Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack, A.R. Rahman

Posted by AJ Harbison at 1:10 am

Last week my lovely fiancée and I decided to take a break from wedding planning and go out on an old-fashioned date to dinner and a movie. The movie we saw was Slumdog Millionaire, a film about an 18 year-old orphan named Jamal from the slums of Mumbai who becomes a contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and is poised to win the grand prize of 20 million rupees. But when the show breaks for the night, he is arrested and interrogated by a police inspector who doesn’t believe a “slumdog” could know so much. Jamal tells the inspector his life story, each new stage in his tale revealing how he knew the answer to one of the questions.

Eleanor and I both enjoyed the film very much. It was a very well-made movie, with terrific cinematography, good writing and good acting–a fun ride. I remarked to her that the story was filled with contrasts pitted against each other: the rich gang lords contrasted with the orphans in the slums; the superficiality and shallowness of the game show contrasted with the gritty, authentic picture of life on the streets; the old slums and trash heaps in Mumbai contrasted with seemingly endless new construction. And this contrast of old and new came out in the music quite a bit, too. The score was written by A.R. Rahman, a composer who apparently has done a lot of Indian movies. I noticed that a lot of the music utilized modern electronics and beats, but featured traditional Indian instruments.

You can hear some samples on the Amazon product page for the soundtrack. “O… Saya,” a collaboration between the composer and artist M.I.A., features a computer-altered voice singing a traditional-sounding melody above fast percussion. An uncredited editorial review on the Amazon page declares the song “a rumbling hybrid of Bollywood and hip-hop.” The soundtrack also juxtaposes more ethnic music like “Ringa Ringa” (track number six) with “Latika’s Theme” (track number eight), an atmospheric treatment of a theme that could fit in a variety of movies and becomes a pop song in “Dreams On Fire,” the penultimate track. And the third track, “Mausam & Escape,” sounds perhaps like the Indian version of “Through The Fire And Flames.”

The Amazon page also quotes Kurt Loder of MTV.com as saying this: “The propulsive score, by Bollywood soundtrack auteur A. R. Rahman, is hip-hop fusion of a very up-to-date kind.” I agree. Artistically, I appreciated how the fusion in the music reflected the fusion in the movie; and as a listener I enjoyed the music for adding another dimension to a very cool film.



  1. Gravatar

    Erin on 01.06.2009

    Congratulations! You just made me want to see the movie AND buy the soundtrack, all in one post. Thanks. I’m super stoked.

    Now I just have to work on scrounging up enough money to go see it…

  2. Gravatar

    rumcreeters on 01.08.2009

    That sounds like a good movie, I’ll have to check it out.
    I’ve only heard one song from M.I.A., her hit “Paper Planes”, but I like it a lot.

  3. Gravatar

    AJ Harbison on 01.08.2009

    Two Rum Creeters comments! Thank you!

    M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” is actually used in the movie–twice! Two different remix versions. Just another reason for you to see it!

    AJ Harbison

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