Club Contact

The new MP3 blog from London's club Contact. The idea is to allow people to hear new music they wouldn't have otherwise found but, if anyone has any copyright issues with a particular song, i'll take the link down. Songs are only available for a limited amount of time.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cornershop's No.1 single made (Brimful Of) Asha Bhosle and her sister Lata Mangeshkar, if not household names, then at least as famous as any Indian film star in the UK. It also cast some light for millions who had never even seen a Hindi film on the concept of the "playback singer". Indian stars are largely chosen on the basis of their looks, dancing ability and acting talent but, even though musical numbers are virtually obligatory in mainstream films, not on whether they can sing. This leads to the wonderful situation of doe-eyed, twenty-something, screen princesses being dubbed over with the voice of a seventy-five year old woman for the all-important song-and-dance routines. Indian pop is still heavily-influenced by people who were teenagers in the last days of the Raj.

When a playback singer emerged who combined the vocal ability of some of the old legends and the looks of a pop idol, it was inevitable that she would become one of the biggest stars on the face of the planet. Having recorded something like 200 soundtracks in nine years, Sunidhi Chauhan is an absolute sensation in India (a captive audience of roughly 1bn people) and with NRIs abroad.

Aa Tayar Hoja is taken from the soundtrack of what was, at the time, the most expensive Indian film ever made (although its 130,000,000 Rupee budget looks much less impressive when converted into £1,674,489), 2001's Asoka. Directed by the master cinematographer Santosh Sivan, whose debut The Terrorist garnered more international acclaim than any Indian picture since the days of Satyajit Ray, starring two of the biggest names in Hindi cinema, Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor and based on one of the nation's great enduring myths, King Asoka's conversion from warlord to monk, it couldn't go wrong, could it? Well, yes, apparently it could. The first suggestion that it wasn't going to turn out well came when infuriated Buddhist leaders announced that they were calling for a boycott. Quite how one infuriates a Buddhist is a mystery to me but i think it had something to do with a couple of glaring historical inaccuracies. It limped into the cinema and limped out again. Sivan has now been relegated to the position of Gurinder "Bend It Like Beckham" Chadha's bitch and may never be trusted with a directorial job again.

I rate it as one of the best films i've ever seen. It's a three-hour epic on a bigger-than-Hollywood scale but with a heart and intelligence you'd never get from 99% of major US directors. It's similar in scope to Kubrick's Spartacus but, for my money, a superior film on every level. It's also impossibly beautiful, one of the most visually stunning things ever put on celluloid. The song's appearance is pure MTV, about as temporally appropriate as Britney doing (I Got That) Boom Boom in the middle of The Passion Of The Christ, but in Indian cinema, a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is useful.

Buy the film for £4.99. £4.99! Free postage too.


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