Back in 1992, I had just passed out from 10th standard. It was also the year when I became a teenager from a school boy. CDs had made their debut but were very costly. The good old audio cassettes were still a part of many household. Having a CD of the movie was quite a luxury.
I had finally graduated to college and was entitled for pocket money. I would save money from my pocket money to buy music cassettes. The twenty five rupees music cassettes was quite a luxury then.
Alas my college was not the experience I want to treasure. The only good part was that we were not needed to wear any uniform. Otherwise it was nothing but a school. Strict timing, compulsory attendance, no girls and boring lectures.
Where exactly were the fun colleges I saw in movies?
No wonder out of the class of maybe 50-60 people, only 2 of my classmates are in touch with me. All others have disappeared into oblivion refusing to acknowledge the two years we spent there.
I am digressing here!
So, it was a time when I would listen to the radio where new movies would be advertised. It was a time when cable had not made much progress and all we had were two movie channel from Doordarshan.
That was the time I heard “Roja” for the first time. I had read about it in the newspapers about a tamil movie that was making waves everywhere especially the soundtrack. When the hindi version was released, I went and brought the cassette. I still remember the white cassette cover. The cover was different and was reserved for the more costly English cassettes. The cover had the Roja card over it, bright red with Roja written diagonally. It had the songs listed in the back with the time of each track.
Hindi music did not have track time written with the songs. They had a compact list of songs in a very small space.
For many months it was my favorite music cassette and I had played it hundreds of times. The music was different, refreshing and exciting.
A R Rahmaan had arrived!
I waited for his next movie but AR Rahman was happy doing Tamil movie. Roja was a Tamil movie and the sound track only had Hindi lyrics. It was not until 1995 that Rahman did hos first Hindi movie, “Rangeela”
Rangeela was a mile stone in Hindi cinema. The music, the characters, the treatment everything was different. I guess it was the first commercial success that prompted movie makers to be different rather than just say that their movie was different.
After 1992, he did selective films. In 1993, among the 4-5 films he did was Shankar’s “Gentleman” which was remade in Hindi with Chiranjeevi and Juhi Chawla with the same music score. Over the top movie, it had foot taping music and very over the top story.
Another one was “Thiruda Thiruda” from Mani Ratnam. The movie was dubbed as “Chor Chor” few years later. It flopped miserably.
In 1993 I bought these two cassettes even though I did not and still do not understand Tamil. But I guess as they say, music does not know any language.
The song blaring from my stereo attracted our neighbors too. Even though the language was unknown, Rahman’s music made it so wonderful. There was a time when I could recite most of the song without understanding the word it said.
Years later my collection was borrowed by many people. Most of it never came back.
I had completely forgotten about the movies when my old neighbor reminded me of the songs and how we both listened. Sometimes we had competition blaring whose stereo could do more. I have not heard the songs in many year but his talk made me go to Youtube and find some gems. It was the first time I was watching the songs too. All these years I had just heard them.
“Thee Thee” from Thiruda Thiruda. The story was given by Ram Gopal Varma and directed by Mani Ratnam.
“Chikku Bukku” from Gentleman made Prabhu Deva a star
“Kannum Kannum” from Thiruda Thiruda, a good dance number
There were many songs but “Rasathi” is why A R Rahman is considered brilliant. Listen to the song and at the end identify the musical instruments used in the song. You cannot because there isn’t any. The music is formed by the chorus and the singer and its done so brilliantly that you never realize that its just people making music and no musical instruments used at all.
Now I do have a big Sorround sound home theatre system but from the last year I have bought it, I haven’t heard a single song completly on the system. I guess I have outgrown my interest in music.
Maybe its time again to take interest again.