Starring  Urmila Matondkar, Shabana Azmi, Arjun Rampal, Diya Mirza, Namrata Shirodkar and Diana Hayden

Direction : Khalid Mohammed 

Music : A R Rahman 

a music review by Swapnil


Almost a year after "Saathiya" & a year-n-half after "Bhagat Singh", Rahman returns to Bollywood with a unique album "Tehzeeb". Tehzeeb is a brain-child of celebrated film-critic & a noted film-maker, Khalid Mohamed; who has previously shown his directorial abilities in "Fiza". After enjoying a job of a film-critic & a script-writer (Zubiedaa, Sardari Begum, etc), Khalid does what he likes the most-Film Direction. "Fiza" might not have created ripples at the box-office but it sure marked the arrival of a different genre of films which was at the juncture of commercialism & art. He has cast a sensible crew of actors including Shabana Azmi, Urmila Matondkar, Arjun Rampal, Diya Mirza, Rishi Kapoor & many more. Tehzeeb talks about a mother-daughter relationship with a tinge of difference. It tells a story of a singer (Shabana) who wants her daughter (Urmila) to follow her footsteps untill routes of destiny cross apart. Tehzeeb is all about manners & discipline & hence one can expect a strong emaotional & sensitive subject from Mohamed. Musically speaking, Khalid has always nurtured a good taste. In Fiza he roped in Anu Malik to score the music, along with Rahman to compose the famous qawwali "Piya Haji Ali". The music of Fiza was a turning-point in Malik's career & another beautiful feather on ARR's cap!

Tehzeeb required a different perspective. It tells the story of a Ghazal singer who changes with time & style. Moreover, the songs had to have a universal appeal since its a commercial film. So, the best person Khalid could think to give justice to the subject was Rahman- the person who has now more than just a universal appeal, perfection personified! Rahman's music connects instantly to the heart & many would agree. To give it a realistic approach, Khalid chose the Urdu poetry (ghazals) of ancient poets of the 18th Century like Daagh & Momin. Both these poets enjoyed the supreme position in the field of poetry-writing after Ghalib. Apart from these, Javed Akhtar contributes his style to the other songs. Tehzeeb is rich with Urdu shayris & poetry which is rarely found in today's songs.

Its a challenge for any composer to tune such beautiful lines. The main point while composing a Ghazal is that the soul should remain with the words (alfaaz) while music is complimentary. The music shouldnt be too complicated or loud in comparison to the lyrics. 
Now, it was Rahman's job to do justice to the legendary poets along with meeting International standards & making it acceptable for all kinds of audiences to hear. Does Rahman succeed? Well, lets find out...

Tehzeeb has six songs with 3 ghazals & 3 very Bollywood-ish numbers. For your knowledge, a ghazal is a phrase (thought/ idea/ imagination) of just 2 lines/ couplets (could be rhyming). All other forms of poetry can be called as a geet or nazm. For eg. 'Aapko mujhse gila hota na shikwa hota, meri majboori ko gar aapne samjha hota' is a ghazal but 'hansti rahe tu hansti rahe, hayaa ki laali khilti rahe, zulfon ke neeche gardan pe, subah-shaam milti rahe, saundhi si hansi teri khilti rahe, milti rahe' is a geet/ nazm. 

Rating: ***** Mind-blowing; **** Very Good; *** Average; 

** Could have been better; * Worse

1. Na shikwa hota (Sujata Bhattacharya; lyrics- Javed Akhtar):

Everyone knew that there was one song featuring Shubha Mudgal...even Khalid had mentioned in an interview long back. But when the audio released we found out that all the 3 ghazals are rendered by Sujata Bhattacharya. Shubha Mudgal- ARR would have been a dream combo! 

There was a huge discussion on that when someone mentioned it was the same Sujata Trivedi who had sung in Thakshak & 1947 Earth. Infact, thats the truth. She's got married to a Bengali. One of my friends is working in a PR company which is doing the media promotion of Tehzeeb. She had the opportunity of being present for the audio release function at Hyatt International. There she met Sujata & she was very tensed. She rehersed this song for 6 times till Khalid got fed up & asked her to perform. It was her first public appearance!

Returning to the song, its an another gem added to the list of ARR vintage melodies! The song starts with soft piano, harps & then vocals. The start is immediately likeable. Just chords & vocals...truly mesmerising. What is interesting is when she sings the lines "Meri majboori ko gar aapne, samjha hota". The slide in the word 'aapne' from Pancham(Pa), Teevra Ma, Shuddha Ma, Re & lower Ni is incredible.

By the way, the raga is Pahadi with slight touches of Kaamod (the meend from Rishabh to Pancham). The main rendition follows with the rhythm which is set to taal Deepchandi (14 beats). What is interesting in all ghazals is the use of unconventional & contemporary percussions. People would always expect a ghazal with a predominant tabla. But Rahman has to differ. He uses a plethora of instruments to make the song not only different but universal. Even Western audiences can connect with the song without understanding a word. As soon
as the rhythm is introduced, one feels a similarity to the song "Jogiya" from TLOBS. It had the same flavour with the same beat.

Also one can remember "Nee than en desiya geetham" from PP. The only regret is that he should have used a softer percussion without a continuous beat going on & on. Javed Akhtar's lyrics need a special mention. He brings out the mood of the song very distinctively.

"Aapko mujhse gila hota na shikwa hota, meri majboori ko gar aapne samjha hota...",
( You would have no complaints or regrets, if you had understood my helplessness. )

The first interlude has ample of solo piano by the maestro himself. How easily he glides from one note to the other...its his signature! Again its similar to the work he's done in the interludes of "Azhage sugama" from PP. But this one is brief. The antras are beautifu, doing justice to the words. 

"Dard ki yaad mein bhi dard hai, behtar yeh tha, apne zakhmon ka hisaab humne na rakha hota"
( there's pain even in the thought of pain; it would be better if I wouldnt have kept an account of my wounds.)

What a brilliant thought! Javed Saab excels as usual. After the 1st antra when Sujata returns to the main lines "meri majboori..." she takes a beautiful harqat encompassing a whole octave. Sujata has rendered the song with full emotions...she has a long way to go! The 2nd interlude is quite short with just flute. This is ARR stamp! Naveen's rendition sounds so familiar, one can immediately identify the style. 

The words of the 2nd antra "Khwaab humne jo dekhe woh sabhi sach hote, sochiye aisa agar hota to kaisa hota"
(whatever dreams we've cherished would come true...if this would
happen it would be so beautiful).
The soul of the song lies in the lyrics & the emotions of the singer, both of which get achieved! This is the level of perfection! Its one of the most melodious songs of ARR. He churns out the best melodies with oodles of chords. This song will also find its place among masses. The song's mini (pocket) version is also available
in Vijaya's voice. Again a new find! Its a more westernised version of the ghazal. There's no specific rhythm although towards the end its interesting to hear the rhythm returning to the 7 beat meter. its too short to discuss anything. May be its a part of the BGM.
Rating- ****

2. Meherbaan (Asha Bhosle, Sukhwinder; lyrics- Javed Akhtar):

3---2---1---0...this is how the countdown begins. After "Radha kaise na jale" & "Chori pe chori", Ashaji is back in form with Meherbaan. She's the queen of hearts, especially when she renders such kind of songs. Recently when Ashaji turned 70, someone had asked her favourute composers. Apart from R.D.Burman (naturally), the immediate name was Rahman. Getting appreaciation & admiration from such big legends is the biggest compliment for any musician. the song does not actually belong to the album but its just added to give it a mass-appeal, an 'item number' label. The song starts with tympani & Ashaji's haunting vocals till the percussion becomes heavier.

The rhythm is very catchy. Its an instant crowd-puller. He's used an arrangement of digital as well as natural percussions. The flute follows the vocals. As the beat proceeds, there r a lot of digital voices in the background like the cell-phones ringing, a lady saying '3-2-1-0', etc. This just adds to the curiosity of whats gonna follow.

Towards the beginning of the song one can her the strumming of the sitar. The main song starts...
"Meherbaan meherbaan, kyon ho naraaz tum, kyon ho tum badgumaan...",
( dear why are you so upset with me, why do u have so many misconceptions?')

The mukhda is based on Raga Darbari. In the lines "kyun ho tum badgumaan", the note shifts from Komal Dha to shuddha dha giving it a chromatic nature. Sukhwinder enters with the chants 'meherbaan' which is almost like "Rehnuma' from Udhaya. But that chanting by Sukhwinder is very energetic & gets easily memorised. What is amazing thru out the song is the use of Bass guitars. Its just simply mind-blowing.

Rahman is a genius when it comes to arrangements. After the chanting, the song shifts to Raga Bahar employing both the Nishadhs (like it was in "Kannathil muthamittal"). The overall song resembles quite a lot like "Thenmerkku paruva katrae". Then comes the real winner....the magical flute by Naveen. I think Rahman just gives him a free hand & Naveen gets into the groove. He's one of the oldest musicians with ARR! He travels thru a whole journey & galaxy of notes with heavy percussions. Suddenly, the piano glides thru a different set of notes. The melody changes. Normal ARR complication! There's ample support from the strings section (thanx to Srinivasamurthy).

I love the lines "labz inkaar ka, lehza ikraar ka" which mean 'words of refusal but with a tone of acceptance". Only Javed saab can write such antithesis! Again, the song does not follow routine mukhda-antra format. After that there's lot of heavy percussions followed by the chanting. Ashaji gives her sensuous feel to the words "Aao bataaun apni har baat main, tumse kar doon bayaan apne jazbaat main". I
definitely agree when people say that after RDB, Ashaji has given her best to ARR. She adds her touch by singing 'Mehebaan' with lots of harqats every time. Its only because of Ashaji's immortal vocals & Rahman's ever-dependable arrangement that the song becomes a winner all the way! When you see Urmila dancing & emoting this song on the golden beaches with innovative costumes & choreography, you feel that enough justice has been given to the music.
Rating: ****

3. Mujhpe toofan (Sujata Bhattacharya; lyrics- Momin Khan Momin):

Here Khalid has chosen the traditional poetry of one of the greatest Urdu poets of 18th century, Momin Khan. His takkhallus (pen-name) was Momin. Rahman returns to his style of composing & does a marvelous job. This song can be called a s an authentic ghazal- perfect tune, arrangement & style. This song comes in the league of "Snegidhane", "So gaye hain", etc. The song is based on Raga Kirwani. It starts with soft santoor & flutes. This was the music used in the 1st trailors. 
The rhythm has been set to Taal Deepchandi (14 beats) again but this is much softer & better. Sujata gets an opportunity to explore her talent but musically speaking, she is mediocre in this song as compared to 'Na shikwa hota'. The reason is that she is not clear in many places. When she sings the upper notes, her clarity is lost. The tone is correct but rendering needed more force. Moreover, Ifelt that compared to other songs, the balancing of this song was not proper. The song has a faint volume thru out & the vocals r not clear. But full marks to the composition. The strings section (violins, cellos, violas) are amazing at providing chords. There are faint claps too (a regular ARR feature). The claps echo during the lines "kar diya apne aane jaane ke...". There's a lot of use of chromatic notes (shuddha & komal Dhaivat and Nishadh simultaneously).

"Mujhpe toofan uthaaye logon ne, muft baithe-bithaaye logon ne"
(people have raised many eyebrows (storm) on me just like that.)

When she returns to the main lines there's a faint tabla. The 1st interlude mainly has female harmony. The antras are just beautiful with much twist-n-turns in the composition. The 2nd interlude is the highlight. It has pan-flutes, santoor piano & male harmony.

"Sun ke udti si apni chaahat ki,dono ke hosh udaaye logon ne, bin kahe raaz aaye dilhaani, use kyon kar sunaaye logon ne".
(Why did people make us hear so much after listening to our affair?)

After the 2nd interlude, there's female harmony along with Sujata while singing the main lines. The 3rd interlude is pretty short & has a solo violin.

"Kya tamasha hai jo na dekhe the, woh tamashe dikhaaye logon ne, kar diya Momin us sanam ko khafa, kya kiya haaye-haaye logon ne".
(People made us see & hear things which we had never experienced, they made my beloved & me apart, look what they've done to us!)

This song is written mainly for lovers whose love was never accepted by the society. Here 'logon' means society. Two lovers who could never meet because of various social reasons & what pain and agony they go thru has been described by Momin here. So the whole song has a sad & tragic feel. Towards the end, one can hear beats of tabla very clearly just to enhance the mood. Rahman has done full
justice to depict this pain. What a composition! One of the best composed songs by Rahman in recent times.
Rating- **** 1/2

4. I wanna be free (Anupama, Mathangi; lyrics- Blaaze):

When u listen to this song after the soothing ghazals, u feel 'where has this song come from?' Seriously, this song has just been added for mass-appeal. This song has been picturised on Namrata Shirodkar (Pukar fame) & its one of the item-numbers in the film (like Sushmita Sen did in Fiza). This is more of an instrumental theme than a song & is much like Spirit of Rangeela (the latter was a masterpiece).

Rahman has just used samples & loops here with powerful vocals. The song can be categorised as Trance (Bailamore from Kadhal Virus). The mood & the treatment is similar. Lots of heavy western percussions have been blended with Bass & electric guitars. The only melody instrument in the song is woodwinds. Blaaze contributes to the lyrics which r not more than 2-3 lines "I wanna be free, break the chain....tod de zanjeer". The music sometimes tends to be loud. The singers do justice, adding much punch & force. Mathangi's voice is sweeter while Anupama adds immense power. As I had written for 'Bailamore' that it creates an atmosphere of smoke & adolescence, the same can be said here. R.D.Burman had tried something like this in "dum maro dum" & "aao kash mein kash" from Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The guitar work is splendid especially if u hear the part at around 1.52 mins.

The voices have been digittaly manipulated when Mathangi's voice drops from a high note to the lowest note. The music is catchy but it seems odd in such an album. The song has already been criticized by many reviwers. The music forms a crescendo (climax) towards the end when suddenly the style changes to western classical opera.
The heavy percussions stop & melody enters. The lines "Freedom" r the highlight. Almost for a moment u feel u r listening to an International album like 'Bombay Dreams'. These 2 lines r the saving grace. It has come out extemely well. It brings out the character of the song. I wish there was more of this. But alas! it lasts only for 1/2 a minute. The songs returns back to the normal pace. The
biggest disappointment is the end. When u get into the groove, it suddenly stops. Its an abrupt end. U wait for more but the song has already passed on. He cud have used a fading effect. But anyways, the rest of the songs cover-up for this one. It'll only be a visual treat to watch this song (as hyped by Khalid & Namrata). This song can easily find its place in discotheques. I think u can press the forward button!
Rating- *** (just-about)

5. Sabaq aisa (Sujata Bhattacharya; lyrics- Dagh Dehlvi)

Rahman returns to his favourite Raga Bhairavi. In the Simi Garewal interview he had mentioned that one of his favourite composition was "Mera rang de basanti chola" from TLOBS which is also in Bhairavi. When the song starts with typical Western percussions, u feel its just another kinda song & definitely not a ghazal. But u r in for a surprise! Its a traditional ghazal penned by one of the greatest Urdu poets, Dagh. This is Rahman! When Sujata starts to sing the lines "sabaq aisa" u feel nostalgic. The tune is just beautiful with the correct blend of pathos & pain. At one thought u feel that this song cud have suited Richa Sharma or Shubha Mudgal's voice.

Not that Sujata has sung it badly. But its just a feeling. The song has bass, spanish guitars with faded tabla as a support. 

"Sabaq aisa padhaa diya tune, dil se sab kuch bhula diya tune"
(You've taught me such a lesson that all memories have been wiped off from my heart)

"Betalab jo diya milaa mujhko, begaraz jo diya, diya tune"
(I never got anything which I desired/ I always got the unwanted)

The best part of this song is the arrangement. The 1st interlude has amazing saxophone by Martin. It reminds me of the incredible work done by Kadri in all the songs of 'Duet'. The interesting part of Bhairavi is that it gives the freedom of using all 12 notes. The 1st line of the antras uses Shuddha Gandhar instead of the komal one of Bhairavi. The song gets ample embellishment from the glides of the harp whenever the notes keep changing. The 2nd interlude has the harmony which is exactly similar to that of "Mera rang de" from TLOBS. Also it has resemblance to "Rajiyama" from Baba. The last 2 lines of the song r just incredible. 

"Mujh gunehgaar ko jo baqsh diya, to jahannum ko kya diya tune?"
(If u forgive a criminal like me then what have u given to hell?)

"Dagh ko kaun denewala tha, jo diya aye khuda diya tune"
(who was going to give Dagh such a place, whatever he got has been given by God)

Whenever Sujata sings 'diya tune', it echoes in our souls. It has been rendered so beautifully! In the end, there's harmony in the base voice supporting Sujata. This song too has a lot of pain & agony. This song is like most ARR haunts u like anything & slowly grows on u. The more u listen, the more u go deep & get
immersed in the song. The song ends with a masterpiece sax rendition.

Again, Rahman has given a free hand to Martin & he does so. He excels in creating the right mood. He ends it with a traditional tihaai (3 times) without any percussions just on his sax. And u crave for more. Its one of the best-composed songs. What is credible is that Rahman has not stuck to the usual meter of the song, its free-flowing as & when the emotions spring up. I think Bhairavi has never sounded so fresh & full-of-pathos in any other composer's song. This is
the creativity of the maestro. Again, if the percussions were kept a bit softer, one cud hear the lyrics clearly.
Rating- **** 1/2

6. Khoyee khoyee ankhein (Shaan; lyrics- Shad Azimabadi):

This was the first song to be aired on T.V. & I remember the immediate reactions of all members that it doest not sound Rahman-ish at all. Yes...when I heard the song, I felt the same. But as usual I did not get disappointed as I wanted to listen to the whole song before I cud pass my verdict. That helped. Until I heard the song, I was under the impression that ARR has done a very under-rated stuff.
Listen to the whole song on personal headphones & u'll agree. The
song is not so bad. In fact its really come out well, especially
with Shaan's youthful vocals.

This song describes the beauty of a lady with an amalgam of adjectives.
"Khoyee khoyee ankhein hain, gori gori rangat hai, lambe lambe gesu hain, bholi bholi soorat hai"
(lost eyes, fair complexion, long shiny hair, innocent face)

The song kicks of with heavy bass & synth-waves. The percussion is very westernised & heavy. Shaan enter with syllables like 'Na na nari nari...'. This phrase ensures the youthfulness & pep of the entire song. It will be instantly liked by the younger generation.

The guitar work on the alaap "hey...." reminds me of Chandralekha from Thiruda Thiruda. There's good inputs by the strings section thru out the song. 

"Aadhi aadhi chitwan hai, tedhe tedhe abroo hai, neechi neechi nazrein hai, kuch kuch dil mein ulfat hai"
(cross glances, crooked eyebrows, dropping eyes, some trust in the heart)

This song cannot be termed as a ghazal. Shaan has indeed done a great job here. After long a time & sharing name with a crowd of singers (Ghanan ghanan & O humdum) he gets a solo from ARR. He does not let us down a bit. Infact, it seems that this song suits his voice the best. On the orchestration, there r lots of inputs both from percussions & strings department. Sometimes one can hear a santoor-like sound too. Rahman returns to his roots in the interludes by making the arrangement sound very Arabic (like it was in 'Ale ale' from Boys). Its mainly the strings section that contributes to the interludes. Its very encouraging to see such a treatment given to a traditional lyric. Its almost like a pop song! Whenever Shaan stretches his vocals to the upper notes, it fuses lots of energy in the song, yet maintaining the subtleness of romance & poetry. There's only 1 antra which is beautifully composed. 

In the lines "bhar-bhar aaye na bhala dil, kaise haaye in sheron par, sachchi sachchi baatein hai, ya poori poori haalat hai" he's again used chromatic notes towards the end with the santoor following each note. When he returns to the punch lines "Na na nari nari", the second time there's a descending sound of the church bells. When u see the picturisation, its shot brilliantly where the nuns & Arjun make a cross on their heart with this sound. Its so synchronised. This is a typical Bollywood number but with traditional lyrics.

The violins provide a beautiful symphony towards the end along with Shaan's vocals also giving different chord-variations. This is the beauty! The song ends with the alaaps ' na nari nari' & a cymbal-sound. Truly amazing work. The song has already gained popularity. Another plus point for ARR.
Rating- ****

This marks a totally new beginning for Rahman. Composing ghazal aint easy but ARR has proved that he can compose any subject with his magical touch. Tehzeeb provides a galaxy of emotions with wide range of compositions. The album surely grows with every single moment & I m not the only one to advocate this statement!

Overall Rating- ****


P.S.- This review is purely based on personal judgement & does not tend to hurt anyone's feelings.
Also...sorry for this delay. I hope u like the review & send in ur valuable comments.

As always....its a pleasure writing

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