RGGiri on Amit Trivedi

Insofar as Bollywood Music Directors are concerned, I remember a time when every alternate album was done by Nadeem Shravan. And then Anu Malik, and then Jatin Lalit. Within a few movies, their sound would become repetitive, and one would wonder if they have exhausted their tricks already. And then A R Rahman happened. The world seemed a better place. He made others innovate and compete for the top dollars. One waited for A R Rahman to create magic over and over again. And he obliged.

And then, Amit Trivedi made a quiet entry with Aamir. Since the world was not ready to acknowledge his brilliance yet, he blasted the doors open with Dev D. And has continued to go strong. Or, at least, that’s what it feels like as I started typing this post. Latest – Kai Po Che. So, I decided to look at his list of albums (movies only) and do RG giri. RG Giri is relative grading giri for the uninitiated. Majorly potent if you want to humiliate the studs, by telling them that you’re cool, but not cool enough. Or, as a friend pointed out long back – “If I lose because of RG Giri,  then I wouldn’t have lost at all. That’s why I don’t feel bad about my grades Macha!”

In 2008, he came on to the scene with Aamir. Excellent movie backed by an excellent track. Ha Raham continues to be one of my favorites till date. Ek Lau, Chakkar Ghumyo, and Phas Gaya were excellent tracks as well.

In 2009, DevD happened. And not much should be debated about the album being one of the finest of the last decade. My favorite – probably, Payaliya. However, in that year itself, the honors were well split between DevD (that won him the National Award) and that solitary song in that movie where the primary music directors were the brilliant Shankar Ehsaan Loy. Pushing all the songs from Wake Up Sid to the background, Iktara became one of the most requested songs on all radio shows.

In 2010 – He gave me Udaan. I consider Udaan to be one of the best OSTs I have heard in Indian cinema. There are few tracks that have done as much justice to the movie as Udaan. It’s difficult to pick a favorite from this album. Aazaadiyaan might have done more on the loop, but I am totally in love with the spontainety of Motumaster. Then came Aishaa. I don’t think its as good as Udaan, but it’s  important to understand how Trivedi was able to move away from being predictable. Aisha is a formulaic soundtrack – a punjabi number (Gal Mitthi Mitthi Bol), an acoustic romantic ballad (Shaam bhi koi), a peppy track (Suno Aisha), an excellent latin beat in Behke Behke Nain, and a sad song (Lehrein).  Fairly complete album with enough of his own brand stamped on it. Just to round up 2010, there was that one song in Striker too (Bombay Bombay). Decent, but not the best.

In 2011, No One Killed Jessica topped the charts. Intezaar, Dilli, Aali Re, Dua. #Nuffsaid. Then came “I Am”. Which had Baangur. He did only three songs in Baangur, but probablyt the most recognizable ones. 2011 also had Chillar Party. I haven’t paid much attention. It had that Ranbir Kapoor item song (Tain Tain Phiss) that did well. But as an album, I found it to be just OK. (Mental note- go check it again).

2012 – The tribe is growing now. Ishaqzaade, Ekk Main Aur Ek Tuu, English Vinglish, Aiyaa, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Five remarkably different from each other soundtracks. Aiyyaa didn’t work for met at a broader level. But had some good peppy numbers and a reasonable amount of justice done to Laavni and Marathi folk. Aga Bai and Dreamum Wakeuppam became quite big hits. I was supremely impressed by the track of Ishaqzaade. Again, formulaic in a way, but extremely fresh. Had two item numbers (Jhalla Wallah and Chokra Jawan Re), both of them very sticky and very un-gross. The music of Luv Shuv was pleasant punjabi folk. A big departure from the non-Punjabi’s perception of Punjabi music being just Bhangra. Let it grow on you. It’s beautiful. Tere laiyon haazir biba luv shuv tey chicken khurana. English Vinglish and Ek Main were decent. I won’t go crazy praising them, but they were better than average. My favorite track from English Vinglish is Dhaak Dhuk. From Ek Main, its Gubbare. Though both the title tracks are quite catchy as well. Key point. I am not getting tired of his sound yet.

2013 has a lineup. But for now, we have Kai Po Che. Manja already has me hooked. Though I must say that it has the 2009 Amit Trivedi feel to it. Shubharambh is excellent too. I am eagerly waiting for the rest.

So, in terms of the top 10 –

#10 – English Vinglish

#9 – Ek Main Aur Ek Tuu

#8 – Aishaa

#7 – Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana

#6 –I Am

#5 – Ishaqzaade

#4 – No One Killed Jessica

#3 – Aamir

#2 – Dev D

#1 – Udaan

I am sure many of you like Dev D better than Udaan. But what tilts it in Udaan’s favor is the quality of poetry in Udaan. And that takes me to a special mention for Amitabh Bhattacharyaa who has fantabulously supported Amit Trivedi with some awesome lyrics. The quality of lyrics has improved with Swanand Kirkire, Amitabh Bhattacharyaa and Piyush Mishra.

I have not included Wake Up Side here (just one song) and Kai Po Che (whole album isn’t available yet). The dude has a long way to go from here before his body of work is significant. But then, there is hope that he will deliver.

p.s. Just realized that Amit Trivedi composed for Trishna as well, a movie that sank without a trace. Should try and get hold of the soundtrack.

Music Review: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

 

RabNeBanaDiJodi (*ing Shahrukh Amol Palekar Khan)

 

This is the latest trend music – glossy YR Films or a lookalike movie (OSO, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Race, Dostana etc.) with about 6-7 songs – one romantic number, one sad song sung by (usually) Shreya Ghoshal or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, a peppy number by (usually) Sunidhi Chauhan where some dude named Blaze uses words that I dont understand the meaning of,and lastly, if its not getting covered in the above categories, a song by Sukhwinder Singh/ Atif Aslam. One song per singer in the movie is the new paradigm. Remix of 1-2 sings in the main album itself is another (they are just not letting some the remixing DJs survive, I tell you!)

 

Look back at some of the musical hits that fall in the glossy category this year, and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, how does Rab ne bana di jodi fit on the trend line –

1. Romantic Song – Haule Haule belongs to the combo of Sukhwindar and romantic category. Or, you can add, TUjh mein rab dikhta hai
2. Sad – The shreya ghoshal version of Tujhme rab dikhta hai
3. Fun – Dance pe chance by Sunidhi 
4. Remix – Dance pe chance remix
5. Rahat/Atif not in this album. Ably replaced by Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Rathod.

Now – what do I think of the music? 

If you are ready to forget and forgive Aditya Chopra for setting expectations through DDLJ and Mohabattein, the music is not that bad. But if you are looking for that charm, forget it!! Salim Suleiman, do not even meet their own high standards! 

Haule Haule, as can be seen through the new found popularity of the RNBDJ promos, is the pick of the lot. Sukhwindar adds a lot of soul to the sing, the punjabi touches, and a lot of passion. It grows on you. And it is growing on me! Another Sukhi ace! 

Tujhme Rab dikhta hai – its a good song, but it does not hit you that hard. Shreya Ghoshal version is better than Roop Kumar Rathod version (probably because its sadder). I am a sucker for sad songs. 

Dance Pe Chance – Average joe. Will catch on as the song is promo-ed on air. Thats my forecasting model talking. But not my heart. Shut up and bounce is catchier than this one! 

Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte – is a spoof song. With lyrics made up of songs and hindi movie names of yester years. So.. my guess is that again, the picturisation of the song will do the trick. Otherwise, very difficult to hum along, and not that great either. 

 

Overall –
I would give it a 3 on 5 – Average – because the singers do put in a lot of heart behind the songs which are quite average. Recommendation – download/stream and listen. If you like it, buy the CD. 

 

Passing Thought – Do you also think the Sonu Nigam is loosing his touch with singing? I think his voice is flattening out now

Music Review: Miles… From India (Various Artists)

Information about the Album: here

Cross-posted on EpicIndia

The beauty of this album (earlier reviewed by Richard Marcus on EpicIndia) does not lie just in its adherence to Miles’ definition of jazz, but in the effortless blending with Indian Classical. And that’s why- first things first – It comes highly recommended.

I would not waste a lot breath over talking about the ensemble quality of the artists on the disc. Each of them a true master of music, adding to the mix a certain versatility that probably them themselves forget while adhering to the rules, MFI is unique in the way that several critiques would find it difficult to call it fusion. Many others would find it difficult to call it jazz. And barely a few would even venture to suggest that its Indian Classical Music. The interesting thing to note here is that this union of two musical definitions does not require either of them to be the dominant one.

The idea of the album came about as Bob Belden thought about blending two pure music genres while paying a tribute to Miles Davis, one of the finest exponents of Jazz in the previous century. Lets consider for a moment the origins of jazz itself, the influences of so many countries and so many eras, and the fact that it has survived. The evolution of gospel and ragtime into jazz, and later swing, bebop, etc. being a fascinating story for jazz lovers all the same, this album pays homage to the post-depression era jazz.

Moving to the album, it’s a set of 2 discs that I previewed in the MP3 format with due permissions through EpicIndia. Both the discs have 6 compositions uniquely different from each other.

Instead of getting into a track by track review of whats in store for the listeners, it suffices to say that almost all the compositions blend between Indian classical and jazz using a mix of multiple instruments (Sitar, Tabla, Saxophone, Drums, Bass, Electric Guitar, Violin) with each instrument being used not just for the genre where it comes from, but also to do something that its usually not expected to do. Imagine the chaotic harmony of jazz on a sitar and the aaroh-avaroh of Indian classical on electric guitar. That’s what this album is all about, as it recreates Milesian magic through his compositions.
Accroding to me, the pick of the lot are Ife, Spanish Key and All Blues from disc 1, and Blue in Green, and Miles from India from Disc 2. This by no way implies anything negative against the other tracks, all of which are wonderful in their own rendition.

While Spanish Key starts in a standard Milesian way with rich use of saxophone and piano, involving tabla, Hindustani vocals to reach its crescendo, In a silent way is a short composition based solely on Sarod.

All Blues starts with the sitar and can be a perfect appetizer for someone who hasn’t listened to a lot of jazz before this, but is an avid Hindustani Classical follower, as this composition shows how the language of music can be moulded to accommodate everyone. It’s a great composition to learn from, if you are a learner of music, because it does complete justice to the subtleties of sounds from all the instruments used.

In a silent way is a very small jazz rendition on Sarod. Its slow, deliberate and so blended with Indian classical, that for the undiscerning listener, it just comes across as a sweet simple symphony, devoid of borders created by those who love definitions.

Ife (both fast and slow) was recorded in two versions keeping in mind that only one of the versions will be incorporated in the final CD. However, once you hear the discs, you realize why the team was not able to let go of any of the two versions. My personal choice would be the faster version given the heady mix it creates.

Jean Pierre is a composition that starts off with a haunting flute arrangement, but soon evolves into a melody that may get copied by a bollywood music director quite soon.

So-what breaks the trend, and starts in a Carnatic music style and blends itself into jazz. It uses the blend o f organ with Ghatam.

Miles runs the voodoo down cannot be categorized in any way. It’s a sound that’s closer to the ragtime era, but such was the genius of Miles. However, this song is the only one in the entire collection, where at times the blending does seem a little off.

Blues in Green has a great use of backing vocals from Shankar Mahadevan. I might sound a little biased with this, but in this album, the use of vocals enriches the sound of the same music to my ears.. The composition keeps at the molten level, flowing with the moment. An additional reinforcement in this song comes through the use of Sarangi by Pt. Ram Narayan.

Great Expectations is a vintage jazz composition which uses both traditional and Indian instruments to create the required effect. Watch out for the slowed tempo and melody towards the middle section of the song which further accentuates the beauty of this composition.

Finally, Miles from India, starts off as a piano based harmony using backing vocals rich in Hindustani, and is another slow and deliberate composition from the composer Bob Belden. A very Indian way of ending a musical concert, where the raags are gradually built over a period of time through subtle variations, and as the music reaches its crescendo, it’s the point where the musician is connected to the good. Finally, to conclude the concert, the musician detaches himself/herself from the divinity yet pleasing the gods through a simple and modest harmony, to come back to the lower world.

One of the biggest things about this compilation is that despite the use of multiple instruments and platforms, and this being an arrangement of performances across several recordings, which were finally molded together in a composition, there is not a point where you can feel that an instrument or a genre is trying to dominate another. This is MUSIC – a perfectly harmonious ensemble of sounds that lets you isolate yourself from the surrounding. From my side, it gets a thumbs-up with strong recommendations.
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Movie Review: Khoya Khoya Chand

I watched Khoya Khoya Chand on Friday. Its a different matter that I am writing the review now.

 To me, its a brilliant movie that would fail to make its mark. Reasons – to be honest, I dont want to dissect the this and that of the movie and kill a dream in the process. I see KKC as Sudhir Mishra’s tribute to his time in the Hindi Film Industry (pardon me for not referring to it as Bollywood yet). And I can tell you what I liked about the movie. Its brilliant in its canvas, cinematography, characterization. The music is quite awesome.the thought behind the movie is quite profound. The imagination vivid. The use of cinema within cinema is a novel way of showing the reality that cinema is supposed to present. And for that, I would like to give full marks to Mishra.

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The place where the movie fails is its editing. Its too slow and too disjoint at times. Everything makes sense, everything fits, and yet, you are fidgety in your seat at times. At times you wonder, for how long has this thing being going on? And then, the twist happens. The twist in the personality, emotions bring you back to whats happening on the screen. Its a wait and bait game that the movie plays with you. If you fish for fun, waiting can be too boring. If its your bread and butter, you know that for a bigger catch, you may have to wait longer. The movie will not appeal to people who prefer spending 150 bucks on an Om Shanti Om, where every minute of the movie is supposed to be explicit, entertaining, and exciting. The movie will appeal to theatre enthusiasts who like the use of sets, dialogues, imagery, limited words, multiple interpretations, the play between characters, the way the story buildds for 10 minutes to give you an ephemeral kick. None of the characters is a “hero”. None of them is a villain either. They are all playing their part in the gray zone. The shot where Zafar (Shiney) is mad at Nikhat (Soha) for not having tried her best in getting his way with a producer is an exquisite display of the real side of people. We all lose it at times, say things that we dont mean in general, but we do mean them in the spur of the moment. The shot where Prem Kumar (Rajat Kapoor) asks Zafar and Shyamul (Vinay Pathak) “sirf main hi itna haraamzaada hoon? ya sab aise hote hain?” is again a reality check. In another shot, zafar asks Nikhat – “hum to yahin hain. aap kahan hain? aap kahan they?’  and in another zafar tells shyamul – ise chod ke jeena bhi to mumkin nahi hai! The movie is a gem. Its a gem that some people will appreaciate on DVDs. But its bound to bomb at the box office. It may get an award somewhere, but most likely, it wont get any financial rewards. I live with a hope to be proven wrong on this.

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Shiney, Soha, Rajat, Sonya,  Vinay, et al shine. And you can see the effort. At times, shiney does go slightly overboard, but only slightly. Soha is a find. There are shots where she looks exquisitely beautiful, and there are shots where she looks like an ordinary girl. Isnt that what cinema is? A make believe world.

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And thats why you should see it. Its abotu all the things that make Cinema what it is. Glamorous, yet painful! Inviting, yet indifferent!!

Movie Review: Aaja Nachle…. Madhuri is back!

I have to write this post. Came back home a little while back after having watched Aaja Nachle. And have a flight to catch in an hour or so. So, best use of this one hour would have been to sleep. But then, I claim to be different!

Aaja Nachle re-establishes one of my firmest beliefs about Bollywood – Madhuri Dixit can beat the shit out of all current actresses with both her hands tied behind her back. She just rules the screen from the first shot. Its a Madhuri movie all along with good support from the other well cast actors. I think its a true entertainer of a movie.

A few of the high points of the movie –
1. Choreography – Boo to all those who tried to blast the choreography/music/dances of the movie. This is the best choreography I’ve seen after Devdas. Examples in context – 1. the choregraphy of O Re Pia sung by Rahat. First, its a beautiful song sung amazingly well by Rahat (thats hardly a surprise). Second, the song has beautifully used Ghunghroos in the background. The dancers seem to match the ghungroo ki jhanak perfectly. Madhuri has flawless movements and expressions in the song. The choreography has a classical base, which makes it a delight. Need more reasons? 2. Choreo of the title song – again, a phenomenal use of a talent like Madhuri. 3. Choreo of the long “nritya natika” towards the climax. I think that particular sequence just revives everything that a nritya natika (or, as the refined people would like to think about it – a broadway musical) should be. perfect use of props, individual positions, stage movements, and dance forms. I think the nritya natika on Laila Majnu is the high point of a movie which is all about dance.
2. Performances – Madhuri, undoubtedly, is the queen! But then, there are some refreshing performances by Vinay Pathak, Akshaye Khanna, Ranvir Shorey, Raghuvir Yadav, Yashpal Sharma, Konkona Sen, Kunal Kapoor, Irfan Khan et al. I think the beauty of this movie with a fairly average storyline lies in the characterization as well. The weakest characters in the fold are those of Konkona and Kunal, even though I think they have sleepwalked through their roles with consummate ease.
3. Music – Whatever people say, I think O Re Pia, Ishq Hua, Aaja Nachle, Show me your Jalwa.. all these songs will catch on very soon. Some have already, and some will now!

The enlightened will tell you that the story is weak, and there is an overdose of fantasy. Where does this dilapidated set get all the money and resources to set up such extravagant dances. I dont know. I dont care. The movie entertains. And the elite can go take a skywalk for all I care!

And yeah, just in case I havent given you enough reasons to watch the movie … My final.. nail in the coffin.. last straw to break the camel’s back… aakhiri hichki.. etc etc. argument is ….
GO WATCH IT FOR MADHURI!

Bollywood Gossip – Peeping Tom saw a certain Sonam Kapoor and a certain Ranbir Kapoor at Taj Lands End last night (Dec 3rd) having a noodly and dimsumy hot dinner at Ming Yang. Both were smoking. Since it was Tom Peeping, Sonam was looking extremely ravishing in a black tank top with her mid-riff well exposed with navel piercings and all. Tom wonders – is something brewing? er.. coffee?

Comment of the night – “Having seen her like this, I don’t think Bhansali was able to exploit Sonam completely during Saawariya!”

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Roundup…. No Title

Haven’t been blogging for a while, as the seasonal lethargy takes over. I can’t really blame it on anything else. Anyway, just a roundup of things/people/songs of note –

1. Television – I am in love with the 2 singing competitions on telly these days, Zee Saregamapa 2007 Challenge – Sangeet ka Pratham Vishwayud and Amul Star Voice of India. SVOI is going through a dramatic phase with Gajendra Chauhan ( the pioneer of such singing talent hunt shows) getting confused with his self created frankenstein. However, the singers to watch out for are Toshi Sabri (brought back into SVOI by popular demand, after being ejected on the basis of public voting), Harshit (SVOI), Amaanat Ali (SRGMP, an amazing voice from Pakistan) and Raja Hassan(SRGMP). Raja has the rusticness and purity in his voice, Toshi is probably the best trained and a sufi-genre singer. Harshit will make an awesome playback singer while Amanat probably is the most versatile of the lot, and will surely make a great ghazal singer if given a chance. His rendition of “Tujhse Naaraz Nahi Zindagi” yesterday (6th Oct) was plain simple awesome. The idea behind this long para on these people is to remind you guys that for every Dhoni who came out of Jharkhand, there are several who join Tata Steel on a small stipend! Please support, encourage and look out for these raw talents in the years to come. You can see the videos online here – SRGMP, SVOI

2. Music – 1. Main Agar Kahoon (Om Shanti Om) – beautiful romantic song with a very simple melody and another proof of how good Sonu Nigam is. Especially, when it comes to romantic songs, there are few who are as good. His voice has a certain yearning that others don’t
b. Yoon Shabnami from Saawariya  sung by Parthiv Gohil. A lot of you won’t even know who Parthiv Gohil is. Parthiv is the lost find of 1998 Saregama MegaFinal (youtube videos) (the year Sonu was still hosting the show,  Sanjeevani – another finalist, got a few movies as playback singers (such as Kareeb), and there were some truly amazing singers like Mohd. Vakil, Bela, Mukund and Sudeshna). An year or two after 1998 Shreya Ghoshal became the winner of Saregama. Anyway, Paarthiv had a very strong classical learning background and his rendition of songs like Ketak Gulab Juhi, and Dhanyabhaag Seva ka Awsar Paaya back in 1998 were wonderful. So, Bhansali has given Parthiv a break, along with Monty (the music director, who played some part in the background score of Devdas)
c. Songs from Manorama – 6 feet under.  From a collection of 4 songs (excluding remixes and versions), 3 belong to the category of very good to excellent. Woh Bheege Pal, Dhundhla jo sama bandha, Tere Sawalon Ke.. Try them out.

3. Movie – Johnny Gaddar is definitely my pick from bollywood. Bourne Ultimatum would be the hollywood pick. Johnny G is a wonderful movie which takes you back to the 70s thrillers where things just kept happening all through the movie. Director’s tribute to Vijay Anand and James Hadley Chase is visible throughout the movie. The movie could have been shortened by 15 minutes or so. But, but… its a wonderful movie to see on a weekend.

4. Books – Reading “Of Love and Other Demons” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez right now. Seems good so far, while being standard Marquez narration. Will update later.

However, just in case you got a feeling that this is what is keeping me busy.. Naah!  How many of you out there have lived out of a suitcase to get a house renovated. Working your butt off five days a week to reach home on a weekend (travelling usually in the middle of night both ways) to deal with tiles, cement, paints, designs and woodwork! Ugh.. its not easy!

Btw.. quick emotional outburst – Raikonnen has taken the pole. Hamilton has to wait. Vettel seems a driver to keep an eye on. The last couple of races are going to be amazingly interesting! 😀

Music Review: Kailasa – Jhoomo Re

I have been listening to the latest Kailasa (Kailash Kher’s band) album, Jhoomo Re since morning. And a vote of appreciation is due. (Though I often reprimand myself for refering to Kailasa as Kailash Kher’s band. Its a group of extremely talented artists – Kailash Kher, Naresh Kamath, Paresh Kamath, Kurt Peters, Sanket Athale, Rinku Rajput, Sameer Chiplunkar, Debyajyoti Dutta (Jonqui), Sankarshan Kini and Tejasvi Rao)

In their new album, Kailasa continue from where they left “Teri Deewani”, their previous hit album. “Teri Deewani”, the title song of their previous album, continues to be one of the finest use of Sufi undertones amongst commercial albums of recent times. Jhoomo Re builds further and establishes the bands credentials further. Kailasa is definitely a band to watch out for.

From “Jhoomo Re”, TV channels are already airing videos of two of the songs – Ba Bam Bam, and Saiyaan.

Ba Bam Bam has a rustic feel to it and will probably be appreciated more by people who understand Lord Shiva worshipping better. I don’t know the technical word for it, but those who have heard devout Lord Shiva worshippers will understand the sound as well as the rendition of this song. It’s a song full of energy and mindless devotion. That said, I don’t expect the song to become a popular hit, much against its originality and feel.

The next song- Saiyaan, is in the same league as Teri Deewani and Dilruba. High notes, soulful, and extremely powerful, Saiyaan is a must hear for all you sufi music lovers out there.

“Hire Moti Main Na chahoon,
Main to chahoon sangam tera
Main to teri .. saiyaan
Tu hai mera

Tu jo choo le pyaar se
Araam se mar jaoon main
Aaja chanda bahon mein
Tujh mein hi gum ho jaoon main
Tere naam mein kho jaoon main…”

(from Saiyaan). Interpret it in as many ways as you like!

The other songs that I would definitely recommend are Chaap Tilak (Khusro’s classic work), Daulat Shohrat (with a liberal touch of Sufism), and Tere Naina (beautiful lullaby). Beyond these three, there is ‘Tu hi mera Jaan hai’ (rendered in Punjabi folk tone) and Joban Chalke (sung with a Rajasthani feel). The amount of amalgamation (of spiritual and regional flavors) in this album is just too good to resist.

Things to reach out for when you are hearing this album –

1. Multiple interpretations, just as you would when you read vintage Sufi poetry
2. The music arrangement – its an excellent mix of modern and traditional instruments. Also, watch out for the use of natural sounds.
3. Kailash Kher’s voice – to me, his voice stands for humility and purity.
4. Effective use of backing vocals to accentuate emotions.

Let me know what you guys think after hearing the album.

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