From the day ‘Tamasha’ was announced, music connoisseurs, fans and listeners began to set a very high benchmark for its soundtrack. After all, when acclaimed director Imtiaz Ali collaborates with music maestro A. R. Rahman with a clear vision from lyricist Irshad Kamil; the musical world seems to be a magician’s den where everything works in slow motion mode. Music has always been a vital part of Imtiaz Ali’s directorial ventures and no one in the industry justifies and picturises a composition like he does; case in point “Main Kya Hoon” from ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2009) followed by “Jo Bhi Main” from ‘Rockstar’ (2011) to name a few. With nine compositions including a remix and an instrumental, let’s dwell deep inside the imaginative world of these artists!
“Ranbir Kapoor in Tamasha is someone who is enchanted by stories, has grown up hearing them and expresses himself by performing them” – Imtiaz Ali
“Matargashti” as the name suggests is craziness at its peak with some insanely narrative lyrics by Irshad Kamil, that define the madness and throws light on the character of Ranbir Kapoor. Percussions dominate the proceedings here except the sweet little harmonica portion from 2:31 to 2:37. Mohit Chauhan is infectious as always and goes a pitch higher in both the ‘antaraas’ which gives a déjà-vu feeling of “Sadda Haq” from ‘Rockstar’ (from 1:50 to 2:08 and then again from 2:43 to 3:00), albeit only for a short duration as one recollects that both compositions has nothing similar and are poles apart. The highlight of the song is the tribute to Dev Anand where the composition suddenly takes a retro U-turn with violins coming in and Mohit Chauhan efficiently switches gears. Notice how elegantly the song shifts from the retro part to the ‘tang tang dinga dang tang’ – quite brilliant stuff!
A feeling of pain expressed in a celebratory way with a Punjabi tadka or we can call it ‘The Happy Sad Song’ – “Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai” lands somewhere around the territory of “Katiya Karun” from ‘Rockstar’, considering the Punjabi base where Mika Singh does well, aptly supported by Nakash Aziz for the chorus and the ‘Aaye Haaye Oye Hoye’ part in between that gives it a Qawwali touch. The second interlude has some classic jugalbandi of desi string arrangements that makes one tap their feet and applaud at the same time. Irshad Kamil’s Hinglish verse depicts the sadness in a funny way ‘Loo (Toilet) Mein Jaana Mushkil Hai, Baji Padi Hai Band Heer Ki, Ab Iss Band Pe Naache Kaun, Ya Woh Utter Mad Hai, Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’.
Sublime piano notes starts off “Tum Saath Ho” which stands tall with Rahman’s very own “Aye Hairathe” from ‘Guru’ (2006). Alka Yagnik brings on the innocent effortless charm with her rendition sounding a bit like Lata Mangeshkar; one can sense that she is the perfect choice for this number considering the simplicity it demands. Arijit Singh joins in after two minutes and takes your breath away. The composition flows like poetry; notice the extraordinary overlapping effect where his rendition goes at a never heard before vocal level and an ultra low octave at the same time, with the gorgeous tabla at 4:25. This is one of those pieces of art from Rahman that is going to stuck in your heart and mind for a long time.
“Music in the film has been used as a narrative to enhance the inherent drama of the situation without dialogue” – Imtiaz Ali.
The word ‘drama’ here is what the next song “Wat Wat Wat” is all about. It takes some time to adjust to the unusual arrangements, where one of Rahman’s favourite instruments, the shehnai, takes centre stage throughout, especially during the long interludes, these portions somewhat took me back to “The Dichotomy Of Fame” from ‘Rockstar’, just the shehnai and nothing else. Sashwat Singh does most of the vocals in the ‘mukhda’ where Arijit Singh is in his element with the ‘antaraas’. The funny Bhojpuri lyrics with a crazy fusion of various rhythms give the composition a unique edge in terms of creativity and style.
Surprisingly, we have one more version “Wat Wat Wat – Vengeance Mix” where the Punjabi element has been replaced with some cool techno-trance EDM material. If the original one was pure desi, this one is a pumped up Western track with synth replacing the shehnai.
“We took six months to mix this song, when I asked myself, how do I take this song further? I knew the answer, it had to be sung by Sukhwinder Singh.” – A. R. Rahman
“Chale Kahani” is for the theatre act with several mythological stories interwoven – brace yourself for a grandiose visual treat. The flute pleasantly starts off with the energetic vocals of Sukhwinder Singh and then some exquisite semi-classical orchestra. Haricharan and Haripriya joins in for a soft part later. This is one rare composition in Bollywood where so much is happening and it has so much to offer in these five minutes, as Imtiaz Ali said, this song is indeed an ‘achievement’ in itself!
“Safarnama” is about a man’s search for his love. Lucky Ali’s amazing vocals instantly connects and transports the listeners in a spiritual dreamy world where one can embark on a journey within. The long arrangements reaches a new high after the ‘mukhda’ with mandolin strums and acoustic (read gorgeous) guitar chord progression and how can one forget the accordion. Notice how it is used throughout the composition and the impact is even more captivating in between the phrases, for instance from 00:35 to 00:38. Take a bow Mr. Rahman!
Devotional folk type ‘alaaps’ create confusion at the start of “Parade De La Bastille” but one minute into the song, the gear changes and there you go; lots of bagpipes, mandolins, violins, accordion, percussions and some ‘Matargashti’, which is justified as both of these songs are composed for the scenario when both the lead characters are in Corsica. This is one of those rare instrumental pieces that wins you over and finds a place in your playlist.
“Sometimes in trying to belong, you lose your edge, you become blunt and you forget who you are unless someone comes to remind you, someone who has seen you at that time. It’s not that simple because it takes the undoing of entire life’s experience to get in touch with yourself and the wild energy.”- Imtiaz Ali
“Tu Koi Aur Hai” is undoubtedly the soul of the movie, evocatively rendered by A. R. Rahman himself. It slowly builds up the ‘journey of self-discovery’ with minimum orchestra, then goes the “opera-ish way” supported by Alma Ferovic and Arjun Chandy, ending on a hypnotic take on “Safarnama” with violins and chorus, that evokes out a lot of emotions and leaves one speechless! A masterstroke to end the soundtrack!
‘Tamasha’ leaves the listeners spellbound – the sheer richness of the orchestra, the in-depth lyrics, and each and every composition stands out. ‘Tamasha’ may not be at par with previous golden soundtracks of A. R. Rahman that he has given in the past two decades but it’s by far the best effort put in by a musician and lyricist to justify what the director is trying to convey, to justify his philosophical thought process behind each composition – this is where we can say that music is the greatest form of art that exists, it’s like magic that needs the right stage and situation where the magicians can weave the magical web without any limitations. Period.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” – William Shakespeare