A.R. Rahman Yuva Soundtrack
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Rangeela
Saathiya
Taal
Dil Se

Throughout his years of composing music, which is very well his entire life, AR Rahman in regular interval has unleashed some of the best songs ever to grace the Indian music industry and beyond. But that's the trouble with consistency, his fans have come to expect more and more of him and his songs, and in recent years I personally came to believe and realize that these expectations were too unrealistic and pointless. No one can deliver with that sort of consistency. I was so wrong. AR Rahman is beyond reality. He can give his fans what they want.

After somewhat lackluster 2001 and 2002, containing each one spectacular highlight in the forms of Lagaan and Saathiya, Rahman had a seemingly mediocre 2003 where he had only one slightly above par project, Tehzeeb. But that was only on the surface, he was actually expanding and pushing his horizons and spreading his influence internationally, primarily with his compositions in Warriors of Heaven and Earth. Now, in 2004, he has struck back with authority, starting with a disappointingly mediocre Lakeer and the exceedingly superb Meenaxi, and now with Yuva.

Yuva was originally meant to be a songless feature. That would have been quite a loss. The main theme of the movie is obviously the youth (Yuva means "the youth") and the music supports this theme very well. The title track "Dhakka Laga Bukka" does what it's meant to do. It is the absolute highlight of the collection of six songs. The song has an industrial feel to it upheld by the strong percussions, bass riffs and the mélange vocals of Mehboob, Rahman and Karthik. DLB is a very chaotic piece and the only thing holding it together is the combination of the reliable "Dhakka Laga Bukka" and the percussions and bass. It does have it's melodious parts though, highly underplayed though in whistles and a few vocal interludes. Lyrically DLB is both weak and strong. The lyrics work well in conjunction with Rahman's music but have very little literal and aesthetic value.

Next up is "Khuda Hafiz". This is a very interesting song. It starts out with Sunitha Sarathy's sensuously mellifluous voice singing meaningless sweet nothings to you in heartfelt whispers and quickly moves into a high tempo piece with the illustrious Lucky Ali and Karthik with Sunitha still hanging on in the background. the focus shifts to the intro piece with Sunitha as the beats fade away and then again to Lucky's Anjaana bit with Sunitha and then back to Sunitha's piece. But this time Rahman inserts a somewhat out of place piano piece with Sunitha and then we move to the closing with Lucky. It's a strange mix that sounds amazing and yet incomplete. Lucky's Anjaana piece and Sunitha's Khuda Hafiz don't seem to mix that well until you actually witness Rahman's magic in the ending. The lyrics are again lacking as they fail to bring a solid coalescence to the song. Overall Khuda Hafiz is an excellent song which could have used a little more of Sunitha.

Now we come to "Dol Dol". There is only one way to describe Dol Dol. Weird. Rahman injects trance into Yuva with this track. Dol Dol sports the vocals of Blaze and to an extent Shaheen Badar. Shaheen's voice is in fact used more as an instrumental riff, sparsely laid out in the repetitive song to remove monotony. Blaze's pieces are short but forceful. The track features the standard fast paced beats that are the hallmark of pop trance. Although Dol Dol is repetitive, there is enough subtleties in it to make it an addictive fast paced track. There are the short string pieces, many synthesized shorts and of course Shaheen's riffs.

The last time we saw Adnan Sami with Rahman was in Saathiya. This time he comes with Alka Yagnik to deliver a brilliant song in the form of "Baadal". Baadal is a melodious slow tempo duet with a healthy mix of Rahman’s synth riffs, strings and a nice percussion background. Both the vocalists carry the song very well. Baadal is in fact quite a generic affair by Rahman’s standards.

“Kabhi Neem Neem” is extremely reminiscent of last year’s Tehzeeb and Saathiya’s Naina Milake, which was also sung by Madhushree. It’s a pure folk song that has become a quite standard feature in Rahman’s compositions since Lagaan. Madhushree sings beautifully and with feel in this song, as always. Folk songs are becoming her niche thanks to Rahman. KNN is decidedly chock full of Rahman’s unique selection of percussion, but never overly intrusive.

Last but most definitely not the least is “Fanaa”. Fanaa is one of Yuva’s more unique tracks, even though it does belong to the more generic “disco” genre in the Indian music industry. Rahman himself is the major vocalist in Fanaa, with Sunitha and Tanvi providing euphonious interludes and backgrounds. The core of Fanaa lies in… well, Fanaa. The lyrics call for quite a few “Fanaas” and rhymes in the song, most of which are sung by Rahman. These “Fanaas” echo and fade away in the track, creating a very chaotic yet harmonious backdrop which only the masterful Rahman could have created. Rahman’s alaap interlude is wonderfully realized in a genre where an alaap would seem extremely out of place.

Clearly Yuva is a winner. This is the one the fans have been waiting for. Even though it isn’t truly perfect and lacks a few things which would have made it a true classic, it still is pure gold. Yuva’s main weakness lies in it’s lyrics. Mehboob’s are great to listen to in Rahman’s songs and occasionally are very good as in Rangeela, but here they are completely and totally wayward. Granted, they sound great, but they make very little sense. A few songs work well but the majority is lacking. Despite that shortcoming and the lack of a few regulars like Asha Bhonsle, Yuva is a great work of art. One of Rahman’s truly unique collections where he tries something new, which work too. Although initially some of Yuva’s weaker songs might seem less inviting, I can assure you, have faith in the master’s abilities. Like every single one of his songs they too will grow on you as you discover a new depth to them each time you listen to them.

- - Rise of the Phoenix

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