I think A.R. Rahman is overrated. Not think, actually. He really is.
Before you embark on a verbal journey of hate and in-the-mind abuses, let me tell you that I am not against his music. I strongly feel that his music is not that rave which certain sections of the media and listeners have portrayed it to be. They have put him on such a pedestal as calling him, “The God of Music.”
A.R. Rahman is fantastic in the way he fuses his music … in his use of his instruments and for bringing alive a sound, no other composer has dreamt of. Yes. He is a brilliant composer and there is no second take on that.
But there is a slight difference between a music arranger/composer and being a music director in itself.
Barring his selected songs in Roja, Taal, Dil se & Rockstar, I fail to see his connect with my musical chord. My own boss calls me musically handicapped because I do not grasp how technically bang on Rahman’s music is.
Consider his latest – Highway. Apart from “Patakha Guddi,” there is NOT a single song that I feel stands up to his previous works. It’s not the kind of songs, I would put on repeat. I would turn the radio OFF.
I reiterate that I do not have any qualms with him being an international level music arranger or composer but considering Bollywood, his style of making music should only be restricted to background scores or instrumentals. Not with vocals. Firstly , I face huge difficulty in understanding his singers accents or their style of singing & secondly , his tunes are so overpowering , that the vocals are completely drowned. “ Maahi Ve,” is a perfect example. I had the opportunity of watching A.R. Rahman perform LIVE @ the MTV Awards 2013 in Mumbai and must I say, the man is a performer. His knowledge of rhythm is so vast that it won’t be wrong to say he can compose a tune on the spot; I have a slight hitch when it comes to his expressing his love for Sufism, although.
Rahman is a huge fan of spirituality and the Sufi way of life. But then again, excluding his “Satrangi re” from Dil se, “Ramta Jogi” from Taal & my favorite “Khwaja Mere Khwaja,” as a Sufi lover myself, his songs do not connect to my inner being.
But yes, his Sufi is way progressive than any other present music director or composer that I know. Rockstar was one such album.
For me as a listener, a perfect music director is someone like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Amit Trivedi, Salim- Suleiman, Mithoon and the stalwart O.P. Nayyar. Not only they combine excellent tunes with perfectly suited vocals, they also had the lucky streak to have had major names as lyricists’.
That one composition that I would give A.R. Rahman a 10/10 for is “VANDE MATARAM.” No other song can encompass the patriotism that the song captures.
Music is a very personal element for me. My views, however, disturbing or rubbish they may sound to you are mine.