Posts Tagged ‘A R Rahman’

Taare Ginn and all that jazz

July 16, 2020

Song:  Taare Ginn

Music:  A R Rahman

Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya

Film:   Dil Bechara

I thought of making another list of jazz based film music songs and including Taare Ginn in the list.  Because the idea of composing an entire write up for a song felt rather indulgent to me.  But then, I said to myself, that wouldn’t be true to the spark that prompted me to write this, which was listening to Taare Ginn in the first place.

So, as a compromise between honesty and guilt, I am going to write more than a few lafzon about Taare Ginn and then also supplement it with a list of other wonderful jazz based phillum songs that you may enjoy.

Back to Taare Ginn.

The general thinking about Rahman songs is they grow on you as opposed to grabbing you immediately.  But that’s not been my experience for whatever reason with exceptions like Udhaya Udhaya (and there were ‘mitigating factors’ there; I ended up loving the song when I heard Satyaprakash and Alka Ajith’s marvellous rendition of the song on Super Singer but still don’t dig the original vocal much).  For me, if a Rahman song doesn’t grab me, it means I will like it up to a point in the sort of ‘intellectual’ way that I learnt to appreciate a lot of classical music without falling head over heels for it. BUT, if I like it right away on the first few lines, it’s a keeper.

And when I heard the first time Shreya Ghoshal sings the Taare Ginn line in the song, I knew I loved this.  If the song had totally crashed down a cliff from that point, I would have still loved it for that one and a half minute of bliss.  Of course, nothing like that happens in the expert hands of Rahman, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Shreya and, yes, Mohit Chauhan.

Let’s finish the part about Shreya’s singing first as she has no lead vocals after the interlude.  She uses a breathy voice for the fast and bouncy verse to convey the excitement of love.  But the tone is far more wistful with a tinge of pain when she moves into Taare Ginn.  This is also not intended to be a loud song, so she drops the larynx a little on the word “Yeh” in “Maza Hi Ya Saza Hai Yeh”.  What do I mean by dropping the larynx? The best way I can explain is on the word Yeh, she sounds more elderly or authoritative.  By dropping the larynx, she reduces the possibly shrill effect of a high note on that word.

Now Shreya is a virtuoso singer who adapts to the needs of the song and focuses much more on phrasing and expression and subtle adjustments like above because she is not just a technician but a gifted aesthete.  Mohit isn’t quite all that.  But either by compulsion or choice, he usually practices restraint in his vocal delivery, which is perfect for this song.

And why do I say that?  Because the song is so delicately put together.  So delicate that when it plays, I fear, irrationally, that something may happen to upset the precarious balance and destroy the song!  It’s unlike any Rahman song I have heard in a long time.  Barring mild synth in the ‘antara’, the arrangement is very ‘acoustic’, comprising of beautiful piano, violins, woodwind and very soft drums.  This is the work of a mature composer who has put together music out of his sheer love of it, not because it has passed the focus-group test.  Every melodic line, every chord selection is just right.

At the same time, it’s not beautiful in a predictable way like a nice Carpenters easy-listening song.  During the antara, Shreya doesn’t disappear but offers beautiful vocal counterpoint to Mohit.  Note that instead of vocal counterpoint, there is a mild piano counterpoint in the first line of the antara.  Yes, this is actually the most Ilayaraja-esque song Rahman has ever done, without really sounding like him.  It’s Raja like in the fine sensibilities, the I-care-a-damn stand against the trendy brigade and the acute attention to nuance and of developing an arc that builds up to something intense while remaining very melodic.

So, from a quiet start, the vocal counterpoint helps build up the momentum in the antara.  You know it’s coming when Mohit starts sing Yeh Vaada Hai.

And then, Rahman reminds you why he is Rahman and not Ilayaraja with a key change as Mohit goes into Ya Irada Hai.  Whether or not for puritanical reasons, Ilayaraja always avoided the money note which Rahman has used before as well.  But this time, the change is, again, delicate and beautiful.  It’s not the obvious, big money note of say Can You Feel The Love Tonight.  Instead, it takes you by surprise and is super-exhilarating for that reason.  If you’re an old school music lover with a liking for jazz, you will gasp as that moment hits you. It’s so satisfying when a composer takes a risk and resolves the risk in a satisfying, nay, masterful way.

Rahman doesn’t try to resolve this moment back to square one and instead leaves the phrase hanging at Kabhi Yeh Aadha Hai.  And so, when you return to Taare Ginn, you don’t notice that the key has changed!  But go back and listen to the first Taare Ginn and you will see Rahman moved the cheese when you weren’t noticing!  Never before have I been offered so many surprises in a nice way in a conventional-sounding song of Rahman.

And that is where he has fooled some critics with the conventional appearance of the song with one noted critic comparing it to Disney musicals.  But this delicate poise is what a Disney musical ballad does not have.  That doesn’t make them bad; I am just saying Taare Ginn is a totally different trip.

And the way in which it is, is beautifully encapsulated by Amitabh Bhattacharya in a single lyric line:  “Ek Haseen Maza Hain, Maza Hi Ya Saza Hain Yeh”.  There was a similar sentiment expressed in Mazhaivarum Arugiri: “Kadhala Sadhala”.  But that song itself, the music, didn’t rise up to that sentiment.  This one accesses that elusive space where within the rumaniyat (romance) there is a dard (pain/sadness).  The beauty of this composition is in how it maintains the dard as an undertone that’s there but you can’t put a finger on it.  If you don’t pay attention, you will indeed miss it and take it to be a comfort-song, as some reviews seem to have.  Again, there’s nothing wrong if you think it’s just that; but my purpose here is to encourage anybody who’s reading this to just try digging deeper with this song for it may enrich your experience and increase the pleasure you obtain out of it.

Jazz is often thought as either dance-swing music (Ram Pam Pam/Kaisi Paheli Zindagi) or cool or sappy lounge music (Poo Poothathu/Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) in the mainstream.  But it can be so much more.  Jazzheads know that jazz can be anything you want it to be.  And it’s so gratifying when Rahman himself introduces mainstream listeners to this magnificent side of jazz.

Here are some of the other jazz-based songs you may enjoy:

  1. Soja Soja Raat Ho Gayi (99 songs)
  2. Kalvane Kalvane (Megha)
  3. Dhinnakudha (Pizza)
  4. Dhadhaam Dhadhaam (Bombay Velvet)
  5. Kurangu Kaiyil Maalai (Mumbai Xpress)

There are others, too.  I mentioned a few of them in the rare Raja songs list.

But none of them, none ever, has scaled the heights of Taare Ginn, in my opinion.  Some were let down by lyrics, some by vocals (Day by Day), some by production (Niram Pirithu Parthen).  This is one song where it all comes together in a sumptuous feast for the ears.  I hope you have/will enjoy this song as much as I have.


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