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`Dream' music from Rahman

He has already made waves with his music in films like `Roja' and `Rangeela'. A.R. Rahman's 19 compositions for `Bombay Dreams', in collaboration with theatrical genius Andrew Lloyd Webber, is sure to give `Moulin Rouge' a run for its money.

WHAT HAPPENS when a big-time theatrical genius named Andrew Lloyd Webber collaborates with one of India's top-class musical talents named A.R. Rahman? You get Bombay Dreams, one of the earliest and most interesting of the cultural "crossover" musicals. Since the June 19 premiere at the Apollo Victoria Theatre of London, Bombay Dreams has hogged the limelight both in the press and among the `yuppie' crowd. Though it may take a while before we get to see the production in India, we don't have to wait any longer for the sound track release. The Bombay Dreams (Sony Music; Rs. 100) album is out in the market.

A small peek into Rahman's musical journey tells a story of a tiny tot aged four, playing the piano with daddy and at the ripe old age of 11, joining Ilayaraja's music troupe as a keyboard player. One thing led to another and young Rahman was performing in the orchestras of M.S. Vishwanathan and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan. What followed was a Western Classical Music degree from the Trinity College at Oxford University. Returning to the country, he started pursuing a serious musical career. The dream run began with Roja and Bombay after which he made a thunderous foray into Bollywood music with Rangeela.

Many more films followed - and slowly a new genre of music began to grow - simply called `Rahman-music', something which was difficult to describe - a mix of Bass, jazz, the occasional tribal beats and some top-class percussion.

Dil Se, Taal and Pukar are among the recent success stories of Rahman, and not to forget the very patriotic Vande Mataram, his way of commemorating the 50 years of Indian Independence. Having reached a commanding position in the Indian music scene, Rahman creates music for Andrew Lloyed Webber's play, a story of a `wannabe' movie star and his adventures as he follows his fantasy, starring some known faces like Dalip Tahil and some new ones too.

All the 19 tracks of the album have been composed by Rahman himself with lyrics by Don Black. Many of the songs are inspired by Rahman's earlier hits, toned to blend into a theatrical play soundtrack.

For instance, Love's Never Easy is adapted from Ishq Bina from Taal and Shakalaka Baby is a `Hinglish' version of the song with the same title from Nayak. The famous Chaiyya Chaiyya is present in a more polished and danceable form - a refreshing change from the loud original version in Dil Se. One track which deserves special mention is Happy Endings, inspired from Rangeela Re.

The pitch crescendo is awesome and makes the song more pumpy. Among the original songs, the theme song is impressive while Wedding Qawwali sung by Sukhwinder Singh has an earthy traditional feel to it. The jackpot here is Ganesha which features some mind-blowing percussion by Sivamani.

Though the theatre culture is yet to spread its fame in the country, A.R. Rahman makes sure he delivers good music - theatre music which could give Moulin Rouge a run for its money. Kudos to you, Man!

A. VISHNU

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