To list out songs which I think are A R Rahman’s best is a tough job. [Though Maanasi beat me to it ;)] I would still like to go ahead and list few of his compositions. Let me rephrase it, will list out few of his not-so-popular compositions. Tracks which have not made it as chart busters but are as good, if not better than the best. My take on the maestro’s compositions:
Noor-un-Ala-Noor (Meenaxi): A movie that made no sense to most of us has some amazing set of songs. Noor-un-ala is one of them. It starts off with alaap accompanied by bass and chimes. Then it transcends into, ARR’s favorite genre, sufi. The composition has shades of Raag Jog. Murtuza Khan and Qadir Khan sing well and improvise this haunting Qawwali with sargam and alaap. Great track.
Do kadam (Meenaxi): One more from Meenaxi. In fact I like the entire album. There are no words to describe this album. Anyway, coming back to this song- give me chimes, bells and other tinkling stuff as background music and I can listen to it forever on a lazy afternoon.. It also has the melody of guitar. As some kinda bonus we have Sonu Nigam (aka feeling Raja) singing for us. Do kadam? Bah! I don’t mind taking two million steps with Sonu ;) I love the way he sings “Aao chale hum wahi, Do kadam aur sahi”… So romantic..
Main Albeli (Zubeida): Three things I love about this track- Percussion: can’t get enough of it. Accordion: I go crazy whenever ARR uses accordion. It sounds divine. and Kavitha: those who know me will be surprised but yes I think she has sung it well. Sukhwinder Singh does a good job too. The other songs I like from Zubeidaa are Chhodo More (by Richa Sharma), So Gaye and Pyara sa gaon (both sung by Lata Mangeshkar).
Dheemi Dheemi (1947 Earth): Rahman brings in the silent killer- Hariharan, for Dheemi Dheemi. It’s packed with romance and poetry. Rahman sticks to the melody and plays around with mild chords. He is a master when it comes to that. I feel the song could have had some nice harmony. Just a thought.
Manmohini (Yuvraaj): This classical fusion is my favorite from Yuvraaj. The film’s a dud, who cares, we have Vijay Prakash (the guy who sang Cheeni Kum). Yayy! The Mysore boy steals the show. A great east meets west track.
Tu Bole Main Boloon (Jaane Tu ya Jaane na): And all that jazz! Rahman gives us a jazz number with drums, trumpet and clarinet. He proves himself to be the only musician who dares to explore a genre such as jazz.
Piya Ho (Water) : Piya ho which is based on Raag Lalit is slow and reminds you of a calm river, with lot of emotions underneath. The song starts off with mild chords and vocals. Apparently ARR missed out on Oscars in 2006. I feel this to be a better album when compared to Slumdog.
Sarfaroshi ki tamanna (The lengend of Bhagat Singh) : I get goosbumps whenever I listen to it. Sonu and Hariharan get together to sing this masterpiece… Composed in Raag Des (not pure form of Des ) it starts off with no percussions; just flute, Sitar and santoor. A Fantabulous number.
Shauk Hai (Guru): The soft piano in Shauk hai is enhanced by Sowmya rao’s evocative singing. Rahman and Gulzar create a wishful world. love this line - “Neend ki goliyon ka, khwab ki loriyon ka.. Bezubaan aus ki boliyon ka .. shauk hai”.
Pyar yeh jaane kaisa (Rangeela): Violins ..violins.. Love the violins used here. ARR, you are the best.
Paigham laaya saawan (Lakeer): Based on Raag Darbari, Paigham is a sweet romantic track. But what was ARR thinking when he made Shaan sing? But the composition is so beautiful you forgive him. Next time Rahman, please don't make this guy sing...
Rasiya (Mangal Pandey - the Rising): Richa sharma sings “o chaliya o rasiya” effortlessly. And the GUITAR! Love the guitar chords played. Spanish mixed Indian tune is just B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l and so is its haunting chorus.
Door na jaa mujhse (Sapnay): The groovy beat and shifty notes make this an extremely enjoyable number. SPB, who IMHO is the best playback singer we have, sings it with lot of passion (his accent forgiven). The best part of this composition is its antara which is just perfect. Can’t be improvised further. It sounds better in Tamil though..
Ada: Title song of this album is the best, sung by Parul Mishra. The track has subtle back vocals and guitar but it completely belongs to the vocalist. Other tracks that I like are Milo Wahaan (classy number which has cello, Violin and just a dafli beat in the background) and Mehrabaan (sung by ARR). Fabulous is the word. If you haven’t bought this album go grab it child!
Aahista Aahista (Swades): Thanks to a friend of mine who made me listen to this song, I got introduced to Raag Charukeshi. The lullaby is intoxicating. When ARR brings in Santoor you just glide in reverie. This hundred stringed instrument, is my current favorite, apart from accordion that is.
There. I did it. Needless to say I have thoroughly enjoyed myself writing this post.
So fraands go ahead and add songs which you think went unnoticed.
p.s. I have intentionally not included his Tamil, telugu, non-filmi and international albums. I think the list would be endless :)