New blog Filmi Charcha

I am starting a new blog with my friend here: http://www.filmicharcha.com. The blog will feature in-depth music and movie reviews, articles, discussion and much more. Pls check it out.


New blog Filmi Charch

I am starting a new blog with my friend here: http://www.filmicharcha.com. The blog will feature in-depth music and movie reviews, articles, discussion and much more. Pls check it out.


Rockstar songs are underwhelming!!

A movie on a rock star as in a guy who rocks..with a guitar. Made by the same guy who worked with Pritam for all his past movies..and Pritam literally changed the connection between rock songs and hindi movies with “Life in a Metro”. Then why why on earth would Imtiaz hand it over to a keyboard music guy who has never composed a rock song before???? makes no sense, right..still I was looking forward to the songs..but I guess I am pretty underwhelmed.. Sadda Haq is the only song that has some hard rock like a feel..still it is missing the punch..guitar playing is great..but the song is not able to get everything together..when the guitar is going wild..there is literally no change in the drumming..this is what happens when you sequence songs as the musicians are not feeling each other. Are baba Pritam se koi jhagda ho gay to rock on waley SEL ko le letey ya fir pentagram wale vishal ka vishal sekhar ko le letey..


What’s wrong with MTV Coke Studio India?

After watching most of the Pak Coke Studio again and again, I was pretty excited to hear about a India version. But kuch mazaa nahin aa raha. I think Leslie Lewis’s arrangement is the main problem. Folk songs are presented pretty much as is with the drum, guitar and keyboards just providing a subdued accompaniment. The folk songs are not tweaked to fit Fusion medium. Was watching the one with Kailash Kher and a lady from South (sorry totally forgot her name) doing a jugalbandi. There was no jugalbandi. She sang her part as she would without all those other guys preset. He sang his part. No pause at all to give the guitar to break into some blues improvisation or the keyboardist to explore a solo or maybe do something more interesting around than just hitting 7th chords as is. Same problem with the Shankar Mahadevan episode. The bollywood episodes are even worse. This is rather embarrassing and should be taken off air till they find someone decent to arrange these gongs. I am sorry this stuff is no match for the really high standards the Pak show set up.


Aanewala Pal Jaanewala Hai: Technical Analysis

have always wondered why this song creates magic every time I listen to it. How
did people feel when the song played the very first time on the radio? How did
the musicians feel on their way back home after recording this masterpiece?

Trying to figure out Pancham song is like finding out what goes behind a
delicately prepared dish. You can probably figure out some of the ingredients,
but recreating it is another thing. You mostly end up marveling at it.

The melancholic feel is set right from the beginning with a beautiful arpeggio
of bells (gosh why don’t they use bells in today’s songs anymore?). Hear how a
sharp note (dang dang) keeps the rhythm while the arpeggio is playing. A subtle
bass appears twice: once in the middle and once towards the end to set up the
scene for the oncoming avalanche of trumpet and sax. I think the song is in F
major scale and the bell arpeggio is around Fmaj chord. What follows is loud
trumpets crescent to a point where the bass, chords and alto sax takes over to
hit the Bbmaj chord and then the sax continues to explore Bbmaj chord. It then
tries to come back to the home note of F (Fmajor scale starts with F), but it
stops just one note short in G instead and Kishore’s humming takes over from F.

The song uses a very popular chord progression of I-IV-V. This means the chords
used will be made of the first note (F), IV note (Bb) and V note (C) of the
underlying scale. So in this case the chords are Fmaj, Bbmaj, and Cmaj.
Kishore’s humming sets the tone accordingly. I love the way the song picks up
speed from the bells all the way to Kishore’s humming. It feels like we just
boarded a train and it gradually picked up speed to set us in a rhythmic
journey. The bells are like the warning bells before departure, whistle of the
train are the trumpets, sax sets the train to motion and the singing starts
after the train picks up speed! In fact the drums in the song do indeed sound
like they are inspired by the sound of train and tracks. Aaanewala Pal Jaanewala
hai…the song needs a melancholic treatment with a feel of passage of time. How
many times do you hear the music so perfectly create a mood for the words to

Now there are numerous songs based on I-IV-V chord progression, but what makes
this song unique is the intervals chosen for the melody and Kishore Kumar’s
truly inimitable open singing. Kishore kumar’s singing is reminiscent of
melancholic renditions of Sinatra. Listen to the continuous transitions in
walaaa…pal and wahan dastaa…an bani. A slight reverb is used to enhance this
effect and together with the strings accompanying the vocals, it creates a
magical spell. Of course, I can’t say enough about Gulzar’s words.

In the following lines, I will mark chords I use by the letter before the words.
(F) Aanewalaa (Bb) pal (C)Jaanewala (F) hai. Pal is note D which is VI from the
root node F and is the second note in Bb chord. So when the vocals go from F all
the way to D, it creates enormous tension, a long stretch, which should be
resolved, but guess what it doesn’t resolve, it keeps stretching further to the
E note (2nd note in C chord). I think this is what hooks you to the song right
away, and then the tension resolves with return to A (2nd note of F chord)
followed by the strings taking it all the way down back to F. The movement from
V back I is called a perfect cadence and it indeed is perfect in this
composition. If you play the keyboard and keep playing around the first line, it
is so beautiful that you can keep playing it for hours (I envy the guitar
players at this point).

(F) Ho sake to (C) Isme (C) Zindagi (F) beetado. This line has a very strong
contrast compared to the first line. While the first line sounded sad and tense,
the second line is more playful, and the drumming changes to create this effect.
A subtle flute follows the voice — this is another one of pancham’s trick we
here in other songs such as hume tumse pyar kitna. The phrase has simple I-IV-I
interplay. But the contrast grabs your interest instantly and you wait for the
what happens next..wow..you wouldn’t have expected this..the next phrase walks
you through the entire octave..(F)pal (Bb)jo yeh (C)jaane (Bb)wala (C)hai ho

What follows is an accordion like instrument (anyone knows what it is?). It goes
on like a butterfly hopping from flower to flower…and the best part is the
rolls it has at the end of each phrase (twice). I wonder if it was a spontaneous
improvisation while the song was recorded. Then strings come back and then
12-string guitar chords, followed by gentle strums before the antara starts. One
of the reasons why I am a big fan of RD works between 78 to 84 is because of the
frequent use of 12 string guitar. Ghar, Masoom, kudrat, Manzil and many more.
Don’t know if anyone else used it at that time, but really his choice of this
instrument is very interesting because it sounds like a blend between santoor
and sitar and gives Indian feel to western ideas.

(F)Ik baar yun mili (Am) massom si kali (C) khilte hue (Bb)kaha (Bb) ushbaas
(C)main chali

(F)Dekha to yahin hai (C) Dhoonda to nahin hai…followed by one more octave

This ends with 12-strings chords again followed by strings then more strumming
of guitar. The pitch bends here give a nice effect to the arpeggio. A change of
scene, it is as if a station is approaching and looks like the train will stop,
but we just look at the people waiting at the station and the train picks up
speed and moves on. Strings move the song along with some really touching sax
joining it. At this point you are not sure if you’d reflect on the words just
said or just get yourself lost in the sax. Somehow to me the phrases here bring
back a old memories, then the second antara comes, followed by the mukhda again
and then the song just fades away guided by trumpets


Miss you Pancham (R D Burman)

When Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan were out in the west educating Indian music and creating works of fusion, Pancham was educating contemporary rock music to the Indian audience.

Of course western music influences can be seen in bollywood songs right from the beginning, but Pancham put a different twist to it by creating his own flavor of fusion: adding chords to classical based songs like in Aandhi, adding phaser effect in hume tumse pyar kitna, adding bass guitar and chords along with something as Indian as tabla, suddenly going back and forth from indian to western mode like in rocky – these are just handful of examples of what Pancham did to traditional music. In a way all of his songs are fusion. Undoubtebly, his music was trendsetting. Audiences used to classical based songs of SD, Naushad, MM etc.  Or Ina Mina Diga type adaptations or Salil’s western classical adaptations,  were suddenly introduced to deep soulful fusion experiments.

Although most of his songs were gems, his collaborations with Gulzar were monumental – these are songs even my grandchildren will appreciate.

RD brought Bossa Nova, Latin, Flamenco, African, Egyptian, Rock n Roll, Jazz and much more to us and his legacy lives on. He sampled sounds for his songs like chura liya and o majhi re. He used computerized arpeggios in Shaan and romance. He put his voice through Vocoder in Meri Jaan; Used flanger effect in a unusual song like Dhanno Ki Aaanko. He really  set up a trend that is carried on by today’s talented composers like SEL, VS and VB.

RIP Pancham.


A R Rehman’s CWG Song Debacle

There’s a big outcry over Rehman’s composition for CWG. My take: the song is decent, with some good parts and the hook of the song might just catch on. Lyrics is not great. But what I am not able to figure out is why on earth did he charge 5cr for the song? I tried to read up and see if it is really true..but nobody is clarifying why any sane person will charge that much for one song for a event of national pride. May be it was a combo deal because he also apparently composed another song for 6 classical dancers doing a grand dance theme, but too bad those guys rejected the song too! And now there is news that Rehman has refused to re-do the tune because he doesn’t have time (he is touring US).

At the same time a whole bunch of bands -Parikrama, SEL, Kailash etc. have signed up to perform live for lot less than they usually charge for their shows.

Well  being a SEL fan, I can’t help but say SEL – Gulzar could have done a great job. Rahman’s singing is no match for Shankar’s powerful vocals.  At least they could have got Gulzar to write the song.

Unfortunately the whole thing just ends up reflecting rather bad on Rehman – A greedy MD who charged obscene money and took half a year to compose a dud, and is not ready to change it either! Well I hope someone clarifies this and also hope that like his other songs, this one will eventually catch on.