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Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack Review- A.R. Rahman at his best

Slumdog Millionaire is the film critics are raving about these days. All the people whom I have talked described this movie as a must watch. The film is set to release in India on January next year. I can't wait for this movie to release. In the meanwhile the soundtrack by Indian Legend A.R. Rahman is released.

Nobody in the West knows about the musical genius of A.R. Rahman. Working in several of India's various state/language film industries, international cinema and theater, Rahman, in a career spanning over a decade, has sold more than one hundred million records of his film scores and soundtracks world-wide, and sold over two hundred million cassettes making him one of the world's top 25 all-time top selling recording artists. His acclaimed music compositions have led TIME Magazine to declare him the "Mozart of Madras".

With his latest international venture "Slumdog Millionaire" A.R Rahman has once again proved his ability to produce tracks which will make you go "wow". Being an Indian, I have known about A.R Rahman all along and am well aware of the musical genius in him. But most of the Western world are unfamiliar with this gem of a talent. I hope this soundtrack will change that.

Rahman's compositions, most of them, have a peculiar character- they may not appeal to you when you hear it the first time, but it soon grows on you and make you realise the potential in the song. A biggest example of this is Slumdog Millionaire. When I first listened to it the only tracks that jumped out at me was "O..Saya" and "Mausam and Escape". But the second time i heard it I noticed a couple more tracks that are really good and by the time I finished listening to it the third time I fell in love with all the tracks barring a couple.

The Soundtrack starts with "O..Saya" which Rahman produced and sung in collaboration with the grammy nominated MIA (who by the way called Rahman the "Indian Timbaland"). Its a great fusion of Electronica, Hip Hop with traces of Bollywood that captures us right from the start. Rahman's unique voice and production is exquisitely complemented by M.I.A and what we get is a explosive track. This is followed up with an intense and ominous "Riot" in which A.R Rahman used african drums, electronics and small traces of vocals which are barely audible.

After "Riot", comes "Mausam and Escape"( weird title being Mausam means Climate), for which no amount of familiarity with Rahman's musical genius will prepare you. This track is absolutely other worldly. I almost have no words to describe the enormity of the track. In this racy track Rahman simply shows off as a producer. The tracks starts off serenely with Rashid Ali and Sanjay Joseph plucking at the guitar but at about 40 seconds into the track it shifts the gear to overdrive and takes off on a crescendo of ridiculously thrilling Sitar plucks by Asad. Rahman dexterously lets Asad take the lead and compliment him by playing magic with his Synthesizer and introducing violins to create a dramatically thrilling and racy track which will you get high. I have already heard the track a million times and I still get high on it.

After M.I.A's Paper Planes, Rahman's remix of the same(both are decent tracks) and a very forgettable "Ringa Ringa"(may be its there to give the album an Indian feel which it does, but I found it a little jarring) comes the genre breaking "Liquid Dance". How would one classify a sound he has never heard before and may well never hear again? Rahman mixes classical Indian vocals from Palakkad Sriram, electronic Hip Hop beats and an orchestral feel to create another phenomenal track.

"Lathika's Theme" is a slow, romantic , and melodious score over which Suzanne hums along and gives the song a beautiful feel to it. One can almost feel the romance in the air as one listens to it. With the mood slowed down a bit Rahman jumps to another racy track "Millionaire" which feels pretty ordinary on this soundtrack which has rise to ridiculously high levels by this time.

"Gansgta Blues" is yet another track which exhibits Rahman's ability to compose tracks in any genre. With "Gangsta Blues" he brings out a track bordering on Reggae beats and Gangsta Rap featuring Blaaze and Tanvi Shah. We have a little Techno, some Hip Hop, a splash of Jazz, a hint of Reggae, and a shade of Rap all bundled into one amazing track like only Rahman can do it.

"Dreams on Fire" follows which is basically "Lathika's Theme" with Suzanne returning to give soulful vocals and take the track to another level. And to finish off the soundtrack in an upbeat note Rahman includes the massively entertaining "Jai Ho", which is the most Indian track in the soundtrack, barring the out of place composition by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy "Aaj ki Raat". The sheer energy levels on the soundtrack just jumps off the chart with this track. Rahman uses the energetic Sukhwinder Singh and breezy melodic riffs to bring and all out dance track.

My Verdict- As with most soundtracks, the music loses some impact without the images and sounds that accompany them on screen. I haven't seen the movie and love the tracks already. I can't imagine how I would feel listening to the tracks on the movie with the help of images. This is easily the best International work by Rahman. This will go down in the history as one of the greatest soundtracks ever made. If no other surprises comes up during the year, Slumdog Millionaire will pick up an Oscar for its soundtrack among many others. Rahman has many names- Mozart of Madras, Indian Timbaland, Musical Prophet- all of them agreeing on one thing- he is a musical genius who makes music on a level which is totally different from anyone else.

The Soundtrack is not released yet. It will be available on December 23, 2008 on Amazon.
Be sure to get a copy of the album. I promise you will not regret it.
You can pre-order it here at Amazon

If you'd read the book(originally titled Q&A) by Vikas Swarup from which it is adapted before the release, you can get it here at Amazon

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10 comments so far.

  1. Anonymous December 8, 2008 at 9:39 AM
    Very nice review of the soundtrack, thanks for sharing. Just watched the movie, totally loved the sound.
  2. Manu December 8, 2008 at 12:30 PM
    Wow..you saw the movie?.. Its so frustrating..the movie only releases on January next year over here in India..:(
  3. Jamie: December 10, 2008 at 12:28 PM
    Omigosh! I didn't know about this movie until now! I love A.R. Rahman! I loved the soundtrack of "Lagaan" so much that I asked a friend of mine made me an mp3 CD of all A.R. Rahman tracks. I've been wanting to feature a track of his on my blog, I think the time finally might be upon me to actually do so.

    Thanks for the review!
  4. ~*.dmp.*~ December 10, 2008 at 8:29 PM
    I wonder whether u've been following all Ar rahman compositions.. If then you would have noticed that "Liquid Dance" is a remix of his own BGM for the south indian movie "Azhagiya Thamizh Magan"..

    "Ringa Ringa" was a rahmanic version of the controversial song "Choli ke peeche kya hain".. its quite easy for a music lover to notice the resemblance.. and thats why Ar rahman used "Alka Yagnik".. i heard that its omitted from the movie fearing controversy...

    If you listen to "O Saya" you can make out that background resembles like that of a train(indian).. i heard no one mentioning about it in any review..
  5. Manu December 10, 2008 at 10:18 PM
    I never said I'm an ardent follower of every A.R Rahman track.I like the guy, and the music he makes.. And another thing is I am reviewing the music and not finding out plagiarisms. I am not interested if he picked some samples from his own previous songs..I am interested in what the artist has brought out with this one.
    and in defense of Rahman.. For god's sake he uses samples in his songs..and it may overlap..give the guy a break.Enjoy the music instead of dissecting it.
  6. Manu December 10, 2008 at 10:20 PM
    and i'm aware of the track Ringa Ringa..and i know its a remix of choli ke piche.. but i still didnt find it impressive..thts all
  7. Manu December 10, 2008 at 10:24 PM
    @Jamie.. Really..I didnt know there are ardent fans abroad too.. most of the western world is unaware of his potential.. and heard the movie is awesome..
  8. Jamie: December 11, 2008 at 1:32 AM
    Gave you a shout out. Going to check out the movie next week. My co-worker saw it and said it was excellent. So bizarre that it's not out in India until next year. I'll let you know what I think.

    FYI: There are lots of Bollywood fans over here! granted, many of them are Indian, but many of us just like good music and good film. I will look to you for more recommendations! I live in the Bay Area in California and there is an all Hindi movie theater here. I saw "Every Child is Special" there but haven't been back since.

    Thanks again Manu!
  9. Sam February 8, 2009 at 3:05 AM
    "Nobody in the West knows about the musical genius of A.R. Rahman."

    We know. There are some Bollywood fans walking the streets of "the West" you know ;)

    Bristol, England.
  10. Manu February 9, 2009 at 9:03 AM
    Oh.That "Nobody" was just an expression. I do know some Bollywood or rather Indian Cinema fans are in the West, especially in England. But when compared to the vast majority that is unaware of it, I said nobody. Great to know there are many faces in the west that knows about A.R Rahman. He deserves the international recognition.

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