Ikka, Arko and Intense’s (yes!) Honey Singh’ish Paani wala dance achieves its purpose of helping you visualize a wet Sunny Leone. Arko’s recreation of Pancham’s Saagar song in Aao no is fantastic – well spruced up, while retaining the flavor. Amjad Nadeem’s Daaru peeke is straight out of a Tamil/Telugu raucous kuthu. Their other two – Ishq da maara and Na jaane – are Pakistani-pop knock-offs. The title song, by Dharam Sandeep, is utterly predictable background material, while Ali Quli Mirza’s Yeh ishq sounds like a Mohit Suri song’s hip-hop makeover. This soundtrack is as useful as Sunny’s acting skills.

Keywords: Kuch Kuch Locha Hai, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Ikka, Intense, Dharam Sandeep, Amjad Nadeem, Ali Quli Mirza

Babber Sher, sung by Devi Sri Prasad, sounds like something he’d have composed in any Telugu film and roped in Baba Sehgal for singing it – standard issue hero-worship song. Thithili is no different – very Telugu-style catchy song that’s easily forgotten. Vijay Prakash handles the drunk-reggae Seereli hudugeena and pop-kuthu What to do like only he can; Harikrishna’s tunes are easy on the ears. Hari also handles the Purandaradasa kriti Jagadodharana with care, letting Vani and Karthik do justice to it in its original form. Harikrishna, like Arjun Janya, seems to be moving towards the Telugu masala sound too!

Keywords: Ranna, V.Harikrishna

Sunday April 26, 2015

Hitman – April 18, 2015

An edited version of this list was originally published in The Hindu.

Nacchite ye panaina
Dohchay (Telugu)
Music: Sunny M.R.

Sunny M.R. happens to be Hindi composer Pritam’s ex-sound engineer and has been producing some really good music in… err, not in Hindi, but in Telugu (he is 3 films old in AP)! His 4th, Dohchay, is his biggest, in terms of hero-value (Naga Chaitanya!). Nacchite ye panaina is truly representative of the sound Sunny has ushered in Telugu music – a curiously interesting disco-techno mix and breathlessly sung by the reigning prince of Bollywood playback, Arijit Singh. It’s that kind of a song that would have you wondering, ‘Hey, this sounds new!’.

36 Vayadhinile (Tamil)
Music: Santhosh Narayanan

Santhosh is arguably the most exciting composer in Tamil film industry right now. For the Tamil remake of the Malayalam hit, How Old Are You, Santhosh ropes in fellow-singer and composer Pradeep Kumar’s mother, Lalitha Vijaykumar to sing Rasathi, with a mighty endearing guitar-tabla background that he conjures. She does a phenomenal job, even admonishing the trumpet player with a gently amused callout!

Coke Studio@MTV Season 4
Music: Sachin-Jigar

After a middling single song and its music video by Amit Trivedi, Sachin-Jigar whip up things at Coke Studio’s 4th season with a wonderful 3-song set. The song to hear is Bannado, spearheaded by Tochi Raina’s excellent vocals and beautifully supported by a host of folks, including Bhungarkhan Manganiar & Group, Kalyan Baruah on the guitar and the backing vocals comprising of Ronkini and Priya Saraiya (who incidentally has written the song too, in Hindi and Marwari!). In fact, you’d be humming their ‘Beera beera’ interlude long after the song is over!

Ammanae Ammanae
Ayirathil Iruvar (Tamil)
Music: Bharadwaj

Director Saran and composer Bharadwaj are back. And their combo, as always, produces something unique. The most interesting song is Ammanae that fuses typical Amman (not Jordan’s capital; just our friendly neighborhood Kulasai Mutharamman!) song lyrics over 80s synth pop! Yes, it is incredibly funky and sung with the right fervour, by Haritha, Nivas, Priyaavishwa and Vijaylakshmi. The dramatic contrast between the lyrics and the sound is a mindbending experiment by Bharadwaj!

Raja Rani
Raate (Kannada)
Music: V.Harikrishna

Tamil composer Deva was once called Poor Man’s Ilayaraja and many other composers across the 4 Southern states have tried to emulate the quintessential Ilayaraja sound for years. With the younger, newer composers, Thaman did a phenomenal job in Ayyanar’s Paniye where he blends his own musical sensibilities on top of a sound that screams ‘Raja’! Kannada composer Harikrishna too does something similar in Raja Rani – the tune and sound (the rhythm, in particular) could easily be mistaken for any late 80s Ilayaraja song provided you are a 70s born person who likes soaking in Raja nostalgia!

After 3 minutes of lively ‘circus music’ in Aam Hindustani, Shefali Alvares arrives in smouldering style, mouthing Amitabh Bhattacharya’s amusing Mumbaiya filmy verses, with the brass band offering solid backdrop. Shefali does a redux in Shut Up too, an essentially Amit Trivdedi’esque tune, but with a really smooth jazz makeover. Shefali’s 3rd song, Mohabbat buri bimari is her best though, her casual drawl and vocal shenanigans going one step above Neeti Mohan’s comparitively good-girl variant of the same song (Version 2), a flamboyant, expansive tune that truly picks up steam mid-way when the piano, that accompanied the ‘Mohabbat buri’ line, paves way for the brass band to offer similar, more engaging accompaniment. In comparison, Shalmali and Mikey’s version 1 seems overdone and too stylistic.

Mikey’s other, outside-the-soundtrack remix of C.I.D’s Jaata kahaan hai is a remnant of his Bartender series, with Suman Sridhar in super form, as usual. Papon is in his elements in Darbaan, a contemplative tune that gains as much from Amitabh’s lines, as it does from the fantastic interludes and melancholic backgrounds.

And then, Neeti Mohan comes back with a vengeance. In Ka kha ga, she literally has a conversation with the jazzy backdrop, while she does even better in Dhadaam dhadaam, a sweeping, crushing melody where she cries out like a diva. Naak pe gussa sees her working impressively with the OP Nayyar’ish tune, while the brisk, circus (again!) sound offers her perfect cover in Sylvia, a playful tune that uses pauses beautifully. Behroopia, the only ‘modern’ song of the soundtrack is a mesmerizing tune in true Amit style, fabulously sung by Mohit Chauhan and Neeti. The 3 instrumental pieces are really immersive, particularly the theme. Bombay Velvet eschews Bollywood-style for a more international jazz flavor and comes out as Amit Trivedi’s phenomenal labor of love!

Keywords: Bombay Velvet, Amit Trivedi, Mikey McCleary, #300, 300

No problem‘s harmonica sounds scream ‘Harris Jayaraj’, but the highlight is Dhanush’s cool vocals that no doubt include the phrase ‘Kolaveri di’. The title song is as bombastic as a Telugu hero intro song – devotional-kuthu. Thukathu gada bada too would be hot property in Tollywood – the Sharan, Sunitha sung song is rhythmic and foot-tapping! Karthik completely owns Kandamma muddamma, a sonorous and likeable pop-lullaby. Arjun closes the soundtrack with Usire, an extremely pleasant melody beautifully sung by Santhosh. The theme is a pulsating mix. Arjun’s approach for Vajrakaya is very Tollywood’ish and he pulls it off in style!

Keywords: Vajrakaya, Arjun Janya

Paesi paesi is typically Thaman – a slow-burning melody set amidst minimal, ambient backgrounds and very well sung by Haricharan, with even the vocal chorus doing a great job. Andharu andharu has Velmurugan at his highest pitch, but the kuthu song is way too predictable. The title song is considerably better, with a pulsating sound and an attitude-laden tune. It’s variant is presented as Vaa Deal Theme song and with minor modifications, it works too. The Sound of Deal is a good, racy thavil-kuthu-nadaswaram mix, complete with a spoofy use of a Karagaattakkaaran dialog! Functional soundtrack with one melodic highlight!

Keywords: Thaman S, Vaa Deal

Bezubaan is an easily likeable, evocative tune that goes a wee bit more than the standard-issue Hindi song where the leads are mooning over the good times. Journey Song is charming too, with Shreya singing in Bengali mid-way and the tune remaining engaging all through. Anupam sings Manoj Yadav’s poignant verses in Lamhe guzar gaye convincingly, keeping the soft-rock tune consistently pleasant, much like the Richard Marx’ish Teri meri baatein, another sing-along’ish pop-rock song with markedly interesting tabla base. Sunidhi is in her elements in the title song, with a nice accompanying vocal chorus. Anupam makes a commendable Hindi debut!

Keywords: Piku, Anupam Roy

Arijit sounds oddly labored in Chirantan Bhatt-composed Teri meri kahani, with a predictable Pakistani-pop sound. Chirantan’s other song, Coffee peetey peetey does sound like something composed over the music playing in the coffee store, while drinking coffee! Yo Yo Honey Singh’s Aao raja is his usual stuff that he composes, seemingly under the influence of stuff, with a hypnotic sound that escalates at select points. Manj Musik’s Warna Gabbar aa jayega is more of Honey Singh-style hiphop – Gabbar dialogs fused with a few repetitive notes. Gabbar may not appreciate what’s being passed off as a soundtrack behind his back.

Keywords: Chirantan Bhatt, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Manj Musik, Gabbar Is Back

Mani does what he knows best in One And Only Lion – true-blue Telugu masala track that’s meant for a hero and two ladies prancing around him. Pilla, even more so – the kind of song and dance you’d indulge in, after biting into smoking hot gongura. Aisa ambani pilla‘s playful tone is a good listen; that consistent thavil backdrop is funky! Akasam is the ambient melody Mani excels in – odd Punjabi lyrics, catchy chorus and a pleasant tune to boot! Anaganaga closes the soundtrack on a resonant, pop-bhajan’ish note! Mani Sharma back in form after a long time!

Keywords: Mani Sharma, Lion, Balakrishna

It all started with Suhasini Maniratnam’s ‘ask’ to the media present in O Kadhal Kanmani’s music success event. She urged the media, ‘Let Qualified people Alone Review OK Kanmani’. The video:

I found this rather naive. And said so, on a Deccan Chronicle piece too.

Naive because the communication spectrum has changed forever with social media. It’s not just for movies – everything you decide to buy, you do a Google first and stumble on 2 kinds of opinions – one, controlled by the brand itself and second, by people. This second one was a closed loop earlier, didn’t have the power to travel beyond immediate word of mouth. With social media, this travels faster and completely topples controlled opinions from a few.

This is for everyone who makes a hotel decision based on tripadvisor, an eating out decision based on Zomato and a movie watching decision based on IMDb, their friends’ comments on Twitter and Facebook and everyone who buys a book based on user reviews from Amazon or Goodreads. Yes, this is about people having the right to say, what they want, when they want (a few hours of a music’s release?) and how they want it.

The line between an opinion and review does not exist anymore either. Every review too is an opinion; it just happened to be in a medium that came readily with a large reach. Now reach isn’t that big an issue and anybody with internet connection can air an opinion on anything – earlier it was reach that accorded some respectability to opinions to crossover to become ‘reviews’.

Now that reach is within anyone’s reach (pun intended), does that make them only opinions and not reviews? Of course not – check Amazon, for book reviews from people like you and me. Check Tripadvisor for reviews on places, hotels from people like you and me. Check Zomato for reviews of restaurants from people like you and me. These are reviews too! Just like film reviews in IMDb, in mainstream publications like The Hindu and 140 character reviews on Twitter.

In context, someone sent me a link to Tamil Talkies’ movie reviews and asked me if these kind of ‘stupid reviewers’ (emphasis not mine) needed and isn’t that what Suhasini is trying to fight?

The point again – my or your person opinion about Tamil Talkies’ reviews is immaterial to this debate. The basic premise is Tamil Talkies is a consumer and they have every right to talk about any movie they see, in whatever way they deem fit. You, as a viewer, have the right to see it, reject it, tell them they suck, or whatever. That’s the way it should work.

Film makers cannot ‘wish’ that such reviewers don’t review just because they don’t like it or they believe it affects a film’s collections. This is how internet works, and this is how social media works.

Next, Bangalore Mirror poses the question about Suhasini’s statement to Mani Ratnam too and he offers a rather grounded response – typically him.


But, I need to add a point of view. Mani says, “every film-goer will have something to say about a film. But criticism shouldn’t provoke a reaction and that kind of culture is prevalent online.” Elsewhere, in the same paragraph, he says, “Cinema is public art”.

Now, let me connect the two. Why should only cinema (and music performances, theater etc.) be public art? Why can’t a tweet be considered a public art, put forth to provoke a reaction? Why can’t a blog post be public art shared to evoke a reaction? A Facebook post?

You can argue, ‘C’mon, where’s a film and where’s a piddly Facebook post?’. But are you arguing that it is infinitely more complex to produce a film than a Facebook post that they shouldn’t be considered ‘public art’? I’ll reverse the argument – because it is so easy to ‘create’ (anything, from a film to a pithy tweet), social media/internet has democratized the power to create and put on public things that evoke and provoke a reaction.

Else, why would someone want to conjure a sentence with a lot of thought, on Twitter (character constraints aside)? It is because they feel good when someone else appreciates the thought that has gone into constructing that sentence. I read Baradwaj Rangan’s reviews as much for sentence construction as it is for views and the points he picks to elaborate. A provocative online opinion on a movie is the other end of this spectrum – you and I may not like its provocative intent, but if there’s an audience for it, who are we to ask that to be stopped?

Pic courtesy: Medcitynews

Related reads:
“Where is the audience?”, asks leading Indian film maker!
Shutting up RJ Balaji – a shameful precedent from Tamil film industry
Resetting the reviewer-reader equation using internet
Will social media be Raavan’s Raavan?

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