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April 12, 2002
The unchained melody of Devdas
The tunes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas are like a good bouquet. They mature with time. And though at first may not catch your fancy, they grow on you.
Adapted from Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's classic novel of the same name, Devdas is cinematically recreated for the third time in Hindi. The earlier two versions directed by P C Barua (K L Saigal, Jamuna, Rajkumari), and Bimal Roy (Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala Bali, Suchitra Sen) hold a special place in the pages of history. Whether Bhansali's vision of this tragic saga (starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai) will share the honour remains to be seen.
What is most striking about the music is that the songs are not mere excuses for the actors to break into dance, but actually aid narration. Ismail Darbar who composed the music for Bhansali's smash hit Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, bathes Devdas with resonant tunes, powerful vocals and dramatic orchestration. The music has a strong classical base with an air of tragedy.
Like the subject itself, Devdas has a larger-than-life quality about it, evident in the surreal and haunting Silsila yeh chahat ka sung in the bewitching voice of newfind Shreya Ghosal.
Maar dala, literally, goes for the kill with its enticing play of words. Kavita and K K beautifully echo Chandramukhi's sentiments as she experiences the first pangs of jealousy in this richly tuned ditty. Lyrics by Nusrat Badr spring life in Darbar's extensive compositions with its imaginative poetry.
Udit Narayan and Shreya murmur sweet nothings as they playfully chide and make up in Bairi piya. Narayan successfully captures the eternal romanticism of Devdas whereas Shreya brings an element of impishness to Paro's character by blushing Eesh at every given opportunity.
Mellifluous would be the right word to describe Udit Narayan's smoothly rendered Woh chand jaisi ladki.
Moulded in the typical Baul geet format, Chalak chalak is a cry for love by the inebriated Devdas. Sung by Udit Narayan, Vinod Rathod and Shreya, Chalak promises to lure you with its ebullient bouts of zest and rhythm.
Heartbreak reaches its zenith in Hamesha tumko chaha. Ismail Darbar creates a chilling effect in this gently paced song by using conch shells blowing in the background. Kavita Subramaniam and Udit Narayan do full justice to this difficult composition.
Composed and written by Pandit Birju Maharaj, the compelling Kaahe chhed mo, begins with a prelude in the maestro's voice. Kavita Subramanium beautifully brings out the trauma of separation as she chants Kaahe ched mohe garba lagaaye, Nand ko laal aiso dheet, panghat mori laaj linhi [Why do you tease me, O mischievous Lord Krishna]. Madhuri Dixit does her bit as she playfully coos a few verses in the song.
The theme of Devdas captures the seven essential elements of this ill-fated love story ---intensity, pain, sacrifice, ego, tragedy, empathy and anger. A new name in the music world, Monty creates impact by producing a tune that starts off in a tranquil background then escalates at a feverish pitch only to ease off.
Despite Jaspinder Narula's rustiness and Shreya's coyness, More piya fails to score brownie points, thanks to its heavy instrumentation. A word of praise for lyricist Sameer for proving there is more to his pen than the clichéd dils and dhadkans.
Dola re dola is packed with dholaks, mridangs, shehnais and daflis, and a loud chorus. Unlike the older Devdas, which showed Chandramukhi and Paro sharing screen space for only a brief moment, the new version will show Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai vying for attention as they dance in tandem to the beats of Dola.
The music of Devdas may not strike the right chords (mass-wise) as it did in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's earlier films Khamoshi - The Musical and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Yet it's old world charm, classical connotations and complex melody makes it exquisite.
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