ROCKSTAR Music Review: AR Rahman is a rockstar

Cineswami had anointed Vishal-Shekhar’s RA.One album as the soundtrack of the year. It pales in comparison to Rahman’s tunes for Rockstar

“I hear music when I close my eyes. When I open my eyes the music does not go away. I often can’t follow the words that people speak, but I get the music of their soul. It’s good that way, because words can lie but music cannot. Pleasant or disturbing, music is always the truth.” These profound words echoing a Sufi saying can be found on the album inlay of the Rockstar CD. The words could very well be a reflection of the musical mind of India’s greatest living composer AR Rahman, the creator of the Rockstar soundtrack. Ranbir Kapoor may be the star of the film and Imtiaz ‘Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal’ Ali, the creator, but Rahman is the driving force of this musical. Not so long ago, Cineswami had anointed Vishal-Shekhar’s RA.One album as the soundtrack of the year. Though undeniably good, it pales in comparison to Rahman’s tunes for Rockstar. This masterpiece of an album greatly benefits from some truly inspired lyrical poesy by Irshad Kamil. Mohit Chauhan has been chosen as Ranbir’s voice for the album and he delivers in spades.

The album kicks off with Phir se ud chala that begins with Chauhan rendering a brief aalaap and then moving up and down lilting scales to create a memorable ballad. Chauhan returns with one of the songs of the album Jo bhi main, though in such a brilliant soundtrack it is difficult to play favourites. This slow burning rock anthem has terrific lyrics that translate as ‘whatever I want to say, my words destroy’. Bravo Kamil saab. The playful Punjabi-infused Katiya Karun is up next featuring vocals by Harshdeep Kaur, backed by Sapna Awasthi. It’s a pleasant number, serving as an appetiser for the riches to come.

Rahman is back in his Sufiana Kalam element with the qawwali Kun Faaya Kun, dedicated to Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya. The voices of Rahman, Chauhan and Javed Ali combine to hypnotic effect in this track. After the fervour of the qawwali it is time for a dig at a Bollywood recording session where a crass music director is trying to get Chauhan to get the nuances of a typical Hindi number. But this being Rahman, he can’t do typical and the result is a superior melody.

Tango meets Gypsy rhythms in Hawaa Hawaa with Chauhan in his element, accompanied by Viviane Chaix, Tanvi Shah, Suvi Suresh and Shalini. The Gypsy Kings themselves would have applauded this number. As if trying to prove that he is the master of every possible musical genre, Rahman moves into Nitin Sawhney territory with Aur ho that opens with haunting, ethereal vocals by Alma Ferovic and then develops into a song of love, loss and longing voiced powerfully by Chauhan.

After the intensity of Aur ho, it is a palliative to listen to the instrumental Tango for Taj where Rahman begins with the traditional accordion played Argentine style but sneaks in some raga violins to create a very satisfying fusion. An old favourite Kavita Subramaniam nee Krishnamurthy returns with Tum ko, a song of yearning beautifully interspersed with tabla. Instrumental track The dichotomy of fame has a superlative shehnai-guitar jugalbandi between Balesh and Kabuli.

Continuing to surprise, Nadaan parinde opens with Boney M-like chorals before electric guitars and driving drumbeats join in until Rahman and Chauhan enter to complete a pitch perfect rock track.

Chauhan and Suzan D’Mello’s Tum ho is a companion piece to the earlier Kavita track and possibly the best romantic song you’ll hear this year.

And of course, next up is the hugely popular Sadda haq, definitely the rock anthem of this young century that we live in. Orianthi’s driving guitar perfectly accompanies Chauhan’s compelling voice and Kamil’s empowering lyrics. All good things must come to an end and sadly Rockstar concludes with Ranbir Kapoor reciting Meeting place, based on a poem by Rumi.

So, ladies an gentlemen, unless Amit Trivedi can pull off a heist with Trishna, put your hands together for the album of the year – Rockstar.