of a book I read recently called 'Flowers for Algernon', and of A.R.Rahman's latest album, 'Rang De Basanti'.
'Flowers for Algernon' by Daniel Keyes is, in one word, an almost-classic. The book proceeds through the progress reports submitted by the mentally retarded Charlie. Charlie, who'd do almost anything to become 'normal' and have more friends to hang out with, has agreed to an experimental procedure that has only succeeded on an animal before: the super-intelligent mouse called Algernon. However, after surgery Charlie becomes so intelligent that he is soon 'smarter' than all the doctors treating him. More importantly, Charlie comes to realize how people have been treating him all this while - including his own family. Is it all worth it ?
The book is extremely touching in some parts. It's almost a children's book, except that it's probably too depressing for kids to really appreciate it. The only bad part for me was that I'd already read a similar novel called 'The Terminal Man' by Michael Crichton (of 'Jurassic Park' fame), hence there was a feeling of deja-vu throughout.
'Rang De Basanti' is an Aamir Khan movie, and so there's quite a bit of hype associated with the movie. Add A.R.Rahman to the fray, and it's pretty much apparent that expectations are going to be sky-high. This is not intended to be a comprehensive review, is more like an opinion piece on my fav' songs in the movie.
For me, the pick of the album certainly was Tu Bin Bataye, sung by one of my favourite singers, Madhushree. She's got a glorious voice, as Aap Ko Mujhse from Tehzeeb, Hum Hai Is Pal Yahaan from the excreable Kisna and Mayilirage from the even more revolting Aa Aah have amply illustrated in the past. ARR does full justice to her voice in this soaring melody.
Another awesome song in the album is Luka Chuppi, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and ARR himself. After a long time, Lata 'sings' her age. ARR sings well in his inimitable, nasal, high-pitched voice. The result is a great song - one of Lata's best in the last 5 years, certainly.
The Punjabi prayer Ik Onkaar is soothing for the short time that it lasts. ARR wisely chooses not to mess around too much with the orchestration here.
Khoon Chala is a good track, though mediocre by the high standards ARR has set for himself. I found myself liking it more on successive hearings; I suppose its one of those quintessential ARR tracks that grow on you over time. Thought Mohit Chauhan sounded very like ARR, though.
The Paathshaala track is typical ARR stuff - yet another song in the Shakalaka Baby and Fanaa mode. Nothing outstanding here, although the lyrics might delight the college-going crowd.
The title track, rendered by Daler Mehendi and Chitra, is inspid. So is the Aamir Khan poem Lalkaar, despite the fervent patriotic stuff. Roobaroo is nothing special either.
In short, 2 songs in the very-good category and 2 others that might grow on you as the trailors bombard you.