Friday, October 31, 2008

Mani Ratnam impressed by Rajni’s Sivaji

Impressed by the stunts in Sivaji – The Boss, ace director Mani Ratnam has roped in the stunt director Peter Hains for his forthcoming bilingual film Ravan. Peter Hains has carved a niche for himself in the Indian film industry by choreographing stunt scenes for various films including Sivaji, Gajini (Hindi version) and Anniyan.
Mani Ratnam

The film’s shooting had to be stalled when the lead pair, Abishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, were held up in Mumbai owing to the ill health of Amitabh Bachchan. Sources have it that shooting will recommence after Diwali.
Ravan – the Hindi version - stars Abishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead role with Vikram playing the antagonist. In the Tamil version Vikram and Aishwarya Rai play the lead roles and Prithviraj plays the villain role. 


Marma Yogi - Sun vs Saimira?

Although the photo shoots and initial groundwork of Marma Yogi are over, the movie has not taken off yet. Initial speculations also averred that Marma Yogi will kick off during September last week or October. In the midst, there was also news that Trisha and Shriya being asked to concentrate on their other projects. Latest in the series of news is that
Marma Yogi
Sun Pictures and Saimira are contending for the production rights of the movie.

When contacted, SUN Pictures' Managing Director Saxena mentioned that talks were on in that direction, however nothing has been finalized. On the contrary, spokesperson from Saimira declared that the project has been bagged by them and that shooting is proposed to start from second week of November.
More updates in this regard awaited.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aamir Khan's Hulking Frame in Ghajini

After king SRK showed off his perfect six pack abs in Om Shanti Om, Ace Aamir Khan has beefed up his frame...and how!
Not only has he acquired those abs, he has quite obviously worked on his shoulders and back.
The scarred, bald head adds to the character too. And in case you're wondering why he has text stamped on his torse, that's part of the story in Ghajini. Aamir Khan is on the hunt for his wife's killers and he can't remember anything for more than 15 minutes.
So he TATTOOS clues across his body to help him solve the murder and catch the criminals. Weird eh? Some of you might know that Ghajini is a remake of the South Indian film of the same name, which in turn was 'inspired' from Hollywood's materpiece 'Memento'.
Aamir Khan's Ghajini goes head to head with SRK's Rab ne bana di Jodi. While Aamir has beefed up his frame and shaved his head for his role, SRK has dyed his hair white (or stopped dyeing it black). Without starting a flaming thread, its safe to say that a titanic battle for Box Office supremacy is on the cards this December. Whether Ghajini turns out to be as solid as Aamir's new body remains to be seen.


Aamir builds eight pack abs for 'Ghajini'

AAMIR KHAN, undoubtedly is an excellent actor and has proved the same in his numerous movies. Besides being a fine actor, Aamir has also tried his hands in direction with Taare Zameen Par in the year 2007. For Taare Zameen Par, Aamir received critical acclaim world wide and the movie remained a commercial success as well.
Taare Zameen Par has been selected as India’s official entry for Oscars scheduled in February 2009. Aamir and his crew members are highly optimistic about winning the Academy Awards this time. In addition, the countrymen are also hopfull that Taare Zameen Par will fetch the first Oscar for the country.
However, the veteran actor cum director is recently in buzz for his new look for the upcoming movie Ghajini. Aamir shaved his head for the role in Ghajini and his hair style has already become popular among country’s youth. And now the new surprise for Aamir’s fans is that the actor would take off his shirt to reveal his eight-pack abs.
Famous as a ‘Mr Perfectionist’, Aamir worked hard to get into the character of Ghajini. Aamir’s role in the movie Ghajini, which is a remake of Tamil super hit movie, required a muscular body. He followed a rigid worked out schedule to get his eight-pack abs. Aamir had also performed lots of dangerous stunts in this action thriller film injuring himself twice during its shooting.
After months of sweating out and running down the treadmill, the actor finally got eight-pack abs. But he is not satisfied with his eight-pack abs and the muscular body he had built for the movie. In an interview with a private radio channel, the actor said that he could have done better. Due to promotional work for Taare Zameen Par, his exercise discontinued for one and half month and he could not achieve what he was actually expecting.
When asked whether he was looking for 10 or more abs, Aamir replied affirmatively, “I had continued my exercise, developing 10 or 12 abs was not impossible.

He was highly excited about his new chiseled body and said the cine-goers will like it. In fact, the perfectionist always try to adorn a new look in every movie. Especially he does lots of experiment with his hair style. InGhajini, he flaunts a new hair style, tiny in length with cut mark.
Ghajini is scheduled to release in the month of December. Shahrukh Khan starrer Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is also set to release on December 12. With eight pack abs, Aamir would certainly wish to surpass the sensation created by Shahrukh in Om Shanti Om with six pack abs. Shahrukh’s six pack abs in Om Shanti Om provided runaway success to the movie.
Let us see, how much the viewers will like Aamir in his new avatar. Aamir’s past record signals that in Ghajini too the eight pack abs will cast magical affect among the spectators. Besides, his unique hair style will provide more popularity to the movie.


'Ghajini' is my first action film: Aamir Khan

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan on Tuesday said that his forthcoming film 'Ghajini', which is scheduled to hit the silver screen on December 25, will be his first full-fledged action film.
"After 'Fanaa'(2006), 'Ghajini' will be my first commercial entertainer in a long time. It will also be my first out and out action film," Aamir said at the formal trailer-teaser release of the movie in Mumbai.
The action in the film is quite special, he said.
"We wanted to release the film during Diwali but it got delayed due to the muscle-tear injury I suffered during the film's shooting," Aamir said.
Aamir, who has sported a muscular build in this film, said that he had to work-out for almost an year to get the physique.
"I started my work-outs during the post-production of 'Taare Zameen Par'. I exercised at least 3-4 hours everyday," Aamir said.
"It was only after 2-3 weeks of training that I realised what I had gotten into. I realised it was more of a mental game than a physical one," he added.
'Ghajini' is a remake of the Tamil film of the same name which in turn was inspired by psychological thriller 'Memento' directed by Christopher Nolan.
Directed by A R Murugadoss, 'Ghajini' also stars actresses Jiah Khan and Asin Thottumkal.


'Yuvvraaj' has been a creative challenge for me: AR Rahman

We catch up with A.R.Rahman and quiz him on what he has in store for all Rahmaniacs (die-hard A.R. Rahman fans) this time around with the soundtrack of 'Yuvvraaj'.
'Yuvvraaj' has been a creative challenge for me: AR Rahman
Q. This year has been a treat for A.R.Rahman fans. After a royal and vintage score in 'Jodhaa Akbar', you gave us the peppy and zany 'Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na'. What do you have in store for your fans with 'Yuvvraaj'?
The music of 'Yuvvraaj' is something which we (Mr, Ghai, Gulzaar saab and myself) have all worked very hard on. Since the film itself is a musical, the music plays a very important role. I wouldn't like to say much about what's in store as far as the music goes. I don't even want to say the clichéd stuff that this is completely different from what I have done. All I would like to ask the people is to listen it for themselves and I hope they like it (smiles).
Q. Subhash Ghai's films are known for the music and this one is a musical. You've worked with Mr. Ghai earlier in 'Taal' and then in 'Kisna'. How similar or different has been the experience working with the showman?
It has always been a pleasure to associate with Subhashji on his projects. Working on the music of 'Yuvvraaj' has been a creative challenge for me, as Subhashji has always been associated with melodious music and has a vast understanding about the subject. As for comparisons with 'Taal', all I would say is that this is completely different. It's a different story, set in a different place and is also multi-cultural. 'Taal' was more Punjabi-friendly, remix, rhythmic kind of music etc. whereas 'Yuvvraaj' is more about melody and love etc... 'Yuvvraaj' being a musical and a grand film, audio is just 50%. The visuals and the music complement each other.
Q. Did you give him many sleepless nights considering you like to work at night?
I had a request from Mrs.Ghai asking me not to work very late in the night. So whenever it was 12 at night, I used to tell him, "I am tired. So let's call it a day" (laughs)
Q. The music of 'Yuvvraaj' has a very European kind of a feel with symphony, large scale orchestrations etc.
Yeah, we've used a Motif from Beethoven's 5th Symphony because the story is set in Austria/ Prague etc. Hence, we wanted that experience and feel to come alive through the music.
Q. You are known to give new singers a chance be itNaresh Iyer or Rashid Ali or Benny Dayal. How do you find this new and untapped talent every time?
It just happens. We just check them out and if they are good enough we give them a break (smiles).
Q. How long did it take to compose the music for 'Yuvvraaj' and what was the brief given?
The initial brief was Mr Ghai always wanted to have a full fledged orchestra kind of a musical score and with 'Yuvvraaj' he has fulfilled his desire. I hope people like it and appreciate it.

Q. Lyrics have been written byGulzar Saab...How has been the experience working with him?
I love working with Gulzaar saab. His whole temperament and vast experience is something which I really admire. All the films that I have worked with him have been really enjoyable.
Q. Which track is closest to your heart?
I like "Tu Muskura"'s a really soulful number.
Q. A lot has been said about Katrina playing the cello. Whose idea was it and is it the first time that the cello has been used in a Hindi film?
It was Mr. Ghai's idea. I don't think the cello has been used in any other Hindi film on screen. The sight of a beautiful girl playing an instrument like the cello seems like an overwhelming visual. It's really nice.
Q. Which soundtracks have you liked in the recent past?
I've heard a couple of songs of 'Rock On'. I loved the trailer and the whole concept seems really interesting. I want to watch 'Rock On'.
Q. Finally, what's next in line after 'Yuvvraaj'?
After 'Yuvvraaj', there is the Aamir Khan starrer 'Ghajini'. I am also doing the music for Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd.'s multi-starrer 'Blue'. There is also Danny Boyle's 'Slumdog Millionaire', the music of which is already done. So there's a lot to look forward too.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A.R. Rahman Interview on Yuvvraaj Music

This year has been a treat for A.R.Rahman fans. After a royal, vintage score inJodhaa Akbar you gave us the peppy and zany Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na. What do you have in store for your fans withYuvvraaj? 
The music of Yuvvraajis something which we (Mr, Ghai, Gulzaar saab and myself) have all worked very hard on. Since the film itself is a musical, the music plays a very important role. I wouldn't like to say much about what's in store as far as the music goes. I don't even want to say the clichéd stuff that this is completely different from what I have done. All I would like to ask the people is to listen it for themselves and I hope they like it (smiles).

Subhash Ghai's films are known for the music and this one is a musical. You've worked with Mr. Ghai earlier in Taal and then in Kisna. How similar or different has been the experience working with the showman? 
It has always been a pleasure to associate with Subhashji on his projects. Working on the music of Yuvvraaj has been a creative challenge for me, as Subhashji has always been associated with melodious music and has a vast understanding about the subject. As for comparisons with Taal, all I would say is that this is completely different. It's a different story, set in a different place and is also multi-cultural. Taal was more Punjabi-friendly, remix, rhythmic kind of music etc. whereas Yuvvraaj is more about melody and love etc...Yuvvraaj being a musical and a grand film, audio is just 50%. The visuals and the music complement each other.

Did you give him many sleepless nights considering you like to work at night? 
I had a request from Mrs.Ghai asking me not to work very late in the night. So whenever it was 12 at night, I used to tell him, "I am tired. So let's call it a day" (laughs)

The music of Yuvvraaj has a very European kind of a feel with symphony, large scale orchestrations etc. 
Yeah, we've used a Motif from Beethoven's 5th Symphony because the story is set in Austria/ Prague etc. Hence, we wanted that experience and feel to come alive through the music.

After 'Jashn-e-Bahaara', Javed Ali became a household name; after 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi', Rashid Ali had truly arrived. Do you think it's going to be Benny Dayal this time who has crooned the soulful 'Tu Hi Toh Meri Dost Hai' in Yuvvraaj? 
I hope so (smiles). I really wish Benny has a great future. He is a very hardworking boy. In fact, he has even sung a song for me in Ghajini which I am sure people will like. My best wishes are always with him.

You are known to give new singers a chance be it Naresh Iyer or Rashid Ali or Benny Dayal. How do you find this new and untapped talent every time? 
It just happens. We just check them out and if they are good enough we give them a break (smiles).

They usually say that you reserve the best track for yourself in every album, be it 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' in Jodhaa Akbar or 'Tu Bole' in Jaane it true in the case of Yuvvraaj? 
(smiles) In Yuvvraaj, I have not sung much. I have just sung bits and pieces here and there. Though Mr. Ghai wanted me to sing, I don't think my voice matches Salman Khan's. He has a much deeper voice. If I feel convinced that it's working for the betterment of the film's music I retain it, else I remove it.

How long did it take to compose the music for Yuvvraaj and what was the brief given? 
The initial brief was Mr Ghai always wanted to have a full fledged orchestra kind of a musical score and with Yuvvraaj he has fulfilled his desire. I hope people like it and appreciate it.

Lyrics have been written by Gulzar Saab...How has been the experience working with him? 
I love working with Gulzaar saab. His whole temperament and vast experience is something which I really admire. All the films that I have worked with him have been really enjoyable.

I know one should never ask a music composer to pick his favorite track but nevertheless which track is closest to your heart? 
I like 'Tu Muskura''s a really soulful number.

A lot has been said about Katrina playing the cello. Whose idea was it and is it the first time that the cello has been used in a Hindi film?
It was Mr. Ghai's idea. I don't think the cello has been used in any other Hindi film on screen. The sight of a beautiful girl playing an instrument like the cello seems like an overwhelming visual. It's really nice.

Have you used the cello in many songs? 
It's almost interwoven in every song.

Is it true that the sound of the cello is closest to the human voice? 
Yes...provided it's played properly (laughs)

In today's time and age there doesn't seem to be any rivalry among music composers. You have someone like Shankar Mahadevan who every now and then sings for Vishal-Shekhar and even Vishal has sung a lot for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Have you been approached by other music composers to song and will you do that? 
I have been approached. They have been very kind to ask me to lend my voice but I am signed by a company and hence cannot go beyond my contract.

Which soundtracks have you liked in the recent past? 
I've heard a couple of songs of Rock On. I loved the trailer and the whole concept seems really interesting. I want to watch Rock On.

Earlier this year, on your birthday you launched your dream project K M Music Conservatory in Chennai. How is work coming along on that front? 
It has been really good. The first batch of students has already been enrolled and the response has been more than encouraging.

Is it true that you are part of a T.V. show called The Big Band? Could you take us through that? 
The Big Band is a search for the best band. I liked the concept when Phat Phish came and narrated the idea to me. We are looking at exploring talent not just across India but also from neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia etc. It will also facilitate in some sort of a cultural exchange between our musicians and their musicians. I am really excited about being part of the show. 

Finally, what's next in line after Yuvvraaj? 
After Yuvvraaj, there is the Aamir Khan starrer Ghajini. I am also doing the music for Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd.'s multi-starrer Blue. There is also Danny Boyle'sSlumdog Millionaire, the music of which is already done. So there's a lot to look forward too.


Blend it like A R Rahman!

This is fast turning out to be A R Rahman’s year. In 2007, he gave us an extremely melodious music album Guru, which made a clean sweep at all the awards. This year too, he’s the frontrunner with two superhits already — the exquisite Jodhaa Akbar, and the fresh and peppy Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Naa. His latest Yuvvraaj again has Rahman’s quality and class stamped all over it.
So does it meet the sky-high expectations? The answer is yes. At a time when original music is so hard to come by and the film music scene is so dismal, it’s incredible how Rahman manages to infuse life back into it each time.
Yuvvraaj is high on melody, achieved mostly by high octave tunes and rich, intricate orchestration. The album has a distinct cross-cultural blend to it — where the classical is finely interspersed with contemporary vocals and groovy beats. This is especially true of the album’s best track, Dil Ka Rishta — sung in Sonu Niigam’s assured, youthful voice. Manmohini Morey is another track in the same vein. This is a superb fusion classical track with hip music.
Tu Meri Dost Hai is already gaining popularity through promos. Sung by newcomer Benny Dayal, the number is a high-octave intense melody. Yet, somehow, the ‘antara’ and its accompanying orchestration appear slightly scattered and lost after an out-of-the-world beginning.
Mastam Mastam and Shano Shano are two tracks that are a notch lower and seem to be included keeping mass appeal in mind. While Mastam Mastam is still catchy with its folksy feel, the second one is a letdown. It’s one more for the dance floor after Jaane Tu’s Pappu Can’t Dance Saala, so there’s a feeling of deja vu. A lot has been done to keep it ‘busy’ and hip but somehow both Rahman and lyricist Gulzar (otherwise in terrific form here) seem out of their comfort zone.
Tu Muskura is a soft love song — beautifully composed by Rahman but Alka Yagnik’s choice as singer isn’t as convincing. Over the years, Yagnik’s high notes have been getting shakier and there seems to be a certain contrived sweetness to her voice. Yet, we’ll say she’s better off with Rahman than any other composer of recent times. She was sparkling in both Lagaan and Swades, remember?
After listening to the songs of Yuvvraaj, one conjures up an image of an epic musical love story. Subhash Ghai’s and Rahman’s last film Taal still continues to mesmerise music lovers. Yuvvraaj too comes with immense potential, but a lot would depend on Ghai’s story and situations if they have to do justice to Rahman’s rich, grand compositions. After all, there’s nothing as heartbreaking as a good music score being wasted on a poorly made film!


'Ghajini' first look photos creates trouble

This incident can be termed as something that can happen once in a span of 10 lakh years or may be even more.
There is no other way to describe the way this strange occurrence has happened.
The first look images of Aamir Khan's forthcoming film 'Ghajini' has been released and it has the actor exposing his newly toned and beefed up physique and his now famous head design.
However the surprise element of the photographs and which arouses some curiosity are the tattoos that can be seen in his body.
The interesting information is that a phone number presented as one of the tattoos wrecked havoc in the life of a lady named Dr. Sukekha.
After the publicity photos of Aamir were exposed to the public, Dr. Surekha started to get phone calls inquiring her about the Bollywood star.
Later on after trying to know about the reason for the sudden coming of phone calls to her mobile phone, Surekha found out that a number which was written on Aamir's body is her phone number.
During the photo session, one of the assistant directors had written down a random number and he never thought he was writing down a real number.
Well, there is a possibility that quite accidentally numbers can turn out to be same, but what explanation can be given to the way people started to call the actual owner of the number.
Only the observation skills of the common film crazy people can be given as an answer and this incident also echoes out the theory of love for films and film stars being considered equal to a religion in India.


Aamir Khan plans a psycho act!

Aamir Khan is one perfectionist actor in B-Town who’s been making one meaningful after the other. While his contemporaries have run after super stardom and starred in senseless money making flicks, Aamir has made sure he does his own thing and also stands out!
In between he’s also mocked all the high and mighty superstars,in his own intelligent way!
Now the buzz is that the actor is set to do something different again by playing a cannibal in his next home production.
Apparently Aamir was hunting for an interesting script for a long time and finally zeroed in on the idea of playing a psychic man-eater.
Now that’s something really innovative! We’re sure that the others who love to be secure and do the same things again and again wouldn’t have dared to tread an unbeaten track like that!
The movie will in all probability be directed by a top director from the South. Looks like after working with A. R. Murugadoss in ‘Ghajini’, Aamir has taken a liking for South directors!
A source has reportedly said, “The actor is busy preparing for the role. To get into the skin of the character, Aamir has been visiting butchers in town to see how they cut meat. Aamir is also on a high-protein non-vegetarian diet to build his muscles for the role. He is also watching the behavior of all animals very closely to bring in a ‘beastly’ touch to his character.”
When Aamir takes charge, we can rest assured that it’ll be something novel and interesting!


Some Chinese action for Rajni

Famed stunt  coordinator Woo-ping Yuen will be  directing superstar  Rajnikanth, reports Prithwish Ganguly
South superstar Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Endhiran, which was previously titled Robot, has roped in acclaimed Chinese stunt coordinator Woo-ping Yuen to supervise the action stunts of the film.
Sixty-three-year-old Yuen, also an actor and director, has been instrumental in creating some of the most memorable action stunts in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that had Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill films, The Matrix series starring Keanu Reeves and The Forbidden Kingdom, which had Jet Li and Jackie Chan in it.
Directed by S Shankar, Endhiran is based on the work of the late writer Sujatha’s novels En Iniya Iyanthira and Jeeno Shankar, who has previously directed Rajnikanth in Sivaji: The Boss. The film has a mammoth budget of rupees 140 crore for Endhiran making it the most expensive film to be made in India to date.
“Endhiran will have very slick action sequences and Shankar wanted to have someone who is very big to create some never seen before stunts. Yuen is a master of stunts,” says an insider.
The source adds, “With Yuen looking after the stunts himself, be rest assured that you will get to see some action that defy gravity and reason. There may be some on-air stunts too. Rajnikanth is super excited that he will get to do all this. Yuen might also mix some martial arts in the action sequences.”
The shooting of Endhiran, shooting has already begun in the exotic locales of Peru, is
expected to release on April  14, 2010.


Music Review: ‘Yuvvraaj’ is a musical treat all the way

AR Rahman’s magical touch to Subhash Ghai’s imaginative identity gives an ingenious distinctiveness to the music of the Salman-Katrina starrer ‘Yuvraaj’. The opening track of the film sounds to be the perfect introduction to the following tracks and is designed as a dialogue monologue in Salman Khan’s typical anglicised accent.

The theme music is basically inspired by the instrumentation from the Fifth of Beethoven, a 1976 composition notably used in several English films.

“Yuvvraaj’s music is classical and if you enjoy Beethoven, you’ll love this,” Rahman says about the Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif starrer. And Slum Dog.? “It’s about multi-culturalism which is bridging gaps across the globe,” he adds.

After delivering hit group performances in ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ and ‘Golmaal Returns’, Benny Dayal has got his first lead playback song with ‘Tu Meri Dost Hai’. The song opens with an alaap which forms the base tune of the track. Sung by Shreya Ghoshal with Rahman’s melodious voice for a short portion, the song is sure an instant smile-inducing one.

‘Tu Muskura’, with minimal musical arrangements, reflects Alka Yagnik’s soulfulsinging. ‘Shano Shano’ is an instantly infectious disco dance number in Sonu Nigam’s to die for vocals.

Gulzar is at his best once again with his choice of unusual yet hummable lyrics in ‘Mastam Mastam’. ‘Dil Ka Rishta’ appears to be the climax opera act comprising all the lead actors including Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan and Zayed Khan, who play brothers in the film.

Manmohini Morey has chaste classical singing on a contemporary backdrop by Vijay Prakash, in the likes of maestros akin to Ustad Sultaan Khan. This small piece is a gem of classical music. However, ‘Zindagi’ is a sad number about looking life in retrospect but doesn’t get outright depressing.

With ‘Yuvvraaj’, Rahman and Ghai have teamed up for the best of contemporary and classical compilation.


'Rahman is genuinely exciting'

Taiko. Tabla. Mridangam. Kanjira. Ghatam. Dholak. Naal. Bhangra dhol. Congas. Bongos. Timbales. Berimbau. Irish Bodhran. Nigerian Udu. West African djembe. Waterphones. Spring drums...this never ending list of instruments has something in common. Guess what?

Okay, let me give you a clue. There exists a person who can play them all. People call him "the world's most versatile multi-percussionist".

He's worked on five James Bond soundtracks, (The Quantum of Solacecoming soon) and has also released a book titled Indian Rhythms For Drum set. From Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Ronan Keating to Vanessa Mae, A. R. Rahman and Mel C, he's jammed with some of the greatest musicians of the world.

And he is none other than the one and only Pete Lockett - a musician venerated by many as an authority in the world of percussions - ethnic, western, Arabic, Indian, you name it, and he plays it.

Besides all the musical feats, what makes him even more interesting is his equally humble belief: "I am not the master of percussion. I've learnt and studied enormously, I'm always learning."

Pete Lockett began his musical journey at the age of nineteen, in his hometown, Portsmouth. One day, while walking past a drum shop, he happened to see something in the window. He went in. And that was it. The journey began.

The drum shop opened up the whole world of music to him. And from then on there was no looking back. He probed deeper and deeper. And there he is today - "a learner comprehending the universal sound of music".

For a westerner, Indian music is usually supposed to be a foreign thing. But with Pete, the cultural gap was never much of an issue.

"I don't find this tough. I've spent so much time studying Indian music. It's so rich..there's such a lot to it. And besides, there is a common language to music. I may be playing all these instruments, but I wouldn't like to call myself an Arabic drummer or Indian drummer, or a western drummer really, I'll prefer calling myself a hybrid multi-percussionist," says Pete.

Music can have different languages, genres and styles. It can belong to different countries, composed of diverse instruments, but there exists, as Pete Lockett calls it, "the spirit of music".

"In one-way music is similar to language. Someone might be speaking in Bengali, another in English, but the feelings and emotions are common. Just as the way these feelings are universal, so is music. The desire to make music is common, and it is this desire that bridges the gap between different kinds of music," believes Pete.

"You're searching for common meaning and a common understanding, knowingly or unknowingly. It is in such moments of magic where things come together. And that is the universal language of music. "

Temporarily based in Kolkata, Pete has worked with a quite a range full of Indian musicians like Amit Chatterjee, A. R. Rahman and Bikram Ghosh.

Talking about working with Rahman, he adds, "I've always liked working with A. R. Rehman- it's great working with him- he's got such a clear idea of want he wants. It's so genuinely exciting."


Why we can't ignore A R Rahman

It's difficult to get A R Rahman out of your head. No, you needn't be a die-hard fan, though it's impossible to imagine how anyone with an iota of music sense and a fondness of music can ignore what this music director creates. And if proof of popularity can be gauged by what airs on music channels and radio frequencies, Rahman's body of work is for everyone to hear and see.
There's Tuhi re, that haunting melody from Mani Ratnam's Bombay that will invariably figure on a late-night radio programme. The mornings, by that yardstick, will have radio sets blaring with Rahman's latest hit, Pappu can't dance, from first-time director Abbas Tyrewalla's film Jaane Tu [Images] Ya Jaane Na.
So, obviously, there's no ignoring Rahman, I suggest, while a colleague shakes his head unconvincingly: "There's no longer that magic in Rahman. He's sounding repetitive." My instant reaction to the comment is to remember Rahman's own reaction to the same comment in a music magazine, "Give me an example of how and where I've sounded repetitive."
The reporter of that magazine had lost the round to Rahman who incidentally had also mentioned, in the same interview, that every single melody that goes from the music director's studio is precious, with hours of team effort and thought that go to create the songs.
On a short trip to Delhi [Images] for endorsing a reality show on bands that has been thought out by music and production company PhatPhish, Rahman agrees to meet us, but not before extracting a promise out of us: "Not the usual round of questions, and not too many questions, please." I almost sense his unhappiness when he proceeds to take a look at my list of long questions and, often, I find him peering suspiciously to take a look at them.
"How many more to go?" he wonders, when I joke about not even having begun the real round of queries. The thing about Rahman, which he admits too, is that he's not inherently comfortable meeting the media, answering questions or facing the arc lights unnecessarily. So even as I prod him, urging him to say something more, hoping to hear about his music, about himself, he grins, bears it, but doesn't go beyond that.
Dressed in a smart, brown jacket teamed with a pair of well-fitted jeans, Rahman, however, does smile when we talk about how a completely media-shy person like him has associated himself with reality shows, television programmes and other PR exercises in recent times. The latest role he's acquired is that of promoting The Big Band, an initiative with PhatPhish that will be telecast on Doordarshan and will include bands from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka [Images].
Why is he increasingly associating himself with television? "It stems from all the negativity that is around us. The idea," he says, "appealed to me almost a year ago but it took time to get formulated." Rahman says that he loves being a part of this idea especially because it will be presented as a travelogue through his eyes as he journeys across 15 Indian cities to scout for new talent. "I find we are living in such violent times that it becomes almost necessary to break the clutter, to get associated with products that can offer hope, that can offer a sense of melody...a harmony," he says.
Maintaining harmony -- that's precisely why, he says, he appeared on another television show some months ago. "It was sponsored by the UN and the idea was to bring four sets of musicians who could, with their original compositions, reach out to the masses and connect and talk about issues related to female infanticide, illiteracy, poverty and hunger.
But isn't it ironical that glamour is used to actually address such issues? He laughs, "It is, but you see, music is all that I know. I do believe that melody can reach out and make hardened criminals laugh or cry. So in that sense," he shrugs, "why not use it as a medium?"
Rahman feels that the new generation of aspiring musicians and singers are only too lucky. "When I formed bands in my college," he says, "when I was associated with music as a means to earn a living, there were people who laughed at me, my own family (and I come from a musical background) was so jittery about my future."
Today, he feels that sounds are changing, music directors are willing to push the creative envelope and listeners too are getting inspired. He cites his own forthcoming film Yuuvraaj as an example. A film where he's teamed up with Subhash Ghai [Images], the sound, says Rahman, actually brings in live orchestra and a local Austrian musical flavor. "It's like painting a huge canvas with colours of my own choice," he grins.
That he loves sitting in his studio in the dead silence of the night is folklore in music circles. Is it true? "It is," he laughs, "but you have to realise that music is meditation for me. I can't fathom a life without it. It's all that I know." The violent times that we're living in, he says, do concern him and, to an extent, his work. "Every time I create a melody I wonder if there is a way this song will reach out and prevent a bloodbath," he adds. Rahman does agree, however, that it's during his recording sessions that he can't tolerate being disturbed; "family, friends or the media, I don't like anyone interrupting me at all," he adds.
A master of perfection -- as he's usually described -- Rahman admits that brickbats and criticism, even if they affect him, leave him unfazed. "I see a lot of trash come out in the market, but you can't help it beyond a point. I know my work and if I feel satisfied, if album sales and if listeners are tuning in, I suppose I'm doing fine." And recordings for films, he says, completely depend on the project and his own bent of mind. "I've done projects which have taken me three years to complete," he says. Predictably, he's excited about his forthcoming projects too: Aamir Khan's [Images] Ghajini [Images], Dilli 6 and Yuuvraaj, to name just a few.
Whether music defines Rahman, or Rahman defines music is a question that many of his fans would love to answer. For now, the music maestro continues to be -- what else? -- on a song.


A R Rahman's mother unveils 'Yuvvraaj's music

Known to be Subhash Ghai's most ambitious project till date, multistarrer Yuvvraaj's music was launched under the T-Series label at a suburban hotel in Mumbai on Thursday.
Though the multi-star cast of the film was not in attendance, the man behind the much anticipated film's music A R Rahman was present with his mother Karima Begum, who officially launched the music of the film along with lyricist Gulzar and director Subhash Ghai.
A R Rahman, who has previously worked with Ghai on the 1999 musical hit 'Taal', said, "Well, comparisons are bound to happen between Taal and Yuvvraaj's music. But, both the films are different and I would suggest that you listen to Yuvvraaj's music with an open heart – don't compare this with anything (laughs)."
Lyricist Gulzar, the man who penned the magic words, also seemed to be in a jolly mood – speaking in a mix of Hindi and Urdu to the media, he said, "A R Rahman has a different style of working, he doesn't follow any set pattern when it comes to lyrics – so I have more freedom, it does not have to rhyme always. Subhash Ghai was also open to new ideas – all of which I have incorporated in the songs – Subhash Ghai is known as a great showman, and I waited for a rather long time to work with him."
He added, "When I saw the songs of Yuvvraaj on screen, I sent a message to Rahman saying that they were magnificent, and this is a very honest opinion of his songs and picturisation."
Subhash Ghai said, "All the main characters, like Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Katrina are singers/musicians – Zayed (Khan) is a disco dancer! So, music is the most vital element of this film– It's the music which is taking the story futher," said the enthusiastic producer- director who is returning to direction after a gap of three years.
Yuvvraaj has the protagonist (Salman Khan) playing the role of a musician who dreams of leading a symphony orchestra some day. Besides this, his onscreen love interest, Katrina Kaif is also shown as a cellist. Anil Kapoor's character, which can be described as the common link between Taal and Yuvvraaj, has not been disclosed. American actor Jacob Hadas makes his Bollywood debut with a small part in this film.


Rahman’s Twenty20!

If you liked the hummable symphony Rahman created for the AirTel commercial, looks like there will soon be another one such hummable tune, composed by the maestro. In a grand ceremony to announce the schedule and groupings of the inaugural Champions League Twenty20’s season in Delhi on Friday, the


broadcasters ESPN STAR Sports announced that A R Rahman has been signed up for composing a T20 anthem.

Addressing the gathering, ESPN STAR Sports’ Managing Director Manu Sawhney mentioned that ESPN STAR Sports is proud to announce its association with A R Rahman. He also said: What Twenty20 is to cricket, Rahman is to music” in his statement. “Rahman’s anthem will rise above the language barriers and reach across the global cricket fraternity,” he added.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Venkatesh's role in Marma Yogi

These days two films from the Tamil film industry are attracting a lot of attention and the more and more spot light falls on them, the more and more they try to wriggle away from it. Mum is said to be the keyword and nobody knows what's happening at the shooting spot. No marks for guessing this. The films are Shankar's Endhiran and Kamal's Marm Yogi.

A Tamil tabloid has released a few distant looking shots of Endiran and some shooting news. But as regards Marmayogi, there are wide varieties of speculations doing their rounds and the unit is yet to confirm the same. But for the fact that Kamal, Trisha and Shriya are in the film, nothing else is known. As per the latest buzz, Telugu actor Venkatesh will be doing the role of a Brahmin Pundit in Marma Yogi. Venkatesh is a versatile actor who has essayed different roles. Let us wait for the confirmation.


GHAJINI Aamir (First Look)

Happy Diwali to all Hindu visitors


Aamir Khan flaunts his beefcake

Move aside John Abraham andSalman Khan . The first look ofGhajini has Aamir Khan flaunting a beefcake that can put many to shame.

Though we had already seen the scars on his head, we get a sneak peek at Aamir’s rippling muscles for the first time in the first look of ‘Ghajini’. The look has Aamir’s perfectly toned body inked with tattoos of names, dates, numbers and even a statement.

In the film, Aamir’s character is an amnesiac who can’t remember any details about the people who murdered his girlfriend. So he tattoos his body with whatever reminders that can get him close to the murderers.

Scribbled across his chest is a statement that reads ‘Kalpana Was Killed’ to remind himself of his girlfriend’s murder.

Aamir’s beefcake for the film wasn’t developed overnight. The actor worked hard to build his body for months before he got the eight-pack abs he wanted. And today, after seeing his brawns in Ghajini’s first look, many people in Bollywood have been flabbergasted.

Imran Khan , for instance, goes on to say that Aamir has the best body in Bollywood presently.

‘Ghajini’ is a remake of A R Murugadoss’s hit Tamil movie that was inspired from director Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller ‘Memento’.

Apart from Aamir, ‘Ghajini’ stars Asin and Jiah Khan .


Rajnikanth's stunts in Enthiran

Superstar Rajnikanth's Endhiran will have some gravity defying stunt sequences mixed with martial arts, specially choreographed by ace stunt coordinator Woo-Ping Yuen. The 63-year-old stunt coordinator has choreographed some terrific stunt sequences in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill, and The Forbidden Kingdom.
Rajini is said to be excited that Woo-Ping Yuen has been signed up to supervise the stunt scenes in Endhiran, as he had directed the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Keanu Reeves and Chow Yun-Fat – all acclaimed for their action films.

With the Chinese stunt coordinator taking the reins of the stunt scenes in Endhiran, we can expect the Superstar in some great action scenes.


Endhiran - Shankar's security breached!

After Peru, Shankar's Rajinikanth starrer mega venture Endhiran is being shot in the sun kissed beaches of Goa. Quite naturally, Shankar has employed stringent measures and deployed private security personnel around 100 mts of the shooting spot to prevent any curious intruders from having a sneak peek at his shoots.

However, the prying eyes of paparazzi did not seem to have missed the shoot though. A Tamil tabloid has published the details of shoots held in Goa, courtesy a curious spectator who was lucky enough to be in Goa incidentally.According to the reports, scenes of Rajini and Ash picking up a verbal squabble and their subsequent face off were filmed. Three such scenes, including one with the couple making up in one of Goa's beaches were also said to have been canned. That apart, other scenes were also shot in which Cochin Haneefa played a Police Officer and Kalabhavan Mani, a villain. The tabloid also states that superstar Rajini sports a neatly trimmed French beard for the movie.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rahman excels in Yuvvraaj

That A R Rahman is a master composer is no biggie. What is truly commendable is that he has earned an unblemished reputation of someone whose name alone sends promises of astounding melody. And so, at the risk of gushing, I'd say any soundtrack by him is like an event itself, more significant than hugely popular stars and their purported demigod status.
This year, he took us on a breathtaking tour of royalty and romance with the majestic Jodhaa Akbar [Images] and followed it with the frolic-filled, foot-tapping trendiness in the youthful beats of Jaane Tu[Images]... Ya Jaane Na.
Next, he helms Subhash Ghai's[Images] lavishly-staged, Yuvvraaj, inspired in soul and element from European and Indian classical as well as Rahman's exclusive library of imagination. Being a wide-ranging musical, Yuvvraaj, starring Salman Khan [Images], Katrina Kaif [Images], Zayed Khan [Images] and Anil Kapoor [Images], like Ghai's Taal[Images], is every music-aficionado's delight.
Here's why:
Besides the CD layout, there's not much Yuvvraaj shares in common with Taal. The latter was deliberately theatrical and consisted folk-tune flavours. This one is marvelously smooth and meadow-fresh, conjuring lilting images of Prague and Austria, where it has been extensively filmed. At the same time, it packs in enough complex emotions of its own.
The soundtrack opens with Main hoon Yuvvraaj, wherein Salman Khan spews hard-to-miss sarcasm, introducing himself as the proverbial 'bad boy' against the etched-in-every-memory Fifth of Beethoven (performed by The Chennai String Orchestra). He has a point to prove, a notion to dispel. And he does it, with spirit, beauty and Benny Dayal (of Pappu can't dance saala fame)'s striking vocals, through Gulzar's [Images] wistful poetry and Rahman's inventive intricacy of Tu meri dost hain.
Katrina KaifThe lingering rhythm of Tu meri dost is swapped for the zingy, retro, disco-friendly beats of Shano Shano. An animated line-up of singers, right from Sonu Nigam [Images], Srinivas to Sunaina, Vivienna Pocha bring the house down in this club-meets-lounge ditty.  Its remix by Krishna Chetan, featuring Ember, is a dry and darker rap-inclusive interpretation of the racy original.
Tu muskura is a lyrical delight sending a wave of goose bumps across the enamoured listener. Gulzar's vivid wizardry pours its heart out through verse like, 'Sharir see yeh muskurahatein teri. Badan main sunti hoon main aahatein teri.' Needless to say it takes Rahman's exquisite touch to cast these delicate words into the silhouette of his melodies.
Sonu Nigam lends his characteristic velvetiness to the peppy hues of Mastam mastam, again overflowing with Gulzar's graphic thoughts (Bheje mein bhochal hain, pairon mein paatal hain). Effortlessly free-flowing, Mastam's USP lies in its being entertaining and silvery, at once.
Anil KapoorMisty-eyed poignancy breathes effectively through the melancholic realisation of Zindagi. Rendered with excellent restraint and stirring sentiment by Srinivas, against Rahman's deft play of woodwinds and breezy strings, this is easily one of Yuvvraj's best compositions.
Piano, cello and other participants of a grand orchestra and powerful chorus create a vision of escalating drama of sibling bonding under Rahman's intense guidance and signature alaap. Dil ka rishta is his brand of symphony, generating a state of big-screen showmanship and mellifluous festivities.
The vigorously classical notes of Manmohini morey, with a conspicuous stamp of Rahman's whiz-kid personality, are grippingly and flawlessly translated by Vijay Prakash.  
Ultimately, Yuvvraaj is a triumphant score from the maestro. For all its meticulous arrangement and old-world grandeur, it's essentially deep-rooted in timeless melody, which seldom disappoints.
Rediff Rating: 


Vinay given the elbow!

Kadhir, the man behind mushy romances such as Kadhal Desam and Kadhalar Dinam, is up and running with his next project Maanavar Dinam. While earlier reports stated that Vinay will play the lead in Maanavar Dinam, latest in the series is that Vinay has been given the elbow from the project for unquoted reasons. In comes Srikanth who will take the lead.

Meanwhile, Kadhir’s successful association with Rahman in his previous ventures continues with Maanavar Dinam as well and the maestro has agreed to score for the movie.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

One more realistic set from Mani

In less than few days since the forest officials at the Malayatoor reserve forest area issued ultimatum to Mani Ratnam and his crew to vacate the premises for unauthorized construction of thatched huts while shooting for Ravan, Mani seems to have patched up with the officials and gained access to the forest area again. However, this time the
Mani Ratnam
approval has come with very many restrictions including limitations on crew members, vehicles used in the location, and a ban on smoking and usage of mineral water bottles.

Mani will also need to shell out Rs. 10,000 each day for the shoots that can be conducted only between 6.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. Last heard, a huge set of Anandha Narayana Perumal is constructed in the spot for the shoots. We all know what magnificent sets Mani erects for his films. We can never forget the old, rusted boat and the Buddha statues in Kannathil Muthamittal – which many thought were locations shots but were actually realistic sets recreated in Tamil Nadu. Now, for this new magnum opus, Mani has constructed a huge, realistic looking set in the forests of Kerala. It will be, we are sure, quite a sight to see.

Murugadoss’ request to A.R. Rahman for Ghajini

With expectations soaring high over the Hindi version of Ghajini, the news that it would hit the silver screens on December 25th is a treat to all the cine buffs. Ghajini, a blockbuster in Tamil starring Suriya and Asin is being remade in Hindi with Aamir Khan and Asin. Director Murugadoss, who had directed the
Tamil version, is wielding the megaphone for the Bollywood film too.

Music director A.R. Rahman has completed composing all the five songs and is working towards the background score. Meanwhile, Murugadoss has requested Rahman to compose a tune for the trailer. The musician is busy at it now and is expected to complete it soon. The trailer will be ready in two weeks time, adds our source.


Friday, October 17, 2008

"A.R.Rahman isn't a good judge of scripts"

I was in the midst of a discussion between two friends talking about Rahman and Yuvan, and this made me to think of one contrasting difference between these composers. When you look at A R Rahman’s career graph, you can’t help noticing that most of his flop movies (not flop songs) are with new directors that he makes music for 
A R Rahman
-recent example, Kala Prabhu’s Sakkarakatti. A sample list of other moderate to flop movies would be: Pudiya Mugam, May Madham, Enakku 20 Unakku 18, Sillunu Oru Kadhal, Udhaya, Parasuram, ATM, and Ratchagan. You will notice that 90 percent of his hit movies are with well established directors or are backed up by strong personalities, such as Aamir Khan for his nephew in Jaane Tu.

This is a sharp contrast to someone like Yuvan who is more successful with new comers. And his father, Ilayaraja, has an unprecedented record of hit movies with new comers. The irony is that Rahman's judgment in scripts is not that great; he can connect with his music but I don’t think he has the ability to judge what scripts will work and what will not. If Mani Ratnam, Aamir Khan, and Shankar move on at this point to new music directors, it will at least give Rahman a new bandwidth of newcomers to experiment with.

I am not disputing that Rahman has set a benchmark in the industry. However, I would prefer that Rahman try and experiment with more new comers and hone his instinct to connect with new scripts instead of circling back to those five top directors all the time.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A R Rahman launches pan-Asia reality hunt for bands

Music maestro A R Rahman and Phat Phish have launched a new reality show called The Big Band.

The music band hunt will be telecast on Doordarshan endeavors to give ethnic and contemporary musicians a credible platform with which to showcase their talent as well as allow India to discover sounds that will enliven its hopes, dreams and aspirations.

This show is based on an indigenous format and will provide a platform for nurturing and building musical talent across languages and the broad genres of ethnic, regional and contemporary music. Spanning the seven Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, this reality show aims to create Indian television and webcast history by all measures of budget, viewership, regional breadth and diversity.

The show will be presented as a travelogue through Rahman's eyes as he journeys across fifteen cities of India in search of new talent.

Rahman, said, "The Big Band is a truly unique stage which gives local bands a chance to dive deep into their true artistic depth and create original music which transcends language and that is universally accessible. We want to present to India and the world at large the story behind what forms and binds a band and how they can be mentored to become world class talent."

Phat Phish chairman Anand Surapur said, "We think the timing is right for people to be exposed to a wider choice. There is an unbelievable amount of talent available and it is just a matter of bringing it out, nurturing it and presenting it to be recognized. We have constantly endeavored to promote music that emote the sounds which are heartbeat of India and this band hunt is our next step in this direction".

The main selection criterion for The Big Band is the participant's ability to create original and distinctive music. To participate in The Big Band, bands must have between 2 and 10 band members with at least one lead singer and must submit three 
unes. The first tune has to be an original interpretation of a popular bollywood, folk or regional piece. The second tune has to be based on the band's interpretation of A R Rahman's especially composed melody for the show which will be released on 24 October. Additionally, the bands that also submit one of their original compositions will have an advantage in the selection process. Short listed bands will be invited to the first stage audition where they will be asked to perform any of the three pieces that the judges ask them to play. For information on rules and requirements for entry submissions bands can logon to:

The band that wins this talent hunt will get a three-year recording contract with Phat Phish Records which includes end-to-end artist management, upto three albums and six music videos, tours and concerts on the national and international stage and ultimately a chance to get mentoring from leading music industry luminaries. The top bands also get prizes (including cash) worth Rs one crore awarded proportionately through a 'pyramid' structure. The last date for receipt of applications is 15 November.