Passage – Music Review

a r rahmanPassage is Shekhar Kapur’s first short film produced by Swarowski Entertainment, having four out of its five tracks composed by A R Rahman. With minimal dialogues, music holds paramount importance in this 20 odd minute film. Just the kind of film a music fan, more importantly a Rahman fan, would look for. The review.

In the first track, Opening, Rahman dishes out an incredibly haunting tune employing just a piano and a sarangi for most parts. I think the raga is Charukesi but I am not quite sure about that. The melancholy is very well captured in a quiet way, something Rahman has previously done in movies like Water to good effect. Next piece, a tango by the name Ostinato, is the only track not done by Rahman. This instead has been composed by young Spanish pianist/composer Carla Pugliese. The piece, while wonderfully employing the accordion and the fiddle, also departs from the traditional with slight electronic elements in the background. Rahman returns with Atmosphere, whose initial half is again a sequence from Opening. Then it sees a shift to what is signified by the name, a very grand orchestral arrangement. Such ambient compositions from Rahman have always been quite a privilege to listen to, and he carries off this too in style. Fourth track is a French Aria, the only piece involving vocals. For the first few seconds it seems to be a pretty ordinary score, and then the orchestra kicks in. And then it turns into another majestic piece, more imposing than the previous one partly due to the more grandiose usage of instruments. The singer is apparently a student of Rahman’s KMMC named Kavita Baliga and she has done a brilliant job in this song. The soundtrack ends with a Waltz, again characterized by its orchestral extravagance.
There are soundtracks like Blue, and then there are soundtracks such as Passage. It is in the latter category that the class of Rahman truly comes out. Of course there are also many cases where Rahman blends class into the commercial but Passage doesn’t fall there. This is obviously not going to go well with the masses, and in all probability the only people hearing this wonderful album would be the most hardcore of Rahman fans and people at various film festivals where this film gets played, which is rather unfortunate. For me, nevertheless, this is Rahman’s best album post his Oscar win, at least for the time-being. You can listen to the album here.

PS: For best results, listen to the soundtrack as part of the film itself. Shekhar Kapur has done an excellent work of the film, doing absolute justice to Rahman’s compositions. You can watch the film here.