Million Dollar Arm – Music Review (Hollywood OST)

It feels good to hear the beautiful Thirakkaadha Kaattukkulle get a second chance with a much wider audience as Unborn Children (a reference to the phrase from its opening line). Sans any mutilation in the form of dubbing that too; just Vairamuthu, Unnikrishnan and Chitra in all their glory. We Could Be Kings follows a Bombay Dreams-like fusion of Indian and Western styles, and in a thoroughly engaging manner. The qawwali-esque base and fab layering of KT Tunstall and A R Rahman’s vocals – winning combination! The highlight of the (mostly) instrumental Taa Taa Tai is without doubt the frenzied sitar playing (by Asad Khan I would imagine). While the sitar leads from the front with the occasional smatterings of rap-style bols and humming from the chorus, there is a curious mix of techno elements with an array of percussions in the background. Keep The Hustle is for the electronica fans, with its slickly done techno arrangement and rapping by Wale and Raghav Mathur. Bobbleheads has a charming tune and an equally killer strings-led arrangement, the only dampener is Gayatri Kaundinya’s labored singing. Most of the song is instrumental thankfully – the almost 1 minute segment that forms the second half builds up in absolutely stunning fashion! Among the three Punjabi-based tracks, Million Dollar Dream is relatively better off, mainly for Sukhwinder Singh and Izzy Azalea’s rendition. Makhna too has Sukhwinder doing a spirited job, but that doesn’t prove enough. And Nimma Nimma is a spruced up version of the Olympics song that retains Jaspreet Jasz’s original vocals, but still fails to impress.

Never Give Up starts on a serene longing-based note before shifting gears midway and closing in a profusion of tinkly synth sounds and percussion and strings. Rahman extends the upbeat second half into a second BGM piece Calling Scouts Again. Lucknow is short and simple, and sweet – ARR’s sargam (yaman/kalyani?) almost sounding like a backdrop to the more prominent combination of harmonium, guitar and tabla. The composer makes soulful use of desh raag (I think) in Farewell, almost sounding at points like another adaptation of Vande Maataram. Lovely humming by the vocalist too. Desi Thoughts is Guitar Prasanna’s show as he has you hooked to this one with his trademark Carnatic renditions, while ARR keeps the support instruments at a minimal level. Welcome to India (interestingly the second track with this title from ARR, first was in Rang De Basanti’s BGM) is another track that employs strings spectacularly (loved that harp-like sound used throughout the song). First Tryout is the only track that really gets marred by its functional nature; the shifts don’t seem to make much sense when just listened to. Just over five minutes in length, The Final Pitch is the soundtrack’s longest, and is structured in keeping with the title, gradually progressing from a gentle piece to an orchestral, climactic finish headlined by the violins and chorus.

So barring the Punjabi prosaicness, another remarkable Hollywood score from A R Rahman. Million Dollar Arm.

Music Aloud Rating: 8.5/10

Top Recos: Unborn Children (well of course!), We Could Be Kings, Desi Thoughts, The Final Pitch

(Some of the artist credits picked up from Milliblog. Will update the rest of the credits once I get hold of them)

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