HIGHWAY (MUSIC REVIEW)

The fifth album of this category is ‘Highway’. Okay, so the songs of this album weren’t popular as such among the public, as only two of them were promoted before the film released. However, everyone seems to have heard the songs. Everyone wants to prove that they have heard a Rahman album, and they will even say that the songs of Highway are so good that they keep listening to the album on loop! :/ And after that if you ask them how many songs are there, they will reply, ‘about two-three, right? So sad that this album has such a less number of songs!’ Then you would probably just leave them to hear what they think is the ‘whole album’ of ‘Highway’. 😀 The songs of Highway, barring two particular tracks, are experimental to the core, and I don’t think people loving songs like ‘Tune Maari Entriyaan’ and ‘Sunny Sunny’ at that time, would play this album on loop even now! However, the music was appreciated by critics and all, so that is the ticket for ‘Highway’ to appear in this category of reviews. 🙂


Album Details:-

Music by:- A.R. Rahman | Lyrics by:- Irshad Kamil, Lady Kash ‘n’ Krissy, Sant Kabir | Music Label:- T-Series | Music Released On:- 24th January 2014 | Movie Released On:- 21st February 2014

Highway Album Cover

Highway Album Cover

 

To hear the full songs of this album on Saavn CLICK HERE


Highway is a drama film which released on 21st February 2014. It is written and directed by Imtiaz Ali, and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala. It stars Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda in lead roles. It is the story of a city girl who gets kidnapped just before her marriage, and is held for ransom. However, a bond of affection starts to develop between her and her kidnapper, and that’s what this movie is about. After the success of ‘Rockstar’ and its music, Imtiaz Ali again tries to make a different film. And the music director is the same, A.R. Rahman! Ever since I came to know that he was composing for this film, I was very excited and expected a lot from the album. So let’s see whether the music of ‘Highway’ had met my expectations then, and what I think of it now.


1. Patakha Guddi (Female Version):- Singers ~ Jyoti Nooran, Sultana Nooran & Backing Vocals by A.R. Rahman, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

The Nooran Sisters, Jyoti and Sultana, who have been seen in Coke Studio singing for Hitesh Sonik and in MTV Sound Trippin’ for Sneha Khanwalkar, surprisingly make their Bollywood debut with a Rahman song! In this song based on Punjabi Sufi folk music, which is their forte, you are sure that there is going to be some magic awaiting you ahead. Right from the starting when the techno beats start, to the ending, this song will entertain you through the whole duration of four minutes and forty five seconds through which it lasts. The singers have done a splendid job, and Rahman has made a great decision of launching them in Bollywood! The flute used all through the song, is used brilliantly, and it sounds so beautiful! I loved this fusion of Punjabi Sufi with techno beats, and it sounds wonderful! The song twists and turns like a ghaat, but the tune is so lovable that the complexity will be forgotten. (And if you–for some of the fake Rahman fans out there–still think it’s complicated, then just hear the other songs, because there are more than two 😀 ) Rahman’s backing vocals are also awesome (“oo-oo-oo-oo”). As loudly as it started, it ended just as gently 🙂 A beautiful mix of Punjabi Sufi and techno, with the energetic vocals of the Nooran Sisters, who are going to make it big in Bollywood, I am sure! It is a  #5StarHotelSong!

 

2. Maahi Ve:- Singer ~ A.R. Rahman, Backing Vocals by ~ Maria Roe Vincent, Rhea Raphael, Neethi Dorairaju, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

I personally feel, that a Rahman album is incomplete without his voice. Since he didn’t sing in ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, I guess that’s why he decided to sing two songs in ‘Raanjhanaa’, and now my theory is proved again in this album. He does sing a song, and it comes in the form of this beautiful, romantic song, which is a typical Rahman song! It starts with some beats which are so catchy that you will instantly start swaying slowly, without realizing it. These beats don’t disappear through the whole song, and they are always there throughout the song to accompany you, lest you get bored (but you won’t!) The line ‘Tu saath hai, ho din raat hai’ is very catchy too. Rahman’s voice is magical as usual, and slowly, it will start growing on you, so be patient! 🙂 This song has been concluded in a very different way, and I liked it! Right from ‘yeh jeena bhi, na jeena bhi…’ till the end of the song, it is a perfect conclusion to this sweet song! A perfect romantic song, performed by the maestro himself, with utter perfection! However, it is a very typical Rahman song.

 

3. Kahaan Hoon Main:- Singer ~ Jonita Gandhi, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

A singer who debuted with a song like ‘Chennai Express (Title Song)’, that too, a very minimal portion, gets a Rahman song as her second song! What a leap! Starting off with piano notes, and with Jonita’s voice supported by very just piano following, this song will grab your attention instantly…NOT! This song will take a long time to grow on you unless you are a fan of Western romantic songs. This song has no trace of anything Indian except the language, and the ending tune of the antaras, where the singer takes a kind of taan or something. After Neeti Mohan, I think Rahman is off to make a permanent space for Jonita now in Bollywood as well! She has sung brilliantly! But still, I would have preferred Sunidhi or Neeti herself in this song, for some reason. Either of them could have taken the song to another level altogether. Good to see Rahman encouraging new generation singers, too, however! (Sorry for the sentences contrasting each other in each line!) The piano solo in the second interlude is too good! Also the strings have been coordinated very well! Thumbs up for Rahman to create such a Westernized track but it’s not catchy at all, so it won’t connect with most of the Indian audience, who need dhamaka, even in romantic songs 😀

 

4. Wanna Mash Up:- Singers ~ Kash ‘n’ Krissy, Suvi Suresh, Lyrics by ~ Kash ‘n’ Krissy

The moment it starts, you know it’s going to be something totally different from what Bollywood witnesses everyday. Yes, it is. It is a song written and sung totally in English. Lady Kash and Krissy, if you remember (you probably won’t) had also sung for Rahman in ‘Enthiran’ (‘Robot’ is the Hindi version). They had sung the song ‘Irumbile oru Iradhaiyam’, (Known as ‘Naina Miley’ to the Hindi audience). They are back to sing for Rahman in this track, which is a great attempt by Rahman. He has done a commendable job in composing a Western hip-hop type number! The lyrics are such that you will hardly understand much, but the way Kash ‘n’ Krissy sing it is outstanding! To be frank, I didn’t like the song when it released. But after the movie released, and after the song videos were uploaded on the T-Series YouTube channel, I saw the video of this song, and I guess it is a crucial part of the film. It shows the character played by Alia Bhatt dancing and enjoying herself, while in custody of kidnappers! So it is a situational song, and that’s why it won’t appeal to you unless you watch the movie. Purely situational, but hear it if you are a fan of electronic hip-hop! This track is not a regular Rahman track!

 

5. Sooha Saaha:- Singers ~ Zeb (Zebunnisa Bangash), Alia Bhatt, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

Here is a plain beautiful song! I was waiting for a song like this from Rahman for a very, very long time! And the best thing about it is that, it is a lullaby, and it does its work perfectly! The ukelele has been played at the starting by Haniya, and her partner, Zeb, sings the song. Alia Bhatt opens with some humming, which is also beautiful! When Zeb starts, you get the feel of sleeping in a village on a starry, calm night. Such magic I have never experienced while hearing any song! The mukhda and both antaras are totally different from each other. The antara sung by Alia Bhatt is great. She can sing very well, but her pronunciation is a bit bad. For ‘dekhoon’ it sounds like she’s saying ‘dekho’ and ‘baari’ sounds like ‘baarey’. Zeb is fantastic as well and her voice gives the required folkish feel to the sound. The lyrics by Irshad Kamil are highly innovative. Take the title line, for instance–‘Sooha saaha amma ka’–which means red rabbit of mother! A mother singing a lullaby, and calling her child a red rabbit of hers! So cute!! So sad that it wasn’t noticed because it deserved to be! 😦 Nothing to say. Just that this song is a  #5StarHotelSong!

 

6. Patakha Guddi (Male Version):- Singer ~ A.R. Rahman, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

The thoughts in your head while you are about to play this song for the first time–“Wow! Patakha Guddi again! That too, sung by the one and only A.R. Rahman! This is gonna be awesome!! Woohoo!! ARR Rocks!”–Right? Well, it’s natural to think so! I have even included this song separately because I wanted to write a LOT about it. So, here are your thoughts after the song starts–“Okay, abhi tak toh sirf shuruaat hai, aagey aagey dekhte hain hota hai kya!”–because it starts great! The first part of the song is actually great, if you except Rahman’s vocals! The new antara is good, too! Harmonium and manjeera are played in this version! It becomes a Sufi Qawwali instead of techno Punjabi Sufi. After the second antara, however, you might skip the track, because in comes an unwanted noise of rock instruments. Electric guitar and drums enter the song just like mosquitoes enter our houses in the evening! UNWANTEDLY! This rock part is totally a bin bulaaya mehmaan in this Sufi track. It even stays for that long! It lasts for exactly one minute!! After that, the song comes back on track and becomes the Sufi Qawwali again, and you would think–“What had happened to this song in between?”–because you would actually be shocked that such a great Sufi Qawwali transformed into a rock beast all of a sudden. Just as if it had gotten possessed by some ghost or something! :O After the rock portion is over, you feel that because you were criticizing his pronunciation in the earlier part of the song, Rahman put in the rock portion to punish you. I felt exactly like that! 😀 I had read that this was initially going to be the only ‘Patakha Guddi’ version in the soundtrack, but when Rahman found out that the protagonist is a woman, he made the female version too! Thank you, Imtiaz Ali, for writing a script with a female protagonist! 😀 Great attempt of a Sufi Qawwali, which Rahman could have made the best track in the album, had it not been for the rock part! :/

 

7. Implosive Silence:- Singer ~ Jonita Gandhi

This track is something which showcases the immense talent of Rahman! In an interview, he described it as “a state of mind—soothing yet enigmatic”. It features Jonita humming something and it is reversed. It has also been described by Rahman as “a musical piece which tries to capture the sounds in Alia’s character, Veera’s head as the travels along the highway”. Well, it does exactly that! It sounds like a confused person is thinking a lot, and all the thoughts are getting mixed up in the person’s head! A reverse track, which does what it’s supposed to excellently!

 

8. Tu Kuja:- Singer ~ Sunidhi Chauhan, Lyrics by ~ Irshad Kamil

Sunidhi with Rahman! A very rare combo which has given songs in the past, but not in the very recent past. One song, which was very famous, sung by Sunidhi and composed by Rahman was ‘Saiyaan Pakad Baiyaan’ from ‘Nayak’, and the other one, was ‘Gulfisha’ from ‘Ada…A Way of Life’. Well, here she is singing for Rahman for the third time! This song’s title line, ‘Tu Kuja Man Kuja’ refers to a Persian phrase, and the parts which follow are Hindi and inspired by the Amir Khusro song ‘Kirpa Karo Maharaj’. It sounds like a devotional or ‘bhakti’ song, and is beautifully rendered by Sunidhi! It is a bit too experimental, however, and it won’t connect with the audience of today. Not that it got that famous, either, as most people don’t even know about it! It is like a rat which lives in our house, without us knowing about it! The lyrics which are a mix of Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi are too dramatic to digest! This is what I call ‘the experimentalist Rahman’. Nobody would even catch the tune of this song in two of three listens, like they do for other songs! Too dramatic, too experimental, but great music and just as fabulous vocals!

 

9. Heera:- Singer ~ Shweta Pandit, Lyrics by ~ Sant Kabir, modified by Irshad Kamil

This song is the song in which Shweta puts an end to all the weird stuff in this soundtrack, and croons a sweet and simple melody. The violin piece at the starting is great! It sounds beautiful. The antaras have a better tune than the mukhda. Shweta has sung Sant Kabir’s ‘dohe’ to which Rahman has made a tune, very well! It is a very calming song, and it will definitely give you a soothing effect. Shweta’s voice sounded very nice in this song. I hope she sings for Rahman more often as she is always featured in his tours and all. A track which lacks repeat value but is undoubtedly a ‘heera’ and also a  #5StarHotelSong!

 

Overall:- Highway is not a bad album at all, when it comes to the demand of the script. Also, the music given by Rahman and the experimentation done by him is very clever and outstanding! All of the songs except the first two, lack one common thing, and that is repeat value! Nobody would want to repeat the songs, as they would be too tired to do that! Yes, it is a bit tiring to listen to so much experimentation in one hour. Though the music met the demands of the script, it is nothing without the script. The music of ‘Gunday’ and ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ also matched the demands of the script, but it also had repeat value. Barring the first two tracks, none of the songs are such that you would play them again. Of course I have given the tag of ‘5StarHotelSong’ to four songs, but that stands individually and is not at all related to the final rating of the album! Overall, an album with good music, but height of experimentation, which is why it failed and didn’t get so popular. Good for listening to before sleeping, though, for mental peace!

 

Final Rating for this Album:- सा < रे < ग < म < प < < नी

Note:- The letter which is underlined is the final rating

 

Review by Rujul Deolikar

Next dish:- Shaadi Ke Side/Effects, Chefs:- Pritam Chakraborty and Mikey McCleary

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