I remember this ‘uncle’ from my childhood who would always go on and on about how only K.L.Saigal was worthy of being called a singer and how Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi were nothing to him. I also remember thinking what a bore this uncle was! Fearing that I will turn into a similar bore with my liking for old music, I try to keep up with the music of today. Like ‘uncle bore’, I too find much to complain about modern music but thankfully I find nuggets which I enjoy as well. Remembering a lovely melody from Swades, I decided to re-watch it today.
I am mystified as to why I don’t remember this film well from my first viewing. It was engaging and surprisingly sensible at places. Shah Rukh puts in a good performance. Being a NRI, I felt a strong sense of connection with this film.
What I liked about the film :
From caravan to string bed, from shower to well water, from jeans to Dhoti, from bottled water to not, from a view through a camera to becoming part of the scene, the journey of the protagonist is well depicted.
Supporting characters were very convincing – the loving nanny, the cook with ambitions of travelling abroad, the stick-in-the-mud traditionalist, the garrulous friendly postman – I recognised all these people. Even the lead was an egg-head like so many fellow NRIs (and no, not the top boss but a cog-in-the-wheel! Even that small point won me over!)
An excellent discussion in the second half of the film about customs and rituals. I too have heard people who have never set foot outside India tell me ‘We have something others don’t have, our customs and heritage’ as if the customs and heritage of all other people of the world is somehow less important! The protagonist takes the side of the argument I normally take.
Touched on some major ills of Indian society without much melodrama. Even knowing it was cinematic manipulation, I was touched.
My complaints :
अपने ही पानी में पिघलना बर्फ का मुक़द्दर होता है someone says in this film. Is that not quite contrary to the forward thinking views which this film supports? This statement may be used to imply that Indians should stay in India (as in the film) but also to say people should stay within their own castes and limitations. As a lifelong expatriate, I feel that my family has contributed not only to our adopted countries but to our birth country in equal measure. I resent the implication of this statement.
The leading lady was not likeable. Even her introduction was so…cold. Her perpetually irritated expression was not becoming at all. Even in an important emotional scene later in the movie, I found her very unconvincing.
I’ve talked more about the film than I normally do. Let me get to the music. A.R.Rahman has done a good job and the lyrics by Javed Akhtar are very appropriate at times. The choice of placement of songs is a bit formulaic – it includes a road song, a children’s song, a religious song, a romantic song and a patriotic song!
Yun Hi Chala Chal – Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher, Hariharan. I admire Kailash Kher’s sufiana music and he does a good job here. Udit Narayan, I always admire. Good song.
Ahista Ahista – Udit Narayan, Sadhna Sargam. Very little instrumentation allows us to enjoy Udit Narayan’s voice to its full extent. Sadhna sounds good too. Like!
- Yeh Tara Woh Tara – Udit Narayan. Good lyrics, good message and well sung.
- Sanwariya Sanwariya – Alka Yagnik – Lovely melody. Alka normally has a great reach but her voice is strained in the higher octave. Nice instrumental interlude.
- Pal Pal Hai Bhari – Madhushree, Vijay Prakash, Ashotosh Gowrikar. Boring tune. Enjoyed the Ramlila though..
- Dekho Na – Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan. Soft. Romantic.
- Yeh Jo Des Hai – A.R.Rahman . I can’t say I am a fan of Rahman’s singing but sometimes it works for me. Not this time.
You can listen to the whole album here. But for today, my song choice is purely for its charming melody. Enjoy!