Last Updated: Tue, Oct 05, 2004 12:32 hrs

Rating: **1/2

Those who are on the look-out for the Lagaan team of director Ashutosh Gowariker, lyricist Javed Akhtar and composer A R Rahman belting out another Lagaan are in for a different experience.

Like the other new outstanding movie soundtrack of Veer-Zaara, Swades is unlike any sound we’ve heard recently, or in the distant past either. If there are any echoes in its affectionately spun pastiche of roots and thoughts woven in reposeful rhythms derived from our North Indian folk heritage, it is just Rahman’s distinctive sound-creaion doing its usual tightly structured tinkering across a web of finely threaded tunes that serve as a mirror-image of life’s most basic and valuable lessons.

“Boond boond milne se banta hai ek dariya,” sings Udit Narayan with a naïve idealism that’s fast become alien to our popular culture. More than anything else Swades is a venturesome album. It dares to go where others would not just hesitate, but reject outright. There’s a long, lingering Ram Leela song `Pal pal hai bhari` where three new singers–Madhushree (sounding as delicate and fragile as Sita tiptoeing across a lilting laxman-rekha), Vijay Prakash and director Gowariker himself, adding a ripple of raw realism to the unrehearsed rhythms of this traditional track.

Udit Narayan who sang like a charm in Lagaan returns in the inspirational `Yeh tara woh tara` (with two extremely precocious juvenile voices) and `Ahista ahista` (with Sadhana Sargam). Udit’s vocals here again show how superbly honed his singing has grown over the years.

Alka Yagnik appears in two tracks. Her duet `Dekho na` with Udit Narayan is frail and wispy, like a butterfly fluttering its wings against a glistening windowpane. The raga-based `Sanwariya` has Alka climbing to a compact crescendo.

Except for the choral `Yun hi chala chal` where Udit, Hariharan and Kailash Kher have a great deal of fun joining in to sing a song about moving forward.

Rahman’s tunes don’t really give any of the singers a chance to get seriously resonant over the soundtrack. The music of Swades seems to acquire its melodic motivation from a mood of intimate idealization of Man’s quest for cosmic purity celebrated in Javed Akhtar’s lucid lyrics.

The tunes are earthy, transparent and anti-formulistic. They reflect a nobility of heart that makes its way out of the singers’ throats to sing to the galaxy of stars glimmering in the sky.