TAMASHA – A.R. Rahman – Music Review

Click here for the movie review -> Tamasha Movie Review

I wont’s spend too much time on the intro, but let’s just say that this album was something I’d been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer. Imtiaz Ali and Rahman gave a knock-out album in Rockstar and I was too eager to find out what delights Tamasha hid in its quiver. So onto the songs without any further ado then –

Matargashti 

Another Masakali in the making, this is one of those instantly likable tunes from Rahman. It starts off with a motif that I like to call the ‘Theme of Tamasha’, which also forms the base for the chorus. While Mohit Chauhan has a blast at the vocals, it’s Rahman who transports you to the Mediterranean with thoroughly imaginative orchestration. There’s the usual suspects like the harmonica and accordion, lending a distinct European spice to the song. But he also intersperses it with very Indian string work and the fusion just sings.

When I heard it for the first time, I did not get the structure outright. But with each listen, I’d discover something new. Like how I realized just now that the tune takes a beautiful detour in the second stanza, quite different from the first. It makes the song feel very organic, like how it’d be if someone were to actually sing a song in real life.

Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai

Never been a fan of Mika. It’s just not my style of music, but I think this Punjabi folk will impress quite a few.

I always hit the skip button when this song comes up.

Tum Saath Ho

A beautiful melody, what Rahman is best at. With lilting piano and violins in the background and Alka Yagnik’s soulful vocals, this song quickly transports you to a blissful state. Arijit Singh’s entrance adds an other dimension, his voice gliding over the long drawn-out chorus portions in an oh-so-beautiful way. And the flute just rounds up everything nicely.

Just so much detailing in this, I’m gonna have to listen to it a hundred times to process everything.

Wat Wat Wat

What a funky number! Only Rahman can put a modern twist on Punjabi beat and make it sound innovative. Arijit Singh sounds like he’s having a lot of fun rendering this song. His voice goes so well with the tune and the infectious beat. Rahman, of course, goes the extra mile and throws in Shenhai and electric guitar to make the song completely his. Almost bordering on trance, this is a song that will slowly creep into all of your parties.

Chali Kahani

It starts off with a nostalgia inducing flute melody. And then BAM! You are hit with orchestral violins and Sukhvinder Singh’s captivating voice. From then on, it takes amazing segues and twists and turns with a generous serving of dire sounding violins, mridangam, more flute and a lot of other instruments that I couldn’t even recognize. When you listen to this, you can tell that this is a score to a play and each fragmented part belongs to an act or scene in it. At some points, there’s an urgency to the music like something crucial is going to happen and then it mellows down for a while (at which point I think singer Haricharan hits you with his sweet lines, ably accompanied by Haripriya). The flute melody from the beginning also appears as a chorus and cements that tune in your head for eternity.

Safarnama

I have no words for this song, but I’ll try. When I realized that Rahman layers what basically is a Sufi-like tune with acoustic guitar and then throws in some accordion as well, it made me wonder if there is any limit to the magic this man can achieve. It’s hard to pin down a genre to this song. It’s not even as simple as I made it to be, everything comes together so harmoniously that it feels so natural. One moment you’re in India; the next second, you could also be in Corsica. And when Lucky Ali goes ‘Safarnaamaaaaa’, my heart goes out and flies around like a butterfly.

Then there is that interlude. A quintessential Rahman interlude it is too, but that simple electric guitar (I think) plucking interspersed with that acoustic chord progression is nothing short of heavenly.

Hypnotic.

Parade De La Bastille

Rahman continues his ethnicity defying music here as well. It starts with a Sufi humming but what happens next is out of this world! With a name like ‘Parade de la Bastille’, you really feel like you’re parading on a Spanish street with colorful decorations and processions. I could sense some Celtic influence as well, and it is a complete riot. The Theme of Tamasha makes a delightful appearance here, and then the pace quickens and suddenly you are shaking your legs to the rhythm. And when I close my eyes, I somehow picture the dance from Disney’s Tangled. You know, the kingdom celebration dance.

Tu Koi Aur Hai

The best, of course, is reserved for last.

Imagine having your favourite three-course meal and feeling completely satiated and full right after. Listening to this song is just like that. Rahman himself croons this heartfelt and sad tune, beginning on a soulful note and reaching mesmerizing highs. But this is just the starter, mind you. The main-course beings the moment things start to become more complex. With a meditative opera’ish midway and then juxtaposing Alma Ferovic’s airy vocals over Rahman’s own, things take a dramatic turn for the best. With his trademark Gospel chants and pumping violins, the main course then comes to an end abruptly.

But then comes the beautiful segue to Safarnama theme, and this is the delightful dessert that completes the meal. Listening to this, you can tell that Rahman can truly give Hollywood composers a run for their money. Just the expansiveness and depth of it, sounds so colossal. But you can also feel the pain and heartbreak behind the music, which just tells his brilliance.

Verdict: At a time when songs are treated like ‘products’, Rahman treats them like pieces of art and this undoubtedly is what sets him apart from the rest. He gives, and gives some more to make it the best version of the song that it could be. Tamasha continues the tradition and delivers a standout album which takes you out on uncharted territories while keeping you grounded at the same time.

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30 thoughts on “TAMASHA – A.R. Rahman – Music Review

    • Yes I did, and I didn’t like that they told the whole story in the trailer! (Well, almost) But I’m just trusting Imtiaz on this, he has the capacity to make even the mundane look endearing, and maybe there’s more to it than what the trailer lets out. So yea, I’m looking forward to it. What did you think about Rockstar?

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  1. A very good review indeed.But I would like to give one heartfelt suggestion.I too have never been fan of Mika Singh.I was surprised when I came to know Rahman has used Mika in his album.But when I heard the song,all my bias towards him withered away.Just give it a listen and you will surely like it!

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    • Thank you Devarsh! The truth is, I did listen to that song, multiple times! And I actually think it’s nice. But there’s something called as “type” rite? 🙂 It’s not a song I’d go back and listen to again and again, that’s it. 🙂 I know people who are obsessed with Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai so I totally get that!

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    • Well I did think of providing a Youtube link, but then thought that if someone were really interested, they could as well open up Youtube and search for it themselves 😛

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  2. Yes yes and a hundred times yaassss 😀 I knew you would LOVE it ^_^

    Tu Koi Aur Hai makes me reflect upon my own life, the choices I made, and think upon the ultimate question “WHO AM I??” It’s just brilliance rolled up in one beautiful song.

    Tum Saath Ho is now my favorite love song of the past decade. (the previous being “Tu Bin Bataye” from Rang De Basanti, also a masterpiece by Sir AR Rahman.)

    Listening to Chali Kahani is like attending an epic opera performance. Those historical references, oh God, such genius! All those stories, all those epic tales of love, war, passion, deceit, and whatnot!!

    And Safarnama, oh man o man… I always close my eyes while listening to it. It transports me to another far away land, and its touch of Sufism is just the right amount of beautiful :’)

    All in all the best Indian album I’ve heard IN YEARS!

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    • I guess I never told you, but my Hindi is pretty weak. My colloquial Hindi is fine but I do have to really stress my brain to decipher the meaning behind song lyrics. So the first time I heard, I purely experienced the songs at a musical level and nothing more. Only later did I go and see English translations of the lyrics and was mesmerized by their meaning. 🙂

      Best album really!! Did you also listen to Highway and Rockstar?

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      • Hey I didn’t know that! Well I’ve been watching Hindi movies and dramas since an early age (and also Nat Geo Hindi) so I know most words. Another reason is that both Urdu and Hindi have 60% the same words so that helps as well 😀 That’s why language was never a barrier for me. And you know, the true brilliance of a song is when even if you don’t understand what its saying but you still feel all those emotions that it tries to stir up in you 🙂 There’s a certain beauty abt it 🙂
        And yepp I’ve heard both of those films albums, and I wasn’t a big fan of Highways but Rockstar’s was amazing, but I listened to “Tum Ho” far too many times and got sick of it 😀 I still have Kun Fayaa Kun in my phone! ^_^

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      • Kun Faaya Kun is absolute HEAVEN!! Especially that guitar solo in the first interlude is like…waah! True musical bliss. I still haven’t gotten sick of both Tum Ho and Tum Ko and they’re still in my playlist 😀

        About Hindi, get this. Hindi was my second language in school. Though for some reason I was always terrified of the language. I saw very less Hindi movies growing up too. We used to only watch Telugu movies. So after tenth when given a choice, I ditched Hindi and took up French. 😀 That sounds bad I know, it being our national language and all. It’s only now that I’ve started to grow my fluency in the language by watching movies and talking to Hindi speaking people.

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      • Hindi wasn’t your first language? 😮 Woah, didn’t know that! You weren’t born there, or was just English too irresistible for you? 😀 Tell me MORE! But hey that’s good that you’ve grown to understand it now.

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      • So the thing is, in India almost every state has its own official language. Since Hindi is spoken in majority of states it was made official of the country that’s it. In my native state, Telugu is the official language. Where I’m now, in Chennai, they speak Tamil. So my 1st,2nd,3rd languages were Telugu, Hindi, English in that order 🙂 Moving to a different state in India can feel like moving to a new country altogether which is exactly why India is called a Sub-Continent! There are few states where Hindi is not even in the curriculum :O At least I know how to read and write 😀

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      • Woaahh I didn’t know any of this :O I always thought Hindi is a must-know language there in all the states! A different langauge in every state; that is so cool to be honest! It shows how diverse your culture is 🙂 We also have Sindhi, Balochi and Punjabi, Siraiki, PAshto and so many more in each province, but Urdu is known/understood by 80% at least. So it’s easier for us to relocate and adapt 😛

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      • Not just the language, but everything from food to traditions change which can make relocating a pain in most cases. We mostly get by with English, as that is one language everyone speaks 🙂 When I met a Dutch traveler in one my trips to South India, what he always used to find amusing is me and an other Indian communicating in English all the time He was like, “that’s totally weird!” 😀
        I only heard of Sindhi and Punjabi as they’re spoken in India too. Good to know you have a handful of languages too. 🙂

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  3. That’s a detailed review..Thanks for this Uday. Instead of paid reviews I prefer reading such views..and yours seemed to be an unbiased one. After reading your review I was planning to request you to listen to heer toh badi sad hai but now that you have already listened to it I feel happy. Because in that song I love the ending part. The music at the climax, something which can make a bed-ridden man wake up and dance. One of the best albums ever – Tamasha. Thanks for this review.

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    • That makes me happy, Arun. You’re most welcome. I think most of the reviews only do lip service and I only know very few sites that do their reviews from the heart. I endeavor to become like that too. 🙂

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  4. Yes thats great Uday. Keep going like this. Actually i check reviews only for Rahman sir’s Album only hoping that some one would write some meaningful stuff. All other reviewers review the album as per its commercial viability which is not at all right for Rahman album in my opinion. So, that’s why I felt good after reading your review. Thanks.

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  5. I’m so glad to come across a review on the net which has actually grasped the power and beauty of this genius of an album. I feel this is Rahmans best work just coming second of the evergreen Rockstar. And after seeing the film ( which is also an absolutely underappreciated masterpiece) , the songs have taken an even deeper meaning. Chali kahaani is one of those tracks that has grown on me on every listen and takes me right back to the world of Tamasha- of drama, grandeur, emotion,stories, and how we must write our own story ourself. Matargashti is a masterclass in layering and musical arrangement and Safarnama is the perfect inspirational road song. And how can I not mention Tu Koi Aur Hai. The lyrics here are so barebones simple yet so deeply effective in conveying that we must be true to ourselves. Hats off Irshad Kamil. Rahman’s use of the opera here which seamlessly moves into safarnama at the end proves he can give hollywood composers a run for their money. Also Wat Wat Wat is insanely catchy and rhythmic.
    I know this has become a long comment but truly I am absolutely deeply in love with both this album and this beautiful film.
    Kudos Rahman and Imtiaz Ali.

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