A.R. Rahman

The Best of A.R. Rahman

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The runaway success of the film Slumdog Millionaire and its concluding "Jai Ho" dance extravaganza is no doubt sending many viewers in search of just such a collection as this. The song's composer, A.R. Rahman, has become well known in both India and the West for his fearlessly eclectic scores, incorporating not only Indian classical forms (both northern and southern) but also Western classical music, Indian and Indo-British popular dance music, an enormous variety of Western pop, earlier Indian film traditions, the qawwali devotional style, and basically anything else Rahman can think of. It's tremendously enjoyable stuff, and if your specific aim is to find music in the vein of "Jai Ho," you will find it here. All the music has the kinetic, high-energy quality and the big beats of that song, and an intriguing example of Rahman's ability to fit disparate styles together is on hand in Gurus of Peace (track 10), featuring the late Sufi musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Recorded in 1997, that's the earliest track on the album. Thus, The Best of A.R. Rahman doesn't quite deliver the "essential career-spanning collection" promised on the packaging; for that, it should be combined with Times Square's Introducing A.R. Rahman, a collection of the composer's often wild early scores for Tamil-language films. Nor does this collection touch on Rahman's more expansive scores such as those for Deepa Mehta's epic trilogy; issued by Sony's historical-pop Legacy line, it's a pop Rahman collection. As such, it won't disappoint in the least.

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