Film music

‘Beyond The Clouds’ music review: The AR Rahman-Majid Majidi combo fails to lift the spirits

A blip in AR Rahman’s wide-ranging discography.

Not a single tune from AR Rahman’s score for Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds is likely to stay with the listener beyond five minutes, forget a day. Neither would you feel inclined to give the score a second try despite the belief among fans that you don’t get a Rahman album the first time. This isn’t because Rahman’s work in Beyond The Clouds is bad, but because nothing in the score sticks. With Rahman helming a project, there is always good musicianship at work, with top-drawer musicians and production values. But there is hardly anything memorable either.

The score for the April 20 release is Western classical music, for the most part. The few snatches of local music that exist to capture the film’s Mumbai milieu are half-spirited simulations of Indian film music.

The first two tracks, Ala Re Ala and Ey Chhote Motor Chala, exist to essentially root the film in India. Ala Re Ala consists of a steady 4/4 beat, packed with a volley of Indian street percussion over which singer Dilshad Shabbir Shaikh sings the title over and over again and rapper MC Heam drops a couple of lines.

Ey Chhote Motor Chala, a different mix of which is heard in the film’s first trailer, has MC Heam rapping about riding a motorcycle in fourth gear. It is like something that would play in the head of local thug Salim from Slumdog Millionaire (2008) every time he stepped out of his house with a raised collar and a toothpick in his mouth.

Beyond The Clouds.

The movie’s theme is undoubtedly a beautiful composition. Beyond the Clouds begins with Nikhita Gandhi humming the theme for a little more than a minute before the song segues into a sombre piano-and-strings piece suggesting tragic developments. The track moves on to the happier theme tune soon and ends with a crescendo.

The rest of the album is replete with orchestral pieces, save for the last track, and features the thematic tune as a leitmotif. You hear it again immediately in the next track, Son of Mumbai, for example.

The Game of Life begins with a frenetic tabla solo before an equally fired-up sitar jumps in. It is mildly reminiscent of Rahman’s Mausam and Escape from the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire, but like all the other tunes, it does not build up into a proper song. Most of the tracks – the average length of them being close to two minutes – appear to exist as cues for the narrative.

Beyond The Clouds.

Majidi is hardly the first filmmaker outside India to use Rahman for instrumental music. Rahman delivered an eclectic multi-dimensional score for Slumdog Millionaire for Danny Boyle and followed it up with the more sublime score for Boyle’s 127 Hours (2010).

Majidi’s cinema, in contrast, has never been recalled for its music. If anything, Rahman could only spice it up, coming from a tradition of genre-bending and genre-blending Indian commercial film music. But the score for Beyond The Clouds is as conventional as it gets. The last track, titled Holi, is 90 seconds of dhol, tasha and shehnai, tying up the journey that began with the similar-sounding Ala Re Ala.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.