It goes without saying that AR Rahman is a supreme talent when it comes to music. Not only in India. But anywhere in the world. This year he excelled in Rang De Basanti where almost all the songs were fantastic. So, it goes without saying that his next offering with Mani Rathnam was eagerly anticipated. First of all, it's important to understand that one approaches an AR Rahman album with a lot of expectations. You expect each song to be outstanding. In that context, Guru is a mixed bag. For it has splendid numbers like Tere Bina, Ae Hairathe Aashiqui and Jaage Hain (This being an amazing experience). Barso Re is good while Ek Lo Ek Muft, Mayya and Baazi Laga are a bit of a disappointment. Yes, it's hundred percent worth-a-buy for it has some brilliant gems with fabulous lyrics by Gulzar. But as an album, it's not completely satisfying.
In Shreya Ghoshal, AR makes a perfect choice of singers for a crafty song like Barso Re. For it's a pleasure noticing those twists-n-turns in the Shrutiyan (sub notes within notes) that she strikes with an effortless ease. Add the spirit of an eighteen year old, and the song bubbles with nascent chirpiness. The song starts with the strumming of a string instrument colluding with a mischievous flute strain and then a traditional rhythm picks up the tempo invoking the rain gods to let loose their gates of outpouring. It's a good song that evokes visual images in your mind but somehow, it is not Rahman at his best. Somehow one expects nothing short of brilliance each time he has baton in his hands.
Tere Bina is vintage AR at his best. The moment this spirited song starts, you get surprised with its sheer novelty value. Moreover, you also get to hear an inspired Rahman letting you have a sneak peek inside his golden spirit. There's the unmistakable triumph of an at-ease tabla theka taking things forward as if moving ahead on a camel ride through a charmingly cool desert evening. There's a sufiyana element in the song reminding you of the spirit of Dumadum Mast Qalandar. The additional vocals of Chinmayee, Murtaza and Qadir inject a haunting feel while AR's playing-around-with-sargam in the middle has a magical effect. Fabulous string arrangements coupled with guitar (Sounding like a sitar) strains makes Tere Bina a fantastically produced song that moves you effortlessly.
Ek Lo Ek Muft is a song which may make more sense with the picturisation. For, listening to Bappi Lahri trying to infuse life in this theatrical number doesn't sound good. It's the kind of song which is usually part of village revelries after a hard day under the big banyan tree. Raw rhythm emanates out of what can be a dugdugi or a nagada with manjeera sounding like ghungroo. And then the additional vocals of Tanvi, Saloni, Boney and Jaidev create strange kinds of sounds that are far from entertaining. Even the normally reliable Chitra is unable to instill life in this song. I can't listen to it again and again.
Mayya has a middle-eastern flavour with Mayya Toller singing in an unconventional manner whereas Chinmayee and Keerthi shadow her. It's a song that once again will sound better with the visuals. For, it's a number that functions on the level of subconsciousness. I don't think I like Mayya's singing style. It's a bit too experimental. But come to know that this song is an item song picturised on Mallika Sherawat, things spice up in the mind. Temporarily. I like serious music with thought provoking lyrics but the chaos in Mayya fails on both the fronts. The rhythm designing is jarring an