Coming together of Mani Ratnam and A.R.Rahman is always special. Whether it is their first ever special 'Roja' or 'Dil
Se' followed by 'Yuva', the music has always been spellbinding and something special. Add to the team a legend by the
name of Gulzar and you can hardly settle for anything less than exceptional.
No wonder, the desire is to be just all ears as soon as one lays hands on the album.
Is it really Shreya Ghoshal singing the song? That's what you question yourself and recheck the album credits as soon as she begins her crooning of 'Barso Re'. Her voice sounds completely different from what we have been used to hearing since her 'Devdas' and 'Jism' days and though she has seldom disappointed over the years, with 'Barso Re' she scales new heights altogether as she goes completely carefree in her rendition of this 'rain-coming' song that is as different from 'Ghanan Ghanan' [Lagaan] as the setting of 'Lagaan' was different from that of 'Rang De Basanti'! Uday Mazumdar is heard for just a line or two in the middle of this song, which belongs to Shreya all the way. Gulzar's lyrics continue to be poetic-n-entertaining as well while the arrangements deserve special mention since they keep the song's momentum on a lively pace with the beats along with the sound of 'na na re' making 'Barso Re' a treat to hear.
If you have been craving to hear something new all this while then 'Tere Bina' is the one for you. What makes the song special is A.R. Rahman coming behind the mike to sing a full-fledged number with regulars like Murtaza Qadir providing the background vocals. A love song with a 'big' difference due to the way the entire song has been paced and arranged, it is an amazing fusion of sufi and Indian classical mix that makes 'Tere Bina' a new hearing experience altogether. There is a rural India feel to the entire composition, which also reflects in the lyrics and takes you to a dream journey. The journey is only made much more authentic with arrival of Chinmayee who has a considerable role to play in the second half of the song. Unlike numerous Rahman numbers that take their own time to catch up with a listener, this one gets you hooked on right away and makes you wait for rest of the songs to come.
Rural mood continues with 'Ek Lo Ek Muft', which turns out to be a huge speed breaker after two absolutely awesome numbers. A song picking up it's theme from 'Buy one get one free' schemes that are prevalent in the consumer market, 'Ek Lo' is a situational number that just doesn't appeal audio-wise. Though Ratnam's picturisation may bring some spark to this song that seems like a fun outing on screen, what is surprising is Bappi Lahiri being hardly THE Bappi Lahiri that one had expected behind the mike. He croons for a man who is drunk and though he does well in creating that right mood, it still sets one thinking about the entire thought process of choosing him ahead of any other singer! Chitra joins in later and she too sounds completely different from the way she has been heard over the years. Tanvi, Saloni, Boney and Jaidev provide background vocals support. The song moves on a leisurely pace with minimal music instruments and has a South Indian style of composing and arrangements written all over it.
Thankfully the album is back on track with 'Mayaa Mayya' that has a strong Middle East flavor to it. The song is unlike any other composition that one may have ever heard in a mainstream Hindi film and Rahman's special touch only makes it irresistible. Mayyam Toller is the singer roped in especially for this number that is touted to be Mallika Sherawat's item song in the film. The song has a strong undertone of sensuality that flows at a lovely pace throughout its duration. Chinmayee and Keerthi only help in giving the song an exquisite feel that makes 'Mayya Mayya' a true world song. An absolutely original number that has some excellent programming and additional arrangements by Ranjit Barot, it moves to an expansive musical drive towards the last couple of minutes. Also notable is the way Rahman fuses the Middle East flavor with the Gujarati folk music in the end to demonstrate his class once again. A grand number that should look only better when seen on video!
Alka Yagnik singing for Rahman does sound like a unique combination and with Hariharan around; there are expectations of an altogether new experience with 'Ay Hairathe'. For a very short while, there is a distinct sound of 'Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu' from 'Waqt' that is soon forgotten as soon as Rahman and Aslam Mohammad begin the song with their intoxicating humming. Hariharan arrives on the scene soon to get into his 'ghazal' singing mode and add on to an overall classy feel of the song. This is not one of those typical love songs that one is used to hearing and enters a different terrain altogether. Though there is doubt about the song getting into the popularity zone, purists may find it exciting due to it being an unconventional composition while boasting of trademark Gulzar poetry.
After number of interesting and some unconventional tunes, 'Baazi Laga' comes as a real surprise since it hardly sounds like a Rahman composition by any means. Though the arrangements along with some additional programming by Ranjit Barot try to give the song a carnival feel, this situational number about money and playing gambles has an 80s tune which doesn't come close to Rahman's class; well at least at the beginning. Later into the song the orchestra and the arrangements save the day by enabling the song to maintain its fast pace. Madhushree has very little role to play in this song that has Swetha and Bhargavee as the background singers and though Rahman's touch starts becoming apparent towards the end, the overall impact is still not of the kind that would make the track to be one of the most in-demand!
One is transported to the world of operas and Broadways with 'Jaage Hain' that has a magical orchestra as its USP! Though the number is too classy to find every person on the street humming the tune aloud, for those who want their music to be heard closely with lots of finer nuances to be caught, 'Jaage Hain' comes as a gift. Once Chitra sets the pace for this situational track about taking rest for a while and anticipating a new tomorrow, it is left to Rahman and his team of musicians to grip the listener with some subtle yet highly impacting orchestra. Later Rahman himself comes behind the mike and does some great rendition while going from ultra mild to high pitch and in the process Madras Chorale Group too joins the proceedings to take the track towards an all time high finale. Classy...simply classy!
Rahman fans only have their hands full with later when they get to hear some of his best tracks like 'Rang De Basanti' [Rang De Basanti], 'Ghanan Ghanan' [Lagaan], 'Hum Hai Iss Pal Yahan' [Kisna], 'Dheeme Dheeme' [Zubeidaa] and 'Yeh Rishta' [Meenakshi] that have been added on as a bonus.
In the end, 'Guru' leaves quite a classy impression. On one side there are some lovable songs like 'Barso Re', 'Bin Tere' and 'Mayya' while on the other side there is a track like 'Jaage Hain'. Though 'Ay Hairathe' would invite mixed response, 'Ek Lo Ek Muft and 'Baazi Laga' would have to depend a lot on the way they are presented on screen. Now coming to a question on whether the album would turn out to be more popular than 'Rang De Basanti'? Well, it all depends upon how the film fares at the box office. While the music of RDB was good too, it grew enormously with the film's release followed by a terrific response it garnered at the box office. In case of 'Guru' too the songs are of the kind that may not become a craze of the nation within a fortnight of the album's release but have all the valid reasons to become further popular if the film hits the bull's eye!