Classically Mild

It may be a different experience for Sonu Nigam to sing songs based on pure classical raagas for his latest album ‘Classically Mild’. But the immediately striking factor in the songs is his singing and those divine expressions and emotions that his strained vocals finally bring out. I don’t know what these classical raagas are or how perfectly Sonu has sung it, but for sure whatever he has sung, it has come from his heart.

Singers like Sonu Nigam, S.P.Balasubramaniam or Sukhwinder Singh are those rare species, on whom a composer can rely on for that divine magic to happen whose singing will take song above the mere musical notes written on the paper. There is no grammar or musical notations available for the feel that they pour in between each and every musical notes they sing.

Sonu Nigam has done all that he has done here in this song in his film songs, it is just that all the songs are brought together under a title like ‘Classically Mild’. Though songs are based on classical raagas, which are often too heavy on melody, the songs, as the album title implies, are mild and not too heavy on the listeners. The beautiful and soothing orchestration and fusion elements of Deepak Pandit aids and adds to the lighter feel.

Now, eagerly waiting for Sonu’s next album 'Rafi Resurrected' for which he has recorded Mohammed Rafi’s classics with Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.


Black and White Soundtrack

Sukhwinder Singh is one of those singers who goes beyond the basic tune material given by the composers and improvises it, giving it a distinct Sukhwinder flavour. There is a little bit of Sukhwinder in every song he sings. And this quality makes him a totally eligible composer himself. I have very high regards for Sukhwinder as a singer. Though 2007 had so many good songs sung well by many good singers, my award for best rendition by any singer in a song would easily go to Sukhwinder for his deeply moving rendition in Vishal Bharadwaj’s brilliantly composed ‘Barfan’ from Blue Umbrella. But I still have not completely formed my opinion about Sukhwinder Singh as a composer, simply for the fact that I haven’t heard many of his compositions, not even the recent ‘Halla Bol’. So, when I heard his compositions for Subash Ghai’s ‘Black and White’, I was hooked and deeply satisfied.

Sukhwinder brings in a secular sound in an Allah song ‘Haq Allah’ by introducing a saccharine flute playing beautiful stream of notes around the main melody and as with any other Allah song, this has got an instantly pulling rhythm. ‘Haq Ali - 2’ is an exciting extension of ‘Haq Allah’ with Sukhwinder’s alaaps, chorus and rhythms tightly racing with one another.

It is surprising to hear that Sukhwinder, who is famous for improvisation, has allowed some other singer to go far beyond the basic tune material in a song he has composed, while his version is strictly rendered. May be it is because the situation in the movie demands such a restrained rendition of male vocal and an extroverted rendition for the female version. I am talking about the two versions of same melody in ‘Main chala’ (sung by Sukhwinder) and ‘Main chali’ (Sung by Shreya Ghosal). Shreya Ghosal as always makes us awestruck by her serene rendition of the song. With a catchy running train rhythm, a punchy motif and with a melody unexpectedly swinging between extreme ranges, the song totally blew my mind and has been on my lips for more than a week.

Sadhana Sargam’s deep vocal further deepens the soul stirring melody in ‘Jogi Aaya’. Everything is just perfect in the song. The melody, rhythm, the Veena ludes, catchy bass lines and carefully layered orchestration all come together to create another gem that will remain eternal. The remix of ‘jogi aaya’ is only sour point of this soundtrack. ‘Peer Manavan’ is light and easy on melody and heavy on rhythm and with all essential ingredients coming in right proportions makes is entertainingly folksy. ‘Yeh Hindustani’ is jingoistic in true Bollywood fashion. The Jagjit Singh’s slower version with mild guitar strains is more expressive and impressive than Udit’s.

‘Black and White’ score is full of soulful semi-classical tunes, beautiful alaaps, fitting rhythms, sensible rearrangements, minimal yet apt orchestration and exquisite singing.


Kangalum Kavipaduthey Soundtrack

As much as we have got used to great music of Illayaraja, so much we also have got used to his recent half-hearted efforts in Tamil Film music, to an extent that we are no longer surprised or disappointed to know that his newly released soundtrack is just another run-of-mill kind. But I was little surprised when I heard the soundtrack of ‘Kangalum Kavipaduthey’, because, inspite of the tiresome and inconvenient mix of Raaja’s melodies with synth beats and loops, inspite of boring Karthik, Tippu and Manjari’s vocals, genius of Raaja is intact. Though on the outset the songs sound very familiar and repetitive, Raaja brings in enough familiar-yet-pleasant moments in his music.

The beauty of simplicity in the melodies not just in vocal parts but also in instrumental pieces that fills the interludes (as in the song Maalai Nila), the ease with which the melody just flows in a way which makes you feel that it is always destined to take this route (as in the song Naalai Inneram), innovation in rhythm patterns (as in ‘Ketti Melam’), the variations in the vocal melody (as in ‘Sollum varai’) and the bass lines (in all the songs) are as good as that of any of Raaja’s classics. But the problem is that when all are put together, it doesn’t sound as exciting or pleasant as before because of so many other deviations which Raaja seems to be deliberately taking and that which makes us ask the million dollar question “why Raaja why?”. Yet this soundtrack is a must listen if you are a fan of Raaja’s music. After quite a while, this is one soundtrack of Raaja which is on loop in my play list.


Yaaradi Nee Moghini and Udit Narayan

When I heard the Telugu version of ‘Yaaradi Nee Moghini’, initially I thought it was simple and good but lacked the usual punch of Yuvan + Selva soundtrack. But after watching the movie, I started liking the songs more. Filled with pleasant melodies, minimal yet elegant orchestration and familiar rhythms, ‘Yaaradi Nee Moghini’ soundtrack is an easy winner.

Udit Narayan

Though I understand that one cannot stop composers from using non-Tamil singers for Tamil songs, I couldn’t stop complaining. In an interview, when Pepsi Uma asked Rahman about using Udit Narayan for the ‘Sahana’ song in Sivaji, Rahman told that the singer shouldn’t be blamed for it, as it is the director and the composer who have the final say about which singer to choose for a particular song. And Rahman justified his choice by saying that, Udit’s voice added an extra charm to the melody and brought in the right emotions to the song. True, the melody carries an emotion but what about the emotion that a lyricist brings in through his words, whose responsibility is it to maintain the purity of those emotions? Isn’t that a duty of a composer? If I were there in that interview, I would have asked Rahman to elaborate on his justification. I saw a subtle arrogance in Rahman’s statement in that interview. Don’t we have good enough singers who know Tamil and who could have brought in the same charm to the melody?

Like Rahman, Yuvan also continues to give some of very good melodies to Udit. He used him for the songs of “Aadavari Mattalukku Ardhaalu verulae” and is repeating the same in its Tamil version ‘Yaaradi Nee Moghini’. Just because the songs sung by non-Tamil singers become a hit, it doesn’t mean that people are accepting and enjoying it. We only have learned to tolerate it.

It is okay if they use Udit for mindless kuthu songs in which nobody is going to care about what they are singing. But why for songs which is strong on melody with minimal orchestration, where it is just the vocal that has to carry the song throughout? The songs Udit has sung in ‘Yaaradi Nee Moghini’ are of this type and hence it is so annoying to listen.