Sundar balma is the last song on this
album. It shows the strongest experimental streak among nine
tracks on Aatma. There's Hariharan singing chota
khayal-style lines (composed by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, his
guru), a disappointed lover whispering to her beloved and
trying to find out why he is distracted, and Lezz singing his
English lines. On the whole it achieves a cinematic montage
fact Aatma picks up styles from East and West, quite
fittingly for a group that underlines its internal "colonial"
polarity. Mata pita is a ballad in
praise of parents, added for variety one surmises, for all the other
songs are love songs written to girlfriends or dream girls.
Dil mera kahe dheem dheem dhirena is
interesting because it picks
up its syllables from the classical tarana form, throws in Mumbai
movie-style words and some heavy rock-style drumming. Also
thrown in are a chorus and a sitar.
with me pretty angel woman/Dance with me till the night is over" can
hardly qualify as great poetry, and most of the time, the words
on this album are adolescent articulations of romantic love.
In the next track, "Dil mein tu"
rhymes with "can it be me and you", and has
additional lyrics in Hindi by Dev Kohli. Vishwamohan Bhatt begins the track with
an alap in Bhim Palas -- and
then Hariharan sings some pleasant flourishes. Again, the immature
college style comes back: "
Hit me like a shot of cocaine/Dil mein tu/Can it be me an'
Side B opens with Sri Rama. A salsa rhythm leads into
Lezz's voice, which is then followed by Hariharan singing
traditional Karnatak-style lines in praise of god Rama.
The next track Kai zhala pastes Marathi words on
to a raucous expression of love with words like "crazy about
you/hazy without you" and all that.
While not denying their talent and their
capacity for energetic music, one must say that the Colonial Cousins
are too old to get by with words of this sort. The inputs are first
class -- great studios and fine musicians, expert mixing and
mastering... yet you look for more from a band like
With Hariharan's long years
of struggle and learning under classical masters
like Ghulam Mustafa Khan, and Leslie Lewis's decades of dealing with
the world of advertising and selling, you would expect their
songs to carry the truth of experience. What you see instead is
just the froth of sentimentality. Their songs will perhaps mature
and acquire the bitter dash of life sometime, but right
now they are only reaching out -- don't know how
successfully -- to a teen audience.
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