Notes on Uyir Music

Finally after facing lot of personal problems, Joshua Sridhar is back to business. He entered Tamil film music with a bang in “Kaadhal” and nearly after 1.5 years’ returns with “Uyir” now. After being fed with too much of sweet and variety of good music from Yuvan, “Uyir” comes as a change. Why I like Joshua’s music?

Though his music draws lot of inspiration from A.R.Rahman, I have got no complaints, he sure knows what he does and that shows in his music. Infact, I like his music very much because it carries vintage early 90’s Rahman sound. The inspiration is so high that Joshua sounds like Rahman even while singing. The ease with which he mixes Tabla and Thavil beats with ethnic percussions and drums is damn Rahmanish. And of course everything that I am going to say about Joshua’s music here will perfectly fit to Rahman’s music too.

Joshua’s music got a perfect mix of fast rhythms and melody as you can listen in all the songs in this album. Even the peppy fast number like ‘Convent’ has a beautiful melody in the vocal tune. A neat performance by Tippu is dominated by loud synth sounds. I think a lot of experimentation has gone in the sound-mixing table but they could have raised the volume of the voice layer a little bit more. Otherwise it is a very good number to start with.

The build up of the song in the prelude before the main tune or the actual song takes off is damn good. I don’t think any of the folk numbers in recent past had such beautiful layers in the prelude like that in the “Uthadum Uthadum” song. It has an extremely catchy rhythm that is sure to rock Tamilnadu in near future. The usage of strings in “Kan Thirakkum Neramae” gives a soothing start to the otherwise fast number. The lazy plucking of some string instrument (is it some kind of Guitar) for the sensuous number “Aanum Pennum” gives a psychedelic start to the song. And we get to hear this sound all through the track till the end that keeps us intact with the mood of the song.

You won’t listen same rhythm pattern or same combination of layers repeated in any of the song. You never know what twist and turn a song is going to take. Especially the “Kannae Kadhal” song is brilliant with lot of surprises in its orchestration, mood and rhythm. This song is my pick of the album. Next comes “Kan Thirakkum Nearmamae” song when considering the surprise level in its blend of various forms of music and instruments.

There are too much of E-beats, synthesizer and ethnic instruments put to use in too many layers in all the songs and yet there is completeness in the orchestration. You don’t find any single annoying mix of sound in the songs. This is one task that cannot be accomplished so easily. A synthphony may turn into a cacophony if not properly done. Joshua sure has got his basics right when it comes to fusion and orchestration with real instruments. One of the most beautiful pieces is the second interlude of “Kan Thirakkum Neramae” song where Shehnai plays a fast melody and as a counterpoint Strings play a completely different melody in parallel in same tempo.

Joshua somehow manages to pull in classical elements in all the songs. The Mahathi’s alaaps are blended well with the songs. Also all the songs have a semi classical touch in its melody and that adds a class to the songs, which would otherwise have become very ordinary fast numbers.

Choice of singers is another department where Joshua scores. I was thinking about Sainthavi ever since I heard “Un Kangal Ennai Sera” song from Thambi. She has got a beautiful voice. She sings two songs in this soundtrack and both are extremely different ones. She does full justice to both the numbers. Joshua’s favourite Haricharan (who sung “Unakkena Iruppaen” in Kaadhal) gets to sing a much faster number this time. Pradeep who sings “Kannae Kadhal” is another
Good find. Shalini does a fine job in “Aanum Pennum” song. Her voice is getting more mature in every song.

I forgot mention about one song that is the “Uyir” theme. Like “Kadhal” theme, the vocals singing the “Thana nana” version of the tune reveal this theme. A pretty simple, short and sweet track.

There are lots and lots of other minute things that I love in this album. Anyway, I should say we have got another promising music director to Tamil film music. Don’t complain Joshua for being Rahmanish, no contemporary composer can get away from the influence of A.R.Rahman. On the whole, “Uyir” is a completely satisfying album and it is definitely worth the wait.


Fanaa Music is Good

“Fanaa” music has got a right mix of clichéd sounds and refreshing layers of music. Jatin – Lalit borrow styles of various composers to give a unique sound to the album. That is why I would say that it is a cock Style of music with Jatin -Lalit retaining their own identity in all the songs and yet trying to sound different by adopting the best of their professional rivals. But fortunately they have restricted their compositions in giving sounds like feel and not sounds alike feel. The thing I like about these composers is that they have not tried to sound completely different as Anu Malik did with “Asoka”. Still I suspect the originality of the songs in that movie. It was too good to believe as Anu Malik’s own compositions. Coming to this album, I don’t know how much Salim – Sulaiman’s minds are involved in giving this fresh sound to the songs as they are credited as programmers for all the songs. That stops me from giving the whole credit for this album to the Jatin – Lalit duo.

I was not a serious follower of Hindi film music before 2000 yet I managed to listen at least the most popular ones. We south Indians can easily identify a Hindi song even before the singers start to sing the song in Hindi. In Indian music, we have this technique of starting the song with a short prelude before the actual song begins. The music in this part will almost have the signature sound of Hindi film music then and it is more than enough for us to find that it is a Hindi song.

The songs will start with either or combinations of following elements

1) A Male (Udit mostly) / A Female Singer (Lataji mostly) will hum something followed by “La la la laA” version of the tune as you can listen in “Chand Sifarish” song in this album.
2) The whistling of the main melody as you can listen in “Chanda Chamke” song in this album.
3) A Santoor or sitar or Veena playing the main melody as in “Mere Haath Mein” song in this album
4) A male/female chorus with 100 violins in the background as in “Desh Rangila” song in this album
5) A Shehnai with dholaks and north Indian percussions for festive songs as in “Desh Rangila” song in this album
6) The most popular one being the Guitar playing the main melody as in “Chanda Chamke” song in this album
7) And most latest one being a banging clubby techno beat with robotized voice singing the most beautiful song of the album as in “Chand Sifarish” club mix in this album

Let me know if there is anything more to add to the list?

As you can see sorry listen, the songs have got all the necessary clichéd or conventional or familiar or most successful formula of music that will please the normal listeners and yet its doesn’t bore you and here follows the reason

Just a Guitar joining in rhythmically with usual Tabla beats gives a whole new flavor to Chand Shifarish song. If that is not enough we have Kailash Kher giving additional freshness with Subhan Allah chants. And add a heavy bass line in the background you get a vintage Rahman sound in the song. But the song soon shifts to Adnan’s style of composition. Just hear the Tabla rhythm, it is the same as in “Pal to pal” song from Adnan’s “Teri Kasam” and also the restricted usage of slow Strings in the background for the whole song, is like how we hear in most of Adnan’s songs. Nonetheless the tune is catchy to the core. Shaan is good enough in rendering the song with necessary energy and enthusiasm.

Mere Haath Mein has got a beautiful melody that makes us not worry much about the orchestration. Though the song starts with conventional beats, soon the layer of E-beats adds makes it more appealing. The Santoor bit playing the main theme evokes a sad mood out of the melody. Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan do a fine job with their expressive vocals. But the best of them is yet to come.

Desh Rangila” is devoid of any new elements and yet I liked the song. It may be because I love Mahalaxmi Iyer’s voice. At least for next few days while listening to the album, I won’t skip this song. Haven’t heard “Yaara” from “Hum Tum”, but I liked this tongue twister Chand Chamke song. It is fun to listen to this number with a catchy tune.

Dekho Na is easily the pick of the album. Everything is just perfect in this song. The main melody is so soothing that it takes you into a romantic world. Though it may sound Rahmanish initially, it sounded SELish (Shankar Ehsaan Loy) music to me. Before listening to this song, listen to “Aao Naa” song from “Kyun Ho Gaya Na” and you will also feel the same. The beats, the usage of Veena and the orchestration in the interludes are quite similar. Sonu and Sunidhi are at their best in this number, listen to the way Sonu modulates “Samjo naa”, I go “Fanaa” whenever I listen to this song. Also this song has some sounds like feel to “Hum Tum” title track composed by Jatin – Lalit.

Destroyed In Love Lounge mix is an instrumental version not just one but of the two beautiful melodies “Mere Haat Mein” and “Dekho Na”. Haven’t really heard much of Lounge music, if this is its actual form, then I must try out some Lounge music. Dhrubajyoti Phukan does a brilliant job in orchestrating or programming the beautiful melodies with right instruments in this number, so that the beauty of the actual melodies is further enhanced. Basically he has got the rhythm right that gels well with both the melodies. It is a perfect music for opening and end credits of the movie.

Fanna for You is the remixed version of “Chand Shifarish” number. Usually, remixes are not my cup of tea. The basic parameters with which I judge a remix song is that how much value does it add to the actual song. Songs like that are seldom made. This song will work as the main intention of doing such remixes is to reach the youth by increasing the tempo with Techno beats to suit the dance floors of clubs and pubs, where there is no time or mind to follow any melody.

“Dekha Na” Sunao, Gao aur Fanaa Ho Jao…..


Udayananu Tharam

The big irony in “Udayananu Tharam” is that the writer who has decided to mock, bash and criticize the heroes (for all sorts of irresponsibility they show while a movie is in the making and the level of torture they give to the directors on the sets) through this movie takes the hat of the hero and the actor whom he is actually mocking takes the hat of the writer.

Mohanlal (Udayan) is an aspiring director. In his struggling days, he puts all his mind and energy and comes up with one of the most brilliant script and a screenplay. Srinivasan is Mohanlal’s roommate. He aspires to become a hero (not an actor). He steals and takes this ambitious screenplay of Mohanlal to a producer claiming it as his own screenplay. He himself acts as hero in the movie and becomes an overnight star. Though aware of this betrayal, Mohanlal is compelled to direct his first movie with Srinivasan as the hero. To hurt Mohanlal, Srinivasan walks out of the project when the film is almost complete. Only few more scenes are to be shot to complete the film. How Mohanlal makes Srinivasan to act for those few remaining scenes is what that leads to a brilliant climax.

The movie works mainly because of its screenplay. While it shows how irresponsible the actors are and how little role they play in the success of a film, he makes us realize that the writer/director is the real star of the movie by showing the amount of tantrums and tortures they face in this star driven industry before facing success. Those scenes which reveals about the stars serves as comedy line of the movie while those of the director’s tantrums are serious and emotional. This sinusoidal wave of two extreme emotions has been balanced well in the screenplay so that it neither becomes just a comedy nor it becomes a serious raw movie on reality of the film industry. But yet the episode of Meena and Mohanlal puts a speed breaker to the otherwise smoothly flowing screenplay. At least this can be excused as it serves to portray the personal problems of the aspiring directors, which acts as an obstacle for the aspiring directors to succeed in the career. But it makes the otherwise natural character of Srinivasan a little cinematically villainous when he says that he takes revenge on Mohanlal as he married Meena – his dream girl. When there is a realistic take on the heroes, it seems they forgot about the heroines or is it that the actresses are really this good in Malayalam film industry. In this movie, Meena plays the role of an actress who acts only in movies which has a good script. She says that she has come to cinema to act and have a creative satisfaction and not just to earn money. An irony again.

Though all the actors have done their part well, Srinivasan steals the show both as the writer and actor. Mohanlal has done a neat job in going through all the emotions of a struggling and aspiring director would go through. I wonder how Mohanlal accepted to do this movie as he himself got mocked in one of the scenes. It can happen only in Malayalam film industry. Meena is just okay. Most of the songs are crisp and before we feel bored, it ends. But the song sequences with Srinivasan and Meena are hilarious.

This movie is like how if one of Satyaraj’s spoof movies in Tamil were done with an artistic excellence. Udayananu Tharam proves that Srinivasan i.e., a writer/director is the real star.


Double Concerto - L.Subramaniam

Here is a man who has done a western classical piece and also has performed it without any media blowing big trumpets from behind. Dr.L.Subramaniam (came to know about him when he was replaced by Illayaraja as composer for the movie “Heyram”) the famous Indian violin player has composed a Double concerto for flute (performed by Michael Martin Koefler) and Indian violin (performed by Dr.L.Subramaniam) and it was performed along with Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra. Though this is not a full-fledged western classical composition that could be played anywhere around the world, it is almost. It has got both Indian and western classical music without either of the forms disturbing the other. This being Subramaniam’s first orchestral work, he has done a remarkable job in writing this piece.

Strict to the form of Western classical concerto, it has fast-slow-fast three-movement structure. The first movement starts with a bang engaging the whole orchestra. Within few minutes, the composer lets us to understand how this journey is going to be by shifting alternatively to western orchestra and Indian ensemble in the fast prelude. After the prelude, the beautiful main theme is played in oboe. It is a theme that you can never classify as a western classical or Indian classical piece. It is just a beautiful melody. It is just music. When you hear it on oboe or clarinet it sounds western and when you hear it on Indian violin it sounds Indian. There are many more sub themes in this movement. A separate theme is written for the whole orchestra to break out with intermittently. Thus, the main theme development doesn’t happen in the western classical way here except at the end of this movement. Instead, the orchestra just develops the theme meant for it. The main theme development by lead Violin and flute is strictly in the Indian classical way. Flute takes the lead playing the main theme and stretches the theme further searching for all possible variations. I liked the conversation part between Indian Violin and Flute where Flute follows the Indian violin extending the range of the main theme. But when for the second time, the Indian Violin comes into picture; the whole orchestra takes a break. Indian violin and flute along with Mirudangam offers a strict Indian classical concert (katcheri) lengthy enough to forget that you were listening to a concerto. The only thing I didn’t like in this movement is the use of drum roll like we use to hear in the rock and roll music. Also, the Xylophone that immediately precedes this drum roll bit in the orchestra could have been used more subtly. Its volume level adds an immature sound to the composition. At least that is what my ears felt, though I am not elite in either form of music.

Second movement starts with a new theme. It is a very intimate theme that evokes a somber feel. For 12 minutes we hear nothing but this theme in its all-possible forms played by solo flute, violin, cello and strings. The tempo of this movement is too slow compared to the other two movements. Yet, the beauty of the theme and its development on various solos keeps us awake.

Third movement has got a new vivacious theme. This theme will better work as a rhythm than a melody. Though not bad, it sounds odd when this theme is played in Indian violin or the flute. But with the huge orchestra, this kind of theme provides ample scope for development. Finally, after having done enough romance with hardly touching each other in first two movements, the marriage of western classical instruments and the Indian classical ensemble happens in this movement. Even from the starting one can hear a voice singing the theme as a jathi in the background. It does sound unique and interesting to listen to a symphony orchestra along with Mirudangam, Morsing and other Indian instruments playing together.

Always an exciting moment waits in the last movement of such concertos where the main theme played in the first movement will reappear surprisingly at some point. At this moment we will get a relaxed, home coming feel. Actually in this movement, the theme of the second movement appears first without much effect. But as the movement progress towards the end, the full throttled orchestra suddenly comes to a pause and the clarinet starts to play the main theme. A truly exhilarating moment it is. I was expecting that the third movement will end much in the same way as the first movement with the whole orchestra playing the main theme of this movement in unison, but it ends with the instruments playing chords together, in a more conventional way.

“Double Concerto” is for sure a double treat for those who enjoy both Indian and western classical music. Though not sure how much a purist will like it.


Ada Raam - aaH?

The media is going gaga over "Raam" for being screened and nominated for "GOLDEN APHRODITE" award in Cyprus International Film Festvial. I think the movie is plain mediocre. It just had an unique screenplay format. But that's about it.

The scenes in the flashback which are meant to unfold the eccentricities of Raam lacks depth and logic. It doesn’t provide enough reasons for why he behaves the way he does. This lack of a fineness in raam’s characterisation makes his actions and reactions irritating. Why the hell he has to chant those mantras on the top of hills? Is he mentally retarded or is he a spiritual person who has a different perception about the whole world? Or what made or changed him like that? There are actually no answers for all these questions in the screenplay. It is this week characterisation that makes Jeeva's performance forgettable, no matter how hard he tries to make it appealing.

We are disappointed when we come to know the real murdered instead of getting surprised and that is the biggest drawback of the movie. Also in a thriller, there must be enough suspects and only if they are, we will be surprised when we come to know that they are not and some other is the real culprit. So, as there are no many suspects the ending was not a great shock. Even the revenge episode at the end is not handled well and it turns a comedy by the inclusion of a song with visuals showing Raam chanting mantras on the top of the hill. It lacks depth, force and logic which “Adada” song had in “Pithamagan”.

But I am happy for Yuvan Shankar Raja, who won the award for Best Original Music score. He did a great job in scoring background music for the movie.