Music maestro A R Rahman says composing the music of his debut Hindi film “Rangeela”, which completes 25 years in cinema this month, felt like he was discovering something new.
The Ram Gopal Varma-directed romantic drama, starring Urmila Tatondkar as a backup dancer Mili, Aamir Khan as her ‘tapori friend Munna and Jackie Shroff as Bollywood star Raj Kamal, is considered one of the landmark musical hits of the ‘90s.
The 1995 film, which marked the arrival of Rahman in Bollywood, had seven songs composed by him including evergreen hits such as ‘Tanha Tanha’, ‘Rangeela Re’, ‘Yayire Yayire’ and ‘Kya Kare Kya Na Kare’.
His songs for "Roja" (1992) and "Bombay" (1995) were dubbed from Tamil. “Composing the songs of ‘Rangeela’ was like discovering something new. The soundtrack arrived naturally and we didn’t feel the pressure for this movie because I was enjoying the new company I had in Ramu and lyricist Mehboob. We would just talk and joke and have fun. It was my kind of vibe,” Rahman told PTI in an interview.
Crediting the film’s team, including choreographers Saroj Khan, Ahmed Khan, actors and producerJhamu Sughand, Rahman said he learnt a lot while working on the movie.
“The first song that we worked on was ‘Tanha Tanha’ and then came ‘Rangeela Re’. The most important decision we made was getting Asha Bhonsleji to sing. Her voice brought something extraordinary to the music… She lent credibility to the soundtrack in a big way because Mehboob, Ramu and me, we were all new,” the music maestro said.
Rahman still remembers Aamir’s yellow jacket that he says “stood out” during the scoring. “I was stunned, I still remember. And the way he acted was brilliant. And Urmila was brilliant,” Rahman recalled. The composer added he was already a huge fan of Shroff, having seen Subhash Ghai’s “Hero”. What makes the film stand out for Rahman is the fact that the team trusted their instincts while creating the music.
“I think the whole soundtrack was an experiment. Apart from ‘Tanha Tanha’ and ‘Yayire’, nobody does a (‘raag’) Bhairavi for the beginning of a song, it is used at the end but I didn’t know that information. I was like happy tuning ‘Tanha Tanha’. There were strains of Bhairavi constantly in it.” ''‘Rangeela Re’, he said, had an old school melody, a 1950s kind of thing.
“We just went by the instinct of ‘this is right, it feels right,” the Oscar winner added.
“Mangta Hai Kya”, the composer said, was another complicated song that “freaked people out because they did not know what to expect”. “It was just going on, almost like a trip rather than having the proper ‘mukhda’, ‘antara’. I believe some people said the song won’t work but once it was picturised, people liked the novelty of it, they really loved it. The way Ramu picturised it was very cool.”
Lyricist Mehboob said "Rangeela" marked his first collaboration with Rahman and the experience on the film turned out to be a life-changing moment for him. Mehboob and Rahman later worked together on a number of films such as “Thakshak”, “Doli Saja Ke Rakhna” and dubbed version of “Dil Hi Dil Mein”.
“I am thankful to Allah and AR for accepting me as a lyricist and Ramuji for giving me a break with this big film and believing in me. While writing the lyrics, I never thought it will become such a massive hit,” the lyricist said.
There have been many tributes to "Rangeela" by a lot of artists including Bollywood Brass Band over the past 25 years and Rahman said he is ''moved'' by the love and appreciation for the film’s music.
"I’m very moved because that means the music has spread a lot. It’s a kind of validation for the music. And it''s probably the payoff that we all need in our work. We''re blessed that we do something different and it gets recognized. So I always feel grateful."