Raavan shows promises right from the word go, starting with the bouncy Beera, the mix of Indian and African folk elements in the orchestration forming a perfect combo. And Vijay Prakash does a fab job of the rendition alongside newcomer Mustafa Kutoane and Keerthi Sagathia, with Rahman making the occasional appearance in the background. Mustafa seems to be an African singer from his voice and style. Nice debut anyways. Things take a somber, yet better, turn with the sufi-ish Behene De. The faint resemblance in tune with some older Rahman tunes like Satrangi Re is totally forgotten in the beauty of the instrumentation and the spot-on vocals by Karthik and Mohammad Irfan. It is rather unfortunate that Karthik hasn’t been able to build a place in Bollywood in spite of having sung quite a few good tracks for Rahman. Of course if he keeps getting such beauties from Rahman himself it doesn’t really matter! Thok De Killi is the only slightly uninteresting fare in the whole lot. In spite of Sukhwinder Singh‘s high energy vocals (supported by another newbie by name Am’Nico) and barring Rahman’s clever instrumental additions in places, the song is largely tedious.
The previous dip is more than compensated with the awesome Sufi-electronic fusion in Ranjha Ranjha. I have especially been caught on by the instrumentation in the initial one minute. The breezy processed humming of Anuradha Sriram is such a perfect fit for the overall mood! There is obviously no need to comment on the singing by Rekha Bharadwaj and Javed Ali. After a break Reena Bhardwaj returns to sing for ARR the beautiful Khilli Re. There is every chance given the semi classical nature of the song that Khilli Re will not cut ice with a lot of listeners, but it is in such songs that I have felt Rahman’s master class truly gets demonstrated, and to me this is the pick of the album. I loved the brief Chinese violin accompaniment towards the end (3:11 – 3:22). As it started, Raavan ends with another lively song, Kata Kata, a heavy-on-percussion track. Being right down their alley, Ila Arun and Sapna Awasthi handle the folksy track with ease with good support from Kunal Ganjawala and a host of other singers.
Rahman may have grown by leaps and bounds over the years, working with some of the biggest names all over India and outside, but his finest scores still continue to be reserved for one person, Mani Ratnam. And for good reason too, considering the way Mani Ratnam has treated each of those songs in his movies. Eagerly waiting for Raavan’s videos now!
Music Aloud Rating: 9/10
Recommended tracks: Khilli Re, Behene De, Ranjha Ranjha