राख रे रूखी
कोयले से काली
... is how I describe Rekha Bhardwaj's voice - also the lyrics of her debut तेरे इश्क में. Dark, grey, velvet, powdery; haunting, content, melancholy, patient. Probably one of the only voices I've followed right from the beginning, Bhardwaj's voice is like listening to an inner voice. Her's is the voice of our generation. Like a rock icon. Like John Lennon. One would imagine a light-'n-shade larger-than-life photo of hers scanned onto a t-shirt worn by a mass of students who find intellect in sound. She's the Che Guevara of Bollywood music, one might say. Only, deeper.
A follower who has risen higher than her god, Rekha says in an interview, "Lataजी is my Saraswati." The ash-voiced singer is the humility of अब मुझे कोई. This is perhaps a rare song where I shall not do-to-death for the nth time, Gulzar's ponderous lyrics or even Vishal - Rekha's husband's minimalist tune. For a celebrity so picky, RB's worked with "interesting characters" in recent times, not to mention, delivering the goods quite accurately.
But back to AMK: there's a rawness about the song that's hard to ignore. Never besura it cuts at the edges. Like a trained singer humming in the kitchen while cutting veggies for slightly creative instant noodles. And the mood, oh! the mood. The song changes moods like a chameleon. Not on its whim, but on yours. Just split? Dating someone new after ages? Enjoying the March late evening breeze? Walking on the beach? Got a new job? It's like सब बन्दर के व्यापारी.
And yet, when I first heard the number, I was dumbfounded. It is so pure it takes a few sittings to soak in. I couldn't figure out the emotion immediately. It left me admiring yet wondering.
Tonight, sync Ab mujhe koi for peace. For love. For a good weep.