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A R Rahman Hits Revisited!

Did you also grow up in the 1990’s like me? Then chances are that you listened to A.R.Rahman’s songs over and over again on tapes, watched Oliyum Oliyum or Super Hit Muqabula on Doordarshan just to watch his songs on screen. So I thought wishing A.R.R Happy Birthday would be better in tune with a list of MY all time favourite songs by him!

Roja – Pudhu Velai Mazhai 


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A.R.Rahman and most others in their twenties like me, kick started our lives together. I started kindergarden in 1992. His first film, Roja was released in 1992 and today even after 20 years, I’m still in love with Roja’s Pudhu velai mazhai, one of his first compositions bringing back memories of the pure white soft snow. It’s one of those songs you tirelessly rewind on your old tape recorder to listen to for, literally, the millionth time. 

Kadhalan – Petta Rap/Oorvasi Oorvasi – 1994


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You know you definitely grew up in the 90’s if you tried to mumble all the wrong words trying to learn the lyrics of Oorvasi Oorvasi or Pettai Rap from Kadhalan – the coolest songs of the time! Looking back, I realize that his songs probably gave me and many others in my generation the best introduction to western genres of music, Rap being one of them. He resolved our teenage angst of fitting in at least with respect to the kind of music we listened to. 

Bombay – Uyire / Tu Hi Re


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I realize now that it’s hard to pick just one song from Roja or Kadhalan or Bombay. Nevertheless, I’m going to try. There is Ek Ho Gaya/Andhan Arabic Kadalorum with the fast dance vibe to start with. This was the first song most of us listened to as kids before we took notice of Uyire/Tu hi re and Kannalane/Kehna hi kya filled with their New aged silences. Kannalane/Kehna hi kya, I think was, his first attempt at bringing in Sufi/Qawwali music into mainstream film tunes. This film’s music album is one of those that you can never get tired of. 

Maa Tujhe Salaam 


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Needless to say that Ma Tujhe Salaam is the one song that the entire nation sways to even today. Musically, this was the song that gave nationalism a makeover in India waking the patriot in every citizen in the country. And a big hi-fi to you if you were also one of those who learnt the words of Vande Mataram as an after effect of listening to A.R.R singing it.  

Dil Se – Chaiyya Chaiyya


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I can’t go on listing entire albums so I choose Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se. The most popular song that year with Sukhwinder Singh shooting to fame so much so that he had a dozen songs lined up in Tamizh following this one. I’m still hoping I’ll dance on top of a train someday. You never know, I’m still in India. 

Alaipayuthey / Saathiya – Pachaineerame / Saathiya


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This was the song that gave tune to probably many teenagers’ first crush all green and rosy (Well it at least gave tune to my little one sided love story). Somehow I can never recall this song without Madhavan or the great images that made you wishing they were for real.

Rang De Basanti – Roobaroo


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I went through a serious pop phase before college like many others I know. Just in time for the rock phase, Roobaroo became a real fad in the country with its soft rock touch.  Rang de Basanti also unfortunately has more than one of ‘those A.R.Rahman numbers’. Khalbali has to be mentioned at this point for all the good college days’ masti that it brings back to me making me crave for those times.

Jodhaa Akbar – Khwaja Mere Khwaja


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This one actually caught my attention long after the film got released and is on my list of all time favourites. It was probably Rahman’s first attempt at a complete qawwali rendered in his style of music, a great tribute to the Sufi saint Khwaja Moiuddin Chisti. 

Delhi 6 – Masakalli


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When the Bollywood music industry was too busy mimicking his style, Masakalli was A.R.R’s way of reminding all the imitators in the business who the real big daddy was.  With a touch of old Hindi film music and a refreshing voice, he made the nation move like the Masakallis, leaving you smiling for no real reason. 

Rockstar – The Qawwali 


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I’m back again for one final time wondering which one to pick from this film now. I give up. Choose the one you love the most from this film because there is definitely one for all of us here. Khwaja Mera Khwaja was just the beginning to his experimentation and rendition of Sufi music. Making this type of music more accessible and less esoteric, he has brought back Sufi music to the masses; ripping open the elitist robe clad by this genre. 

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