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Grandiose music for love across frontiers

Refugee launches two star kids, Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. And its music, for all its lilt, suffers from an overuse of the violin ensemble and the chorus

Rs 55

It was one of Mumbai's biggest events in recent days. The Bachchan and Kapoor families brought with them memories of their own days in filmdom when they came for the album release on April 18.

The movie stars two faces that filmdom has been waiting to baptise into stardom -- Abhishek, son of Amithabh and Jaya Bachchan, and Kareena, daughter of Randhir and Babitha Kapoor.

The film is about love across frontiers, and comes at a time when Kargil haunts the national imagination. Refugee tries to build bridges between estranged peoples, and so it deserves welcome.

Sufi music -- with its evocation of the desert -- comes across strongly in Jise tu na mila. This is the first song on Side B. Sukhwinder and Shankar Mahadevan sing this number in their robust voices. The orchestra reminds you a bit of the Dil se number Tu hi tu, but that is no reflection on Anu Malik, who's doing creditworthy scores of late. You might also like the raga improvisations and the opening harmonium bit.

Raat ki hatheli par is sung by Udit Narayan and a chorus. It's another slow song, but the arrangement of the chorus and the violin ensemble makes this love song sound grandiose rather than intimate.

Taal pe jab opens with the mridangam, dholak and tabla ensemble doing a passage that's just like a tani avartanam, the rhythm solo that you find in south Indian classical concerts. The song is sung by Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik, and again feels panoramic, if you could use that word to describe sound.

Panchhi nadiyan pawan ke jhoken, the opening song on the album, suffers from a similarly overdone orchestra. It opens with some whispered poetry -- the words are by Javed, who brings in the lyricism of the Urdu romantic tradition. The interludes are interestingly done, with Tibetan sounds mixing with strains of the south Indian veena.

Aisa lagta hain by Alka Yagnik and Sonu Nigam is a conventional melody. A huge chorus mixes with an equally huge violin ensemble in the interludes. The only notable textural contrast comes when the rest of the rhythm stops to let the south Indian khanjira continue for a couple of bars.

Mere humsafar is a neat melody on a seven-beat rhythm (remember the lovely Lata classic O Basanti pavan pagal, which also used a similar rhythm?) Alka Yagnik's singing reminds you very much of Lata's style.

Abundance -- that seems to be the bane of this album. The producers have spared no expense to make this a grand album, and probably hired a huge orchestra that then got unwieldy. Anu Malik makes lilting tunes that could have become far more intimate, and artistically successful, if only he had refrained from overusing the violin ensemble and chorus.

S Suchitra Lata

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