Rewind: Celebrating 10 years of AR Rahman’s Guru

The reason we wer so excited for Mohenjo Daro was because the director-composer combination of Ashutosh Gowarikar and AR Rahman had never disappointed. As it turns out, there is always a first time for everything. Not only did the movie turn out to be a disaster packaged in the hype and beautiful faces, the music could not lift the cinematic experience either. Thank God there is one director-composer duo that has not produced such an aberration. Mani Ratnam and ARR have tied up on several occasions and have time and again blown us away (Interestingly, Ratnam has also managed to do the same with Abhishek Bachchan). Ten years ago, Mani Ratnam’s Guru came out and the music lifted our souls.

Barso Re Megha is an almost annoyingly peppy song that has almost spoilt the monsoons for a lot of us because it has become synonymous with rain. Shreya Ghoshal has rendered this song beautifully. Getting critical as well as mass acclaim, there is not much new to add here.

Tere Bina strikes a chord with the listener immediately. Fascinatingly enough, it also carries the almost karaoke quality, that makes one want to sing along every time this song comes on the radio. Rahman has lent his voice to the song and is partnered by the wonderful Chinmayee, who Hindi/Bollywood music lovers don’t get to listen to enough. Ek Lo Ek Muft should be just a situational song, but it is produced so well that makes it equally appealing even while listening to it exclusively. The vigorous chorus and the perky percussions are engaging but what makes this song even more distinct is that this bhang number has been sung by none other than, wait for it, Bappi Lahiri.

Mayya has been a party favourite for 10 years and is truly a standout song in its own genre. It would be difficult for anyone to focus on the music when the Mallika Sherawat of 10 years ago is putting on her moves on the screen but what Rahman has created here is so special, that it is his intangible composition that dominates the screen. Maryem Toller deserves a huge round of applause as she manages to seamlessly blend her authentic sound to Rahman’s middle-east influenced composition. The composer gives us more of Chinmayee, who of course picks up where she had left off earlier, and joins Toller flawlessly. The vocal interludes match the power of the composition itself. Gulzar shows off some more with powerful and passionate lines.

Ay Hairathe would arguably be everyone’s favourite song and why not? The “dham dhara” refrain from Tere Bina takes over along with table setting an almost ghazal like feel, or perhaps it is a like a “quasi-qawalli”. Hariharan’s soothing voice is backed by comforting strings and harmonium. Alka Yagnik, who I (only) adore in Rahman compositions comes in to join the melody. Gulzar’s romantic lyrics are perfect for the situation and set to minimal orchestration, make the song a piece of art.

Udit Narayan, Madhushree and Swetha Bhargavee for Baazi Laga, a song where ARR has incorporated a Latin touch. Despite the fast-paced, catchy and easy melody, the song doesn’t work for me primarily because of Udit Narayan’s vocals. It may just be me, but they somehow don’t sync well with the song.

Thankfully, the album doesn’t get over on a low. Jaage Hain is a fantastic song and in a lot of ways is a very typical ARR tune. Chitra opens the song like a dream; this leads to a soft play of the strings. Rahman, known for his use of choral groups, uses The Madras Choral Group in this track. After the anthemic use of the orchestra, the composer comes back to take the baton and sings. Brilliantly enough, the lyrics carry a sense of hopelessness, but the rousing arrangements leave you in a whirlwind of emotions. This is a song you’d like to play on a late night dri , or go to sleep to.

The best part about AR Rahman is that when you listen to his compositions, you would discover something new, and yet, if you didn’t want to make that much effort, the songs will still be appealing. Guru epitomizes this beautifully.