News - AR Rahman's Commonwealth Games Theme Song | Celebrities Talking (Updated Sep 05)

Posted by TOI

AR Rahman's anthem for the Commonwealth Games hasn't gone down well with both fans and politicians. While the song's online popularity is nowhere near that of Shakira's " Waka Waka", which he famously claimed his tune would surpass, politicians and Games officials now want the 5 crore-track "recomposed".

"Swagatham" aka "Jiyo Utho Heyo" which critics say has neither the pace nor the punch of "Waka Waka", or the rousing quality of "Maa Tujhe Salaam", has disappointed. Ever since he posted links to the tracks on his social networking pages, Rahman has been flooded with unsavoury comments. The games committee's unhappy too. Vijaykumar Malhotra, board member of the organising committee (OC) claimed, "We expected a better song from Rahman." Former sports minister Shahnawaz Hussain said, "I respect Rahman for what he has achieved but the track simply does not excite me. No one in the OC likes it except perhaps Suresh Kalmadi." Hussain demanded a re-composition after Lalit Bhanot, organising secretary of the games, insisted that people would begin liking "Swagatham" if they keep listening to it. "Either it's good music or bad. There's no middle way to evaluate the appeal of a 5 crore track, he can surely re-compose it," he said. 

More Reactions (updating daily)
Palash Sen,
The problem is people are expecting way too much from Rahman. Let the guy be! I like the song musically; it is well arranged and he has sung it well, but its lyrics – especially the Hindi ones – are ridiculous. How can we go wrong with our mother tongue in a song that's going to represent our country? In this also, I guess Rahman was forced to include some things by the politicians. How can politicians interfere in the making of a song? Plus, as he has charged 5 crore; that is not going down well with people. One can compose about 50 songs in that much money!

Kailash Kher, Singer
It is a bit slow, and I wonder how much it will connect with the audience. It is shocking to hear that the government has spent 5 crore on it. How can they spend so much on just a theme song? Chalo, Rahman ek badaa naam hai aur logon ki expectations bhi badi hain. Every artiste has to go through such comparisons – 
Louis Banks, Composer
Rahman's work has always been controversial. But if you are truly inspired, it takes ten minutes to compose a tune. Given that it took him six months to compose it, something must have gone wrong somewhere! 

Musicians can't be great all the time. We can go wrong. But even the audience needs to hear not-so-great music at times. If they hear good always, they will not be able to tell the difference like they have now. It's good to hear criticism, as that is how a singer grows. I personally like it, but whenever the masses don't like it, they should come out and say so, we will improvise then. 

Swanand Kirkire, Lyricist
A song is a song; who says what doesn't matter all the time. Likewise, Rahman made a song, some will like it, some will not. So what? I write songs, at times it is liked and at times not. But every time I write it with all my heart. What's the musician's fault? 

Abhijeet , Singer
Why isn't anyone enquiring about 5 crore being spent on the song? I think just because it has Rahman, it has been hyped up. I'm sure people have not even heard the song, but are still commenting. Moreover, there are so many talented singers in our country, and with 5 crore, we could have got some of the best 10-15 artistes to do the theme song. When they can yell in the Parliament for the quality of the games, why don't people have a right to raise their voice if they don't like the song? 

Shankar Mahadevan, Composer
I haven't heard it yet as I have been travelling. I'd love to hear it, though. After all, it's Rahman's, and it ought to be great. But then, people will form their own opinion and will criticise or appreciate according to their wish.

Shreya Ghosal, Singer
I love the new CWG theme song!! Perfect blend of indian music, spirit of d games, and a very international arrangement! ARR rocks!! 

Shaan ,Singer
he feels that Rahman as a composer has his own beliefs about his compositions. Shaan says, “Rahman generally takes a brief and takes it ahead from there. What I would like to say is that the CWG officials should work on their own shortcomings and pull their act together.” He adds, “We are so scared of getting humiliated in front of the whole world with the CWG. Don’t waste time finding faults in Rahman.”

Kavita Krishnamurthy ,Singer
has been busy traveling and admits she hasn’t had the time to hear Rahman’s composition. However, she points out, “For any composer, for example if my husband has been commissioned to compose a song...from the beginning to the end, the organizers are always involved. While the entire song is taking shape, they (organizers) are involved. If there are certain changes to be made, the composer should have been alerted from step one.” She adds emphatically, “It is bad for the reputation of any musician. It is very hurting.”

Anu Malik, Composer
has not heard Swagatham either. He, however, explains, “I have not heard the song but the broader thing is…Rahman is a gifted composer. It all depends on what brief had been given to him. For the kind of money that has been paid (reportedly 5 crore), it is a huge amount. I am sure if Rahman has composed the theme track, it must be very good. But if something takes about four, five or six months, was the brief given in the first place OK? The net reaction to the track has not been that good. At the end of the day, Indians are very emotional towards their music.” 

Bappi Lahiri ,Composer
admits he has not heard the song. He says, “I have not heard the song yet and therefore would not like to comment on the matter.”

Sukhwinder Singh, Singer
Quite upset with the flak coming Rahman's way," but he candidly adds: "Sometime back, I read Rahman's interview where he said that 'the CWG theme song would be better than Shakira's Waka Waka!' I had wondered then if this is really the Rahman that I've known, who was very humble and would never praise his own creations so blatantly. At that time I felt that Rahman's become overconfident because a genius never speaks, only his work does the talking!"

Whenever Rahman won a major award, there was a teamwork that supported his endeavour. There was poetic excellence and singers' contribution, which added life to his music. Usse Gulzar saab ki yaad kyun nahin aayi? After all, Jai Ho was his poetic contribution!"

Rahman sings well, but he can't render all kinds of songs. His voice has certain limitations, so he should have got someone else to sing the song!" Ask him if the composer has become a victim of people's overexpectations, and he says: "People's appreciation is the biggest award and it's instant! So, it's not about overexpectations! Rahman's avoiding a small wound now, which can later became a major catastrophe!"

Reports mention that Sukhwinder has also lent his voice for the CWG song. To this, the singer says: "I don't even know when or where it was recorded. But, honestly speaking, it's a sad moment for me! Earlier, I would have been proud to even sing a line with Rahman, but today, I'm giving statements that I have nothing to do with it! And I'm sure Rahman would be upset too because it's a professional setback for him. I really want to sit with him and have a lengthy chat, seedhe dil se!"

Resul Pookuty, Sound Designer
Heard the CWG theme again and again,can't understand what's the big fuzz about it.The sound of AR's track is a wake up call to the Youth of India.Addressing the youth is a problem?!Or U want us to always live in the past,wake up and face the world.Please don't expect mountains from us,we are all like one among you.Don'...t break us with too much expectations.Don't expect Sachin to score century in every match he plays!

Ashok Pandit, Filmmaker
“Rahman’s songs are known to grow on you, so it’s too early to dismiss it off. Our politicians, I think, are trying to divert our attention to the CWG theme song from the real problem existing there —the stadium and corruption.”

Salim Merchant, music director
“Are you expecting someone of Rahman’s stature to churn out a copy of Shakira songs? Besides, there’s so much pressure on him to deliver the best, at the end of the day he is human too.”

Harsha Bhogle, sports commentator
“I’m a huge fan of Rahman, and have loved all his numbers. The theme song on the other hand is a different story. I’ve heard just a few lines, and I don’t feel curious to hear it completely!”

Prahlad Kakkar, ad man
“If we imagine Shakira’s body dancing to Rahman’s song, it will surely work for all. Honestly, we are so frivolous to compare Shakira to Rahman, when the state of the stadium and the whole Commonwealth Games itself is in jeopardy.”

Juhi Babbar, actress
“I was eager to listen to Rahman's composition. I like it, especially towards the end! I think the lyrics are really motivating and the music and the beats really excite and charge! Sad that an eminent artist like Rahman's contribution is not being appreciated like it should be!”

Amruta Patki, model-actress
“There’s no comparison between the work of Shakira and Rahman. The lyrics are inspirational and the music is really good. Though the song starts on a low note, on the whole it is good.”

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