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When 'Rang De Basanti' was launched, most of the people within and outside the industry believed that it is one of those patriotic/pre-independence flicks. Also, one thought that it would mark the hat-trick of films from such genre for Aamir Khan after 'Lagaan' and 'Mangal Pandey-The Rising' with a contemporary 'Dil Chahta Hai' in between. In contrast, the promos of this film by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (who had earlier directed the Amitabh Bachchan - Manoj Bajpai starrer 'Aks') tell a different tale as the movie appears to be cool 'n' hip flick with a strong rustic background. Also starring Madhavan, Atul Kulkarni, Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor and Soha Ali Khan in important roles with veterans like Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Anupam Kher and Kirron Kher, this UTV production has music by A.R.Rehman (who also composed for Aamir Khan's Lagaan and Mangal Pandey) and lyrics by Prasoon Joshi who made waves for his work in 'Hum Tum' last year.
Album begins on a simple note with a quiet yet effective 'Ik Onkar' that has Harshdeep Kaur getting in a devotional mood. The track is quiet short and doesn't even last for 1 and a half minute, but it still paves for good things to come as the album progresses. Probably it was the intention for the people behind the album to begin it on an auspicious note and what better way than to have a Punjabi devotional track doing the honors! .
As expected, quick acceleration happens in the proceedings with Rehman getting into the fifth gear right away with the title song 'Rang De Basanti' coming up next. You have been waiting for THE song from Daler Mehendi for a long time? Well, the wait is over with the bhangra-king in the top form after a long time with this celebration song that doesn't attempt to be one of your typical punjabi-bhangra tracks! Instead it creates a style of its own with the song completely dominated by Mehendi at every level. Chitra comes in for some portion of the song as well but her presence is akin to an actor doing a cameo in films. A vibrant number that truly brings with it 'punjab-ki-khushbu', it is (as expected) highly foot tapping and would be lapped by people from north to south, east to west across the country.
Newcomers Naresh Iyer and Mohamed Aslam unite for let's have a party yaar kind of a number 'Paathshala' that has A.R.Rehman written all over it. A rhythm based western number; it belongs to a style that one must have heard in number of Tamil college flicks that had music by Rehman. A fine number, it would be interesting to see 40 year old Aamir Khan get back to his college going fun ways for this youthful number. The song, that also appears in another version as 'Paathshala - Be A Rebel' with Blaaze joining Mohamed Aslam and Naresh Iyer, is based on college, campus and hostel life with everyone being carefree about things surrounding them.
Things turn poetic with 'Tu Bin Bataye' that maintains an amazing tempo in entirety with not a note getting wayward at any point of time. There are no ups and downs and has a plain simple melody with a constant flow that works marvelously due to Madhushree's vocals. She had done wonders earlier too for 'Kabhi Neem Neem,' [Yuva] and 'Hum Hain Is Pal' [Kisna] with A.R.Rehman and she repeats the feat with 'Tu Bin Bataye' that can easily be a lesson for many who wish to know more about the essence of Indian melody. The best song of the album so far with great lyrics by Prasoon Joshi, it amazingly adds on an instrument or two as it progresses along. By the time Naresh Iyer as a male voice is introduced and the song is about to reach its end, you realize many more nuances about the track. In one word - marvelous! .
After a song deep rooted in Indian melody, it's time to move middle-east with 'Khalbali' that has A R Rahman, Mohamed Aslam and Nacim [who also writes Arabic lyrics] coming together behind the mike. This song is a typical example of how Rehman music works. As like most of his tracks, this too takes time to grow and though it doesn't reach the dazzling heights to be a big time hit, it makes an impression as you hear it a few times. Credit it to Rehman's multi-piece orchestra that saves the song from turning out to be just an also-ran! .
No! 'Khoon Chala' is not one of your tracks that you can hear on while working on something else! If you really want to enjoy the song in its totality, then hear it very close to your ear, probably with a headphone, and with complete concentration. This situational song is quite slow and completely belongs to Mohit Chauhan [from the band Silk Route] who does a wonderful rendition. With a strong melodious base, it belongs to Indi-pop variety and should be there in the movie for a right moment.
Lata Mangsehskar and Rehman join each other for 'Luka Chupi', which is about a mother's call for her son to come back home. The number seems to be a symbolic track with the main protagonist being called back home after he has been away for a long time. As soon as Rehman joins in after Lataji has begun the number, one is reminded of the feel of Rehman's own 'Vande Mataram'. Brilliant orchestra by Rehman compliments the mood of this somber number exceedingly well with the song turning out to be yet another beautiful composition after 'Tu Bin Bataye'. Sheer simplicity makes the song worthy of repeated hearings.
On first look, one gets a feeling that Aamir Khan has sung yet another track for 'Rang De Basanti' with 'Lalkaar'. But as the number begins one realizes that he has primarily done a 'narration' rather than 'singing'. The essence of the song is pretty evident from the lyrics that go like 'Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Aaj Hamare Dil Mein Hai'. He goes extremely husky and low pitch for this patriotic number that is situational and doesn't add much value as a part of the music album.
Final song of the album is 'Rubaroo' that is sung by A R Rahman and Naresh Iyer. This number too belongs to an Indi-pop genre and has heavy lyrics that require a lot of time to sink in. A nice way to end the album, it too has a consistent rhythm throughout with Rehman steering away from the temptation of adding on beats or any other props in an attempt to make it sound more hip, trendy and contemporary. Instead this situational track has a sweet 'n' simple feel to it and should be appreciated by the youth.
If one has to compare the musical score of 'Rang De Basanti' with last Aamir-Rehman combo 'Mangal Pandey', then RDB is a clear winner hands down. Though 'Mangal Pandey' may have been a bigger investment in terms of cost, time and grandeur, when it comes to the kind of music that may be liked by today's generation, it is RDB that turns out to be a better fit.