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AR Rahman: Bollywood's most overrated composer
Feb 03, 2005 04:16 PM 9735 Views
(Updated Jul 08, 2008 01:02 PM)

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I am no Rahman fan, though I find a few of his tunes melodious. His compositions in Zubaida & The Legend of Bhagat Singh were very good, as were the ones in Taal and Lagaan. Pukar and Sapney too deserve a mention. Most of his other works don't really inspire me; I feel his compositions tend to murder http://lyrics.   Even stalwarts like Gulzar and Javed Akhtar have struggled to offer consistently good lyrics to his compositions. What really puts me off is the enigmatic popularity of his tunes since most of his works massacre good lyrics, they are rarely hummable (try singing a Shaka laka baby or a Humma humma and see what I mean) and they are simply not mainstream. A.R.Rahman broke on the bollywood scene at a time when two factors were influencing the scene: one, Nadeem Shravan, who had been giving consistently hit music, had been making outrageous demands on the producers and made the producers hunt for other options desperately; and two, the culture of double meaning songs was on the ascent.   Though Dil hai chhota sa from Roja was nice and hummable, I am pretty convinced that had Rukmani Rukmani not been the terribly raunchy song that it was, Rahman would have ended up becoming an Illyaraja Part-II in the hindi film industry. Kuchi Kuchi Rakamma & Humma Humma happened next and continued to bulldoze the element of worthwhile lyrics, but the albums were well projected simply because producers were sick of the heady ways of Nadeem Sharavan (the then numero uno). Also, Anu Malik, the poor man's Nadeem Shravan, had started getting overboard with his copycat ways (his new-found the success of Baazigar notwithstanding). The worst of Rahman happened next with Telephone dhun mein hasne wali, latka dikha diya and Maya Machindra (whatever it means). Rahman's popularity was consistently rising, much of it was the created by music companies who promoted Rahman on one front, promoted plagiarism of his mediocre works on the other. By no stretch of imagination can one call Muqabla Muqabla a master-piece, even though it went on to become the most plagiarised song of all time. Filmfare people killed their credibility in the year 1996 (during the award ceremony for the year 1995) and AR Rahman's getting the Best MD award for Rangeela was one of the reasons (the other were SRK getting best actor for DDLJ when Aamir deserved it for Rangeela, Anand Bakshi getting the best lyricist award for Mehndi laga ke rakhna when Mahboob deserved it for Tanha Tanha and so on). The MD award should have gone to Jatin-Lalit for DDLJ and the music has stood the test of time. Anybody recalls songs like Yaro sun lo zara and ai ai aa mangta hai kya from Rangeela But Rahman as an affable, unassuming person was getting all the brownie points and had become the blue-eyed boy of the cassette companies. The cassette companies espoused his cause big time. Album after album, aggressive marketing meant that even nondescript scores for movies like Kabhi na Kaabhi and Vishwavidhata would sell. Artist AR Rahman had already become brand name AR Rahman. Dil Se was next in line with the music video type of composition of Chaiyya Chaiyya. The stuff was inspired by the sufiana kalaam of Bulle Shah Tere ishq nachaya kar thaiya thaiya, and even Gulzar could not do any value addition to the http://lyrics. (Incidentally, Filmfare guys chose to shoot themselves in the foot yet again by foisting the best lyricist award on Gulzar for this number). The title track of Dil Se was another lyric-unfriendly one and song ?satrangi re? was not too great either. Jiya jale was graced by Lata's voice, but the interlude was massacred by some slogan-shouting type of south Indian phrases (as if kuch kuch rakamma, maya machindra were not irritating enough). It was no big shock to see Rahman receive the best composer award and poor Jatin Lalit miss out again even though they gave terrific scores for Kuch Kuch Hota hai and Jab Pyar kisi se hota hai. The credit of making Rahman a worthy mainstream composer goes to Subhash Ghai and Anand Bakshi. Rahman did a marvellous job for Taal and I feel but for this experience, Rahman might not have done the top job he did for Lagaan, which is indeed feather in his cap. A couple of years ago, Rahman the brand name again dominated Rahman the composer when he won the best composer award for Saathiya (he didn't even deserve a nomination for that, though to be fair to him he deserved the award for The legend of Bhagat Singh). My gut feeling is that success of Rahman has also got something to do with the increased purchasing power of the Indians. See, his scores rarely make lyrical sense but are popular simply because the heavy synthesization gives the foot-tapping feel to the songs. People may find his song lyric-unfriendly, but they sure find his songs ?driving-friendly? and increased purchasing power has allowed the giant Indian middle class to afford a car whose stereo must blare a foot-tapping number! My overall assessment of Rahman is that he is a good composer but he is a bit like Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan- good in his trade but grossly over-rated!

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