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This film is about television and the "need to talk". Its album is a mix of Indian rock and pop

Split Wide Open
BMG Crescendo
Rs 75

English August was a cult film. The young Dev Benegal made his debut as director with it. Upamanyu Chatterjee's novel of the same name had been around for some time when Benegal decided he had found just the right story to make a film about an English-educated generation trying to make sense of village India, and the Indian bureaucracy. The film was witty, no doubt, but then much of its irony was lost on urban audiences who sympathised more with its city-smart IAS trainees than with the wretched people they were sent to administer.

Benegal has now co-authored Split Wide Open with Upamanyu Chatterjee, who, incidentally, is an IAS man himself. Rahul Bose, who played Agastya, is also back in this film. Split Wide Open hit the theatres on March 30. Dev says it is about "live television, emerging sexuality and the need to talk". Its music is a mix of rock and dance, genres that perhaps reflect the tastes of "the New Age Indian wanting to go places".

The audio tape walks you through the film with six brief dialogues and eight songs. You find references to a TV show, the 'water mafia', domestic violence, drugs, love and sex.

Air Supply and Mehnaz open the tape with You are in English and Hindi. In Jane na koi Asha Bhonsle does what you might call a Karnatak-rock number with music by Karthik Raja. A sax and mandolin play phrases in raga Nattai while Asha, accompanied by heavy drumming, sings of the mysterious persona of the modern girl. Garbage continue the rock mood with The trick is to keep breathing and Indus Creed bring in soft rock with Trapped, a take-off on the philosophy of karma that believes that the soul is trapped in a cage called the body. The dialogues on this side feature a mafia king called Altaf.

Side B has Laila's voice introducing a TV show called Split Wide Open which promises to show what we are and what we hide. Silk Route's Dooba dooba still sounds fresh thanks to their all-acoustic back up. Najam sings Mera jee nahin lage in a voice notable for its unspoilt, natural timbre. Anaida sings a dance-style Black is black. A funky trumpet is the highlight of Touch and go, in which an Indian who has lived abroad for 20 years says she is trying to find her roots, and prompty proceeds to ask, "Would you like to go to bed with me?"

For its variety, you might like this album.

S Suchitra Lata

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