February 5, 2009

Test Spin: The Slumdog Millionaire Original Soundtrack

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There is little doubt why Slumdog Millionaire has generated all sorts of positive publicity lately. However deserving the film’s acting, directorial,and cinematographic praise has been, though, its accompanying soundtrack warrants a similar sterling sentiment. The album strikes the thorny balance between poignancy and verboseness, impressively exuding the film’s effervescent qualities while staying true to its very serious undercurrents. Produced entirely by A.R. Rahman, who singer/songwriter M.I.A calls “the Indian Timbaland,” the album effortlessly blends the urban sounds of modern India with the traditional instrumentation of old.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on the M.I.A. opener “O … Saya,” which pulses with a fusion of infectious tribal drums, a haunting Hindi melody and M.I.A’s typically innovative flow. “Mausam & Escape,” an entirely instrumental track, pulses with a menacing force, creating a sonic wall of Indian guitar riffs, foreboding synths and building orchestration. “Latika’s Theme” (reprised later with lyrics as “Dreams on Fire”) features a graceful, gentile melody that elegantly embodies the romance between the film’s leading couple. Appropriately, the Grammy-nominated closer “Jai Ho” ends the record with the same celebratory spirit with which it begins.