out of

Producer: Ashok Amritraj
Director: Shankar
Music: A.R. Rahman
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

Reviewed by: Sunder

JEANS, the soundtrack, unlike its dressy counterpart is Cotton 0%, Love 100%. That however does not deprive the listener of a smooth silken Rahman score with a touch of denim. The youth suggested by denim in the title pervasive in the score. Javed Akhtar comes out trumps with most innovative lyrical support to a dubbed score, and A R Rahman himself lives up to sky-high expectations to score six very hummable songs. As always, the music takes a few hearings before the immensely rhythmic tunes get you.

The album opens with "Columbus Columbus", a racy number that could become the next Urvashi, Muqabla, Humma or Tada. The Columbus is a reference to the global explorer (not Internet Explorer), and the lyrics invite you to be Columbus, and spend your holidays navigating the world. Can we expect Shankar and his reputation to be the Cinematic Navigator, in bringing the song alive on screen. While Javed Akhtar may not deserve credit for the Columbus idea, he certainly pens some perfect tourist lines that should inspire holiday-planners, or even weekend-planners, and tourism ad-campaigns. I would haved called this the "Humma" (Bombay) of this year - but Mani Ratnam will surely have a competing Rahman sizzler in DIL SE, and Sonu Nigam who sings Columbus is not Remo. Sonu Nigam, to his credit, is most competent, but just a thought - while Rahman has sung the Tamil version, I wonder if Rahman or Remo would have sounded better in Hindi too.

So much for the surefire chart-topper, the next song is a surefire heart-stopper. "Ajooba" by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam is in the same high league of Chanda Re (Sapnay), a wonderful creation by the same team, including Rahman and Javed Akhtar. While Hariharan is at his usual caressing best, Sadhana Sargam compliments his soft silken vocal most brilliantly. Add some wonderful lines by Javed Akhtar, an easy tune, wonderful instrumentals, a great chorus (greater than great), and a catchy and easily hummable rhythm - the song is a winner all the way. Yet, it sounds very Rahman, in the mold of the Rahman love song, but I am not complaining.

The song to follow these two brilliant songs, and making up a great Side A of the cassette, is perhaps the best score of Rahman in a long time, and the most un-Rahman-like song. Kavita Krishnamoorthy is all brilliance in a semi-classical (the semi is perhaps not quite required) number with brilliant lines by Javed Akhtar as always. "Kehta Hai Mera Dil" for its classical influence, is imminently catchy and a potential chart-buster in its own right. Add the dancing prowess, and screen presence of Aishwarya Rai to this number - a visual delight seems imminent. But a random thought, if Rahman was to team with Lata ever in a match of the best, this perhaps should have been the song. Wondering what Lata, at her best, could have done to this great song?

After three wonders, things cannot quite be that consistently brilliant. Perhaps, they are not. "Hai Rabba" by Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamoorthy is another youthful dance song, with competent singing, and not-so-brilliant but sufficient lyrics. It is perhaps the most instantly catchy song in the album, which implies its goodness, but it is not near the earlier three.

"Kehne Ko Dadi" again brings forth Javed Akhtar's masterful abilities in an extremely playful, light song. The tune is catchy and has an easy rhythm, and the lyrics add a charm. The singers - Sonu Nigam, Kavita Poudwal, Sukhvinder Singh, and Sangeetha add their two cents. Kavita Poudwal perhaps adds three, and Sonu for "change" adds two and half. Another notable aspect of this song is that the opening blabber (by Sangeetha presumably, in a grandma voice) is left untouched from Tamil or whatever lingo. Just goes to demonstrate that blabber is the most difficult to translate.

The last of the six songs "Tauba Tauba", has the consistent Hariharan trying to repeat the brilliance of Tu hi Re (Bombay). He does his best, and so does Anuradha Sriram in a supportive role. Javed Akhtar's lyrics and Rahman's tune however don't quite take the song to the heights of Bombay. The song is perhaps the least impressive of the six, and yet it would be unfair to brand it down. It is admittedly a little long - but so was Tu Hi Re. Maybe the magic isn't quite there in this, and yet independent of past and present, it is a good number by itself.

JEANS may not be as pacy and dancy for a young Aishwarya Rai-Prashant love flick produced by Ashok Amritraj and directed by Shankar (Humse Hai Muqabla, Hindustani). Yet it is perhaps Rahman's most original score since Sapnay, sounding most unlike his own previous works. With others, we complain of similarity to other influences; with Rahman, his own style is so overbearing that it creates a feeling of repetitiveness in his music. As always with a Rahman score, the recording and other sound effects are at their best. The use of chorus, especially in Ajooba, Kehta Hai Mera Dil, and Kehne Ko Dadi, takes those numbers a few notches higher. JEANS, quite expectedly, is not an album of the likes of 1942, DTPH or Maachis. All this makes JEANS a must-buy for any Rahman fan, and for the rest, it is perhaps among the most entertaining scores out there. If someone doubted Rahman's music beyond orchestral brilliance, listen to Kehta Hai Mera Dil, and get some JEANS if for no other reason.

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