Vande Mataram CD cover [Courtesy: Sony Music]


Vande Mataram

Around a year back, when someone told me that A. R. Rahman had signed a deal with Sony for producing a music album alongwith big names like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey, my reaction was... "Yeah Right!!!"... Around six months later when there was no news about this album, I was convinced that this news was nothing but an unadulterated hoax. Little did I know, at that time, about a little powerhouse by the name of Bharat Bala, who has constantly fought the odds to make this dream of his come true. Finally, when the imminent release of the album titled Vande Mataram was made public, it was not only an achievement for A. R. Rahman, the musician, but a life ambition come true for a photographer named Bharat Bala.

This article is dedicated to that sincere soul named Bharat Bala.

A. R. Rahman's maiden venture into the international arena has been marked with nothing less than a national hysteria. Whether it is a complain or a praise, everyone seems to be talking about the work this quiet and unassuming little guy has produced. Vande Mataram marks a very important transitional point in his life.

As always, I did not like this album the first time I listened to it. But, as it has been in the past, the more I listened to it, the more I got hooked to this album. Whether it is the energetic Maa Thujhe Salaam sung by Rahman or the soft Revival a poignant rendition of Vande Mataram by Anuradha, Sujatha, Kalyani Menon and Seema, the deft orchestration and the precision audio mixing, a mark of Rahman's music, catch the attention of anyone who is interested in music. Even though the much publicised song Gurus of Peace, sung by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, turned out to be a remix of the Karuthamma song Poraalae ponnuthaayee, the way Nusrat has sung it adds a special flavour. One important feature of this song, is a peculiar audio mixing in the final portions, where Nusrat's voice is almost drowned by the instruments. The balance maintained in this portion, where you can hear all the instruments and the voices at the same level, giving an impression that one will drown the other, is something I haven't heard before.

For me, the only letdown in this album is the number of tamil songs... Thaai Mannae Vannakkam is the only tamil song and that too is a translation of Maa Thujhe Salaam. Still, this song emotes the feeling it was intended to, which marks the success of Rahman and Bharat Bala. Only You and Tauba Tauba sung by Rahman are the other songs in the album of which, I liked Only You the most. Missing another remix of Vande Mataram is mainly a instrumental piece, that conveys a sad feeling rather than a joyous one.

A. R. Rahman's detractors have constanly been saying that he keeps churning out the same kind of music over and over again. Many prominent musicians have shot him down as being a good arranger and nothing else. Being a Rahman critic, I have had doubts of his longevity as a musician, myself. All this time, Rahman has been quietly churning out platinum's after platinum's and till this date he has shown no signs of slowing down. Whatever anyone says, about his music, I take special pride in seeing a fellow tamilian rise to such heights and wish him success in his musical mission.