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Unchained Melody

When you listen to the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire,you’ll know why Danny Boyle chose AR Rahman to compose the music for his film.

Written by Pooja Pillai |
January 7, 2009 2:14:14 am

The music of Slumdog Millionaire is a winner for sure

When you listen to the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire,you’ll know why Danny Boyle chose AR Rahman to compose the music for his film. Nobody else is capable of capturing the spirit of a movie like Rahman does.

The master composer and music director is in his element here. Even in standard Bollywood fare,Rahman manages to score with his listeners for the fresh sounds he brings to otherwise cliché proceedings. Here,not only is he unfettered by the usual requirements of Bollywood,Boyle seems to have encouraged Rahman to go ahead and experiment as much as he likes. Nowhere before have we heard this man sound so free and so uninhibited.

Each song tells the story of an uneducated chaiwallah or tea boy,Jamal Malik,in various phases of his life. Dreams on Fire is a gentle ballad and Latika’s Theme is its instrumental version. This track,which runs through the love story which is the heart of the movie,works well in binding together the often disjointed parts of the movie. The sultry Ringa Ringa,featuring vocals by Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun,is typical Rahman and successfully fuses traditional and contemporary melodies. Rahman’s magic is most in evidence in the instrumental Mausam & Escape,where he blends the sounds of the sitar and the guitar and ups the tempo to get a sort of gangsta’ feel to the music.

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However,the standout track on the album is Paper Planes,composed and performed by one of the UK’s leading artistes M.I.A. The political overtones,with gunshots and ringing of cash registers,and the upbeat reggae-inspired melody make it a winner. M.I.A.’s other contribution on the album has been to O…Saya,where she collaborates with Rahman on the vocals. This song is notable for its obviously African influence,with energetic drumbeats,and the singer’s voice is perfect for lending this track the international edge that it requires.

The only disappointment on the album is Jai Ho. While it’s high on optimism and the music is upbeat,the sound is unfortunately all too familiar to veteran listeners of Bollywood music. Sukhwinder Singh,as usual,does a good job with the vocals but one can’t take away from the fact that the song just does not live up to the standards set by the other tracks. Also,one strange inclusion on the album is the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy track Aaj Ki Raat from Don,untouched apart from a few additional beats and lyrics. The song is on for a brief period during the movie and there really wasn’t much reason to include it in the music album. One can only assume it was done keeping in mind western listeners who just can’t get enough of Bollywood music.

Still,apart from a couple of glitches,the music of Slumdog Millionaire is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection—for its varied moods and beats and for the unprecedented levels of experimentation that Rahman has indulged in.

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