When A R Rahman first scored for Roja, you could sense that he had changed things forever. And from there on, he has only baffled us by consistently churning out genius. Absolute genius.
However as it usually happens when an album comes out, one song hogs the attention and some gems are lost in the process. So, we decided to put together a playlist of some of Rahman’s hauntingly beautiful songs that have been long forgotten.
1. Chandralekha – Thiruda Thiruda (1993)
Mani Ratnam’s adaptation of ‘Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid‘ had this beautiful dance number, which sounded quite ahead of it’s time. Sung amazingly by Anupama and Suresh Peters.
2. Spirit of Rangeela – Rangeela (1995)
Everyone remembers the rest of the album by heart – whether it was the title track, Haay Rama, Aamir Khan’s drunken songs, but this one orchestration captures the spirit of this brilliant film. Special mention for Siva Mani, who owns the theme.
3. Mil Gaye – Love Birds (1996)
Back then when Hariharan + A R Rahman were a tour de force by themselves, comes this beautiful song more than ably supported by the effervescent Chitra. Enjoy!
4. Dheemi Dheemi – 1947 Earth (1998)
Deepa Mehta’s partition saga stars Aamir Khan, Rahul Khanna and Nandita Das. However, the real star of the film emerged in the form of A R Rahman’s music, who shut all his critics up that he could do one kind of music. He nails it with the depth of Dheemi Dheemi – courtesy Hariharan’s super-smooth voice.
5. Khili Chandani – Indira (1998)
Hariharan’s brilliance again steals the show in this little-known film called Indira as he croons to ‘Khili Chandani’ almost sounding like a ghazal. You will know peace after you’ve heard this one!
6. Nahi Saamne Tu – Taal (1999)
Subhash Ghai’s film starring Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai had some of arguably Rahman’s best work of the decade. In this one the magician took it to another level with western orchestrations and yet the simple song of ‘Nahi Saamne Tu’ formed a cult by itself. Widely considered un-sing-able (if a word like that exists) on a live stage.
7. Ek Tu Hi Bharosa – Pukar (2000)
In Rajkumar Santoshi’s Pukar – Rahman did really well in keeping it contemporary with Kay Sera Sera with Madhuri Dixit and Prabhu Deva dancing brilliantly. That one song stole the entire limelight of the album. This one song people later discovered was Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Ek Tu Hi Bharosa’ was a gem which few people know about.
8. Main Albeli – Zubeidaa (2001)
This particular song had beautiful flamenco and gypsy influences, with that out of the world bass work. Also you can always trust Kavita Krishnamurthy to get it bang on! Why don’t we play this more often?
9. Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna (Reprise) – The Legend Of Bhagat Singh (2001)
One beautiful film that was almost lost among the clutter of Bhagat Singh – only for the brilliance of Rajkumar Santoshi’s crisp dialogues and Rahman’s fantastic music. This particular line had been scored many a times, and yet Rahman managed to make it contemporary and still kept it idealistic enough to honor the memories of the war heroes. Sonu Nigam forever!
10. Shaka Laka Baby – Bombay Dreams (2002)
For the first time an Indian composer was working with a London Theatre production for this Bollywood-themed musical. Rahman joined hands with the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber and wrote 18 tracks for the production. This one however, stands out solely because it was unlike anything Bollywood had ever heard before.
11. Mera Yaar Milaa De Saaiyaan – Saathiya (2002)
You can’t have the album start with Sonu Nigam in his prime and one of A R Rahman’s best compositions and expect the music lovers will actually pay attention to the rest of the songs. One such song ignored in this album was the one sung Rahman himself, and it is a beautiful, haunting track about two separated lovers.
12. Warriors in Peace ft. Jolin Tsai – Warriors of Heaven And Earth (2002)
Rahman’s maiden attempt to score for a Mandarin film – Warriors of Heaven and Earth, which enabled him to collaborate with Jolin Tsai. Excellent work, if you haven’t heard it yet.
13. Dol Dol – Yuva (2003)
Blaaze has collaborated with Rahman the most number of times, and is one of the regular members when he is touring. This fun little number was mostly ignored because of the gangsta genre being still unknown then. Blaaze captures the spirit of Calcutta and mercurial temperament of Abhishek Bachchan’s character to the tee.
14. Dekho Na – Swades (2005)
Shahrukh Khan’s best intentioned film till date has some beautiful songs which did not get an audience like his other films – Om Shanti Om or Happy New Year. That doesn’t take away the brilliance of the songs, and for that you only need to listen to this one.
15. Noor Un Allah – Meenaxi (2005)
The best qawwali of the decade, by far. This song was banned by some idiots because they couldn’t stand the fact that – firstly it was M F Hussain’s film and secondly that the song compared the beauty of woman with that of Allah. It is because of this that we missed this song from our daily dose of Mtv.