This time, it is not a music discovery, because I am pretty sure everyone and their grandmother have heard of this movie. I managed to obtain a very high-quality version of the soundtrack (and discovered for the first time what a difference a high-quality sound file makes, and what I’ve been missing out by listening to mp3s), and gave the soundtrack a thorough listen.
Of course, Slumdog Millionaire has been a runaway success, and has been awarded and nominated for several titles. Its soundtrack by AR Rahman has already won the Golden Globes, and looks set to be on the path for the Oscars.
Is it good? Short answer is, of course, it is. AR Rahman has once again demonstrated his genius and flexibility, and given us another delectable aural treat. But I will not call it his best work, because having followed his work since the time he premiered on Roja, I can confidently say it is not. Yes, it has gained international recognition – but only because it is attached to a production which is not of Indian origin. Him winning the Golden Globes (and potentially the Oscars), is a lot like Katherine Heigl winning an Emmy for season 3 of Grey’s Anatomy, or a more potent example, Einstein winning the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the photoelectric phenomenon – he/she deserves it, but for the wrong work.
The last time his work gained international recognition was when he did Bombay Dreams and Lagaan. Bombay Dreams soundtrack was decidely unoriginal (Rahman simply reused the tunes from his former work from Indian films, which, of course the non-Indian audience would not have picked up at all), and was rather butchered by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bad writing.
Slumdog is an original production by contrast, and includes a mix of decidedly Indian soundtracks (Jai Ho), to the extremely western (Gangsta). It would not be entirely wrong to call Slumdog‘s soundtrack AR Rahman for the non-Indian audience – a bit of a primer before you can start appreciating the true depth of the man’s work.
Originally published on Sayoni Speak
There are a few great mysteries in this world. Are there aliens out there? Does God exist? How were the pyramids built? But the greatest mystery of all, to me, is still why in the world I continue watching The L Word (and Grey’s Anatomy, but I’ve resolved to give no more airtime on this website to that particular show). As a heads-up to all our readers: a (slightly edited) first episode is available on the Official L Word podcast, free and legal for download.