A.R.Rahman’s next big thing on Coke Studio At MTV got “leaked” on the Youtube Channel before its broadcast tonight (Aug 17, 2013). And it has been gathering steam, and deservingly so. Jagao Mere Des Ko comes to fruition from the collaboration of extraordinary geniuses. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Chitto Jaytha Bhoyshunno (Where the mind is without fear) finds a new melodic life in Rahman’s colourful music. And layered with Suchi’s ear-meltingly beautiful voice, and the lyrical waxing of Sivamani and Blaaze, this is possibly one of Rahman’s BEST yet. And I am not exaggerating. We dig in deeper into the music, the lyrics, and more after the jump.
The intro starts with a clean acoustic sound that wraps you up completely with its serenity. Rhytmn guitarist Keba Jeremiah‘s acoustic guitar almost feels like the first few droplets of rain, surrounded by the moody smoothness of Rahman’s Harpejji. And then Rahman’s voice pierces through that serene silence, as he sings Tagore’s immortal lines, yes, in Bengali. You can tell he is struggling with the diction, but Tagore’s lyrical playfulness wins ultimately when you don’t critique Rahman, and instead lose yourself into the heart of Rahman’s chitkaar –
Bharotaer Shei Shorge Koro Jagorito
(Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake)
Suchi proficiently accompanies Rahman in bringing Chitto Jaytha alive, not only with her beautiful voice and Bengali diction, but also with a female presence to this patriotic outcry. It almost feels like in that very moment, that the melody is “complete”.
But this is where Rahman’s genius surpasses us mere mortals. Where Chitto Jaytha ends, Prasoon Joshi’s Hindi translation begins with the chorus – Jagao Mere Des , and we cannot help being completely in awe. Joshi’s work cannot be merely termed a translation. He brings Tagore’s metaphor as well as the many embedded layers in his Hindi version of the poem.
Keba’s rhythm guitars speed up, and Sivamani’s drums roll in, and the song takes a new dimension altogether, almost becoming part Roobaroo, and part funk. And throughout all this, pianist Kevin Doucette and bassist Mohini Dey, along with Sivamani, keep the act so incredibly tied together. Words fail me. Especially, when it comes to that amazeballs jugalbandi between Mohini’s bass slapping and Prasanna’s eletric sound.
The backing vocals team that Rahman has been able to put together is extraordinary. It features previous Indian Idol and Saregamapa finalists such as Prajakta Shukre, Abhilasha Chellum, Kanika Joshi, and Aditi Paul. And the bit where Suchi and the backing singers sing together –
Gyaan mukt, aazaad le saanse
Dharti bat na paye
Sacch ki kokh se shabd janm le
Karm ki dhaara kal kal
.. that has to be my favourite portion of the song (if I HAD to choose). It is the natural build up to the climax by the bass and electric groove, which is rounded off by the unison of the backing vocals and the lead female singer. And then, there is the “Prahaar” of Suchi’s extraordinary Indian Classical vocals, as she goes for a Sargam marathon. That’s just out of this world.
For the first few times I listened to the track, I wasn’t so sure about the part where Blaaze does his thing – with the ..living it living it, feeling it feeling it. But it has kinda grown on me, and I think it’s like the composer’s signature in that way, to have familiar elements.
And that is what makes it a Rahman. Sivamani’s thakidhoom-beatboxing could mean only one thing. That this thing of genius beauty has reached its destined end. I did not want it to end. But even as the song itself clocks just around six plus minutes, it will surely for me, last a lifetime. I cannot help feel elated with joy, or being proud to be not only Indian, but to have witnessed this in my lifetime. That is what good music does to you. It makes you “wake up” to life.
Jagao Mere Des, Jagao Mere Des, Jagao Mere Des
Images courtesy: Coke Studio at MTV India