Tag Archives: Shah Rukh Khan

Listening to: Paheli (2005)

PaheliWhen I first saw this romantic fantasy, I was surprised to hear of its poor reception in the box-office and by the critics because I enjoyed it very much indeed! Today, I watched with more critical eyes – and I still found it great fun! It reminded me in parts of the traditional folk tales I read as a child in Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama; hints of Aladdin’s genie reiterates this view. Even the use of a narrator (with two puppets in this case) reminds me of traditional theatre. It is uncomplicated, light-hearted fun, full of beauty, colour and fantastic locales and some excellent music – for me that translates as a treat. To hell with the critics and the Shah Rukh nay-sayers !!

The story is set at an unspecified time in the past, somewhere in Rajasthan. The tale commences with the preparation to Lajjo’s  (Rani Mukherjee) arranged marriage.  She seems an excited bride, eager to start a new life with her man and his family. After the wedding, the bridegroom’s party, along with the new bride, makes its way back to its own village.

(Kishen Lal) Shah Rukh is a really berasik fellow, dry as dust. He is more interested in his business and accounting than his bride. His father advises him ‘vyaapar ka sukh hi sabsa bada sukh hai’– the pleasure of business is the greatest pleasure’!! That seems to be his creed. Generally I can understand ineptitude with women, especially in men who have not had much to do with females. But such indifference towards his bride, even on his wedding night? Especially when she looks as lovely as Rani does?  Kishen leaves on a trading trip for 5 years the morning after they arrive home, his marriage unconsummated.

But here comes the fantasy part of the tale. On the way back from the wedding they stop at a haunted place and a ghost falls in love with the bride. Finding out that Kishen is leaving on an extended trip, the ghost – with genie like powers- takes up Kishen’s form and returns home. The bride is delighted to see her husband return within 3 days. And that too a very changed husband! The ineptitude has gone; here is a man who is the romantic hero that can only be the fantasy of a woman’s mind! [Girls note: Men will not spout poetry to the beauty of your eyes so don’t melt if they say things like एक बार इन नैनों में झाँकने के बाद कुछ और देख सकता है कोई? In case they happen to be nascent Byrons, they would probably be totally impractical, drunkards or of loose morals. So if you meet a poetry-spouting, good-looking, sober, practical, hard-working fellow, be suspicious! He’s probably a phantom!] Even when the ghost, in a spurt of conscience, confesses all, Lajjo accepts him as a substitute husband.

Four happy years pass.  The ghost brings happiness not only to Lajjo but to the family and to the community. Lajjo is soon to be a mother when the real husband comes back. Will Lajjo lose her fantasy husband? How will it all sort itself out? You have to see the film to find the answers.

Shah Rukh and Rani are impeccable in their lead roles. Shah Rukh does the comedy side of the role very well indeed and brings nice nuances to the two distinctly different men he plays – well done!! Rani glows. Anupam Kher is his amusing best as the father and Juhi Chawla is flawless as the sister-in-law; other supporting roles are competently performed. Sunil Shetty and Amitabh Bachchan impress in their special appearances.  The real star of the film, however, is the cinematographer Ravi K.Chandran who has painted such a glowing, loving canvas that it seduces us from the start to the end.

The music by M.M.Kreem is very very good. He borrows from Rajasthani folk and melds it beautifully with Bollywood flair. The lyrics by Gulzar are written with his sure hand.

  • Minnat Kare – Shreya Ghoshal and group. A nice melody, it does well as a multi-emotion wedding song. Starts with an upbeat pre-wedding celebration song, it takes a more serious turn with a Shehnai interlude and then continues to a sad bidai tune. The colour and atmosphere of the song makes it a visual treat.Open-mouthed smile
  • Dheere Jalna – Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal. A beautiful song,  it is contemplative, even sad at places. It changes pace from slow to fast; I did not like how some hurried phrases squashed or elongated words to suit the beat. Sonu and Shreya are wonderful singers and this song gives them the opportunity to display their vocal range to the full. The first part has a beautiful flute and sitar interlude, and the second (female) part has an excellent Shehnai interlude. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kangna Re – Shreya Ghoshal and group. A lovely song with a catchy and melodious refrain. The dancing by Rani can only be called seductive. The Shehnai is again used to good effect. I like the little interlude of the Viraha Bhava,  the sadness of separation, with Juhi and Sunil Shetty. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Khali Hai Tere Bin – Hariharan and Bela Shinde. A nice instrumental is followed by Hariharan’s crooning this pathos-filled song. Nice poetry by Gulzar. Beautiful! Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Laaga Re Jal Laaga – Sonu Nigam, M.M.Kreem and Shruti Sadolikar. Sonu is excellent in this lively song which reminds me of rain songs from other movies. I have a weakness for a nice group dance routine – and this one sure provides one! Colourful, joyful, the cheerful beat of the Dholak and the colours of the dancers together gives a very nice effect.Open-mouthed smile
  • Phir Raat Kate – Sukhwinder Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan. Not my fav but good puppet-like dance.I don't know smile

To listen to the full album, click here.

Kangna Re – For the joyful dancing and beautiful refrain.

Khali Hai Tere Bin – For Hariharan’s smooth voice and the poetry. The video shows only half the song.

And for the choreography, Laaga Re Jal Laaga :

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Listening to: Swadesh (2004)

Swades

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. Smile
  • 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! Smile 
  • Yeh Tara Woh Tara – Udit Narayan. Good lyrics, good message and well sung. Open-mouthed smile
  • Sanwariya Sanwariya – Alka Yagnik – Lovely melody. Alka normally has a great reach but her voice is strained in the higher octave. Nice instrumental interlude. Open-mouthed smile
  • Pal Pal Hai Bhari – Madhushree, Vijay Prakash, Ashotosh Gowrikar. Boring tune. Enjoyed the Ramlila though.. Sad smile
  • Dekho Na – Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan.  Soft. Romantic. Smile
  • 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. Thinking smile

You can listen to the whole album here. But for today, my song choice is purely for its charming melody. Enjoy!

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Listening to: Devdas (2002)

Let me state categorically : I do NOT like this story. You have a not particularly likeable young man who gives up his childhood sweetheart due to family pressures. Instead of making the best of his decision, he becomes an alcoholic depressive and slumps about in non-salubrious (but astonishingly beautiful!) surroundings. Then you have a nautch girl, so lovely and talented that she could demand her terms with anyone. Instead she develops a deep love for this most unlovable drunk who is always moping over another woman! And our leading lady marries a man richer than the one who gave her up, bowing again to family pressures. And does she make the best of life? Of course not! She is forever dreaming of her lost love. I could shake them all!

Yet seemingly I am very much in the minority. This story by the popular Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938) has been very dear to the Indian audience and has been made into 12+ films in different languages. I have seen the Hindi version of Devdas (1936) starring Saigal in the lead and the 1955 version by Bimal Roy starring Dilip Kumar, both acclaimed films.

So given my annoyance with the  lead characters you’ll wonder why I chose to see the movie. Very simply, the music which, released ahead like for all Bollywood films, enthralled me from the moment I heard it. When I saw the film, as expected, I was annoyed with the characters for making such rubbish of their lives. But I came away with some visuals which will live with me forever. Oh the beauty of the two ladies! Oh the sumptuous setting! Oh the costumes and jewellery! Oh that scene with Aishwarya running through the many doors, aalta on her feet, sari flowing behind her! Oooooooh The Music! The director Sanjay Leela Bansali has created a visual feast which pleases my art loving eyes. Credit goes especially to cinematographer  Binod Kumar Pradhan.

The music composed by Ismail Darbar is, in my opinion, one of the best albums to come out of Bollywood in the last decade. The lyrics by Nusrat Badr in his Bollywood debut are equally memorable. You can listen to the whole album here.

  • Silsila ye chahat ka – Shreya Ghoshal : Truly sensuous, this is a siren’s call by Shreya. One of my daughter’s favourite songs. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Maar daala – Kavita Krishnamurthy, Kay Kay : Madhuri’s dance and her costume are wonderful, the song is good. Smile
  • Bairi Piya – Shreya Ghoshal, Udit Narayan : A slow, romantic song with a certain lulling quality I like very much. Both singers are extraordinarily good. When Udit Narayan first starts ‘kaise kahoon’, I always take a deep breath of satisfaction! Open-mouthed smile
  • Kaahe Chhed Mohe – Kavita Krishnamurthy, Birju Maharaj, Madhuri Dixit : A fantastic Kathak song with an unforgettable dance performance by Madhuri, its another memorable number. Kavita’s voice is not my favourite but she has done such a wonderful job of this classically based song that my respect for her went up enormously.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Chalak Chalak – Shreya Ghoshal, Udit Narayan, Vinod Rathod : I do like Shah Rukh in his Bengali babu dhoti-kurta look and in association, I like this song too ! Madhuri dances most alluringly. Smile
  • Hamesha Tumko Chaha – Kavita Krisnamurthy, Udit Narayan : I was addicted to this song for a while and HAD to listen to it daily. The tabla sounds so good! The composer has used the Ooli, the sounds that Bengali women make at auspicious times, and the sound of the conch very well.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Woh Chand Jaisi Ladki – Udit Narayan : My husband’s favourite song from this album, Udit Narayan is so very talented! Open-mouthed smile
  • Morey Piya – Shreya Ghoshal, Jaspinder Narula : I don’t like Jaspinder’s portion of the song, which I find a bit grating so I used to skip this song once upon a time. But Shreya’s part is really exquisite, so I have started listening to it nowadays. Smile
  • Dola Re Dola – Kavita Krishnamurthy, Shreya Ghoshal, Kay Kay : The dance is such a visual delight – two of the most beautiful women in the world without doubt! Again we have the Bengali Ooli used to good effect. The song has a joyful, teasing aspect which is very pleasing. All the singers do an admirable job.  Open-mouthed smile

Because the songs are both a visual and auditory feast, I am going to present not one but quite a few of them. Choose what you will to view.

1. Silisila Ye Chahat Ka – for the astonishing beauty of Aishwarya, her graceful dancing and Shreya’s lovely voice of which I am a true fan.

2. Kahe Chhed Chhed Mohe – For Madhuri’s radiance, her dancing prowess and sheer sensuality and Kavita’s wonderful singing. Credit of course to Birju Maharaj for his excellent choreography.

3. Hanesha Tumko Chaha for the breath-taking settings (see the house!!) and the story telling

4. Dola re Dola – for the pleasure of watching the two beauties do their thing – and to honour the choreographer Saroj Khan who has done a great job!

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Music to keep from 2010 (Part 3)

1st Place

Album : My Name is Khan

Song : Sajda

Music : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyrics : Niranjan Iyengar

Singers : Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Richa Sharma, Shankar Mahadevan

 

So here it is at last, my favourite song from 2010! Some songs are made wonderful by the lyrics, some others by a beautiful voice. In my opinion this song is a composer’s triumph;  all credit goes to Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy for orchestrating this lovely piece of music.  The different elements – the male voice, the female voice, the instruments, the rhythmic clapping – they all come together in a glorious concoction. I especially like the female voice used in the lower register and the male voice in the upper register. 

In the movie, the song is used as a background score and at times one gets distracted by the dialogues, which is a pity. Surely this song deserved the full attention of it listeners? Still, one can admire how very well Kajol ‘speaks’ with her eyes and face..what a fine actress!! And Shah Rukh Khan, when he receives that complimentary look from Kajol, expresses his mix of embarrassment and happiness in a beautiful half smile. Well done, both of them!

So here is the clip from the film. Enjoy!

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Filed under Bollywood 10's Music, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shankar Mahadevan