Parapara‘s upbeat sound, cool vocal effects and vocal interplay between Vijay Yesudas and Ranjith lift the song. Konjalaai is that typical Yuvan melody – a resonant, engrossing tune with funky orchestration incorporating dubstep. Kakkaponnu, in contrast, has more of the alluring sound, but is saddled with a less interesting tune. Innum enna is the song where Yuvan tests our love for Tamil diction and in-tune singing by getting both wrong, as is the norm. Champion is an attitude-laden hip-hop number with catchy rap by Psycho Unit. After a sorry Masss, Yuvan gets some of his mojo back in Yatchan’s soundtrack.

Keywords: Yatchan, Yuvan Shankar Raja

Malgudi Shuba’s vocals, Imman’s intriguing tune and udukkai sound makes the title song a breezy listen. Marudakkari is a fantastic listen – captivating guitar + folk sound mix, with a lovely tune to go with it, sung well by Diwakar. Jyoti Nooran’s Naan soodaana has better backgrounds—Pancham-style—than tune, while Imman’s inventive pause-filled rhythm and Raja-styled tune stands out in Yaar inda muyalkutty, besides Armaan Malik’s singing. Silukku marame is Charukesi Shanmukapriya-item number; can’t go wrong with that raga at all, no matter what the tune – this one’s stylishly foot-tapping, at that! Good tunes and better orchestration – Imman in form!

Keywords: Paayum Puli, D.Imman, Vishal

In Yaendi yaendi, Devi Sri Prasad hands Vijay and Shruti a lilting melody that has his stock tune written all over it; it works, for its charming simplicity. Jingiliya cleverly upgrades the age-old tribal song sound into a more pulsating, catchy variant. Sottavaala stretches the familiarity a bit too much, with a staid template and cringe-worthy lines like, ‘KaNNaale garbam seiyyadhe’! Mannavanae mannavanae and Manidha manidha‘s booming, ambitious sound couldn’t mask the ennui their tunes evoke, while the title song, despite minor respite in terms of Mano’s comeback, is painfully jaded. Largely tedious soundtrack, in true Devi Sri Prasad style.

Keywords: Puli, Devi Sri Prasad, Vijay

Saturday August 1, 2015

Hitman – August 1, 2015

Originally published in The Hindu.

Sapna jahan – Brothers (Hindi – Ajay-Atul)
Sonu Nigam sings so sparingly these days—partly because of the rights-based fracas he is in, perhaps!—that hearing him sing in itself is a good thing. And when he sinks his teeth into a beautifully immersive melody like Sapna jahan, together with Neeti Mohan, put together with so much love and nuance by Marathi composing duo Ajay and Atul, it is sheer delight! The composers do their job spectacularly well too, particularly in that second interlude!

Naanal poovaai – Kirumi (Tamil – K)
Composer K has been fairly consistent with his output even as the films they are part—like Kallappadam, Mahabalipuram and Kaadu—of have been failing with equal consistency. Kirumi’s soundtrack is almost a comeback of sorts for K as he delivers a brilliant collection akin to the sound of Santhosh Narayanan. Topping the soundtrack is Naanal poovaai that has a curiously ethereal sound (that becomes even more evident and interesting in the karaoke version!) and K uses the vocal interplay between himself and Janani to beautiful effect.

YOLO – All Is Well (Hindi – Himesh Reshammiya)
All Is Well is symptomatic of Hindi films’ current trend – use as many composers as possible to create a mish-mash of a soundtrack. This one has seven composers, including 3 from the trio names Meet Bros Anjjan and Anand Milind who has been credited only because Mithoon has recreated their evergreen number from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Himesh Reshammiya is the winner, though, with fairly catchy and engaging songs, including YOLO, sung by Sreerama Chandra. It’s a typical Punjabi-style hip-hop song that checks all the right boxes to deliver a easily likeable and sing-along’ish number!

Sobane soyanire – Carry On Maratha (Marathi – Shail-Pritesh)
Sobane soyanire is the Kannada-Marathi equivalent of Dil Se’s Malayalam-Hindi Jiya Jale. Owing to the leading man falling in love with a Kannada girl in the film, the debutant composing duo Shail Hada and Pritesh Mehta skillfully mix Marathi and Kannada in a rhythmic melody. Shreya Ghoshal is as usual pitch perfect with her rendition, while Shail Hada sings this one with her. Despite the largely traditional tune, the composers do add a dash modernity in it, in the form of the guitar that plays in the background.

Entharo mahanubhavulu – Anju Brahmasmi (Kappa TV – Music Mojo)
Kappa TV’s Music Mojo has been silently producing a stellar repertoire of interesting music for quite some time. Thaikkudam Bridge came to prominence from the show, incidentally. Anju Brahmasmi stylised rendition of Thyagaraja’s Sri Ragam based kriti gets a superb jazz coating courtesy Santhosh Chandran on guitar, Ben Sam Jones on bass, Vivek Santhosh on keyboards and Tao Issaro on drums. The mix is mesmerizing, almost reintroducing the iconic kriti to a new set of listeners with Vivek Santhosh and Santosh Chandran in blistering form with their extended play accompanying the core tune!

Shankar’s clarinet offers an interesting backdrop to Chal chal sakhi, expertly sung by Ankita Joshi, with the tabla and cajon adding a compelling layer. The 4-part Aa re chanda actually plays seamlessly. Sandeep Mishra’s sarangi underscores the Alaap, while Devendra Pal Singh’s vocals take over Exposition that blooms with a pleasant tune, accentuated by guitar, tabla and violins. Shankar features his enchanting clarinet in the 3rd part, Improvisation that sparkles with a different rhythm, while Devendra impeccably closes the harmonium-led Tillana.

Vijay Prakash’s dependable vocals prop the somber Dil hai namazi that perks up with Shankar clarinet, even as Vijay ends it on a superb high, supported by Gaurang Desai’s drums. Nikhita Gandhi is pitch-perfect with her vocals in Kashti, layered with Shankar’s clarinet and Varun Sunil’s percussion. HN Bhaskar’s violin rules over Dhuan dhuan‘s alaap, while Shankar lends his vocals—sounding like a mix of A R Rahman and Lucky Ali!—to the song’s next part, Lost in Smoke, with Bhaskar’s violins continuing its impressive run. Raashi Kulkarni’s piano opens Shakthisree’s Amaidhi thaedi, a pensive tune carrying Madhan Karky’s impressive verse set to a mesmerizing melange of music, right into the second part, Meditation, featuring Shankar’s soul-stirring clarinet solo!

Yaad, with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s lines offers an impressive tune to Nirali Kartik and Jomy George’s tabla to indulge in, while Shankar beautifully adapts a hyper-catchy traditional Malayalam folk tune in Aadiyillalo anthamillalo, sung with punchy verve by Job Kurian. Udaan is almost a filmy pathos tune, but it comes alive thanks to the orchestration led by Shankar’s clarinet and Vidya Iyer’s vocals. For someone like Shankar who was introduced to Indian musical idioms late, from an outsider’s perspective, Filament is a phenomenally rich and impressive musical expression. It is apparent that Shankar has imbibed Indian music with a lot of love.

Keywords: Shankar Tucker, Filament, Kartik Shah, Nirali Kartik, 300, #300

Buy: Filament on iTunes.

Nee aahaha is a lovely, lilting tune that has a particularly captivating orchestration including gorgeous violins! Mundele and Na gunde chappudu‘s brisk, catchy tunes are easily appealing, particularly Gowri Priya’s vocals in the latter. Dinker and Sravanthi sing Chachi povalanundi beautifully, but Kalyan’s feathery melody is the star here! Ee prema‘s minimal, ominous sound gets better towards the end, while Orey orey‘s backgrounds are better than the standard tune. Raanantavenduke is Kalyan being almost his brother Keeravani, while Atu itu is his best here, with an alluring sound, punctuated by inventively curious rythms! Dependably likeable and interesting music from Kalyan!

Keywords: Hora Hori, Kalyan Koduri

Javed Bashir’s powerful voice leads Jogiya and Talabgaar hoon; the latter makes a punchy impact with its harmonious Baloch-style qawali. Pusthu star Rahim Shah is at his best in the somber Gul bashri that sparkles with an expansive orchestration, while Meesha Shafi’s Eva, despite all the pulsating guitaring, falls flat as a tune. Tum ho is typical Strings – mellow and ballad’ish, but Ku ku ku, beyond the hook, is less interesting. Jeye jeye is pleasant, but filmy, while Noman Farooqi’s Peera ho doesn’t cut it either. The 5 themes are aptly background’ish. Strings’ much-awaited comeback is a tepid affair.

Keywords: Moor, Strings

The title song has a brisk sound, and despite its catchy guitar backdrop, it’s a fairly plain song. Armaan Malik evokes not-so-pleasant memories of early Udit Narayanan’s Tamil with ‘SoNa’ in Sona Sona, and the tune doesn’t help either. Lucka maattikkichi is that typical Imman song, with effervescent folk’ish rhythms, but the tune is as old as Bhagyaraj’s Eduda melam. Adada onnum solladha‘s Bollywood’ish—garba’ish—sound joins an underwhelming melody, that even Benny and Shakthisree couldn’t salvage. Naa romba busy is the lone track with some spunk in terms of Goundamani’s dialogs and a rhythmic tune! Music-wise, Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Fail Aanavanga.

Keywords: Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga, D.Imman

Vande mataram‘s recreation by Ajay-Atul is spell-binding! They take the good old, familiar verses and make an anthem out of it all over again! Vishwajeet Borwankar, Ajay Gogavle and Rahul Saxena take on the rousing part of the tune, while Savni Ravindra and Amruta Natu handle the softer ‘Sujalaam sufalaam’ and ‘Shubrajyotsna’ portions in a beautiful division of singing duties. Partuni yena seems to be sticking to the mesmerizing strains of Charukesi raaga, but with generous diversions at places. Shreya Ghoshal is an expert in handling such deeply engaging melodies and she joins Javed Ali to deliver a knock-out! The song reeks of Ilayaraja’s flourish at many places, particularly the antara! Ajay and Shreya join to sing what seems like Chakravakam (Ahir Bhairav) raaga in Konse desh chala. Given the raaga’s allure, it is instantly captivating, but what is even more interesting is the way the composers go off-raaga like Partuni yena, layered on a wonderful rhythm! The soundtrack’s crowning glory is the Shreya Ghoshal solo, Aadhir mann jhale! Invoking Ilayaraja’ish nuances again in both the core melody—Sindhu Bhairavi? Vakulabharanam?—and in the fantastic interludes, the song is a phenomenal experience to soak into! Ajay-Atul’s incredible sense of melody rocks this soundtrack!

Keywords: Ajay-Atul, Nilkanth Master, #200, 200

Sunday July 26, 2015

Hitman – July 26, 2015

Originally published in The Hindu.

Aayiram aayiram – Maya (Tamil – Ron Yohann)
Maya is a debut for Ron, if you discount his earlier attempt at composing in another name, for a failed movie that vanished without a trace. Aayiram aayiram is almost like the power version of a classic Bond theme tune. Chinmayi handles the singing marvellously, sounding uniquely different from all her songs so far. Composer Ron builds an eerie prelude into a pulsating guitar-piano laden rock tune that is complex and aptly mysterious, in sync with the film’s horror theme.

Charuseela – Srimanthudu (Telugu – Devi Sri Prasad)
There is a distinct Michael Jackson effect in Charuseela, crooned with the right nuances and attitude by Yazin Nizar. Devi Sri Prasad’s music is just more of what he usually – and always – does, with his limitations, but the man knows how to infuse his songs with foot-tapping energy. The tunes sometimes don’t play along, but in this song, it works perfectly, conjuring something that you’d instantly move your feet to. Interestingly, in the second interlude, Devi seems to be mixing Ilayaraja’ish violins and Michael Jackson!

Carbon copy – Drishyam (Hindi – Vishal Bhardwaj)
We have had directors with a great sense of music, but Vishal is a rare breed, composing his own music — like Satyajit Ray — while also directing with a certain class. One look at the song’s title and the composer, it is easy to deduce that the lyrics are by Gulzar. The song’s lyrics are everything you’d expect from Gulzar – quirky and wonderfully colloquial. Vishal gets Ash King to sing the delightful tune, loaded with a scintillating guitar backdrop. Meghna Gulzar is credited with the whistling in the song, incidentally.

Aazhi alai mele – Vizhithiru (Tamil – Satyan Mahalingam)
Debutant composer has an interesting proposition in Vizhithiru’s soundtrack, roping in as many as 7 other composers to sing songs for him, while also making each song almost fall in a similar pattern to each of those composers’ style! The soundtrack’s best, however, is Aazhi alai mele, sung beautifully by Vaikom Vijayalakshmi. It’s a haunting tune that goes perfectly with Vijayalakshmi’s range and is backed by mesmerizing orchestration from Satyan!

Kankankalil – Madhura Naranga (Malayalam – Sreejith-Saachin)
Debutant composing duo Sreejith-Saachin’s Kankankalil is an instantly pleasing melody, almost like a heady combination of A R Rahman’s Netru illaadha maatram (Puthiya Mugam) and Putham pudhu bhoomi (Thiruda Thiruda). The flute, ambient backgrounds and even Vijesh Gopal and Swetha Mohan’s vocals evoke a strong whiff of early-Rahman. The lyrics make for an interesting study too, with Swetha singing in Tamil and Vijesh in Malayalam, making the blend seamless and exquisite!

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