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Guru music disappointing? HELL NO November 18, 2006

Posted by sk in A.R.Rahman, Bollywood, movies, Music.
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I don’t normally blog about Bollywood and I’ve never reviewed any movie or album so far, but Guru is different. This was something I was eagerly awaiting. After all, it’s the Rahman-Mani Ratnam combination once again, the same combination that delivered great albums like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Alaypayuthey (Sakhi in Telugu, Saathiya in Hindi), and to some extent, Yuva. After Rang De Basanti (RDB), I had great expectations from this album, but, to say the very least, I’m disappointed (it’s actually a very high quality album if you discount Baazi Laga). And it has been a pretty long wait too, after RDB. That album was released in late 2005. Wow!! Feels like eternity. Since then, I’ve shifted apartments 5 times in three different cities. On a personal front too a lot has changed since then. This blog didn’t exist then. I hadn’t even started reading about Microsoft then. So, has it been worth the wait? Sadly, the answer to that question is an unequivocal “no”. The songs aren’t great. (While this is not his best album, I think some of the songs a really good) There’s no other way to put it. Here’s the list of songs and my comments about each one (note: I don’t know who the singers are… I’ll update that later):

  1. Barso Re – A decent song with a nice Rajasthani tune, probably one of the better ones in the album. I liked the background beats a lot. Also, I love the way the tune changes. It sounds a little bit like Yeh Rishta from Meenaxi, but there’s not much in common between the two songs to say Rahman was inspired by it.
  2. Tere Bina – As of now, I think this is by far the best song in the album. It’s Rahman’s tribute to Nusrat and the song is stylistically similar to some of Nusrat’s songs. My sister thinks it’s a poor copy of one of Nusrat’s songs and I tried to argue with her saying it’s only the style that has been copied and not any song in particular. She liked the song too. I know of many others who did too. By the way, Rahman seems to be singing better and better with age. Has anyone else noticed that?
  3. Ek lo ek muft – I think this song plays during the intro titles. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. It’s been sung by none other than Bappi Lahari and I think he’s done a pretty good job. Not bad for a tapori type song. I don’t like the way it begins though.
  4. Mayya – Now this is simply a product of Rahman’s Khalbali (from RDB) hangover (well, the song is shot in Turkey so he obviously wouldn’t use a Carnatic tune for it… d’ohh!). I don’t know what to say about the song. I hated it when I first listened to it. It’s slowly growing on me, but I still don’t think I’m going to like it much. I like only parts of the song. (It’s one of my favorites now. I love the way Rahman handles the tune-changes… in a way that only he can. I also like Maryem Hassan Toller’s voice. Who cares about the accent!!)
  5. Ay Hairathe – A good song, I guess… it’s actually not all that bad, but not all that great either. (This is one song that really grows on you. Beautiful ballad by Rahman.)
  6. Baazi Laga – Sounds similar to Yunhi chala chal from Swades and Humraahi jab ho mastaana from Pukaar. It’s a pretty bad song compared to those two. I actually liked those two songs. I don’t really like this one. It’s actually a pretty bad song by Rahman’s standards. On second, it’s a pretty bad song by any standards.
  7. Jaage Hain: Hmmm. I don’t know. Rahman hasn’t been able to get rid of his obsession with Western classical after Bombay Dreams. We saw that in Lagaan (O Rey chori), Kisna (Hum hain iss pal) and some other movies. The tune is actually pretty haunting, but.. A great song that caps a great effort by Rahman. But we all knew that Rahman wouldn’t disappoint us, right? Right?? :-))

Overall, I don’t think this is a great album. It’s not bad, but not great either. I had expected a lot more from Rahman. Come to think of it, when Rahman starts giving bad music for a Mani Ratnam movie, I don’t think it’s good news, right? Does this mean he’s on a decline?

P.S. I’m a huge fan of Rahman’s music. I have probably listened to all his songs in Tamil and Hindi by now, even those from movies that no one has heard of. Also, considering that this is a Rahman album, I may change my opinion about it later, but for some reason I don’t think it’s going to happen this time. The songs seem like rehashed versions of some of his old tunes.

UPDATE: You can watch a clip of Tere Bina here and a trailer of the movie here.

UPDATE 2: I’m beginning to like some of the songs!!! 🙂 The song Jaage hain reminds me of a Rafi song from a Guru Dutt movie, “Dekhi zamaane ki yaari”.

UPDATE 3 (Nov 21): Lesson learnt: Never review a Rahman album unless you’ve listened to the songs at least 10-15 times. Except for Baazi laga, which I think is a very pedestrian effort, the other songs are very good. I can’t stop listening to Tere Bina and Mayya Mayya. While the songs do remind me of some of his old tunes, it’s indeed surprising that even after 15 years in the industry, Rahman is able to come up with some mind-blowing numbers. I’ve updated this review a little bit. The updates are in brackets.

UPDATE 4 (Nov 23): I am addicted to Mayya Mayya and can’t stop listening to it. Today I played Hamma Hamma from Bombay after listening to Mayya Mayya and I was surprised at how much Rahman’s music has matured during the last 10 years. While Humma Humma itsself was considered pretty complicated in those days, it’s nothing compared to the kind of music he composes these days. The tunes may not have changed much but there’s a huge difference in the kind of instruments he uses and the number of layers he uses these days. Fascinating.

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Comments»

1. Parmanu - November 18, 2006

i agree…i was sharing similar opinion with someone this morning and i was accused of being anu malik fan….
but this one may be anu malik wud have done a better job…or even bappi to …if he is singing in one of the songs here, he could have as well composed that..

2. Cotton - November 18, 2006

you guys are wrongly accusing bappi…didn’t he sing that song well??? Be fair to him!! Talking about Guru..I didn’t really like any song as much as I liked Tere Bina..all others are okay types..nothing great. I am disappointed too. I thought that there will be one decent music album in the market after ages..but this is clearly not the case!

3. sk - November 18, 2006

Actually, I still think this album is better than some of the crap dished out by Bollywood. It’s disappoiting by Rahman’s standards, but that’s about it. I would equate being an Anu Malik fan with being a fan of bad music, but that’s just me. Come to think of it, maybe not… Anu Malik copies good songs.

4. sk - November 18, 2006

But, parmanu, I do agree with you. This is not as straightforward as the Google-Microsoft case where most people who like Google hate Microsoft (converse not true). There are people who like both Anu Malik and A. R. Rahman.

5. Guru - Song details « Sparks Team Blog - November 18, 2006

[…] I had promised to update my previous post about Guru’s music with artist names. I found this and more on a Rahman fan site. It would have made my previous post too long so I decided to do a new post on this. Here’s some information about the songs: […]

6. rahman's fan - November 18, 2006

GURU ROCKS MAN… GO HEAR IT COUPLE OF TIMES MORE.. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM THE MUSICAL GENIUS?

7. jithin - November 18, 2006

I dont understand y u people feel like this..GURU is rokking man…i just cant be withou listening to it now..
every song is really awesome…
i am very very very disappointed by reading this blog on guru…the very first time i heard the songs itself i got amazed by the instrumentation and music..really mindblowing..NOMATTER WAT OTHERS SAY…
and the important thing is that guru isnt a modern film and so v cant xpect songs like RDB…ARR gives superb situational songs..

8. Cotton - November 19, 2006

Yeah!!! I agree..let’s beat up the guy who wrote this post. He deserves a beating.

9. Kavin - November 19, 2006

who ever say that guru had a bad music is a fool or he does not understand the music , just in two days track like Barso Re , Tere Bina, and Ay Hairathe is becoming hit and it going to become hither and hither and also other song will also become hit by the time movie will be seen and tell me which film music has huge hit all night it all takes time .and talking about anu malik who is biggest copycat in the world man he copies almost every track .if some one give me lake then also I will not become anu malik fan . MAN GURU MUSIC WILL ROCK THE WORLD.

10. logesh - November 19, 2006

This is my true opinion abt GURU …
When I tried to compare GURU with Dilse or Saathiya or any other Mani’s movie I felt this was quite lagging the style of those ..
But After i started to hear atleast 8 ~ 10 times
I feel it is of different Genre , and Rahman
is still capable of delivering what is someone requires required ..
while Guru is definetely not a bad album ..
I wud say, one wud have a felling that it is not satisfaying the Rahman standards …If we compared it with present trends ..
I wud really not be satisfied if he had tried to deliver what the current bollywood trend is heading to …
There is rich presence of Rhythm, folkis style..and totally an amalgamation of most indian style …
While some songs like Baazi laga are a cliche , except that all songs are good
and really peaceful to hear …what more to say
Thanks to rahman ..I still look forward to the WOHE style of music again …

11. parmanu - November 19, 2006

huh…
bollywood posts really works…,i can see why we were lagging behind in hits…

sk,
yes ms/google is different from anu/rahman.
Although being called anu fan was the second worst thing happened to me so far. (first was when I was called ms fan).

cotton,
i agree with sk on this one but I am with you on beating him. while we r at it, letz trash every microsoft product he has.

kavin,
I did not understand much after first two lines of your comment but about the first two lines, you could make your point less agressively too.
We generally try to maintain some decent tone in our comments.
blogs are for discussion of opposing views, and not abt who can call whom a fool.

12. munnacircuit - November 19, 2006

‘Guru’ is the worst music album from ARR…Even Pritam would have given better music than this….
It dosen’t deserve even being compared with albums like ‘Bas Ek Pal’ or ‘Wo Lamhe’
ARR is out of date now….Its better for him to focus on Chinese films .

13. munnacircuit - November 19, 2006

Hats off to Sk…..for his patience with which he listened to all the songs (and then wrote review)….amazing

14. sk - November 19, 2006

“Although being called anu fan was the second worst thing happened to me so far. (first was when I was called ms fan).”

But you are a closet-MS fan. A huge one at that too. You only need to come out of the closet and admit it. Also, Anu Malik.

“letz trash every microsoft product he has.”

Don’t worry. I’ve taken care of that. I switched to Ubuntu Linux after all. Don’t tell me you still use a $299 OS loaded with spyware/malware and viruses. Ubuntu Linux is free, faster, more secure, has more programs written for it and has a great command line interface whenever sth goes wrong. Oh, and talk about the online community. If you begin your question with “I f***ing hate Bill Gates,” it’s answered within minutes. But… I digress.

munnacircuit, thanks, but I still think Rahman’s “mediocre” effort is better than most of the crap that’s dished out by the Pritams and the Pappus of Bollywood. 🙂

15. Cotton - November 19, 2006

funnily, munna circuit looks like shashi!! Did he kidnap shashi??? [:(]

Parmanu,

I don’t mind!!! But…. but..but… I don’t want to trash each and every msft product.. I love Microsoft One Note! Apart from that… I don’t care!

16. Cotton - November 19, 2006

oh btw, you guys are at #1 fastest growing blogs! and on many more lists…i have lost the count! CoNgRaATuLaTiOOnSs!!

17. ramare - November 19, 2006

wow!!

its almost like sachin tendulkar scored a duck in world cup final (Not that I wish that…)

generally rehman’s music takes time to grow on you….but he crapped out before (Mangal Pandey for example..)

and generally I see lots of similarities between them….every time I think they are done…they come up something brilliant!!

Just my opinion……please dont beat me up….!!

18. munnacircuit - November 20, 2006

@ Ruhi (angreji version Cotton)
Maine Shashi ko kidnap kiyela hai…bahut muchmuch karta tha …pahale Gandhigiri se samjhaya, par nahi samjha to Gundagiri dikhae….Darkar bhag gaya sala
@ Sk
Ruhuji boli to top kiyela hai ‘Fashtesht Growing’ blog me….bahut accha laga…Kitne dinose bol rahela hai ki ‘Bollywood’ pe likha ..par sunta kaha tha….Tuze aur masala chahiye to Circuit se bolne ka ..sharmane ka nahi…kya samaze…Bole to ….Gandhigiri zindabad

19. viral - November 20, 2006

yes.. dear.. somehow you are right .. but i think ‘n’ i feel that rahman’s songs takes time to get on the Lips, for example Lagaan, RDB, Swadesh.. but Roja, DilSe etc says diffrent story.. plz put your openion about my view about Rahman.

20. lamy - November 20, 2006

i have lisned with attention to the album of guru,despite the fact that i’m a fan of rahman,and his touch is surely there,but i cant feel that this is out standing songs ,a feel of dejavu ,tamil spacially,but i did enjoy the album !

21. Tere bina from Guru « Time and Again - November 21, 2006

[…] While you are here, do check out the detailed music review which has been put up by sk. He has done a good job summarizing each song in the album. This link gives you the song details. […]

22. ARR Rocks - November 24, 2006

Wow!! wow!!! wow!!!! What an album from our music GURU. Mind-blowing!! Awesome!! People who say that our Music GURU’s work is outdated; means their ears have gone deaf. I pity them…

23. rahman's fan - November 24, 2006

that’s the speciality of ARR… he is a musical genius..btw, i bet that baazi laga wud definitely grow on u.

as u said.. ARR orcehstration has grown immensely and it can be seen well in mayya mayya.

its so nice of u that u reconisdered ur review. many wont do that even they liked the songs after their initial review in blog.. this shows that u considerate..

hail ARR!

24. rahman's fan - November 24, 2006

i agree with comment #22.. ARR rocks!

25. aayush - November 24, 2006

i think the album is super cool…Rahman has proved again why he is considered the best in the industry……Tere Bina…Aye Hairathe and Jaage Hain are masterpieces….cant wait for Rahman’s next album!!!

26. ARR - Genius. - November 24, 2006

ARR is a musical genius whose compositions don’t appeal to you immediately. But with more than 3 to 4 times of listening it hits you on the face (and in the heart) and then you know what happens – Addiction. The beauty and grandiose of his orchestration in Jaage Hain is almost unprecedented – reminds me of those dramatic Disney classic songs. Mayya Mayya certainly sounds ‘odd’ in the first two listenings, but eventually becomes a true addiction in the album. Tere Bina, needless to say, is captivating with its haunting ‘Dum Dhara Dum Dhara’, and ARR has delivered it wonderfully, esp when he sings the swaras in the first interlude. Ay Hairathe is a lovely Ballad, whose splendor you will appreciate with about 4 to 5 listenings. Barso Re is normal, and Baazi Laga is certainly not ARRs standards. Overall, my advice to all of you who think this is not his best: Listen, wait and watch it sink in. You’ll be obssessed.

27. Mohan - November 27, 2006

Nice review. I especially like the tracked changes. I have a review on my blog too that somewhat matches yous. Check it out at http://mohankaus.blogspot.com/. I am impressed with most, but not all, of the songs. Some of them are infectious! I can’t see the point of a song like “baazi laga” though!

28. Avi - November 28, 2006

Poooh ! Offfh ! Thats a clinically precise post mortem of the songs. But dude, somehow the movie along with the songs promise to be inspirational.

Looking fwd to ur next blogs 🙂 Do drop by mine too when free.

29. Raj - November 28, 2006

SK it takes a great man to publicly accept that their initial opinion was wrong. I think that in itself shows what a great album this was. After your initial dislike of the album, you came back to point out the greatness that is AR Rahman. The songs certainly do take their time to grow on you. The humming of Dum Dara Dum Dara in tere bina and ai hairathe is probably the most addiction words in the entire album. It truly incites a small smile when you listen to it. Barso Re and Jaage hain took a little longer to get hooked on but after about 8 listen, the 4 songs really stuck out. I hated Ek Lo Ek Muft the first few times but got drowned in by the beats after that. Rahman’s voice in tere bina as well as the humming in ai hairathe are to die for. If you guys feel that this album isn’t good, just try listening to those 2 songs, those by themselves make the whole album worth it. and while ur listening to them, u’ll have the urge to give the other songs a second chance and trust me when i say you will get hooked.

30. parmanu - November 28, 2006

While I agree, rahman’s music takes time to grow,
I think in this album he mixed too many things (new and old, his and others).., product might stilll be very good and i guess everyone is liking it..
but I, who have no knowledge of music, think on the whole album is inferior compared to Roja, Dil se and his previous work..
Mayya for some reason reminds me of satrangi re…!!
“..Ey Hairathe..”.(starting) reminds me of ghazal from Masoom sung by bhupinder…(cant remember the exact words)

31. sk - November 28, 2006

“Mayya for some reason reminds me of satrangi re…!!”
Me too, in the beginning (because the words are spoken in a similar manner in both) but not anymore. Aye Hairathe doesn’t sound similar to Huzoor is kadar bhi from Masoom (the movie with baby Urmila and master Jugal, right??)… I donno 🙂

I don’t even know if this album can be compared to Roja and Dil Se anymore. The songs are totally different. Of course, while all songs in those two albums were great, Guru does have a very weak link in Baazi Laga. Overall, I think Rahman has matured a lot as a music composer too. He exhibits a great control over the notes in Jaage Hain. They’re not flying all over the place like some of his earlier attempts at Western Classical.

32. parmanu - November 29, 2006

yes that was the song i was referring to..beautiful one..
but yes i agree my comparsion was terribly wrong..i didnt listen to that in a while..and somehow thought its similar, now i did listen and yes they are different…
but it still sounds like some gazal which i might have heard..i cant remember which.., will comment again if i find..

33. venkat - December 2, 2006

arrahman the glory of indian music .
he was born for music no more comments again

34. Rajendra - December 7, 2006

Tere Bina
Barso Re
Jaage
Ay Hairathe
Mayya
Ek lo Ek
Baazi

These are my ratings….

I agree with all of you.. ARR’s music needs repetitive listening to enjoy and appreciate if you dont understand the technicals of the musics like I am.

35. syed - December 15, 2006

RAHMAN is the living legend of world music…….no more fights over guru……….he delivers quality music not anu malik or himesh reshammiya music, so calm down and enjoy true music.by the way people don;t understand him are welcome to go and watch any anu malik crap.

36. Music, Yahoo, Microsoft, and more « Sparks Team Blog - December 19, 2006

[…] All songs of Guru (except Baazi Laga) […]

37. Mohan Narayanan - December 24, 2006

I have to agree with many Forum members – ARR’s music for GURU is not as good as his earlier works – in some ways it is rather disappointing. A re-hash of his earlier film music. But after all ARR is also human and has run out of ideas – so did Bach and Mozart. How long can one keeping churning out fresh tunes – or for that matter, fresh writing, fresh paintings?

Having seen the Video clips of the song sequences, I think that Mani Ratnam and Rajeev Menon (cinematography) have also run out of original ideas. The same dancing among the pillars (as in Bombay), the Rain (Lagaan) and amidst the green trees (Taal) in which films ARR’s music was also exactly on the same lines.

Many of the Forum members have said that one has to listen to the songs many times over before they start striking a chord with the listener. I go one step ahead and say that one has to see the film visuals after which you will like the music. The reason is just the female form – in GURU Ash – gyrating in most of the songs. No harm in that – today every western pop song sells millions just because of the sex element, be it Madonna, Christina Aguerila, Tony Braxton, Kylie Minogue or JLo.

So in TAAL when you see Ash just in her petticoat and blouse, the music (which is after all basically good) sounds all the more sweet in our ears. But should good music really need visuals to prop it up? What had Bach, Meerabhai and Thyagaraja for visuals – at the most the paintings of Christ, Krishna and Rama respectively in front of them!

And finally let us not resort to childish advertising like calling ARR “The Mozart of Madras” – it is sheer nonsense. Mozart was composing from the age of 5 and in those days of just horse carriages was performing as a child before Emperors and Kings of England, France and Italy. His first Violin and Piano sonatas came when he was 9. He left behind over 600 works before he died at an early age of 35.And his works are played and revered even 300 years after.

We Indians tend to go overboard if one of our countrymen does something slightly better than the rest of us. We have had many great Film music composers – Naushad, C Ramachandra, O P Nayyar, the Burmans, Hemant Kumar, Ravi, Khyam and Ilayaraja & Vidhyasagar in the south. Just imagine if we had called RDBurman the “Bach of Bombay” or Salil Chowdry “Chopin of Calcutta”! (One may have to select names of different composers to match the changes in our Metro names)!

38. Goelji’s Weblog… » Blog Archive » Tere Bina from Guru - December 25, 2006

[…] While you are here, do check out the detailed music review which has been put up by sk. He has done a good job summarizing each song in the album. This link gives you the song details. […]

39. syed - December 28, 2006

Dear mohan,

only two things to say about you.
either you are bigger musician than arr or others
or ou are just an ameture who listens to music for
just timepass……………….

40. Mohan Narayanan - December 29, 2006

Dear Syed,

Thanks for your response.

I am no bigger or smaller than anyone else…I am just myself. Let us not compare one with another – ARR is great in his own way and so is every other composer. I do compose music, for which I have my own 128 track Midi Studio with Keyboards + Sound Modules etc. Years ago, for one of the TV/Film Advertisements (for Godrej, I think), the Ad agency got the music composed by me, which ARR (those days he was called Dilip) mixed with the visual footage in his AV Studio. I also teach music (totally free) to youngsters and expose them to the technologies of today’s music composing.

Please do a Google search under “mohan narayanan, music” which will provide you with more info. Since my music is not intended for movies, I am not known outside my closest circles – and I am not at all unhappy about it..

But surprisingly many say the same thing – perhaps to flatter me – that I am better than ARR. But that is sheer nonsense – we should not resort to making any such comparisons. I repeat, ARR is indeed GREAT…..but in this Forum we are discussing his work in Guru and comparing it to his earlier film works.

41. smitha - December 30, 2006

oh ma god..now pls stop dis..rahman is declining..!!?? dis is 2 much..
first of all..i think guru tells us the life history of someone..so the songs got 2 hav an older tone..it cant be like RDB youthful n energetic..moreover..some numbers r situational i think..

42. smitha - December 30, 2006

neways..lets wait 4 the movie 2 be released..

43. sk - December 30, 2006

Wow, Mohan, that’s really impressive (and I’m not being sarcastic). I agree with you that it’s foolish to call Rahman the ‘Mozart of Madras’. Their styles are different.

“But should good music really need visuals to prop it up? What had Bach, Meerabhai and Thyagaraja for visuals – at the most the paintings of Christ, Krishna and Rama respectively in front of them!”

But I don’t think it’s right to compare them here either. And I am not sure it’s fair to compare Guru to Dil Se or Bombay.

Anyway, it’s great that you teach music to youngsters.

44. parmanu - December 30, 2006

Mohan u r my new hero..!!!

45. Blogger’s Heaven » Blog Archive » Tere Bina from Guru - April 9, 2007

[…] you are here, do check out the detailed music review which has been put up by me. He has done a good job summarizing each song in the album. This link […]

46. ARR4L - May 14, 2007

omg!
jaage hain is like the most amazing song ever.
maybe cuz i’m a brought up in the US teenager.
but the way he mixes western and indian is mind-blowing.
i think orchestra is a beauty that i wish we had in indian classical.
the strings in that song are like amazing as hell!
beautiful orchestra…i had that song on repeat for so long and i cannot even start to uncover the layers upon layers of orchestra.
beautiful!
and guru is a beutiful album.
ARR can be repetetive but this time i felt it was not really like the rest.
it is one of my faves.
his music grows on you though. it really does.
anyway ARR4L!

47. praveen - May 16, 2008

hey..u all people who say that guru is one of the worst 4m Rahman id like to make a thing clear to u.. u cant hear a melody like ay hairate or tere bina in ur lifetime..what did u say?Anu Malik.. a music director not worth equating to Rahman..k…go hear the songs again and again?don blabber something..


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