Rangeela was a bold statement. A.R. Rahman was already a sensation in Bollywood with his dubbed Tamil imports, especially Roja and Bombay. Rangeela being his first original soundtrack in Hindi, he made sure his arrival was well noticed in an already established and oft stereotyped industry. Rangeela, along with other musical hits of mid-'90s, signified the changing times in Indian popular media, a departure from established idioms and styles. It ended the era of heavy orchestration in music and rhythmic structures based on classical sensibilities and, most importantly, introduced a powerful, trademark spatial musical atmosphere unheard of before. His profound use of electronic beats mixed with choral elements registered an influential techno-styled dance instrumental "Spirit of Rangeela." His notion of melody relentlessly moves away from Indian art music yet looks back at it for inspiration, a tendency of a fusion artist rather than a traditionalist. "Hai Rama," sung by Hariharan and Swarnlata, is the best example of this -- a conventional Indian vocal melody is placed above stylish electro beats. Yet Rahman's sense of electronic music is not one of chilled out lounge or repetitive cluttered musical layers. His songs have an easily identifiable spatial element and still there's much happening in the background for listeners to sit up and take notice of. "Mangta Hai Kya" and "Kya Kare Kya Na Kare" use these spatial electronic elements to infuse danceability and powerful ambience to relatively calm vocals. Rangeela served as a comeback for the iconic female playback singer Asha Bhosle. At the age of 62, Asha sings the title song "&Rangeela Re" and the most successful track of the album, "Tanha Tanha," using her sensual voice as the twenty-something protagonist. Rangeela was a bit of an outlier in the career of Rahman. Though it had his signature written all over it, nothing he did before or after was as out of the ordinary and eccentric in spirit. For uncommitted listeners, Rangeela doesn't match up to other Rahman hits like Bombay and Dil Se. For mavericks, Rangeela stands at the top of the list.
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AllMusic Review by Bhasker Gupta