The movie is about the Rudaalis, literally translated as “female weepers”, who were invited to the households to weep in public where the homeowners could not weep because of social pressure/standing in times of mourning. This movie was released two years after Lekin (1991) and is also set in Rajasthan … with Dimple Kapadia’s performance, Gulzar’s soulful lyrics and excellent music being the other three common factors. The film has music by Bhupen Hazarika – one of his few forays into providing soundtracks for Bollywood (some others being Aarop (1973), Daman (2001), Darmiyaan (1997), Mil Gayee Manzil Mujhe (1998), Gaja Gamini (2000) , Kyon (2003)). The soundtrack has eight songs in all (Vocals), with almost an equal number of instrumentals – however two of the songs appear in multiple versions. The good thing is that even though the movie was a “sad” one (after all it’s about professional weepers), the music is not lifeless nor morose.
The album starts with “Dil Hoom Hoom Kare” – based on Raag Bhupali, this is melody at it’s very best! The song comes in two versions .. one sung by Lata-ji and the other by Bhupen Hazarika himself. Even though this sounds like a predominantly “male” orientated tune (listen to Hazarika's rendition of "Hoom Hoom"), Lata does full justice to it too. The song itself has a wide range as it goes from the lower notes to the higher ones and both Bhupen and Lata scale them easily. Note the excellent use of the sarangi throughout the song. It's hard to compare the two versions and I don’t wish to either … each is a masterpiece in its own right, although I have to admit that Bhupen does have a heavy Assamese accent as compared to Lata’s ‘saaf-swachh-nirmal’ version.
The next song is “Samay O Dheere Chalo” – this too appears in no less than three versions – one each by Bhupen, Lata and Asha. Again, each version stands on its own feet – that’s the beauty of this album! Interestingly, there is hardly any percussion in the mukhda and then the dholak joins in at the antara. Any lesser singer would not have been able to do justice to all the “harkats” that are performed in the song. Listen to how they utter “Door Hai-ai-ai-ai-ai Pee Ka Gaon” or “Char Dinon Mein Koi Jiya Na Jiya-aa-aa-aa”. The music is EXACTLY the same in all 3 versions – wonder if they played it all over again or just had the three singers sing to a karaoke?
NUGGET: Are there any other songs in Bollywood that had three versions of a song sung by three different artists? I can only think of three – 1-"Tu Is Tarah Se Meri" (Aap To Aise Na The) by Rafi, Manhar and Hemlata, 2- "Jab-Jab Bahar Ayee" (Taqdeer) by Rafi, Lata and Usha-Kids and the more recent "Le Chale" (My Brother Nikhil) by Shaan, K.K. and Sunidhi Chauhan… (Readers please do send us a note if you know of any others?)
“Jhooti Moothi Mitwa Aawan Bole” – considering that the movie was set in desert surroundings, there sure was a lot of rain in the picturization of this song! That aside, the song, based on Raag Vrindavani Sarang, is another gem of the album. The dialect is quite chaste in this song and you have to listen closely to the lyrics … e.g. “Aarasi (i.e. Mirror) Uthaoon Dekhoon Tujhe”…As always, Lata shows her command on such numbers. Pay attention to the way she drops a note right in the middle of “Man Chanchal Mose … Chhalna Kare”. This is probably the liveliest song in the album even though it depicts the pangings of waiting for her beloved.
“Beete Na Beete Na Raina” – perhaps the only truly “sad” number here, slow paced and quite well sung by Asha. The lyrics have the definite Gulzar stamp to them “Raaton Ke Pannon Pe Na Koi Taara, Na Koi Sangi, Na Saathi”. But it’s surprising to see why Asha was chosen over Lata to render this song? No offence Asha-ji but I’m just curious!
The last vocal number on the album is “Maula O Maula” . I can’t quite recall where it appeared in the movie – perhaps in the background somewhere? That’s what it sounds like. Rendered by Bhupen himself, it is a fast-paced number with most of the lyrics just trying to end with something rhyming with Maula (Bhola Jhola etc.). The "Haiyya-Na Haiyya-Na" gives it a very Assamese flavor … why was this chosen for a Rajasthan movie? Is it my imagination or did Bhupen actually go a little besura when he said “Kal Se Bukhar Hai, Sar Pe Sawaar Hai”?
NUGGET: Bhupen must really like this tune because this is the third version I am hearing of this song. Earlier I had heard the original Assamese number "Dola Ho Dola", then again "Dulhaniya Ka Dola Dola" sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy in The Complete Bhupen Hazarika Collection. He seems to recycle his tunes quite often though …even “Kaun Mila Mujhe Haye Re” (Asha – Mil Gayee Manzil Mujhe) re-appeared as “Dheere Se Kuchh Bolo Na” sung by Alka Yagnik in Kyon (2003) and yet again as "Gungun Gungun Bhanwre" sung by Shaan-Suneeta Rao from The Complete Bhupen Hazarika Collection.
Nevertheless, Rudaali is one of the most popular works that Bhupen Hazarika brought to Bollywood and we thank for him for giving us such an excellent collection of songs. Hindi movies no longer get a full classical album because such movies are rarely being made now… this one, along with Lekin (1991) can definitely be regarded as one of the complete semi-classical albums of Hindi cinema!