Monday, August 15, 2005

Who is Reena Bharadwaj?

She's the background singer with the smooth voice in Mangal Pandey's "Main Vari Vari" song.

"Main Vari Vari" is one of the more interesting Hindi songs AR Rahman has ever made. He has meshed the most number of musical styles I've seen him do: Carnatic (with the sarangi riffs), light north Indian classical or light Hindustani (the tune seems mujhra-like, with all the claps, ghungroo sounds and jhankaar beats), jazz with its strong bass, and the transition into qawwali, which was just plain disappointing to end the song. He's done better fusion in the past, so he should've known better.

Now that I hear it again, I'll minus the Carnatic style. It's three styles. The mujhra style of music was made for naach (dance) women to dance to in the court of kings during the Mughal era and it developed well under Tansen's school of music. Its pretty rare today as classical singers don't want to practice an art historically considered low class. Mujhra is still considered low-class, so this style has to be sought in the darker pockets of Indian cities. It won't come to you. I think the song in the movie "Rising: Mangal Pandey" will be based in a situation like that. Rahman does well with situational songs, but on audio, this song doesn't quite appeal.

Best transitions by Rahman: transitioning into qawwali with "Kehna Hi Kya" from "Bombay". The cut from the opening into a qawwali stanza with the harmonium playing in the background was exhilirating and something I will not forget easily. Fusing Carnatic music into what sounded like Jazz in "Jiya Jale" from "Dil Se." I've only formally studied Hindustani classical, so its hard to understand Carnatic, but the instruments -- mrudangam and what not, sound brilliant. All these songs have one common feature -- a strong bass.

As for Bharadwaj, she provides great background support to Kavita Krishnamurthy. In a few years, her name will be around Rahman's songs.


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