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  IN MEMORY OF A GREAT MUSIC DIRECTOR


The Kronos Quartet poses with Asha Bhosle, second from left.
U.S. STRING GROUP PAYS TRIBUTE TO R.D. BURMAN
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

Kronos Quartet deserves a pat on the back. Make that two. After all, how many string quartets would dedicate an album in honor of one of Bollywood's favorite musical directors R.D. Burman?

The soon-to-be-released CD, "You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood" is produced by the California-based group, which is made up of David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jennifer Culp (cello).

It’s the first time that Kronos Quartet, founded by Harrington about 32 years ago, has produced an album. It also is a first collaboration for the group with a Bollywood personality - Asha Bhosle. Harrington explains in detail how the CD came about: “I’ve known R D Burman’s music for 15 years,” he says.

“My collection of Indian film soundtrack is probably the largest of any kind that I have. As I listened to the collection, I began to realize that quite a few were either composed or sung by Burman. And the female singer was Asha Bhosle.”



The Kronos Quartet
More than a decade ago, a friend handed Harrington "Aaj Ki Raat" - Asha Bhosle’s album. In 1999, the Quartet recorded a solo version of Aaj Ki Raat with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. It didn’t take long for Bhosle to hear about Kronos’ work.

“Since 2000, I began to go back to Burman’s music and finally it seemed like the right time to make an album,” says Harrington. Soon, he got in touch with Bhosle and within a few months, recording for the album was completed.

“I wanted to use original recordings like in Western classical music,” he says. “In the spirit of Burman’s musical polyglotism, Wu Man’s pipa was substituted for the santoor and sarod. And because rhythmicality is an essential ingredient in Burman’s music, we brought in Zakir Hussain.” v Kronos itself augmented its acoustic sound with keyboards, percussion etc.

Of the 12 tracks on the album, Bhosle has sung eight, including the ever-popular Dum Maro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Chura Liya hai, (Yaadon Ki Baraat), Piya Tu ab to aaja, (Caravan), Mera Kuchh Saaman, (Ijaazat), and two Bengali songs.

“Asha Bhosle is not just a great singer but also a great musician. Her voice is an instrument in itself,” says Harrington. Each member of Kronos also has contributed a solo with the cello, violin and viola

"You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood," will be released this month in the U.S. Harrington hopes that it will be released in India some day also.

“Burman was an amazing creative composer and I feel inspired, better and refreshed after wrapping up the album,” says Harrington.

“I hope an audience is out there that will become acquainted with the genius of R D Burman and the unbelievable mastery of Asha Bhosle.”




Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgan star in “Raincoat.”
Bollywood Watch
By Shephali J. Rele

Bollywood | Bollywood Preview

In case you missed it, worth a look: RAINCOAT

Just into the first 10 minutes of “Raincoat” by Rituparno Ghosh, I knew I would be watching an emotional, engaging story. If you are looking for a mind-numbing masala flick, this one’s not it. But nevertheless, this film is certainly worth a look.

“Raincoat” (2004): Directed by Rituparno Ghosh. Starring Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai and Annu Kapoor.

The closing titles of “Raincoat” credit the gifted short story writer and master of surprise endings O. Henry. Director Ghosh creates movie magic with this seemingly simple story inspired by the genre of this renowned American writer.

The storyline revolves around an afternoon meeting between two childhood sweethearts who haven’t seen each other in years. Manoj (Ajay Devgan) is a young man out of a job and in dire need of money to start his business. He comes to Calcutta to gather funds from former college classmates and also find his now-married lost love Niru (Aishwarya Rai). Manoj stays with a former college roommate and his wife (Sameer Dharmadhikari and Mouli Ganguly – some of you may recognize Ganguly from recent Indian television serials). These supporting characters deftly set the stage as the story unfolds. Ganguly especially excels in her touching scenes with Manoj.

On a rainy afternoon, wearing a borrowed raincoat, Manoj finds Niru’s house. Neither are as they once were. After hearing about Niru’s affluent marital bliss, Manoj lies about his reason for being in Calcutta and describes a non-existent successful career. But circumstances are not as they appear. As the afternoon continues, the truth comes clear for Manoj after the landlord played by Annu Kapoor enters the scene. Without giving too much away, let me say the verbal interactions between Manoj and Niru are the heart of the drama and this film truly unfolds as a clever play.

Both lead actors are required to give layered performances, one for the camera and another for each other. Ajay Devgan doesn’t disappoint in this consummate portrayal of pain, frustration and love. Director Ghosh also succeeds in extracting a noteworthy performance from Aishwarya Rai. She plays her part of a bored housewife with perfect poise and her expressions are splendidly conveyed with conviction.

“Raincoat” gives the Hindi cinema audience a nowadays-rare opportunity to experience an original story supported by realistic performances and presented by a stylistic director who recognizes an intelligent audience. A final mention must be made on the musical score by Debojyoti Mishra. Be sure to check out the soundtrack to savor the vocals of Shubha Mudgal.



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