Vanaprastham-The Last Dance is basically a reissue on the French label Amelie Aime Le Cinema of
an Indian art film score from 1999.The film, directed by Indian film maker
Shaji N. Karun, was highly received by critics at the Cannes Film Festival. The
story juxtaposes ‘kathakali’ dance form with an
examination of the conflicts between romance and family, with a bittersweet
depiction of a father-son relationship.
Be warned: this is not your atypical Bollywood or Hollywood inspired film score! Rather it is an actual classical Indian music played across
the soundtrack of an Indian art film with great deal of impromptu
improvisations. The album features music specifically composed by Indian legend
and classically trained musician Ustad (i.e. maestro) Zakir Hussain (who
has previously worked with producers James Ivory & Ismail Merchant as actor
in Heat and Dust and composer on Bertolucci's Little Buddha.
Zakir Hussain is primarily a tabla master- small percussive set of drums that
form the basis of rhythm in classical Indian music.
Having collaborated with western artists such as Van
Morrison and Jan Gabarek this time Hussain has brought along a troupe of
legendary Indian instrumental players as part of the classical ensemble which
includes the likes of Ustad Sultan Khan , Ganesh, R. Parthasarathy, B.V.
Balasai performing Veena (Sitar like instrument) Flute, Santoor (Indian
dulcimer) and Sarangi (a crying violin ) respectively.
The best track is the lovely yet melancholy
‘Smile’ which starts off with a female choral leading to a pot pouri of
the above mentioned instruments being led by Zakir Hussain’s tabla making this
an equally mesmerizing and hypnotic effect to behold.
The opening cue is called ‘Subhadra’ and
its 2nd part, basically the major thematic material for the film,
helps convey the anguish and desperation of the story. The rest of the material
includes vocals performing mantras and other Hindu forms of musical reverence,
part source and part booster of ambience.
CD comes in a nice digipak with booklet
entirely in French. The notes include a synopsis, info on Khatakali form
of dance, and description of the film and album with a proper track list.
Hardly a film score in the traditional sense, but if you are a fan of art
movies and enjoy the deeply sweet melodic and moody textures as a form of easy
listening, this one is for you.