Tunak Tunak Tun
1998: Magnasound (ndia) D6-P2611
It was the video that made me buy this, of course. You know the onefor the title songif youve ever had a YouTube-surfing friend who likes to forward you head-shaking gems such as the video for Tunak Tunak Tun or Kellys viciously addictive Shoes. To those of us outside the cultural milieu of Mehndis material in it, that video is alternately arresting and painfully hilarious.
The first time I saw it was in probably 2002, maybe 2003, and I could NOT stop watching it there was something so fascinating about the whole thing, and I wanted desperately to find what that might be rather than come away as most Americans would do, simply laughing about that kooky chunky guy in a turban. Eventually I sorted out three aspects which could be considered independently: the catchy music itself, the scenario for the video (apparently portraying a friendly rivalry between four elements of the physical world, although not necessarily the Western air-fire-water-earth set), and (belatedly) Mehndis singing. The latter was in fact an afterthought, to me, as the visuals and pace of the video rather overloaded my senses.
But when I hesitantly returned to the subject in early 2007 I discovered that Mehndi has a gorgeously rich tenor that is well worth checking out. I mean, I had scarcely noticed it while the video was playing, yet it is strong and fine, a voice to envy and beautifully expressive even with studio-imposed enhancements and despite the fact that I dont understand a word of what hes singing (the CD booklet *does* however include all the lyrics, which is a great help). It is however a voice delivering BIG overall and not in gentle balladry, though there are bits of the latter on this album.
The albums profusely produced, so theres more for the ear to consider than is either necessary or desirable (unless youre into Bollywood cinematographic expansiveness already). But its deliciously and richly melodic and nearly irresistable in its ample enticements to dance along with those supple rhythms.
Comments © 2007 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.