Posted in AR Rahman

Rockstar

Dare I say that I am attempting to do something impulsive by letting a few words out only after a couple of listens to Rockstar?

Why do I say ‘dare’? Because this album apparently has 4 years of thoughts and brainstorming that went behind it. Because this is AR Rahman’s first hindi album in almost a year. Because the theme of the movie is so original and for a traditional classic (western) rock music addict like me, this theme presents so many possibilities to imagine..Because the team Rockstar worked with AR Rahman with so much respect giving him the space he needed to work on an album like this where in Indian movie business circles, that is really not the first criterion to consider. Because a blend of a bit of Sufi music and Indian rock scene presents an opportunity that I can imagine only AR Rahman in the current generation of MDs could even dare to attempt.

So there..That’s enough burden on me to try not to pass on an immature or a thoughtless comment on an album after a couple of listens right? Unfortunately, the emotions a few numbers in the album bring are so much that I decided that for a change I would blurt out right away. I am sure the so called professional music critics would do their job soon.

BTW, T-Series and whoever else involved with the official CD release have mismanaged the scenario so much that the CDs likely won’t hit the stores till the middle of next week.

Aur HoThis belongs to a melancholic rock number category. Instead of comparing to a western rock equivalent number, I would just just point out that this has oodles of sufi blues in it. Mohit Chauhan gets a number where he gets to extend his vocal chords quite differently & at quite a high range too.

Hawa HawaWhat can I say about this? Flamenco flavor all the way. Move over Senorita from ZNMD.

Jo Bhi MainThis is another song that belongs to the ‘rock’ category. Yet, a sort of thoughtful rock number which involves invoking the crowd to join you in the thinking process. Brilliant is all I can say – The lead guitar, the whole humming, chanting and finally Mohit Chauhan. And I also feel that this is a song where AR decided to pay some subtle tribute to Deep Purple. Genius work.

Katiya KarunTotally addictive and insanely fun filled groove. It is hard to remake an already popular folk song and make it something of your own. Rahman has done something similar so many times in the past and this one passes the muster with flying colors.

Kun Faya KunThis is a genre that AR Rahman owns. And one more opportunity for him to prove that he owns it like no one else. Divine, Blissful, etc. etc. – Even if you are a non-believer, I bet there are moments in the song that will make your mind transcend somewhere else.

Naadaan ParindeyInitially I wasn’t sure how this would play out. But after 2 listens, I am still not sure. Quite a complex piece..as I couldn’t box it into one category. It is a very “painful” song as in a song that evokes some kind of a pain. Rahman’s vocals add that many layers to the song..specially for the painful part. It is a rock song in many ways. I like this and I am afraid this may end up growing over me more than the other numbers.

Phir Se Ud Chala Ok. This song is all about Mohit Chauhan and the guitarist. Of course, Rahman just had to bring the right people together for a tune like this. And he is a master of that. It works. It works big time. Another song which I connected with after the first listen itself.

Sadda HaqI won’t say anything more than the fact that this song will rule the charts and this song will define the movie, this album and everything associated with it. Awesome guitar work by Orianthi. And brilliant. That’t it. An anthem of sorts.

Sheher meinI bet Rahman found this song the most challenging one to make..You got to understand the context (I am guessing based on the lyrics) to appreciate the humor…and how difficult it would have been for the music director to make fun of himself & his own work..Again Mohit does well. Karthik does his bit to perfection as well.

Tango for TajHave to see the visuals to connect with this as this one is instrumental. Of course Rahman creates a wonderful Tango piece.

The Dichotomy of FameI will just stop with saying that this could be the theme music of the story. Will end up being in my all time favorite Rahman instrumentals for sure.

Tum HoOne of the 3 songs I may need more listens to connect with it completely. Of course, this sounds like a romantic ballad that Rahman has created many a time before. But may work well with the visuals. No need to mention that Mohit aces this one.

Tum Ko Kavitha on an AR album after ages. Quite the right song for her. It works. It works in invoking some inexplicable emotions.

Meeting Place – Nothing much to be said as it is supposedly based on some Rumi’s verses.

Alright. That’s it..I am not going to get over this album so quickly. Unfortunately I have to wait till next week to even order my CD. Till then, I will rely on streaming audio.

Overall listening to the album is like taking me to a feast after starving me for a week where there is a smorgasbord of dishes prepared by a master chef.

Do buy original CDs or Download through authorized stores on the web.

Posted in My Music

Naetru (Hacker Chords)

Just completed another random piece.

As usual started off with a totally different idea and ended up with this. My original idea was an instrumental with an oriental theme. And then I shifted to another idea with some guitar melody..Then I added some humming..Then came the chords..Then came the words..Then came the idea of making it sound a little orchestral..Then I mixed it all this morning before getting ready for my work.

Here it is – presenting you the latest from KGN studios – “Naetru (Hacker Chords)”.

https://ganpy.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/naetru.mp3″

And after a while I have updated my ‘salsa & sambar’ blog with some notes about the making of this song. You can read it here.

Posted in Sports - General

What if there is no grass to bite into?

 Novak Djokovic

There was something really honest for the uninitiated and lacking in confidence for the well-trained tennis junkie, in what he said, when Rafael Nadal repeatedly tried to highlight the fact that Novak Djokovic had gotten the better of him 5 times this year already in a championship final, during his post-match interview at the semifinal venue where Andy Murray had just run out of ideas to push this man any further. But yet, when he walked into the Arthur Ashe stadium, the yank fans who quite clearly had the softer corner in their hearts & sometimes in their mouths, for him over Novak, thought that Novak’s dream run in 2011 would have to end right there as it is impossible to imagine how a tennis player of any caliber could have such un unbeaten streak in a calendar year.

The final scores at the US Open 2011 final couldn’t be more misleading. A 4 setter, where 3 of the sets went in favor of the eventual winner Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1 is certain to make you believe that this was a tennis match where the opponent did not put up a fight at all..But..but..let me tell you, to watch the game last night for its entire duration was physically exhausting. Yes. Physically. The scoreline cannot do any justice. Period.

Shot after shot, rally after rally, game after game, both players extended the imagination of what is possible in tennis physically. If Roger Federer stayed on top mostly because of his physical fitness which in turn helped him stay alert mentally, then the secrets behind him staying physically fit for so long need a separate research or thesis. Roger was able to control his physical movement in the tennis court extraordinarily well. He isn’t a Boris Becker taking somersaults at the net in Wimbledon or a Michael Chang to accelerate like a high-speed train to get to the ball from one corner of the court to the other. He doesn’t have the kind of total body stretch that a Nadal has or the kind of athleticism that a Monfil or a Safin or a Henma or even a Sampras possesses. What makes him extraordinary is the simple fact that he is quite nimble. Anyone who is watching Federer closely will notice that his leg/feet movement within the court is so calculated. Movement that takes into account not just what is possible for that shot but more importantly what is needed for the next shot. If Federer was playing in yesterday’s final, it is hard to imagine rallies lasting this long. Or shots being hit with so much vengeful force. Or players scampering both ends of the court every 30 seconds.

To me, the 3rd set pretty much was the highlight of the match. That set alone was like an epic battle between a Spanish force and a Serbian force. Where the Spanish force was left to get through an impregnable wall of defense who would return every serve with precise accuracy and what’s worse would make you defend your own shot. If the Spanish force managed to make a small dent at the wall once, then it was almost an immediate revengeful response where the Serbian force threw the Spaniard to the corner of his courtyard to make him run here and there to save his life. In spite of that, there were a few games that lasted more than 10 minutes. Novak had almost 24 or 25 break points during the match, a fete that can only be beaten by Novak himself. That was the best set Nadal played and unfortunately for him it wasn’t enough. For a few moments right after the 3rd set, when everyone thought Novak may begin to whimper as he called for a medical timeout, no one suspected that Nadal notwithstanding coming back from a 2 set lead against him and winning the 3rd set, could actually be fighting some pain himself.

Novak exhibited why he is no. 1 really in the 4th set. If the first 2 sets were proof of Novak’s sheer talent, brilliant physical astuteness combined with great game planning and superb execution which eventually gave him that unassailable  2 set lead, then the 4th set was where he proved how mentally tough he has become in the last 12 months or so. His service speed dropped by a good 20 km/h. He had visible pain around his mid-back area. None of that deterred him from continuing to smother the court with his completely unbelievable shots that were hit with so much force and some crazy angles which only he could pull off, as his court coverage efficiency didn’t drop a bit. And then, all of a sudden, Rafael Nadal, the powerhouse of stamina started to give up. He just couldn’t handle the pressure of being pushed to the corner and having to match Novak’s court coverage. He ran out of steam. Very visibly so if the last 2 games were any indication.

By electing to play a blinder of a return shot in what at that moment was his only choice to stay alive in the tournament, in one of the greatest semifinal matches of all time against Federer, he showed all of us how far he is daring to go. I think it won’t be an exaggeration if I called that moment ‘the defining moment’ of Novak becoming the US Open 2011 champion. He brought Federer’s confidence down with that single shot in the match and for the second time in a row at an US Open semifinal. To follow that win appropriately, just like that, he wore & drained Nadal down in an epic battle in the final, whose scoreline doesn’t do justice to the effort that it took Nadal to stay alive for close to 4 hours and 15 minutes. For the 6th time this year, Nadal had to hold the runners trophy standing next to the exact same player holding the championship trophy.

If he won, Nole knew he couldn’t bite into any grass at the Arthur Ashe Stadium to celebrate his victory. I don’t think that mattered. He went onto win the US Open anyways!


Posted in Movies - General

Mankatha Da!

Of all the Ajith movies that have been made till now, if there ever is a movie in which I enjoyed his performance thoroughly, I have to say it is this movie – Mankatha!

That backdrop being set, let me begin exploring the Venkat Prabhu game which was played strictly with no rules.

Ulle (உள்ளே)

  • Ajith – Barring a jarring introductory scene, which probably was the only scene where VP decided to let the maniacal Ajith fan in him take over the normally bold director in him, Ajith had a moment or two to stamp his presence in every scene and how! This is Ajith like you have never seen before. With a Salt & Pepper hairdo and an unashamed 40 year look, With less make-up and imbuing what traditionally is considered as filthy habits of a gentleman according to “Thamizh” culture, With an attitude that highlights absolutely no qualms towards betraying friends and even girlfriends, here is Vinayak Mahadevan, a rare anti-hero portrayed in a Thamizh movie with style. Mind you, this is not your usual over-the-top evil laugh villain – This is an anti-hero enacted to perfection. Ajith walked the walk and talked the talk of an ant-hero, whom you would love to hate after you watch the movie.
  • Multi-character cast – By now, anyone who has followed VP’s directorial graph would know, he is a master of multi-character plots. Pretty amazing task to put together a screenplay and direct sequences in a way that the movie doesn’t rub off any confused souls.
  • Lighthearted action feast – There are enough references in the movie (I may have to watch it again to analyze these) to underscore, Venkat Prabhu, the intelligent writer and director. References that can either be taken as tributes to pop culture movies/scenes or as a deliberate attempt to elucidate the lightheartedness and the wholesome fun of making a movie like this. The presence of Premgi during some serious action scenes and his quirky one-liners also reinforce my above stated belief.
  • End credits – Got to see the bloopers during the rolling of end credits. It is absolutely enjoyable – almost to the point that you wished you could stay in the theater longer to watch the credits roll over for a few more minutes while you enjoy the sheer fun this film unit had.

Veliye (வெளியே)

  • Slightly over the top and seemingly artificial use of cuss words sometimes at inopportune moments.
  • Thala – As much I admired the fact that Ajith after disbanding his fan clubs, decided to experiment bravely  by appearing his real age with grey hair and portraying an anti-hero who drinks to his heart’s content and brain’s torture, I can’t get over the fact why VP insisted on a few Thala worship scenes. I am sure all the fans got their money’s worth in just those few scenes but my point is that they did anyways with 90% of the movie where that deliberate worship was not done.
  • Editing – Some reviewers complained about the screenplay lacking clarity. I felt it is more of an editing issue than the actual screenplay..I think the director ended up compromising some scenes for different reasons (pace, length, etc.). I never was not lost anywhere in the movie because of poor editing but the movie could have been a bit more subtle in revealing the plot and VP could have trusted his instinct more to make the screenplay a bit more cerebral, which would have let people like me walk out of the theater with more satisfaction.

The Winner

  • Both the audience and the Mankatha unit win  – The unit for calling the right bets and for playing the cards right – The audience for getting to spend 2 plus hours watching an action thriller film in Thamizh that belongs to a completely new genre which most of us are not used to seeing here but may have in Hollywood.

Post Game Note:

  • If I didn’t mention anything about music, it is because Yuvan neither impressed me nor disappointed me. BGM was great in a couple of scenes but mostly average in my opinion..(belongs to the “tried too hard” category). Except 2 songs, the rest failed to register.
  • The color tint they decided to have for the movie was pretty interesting. Would like to get some scientific reasons if any..
  • If you have an evening and 20 bucks (or whatever it costs you wherever you are) to spare, go watch it. I am sure you will have fun!
Disclaimer:  I am neither a gambler nor a movie reviewer. I won’t bet anything if you want me to guarantee you that you would enjoy the movie!