Well, can you squeeze in a whole jukebox to a single CD? Forget compression technologies. I am talking about A.R.Rahman, arguably one of India’s greatest music composers. From Carnatic to Qawwali, Blues to Bhangra and from Bollywood to Broadway, Rahman has conquered all. From his first album Roja, which was released in the year 1992, to the latest Hindi Album released:- Ada, Mr.Rahman has indeed scaled new heights, invented and reinvented new sounds, broken borders of genres, and made a brand for himself.He has to his credit,the most recognisable ringtone of India (the Airtel ringtone) and above all, he features in the list of TIME magazine’s most influential Asians (alongside Freddie Mercury). Mr.Rahman deservingly stands at a position where many musical stalwarths envy to reach. And with every new composition, every new note, we get to experience a nano-portion of the musical genius, Rahman .And it has indeed taken me sleepless nights and intense brainstorming and repeated playing on my Winamp to compile this list of the Top 10 songs from A.R.Rahman’s ever expanding, self-challenging discography. It has been a strenuous and mind-numbing process and I know at the end of it, I have succeeded to narrow down to the Top 10. In many ways, some will totally agree with me on these 10. And some will totally disagree.
The rules are simple-
1.Only one song from one album [with one exception, I make the rules, I break them 😉 ].
2.Only Hindi soundtracks [I couldn’t possibly go for the other languages in which Rahman composes. Although I would specially like to mention the Boys soundtrack which is in Tamil]
3.From Roja to Ada [I don’t have a sneek peek into the future]
4.No remixes, no Bombay Dreams
Please let me know what did you think of this list. Do post your comments of your own favorites or your own additions at specific positions. Of course, you need not agree with me completely, but well, we Indians have never managed to reach a 100% consent ever. Anyway,so here we go.
10. Saathiya -Saathiya
Forget Rani Mukherjee. Don’t even mention Vivek who. Okay, we can applaud Shaad Ali’s compelling cinematography with the snow caped hills, the yellow fields, the glimmering sun and the gurgling water. But the real magic with this song is when you close your eyes, and in the ethereal sound of Sonu Nigam and lively lyrics of Gulzar, the words roll out-
Hastee Rahe Tu Hastee Rahe, Hayya Ki Laali Khilti Rahe
Zulf Ke Neeche Gardan Pe, Subah Shaam Khilti Rahe
and as the chorus builds in to-
Saathiya,mm…hmm..Saathiya , mm..hmm…Madhyam Madhyam Teri Geeli Hasee
Saathiya,mm…hmm..Saathiya , mm..hmm…Sunke Humne Saare Peeli Hasee
9.Mukkala Muqabla-Humse Hai Muqabla (Kadalan)
I remember the playback singers of this one-Mano and Swarnalatha. Many would debate wtf? This on a favorites list. YESSSS. This spawned a whole new generation of Muqabla wannabes. One each featuring Sunil Shetty -Raghuveer (Muqabla Muqabla) and Akshay Kumar (Sabse Bada Khiladi)-Mooh Kaala Muqabla. This was on the charts for the whole year, was on Chitrahaar, Rangoli and even on the Friday night Chitrahaar. Doordarshan couldn’t contain the greatness and the fan following of this song. It bursted out on the streets, on Pujo Pandals, and on Bijoya Doshomi, Speakers were exploded . No one cared what PK Mishra’s real message was when he wrote-Jurassic Park Main Sundar si Gori, Jazz Music Gaye Milke, Picasso bhi Painting mera peecha pakadke ,Texas Main Naache Milke
But who cares as long as the music gets you high. Fatboy Slim makes millions with just three words-Push The Tempo. At least this one has a full feldged chorus and verse. Add to that Mr.Elastic Prabhu Deva defying every law of physics with Nagma ( those were the days when she didn’t care about gravity, as in she wasn’t that much heavy, as in she wasn’t obese then, you get it).We have our no.9
8.Dil Se -Dil Se
I call this Rahman’s Rock. No compromises, no adulteration. After the initial bass lines..the low scaled intro swoops in, and for the chorus lines of Dil Se Re at the sky-piercing high pitch, Rahman does what he does best. And then we have the infectious sargam of Sa Sa Nee Nee . The verse lines hit you like an arrow –
Wo Patte Dil Dil Dil The
Wo Dil The Dil The Dil Dil The….Dil Hai to Fir Dard Hoga
Dard Hai To Dil Bhi Hoga
Mausam Guzarte Hi Rehte Hai
Dil Hai to Fir Dard Hoga
Dard Hai To Dil Bhi Hoga
Mausam Guzarte Hi Rehte Hai
Dil Se Dil Se Dil Se Dil Se,..
Bravo Gulzar Saab!! and everyone bow down to the magic of Rahman’s music. For me, I am headbanging to “Wo Dil The Dil The Dil Dil The”.
7. Kismat Se Tum-Pukaar
The high point of Anuradha Paudwal’s career. Why? Coz thank God, she finally decides to walk out of the T-Series Bhajan umbrella and dares to sing this. And when you have Sonu Nigam to give you company, and A.R.Rahman scoring the music, it has to mean MUSIC with a capital M. As one of my friend (Vatsal) states, this track makes him feel as if Sonu Nigam pasted a picture of Mohd.Rafi on the wall of the recording Studio and sang his heart out. If you haven’t heard the whole track, you OUGHT to. Need I mention, that the verse (Antara) pierces you (twice). I make it a point to listen to this track every 15 days.Another great thing that this track screams out is that Mr.Rahman knows which track is perfect for which singer. In a way, he acts as he is the casting director for his scores. And this track does wonders for both the singers.
6.Ye Haseen Vadiya – Roja
S.P.Balasubramaniam and Chitra; A.R.Rahman’s ambient arrangement creates Kashmir in your ears. This is nothing less than the Phantom of the Opera or any Mozart or Bach. Fin.
5.Kya Kare – Rangeela
Rangeela is my all time favorite Rahman soundtrack, not only for the tracks, but also for the background score. The musical piece where Urmila’s character Mili dances in front of Jackie Shroff, the weirdest soundtrack-Mangta Hai Kya, and of course the Ooh Moment announcing the arrival of Urmila in Rangeela Re (and perhaps the transition of Baby Urmila to Urmila Baby in Hai Raama). But all of that gets pretty mixed in the visuals (except for the musical which is a defining musical piece when one mentions A.R.Rahman). Kya Kare stands out as a dark horse in the entire soundtrack. The intro cello riff grips you completely and when the strings of the violins hit with the vicks tazgee waali aawaaz ( mint fresh voice) of Udit Narayan, you feel the dilemma of Munna in the words of Mehboob
Roz Roz Hum, Sochta Yahee , Aaj Agar Humko Wo Mil Jaaye Kahi
To Aisa Bolega, Saala Waisa Bolega, Khullam Khulla Uspe Dil Ka Raaz Hum Kholega
Saamne wo Aati Hai, Jaan hi Atakti, Aur Ye Zabaan Jaati Hai Phisall
Haaa. to Kya Kare Kya Na Kare, Ye Kaisi Mushkil Haaye
Koi To Bata De Iska Hal O Mere Bhai,..
The rhythm is so damn infectious and the laid back vocals of Udit Narayana towards the conclusion of the track is brilliant.
4.O Re Chhori -Lagaan
Okay, this movie had some spell binding songs and some absolutely praise-worthy lyrics from Javed Akhtar. The Ras Leela inspired-Radha Kaise Na Jale, the Rain awaiting-Ghanan Ghana, the motivational anthem-Chale Chalo and the intense bhajan- O Paalan Haare. But if you were to choose just one, it has to be O Re Chhori. Why? Just listen at the wide spectrum and scope of this one song. Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik and Vasundhara Das on the vocals. And when I said that Rahman has broken borders of genres, I meant THIS TRACK. It begins with the village sound of a typical rural track, and switches to a Victorian era waltz-Opera, and comfortably switches back and forth between the two. Now that is what is meant by genius.
3. Roja -Roja
The only exception in this entire list,which I mentioned in the rules section of this post. I am bound to include this song. Because- It is S.P.Balasubramaniam’s best. Chitra gives a haunting intro and the flute track can be best described as ethereal. Because it’s not Dil Hai Chhota Sa, but Roja (the song) which announced that Rahman had arrived.
2.Tu Hi Re – Bombay
Rahman shows how minimal (or perhaps accurate) sound arrangement can do wonders. Hariharan gives his career’s best vocal performance, and so does Kavita Krishnamurthy. What more do I say about this song? It is just pure in every way possible.
1. Maa Tujhe Salaam – Vande Mataram
No, it is not the cliche’ of the patriotic element associated with this track that makes it the numero Uno on this list. It is my inclination to Rock that makes this my Numero Uno. It is Rock and easily blended with Carnatic music elements like Mridangams and Veenas. Not to forget, there is only one singer who can sing this like the way it is. A.R.Rahman it is. It is a multi layered composition that keeps building on like a crescendo and it reaches zenith as it approaches its climax. And when the song switches to the higher scale, you feel the chill run down your spine, an instant goosebump and you cannot help but stand up in attention and scream out-Maa Tujhe Salaam. That is what the power of Music is. And in a way, that is when patriotism in the new age comes enveloped in a brilliant packaging from Bharatbala Productions.That is what the Genius of Rahman is. We salute Thee!!!