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Lasting images from Javed

But Rahman is out of form composing slow songs with no place for heavy drumming

1947 Earth
Rs 45

This is a Deepa Mehta film set in the traumatic days of the Partition. She released it abroad as Earth; in India she calls it 1947 Earth so that people don't confuse it with Mahesh Bhatt's Arth. It features Nandita Das, who made her debut in Deepa's daring and controversial Fire, besides Aamir Khan and Rahul Khanna. It is also Aamir Khan's third release this year, after Mann and Sarfarosh.

Deepa takes Rahman, a successful composer from the commercial circuit, to make the music for her films. Fire had no songs, but this film has many.

Rahman hasn't completely moved away from his style: the orchestra and the voices sound familiar. But he seems out of his elements when called upon to compose slow-paced songs without heavy drumming.

Sukhwindara Singh is joined by a chorus in Ruth Aa Gayee Re which celebrates spring. The interludes are based on the raga Sohini. The song is full of images of the girl's flying chunri, her falling bindi, the papiha's call... The first part has no instrumental back-up and dulls Sukhwindara's sense of tone. The heavy violins are waiting just around the corner and join in.

Dheemi dheemi by Hariharan begins with Rahman's trademark tinkling sounds. It uses the bass guitar to mark time. Somehow it remains synthetic and fails to do justice to the words, which talk about the presence of the beloved.

Srinivas and Sujata Trivedi sing Yeh jo zindagi hain. The bass and the chords remind you of Kadal rojave from Rahman's debut Roja; it has the same shades of raga Desh. The chorus repeats itself too many times. A second version is by Sukhwindara Singh and Srinivas.

Theme song uses the rhubab, a heavy chorus and a string section. The inflexion is rather exotic. If a Western composer had to make an Indian tune, he would perhaps do it in this idiom. The violins in the symphonic style, the cello, and the chorus are all very grandiose and Western. A tambura sruti fades in towards the end. Reminds you of the theme for Richard Attenborough's Gandhi.

Raat ki daldal hai by Sukhwindara Singh depicts intense, suffocating darkness, where something will soon be lost. The high pitch brings out the despair in Javed Akhtar's poetry. He talks about the anger in the heart's courtyard, the air holding its breath in fear, and the night weeping for broken dreams.

Sujata Mohan and Anuradha Sriram sing Ishwar Allah, an ordinary poem. It is pleasant, and doesn't express the distress you find in songs like Allah tero naam from Hum Dono. The tune is like Vaishnava janato but lacks that song's simple appeal.

Piano music is structured like a nocturne, romantic and dreamy.

Banno raani is fast, folksy, and sung by Sadhana Sargam. Rahman returns to form and creates a village fair mood with claps and a peppy bass.

Divya Minisandram

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