Delhi-6 Music Review

The vintage Rahman is back! And he’s back with a gusto. The album is a melange of soul-stirring awe-inspiring melodies, feet tapping rhythms, wonderful poetry and some impressive singing that you just can’t get enough of. Every song in this album is a gem.

Like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s last outing with ARR, Rang De Basanti, this album too opens up with a religious track Tumre Bhavan Mein. A short and serene track that, if you ignore the lyrics, sounds more like a traditional wedding song.

Arziyan, a qawwali, is like an ode to the Islamic culture of the old Delhi. In the very beginning of the song, Javed Ali sounds very much like Sonu Nigam and that made me wonder why arr has been giving these songs (Kehne Ko Jashn-e-Bahara, Guzarish) to Javed Ali instead of his favorite Sonu Nigam who might have been a better choice for these songs. But as the song progresses, Javed Ali quickly clears up my doubts. He, along with Kailash Kher, excels in singing this divine qawwali. The jugalbandi between Javed and Kailash in the second antra is awesome. The clapping, the beats of tabla, the sounds of harmonium, the supporting chorus, simple yet meaningful lyrics, everything is just perfect in this song – and together they all create a mesmerizing listening experience that I yearn for again and again.

Sar utha kar maine, kitni khwahishein ki thi

Kitne khwab dekhe the, kitni koshishein ki thi

Jab tu rubaru aaya, nazrein naa mila paaya

Sar jhooka ke ek pal mein, maine kya naheen paaya.

Shreya Ghosal has big shoes to fill in Bhor Bahye, where ARR invokes a legend from the past – Late Ustan Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, but she does an excellent job in singing this classical thumri. (Here’s a link the original thumri sung by the legend.)

Prasoon Joshi writes some nice lyrics in Dil Gira Daffatan. Geez, when was the last time we heard the word daffatan (which means ‘suddenly’) in a song? Wasn’t it Ghulam Ali’s immortal ghazal Chupke Chupke? (‘Kheench le na voh mera parde ka kona daffatan.’) Although I thought Ash King faltered on some high notes, the heavenly melody and simplistic arrangement (continual mild chords like water flowing in a river) overshadows the minor glitches. The song and especially the interludes takes several unexpected twists and turns that keep surprising you every time you hear them. Chinmayee’s minimal yet impressive backup vocal reminds us how wonderful singer she is (who made quite an astonishing debut in Kannathil Muthamittal).

The lady with a haunting, sensuous and unconventional voice, Rekha Bhardwaj sings for ARR for the first time in a feet tapping and teasing folk song Genda Phool. Jaw dropping fusion of folk and techno beats. ARR almost shows off his unparalleled expertise in creating a fusion song! Watch out for the sudden explosion of techno beats (right after ‘Saiyaji vyapari chale hai pardes.‘)… swept me off my feet during first few listens. Prasoon Joshi again comes up with some commendable lyrics, which reminded me of Gulzar’s Naina Milaike and Chalka from Saathiya.

Mohit Chauhan makes his second appearance with ARR after Khoon Chala from Rang De Basanti. What a song! (From what I heard, Masakkali is the name of the pigeon, by the way.) A free flowing, addictive and fun song… the last time ARR did something close to this was in Saathiya (Aye Udi Udi). I love how arr have been using accordion in his songs lately. (The celestial opening music of Aye Hairatein in Guru.) I always thought that Mohit Chauhan’s voice was only suited for ghazals and soft romantic songs. Never realized that he could handle such a power packed and expressive song with such ease. This song is already been shown in the promos, and is becoming an instant hit.

Amitabh Bachchan, needless to say, does justice to a small couplet titled Noor that sounds almost like a left-over shayari from Fanaa (where Amir Khan vocalized some shayaris that were written by Prasoon Joshi). Hey Kaala Bandar is a funky, hip-hop’ish and easily my least favorite song in this album. The chorus in the interludes is very similar to the tune of ‘Door dil se naheen hai hum door‘ from Yuvvraaj.

Prasoon Joshi’s poetry in Rehna Tu is reminiscent of Munna Dhiman’s Apne Rang Gawaye Bin from U Me Aur Hum. The sound arrangement in this song alone is enough to establish the fact that no other musician comes even close to him when it comes to innovative sounds and song structures. Excellent back-up vocals by Benny Dayal (who appears consecutively in all of the last four Hindi albums by ARR) Claire, Vivinenne and Tanvi Shah (who sang Fanaa with ARR in Yuva, and also Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire).

Delhi 6 (Ye Delhi Hai Mere Yaar) is mind blowing. Wild stuff. The best line by Prasoon Joshi comes in this song ‘Ye shehar naheen, mehfil hai’. Over the years we have heard and cherished many songs about our beloved city Bombay, now Delhi gets a sensational and groovy song of its own.

All of Prasoon Joshi’s “sins” in Ghajini are washed away by his work in Delhi 6. The only minor gripe I have is that I thought some reference(s) to places/areas in Delhi would have been apt for a movie that’s so fascinated with the city… like how Gulzar referred to places in Delhi in the Kajrare song from Bunty Aur Babli (‘Ballimaran se daribe talak, teri meri kahani Dilli mein.’).

As I write this, the audio CD is not out yet. I have been listening to the songs online (here). Please buy the CD if you like the songs, it’s worth every penny.

PS. The zip code of Chandani Chowk area (where Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra grew up) in Delhi is 110006, and that’s what’s behind the namesake. I am really enjoying Bollywood directors’ newfound fascination with the old Delhi (Khosla Ka Ghosla, Rang De Basanti, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!)

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49 responses to “Delhi-6 Music Review

  1. Amrita

    A friend and i were just saying the other day that it’s been such a long time since we heard a vintage ARR track instead of a tired also ran and here comes Delhi 6! Yahoo!

  2. RV

    Cannot agree more to your review! I felt the exact same way after listening to each and every song. Guys, just buy this album – a true gem!

  3. Arun

    Excellent review, Vishal! You write well.

    It is an stunning soundtrack, no two ways about it.

  4. Raj

    One of the finest albums I have heard this decade and easily one of ARR’s best. This man is beyond amazing.

  5. Nikhil

    This Album rocks, Vintage ARR stuff!! Arziyaan has that soulful divinity in it, it just takes you to a different world… So pure!

  6. Vishal

    Amrita, RV, Arun, Raj and Nikhil — thanks all for your comments! It’s been days since I’ve been listening to this album – and still can’t get enough of it. Maula Maula song haunts me even in my dreams! 🙂

    Hail ARR

  7. Name

    i agree with your review but even Kaala Bunder is a pretty entertaining song…..but i just want to ask you something you know where the kaala bunder song talks about parde ke neeche etc. does it not sound like the shankar mahadevan style vocals and feel in breathless

  8. Nitin Joshi

    delhi 6 rocks.!!!!!!!

  9. Harsh

    I agree wid u bro…dil gira…what can we say abt this song..only AR could have done it!!!!!

  10. Vishal

    Re #7 — Yes there’s some mild similarity in singing style. Srinivas (who is a wonderful singer, but an odd choice, don’t you think?) sounds very much like Shankar Mahadevan in this song actually.

    Nitin, Harsh – thanks for stopping by and your comments.

  11. This album is mind-blowing. I find this A.R. Rahman’s best album since the start of the new millennium. It even beats Guru. This album did not leave out one genre, from folk to funk, from carnatic to celtic flutes. Rahmania is a true phenomenon. He is the best Indian music director ever.
    Rahman has blessed India with his music. 🙂

  12. Saud

    Arziyan and Dehli 6 are best songs i guess .. my choices r varying time by time as i m listening other songs .. all songs are worth listening !!

  13. Anjani

    One of the best from ARR ….especially GENDA PHUL ……..i like it too much …its chirpy lyrics …and palyback singing.

  14. A Rahmaniac

    I love Ghanda Phool! Its mindblowing, anything but Ghanda 🙂

  15. bharathreddyt

    Man I must say, you love your music. don’t you? How much you talk about which singer and what kind of singing. I have not listened to delhi6 yet but got curious and wanted to read a few reviews. I read yours, and I don’t feel like reading anymore. You said it all!

    Hey by the way, I have a blog too and we it uses the same theme as yours. Happy blogging!

  16. Vishal

    @ A Rahmaniac — It’s actually Ghenda Phool, not Ghanda Phool. (Someone please correct me if I am mistaken but) ‘Ghenda’ in Rajashani/Marwadi language means a flower like Marigold which looks pretty but doesn’t have any fragrance.

    @ Bharathreddyt — 🙂 Yes, I am an ardent “follower” especially when it comes to Rahman! Hey, what’s your blog’s url?

  17. sunil

    I am very new to leaving comments.I just listened all the songs and could not control myself from dropping a comment.
    This album undoubtedly is one of the best from A R Rahman.He is just outstanding …..hail ARR!!!

  18. Hansraj

    DELHI 6!!!!!!!!!! JUST AMMAZZINGG.. ONE OF THE BEST from THE GOD OF INDIAN POP… A R RAHMAN!
    my hott fav is Dil gaya Daffatan… its so superb that i cant get it enough even after listening to it for more than 20 times at a streach.. on the first day itself. REHNA TU .. another amazing track sung by Rahman! i think only he can compose such songs. Guys buy Delhi6 original CD.. it worth each n every penny.

  19. Rizzi P.

    Have been quite a fan of Rahman Sir’s muzik.His voice too is simply enigmatic;like in a trance.Plus, on every album he introduces new talent;names u havent ever heard but can give all the popular singers a run 4 their money.I havent still listened to Delhi-6,excluding ‘Masakkali’ cuz still I cant get Ghajini outta my head.Maybe I dont understand music that well but Guzarish & Kaise Mujhe r jst too haunting..Hope Delhi 6 too turns out the way u’ve penned it and gets me hooked onto it.Will definitely blog when I do hear it.Best of Luck,Rahman Sir for ur future endeavours.Cheers

    P.S-Who is the rapper in ‘Pappu cant Dance’?

  20. An average music composition from A.R Rahman but a good start for 2009 considering the kind of music Rahman came up with earlier in 2008.

  21. neeraj.k

    yup…arr hits again wit his magic touch which we hav been missing….all d songs rockssss…

  22. Sohel

    Its undoubtedly one of the best things to happen to Indian music, AR Rahman brings out an unbelievable mix of basically everything in one plate, I couldnot believe my ears for the kick of the techno in the “Ghenda Phool” as Vishal has mentioned, its been a rarity when a music album is played by everyone over and over again and the most important part of it is the variety and the different notes that Rehman has used, undoubtedly one of the best compositions of all times, I will not compare but to describe in one word, its “Mesmerizing” .. 10 out of 10 .. Its like the most fresh wind to hit the users listening to music in a long long time ,, with no repetitive remixes or instrumentals, its one of the best albums ,, a sure collection for everyone.

  23. Vishal

    @ Rizzi, Pappu Can’t Dance was performed by seven singers – I think the rapper is Blaaze (the usual).

    @ Sohel, undoubtedly, 10 out of 10!

    @ Harry, you gotta be kidding me. An average music composition? All songs are *instant* classics. If you don’t think so, then wait for a couple of months and these songs will definitely grow on you.

    @ Sunil, I surely do hope (and insist to my friends) that people should buy the original CD. The lousy delay (by T Series) in releasing the album did not help though.

  24. This is a wonderful blog. If all my blog-hopping ends up in something so nice, worth all the time! What I most and best appreciate is your mention and due credit to the singers, lyricists, and of course the music director- This era of free downloads, of songs, of lyrics has largely swallowed the limelight. No, no one gets a mention anywhere forget appreciation for their work. I will give you an example- Masakkali got me hooked completely. On subsequent, back to back playing,the voice sounded eerily familiar. I searched then, and bam! its Mohit Chauhan. Search Wiki, I know this name, somewhere or Deja Vu. No, search. Another bam! Silk Route guy!! Then I get to a list of his songs- ALL my recent faves have been by him! Isn’t it ridiculous? And he is not the only one, I tell you. All of my fave Javed Akhtar’s and Gulzar’s songs go unnoticed until the lyrics prompt me to look up.
    Phew! Guess I got a little hyper, but what the heck if it encourages you sufficiently to keep up the good work! 🙂
    P.S.: I love the lyrics in the album, all of them. Prasoon is sure paying for the atrocities in Ghajini, and HOW unbelievably well! 🙂

  25. I seem to have forgotten something very obvious-
    *Bows to ARR!*

  26. The Delhi-6 album is best and going to be best in 2009, if ARR isn’t coming out with another album….

    I like all tracks of the album, especially Masakalli, Genda Phool, Dil Gira and Delhi 6……ohh i will have to name all of the songs

  27. Vishal

    @ Rukhiya, thanks for your kind words of appreciation! You’re absolutely right that many great artists often remain obscure to many people in this free-download era. The original CD’s are so cheap nowadays (Delhi-6 CD is around Rs. 140 in India and $5 in USA) that I find it hard to understand why people, who can easily afford to buy original music, seek easy free and often inferior quality downloads. Is it the “pleasure of getting something for free”? I don’t know.

    @ Abhinav, yup, picking a favorite song from ARR’s album have been relatively easy lately (Ghajini, JTYJN and Ada) — but not from Delhi 6. All songs are just equally amazing that it’s very difficult to pick one.

  28. Praveen

    delhi-6 music by a r rehman is just fabulous.

  29. TJ

    Great review Vish and well-written about all the songs…they are all precious gems in different ways -> the composition, lyrics and amazing vocal renditions!

    If Arziyan takes you to divinity, Genda Phool rattles you with its “natkhat” lyrics and amazing rendition.

    I felt Ash King did a wonderful job in Dil Gira, especially in the intro/adlib part, where it feels like some one played an electric guitar, but its actually the guy singing, amazing job ! I feel inclined to comment on this song, because you just cannot categorize it into any genre, it’s romantic, haunting, slow, melodious and flows like a beautiful, calm and serene river…a song with absolutely no boundaries! Only and only ARR can compose such mesmerizing music, a real legend and genius and it would be absolutely fair to shower and pepper infinite praises (in the form of all applicable adjectives!) on this “gift of God” to Indian music.

    A small observation here, I am not sure if Bhor Bhaye can be classified as a Thumri. My understanding is that a Thumri in most cases, is a flowery representation of a pure classical Bandish and is semi-classical in nature. An apt example of a Thumri would be More Kanha Jo Aaye from Sardari Begum, so I would think that Bhor Bhaye should be called a Bandish in Gurjari Todi. (I checked out the YouTube link that you posted, but I beg to differ and would definitely research this to confirm my observations)

  30. Sohel

    Another great part of the reason to be excited now is that Rahman has got a triple Oscar nomination, a rarity and a first for an Indian for his brilliant music in Slumdog Millionaire, and I would be surprised if he doesnot pick up atleast one for the same, he has been nominated in the Best Original Score category and twice in the Best Original Song section. Slumdog Millionaire’s music took a little time to pickup but boy does he deliver, I was so fascinated with his score on “Paper Planes” and “Latika’s Theme” , its amazing how he can put so many different thoughts of notes in the canvas of music ,, simply brilliant ..

  31. Vishal

    @ TJ, thanks for your encouraging and informative comments. You’re probably right about Bhor Bhayee not being a Thumri. I actually don’t know much about the difference(s) between a Thumri and a Bandish. You’re spot on about Dil Gira as well. This song is definitely growing and I am getting addicted to it.

    @ Sohel, THREE CHEERS FOR THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS! Not one, not two but THREE nominations! Hurray!

  32. Visakh

    Really songs are awesome! great variety…ARR rocks!!!

  33. Vikram Samala

    Vishal – very very good review. I bought the CD the moment it came in the stands 🙂 Loved almost all songs instantly…..fav being the delhi 6 title track…by the way, teh Genda Phool song may have been composed by a guest composer Rajat Dholakia…..

  34. Vishal

    @ Vikram, thanks. I learned about Rajat Dholakia being co-composer of Genda Phool just few days ago (saw a scanned copy of the well desinged inlay card). For writing this review, I was relying on the details shown on that Bollywood Hungama link from where I’ve been listening the songs of Delhi-6. (I have ordered the CD online but have not received it yet.) Rajat Dholakia is an interesting choice – I am not familiar with any previous links between him and ARR. Rajat is the man behind some famous jingles (like “Unche log, Unchi pasand, Maanikchand” and “Thanda matlab”)…

  35. GJ

    Great review Vish.. I loved all the songs of Delhi-6, “Genda Phool” being my favorite. AR did a similar number in Saathiyan “Naina Milaike”, I love the Bhojpuri-Hindi rendition. I also agree, that we should buy the CD whenever we can. Keep writing, your PEN rocks!

  36. Vishal

    @ GJ, thanks a lot!

  37. Hemant

    Fantabulously written Vishal..especially if one can make references to “kheench lena wo mera, pardey ka kona daffatan, aur dupattey se tera wo muuh chhupaana yaad hai..” and Kannathil Muthamittal, in the same breath.
    Bravo.
    A few minor hiccups though–genda phool is marigold, “with a sweet fragrance” …
    and its Ballimaran se “daribe” talak, (dariba kalan, a street in old delhi, js like Balli Maran.) 🙂
    Gr8 otherwise..keep it up.

  38. Vishal

    @ Hemant, thanks for the pointing out the mistake about Dariba.

    I am still somewhat unsure about Ghenda Phool though. Could it be that there are different species of marigold? The marigold flowers that I am familiar with (widely used in Gujarat & Maharashtra to make ‘toran’ during the festival seasons – especially Dussera) don’t seem to have any fragrance… or have very little fragrance.

  39. Urchin

    Calling all Lovers of music to listen to Sivamani’s (ARRs fav drummer) new album, Mahaleela. There’s this track called basin Bridge that’s simple awesome.

    Check it out!

  40. kr rahman

    Rahman Rocks man…

  41. Annu Malik

    Rahman is simply the best..

  42. Jonney Alton

    Hello..
    Reviewer..
    Rahman Rocked, Rocks and will rock in every time in every album.

  43. NK

    Sorry, cannot quite get into the this album. Really can’t see what’s so mind blowing about this. After listening to it for two hours, I cannot recall a single track or tune.

    Don’t get be wrong. I am a Rahman fan. But I honestly think his music of late is all hype and little substance, including Slumdog Millionaire. If this is Oscar worthy, they have not listened to a zillion other tracks yet.

    For truly mind blowing music, listen to Aamir, Black & White, Khoya Khoys Chand, etc.

  44. i love ghenda phool … its got that amazing feel to it.. husband gettin away n things that comes to the bride’s mind… just blew me off…. n u said it rite … the explosion(quoting) of techno beats () towards the beginning of the song .. blew ma mind … evn after so many … n masakkali … well tempo changes(specially during manmaani manmaani) of voice really awe inspiring… this redoubtable music director has curved the music with the utmost authoritarian confidence… i couldnt get time off to listen to the other songs as i m still totally absorbed into the 2 songs that i ve mensioned…. more thoughts coming when i hear them…

  45. Ujjawal Gandhi

    Vishal… wonderful review… one of the most honest reviews I have read in a long time.
    Arziyan and Ghenda phool are my personal favorites…
    Loved the use of accordian in Masakali… very reminiscent of Aye Hairaten (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RVdui9479I)

    Btw, Rajat Dholakia is the son of the legendary Gujarati music director Dilip Dholakia (also an assistant to Laxmi-Pyare). He has composed some of the biggest ever jingles on Indian t.v. ( Coke, Pepsi, Manikchand, etc.) He has the credit of completing the background score of 1942 – Love Story following the untimely demise of R.D.Burman. For more info on him, visit http://www.sudeepaudio.com/profiles.php?aid=164
    Actually I have met him a few years back.. through his nephew Yogi Dholakia (my friend).. and these days Yogi too is in the music industry.. he is an assistant sound recordist in Mumbai… and I recently came to know that Shantanu Moitra records all his songs at the studio where he is working.

  46. Vishal

    Thanks Ujjval, for one of the most informative comments in a long time! 🙂

    Dholakia seems very talented. Hope this album helps to bring him in limelight.

  47. Amu

    Since you’ve mentioned Rajat Dholakia’s name, you should try watching a rare 1988 filmfare award winning film named Om Darbadar by Kamal Swaroop. Rajat does an amazing job on it. The kind of treatment his songs have, is really astonishing. Mostly synth sounds and that too probably self generated.
    Check this out

    • Vishal

      Thanks for sharing that video. I actually came across this song on PFC more than a year ago – Anurag Kashyap credited this song as his inspiration for Emosional Atyachar in Dev D (which has now attained an iconic status.) But I had no idea that it was composed by Rajat Dholakia! What a surprise!

      I gotta watch this movie now, I saw some tidbits on YouTube and the movie looks very unconventional, crazy and interesting. (Here’s a blog-post I came across while googling Om Dar-b-dar.)

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