6.23.2006

Guru

Yet another (kind of) spoiler on Mani's Guru. But an interesting read. here

6.17.2006

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna Music - Kuch Kushi Kuch Gham

Considering the hype Karan Johar use to create for his movies and its music, there is no surprise about that the expectations are so high for the music of “KANK (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna)”. I liked “Kal Ho Naa Ho” soundtrack very much though whether it is an award material is a debatable issue. It was not only a chartbuster album but also a winner of two national awards. SEL (Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy) won best music director and Sonu Nigam won a deserving best playback singer award for singing the title track. Also the comparison of KANK with KHNH music is inevitable. So what is the music of KANK, a winning and also an award material? Let us see..

The product can’t be called an outright SEL product. From the sound of the music, it is pretty evident that Karan Johar has interfered a lot into the work of SEL. As Karan Johar claimed he has ventured into a new area with this movie, he could also have allowed SEL to try something fresh in music. The music sounds more Karan Joharish than SEL’s. For trademark SEL stuff we have to wait for “Don” soundtrack. The problem with the soundtrack is that it has a serious KHNH hangover. The two main melodies (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Tumsi Dekho Naa) of the soundtrack are definitely pleasant and soothing for our ears with soft strings and piano pieces but they are heavily inspired by the title track of Kal Ho Naa Ho. Especially the tune of “Tumsi” song is exactly the tune of “Har pal yahaan” lines from KHNH song. Also the songs get boring in the midway. Also the beats are so ordinary and clich├ęd. “Where’s the party tonight” is a sequel of “It’s the time to disco”. “Rock n Roll Soniye” is a mix of “pretty woman” and “Maahi ve” songs. I don’t know when I am going to listen to a remix like Rahman’s “Taal Se Taal” or Adnan’s “Hai Rama” and “Sun Zaraa”. The “Mitwa Revisited” is pretty ordinary. The flow and rhythm of the melody doesn’t gel with the rhythm and tempo of clubby beats in it. “Farewell Trance” has nothing interesting to offer. I don’t know why they went for a trance version of the melodies. Lounge mix would have been better or they could have done an orchestral version of melodies like how they did in “Kal Ho Naa Ho”. The trance beats doesn’t sound well along with the melodies on piano.

The likeable parts of the album are actually in the dance numbers “Where’s the party Tonight” and “Rock n Roll Soniye”. SEL always makes their dance numbers highly energetic that will instantly makes us to shake our body and tap our foot on the floor and they have done it perfectly well in these two songs. The variations and shifts to various genre of the music in these two songs are pretty interesting. “Mitwa” is a kind of song that SEL haven’t done so far. It is the only song that is fresh in all aspects. Though it has got a Pakistani pop feel to it (mainly because of Shafqat Amanat Ali’s voice and singing), guitar pieces and Shankar’s alaaps are all trademark SEL stuff.

Finally, the verdict is that if you haven’t heard “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, then probably this album may excite you. Award? I would be surprised if SEL gets even nominated for this score in any of the bollywood awards next year. Winner? Who knows, the album may become a massive hit after the release of the movie (of course because of the Khan factor).

6.08.2006

Naveen's Flute Flourishes

Flute is one of the simplest instruments providing the most divine sound or music. A.R.Rahman said in an interview, “an instrument is just an instrument, it is the player who gives life to that with his imagination and creativity”. Naveen is one such flautist for sure. Who can forget his rendition of emotionally charged notes in Bombay theme. In this album, he has aimed to prove his proves and versatility by playing different genres of music on flute.

The album starts with highly energetic flute rendition and rocking percussions with Sivamani on drums in the title track “Fluid”. As the name implies, the flute just flows like a fluid in this track. Naveen shows his proves in carnatic classical music with the track “Mohana”, I think this is the raga on which “Theekuruviai” song from “Kangalal Kaithi Sei” is based on as the tune pretty much sounds the same. The arrangements are perfect for this track giving a live katcheri feel. Next comes the south Indian folk in “Chennai Rain”. It has pretty familiar rhythm that we heard from “Minnalae” theme music but the livelier rendition of Naveen arrests our attention. I don’t know why Naveen selected “Jiya Jale” among Rahman’s compositions, may be it has got some complex stream of notes that might challenge any flautist. The tune sounds pretty good in its flute avatar.

First Light" is an apt music to start your day with, flute evokes sun rising effect (boopalam) but for some unknown reasons, the track suddenly shifts to different mood with a peppy tune played on flute. I was expecting a solo flute track without any backing arrangements and when this track started, I thought this would be the song but it ended up quite differently. In the song, “Symphony” Naveen moves to western classical genre. “You and I” is the only song with vocals and kids chorus in it with Naveen also rendering an alaap. As you can find with any debut album, this song is for world peace. The flute piece in this track is truly haunting and is perfectly in synch with the mood of the narration. “Essence” is the last and longest track in the album that goes Hindustani classical way. It is a perfect track to end with Naveen giving an exhaustive rendition.

Initially I was little disappointed with the version of Bombay theme in this album. Naveen reduces the tempo of the theme further. My ears are trained to listen the first three notes of the theme played quite smoothly without any break or pause in the middle but here there is considerable period of pause between the first and second note. There is no smooth flow between the first three notes. It sounded like how Americans played the Bombay theme on strings in Los Angeles concert. I was expecting more of soul stirring improvisations on flute like how Naveen performed the theme in the Los Angeles concert but there are no such improvisations in this track. Though the rendition is flawless, it takes time for us to accustom to this reduced tempo of the theme. The theme starts with a thundering percussion arrangement in which the tempo gradually rises and comes to a pause to break out to the haunting Bombay theme. This kind of building momentum is usually done to give us goose bumps when it breaks and suddenly starts a haunting theme on a solo instrument but we don’t get that effect here. The percussion part sounds good when heard as a stand-alone piece. The piece played by the string section in the original theme is also played with flute here. This doesn’t sound great either. There is also an interesting mix of “Uyirae Uyirae” tune from Bombay in this same track. But instead of playing it on synth strings, Naveen could have rendered it with flute. It would have had a much better impact and sound with flute. May be all this opinion of mine about this track is because, my senses are so used to the original version of the theme, any modified version of it doesn’t meet the class of the original.

After listening to this album, I thought how it would sound if A.R.Rahman releases an instrumental album with Naveen on Flute and Sivamani on Drums. Even though there is no Rahman here, both the presence and absence of A.R.Rahman can be felt in almost all the tracks of the album. The presence of Rahman is because of vintage Rahman sound in every other track, which may be because it is impossible to separate Rahman sound from Naveen’s flute and adding to the effect, is H.Sridhar’s sound mixing. The absence is because of the lack of class and finesse in orchestration and arrangements of the songs. By saying so, I don’t mean that the album is bad, it is actually good but there is definitely much scope for improvement. Take any song of A.R.Rahman you would feel that it couldn’t get any better. I can’t arrive at such kind of superlative verdict about the orchestration in the songs of this album.

6.07.2006

Background Score in Pudupettai

I don't know what is the big fuss about Yuvan's background score in Pudupettai. I am surprised by the Hindu reviewer's opinion on Yuvan's background score. True, songs were great but background score was highly misappropriate especially the music that comes when Danush kills everyone who comes in his way when he goes to the opponent leader's house to kill him. In "Kadhal Konden" such music worked because the movie's setup and buildup towards climax was very much different. The symphonic pieces doesn't gel well with the scenes at all. The main theme track from the album is used when Danush spends his night with Sneha for the first time. The "Clash Of titans" track is used in the court scene when Danush is on trial. It is pretty evident that Yuvan and Selva has struggled to fit in the musical pieces that they have composed even before the visuals are shot. I earlier said here about how such symphonic pieces will sound out of synch with the visuals in a movie based on Chennai gangsters. Yuvan sure has great talents but it would be great if he uses it just when it is appropriate and required.

6.04.2006

Vallavan - A Winner (Commercially)

Initially I had mixed opinions about Manmadhan soundtrack, but after watching the movie I liked the songs. As Manmadhan was a big hit, there are obviously high expectations on Vallavan soundtrack (though I didn’t). In every interview, Yuvan used to say that he clicks well with directors like Selvaraghavan, Vishnuvardhan and Simbu. I wonder with only one film experience how could he add Simbu to the list. Though it is not a combo like Selva and Yuvan that would give path breaking music, it is like Vishnu and Yuvan that comes out with a formula soundtrack that has something for every section of audience. “Vallan” soundtrack is for sure a winning material. There are totally 9 songs in the album.

Podu Aaatam – This is a typical hero introduction song. Lyrics by valee are penned as though Simbu is already a superstar like Rajini. (simbukku ithellam romba over). Coming to music, it has pretty heavy and catchy folk rhythms running all through the song. The introduction with folk rhythms overlapped with a western kids choir sound interesting. Kids chorus definitely adds pep and energy to the song. I am surprised that Yuvan has chosen Vijay Yesudas for this type of song. Loosu Penne – I feel what Western classical is to Illayaraja is what Hip hop to Yuvan. He comes up with at least one hip-hop number in his every other soundtrack. This song is my pick of the album. The song instantly hooks us with simple melody, rhythm, lyrics and singing. Simbu does a Yuvan’s style of singing here but it is just apt for this song. Blaaze’s rap bits are nicely interwoven in the song. There is also club mix version of this song by Premgi. Not my cup of tea, so can’t really comment on it.

Vallavan (Theme Music)– This is the music that we get to hear in the trailer of the movie. It is not a ring tone material if that is what Yuvan has tried to with this theme music bit. It is just a rehash of one of the more catchy background score pieces from Manmadhan. Just skip. Hip Hip Hurrey – Another instantly catchy number with interesting marching rhythm (of course highly inspired from the rhythm of Viru Viru mandi song). The song takes twists and turns to a melody and then to folk in the middle but on the whole it works.

Success of Love (Folk Bit) – It sounds like hero dancing in excitement after he gets a nod for his love proposal from his ladylove. Just skip it. Vallava – Initial string section suggests that it is going to be the sequel of “Manmadhanae” song from Manmadhan but it soon makes a shift and finds a flavor of its own. I like the theme tune of the song than the main vocal tune. Though the first half of the song proceeds in a predictable way, the second half has got interesting arrangements and rock stuff in it. Sunidhi Chauhan’s Tamil diction is better and she does a fine job in singing this number.

Kadhal Vandhuduchu (Remix) - Yuvan tries something new every time when it comes to remixes and he does that again successfully in this remix song from the movie Kalyana Raman. The rhythm and arrangements are cool and fits well with the mood of the song and Simbu’s singing is quite impressive. Yammadi Aathadi – This is a kind of song that we use to find as the last song in a Vijay’s film that comes exactly 20 minutes before the movie ends and to add to that effect none other than Perarasu has written the lyrics for this song. Mahathi’s classically trained voice doesn’t fit in this song. TR struggles in high pitch all through the song. But Simbu and Suchitra give a melodious relief in the middle. It is going to be a chartbuster for sure.

Musically, there is nothing new in this album. This is not one of those soundtracks like “AIBI” or “Pudupettai” where Yuvan tries to open new horizons in Tamil Film music. Yet, considering what the music is aimed at, it is a satisfying soundtrack that will definitely be an asset for the movie.