Review: The Return of Rahman – ‘Highway’

Imtiaz Ali,  Alia Bhatt and A R Rahman at a song recording for Highway

Imtiaz Ali, Alia Bhatt and A R Rahman at a song recording for Highway
(Image taken from the Highway Press Kit. Photo credit to Aman Dhillon.)

The musical genius of A R Rahman captivates all of us, even those who do not usually listen to Bollywood music. Those who do follow the Bollywood music scene (in all honesty, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it that) are always eagerly waiting for his next, those like me checking Youtube frequently to see when the jukebox is out. The last collaboration of Imtiaz Ali and A R Rahman was the movie Rockstar, and the outstanding success of the music from that movie just added to the anticipation of the music of Highway. After listening to it for the fifteenth time, I can safely say that the music of Highway is not a disappointment.

The Highway soundtrack is not the standard album expected in a Bollywood movie, the couple song, the sad song, et al. The music has a rural flavour, taken from the backdrop of the movie as it travels across different states. It flows around the movie, fitting into the silences, conveying thoughts better than dialogues probably could.

The break out song of the movie is ‘Pataka Guddi’, which made waves as soon as it was out, even in the trailer. The movie debut of two singing sisters, Sultana and Jyoti Nooran has been a success, and this is probably the one song that most of the public will recognize in the movie. The song itself has a pleasant sufi feel to it, but it is the male version of the song, sung by Rahman himself that steals the show. It makes you want to listen to it again and again, which in my opinion is the essential hallmark of a good song.

The second song, ‘Mahi Ve’ also had an appearance in the trailer, and is sung by Rahman. The song feels like it just fits in the movie, and once again, is nice to listen to. However, I don’t expect it to gather the appeal of ‘Pataka Guddi’. The two songs, ‘Sooha Saha’ and ‘Tu Kuja’ are nice to listen to, and have a lullaby feel to them. ‘Sooha Saha’ is special because it marks Alia Bhatt’s debut as a singer. She attempts to do justice to the song and is just about okay, but I am thankful about the lack of auto-tune to correct her errors. ‘Tu Kuja’ is not the typical Sunidhi chartbuster, but is nice nonetheless. ‘Heera’ too doesn’t leave much of a mark.

‘Kahaan Hoon Main’ is sung by Jonita Gandhi who made her debut with the title track of Chennai Express. This song is distinctly different from the latter, and is probably pictured on Alia Bhatt, with her character introspecting into what she is (kind of obvious, with the title of the song). It’s nice to listen to, again, but not very memorable. It is situationally apt.

The six-minute long ‘Implosive Silence’ is purely instrumental, with some humming by Jonita Gandhi in the background. It is reminiscent of the ‘Dichotomy of Fame’ piece that we heard in Rockstar. Even without lyrics, the song has the ability to leave an impact. The one song that seems a little out of place is ‘Wanna Mash Up’, which seems equally out of place in the movie. It’s fun to listen to, but I didn’t realize the need for it in the album.

The soundtrack of Highway grows on you, like most of Rahman’s music. You might not like it the first time, but listen to it twice, thrice, and it will hold you for a long time.

Find the music here:

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