Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hitting the Bottom Rock

For those who religiously do visit this site, this post is for you. I have been playing truant with posting anything on the blog for the past couple of months. "Believe you me", as one cricket commentator (oh, someone please remind me who that was) used to put it, I have tried to think of things to write.

There's the lack of inspiration, the drying up of topics and arguments, passions and peeves, lost loves and love's lost. And then there's the plinth below the edifice of attempts. Boredom. It has sunk in and is refusing to go. It has come in the most irresistible and inexplicable ways. It is as if I woke up one day and decided: Enough of blogging for me. It has spread and how. I have even stopped visiting the blogs that I have frequented with unfailing regularity for a couple of years now.

It does not make sense, and I am hoping it is a temporary thing. The words will start flowing again, and the break in time-space continuum will be restored. Until further notice, the blog is suspended. Hopefully, you'll visit back when I do start writing again. Till then, take care, keep blogging.

Friday, January 13, 2006

And so it has begun

I am sounding like a character from Lord of the Rings. The amplitude of each battle is raised, the destiny of each skirmish worth being a legend. Where does my battle fall? To be precise, the one that I am witness to? As I sit here at 1.30 in the night witness to Younis Khan and Mohammad Yusuf completely dominate a lacklustre Indian bowling attack, I am feeling a mix of emotions.

Happiness: I finally am watching a cricket series in the comfort of my house on TV. Yes, there have been a couple of seasons where I have fought with the frustrating futility of streaming telecasts. But this is the first time since I bought a house and bought Dish TV that I am going to see an entire series live.

Puzzled: How do you expect to win a match with a bowling combination that reads Pathan, Agarkar, Kumble and Harbhajan? Your only hope is to win the toss and bat first. Your spinners will be largely effective only in the fourth innings and the medium pacers will hardly run through the batting lineup. Pathan needs some help from the pitch to be effective and Agarkar averages 46. And as Michael Holding wryly added, that's not in batting.

The shoulder shrug: Ganguly got picked. I don't know if he is going to open or someone else will be made to be a scapegoat. Somehow, I don't think this is going to impact the match enough. Its the bowling that we need to fix. Unless some genius decided to pick him as an all-rounder. I have felt before that his entire case has been badly handled. Now, you are in a situation that can't be salvaged. Let's see how he fares in this test.

Excited: I love watching cricket. Especially test cricket. Most people I meet prefer one-dayers, but I think there isn't enough excitement in watching one team pummell 350 and have the other team chase it. There is no contest, just a slog-fest. That's precisely the reason it would be difficult to enjoy 20-20. Perhaps I am anachronistic. Most people my age enjoy the instant gratification that one-day cricket provides. I am comfortable with enjoying the game and the intricacies and the battles for five days. The pleasure is in the journey, not just in the result.

Nostalgic: About the lengths to which I have gone to watch cricket in this country. I was remembering how we would stay up late in the night to watch the India-Australia series in 2001 in the SCC (student computing center) to get the free feed from That was a brilliant series and the webcast was brilliant too. What wasn't brilliant is how the other non-Indians in the lab would be troubled with sudden hurrahs that would emanate when Sachin imposed himself on the Aussies.

I don't know how the series will unfold. It seems to me that this will be much tougher for us to win that the last time we were there. On paper, I'd give our opponents the edge. Simply because their bowling seems stronger than ours. But stranger things have happened. As one really funny flight attendant advised us at the end of our flight to watch for displaced luggage contents in the containers, 'Shift Happens'

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hindi Film Songs: Best of 2005

Apologies for my continued absence from the blogging sphere. No excuses. I just didn’t seem to have much to contribute. Many thanks to those who questioned my absence. You guys are super. This one’s for you all. Last year, I wrote up a rather popular entry about a list of Hindi film songs from the year 2004. I had mentioned that if I liked the exercise, I might do it on a regular basis. So, here I am.

A few disclaimers:
1. The songs aren’t listed in any particular order. I have just listed them in the order in which I remembered them.
2. I try to listen to each new album that comes out at least once. However, there are simply too many new movies and too many songs to follow. It is possible that some may have been omitted
3. Some of the movies will be releasing next year (eg. Rang De Basanti) but since their songs have released this year, I am including them. Similarly, movies that released in 2005 were covered in the 2004 list if their music was out then (eg. Kisna, Shabd)

I am open to suggestions on songs that you think should be on the list but are missing.

Song : Aashiq Banaya Aapne
Movie : Aashiq Banaya Aapne
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Singers : Himesh Reshammiya, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Himesh surprised everyone with his singing. The tune is good too.

Song : Halka Halka Sa Yeh Nasha
Movie : Chocolate
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Mayur Puri
Why is it on the list? : Zippy, contemporary, well-executed, well-sung track. Pritam followed Dhoom well with this album.

Song : Zehreeli Raatein
Movie : Chocolate
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Kay Kay
Lyricist: Mayur Puri
Why is it on the list? : This one is a rip-off from a song called Aadat (which now appears in Kalyug). But the lyrics and rendition of this one are better.

Song : Salaam Namaste
Movie : Salaam Namaste
Music Director : Vishal & Shekhar
Singer : Kunal Ganjawala , Vasundhara Das
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahni
Why is it on the list? : Aditya Chopra’s new move into the urban youth heartland begins with this title track and it rocked. The choice of the singers did the trick.

Song : Yeh Hain Meri Kahani
Movie : Zinda
Music Director : Strings
Singer : Faisal Kapadia
Lyricist: Anwar Maqsood
Why is it on the list? : Well written and very well sung. This was a good year-end surprise. This one will grow on you.

Song : Zinda Hoon Main
Movie : Zinda
Music Director : Shibani Kashyap
Singer : Shibani Kashyap
Lyricist: Virag Mishra
Why is it on the list? : Visceral, energetic, different. Goes with the theme of the movie well.

Song : Rang De Basanti
Movie : Rang De Basanti
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Daler Mehndi, Chitra
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : Rehman strikes once more with a varied album. This one’s written beautifully and Daler infuses great energy in the song. Even Chitra’s shrillness doesn’t take away from the end effect.

Song : Lukka Chuppi
Movie : Rang De Basanti
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Lata Mangeshkar, A.R. Rehman
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : What happens when you get a legend (that’s Lata), a great music director( Rehman) and a not-so-great-singer(Rehman) together? You get away with a composition that threatens to go below par, be excessively maudlin, but avoids it. The lyrics are good, the tempo of the song well paced, and the orchestration is excellent. Why Rehman won’t have anyone else sing it beats me though?

Song : Dus Bahane
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : KK, Shaan
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : Should I even bother explaining?

Song : Jaaniya Ve
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Hariharan, Mahalaxmi
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : One of the lesser lights of Dus, but this is a brilliantly sung song. Hear it if you haven’t already.

Song : Deedar De
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : I think I am partial to this movie, but what the heck. I love the beats in this song. Trivia for those interested: the song is picturized on Mayte Garcia, who is the ex-wife of TAFKAP (The artist formerly known as Prince)

Song : Barsaat Ke Din Aaye
Movie : Barsaat
Music Director : Nadeem-Shravan
Singer : Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Strictly for Nadeem-Shravan fans. Now that they have split, we won’t be seeing them on the list anymore.

Song : Sabse Bada Rupaiyya
Movie : Bluffmaster
Music Director : TrickBaby
Singer : Chetan, Mehmood, Saira Hussain
Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Why is it on the list? : My distaste of remixes is known. However, this one is genuinely a mixing of sounds. The use of tromobones, the change of rhythms, the very jazzy getup of the song makes it sound like a completely different song altogether. Importantly, it sounds great. Hats off to this first genuine ‘crossover’ album.

Song : Right Here Right Now
Movie : Bluffmaster
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Abhishek Bachchan, Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahni
Why is it on the list? : Abhishek takes to the mike and takes to it pretty well. I like the languid pace of the song and the beats.

Song : Azaadi
Movie : Bose – The Forgotten Hero
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : A.R. Rehman
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Got to hand it to him for doing another patriotic song and still making it sound interesting

Song : Kajra Re
Movie : Bunty aur Bubli
Music Director : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Singer : Alisha Chinnai, Shankar Mahadevan, Javed Ali
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : National anthem of the year. Miles above any other rocking song that came out. Brilliantly written, this modern mujra had it all. Aishwarya, Aishwarya, Aishwarya, Big B, little B and a masterstroke to have Alisha Chinoy sing it.

Song : Jal Jal Ke Dhuan
Movie : Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Amitabh Verma
Why is it on the list? : The guitar piece at the start has been lifted from ‘Fragile’ by Sting (courtesy RTD2), but I like Sonu’s rendition of the song.

Song : Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaaye
Movie : Kalyug
Music Director : Faisal Rafi and Rohail Hyatt
Singer : Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Lyricist: Asim Raza
Why is it on the list? : Soothing composition set in the Pahadi raag. These guys can teach a thing or two about making a melody without heavy orchestration. The flute is the predominant instrument and the subtlety and romance is never lost. Excellent work.

Song : Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Movie : Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shubha Mudgal
Lyricist: Ghalib
Why is it on the list? : The song haunts you long after you have heard it. Shubha Mudgal can create that aura with ease. One of the best movies of the year, Shantanu Moitra complemented with a competent ‘period’ based score.

Song : Sun Zara
Movie : Lucky
Music Director : Adnan Sami
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Adnan’s debut as a music director was the first big musical hit of the year. And rightly so. This song was composed with Adnan himself in mind, but Sonu does a good job of making it his own.

Song : Shayed Yahi To Pyar Hai
Movie : Lucky
Music Director : Adnan Sami
Singer : Adnan Sami, Lata Mangeshkar
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : I liked this one better than the Anuradha-Udit solo Jaan Meri Jaa Rahi Sanam (it reminded me of a song from Sahibaan a bit too much). Lata and Adnan define a soft romantic mood for the song, which takes it above the ordinary.

Song : Guncha (Unplugged)
Movie : Main Meri Patni Aur Woh
Music Director : Sanjay Jaipurwale
Singer : Mohit Chauhan
Lyricist: Rocky Khanna
Why is it on the list? : Alright. So I discovered this song at the very outset, didn’t think too much of it initally (I still think the lyrics are mediocre, but hey, I listen to too many ghazals). However, the raw feel to Mohit Chauhan’s voice (lead singer of Silk Route) is undeniable, and the song definitely sticks in your mind. It did wonders for him too. He got a song in Rang De Basanti.

Song : Soona Man Ka Aangan
Movie : Parineeta
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : It is going to be a tough job to leave out songs from this movie (all except the terrible Dhinak Dhin are good), so I am going to pick my favorite. Sonu Nigam has excelled in this song and taken it to another plane. Swanand and Shantanu Moitra have teamed up to a great job in this album and while I won’t list the rest of the songs here, they all deserve a place.

Song : Mumtaz Tujhe Dekha
Movie : Taj Mahal – An Eternal Love Story
Music Director : Naushad
Singer : Hariharan , Preeti Uttam
Lyricist: Naqsh Lyallpuri
Why is it on the list? : I was dreading this album. Naushad is right up there in my pantheon of great music directors and I did not want him to come back and spoil the image (like he did with his music in Guddu). As expected, the music was short of the mark, but was tolerable. This one was more tolerable than the rest.

Song : Mai Vari Vari
Movie : The Rising - Ballad of Mangal Pandey
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Reena Bharadwaj
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Another dissapointing score, but this qawwali stood out because it is a difficult composition rendered very well by the two of them.

Song : Kahan Ho Tum
Movie : U Bomsi N Me
Music Director : Neeraj Shridhar
Singer : Neeraj Shridhar
Lyricist: Neeraj Shridhar
Why is it on the list? : Neeraj Shridhar of ‘Bombay Vikings’ fame dons all the three roles and comes up trump. Very hummable track with good music.

Song : Naam Adaa Likhna
Movie : Yahaan
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : Beautiful lyrics by God, as Shaan lets Shreya take centrestage in this romantic composition set in the backdrop of Kashmir.

Song : Agar Tum Mil Jao
Movie : Zeher
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Loved the way Shreya says “chhod” in the song. In general, Anu Malik scores points for his brand of melody. Good composition.

Song : Woh Lamhe Woh Baatein
Movie : Zeher
Music Director : Mithun and Naresh Sharma
Singer : Atif
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Another track that stays with you after you have heard it. Powered by strong vocals by Atif, this one stands out for its lyrics as well.

Song : Khaali Hai
Movie : Paheli
Music Director : M.M. Kareem
Singer : Hariharan, Bela Shende
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : One of the most brilliant songs of the year. M.M. Kareem is all class in this composition which features some excellent flute interludes.

Song : Dheere Jalna
Movie : Paheli
Music Director : M.M. Kareem
Singer : Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : This one's for Gulzar and the brilliant imagery he constructs. Sonu and Shreya excel in this song which is again high on melody.

Song : Tauba Tauba
Movie : Kaal
Music Director : Salim-Sulaiman
Singer : Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kunal Ganjawala, Richa Sharma
Lyricist: Shabbir Ahmed
Why is it on the list? : This movie generated a lot of curiosity, especially since it was a SRK and Karan Johan production. Three songs made the cut for me, but I liked this the most. The duo of Salim-Sulaiman are the champs of giving background scores, so I was expecting a little better product from them. But I guess the producers too had a role to play. The followed it up with the terrible Neal 'N Nikki which finds no place on this list. Even if their music was not bad, the lyrics were terrible.