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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Listening Jodhaa Akbar

The chemistry between Ashutosh Gowariker and A.R.Rahman is really surprising, because the background score written by A.R.Rahman for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ is just as good as the movie. As Ashutosh starts the movie with disclaimers about Jodhaa and history, he takes help from Rahman, who hits a bang when those important disclaimer slides start to roll, to gain the audience attention. This bang and this yearning for audience attention can be felt in the notes and strokes that Rahman has used throughout the movie and that is its biggest problem. At many places, Rahman’s background score is overpowering than underscoring. And to my surprise, there are few moments in the movie where Rahman even hits some of his worst notes ever. Rahman has written score to match Ashutosh’s vision and to match the impact that Ashutosh intends to make with his visuals. But as there is a huge disconnect between what Ashutosh intended to convey through his visuals and what the visuals actually convey, Rahman seems to have caught on the wrong thread.

For example, that bang motif which Rahman uses for terror, shock, surprise and anger doesn’t fit in all the moments rightly. This bang, fits well when the now grown up Jalal finally holds the hands of Bairam Khan to stop him from killing the defeated king. It indeed is a big shock to Bairam khan and the high decibel horn and percussion conveys it loudly yet perfectly, but the same bang when used for Jalal’s shock/anger or whatever the reaction you may call that the shot of Jalal intends to convey, after he comes to know that Jodhaa wants to meet him in private to talk about her two condition, it sounds totally out of place and damn hilarious too. And the high decibel orchestra that accompanies as Jalal walks from his tent to Jodhaa’s tent is also too loud and unnecessary.

The war, battles, sword fight scenes all have a very percussive score (which has a huge ‘Warriors of Heaven and earth’ hang over) those that just follow the basic formula of background scoring without anything new or notably great. The closer shots of the battle scenes looking like that of those war scenes in B.R.Chopra serials, Rahman’s score in these scenes sound odd and are a huge waste.

The score also turns bad when Rahman moves away from the sound of the period, place and the culture in which the drama is set in. His usages of Chinese rhythms, western choirs are too distracting and affect the authenticity of the visual material. The best example for this is the fragmented choir piece used (Rahman’s favorite style of scoring for conveying grandeur) when Jodhaa enters the Mughal Fort for the first time. The shots used to show grand structures and well built exteriors of Akbar’s fort, don’t convey any visual grandeur to my eyes (production designer Nitin seems to have concentrated more on the authenticity of the interiors than the exteriors which stands tall like freshly and finely cut and connected cardboard pieces) and added to that when this loud fragmented western choir joins, it looks and sounds out of synch.

The final fight between Shariffudin and Akbar uses the same percussion rhythm and strings as that in one of the initial War sequence where camera reveals the grown-up Akbar’s face for the first time. It sounded okay in that scene but when the same is used in this one-one fight, I couldn’t decipher the link, because the action and the music don’t go with each other.

Rahman’s score is thoughtful, beautiful, apt and effective only when it sticks to the roots and emotions. The simple and elegant Mughal theme on Arabic strings (heard in the very first scene when Amitabh starts his history lesson), the beautiful raag based melody sung by female chorus as Rajputana theme when Amitabh’s lesson shifts to Rajputs and Jodhaa (used again when Akbar comes out of Jodhaa’s tent and tells everyone that he accepts her conditions and for the marriage, and a more scintillating and grand version appears when Akbar comes to Aamer to call Jodhaa back) the playful and expressive string melody, deep cellos and flute pieces come together to underscore the love blossoming in those cute private moments between Akbar and Jodhaa, the sitar version of ‘Nagmein hi nagmein hai jagti soti fizaon mein’ are all exquisite pieces that sprinkles Rahman’s genius amidst other underwhelming pieces that dominates.


Listening Lagaan

5 comments:

Tanya said...

nice!

my favorite piece of the bgm is the one that is played when jodhaa speaks with sujamal. when she has those nice moments with him. i love it.

Karthik said...

I like the background during the love scenes and the BGM pieces of Mann Mohana. Overall I felt ARR did a great job until I read your post. Probably, you are right. Some places it is out of sync. Your explanation was exceptional. Great analysis as always!

Anonymous said...

There are various reasons for this. Most of the score has been done with a certain vision in mind. Although not so noticable in the first view. Look for the hidden sync and various highlights within it. You probably are right about the overall impact though. But then, this is how the score was defined.

Shaneem said...

Pls review the score of Swades..It's one his best

Sanjana said...

When Jodhaa enters the Mughal palace for the first time, the women accompanying her sing a traditional song as she leaves her handprints on the wall, i love that song!!!what is that song called?
thanks,
Sanjana