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Swades: Songs of the soil
06th Oct 2004  02.00 IST
By Nitika Desai  


A R Rahman 's skill and talent as a music composer comes to fore in Ashutosh Gowarikar's Swades . The beautifully composed melodies, set to thought-provoking lyrics by Javed Akhtar , make the songs of Swades stand apart from other humdrum scores from Bollywood.

The movie, starring Shah Rukh Khan and newcomer Gayatri Joshi , tells the story of an Indian scientist at NASA who returns to his motherland to trace his roots. He travels across the country and is enchanted by the simplicity and honesty of the people he meets.



The music of the film goes along well with its theme. The most outstanding number in the album is the eight-minute 'road' song Yun Hi Chala Chal. The song, sung by Udit Narayan, Hariharan and Kailash Kher, has a dominant use of percussions - an arrangement that sounds quite fresh and appealing because the accompanying melody is set more by the singers than by the musical instruments. The words in the song are quite plain but they carry some good messages inside.

Another song that stands out is the frothy number Yeh Tara Woh Tara, which the hero in the movie sings before a crowd of villagers and children. Akhtar's words talk about the beauty and enormity of the sky and its celestial wonders in this number sung by Udit Narayan along with child artistes Vignesh and Pooja. The song is slow in tempo and has a nocturnal feel.

On the whole, Swades is rich in melodies that are pleasing to ears. But one thing needs to be mentioned for an objective appraisal of Rahman's work. It becomes apparent after listening his compositions that he lays the main stress on melodies and later fit in the words to his work. That is why sometimes the vocal expression by the singers often sounds jagged and short of gelling completely with the spirit of the song.

It is something that great composers like Naushad, Ghulam Mohammad, R D Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal were able to do with amazing subtlety. It is something that Rahman, the music wizard, still has to master.





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