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A promise kept

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Gulzar collaborate on a quiet album in a bazaar thriving on skimpy clothes and skimpier music

Rs 55

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Gulzar. Big names on this album.

Others less famous: singers Roop Kumar Rathod and Sadhana Sargam.

The orchestral arrangement by Bhavdeep Jaipurwale makes this album work. No filmy flashes, no loudness, just holding on to Indian sounds and instruments.

Amjad Ali Khan makes tunes like the music directors of old. S D Burman and Naushad, if insiders are to be believed, made the framework and let their arrangers do the rest. And they had efficient arrangers who could anticipate the sort of orchestra they wanted. One gets the feeling there was similar synergy in this team. The inlay card graciously thanks Roop Kumar Rathod for his creative inputs.

But the orchestra does not create anything strikingly new. There's no coming together of styles, as in, say, a Kathak (Trilok Gurtu) or Ab ke Sawan (Shubha Mudgal and Shantanu Moitra). The orchestra is dignified but familiar, the singing is correct and good, but not deep. A couple of tunes, especially Aiso koi, Doob rahe ho and Sara jahan have a haunting lilt.

Sara jahan by Sadhana Sargam has a raga flavour working with a pop beat, but loses its hold in the stanza.

Gulzar's deep voice is part of Roz-e-awwal, the number in which the speaker is a wanderer who finds shelter in an occasional town. The tune is unexpected in its mix of silence and oboe, and those strange lonely night sounds.

There is a quiet sense of inevitablity in the raga Bhatiyar-based tune of Yeh subah saans legi. The beloved's action is the very raison d'etre of everything in the lover's eyes. The interludes use the sarangi and violins in wistful phrases, and sometimes remind you of the layering style of Ilaiyaraja. In the old black and white films, the orchestra usually backed up the singer by playing the very same notes of his melody. Here the violin ensemble sometimes does that.

Aankhen mein sawan has the gentle reaching out of Hemant Kumar's Kuch dil ne kaha from Anupama. Dil ka rasiya is again by Sadhana, nothing much to the tune. One interlude is so colourful it could be re-recording music.

Chori chori by Roop Kumar opens with heavy violins and a key flute which give way to a very Indian tune tenderly chiding the false coyness of the girl.

Here too the first interlude seemed straight out of Ilaiyaraja. The second interlude interposes the sitar on Western drums. The stanza is not very memorable. Dandiya style rhythm marks the duet Har baat pe.

Roop Kumar sings with sincerety, avoiding gimmickry of any kind. An added bonus is Amjad Ali Khan playing instrumental versions of Aisa koi, Dil ka rasiya, Har baat pe, Chori chori and Roz-e-awwal.

S Suchitra Lata

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