdu poetry…ghalibs even most complex and complicatedly worded couplets have tarranum..gulzar has zero tarannum.
    and lines like…tum itna jo mushkura rahe ho/kya gham hai jiska chupa rahe ho and tumko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya zindagi dhoop tum ghana saaya…may appear simple…but it takes a life time to achieve this simplicity. to be simple is not so simple.
    try writing something on these lines…and yu will find out how hard it is….it requires rigorous honing of mind-heart….and thorough practice…to be so simple yet profound and immortal. on the other hand it is no big deal to hatch elaborate metaphors and create exciting..subverted images and thoughts.
    gulzar hasnt got the emotional maturity to be an urdu poet.
    the exciting mode of phraseology which attracts yu so much in him(gulzar)….if u compare it with the poems of amrita pritam…will look too small.
    her metaphors are a lot more raging and inventive and exciting and imaginative and ironical than gulzar can dream of….but can u call the urdu or punjabi poems of amrita pritam nazms?…is she clubbed as an urdu poet?
    yu need a certain mental dna and sensibility and emotional maturity to qualify as urdu poet….which gulzar is lacking while javed has it.
    gulzar is a joke among the poets who frequent mushaira circuits…
    pls dont look for a sneha knanwalkar type nautanki and piyush mishra type main bhoonk khaa gaya aur pyaas sursura gaya….when it comes to urdu poetry.
    just try writing poems in urdu for once…..and then u will understand that writers who r indulging in elaborate metaphors and exciting new ways of phraseology…are actually escaping from their own incompetence…..gulzar is more of a punjabi poet in the tradition of amrita pritam(though very inferior to her)…certainly not an urdu poet.


    • yaadon ki bauchharo se jab palke bheengne lagti hain
      kitni saundhi lagti hai tab maazi ki rusvaii bhi

      just see the painstaking way this sher has been if he has to say what he has to say.there is no lightness of touch…no effortlessness….mutthi bahut zor se baandhi hui hai…
      this cant be urdu poetry…its more in the tradition of amrita pritam….its a play of images…it makes sense…conveys the wit and conceit of the poet but has something missing…

      here is a random couplet…written by someone who knows what urdu poetry is

      yaaden chaliin Khayaal chalaa ashk-e-tar chale
      lekar payaam-e-shauq kaii naamabar chale

      dil ko sambhaalate rahe har haadase pe ham
      ab kyaa karen ki Khud tere gesuu bikhar chale

      look at the second couplet….ab kya….gesuu bikar………………..bas baat khatam hui….koi explanatory…poetic kheencha taani nahi…
      the poet..has a light pen..and he sketches it…subtly…
      that’s poetry….

      the poet is hosh timazi….no one has even heard his name…


      • another gulzar’s famous line:

        Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehakti khushboo
        Haath se choo ke isse rishton ka ilzaam na do

        another of his ding dong couplet

        here is a better stuff by jigar:

        aankhon mein bas ke dil mein samaa kar chale gaye
        Khvaabidaa zindagii thii jagaa kar chale gaye

        chehare tak aastiin vo laakar chale gaye
        kyaa raaz thaa ki jis ko chhipaakar chale gaye

        just see the simplicity…lyricism…effortlessness and yet the real depth of the latter.
        all the poetry of gulzar is full of kheenchtaan in the name of saying something new.but i know the reason…..he is escaping from his incompetence….by these devices.


  98. still Going on 🙂

    Sometimes too much Information is too ‘Dangerous’ as it leaves ppl ‘DRY’ 🙂


  99. Anjali you are still making the same mistake when you talk of Urdu poetry. As I mentioned there can be nothing like Urdu Poetry just as there cannot be Bengali poetry, Punjabi poetry, Spanish Poetry, or English Poetry. There is the Bengali poetry of Chandi Das, there is the Bengali poetry of Jibananda Das, There is the Bengali poetry of Shakti Chattopadhyay and so on. What you are talking of is maybe Medieval Urdu poetry. Telling Gulzar does not write like Jigar is like telling Eliot does not write lie Shakespeare or Keats. Of course he does not. He does not want to. its good you bracket Guilzar with Amrita Pritam. She is a modern Punjabi poet and so is Gulzar. And Amrita Pritam does not write like Bulleshah or Waris Shah. You say Gulzar is the laughing stock among Mushairas. You probably don’t know what bigger laughing stock are mushairas among circle of poets. Like the Muslilms at large who don’t want to move with time, and want to live in ghettos and preserve a fossilized tradition, mushairas are stuffy and putrefying, because they don’t open their windows to let the fresh air of new ideas blow in.

    When Ghalib writes a line like’

    Ghalib khasta ka vagair kauns akaam bnad hai
    Rooyenge zar zar akay , kijiye hai hai kyon

    there is irony, there is self-deprecating humour, there is surprise

    When he writes

    Unke dekhe se jo aa jati hai chhere pe raunak
    Woh samjhte hain bimar ka haal achchha hai

    There is drama, there is intelligent thought, there is surprise.

    There is always freshness of thought and language.

    Take Amrita Pritam and look at the freash andaz of expression, look at the sophistication of thought

    My bed is ready

    But while at it
    Along with your shirt and shoes

    Take off your body too.

    There, keep it on that stool

    Nothing special really
    Just the customs around here.

    Mera sej tayaar hai

    Lekin kamiz aur joote ki tarah
    Tu apna jism bhi utar le
    Udhar us mode par rakh de

    Kuchh khaas baat nahin
    Bas yahan ka rivaz hai.

    ( I am writing it from memory. But that’s more or less it.)

    That’s what I call poetry, not the maudlin cliches that Javed writes.


    • from utkal to utkal mohanty to utkal rajnan mohanty. aapka har 6 months promotion ho jaata hai. kidding . couldn’t help noticing 🙂


      • 🙂 Anya –cumment of the day!! ^
        Btw what are your expert views /opinion on satyams ‘ query’ to me and the interaction -see the other thread
        We both need professional help and some ‘sessions’ 🙂


  100. Bilss and Munna: I agree. It’s unfair to go on thus in a blog that is primarily focused on films and films related stuff. (Incidentally,’ What’s going on’ is a favorite Marvin Gaye song of mine in this genre along with Stevie Wonder’s “Living for The City’)

    So I just went back and read a few posts I had missed and a found a few comments I had not responded to.

    So let me quickly do that:

    Rajen : “The bone of contention here is the equivalnce you find neccessary to draw between ARR and some of the universally acknowledged artists of superlative distinction whose greatness is appreciated an acknowledged scores of years later.”
    I find no intellectual challenge in acknowledging today that Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are great composers. That’s received wisdom. I find it more stimulating to speculate what can happen in future, based on what I have listed as a few criteria that makes for long lasting, worthwhile musical creations. I have no patience with labels like ‘ classical’ and ‘ film’ music. Maybe Rahmna’s music in a few hundred years will be known as ‘ Global Music’ / ‘ World Music’ , or maybe something else. As I have said ‘ Classical’ is the label we have given to Mozart today. In his time he was a court musician, and I am sure there were a hundred mediocre court musicians composing in the courts of a hundred banal noblemen.

    Going through the old posts, I also came across the Rangan blog on Rahman. To quote from that, ” But Rahman doesn’t seem to care about any of this – which is really the only way for a pure musician to work. (Of course, you could argue that a music director for a movie can’t afford to be a “pure musician,” and you would be right in a way.) The sound of Rahman, today, is the sound of a musician trying to break free.” “But today, (multiplex) Bollywood has become so experimental that Rahman can explore non-film-style music within the context of a film album.”
    “But Rahman’s best compositions are uniquely his, if only for the dense (and daringly ingenious) layering. In another approach to his craft that is light years distanced from those before him ..”
    “It is, perhaps, no accident that AR Rahman is the first Indian musician to get global recognition – because his is the first instance of a truly global sound, from global processes engineered with global technology. Earlier, in the case of pioneers, the oft-employed cliché was East-meets-West, but the genius of Rahman is that, in his hands, East is West. The twain has met.”

    “ That’s why it’s surprising that Time labelled Rahman theMozart of Madras, instead of going with someone like Schoenberg – to pick a name out of the classical music canon – who did much to veer music away from pre-established styles. That is Rahman’s great achievement, that he pioneered a style that’s entirely his own.”

    “Rahman is a composer who’s always two steps ahead of technology, so the workings of his phenomenal mind will always find more creative modes of expression. The future, therefore, looks limitless.”

    He has pretty much said the very things I am saying “ pure music’ ‘ layering’, ‘ non-film music in the guise of film music’ etc. He too does not find anything preposterous about comparing him to Mozart, he just suggests Schoenberg, another musician from the classical world to be a more apt person for comparison.

    Bliss: “Our problem is If I open Chemistry book and start talking about Biology and other opens biology book and starts talking about Physics… The problem is we are opening wrong books and we never realise that.”

    Opening a Philosophy book while studying Physics or opening a Mathematics book while studying Chemistry opening a Geometry book while doing Biology is the only way to get a fresh perspective on a subject. That is how you might arrive at the structure of the DNA, hit upon the ramifications of quantum mechanics and the relationship between valence, molecular number and a chemical reaction.

    That is the only reason why I extended the discussion on Gulzar, Javed and modernity in poetry this far. Understanding the evolution of another r art form down the years can also be illuminating while discussing music or films.

    An open mind, more focus on understanding things as they are instead of going by conventions and labels and a bit of intellectual adventure seeking is what I ask for.


  101. Two mad professors were finally admitted to a mental hospital. Jung was their psychiatrist.
    As was expected, the professors had a penchant for debating. Unsurprisingly, they kept the whole sanatorium awake by their passionate and lengthy arguments….as they talked about some real deep and metaphysical shit….all through the night.
    The matter was finally reported to Jung and he decided to overhear their conversations from the window.
    He was surprised to see that there was absolutely no connection between what one was saying with the other.
    If the first one was talking about the sky…the second one was talking about the earth…so to say.
    As if both were actually talking to themselves…. and though each one used the terms spoken by the other…. they used them merely like a peg to hang their own hats on.
    He was surprised….but what really surprised him the most was that when the one was speaking…the other kept quiet and listened to him.
    When they were not really listening to each other and merely talking aloud…then what was the need of this deference?
    He could not contain his curiosity for this strange behavior any longer….so he went inside the room..interrupted them and asked.

    “Gentlemen…I have been eavesdropping on this debate for sometime now and it is crystal clear to me that though both of you are talking about some real deep stuff there is absolutely no connection between what one is saying with the other.
    Then why is it so… that one one speaks the other remains silent and pretends to listen? is it necessary?

    Both the professors were shocked at this question.
    One of them answered:
    “You take us for madmen or what? Don’t you know that is the basic rule of carrying a conversation!”


  102. Haha an entertaining post there, anjali..
    Now look @ this scenario ^
    Poor utkal uncle is taking a masterclass on poetry etc (instead of merely posting links)–most of this I (& many) didnt know earlier…
    But ms bliss suddenly decides to act as the moderator –bcos it is ‘off topic’ and then posts an even more off topic song to ‘intimidate’ poor utkal uncle…
    Ps: utkal uncle: do carry on (up the jungle) lol


  103. Nice story Anjali. I have to catch up on Jung. I did a thorough job on Freud discovering him as I did as a teenager, thrilled at the idea that sex can answer everything ( Well, it can…almost everything. For the rest we need the ‘ collective consciousness’ of Jung. Especially for reading Bollywood films.) Yet to catch the Jung-Freud film of Cronenberg for that matter.


  104. And Anjali: To be fair , even today great poetry can be written in the format of the last century Urdu poetry. Faiz certainly belongs up there along with Ghalib and Iqbal. ( I don’t share your enthusiasm for JIgar. But then I haven’t read him that extesnively. And out of all these Ghalib is ina class by himself. ) His ‘Mujhse pahilisi mohabbat meri mehboob na mang’ combines romantic thoughts with political consciousness so well, it’s unmatched:

    Ab Bhii Dilakash Hai Teraa Husn,
    Magar Kyaa Kiije.
    Aur Bhii Dukh Hain Zamaane Mein Mohabbat Ke Sivaa.
    Raahaten Aur Bhii Hain Vasl Kii Raahat Ke Sivaa.

    ( Your beauty is still as intoxicating as ever. But tell me what can I do. There are other griefs apart from heartaches. There are other reliefs from pain apart from meeting with oners beloved. So my darling, dont demand of me the fervour of our initial romance.’ That’s some original insight there. His direct poiltical action poems are also so fresh:

    Bol ki lab aazaad hain tere
    Bol zabaan teri ab tak teri hai…
    Bol ye thoraa waqt bahot hai
    Jism-o-zabaan ki maut se pahale
    Bol ki sach zindaa hai ab tak
    Bol jo kuchh kahane hai kah le

    ( Speak up for your voice is free
    Speak up for your tongue is still yours
    Speak up, these few moments are enough
    Before the body and the tongue with it are no longer alive
    Speak up while the truth is still alive)

    I like the playfulness of his ” Chale bhi aao ki gulshan ka karobar chale.”

    Analyzing what makes a poem tick is a bit like measuring the vital statistics of a woman to judge if and why she is beautiful. But I can’t help pointing out how the phrase ‘ karobar chale’ is so freash, pleasantly surprising and reflects ‘ attitude’

    Though not in this class, aprt from Nida Fazli, Ahmad Faraz ( ranjish hi sahi, Ab ke bichhde, etc) and Nasir Kazmi ( Dil mein ek lahar, and my absolute favourite ‘ Gaye dinon ka suraag’ which I cannot hold myself from quoting in full)

    “Gaye dinon ka suragh lekar, kahan se aaya kahan se gaya woh
    Ajeeb manoos ajnabi thaa, mujhe to hairaan kar gaya woh

    Bus ek moti si chabb dikha har, bus ek meethi si dunnh suna kar
    sitara-e-shaam ban ke aaya, barang-e-khwaab-e-sehar gaya woh

    Na abh woh yado.n ka chadta darya, na fursato.n ki uddas barkha
    yoonhi zara si kasak hai dil mein, jo zakhm gehra thaa, bhar gaya woh

    Woh hijr ki raat ka sitaaa, woh hum-nafas woh hum-sukhan humara
    sada rahe uska naam pyaara, suna hai kal raat marr gaya woh

    Woh raat ka be-nava musafir, woh tera shayar, woh tera ‘Nasir’
    teri gali tak to dekha thaa, fhir na jaane’ kidhar gaya woh”

    Haven’t been able to a good translation of it yet. But the Ghulam Ali – Asha Bhonsle rendering can be heard at:

    I also remember a very different rendering of it by Habib Tanvir himself in his play ‘Jo Lahore Nahin Dekha.’ Awesome.

    ( My apologies to Satyam and the rest in the forum. I thought I had ended this discussion. But the intoxication of good poetry is too strong to resist.)


  105. i like faiz but not for his political consciousness…or propaganda poems…rather for the evocation of romance and beauty he does in his ghazals and nazms.
    on this subject of romance and beauty…the best conjurers are:
    daag dehlevi
    jigar moradabadi
    faiz ahmed faiz

    one particularly lovable sher from his famous guloon mein rang bhare ghazal goes:

    jo ham pe guzarii so guzarii magar shab-e-hijraan
    hamaare ashk terii aaqabat sanwaar chale

    my tears beautified(sanwaar) the aaqabat(future/after-life) of the night of separation.

    maqaam ‘Faiz’ koii raah men jachaa hii nahiin
    jo kuu-e-yaar se nikale to suu-e-daar chale

    once i left the lane of my beloved..nothing captured my imagination…..i went directly to the hanging grounds.(suu e daar)

    another sher from a different ghazal:
    baam-e-miinaa se maahataab utare
    dast-e-saaqii me.n aaftaab aaye

    the same wine when poured from the bottle to the cup is like moon and when the cup is held in the hands of the beloved and offered to me…. it becomes the sun….how the thirst is transforming the wine from maahtaab to aaftaab…
    many more…

    but when it comes to philosophic poets…the best conjurers are:


    • oh and i forgot to mention zauk….his famous answer to the oft repeated cliche “khaali haanth aaye the…khaali haanth jaayenge” of ghalib was:

      wahan se yahan aaye the toh kya lekar aaye the?
      yahan se wahan jaayenge hum laakh tamanna lekar
      jab aaye the rote hue hue hum aaye the
      jab jaayenge auron ko rula jaayenge

      zauk was considered a better poem than ghalib…as they were both contemporaries. and ghalib was very jealous of zauk as zauk was the court poet…zafar took islaah from him.

      the way gulzar portrayed zauk in his tv serial miraz ghalib was pathetic….
      zauk has written some great poems….really better than ghalib.

      ghalib himself has acknowledged it.
      another sher of zauk which ghalib once heard from his crony(without knowing who the author is) and declared mera saara diwaan ish ek sher par kurbaan..went:

      ab toh ghabra ke yeh kehte hai ki marr jayenge
      marr gaye par na laga ji toh kidhar jayenge


  106. we may never know whether zauk was greater than ghalib or not as during the 1857 gadar…his house was ransacked by the britishers(zauk was dead by then) and all his poems were burned.
    his surviving poems…those which we read have been reproduced by his disciples from memory..they r merely 20 percent of his total output…the rest sleeps in oblivion.
    but according to the general conception of those times..zauk was considered a greater poet.
    the present day urdu intellectuals have arrived at the conclusion that ghalib is the greatest when they compare the 20 percent of zauk with the 100 percent of ghalib….


  107. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Faiz is a great one for romantic thoughts. ( The couplets you have quote are first rate indeed.0 But his romantic poems area cut above others because it has a larger dimension and another line of the social consciousness in ‘ Mujhse pahili si mohabbat’. Ghalib is the greatest because he breaks free from the usual subject of ghazals, pining for love, and handles deeper philosophical themes, which have universal resonance. That’s why there are literally hundreds of translations of Ghalib’s poems , from Robert Bly to Pavan Varma. Iqbal can match him in philosophical concepts, but in poetic expressions and other elements that make him human, and modern : irony, under-statement, self-deprecating humour. .The only other poet of note outside GHalib, Iqbal and Faiz is Meer ( of Patta Pattata Buta Bita fame)

    Your estimation of Zauq is completely off the mark . a cliché like Khali hath aaye the could have had nothing to do with Ghalib and ‘ Rote hue aaye the hanste huen jaayenge’ is an equally cliched thought fit for someone like Prakash Mehra. rather than any serious poet. Yes, Zauq was a court poet, and Ghalib could have been jealous of him. But who remembers Zauq today. It would be like RD Burman being jealous of Laxmikant-Pyarelal because they were more popular and got more Filmfare awards. These are transitory. Real genius outlives temporary reputations.

    Let me quote Wikipedia essay on Zauq : ” Zauq’s reputation in Urdu poetry is because of his eulogies that reflect his command over the language and his expertise in composing poetry in extremely difficult meters…..His mentor, Shah Naseer, would also pay attention only to the linguistic eloquence and mastery over prosody….Such style of poetry suits eulogy writing…Zauq was a deeply religious man. In his ghazals too he would deal with religious and ethical themes. Therefore, his ghazals lack lyricism and appear to be the verses of a preacher…..He used several styles successfully and, though not as great a thinker as Mirza Ghalib, had a more melodious flow of language…..During his lifetime Zauq was more popular than Ghalib for the critical values in those days were mainly confined to judging a piece of poetry on the basis of usage of words, phrases and idioms. Content and style were barely taken into account while appreciating poetry.”

    In my estimation Ghalib is quite ahead of anyone else in Urdu literature and his position to akin to Shakespeare in English: he is simply miles ahead. He is the only one that has given respectability to ghazals among non-Urdu readers whether in India and abroad. You can check out from the translations or essays on Ghalib’s ghazals versus anyone else. You ca also check how many of Ghailb’s couplets people know and quote as compared to any other shayar. His position in this regard is quite like Shakespeare in English.


    • mksrooney Says:

      Well just wanted to say happy bday Utkal… hope u have a great one buddy!


    • though i myself regard ghalib as the greatest…and the only 3 indian poets in my all time great list include kabir,ghalib and ageyay….
      do read the divaan of zauk once….can yu read urdu?

      Zauq was a deeply religious man. In his ghazals too he would deal with religious and ethical themes.

      here is some specimen from zauk on this:

      zaahid sharab peene se kaafir hua main kyun
      kya dedh chullu paani se imaan beh gaya?

      ek patthar chuumne ko sheikh ji kaaba gaye
      zauk har butth kaabile bosa hai is butkhaana mein

      many more…infact as far as writing anti religious shers r concerned…zauk has quite a lot of them…more than ghalib…maybe becoz he was a strict believer in god as a person.
      but that strictness is not evident in his poems at all.

      aankhein meri talvo se woh mal jaaye toh acha
      hai hasrate paabos nikal jaaye toh acha

      he is not as great as ghalib…but a great poet…greater than u think if u read his divaan deeply.dont take him for a stereotype.

      regarding romantic/beauty evocations…frankly…faiz is not even 40 percent of daag….daag is an encycopedia….he wrote some 1600 ghazals as opposed to 273 of ghalib and he is a milestone…
      do read his 5…6 divaans….

      dekhe toh kya kya jalwain hain neechi nigaah mein
      aaiina rakh de kaash koi unki raah mein…

      many more…sadly cant quote more as all my divaans of daag were brutally burned by my mother…who hates my reading any other books save those provided in the college syllabus


  108. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Anjali, quantity cannot adjudge quality. The basic timber of Zauq’s work can be judged from his surviving work. And obviously his disciples would remember his best work. Any way it can be safely said that based on surviving works of Zauq he is just not in the same league as Ghalib. Not one scholar of Urdu will say Zauq is better than Ghalib.


  109. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Thanks mksrooney. And thanks to this discussion I am getting to revisit a lot of Ghalib, Ahmad Faraz , Nasir Qazmi and the rest. Great way to spend one’s b’day.


  110. Happy Birthday Utkal Sir…


  111. Happy birthday utkal uncle ….so how is your day going….

    “sadly cant quote more as all my divaans of daag were brutally burned by my mother…who hates my reading any other books save those provided in the college syllabus”—hahaha 🙂


  112. had a very fruitful discussion with yu utkal…just one last query…….do u think faiz was greater than meer? reading ur posts above gives one this feeling.
    if u think so i must say…u r wrong.
    meer simply cannot be matched…..not even by ghalib…let alone a naushikiya like faiz.:

    here is one of the many:

    naa samjho mujhe bekhabar ish kadar
    tahe dil se logon ke aagah hoon
    meri kazravi saadgi se hai meer
    bahut ish raviyye pe gumraah hoon.

    do not take me for a simpleton
    i am no stranger to the wiles of this world
    my real crookedness lies in my simplicity
    and this attitude is the cause of my going astray.

    just look at the psychological complexity of this couplet.
    by the way even the urdu intellectuals concede that after ghalib meer is the greatest urdu poet.
    so there is simply no comparison between faiz and meer.

    so ur statement:”The only other poet of note outside GHalib, Iqbal and Faiz is Meer”…holds no water…he is not the grudging fourth….but either first or second.

    yahi jaana ki kuch naa jaana hai
    so bhi ek umr mein hua maalum

    shikwa e aabla abhi se meer?
    hai piyaare hanoz dilli duur

    mere tagaiyuure haal pe mut ja
    ittaqakaat hai zamaane ke

    its pointless….there r so many i m missing….meer can never be compared with faiz…no one even thinks of doing that. he is a lot lot better than faiz


  113. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Anjali, I can agree about Meer being better than Faiz ( Truth be told I haven’t read as much Meer as I should have. The couplets you have quoted are beautiful) But not Ghalib, who really is unique.

    But the main point of these discussions is not to prove who is better. In art there is no such thing. But it is only to help us appreciate each of them better, with much more awareness of their special strengths , and weaknesses. A rose is rose, a rajanignadha is a rajanigandha. One is not better than the other, though one may have a personal preference for one above the other. It’s like loving one woman, it does not mean other women are not beautiful. I fact some may be even more beautiful. But you got to love one woman if you want to discover the depths of love. ( You are allowed to throw sidelong glances at other women occasionally.) For me that one woman is Ghalib.


    • “But you got to love one woman if you want to discover the depths of love. ( You are allowed to throw sidelong glances at other women occasionally.)”

      In the words of the great Russel Peters, one needs to stick to ‘onegina’ as per the above comment!.. ha ha – just trying to crack jokes like alex….


  114. “In the words of the great Russel Peters, one needs to stick to ‘onegina’ as per the above comment!.. ha ha Ann – just trying to crack jokes like alex….”
    Hahaha 🙂
    Lol @’onegina’ (btw can some1 explain the technical meaning plz)
    “do not take me for a simpleton
    i am no stranger to the wiles of this world
    my real crookedness lies in my simplicity
    and this attitude is the cause of my going astray.”–wow-what depth …
    Ps-am now getting some idea of lyrics -didn’t care bout em earlier ..


  115. Utkal uncle -I agree with anjali-u r under rating javed akhtar…
    By the way –“One is not better than the other, though one may have a personal preference for one above the other.”
    I can really appreciate and understand and empsthise the depth of that sentiment–and agree 🙂
    Though have picked this common thread in your cocktail comments as well..
    C’mon tell me atleast –I may be able to help u in your ‘dilemma’–
    I like sorting these (for others )
    Btw where is the birthday cake, bday flicks and let’s give u some bday bumps 🙂


  116. AA: Me underrate Javed? When I think of him as among the foremost intellectuals of India? And among the bravest for standing up for the artiste’s right over their work? When I rate his scripts of Deewar, Sholay, Shakti, Don and Mr. India of Shakespeare class? No way. It’s just that i don’t think of him as much of a poet.


  117. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    And Anjali, I agree with your putting Kabir and Ageya up their among the best alongside Ghalib. I ahvent read much of Ageya, but have a translation of this little gem called ‘ Chup Chap. ( The translation has been done by my very young friend, Nakul Krishna, who presented his translations of Faiz, Bulle Shah, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Amrita pritam, , Iqbal and Kishwar Naheed in aprogram that showcases yiung poets. He went to Oxford as a Rhode scholar a few years back.)


    may the waterfall’s music
    fill us

    may the winter moon
    come floating with ripples

    may life’s Secrets
    ( that may not be spoken)
    deepen in our restful eyes

    as we drown in the smiling universe
    may the universe seep into us


    Sacchidanand Hiranand Vatsyan ‘ ageya’
    Trans: Nakul Krshna


  118. The above poem is very very deep and spiritual. mr nukul has disfigured and disgraced it. the translator has not understood a single word of this poem and the translation is the evidence of his ignorance.
    who is this kiddo nakul? why is he trying to translate something which he simply cannot understand….because it looks hip to translate ageyaya?


    Chup-Chap Chup-Chap
    Jharne ka svar
    Ham mei bhar jay,
    Chup Chap Chup Chap
    Sharad kee chaandnee
    Jheel kee lahro par tir aay,

    Chup-chap chup-chap
    Jeevan kaa rahsya
    Jo kahaa na jay, hamaaree
    THahree aankho me gaharaay,
    Chup chap chup chap
    Ham pulkit viraad me Dubei
    Par viraad hm mei mil jay

    Chup Chap Chup Chaap

    the poem frankly can only be understood by a person who has had a taste of meditation and super consciousness. the poet is talking about the inner naad(jahrne ka svar)..which is noiseless…. quietly is not the right word here.

    jheel ke lahre is the ever changing yet changeless lake of time and the floating chaandni is the realization of the oneness with the divine/existence…

    pulkit viraad is divine melancholy….not smiling universe. its viraad not viraat… have to experience this ecstatic melancholy which comes from the realization of oneness….this ecstatic melancholy is the feeling of the oneness…..
    “as we drown in the ecstatic melancholy
    and the melancholy becomes us”

    the poem is a straight forward description of a spiritual experience…..ageyaya hates flowery language…he merely reports the super conscious experiences as simply as he can….the translator assumes and projects that ageyaya is speaking in flowery terms instead of merely jotting down his experiences in a plain language. the beauty of agyeya’s poetry is that the place he is talking about is an “alice in wonderland”….and it has it’s own magic.
    ageyaya is a meditator….


    • jheel ki lehron par tirti chaandni…..shows the transient nature of things….to see it deeply is to realize the oneness with the existence at a deeper level… the transient nature of things and the realization of oneness are related that is what i mentioned in the above post. The translator replaces the moonlight with the moon and thus effectively kills the meaning merely because of making his translation more unwieldy and poetic.
      at another place he makes pulkit which is ecstatic into smiling…again for the sake of making the poem look more cute and poetic….becoz ecstatic is a jarring word. but ageyaya loves using jarring words in his poems….


  119. one has to understand that the poet is not talking about a waterfall and rippling lake and moonlight that is outside and then comparing it with his inner mind scape…much in the tradition of wordsworth.
    if that was the case ageyaya had to be flowery in his descriptions like wordsworth…. before ending on a psychological…super conscious advaita note.
    ageyaya in fact in all his poems consciously is not indulging in nature descriptions…and flowery tongue…..the waterfall and lake and jheel are inside and they are the reverberations of his super conscious state(not objects but hazy subjectivities)…… they r genuine..concrete details of the subjectivity reported in a very plain…i would say consciously unpoetic language….. of a spiritual experience….that is where the originality of the poet lies…


  120. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Where did you find the flowery language in the translation? And replacing ‘ moon’ with ‘ moonlight’ is how you write poetry in the language you are writing in, without trying to maintain what is there in the original, trying instead to capture the spirit. And all the interpretations you have mentioned , I got it from the translation., without reading the original. And so did everyone who heard the poem. In fact that is why i noted it down and preserved it. So where is the problem.

    but this is what usually happens. Anybody who has seen the original film , say in Tamil, says oh the Hijndi version did not capture what the original did. Ask any Bengali, he or she will say oh the translations don’t do justice to Tagore’s original. So I find nothing surprising in what you are saying.

    Translations are meant to reach out to those who acnnot access the original. Not for people to compare and nitpick.

    How would you translate it, for example?


  121. “but this is what usually happens. Anybody who has seen the original film , say in Tamil, says oh the Hijndi version did not capture what the original did. Ask any Bengali, he or she will say oh the translations don’t do justice to Tagore’s original.”

    yes …and they are absolutely true.

    i have my own theory on this.
    have yu ever observed in a dream you may go through a whole life time within the span of a minute…..which is not possible in real if the timescale of a dream state and a wakeful state are different.why is it so?

    suppose a man is standing on a pulpit before a crowd of people…he is looking at the whole crowd simultaneously in a second…but if he starts locating every single person one by one in the crowd it will take hours. similarly in dreams things take place simultaneously…thus the time scale gets compressed whereas when we r awake the simultaneity is replaced by literalness which elongates the time.
    similarly…a poet writes in an inspiration…in a dreamlike state….the level of simultaneity is very high…that is why the poems have a dreamlike richness….whereas a translator is being literal….no matter how perfect the translation…. and…..even if we negate the separate cultural association of the words in the two languages……
    still he cannot have that dreamlike richness and simultaneity…
    therefore to translate poetry is criminal.

    even poems which appear to be written in a manner that the words used in it don’t have culture specific connotations …..and even if the translation maintains full fidelity with the spirit…why? with the very language and spirit and meaning of the original…even then….the translation will always be gross.
    because the translator lacks in the level of simultaneity….call it inspiration… which the original was written.


  122. Agreed. Good poetry cannot be translated. That’s why we have to make do with approximations that motivate us to learn a language and get at the original.


  123. Simultaneity vs literalness
    “similarly in dreams things take place simultaneously…thus the time scale gets compressed whereas when we r awake the simultaneity is replaced by literalness which elongates the time.
    similarly…a poet writes in an inspiration…in a dreamlike state….the level of simultaneity is very high…that is why the poems have a dreamlike richness….whereas a translator is being literal….no matter how perfect the translation…. and…..even if we negate the separate cultural association of the words in the two languages……
    still he cannot have that dreamlike richness and simultaneity…”
    that’s a brilliant association anjali… !
    Simultaneity vs literalness
    No doubt utkal uncle and others had no option but to ‘agree’ 😉


  124. Rahmans collaborations with gulzar also can’t be underestimated
    @ anjali-
    I’m not good at lyrics but note these lyrics like
    ‘peeli dhoop’
    What is ‘Saundi hansi’
    (Hansti rahe tu hansti rahe
    Haya ki laali khilti rahe
    Zulf ke neeche gardan pe
    Subah-o-shaam milti rahe
    Saundi si hansi teri khilti rahe milti rahe
    Peeli dhoop pehenke tum dekho baag mein mat jaana
    Bhanwre tumko sab chhedenge, phoolon mein mat jaana
    Maddham maddham hans de phir se
    Sona sona phir se hans de
    Taaza gire patte ki tarah sabz-e-laan par lete hue
    Saat rang hai bahaaron ke, ek ada mein lapete hue

    Ps-@ Oldgold -does rahmans work look ‘Indian’ here lol


  125. When I say good poetry cannot be translated that applies more to poetry with rigid formal structure and it gets more difficult when the languages belong to widely different cultures. But still translations of Tagore’s poems in English can move Yeats to tears and Neruda’s poems translated into English from Spanish drives us to ecstasy. In fact the above mentioned translation of Ageya’s poem moved all of listening ( none of us had read the original) to a state of spiritual meditative calm.

    A translation works best when it is treated as a fresh creation. Anda person with the right amount of apssion and abilities can even translate a work set in a highly formal framework. This is how Hoefdstadter’s translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin described of at Amazon:
    ” Sparked by reading Jim Falen’s beautiful English version of Eugene Onegin (published in 1992), Douglas Hofstadter presents a more liberal, distinctly American, colloquial version of the Alexander Pushkin classic. Hofstadter’s version is entirely in so-called “Onegin stanzas”—a unique sonnet form devised by Pushkin with a very intricate rhythmic and rhyming pattern. There is also a preface in Onegin stanzas, in which Hofstadter talks about Pushkin, his novel in verse, its form and content, the challenges of translating it into English and his deep admiration for Falen’s version.:

    You must read his ‘ What is gained in translation’ to get a counter view to Anjali’s.


  126. Too much of the medieval stuff chokes me up after some times. I earn to hear the voice of our times, the poetry of our concerns. So let me give this:

    Subah subah ek khwab ka dastak par darwaja khola
    Dekha sarahad ke us paar se mehmaan aaye hain
    Aankhon se manhoos the saare, chehre saare sune sunaye
    Paaon dhoye, haath dhulvaye, aangan mein aasan lagvaye
    Aur tandoor pe makki ke kuchh mote mote rot pakaaye
    Potlimein mehmann mee picchhle saalonki fasalonka gud laye

    Annkh khlui to dekha ghar mein koyi nahin thaa
    Haath lagaa kar dekha tandoor ka aag ab tak nahun boojha that
    Aur honton par meethe gudka zayka ab tak chipak raha tha

    Khwba tha shyad
    Haan khwab ho hoga

    Sarhad par kaal raat suna hai ek chali thi goli
    Sarhad par kaal raat suna hai kuchh khwabon ka khoon hua hai

    ( ‘Subah subah ek khwab ka dastak par darwaja khola’ that’s poetry. “Sarhad par kaal raat suna hai kuchh khwabon ka khoon hua hai ” that’s again poetry.)

    You can hear Gulzar reciting it at ;


  127. Surbhi was quite followed when it was showing up on Doordarshan…

    Liked by 1 person

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