Halli sreehalli offers something different for Chinmayi; a sensuous and raucously jolly tune that she sings confidently, superbly supported by Rahul. The nadaswaram underscore and Chinmayi’s vocalizations complete the package aptly. Rambo has Vijay Yesudas handling a cool 80s pop tune that features some funky Charlie’s Angels theme allusions, with a smattering of Ilayaraja’ish phrases – Rahul layers the song with enough and more flamboyance, and this comes out even better in the violin version of the song. Thoominnal is the soundtrack’s most conventional song, but wonderfully pleasant, in Haricharan’s dependable singing. Mudhugauv is a short, captivating soundtrack from Rahul Raj.

Keywords: Mudhugauv, Rahul Raj

Listen to the songs:

Yaa yaa has a captivating bass that Mickey uses to great effect layering is well with the other folk elements, Abhay Jodhpurkar’s confident vocals and the excellent female chorus. Ramya Behara is absolutely fantastic—again, with really good female chorus—in the foot-tapping Rang de that dips into many Mickey-style elements. Mummy Returns is an oddity, at best. Karthik handles Anasuya kosam like the pro he is, particularly the rap-like ‘Meghalalo’ parts. He’s equally good in the pensive Yellipoke Shyamala that, oddly enough, has the charm of a MM Keeravani folk melody! A rather simple and modest soundtrack from Mickey J Meyer.

Keywords: A Aa, Mickey J Meyer

Listen to the songs:

Arijit lifts Amaal’s Salamat and Shashi-Shivam’s very tuneful lullaby Nindiya significantly, given how simple the tunes are. Sonu is dependably good in the ghazal-like melancholy of Jeet Ganguli’s Dard. Tanishk Bagchi’s Allah Hu Allah is a resonant qawali but their Rabba is heavily templatized background music. Of Shail-Pritesh’s five songs, Tung lak is heady Punjabi masala and Meherban is a perfectly harmonious, though too familiar qawali. Sarbjit theme and Mera junoon pass muster, but Shail handles Barsan laagi‘s semi-classical melody—possibly alluding to raaga Hamsanadam—admirably well. Despite the streak of sadness all through the soundtrack, there’s some good music in here!

Keywords: Sarbjit, Amaal Malik, Shail-Pritesh, Tanishk Bagchi, Jeet Ganguli, Shashi-Shivam

Listen to the songs:

Hindi

Maula and Maths mein – Nil Battey Sannata (Rohan & Vinayak)

Bhaang ragad ke and Bawli booch – Laal Rang (Vipin Patwa and Mathias Duplessy)

Bol do na zara and Itni si baat hai – Azhar (Amaal Malik and Pritam)

Tamil

Mayam kaana varayo and Anuvai – KaLam (Prakash Nikki)
Composer Prakash Nikki made a decent enough debut in Rowthiram and puts together an equally decent enough package here in KaLam. There’s a lot of Dharan Kumar’s musical style here and Sowmya Ramani Mahadevan holds together Mayam kaana varaayo’s sweeping melody together. Anuvai is even better – a spritely tune wonderfully sung by Abhay Jodhpurkar and Swetha Mohan and lovely lines by Kabilan Vairamuthu, in particular. The 2nd interlude by Prakash is a stunner!

Yethetho – Jackson Durai (Tamil – Siddharth Vipin)
Siddharth Vipin, who did a competent job in Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham, produces a merely functional score for Jackson Durai, with at least one high, in the form of Yethetho. The song’s spritely melody is endearing and getting Karthik and Chinmayi to croon it is a great decision. Siddharth adds a catchy hook – that ‘padapadakkara’ line that works like a banter between Karthik and Chinmayi and also has a nice ghatam layer to go with it.

Aval, Kondattam and Adho – Manithan (Santhosh Narayanan)

Yedhedho – Meendum Oru Kadhal Kathai (G V Prakash Kumar)

Kaalam un kaadhali, Naan un aruginil, Mei nigara, Aararo and Punnagaye – 24 (A R Rahman)

Kadhal kappal and Dhushta – Iraivi (Santhosh Narayanan)

Yedho maayam and Aasai kadhal – Wagah (D.Imman)

The whole soundtrack – Joker (Sean Roldan)

Othasada and Akka petha – Maruthu (D.Imman)

Telugu

Idemito – Nayaki (Raghu Kunche)
A rather impressive and clever appropriation of Rahman’s Vennila vennila from Iruvar. Well sung by Chinmayi as always.

Ko ko kodi – Eedo Rakam Aado Rakam (Sai Karthik)
Bawdy lyrics, but that unmistakable Telugu masala charm!

Kannada

Tanmaya vismaya, Paravasha – Coma (Ashic Arun)

Godemelu ninna hesara – 1/2 Mentlu (Bharath B J)

Vismithanadhe – Madha Maathu Manasi (Mano Murthy)

Raja di raja – Zoom (SS Thaman)

Nee nanagoskara, Naa ninage, Thangali and Payanadalli – Ishtakamya (Ajaneesh Loknath)

Malayalam

Mazhaye mazhaye and Nenchin novil – James and Alice (Gopi Sundar)

Marathi

The whole soundtrack – Sairat (Ajay-Atul)

International

Is She With You? – OST, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL)
One of the most lauded parts of the much derided film that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the brief presence of Wonder Woman, played by Israeli actress and ex-army combat trainer, Gal Gadot. What adds to her aura as an Amazon warrior is the pulse-pounding music that Hans Zimmer and synth/electronica musician Junkie XL (real name: Tom Holkenborg) provide for her character. ‘Is She With You’ (oddly titled after her male colleagues’—Batman and Superman—banter!) booms with a goosebumps-inducing wailing electric cello that is Tom’s signature by now, but also wrapped in Zimmer’s rumbling percussion.

Sunday May 1, 2016

Hitman – April 30, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Bol do na zara – Azhar (Hindi – Amaal Malik)
Bol do na zara is a Emraan Hashmi-branded song. One listen and you’d picture Emraan Hashmi in your mind, with him doing his best with the body part he is most associated with. Amaal Malik’s melody is reminiscent of Gangster’s Tu Hi Mera Shab hai is wonderfully endearing, in Armaan Malik’s affecting vocals. Rashmi Virag’s lyrics are predictably and conventionally soaked in love.

Chellamma – Joker (Tamil – Sean Roldan)
Joker is easily one of the recent soundtracks that pushes Tamil film music’s boundaries significantly. The pick of the soundtrack, by Sean Roldan, is Chellamma, a mighty unique Tamil-Hindi mix, with Perumal pitching in besides Sean’s own Hindi ‘thoofan mein phool ka’ Hindi verses. The tune is stunningly imaginative, moving from authentic native Tamil folk to a soft and soothing melody. Lalitha Sudha is the song’s highlight, with a deeply resonant voice and bringing life every single instance of ‘Chellamma’!

Nee nanagoskara – Ishtakamya (Kannada – Ajaneesh Loknath)
Ajaneesh Loknath is turning out to be a really promising composer in Kannada. Oddly enough, in Nee nanagoskara, his over-enthusiastic vocals is the only thing pulling it down a wee bit. The melody otherwise is impeccably good – very Raja’esque, with the choicest orchestration, Shreya Ghoshal’s vocals are splendid as always! That ‘dum dum dum’ part is a great touch, as is the ‘Nee ihakku parakku’ part that mirrors, interestingly enough, ‘Thonakka benakka vayasu theralni’ from Baahubali’s Manohari!

Mei nigara – 24 (Tamil – A R Rahman)
Mei nigara is that kind of song that music fans would love to rip apart during the first week of the soundtrack’s release as ‘gibberish’ and ‘Rahman has lost it, I tell you’ and then chant it endlessly proclaiming it to be an earworm a week later. The song has a Kaara Aattakkaara (OK Kanmani) flavor, and the intriguing R&B sound works as much for its inventive audacity as it does for Sid Sriram’s impeccable lead vocals and Sanah Moidutty and Jonita Gandhi’s backing vocals.

Aasai kaadhal aaruyire – Wagah (Tamil – D.Imman)
While the makers of Wagah may start featuring ‘Aaniya pudunga venaam’ (yet another Imman song that makes clever use of yet another popular phrase!), the soundtrack’s best happens to be Aasai kaadhal aaruyire. It feels like Alaipayuthey’s Evano Oruvan, but sounds more like Ilayaraja’s Eeramaana Rojave number, Vaa vaa anbe… a possible Shivaranjani, perhaps. Vandana Srinivasan is fantastic singing this sweepingly sad melody that somehow reminds one of Swarnalatha!

Sooravalida is a standard-issue hero intro song extolling the hero’s virtues; besides Jinesh’s energetic singing, Imman’s nifty touches in the anupallavi’s background work. Othasada rosa faithfully follows Oothacoloru’s template and the lively rhythm helps the tune sail through. Karuvakaatu karuvaaya is that quasi-Raja melody that Imman has by now aced – functionally good, thanks to Vandana. Akka petha jakkavandi is a lot of catchy fun – almost a Vaadi yen kappakezhenge 2.0; Anirudh handles it perfectly, with Niranjana. Maruthu theme is a noisy mish-mash. Competent soundtrack that errs on the wrong side of caution as far as Imman’s templates go.

Keywords: D.Imman, Maruthu

Listen to the songs:

Sunday April 24, 2016

Hitman – April 23, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Punnagaye – 24 (Tamil – A R Rahman)
Rahman produces a highly listenable and interestingly experimental soundtrack in 24. Punnagaye tops the list, with the interplay between Shashaa Tirupati’s Punnagaye part and Haricharan’s heady Adi aathi (which also ends the song on a high) become the highlight, along with the tune’s free-flowing vibrancy. There is a Kulirudhu Kulirudhu (Taj Mahal) influence in the way Punnagaye opens! Also, interestingly, a line in the song (by Vairamuthu) goes, ‘Hindolam isaikirathey’, indicating raaga Hindolam. The side note here is that while Kulirudhu may seem like Hindolam, it is more of Sindhubhairavi/Bhairavi! And Punnagaye, for large parts, doesn’t seem like Hindolam either!

Dhushta – Iraivi (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
Iraivi is a rare soundtrack from Santhosh, in recent times, that doesn’t seem like something worth a casual listen without the film’s context. In other words, it seems highly and truly situational. Dhushta is the most interesting of the lot, with a sound akin to a Bond title credits song, but with a devious twist, as if sung by really upset and angry women blaming Bond for all ills in the world. The song has a mesmerizing and almost-otherworldly sound accentuated by Meenakshi and Dhee’s intriguing edge in the vocals.

Maths mein dubba gul – Nil Battey Sannata (Hindi – Rohan Vinayak)
Rohan Utpat and Vinayak Salvi are making their debut in films with Nil Battey Sannata (which interestingly is being made in Tamil as well, produced by Dhanush, with music by Ilayaraja—it’d be interesting to see Ilayaraja’s imagination in terms of songs for the same situations!), but one of their tunes was very popular recently – the tune for the ‘Mauka mauka’ ad by Star Sports! Maths mein dubba gul is an incredibly lively ode to hatred for maths, with Nitesh Tiwari’s fantastic folksy lyrics. The music and sound is instantly infectious even for people who were otherwise perfectly decent in mathematics!

Aatach baya ka baavarla – Sairat (Marathi – Ajay-Atul)
Sairat has just four songs, and is one of those soundtracks where your heart aches that it is ‘only’ 4! In Aatach baya ka baavarla, after the opening chorus’ 2 lines, Ajay-Atul load a mighty ebullient short piece that connects wonderfully with Shreya’s joyous ‘Aatach baya ka… baavarla’ hook and flows into equally breezy horns! The duo play around with the interlude too – the first one layered with sitar while the second one is a vocal chorus, and ending the last hook with a different flavor! It is heady, addictive and incredibly uplifting!

Thaai Engal Thamizh Naadey – Single on DooPaaDoo.com (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
The brand new independent music portal DooPaaDoo.com has a host of interesting compositions from top composers including Santhosh Narayanan, amongst songs from newbies. Santhosh’s Thaai Engal Thamizh Naadey, sung by Sean Roldan is the pick of the lot from what is live on the website now, with its wonderfully rousing Coldplay’ish opening, the slow and steady build-up and the scintillating mid-way shift to heady Tamil folk percussion! It’s an excellent mix of western pop and Tamil folk, and is indicative of the possibilities when composers are free from script-driven compulsions to produce original music.
Listen to the song on doopaadoo.com

Sonu Nigam and Prakriti Kakkar are surprisingly restrained in Tu hi na jaane; the tune is also too familiar. Jeetne ke liye has KK trying to rouse emotions in a clearly templatized setting. But Amaal wins with Bol do na zara, a Gangster-Tu hi mera style, Emraan-brand melody handled brilliantly by Armaan Malik. Pritam’s lone composition, Itni si baat hai is competently delivered by Arijit, though the tune evokes severe ennui, but with spiffy orchestration. DJ Chetas mixes Tridev’s Oye oye and a smattering of Gali gali mein, to produce a dance-floor stomper. Bol do na zara wins in Azhar.

Keywords: Azhar, Amaal Malik, Pritam, DJ Chetas, Kalyanji-Anandji

Listen to the songs:

Ennanga Sir is a breezy mix of old-style mambo-salsa—with jaunty leaps and superb horns—and biting political commentary. Arandhai Bava and Perumal’s earthy vocals with edgy accents are perfect! Ola ola kudisayila is a beautiful companion piece to Raju Murugan’s debut, Cuckoo’s soundtrack (Santhosh Narayanan’s music) – gorgeous strings, incredibly bold mix of raagas and tune changes, and almost-Raja’ish interludes… all come together so well! On top of these, you have Murugavel and Karthika Vaidyanathan’s fabulous vocals! Sundarayyar rocks the whimsically playful Jasmine-u, with Sean’s music using generous cues from early-Rahman style and extending them in newer directions. Lalitha Sudha leads the unique Tamil-Hindi mix in Chellamma, with Perumal pitching in besides Sean’s own Hindi parts. The tune is stunningly imaginative, moving from authentic native Tamil folk to a soft and soothing melody. Halla bol‘s Tamil-Hindi mix is even more intriguing! A revolutionary call that seems to coax people rather than inspiring them, with its spritely melody handled amazingly by Kalyani Nair, supported by Sean. Mannar mannan theme is kummi paattu with a mind-boggling blues’y twist and Rani handles the folk nuances with confidence. Sean Roldan pushes Tamil film music’s boundaries yet again in the inventive and enjoyable music of Joker!

Keywords: Sean Roldan, Joker, Raju Murugan, Cuckoo, 200, #200

Listen to the songs:

Ajaneesh’s over-enthusiastic singing is the only thing pulling down Nee nanagoskara (pretty pronounced in the solo version by Shreya); everything else about the song – Raja’esque melody, choicest orchestration, Shreya’s vocals… are splendid! Naa ninage‘s Charukesi layer is fantastic, with soulful singing by Chintan, though Mukhtiyar Ali’s other version is awkward. Shreya rocks Thangali‘s saccharine-sweet melody, even as Ajaneesh’s rhythm works wonders. Vijay Prakash’s flamboyant delivery lifts Payanadalli, with excellent support from the the background strings. Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar sings the mercifully short, and rather Hamsalekha’ish Chinthe yavudu horribly. His shift from Mano Murthy to Ajaneesh Loknath has worked well, overall.

Keywords: Ajaneesh Loknath, Ishtakamya, Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar

Listen to the songs:

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