In honor of India’s own Golden Globe winner Allah Rakha Rahman!
Since Slumdog Millionaire has been finding its feet here and people I know have seen it, I’ve been asked a lot about AR Rahman’s work (ha! all of a sudden I don’t seem so crazy to them!). As I said on my last post (in the comments) I have promised some that I’ll put together a CD of his work. I am pretty unfamiliar with his Tamil film music, so forgive the under-representation of it here; many of you have left recommendations in the comment thread of my last post and I will be looking into them (anyone reading this because they want to know more, should definitely check them out too!). I first heard his music early on in my “Bollywood” career with Lagaan, which I still consider one of his best soundtracks. I loved it so much that I went and got other movies (Taal, Roja, Kandukondain Kandukondain) solely on the basis of his having done the music.
So here is my hastily cobbled-together list (true confession: all my favorites lists are fairly hastily cobbled-together, it seems more honest that way) of my fifteen favorite songs by India’s genius composer (it started as a top ten list, but felt too incomplete and simply was not possible to stop there). And I did have to give myself one rule: only one song to represent each film, although I cheated a bit with #10.
15. “Ae Ajnabi” from Dil Se (1998) (sung by Udit Narayan and Mahalaxmi Iyer). “Chhaiyya Chhaiyya” is the more well-known song (thanks to Spike Lee and Inside Man to some extent) but I love this one. The melody is just so insidious, and gets right inside your head (well, mine, anyway).
14. “Ottagatha Kittiko” from Gentleman (1994) (sung by Janaki and SP Balasubramaniam). I know nothing about this film, but have always liked the song a lot. It makes me want to get up and dance around.
13. “Tere Bina” from Guru (2006) (sung by AR Rahman and Chinmayee). So very romantic, pictured on Aishwarya and Abhishek who were falling in love in real life too. So sweet!
11. “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” from Jodhaa Akbar (2007) (sung by the Maestro himself). I love this song, and the picturization is sublime. And I love the way AR sings it: his voice is so cool, too.
10. “Hai Naa” from Zubeidaa (2000) (sung by Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik). All the songs from this film are beautiful, and I was torn between “Mehndi Hai Rachnewali” (sung by Alka) and this one for the spot. You decide!
9. “Endrendrum Punnagai” from Alai Payuthey (2002) (sung by Clinton, Pravin, Srinivas, Shankar Mahadevan). I love Madhavan (can’t wait to see him in 3 Idiots!) and this opening to the film with the credits has him smiling and bouncing along on his motorcycle. I need to see the film in the worst way (loved Saathiya, and the music—which is basically the same—but am pretty sure I’d really love the original even more).
8. “Chinnamma Chilakkamma” from Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities (2007) (sung by Sukhwinder Singh). This song just rocks, plain and simple!
7. “Ishq Bina” from Taal (1999) (sung by Sonu Nigam, AR Rahman, Anuradha Sriram, Sujata). I didn’t like the film that much, but loved the music, and this song in particular.
6. “Yun Hi Chala Chala” from Swades (2004) (sung by Udit Narayan and Hariharan). The best song for a road trip EVER, along with The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.” Not bad company to be in! (Can you imagine going on a road trip with SRK and Jim Morrison? I guess my head would probably explode). Another soundtrack without a bad song.
5. “Shambho Shambho” from Vishwa Vidhaata (1997) (sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy). I haven’t seen this film either, but I want to! And this song for some reason reminds me of African songs from my childhood. It’s not on YouTube so I’ve put it here for you to listen to.
4. “Theme Music” from 1947 Earth (1999). Haunting, beautiful, haunting. Haunting. As is the film. This is also not on YouTube so I’m putting it here. I love every single song from this film, besides for Lagaan I think it is his best. Listen to them all (the rest are on YouTube).
3. “Dola Dola” from Dil Hi Dil Mein (2000) (sung by Srinivas and Swarnalatha). I haven’t seen the film, but I love this song. It just makes me happy to listen to it and I can’t stop myself from twirling around the room!
2. “Chhoti Si Aasha” from Roja (1999) (sung by Minmini). I just fell head over heels for this song as soon as I heard it. Loved the movie too, and the cinematography accompanying this song is just spectactular. It is a beautiful introduction to our heroine and her world.
1. “O Paalanhaare” from Lagaan (2001) (sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan). This is maybe the most spiritual song that I’ve ever heard. It feels like a direct line to God, no matter what religion you ascribe to, or not, as the case may be.