Now and Then.

Who the...?

Harendra Kapur.
Kyra Mathews.
Tejas Menon.

The Wonderful Mohit Chauhan

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This post was originally going to be about the quantum leap that Hindi music has made over the last 5-10 years or so; but instead I decided I'd focus on one singer who is at the top of the charts and is in much demand by the premier music directors of the Indian Film Industry.

Working in a Hindi radio station WILL get you addicted to Hindi songs and music. Even if you are not a fan of it, you will be whether you like it or not. I always used to dig it. I love AR Rahman and Shankar Ehsaan Loy's music and recently have come to appreciating other musicians work as well. Also I'll agree that popular Hindi music hasn't had the best rep, with hosts of musicians copying tunes from the west (and east as it turns out!) and I can say personally that the 90's worked itself into a rut, with repititive chords and melodic patterns, (a trait in most Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar films, I've noticed) that annoyed the shit out of me many a time.
But as the aughts rolled out, more composers broke away from that norm, favouring a more western style of chord progressions and more musicality and less percussion. And it is also strange that even though we opt for this change, it still cannot be dubbed as anything else but popular hindi music or Bollywood music; mainly because it still retains that distinct touch of Indian, like vocals from Raahat Fateh Ali Khan*, or Kailash Kher. Or perhaps even because of the inclusion of a pakhawaj or tabla to a drum set. Whatever it may be, I know that Mohit Chauhan is also one of those reasons.
Few may remember the erstwhile Silk Route; a 'rock' band at the time when we had few. It was from here we heard of Mohit Chauhan, the lead singer/guitarist at the time singing the popular 'Dooba Dooba' which has actually aged quite well since then. Mohit moved on from then and released a few solo albums before getting signed to sing as playback. It is at this point in his career that I feel he has peaked, by being the proud owner of the vocals that can be heard on this summer's two biggest releases: Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey.
After his short success with AR Rahman's 'Khoon Chala' he recorded for Imtiaz Ali's breakthrough 'Jab We Met', in the slow but beautiful Tum Se Hi. He became recognizable to me from that point and just went on to wow the hell outta me. He came out with the much under-appreciated 'Kuch Khaas' from Fashion as well as the strangely insipid 'Is This Love' from Kismat Konnection. But it was 'Masakali' from Delhi-6 that has showed the range of this singer. I always imagine that it must be a pleasure for the playback to record to excellent music, AR Rahman's to say the least, theres not much to be salvaged by a singer from crap music, but just by listening to the song you can clearly understand how he must have enjoyed recording it.
Two songs I am listening back to back at the moment are both romantic numbers from the movies Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey, with Mohit Chauhan returning to what he does best.

'Dooriyan' from LAK is clearly possesing the more Rom-Com-Comercial feel to it, with Imtiaz Ali trying to recreate the same effect from Tum Se Hi, and trying to force out the emotions, with the string section and music I have decided to dub CRM or Cry-by-Reverb Music (as opposed to HRM). However we can all agree that it is probably Mohit Chauhan's soothing voice that will probably get the girls crying.

'Pehli Baar Mohabbat Ki Hai' composed by Vishal Bhardwaj himself for his own film Kaminey, is my personal winner of the two, clearly the more tender song, with interesting vocal moments and moving piano moments. Equally great vocals from Mohit Chauhan makes this all the more intense, and I'm interested how this song will come off on screen.

I hope he goes on to release tracks like these, and hope he has the oppurtunity too, because you know how unreasonably far one can be from the other. Now if Lucky Ali would just get off his lazy ass and accept Rahman's offer to work with him...

* The inspiration and reason why I started writing this post. Unbelievable vocals on 'Ajj Din Chadheya' from Love Aaj Kal.

The Swine Flu Special?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

As you may know by now, the pigs have conquered Pune. That is where I live, and I am most annoyed, obviously because the possibility of it lurks at every turn, or else hidden inadequately behind a 20 rupee surgical mask. My friends have canceled their trip to Pune to visit me due to this reason and while the decision is the responsible one, it is still disappointing. The schools and colleges are closed as are their counterparts; malls and theatres, and people are either staying put at home, or working in their offices with a reasonably high degree of alarm.

Last night my cousin and I had a short chat about the current situation regarding the release of movies. Kaminey has delayed its release in Pune and Mumbai, and everyone hates that, however it seems that none of the television channels have capitalized on the current scenario.
A swine flu special perhaps? for all those who are either recuperating at home, or even just plain bored. The only thing close I saw to something of the aforementioned idea, was in the Pune Mirror a couple of days back. Listed in their "Books and Movies to watch" section, were movies like Outbreak and the Andromeda Strain. The tv channels should be playing their A List movies back-to-back or as we call the top priority songs here at the station- 'N1' category movies. Take advantage of the fact that people are going to be at home! Same for home-deliveries! Special offer on pork or whatever.
You want to get back at em swines?
Burn that thing with our new buy 2 get 2 free non-veg offer!*

Alternatively, my cousin also stated that more people die in road accidents in Pune everyday than the number of swine flu victims per day, yet the rider and pillion will sit contently with surgical masks on and no helmets. He went on to propose that since there is no real news to talk about, swine flu may be taking the helm by default, since politics, IPL, ICC and everything else has gone cold, and that the best solution was probably to go ahead and release Kaminey. But it is not, so this leaves us with another empty weekend to spend with the family. Not that I have any issues with that, but lets just hope Rush Hour is playing on HBO and not The Relic**.

*Conditions apply.

**Has anyone really seen this? The monster was pretty bad ass, chewing that guy in half.

The Directors are/have losing/lost it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This post was sparked after watching Love Aaj Kal twice in the theatre. But it was set into motion, after hearing some excellent news this morning, which I shall get to later.
My cousin and I have lengthy discussions about how Directors in the Indian Film Industry(IFI) have a slight curse or disease whichever/whatever, that after making one excellent film, the follow can prove to be so disappointing that we agree that he had pretty much one good idea in his little idea locker or that it was a stroke of luck. I have a theory that no Indian director of current times and of mainstream cinema has been able to complete the 3-awesome-movie(s) streak: cause thats what it takes to be considered real freakin' good and among the top. Consistency. Consistency is how I have based this post, and please note that this means these directors are not capable (God I wish they were) but it seems that after making a big grossing hit, their heads go up into clouds until, inevitably, their next effort flops- actually flop is a bad word to use, mainly because sometimes their next movie may be excellently recieved and may go on to win multiple awards at multiple ceremonies(As we have no dearth of them) and be a high grosser; but it still also may suck. Bad.
Jodhaa Akbar, I'm looking at you, man.

Aditya Chopra. Some may remember him as the writer/director of DDLJ. An excellent movie with lots of great songs and funny dialogues and special moments; with high degree of quotability (I made up that word). He then made Mohabattein and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Nuff' said.

Farhan Akthar. Man, I love this guy, for the sole reason that he could write/direct Dil Chahta Hai; which was the movie every Indian youth could finally be proud of, and then promptly make the less successful but equally important Lakshya, which was completely different in style and story. I loved it.
Then came Don, which just didn't cut it.

Ashutosh Gowarikar. He made movie freakin' history, with Lagaan, which was such a unique tale in fusing the two great passions that all Indians possess: Cricket and Movies. Needless to say I was bowled over (pun intended). Then came Swades, equally moving tale of the return of the NRI to the I. Beautiful music, great direction and excellent performances.
And then there was Jodhaa Akbar...

Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The only man who can make Salman Khan act (he should be given an award just for that!), made the wonderfully tragic Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, then the award winning Black. But then came Devdas which was gaudy to behold. He also made Saawariya, which is still to date the most beautifully-stylized Hindi movie I've seen, however the little or lack of story pretty much killed the entire effort, so it doesn't count.

Again, I have complete faith in these directors to accomplish (well, except for Aditya Chopra) but the news that made me write this post in the first place was about Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti, Delhi-6). This bit of news is significant proof that some directors still have their heads screwed on the right way. Though Delhi-6 bombed at the box-office, I really liked the movie; that is right up till the last 20 minute sequence which kind of bummed me out since I felt the script did itself in by having a happy ending to what should have been a grim one to maintain the message displayed throughout the movie. I also remember discussing with my cousins the moment we left the theatre that the director probably succumbed to the wishes of the producers/distributors. However the news yesterday was that RO Mehra had decided to restore the original ending for film festival audiences, as he was never happy with it, and subsequently the film was accepted into the Venice film festival. Apparently he wouldn't have died in peace if the movie was not brought back to its original script.
Huh. Who'da thunk?
I can't even imagine how often directors across India are caving to the pressures of the distributors these days. Maybe even Ram Gopal Varma's Aag wasn't too shabby. But jokes aside, at least we've still got Anurag Kashyap.

The All of us.

The All of us.