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Slumdog Millionaire by A.R. Rahman

Slumdog Millionaire

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Slumdog Millionaire (Soundtrack) by A.R. Rahman
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Slumdog Millionaire (Soundtrack) by A.R. Rahman  

Slumdog Millionaire
Composed by A.R. Rahman
Promo Release (2008)

Rating: 7/10



Soundclips below provided by AmazonMp3


“Whether it is his endearing theme for Latika, or his exotically charged chase cues, A.R. RAHMAN's music of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE maintains a unique fusion of the contemporary and the traditional, the western with eastern.”

Destiny of the Dog
Review by Christopher Coleman

A movie that starts off with a multiple choice question for the audience has to be something special. Right? With the exception of some jittery 16 mm film shown in one of my high school classes, I can't remember that ever being done before. Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE does just that...and it only get's better from there. Let me say upfront that, while I love the movie's title and believe this is a pretty special flick, I don't believe it is the best movie of the many others apparently do. It's funny. Whenever there is mass or critical praise for something, there seems to be an inevitable backlash to follow. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE seems to be facing what THE DARK KNIGHT did earlier in the year. Sometimes there is so much talk and hype about a film that people simply get tired of hearing about how good it is and so slide into a group of counter-fans. SLUMDOG is, indeed, a very charming movie that I was fully engrossed in while viewing it, save the "outhouse" scene. Fortunately, I wasn't into that as much as our little hero was. This film making it to the big-screen is a story unto itself, but it doesn't compare to the tale it tells of a poor, Indian boy incredibly winning a few boatloads of Indian rupees on the localized Who Wants to be a Millionaire? television show. It's rags to riches story with an international twist. SLUMDOG is, at once, familiar and yet exotic and that description goes right down to it's music.

Probably the most natural selection to compose the music for this rags to rupees tale was India's most recognized composer, A.R. RAHMAN. The man is like musical god in India...and is has been moving to such status in many other places around the world as well. Rahman has been carried on the crest of the tidal rise of the Indian film industry...even as one of the those creatives who have helped to actually create that same wave of popularity. Rahman first made himself known to me when I saw the film WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH (2003), then, in 2007, A.R. RAHMAN collaborated with CRAIG ARMSTRONG for the forceful score for ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE. Coming off his stellar work for the epic JODHAA AKBAR also released in 2008, Rahman, with only a handful of weeks to work, went on to score director Danny Boyle's little-film-that-could.

While there is a an official soundtrack release, containing 13 tracks, my review is of the promo release which only contains 8 tracks. A quick comparison of the two releases leads me to conclude that the promo contains the most important elements of A.R. Rahman's score, with the one glaring exception of "Jai Ho." This might be the most recognized track of the film as it plays over the ending dance piece and is a flat-out, blast of a song to listen to. (I defy any of you with the slightest bit of "jig" left in your "jiggifier" to stay still when listening to it!) What is also omitted from the promo release are the pieces by M.I.A. and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Granted, M.I.A's tracks, "O...Saya" and "Paper Planes" do play at prominent moments of the film, but Rahman's score is the connective tissue that runs the length of the film and carries the bulk of the story's weight.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is one of those rare films that features a score and songtrack that work hand-in-hand to produce something greater than either could have alone.  I generally dislike hybrid soundtracks like this, but have to admit that the original soundtrack released by Interscope Records not only offers up a much better representation of the total musical-feel of the film, but is a more satisfying listen start to finish. For RAHMAN's part, and for what is contained on the promotional release, we get two foundational ideas that run the throughout the film. One of the most unforgettable portions of the score is Rahman's theme for Latika. The simple, wordless, female vocals over pulsing bass line and guitar captures the sweet and pure heart of the film. Boyle employs the theme at Jamal's moments of loss, "Escape"* (3), during his searching "Latika's Theme I" (4) and at their blissful reuniting "It is Written"* (8). In contrast to the simple beauty of Latika's theme, we hear RAHMAN at his electronic-best via his "chase" motif. The vibrant piece containing sitar, string ensemble, and hip-hop rhythm is heard prominently in two equally memorable scenes. As Jamal, his brother Salim and Latika attempt to flee their captors the theme quickly breaks into the track and infuses the slow motion segment with life and energy. Again in "Train Station" * (2) after a sentimental moment when Jamal and Latika "almost" meet at the train station, the "chase' motif rudely interrupts as Jamal's brother, Salim, and his crime-boss underlings come in pursuit of Latika.  Whether it is his endearing theme for Latika, or his exotically charged chase cues, A.R. RAHMAN's music of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE maintains a unique fusion of the contemporary and the traditional, the western with eastern. While his own compositions reflect this mixture in themselves, the addition of the M.I.A. lead tracks, "O...SAYA" and "Paper Planes," bring a contemporary familiarity, but also an exotic-ness to the music.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a special film and the music from the film, particularly that from composer A.R. RAHMAN helps to make it that way. It is nice to see the general public take notice of the music's contribution as well. Unfortunately, it's that same public recognition that helps to spur on the inevitable backlash from those who have tired of hearing about SLUMDOG and it's growing list of nominations and awards. Backlash or not, Rahman's work for Danny Boyle's inspirational project is worth recognizing. I have to hesitate in saying that it matches his romantic work for 2008's JODHAA ACKBAR however.  With any luck (or perhaps I should say it is A.R. Rahman's destiny), this new found fame will get more people to look into the already vast library of RAHMAN's film scores and will become tuned into one of the most unique musical voices in film world.

Rating: 7/10


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Riots 2:18  ***
2 Train Station * 1:49  ****
3 Escape * 3:04  ***
4 Latika's Theme I * 1:26  ****
5 Liquid Dance 1:37  ****
6 Latika's Theme II * 1:36  ****
7 Millionaire 2:37  ***
8 It is Written * 2:27  ****
  * - denotes unofficial track titles    
  Total Running Time (approx) 29 minutes  




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