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Friday, June 30, 2017

A.R.Rahman's MOM

Rahman truly believes, in music, there is assonance in dissonance, symmetry in asymmetry, rhythm in randomness and that consistent uncertainty could also be comforting inevitability. The lack of imitability in music can be counteracted with intrigue.

In the soundtrack of “Mom”, the songs are strung together with musical phrases set on a journey without a destination and the concern is only on what is happening at the moment, and it doesn’t care whether it seamlessly entails the last phrase or for that matter leads to the next phrase. There are no cyclical and metrical comforts here. If these pieces were mathematical equations, they are the ones in which the left hand side never tally with the right hand side. There is always something off balance, unsettling, unfinished, and inconvenient in the song. It expands and flows in entropic measure like the ever evolving universe that never stops to look back. There are of course motifs but there is no telling the moment of its recurrence in the time span of the piece. It occurs and recurs when it does. Music has to move you emotionally, yes, but, wonderment and excitement are emotions too. Rahman plays to that.

There is nothing here that Rahman hasn’t done before, but he takes everything a notch higher, a step further. In Andhimandhaarai (1996), Rahman goes extempore on Piano while Unnikrishnan is crooning a classical Carnatic song; Set to a foot-tapping rhythm and synth layers, it felt like Rahman lit up a dull Carnatic Katcheri stage with a flood of modern neon lights. Yet, it has a definitive form, structure and a comforting flow. Now, in “Be Nazaara”, an improvisatory classical piece of music, vocals hit infinitesimal frequencies in between notes and with multiple variations of it in each iteration of the thematic verse, and Rahman builds around it an enigmatic soundscape where any e-sound goes. You can’t help but be hypnotized by the amalgamation of the two breathlessly flowing layers of randomness. It sucks you into its intergalactic musical warm hole and traps you till the end.

You could go on and on about the oddities and experiments, but Rahman does deliver a few standard easy tracks to play to the gallery (O Sona Tere Liye). Every theory you form in your mind while listening to a piece of Rahman’s music, Rahman fiercely confounds in the immediate next song in the soundtrack, and sometimes in the very next section in the song itself. For all the meandering qualities of the exquisite “Chal Kahin Door”, there is that earthy flute section in the interlude, which is as affable a piece of music can get. A.R.Rahman’s music contains both its yin and yang within itself.

At this juncture, Rahman is not playing God creating anything at whim, he is rather a kid playing with his toys and having fun for his own amusement. A. R. Rahman, in the 25th year of his career as a composer, screams loud and clear “Mera yeh freaking freaking freaking music” through this spectacularly quirky, experimental and zany soundtrack. MOM – WOW!