Last Updated: Wed, May 11, 2005 09:29 hrs

Music by M.M. Kreem

Lyrics by Gulzar

Rating: ***1/2

I rate M.M. Kreem as one of the most skilled melody makers of Indian cinema. That he has so far not been able to make any headway in Bollywood in spite of such outstanding tracks to his credit as `Gali mein aaj chand nikla (Zakham), `Aa bhi ja` (Sur) and `Jadoo hai nasha hai` (Jism) just goes to show how much mainstream Hindi cinema values mediocrity at the cost of true talent.

Kreem finally gets to do a truly big Bollywood film. Paheli is a Shah Rukh Khan production. Its Rajasthani folk-tale ambience gives Kreem a chance to do what he always was meant to. Create a complete sound signifying the birth of a composer who could pull Bollywood out of its monstrous musical morass.

The thing about Kreem is, he knows the ins and outs of every musical style. It's almost as though he knows where the music will flow in every melody, so that the cascade appears smooth and complete each time.

The smouldering sensuality of the opening track `Dheere jalna` just blows your mind away. Like every Kreem creation this one is a dream in semi-slow motions, designed to trigger off a feeling of impending catharsis in the listeners' soul.

Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghosal put their soul into one of the flawlessly orchestrated love ballads of the year.

`Kangna re` has a slight Saathiya sound to it. But that's more to do with the quality rather than content of the song. Again Shreya and Sonu joined by Madhushree, create an earthy erotica within the track.

Charged and electrifying Paheli gives us an entirely new sound to hold on to. The frisky folk-Rajasthani sound of `Phir raat kati` would disappoint you. But then you get into its gamboling mould and follow the flighty tune to its farcical finale.

My favourite after `Dheere jalna` is `Khaali hai tere bin` sung with serenading grace by Hariharan (who's hardly singing these days). Gulzar's lyrics create a universe of ambience dripping and oozing a sighing sensuality. Sounds of diyas being extinguished, hearts being broken by the follies of destiny and lips moving to the rhythm of the soul assail our senses.

The deep ebony colours of the sound contrast well with the sandy brown of the Rajasthani milieu. The voices that are used always bring out the stirring echoes of feelings that go deep into the arteries of mankind. Shreya Ghosal, Madhushree and Bela Shende in the softly poetic `Minnat kare` and Kreem, Sonu and Shruti Sadolkar in `Laaga re jal laaga` ignite a passionate pyramid of sentiments in the soundtrack.

Paheli is not your run-of-the-mill soundtrack. It's got a great deal of that quality known as melodic wisdom. The quality seeps through the luminous poetry and irrigates the very essence of the drama that unfolds through the songs.

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