On The Loop

Siru Thoduthalilae (Laadam - Dharan)

‘Siru Thoduthalilae’ is a beautiful melody with a breezy orchestration. You feel like flying while listening to the song. For the most part, there are no any percussion beats; it just sails through with backing chords and bass lines. Dharan has rightfully gone for a matured female voice (Bombay Jayshree) this time, because I felt his earlier melodies weren’t carried through well by new female voices. This is one of those rare songs which I could listen on and on. The instrumental version of 'Siru Thoduthaliae' is heavenly. It is such a delightful track where Naveen just freaks out by using variety of flutes with lots of additional layers and improvisations on the main melody. The first thing that hit me when I heard Laadam CD is its sound quality. Never before a Dharan’s soundtrack sounded so high in quality and the reason is Late H.Sridhar who has done the mixing and mastering.

Poovinai (Aanandha Thaandavam - G.V.Prakash)

‘Poovinai Thirandhu’ is one of those rare gems where everything goes beyond just being right. After ‘Dhaiyarae’ from Vellithirai, GVP gives an Irish spin to an Indian melody that aptly elevates the beauty of Vairamuthu’s poetry. The theme piece based on the melody of ‘Poovinai’ suggests the entire narrative arc of the movie. It starts with a grand piano playing the melody which then pleasingly moves on to a flute and a sudden turn happens with turbulent percussion storming the beauty of the melody which turns smoothness of the melody on the flute into a soul shattering shiver.

Kaatrilae Vaasamae (Yaavarum Nalam - Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)

‘Kaatrilae Vaasamae’ starts of like a vintage SEL melody but with somewhat artificially forced techno beats. It then surprisingly turns into a vintage Raaja with beats on Tabla. And when the transformation happen with Chitra going 'Anbae', the song as a whole reaches a pinnacle of emotional beauty and Chitra’s exquisite vocals adds to the feel. Considering that the movie is a bilingual it is interesting that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy chose to keep up the south Indian feel in the melody.

Lesa Parakkudhu (Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu - Selvaganesh)

The beauty of 'Lesa Parakkudhu' is not just in its melody and singers, but also in the usage of real percussions like Ghatam, Thavil and Ganjira (all by V.Uma Shankar) throughout. The rhythm pattern is complex and brilliant. Yet, the song, true to its starting lines, is so light (Lesa) on ears. Chinmayi has become the ever re-inventing singer, she sounds so vulnerable and innocent in this song and Karthik's smooth rendition complements hers. The orchestration done mostly with real instrumental adds an earthy ambience around the sweet melody, and Stephen Devassy plays his way through with instinctive Piano pieces that gorgeously decorates the main melody.

Pada Pada (Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu - Selvaganesh)

It is one of those simple, no fuss melodies that just flows right. Karthik really performs (not just sings) his songs well these days and especially when it comes to these kinds of songs, where the hero sings about the ecstasy of finding his soul mate, Karthik is at his best. There is nothing great about the song, yet a listener can instantly fall in love with it as it sounds right, so right in every aspect, that you cannot skip or ignore.

Uyiril Yedho (Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu - Selvaganesh)

It has been a while since we heard such a song where there are no unnecessary layers of ornamentation, where there is just a Piano backing throughout, where the prominence is given for the melody and the emotions it simply invokes. Haricharan just sails through beautifully on this melodious voyage. This is the best song of the soundtrack without a doubt. I haven't seen the movie and so eager to watch how this song has been used in the movie.

Vizhi Moodi (Ayan - Harris Jeyaraj)

Ayan is yet another Harris Jeyaraj soundtrack and it is so sad that when you say that, it tends to sound negative these days. With no Jeeva and Gautam Menon by his side, Harris Jeyaraj has to seriously think about his strategy, which seems to be not working anymore. But, ‘Vizhi Moodi’ is a very good. Again Karthik just melts with the melody in this song. The easy sing-along melody (though sounds heavily inspired by one of vintage Raaja melodies of 80s) is infectious and with trademark minimal orchestration Harris Jeyaraj pulls it through effectively.

Pudhidhai Mannil (Isaikaatru - Mohammed Rizwan)

Long back I wrote about Tamil pop. The situation hasn't changed much since. Tamil pop is still struggling to make its mark in the market. When I was in Chennai, there used to be a big hoarding for the album 'Isaikaatru' in Vadapalni with Vairamuthu standing in the middle with two other guys. Two years later, last Month, I found the CD of 'Isaikaatru' in Landmark. The album (composed by Mohammed Rizwan) is pretty good with easily accessible melodies and the one which I liked most is 'Pudhidhai Mannil'. A song that sings about hope and optimism is interestingly given a mellow musical shape. It is so leisurely paced like a lullaby and orchestrated like that of a classical Ghazal. That makes the singer Prasanna's job quite tough, he has to walk on a delicate path between sounding firm and yet soft and Prasanna walks through it quite brilliantly.

Paavayae Nee (Saaral - Gopakumar)

The album Saaral opens with the melodious drizzle of 'Paavayae Nee'. It is a typical soft romantic ballad with a predictable orchestration. But Unnikrishnan elevates the source melody material into great heights with his own classical touches throughout. Not so often, we put a song in the repeat mode just for the singer; I did it with this song. But the album that starts with such a promise turns highly disappointing with other songs.

Siragugal (Sarvam - Yuvan Shankar Raja)

In spite of heavy orchestration (done along the lines of Yegiri Kudhithaen from Boys), loud beats, horrendous Tamil diction by Javed Ali and Madhusree, the typical Yuvan melody does the trick and puts the song on the play list. I especially like the way the melody slides down with the line 'Unnai Unnai Thaandi chella koja dhooram' which almost becomes a recurring motif of the song.


Rahman, Resul Pookutty, Gulzar




All my life I had a choice between hate and love. I chose love and I am here.


Illayaraja Vs A.R.Rahman

I was reading this beautiful piece written by Vignesh on Illayaraja’s ‘Maarugo Maarugo’ song from Vetri Vizha and I headed to comment section and this is what I read as one of the comments,

Dear Vicky,

Long time ago, I used to play the flute in light music troupes in chennai, though I have been fully focussed on practising carnatic music lately.

I wanted to listen to the music of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" today to see why it's being talked about so much. I searched and listened to it online.

It left me with a bad aftertaste. I just felt like cleansing my ears, body and soul by listening to some Raaja music and landed in your blog.

Thanks for the wonderful analysis, sound clips. You (and Raaja) made my day.

with love,

I really haven’t taken such comments that have no constructive purpose seriously and till this date I have never read or been in a single constructive argument or debate when it comes to Raaja vs. Rahman. I don’t understand the mind of some people, who call them to be an Illayaraja fan and who talk more about A.R.Rahman and how bad his music is than about how great Illayaraja’s music is. I don’t understand what is their real problem with Rahman, is it the music itself, or its popularity.

Irrespective of who is the composer, Music has one single purpose. Is it so difficult to understand the oneness of music? And who can better teach you the oneness of music than Illayaraja, who has covered every possible genre of music in his repertoire and yet makes us feel that it is all music, just Raaja’s music? I guess if you are a fan of Illayaraja, and if you have really understood his music and its purpose, it is so simple to accept and appreciate anybody else’s music. If not, then you fail Illayaraja, his music hasn’t educated you enough. (In this particular case I am so devastated that he who commented about the music doesn’t know what background score in a movie is meant for, and he calls himself Raaja fan)

I get as exhilarated by that worldly interlude in ‘Dil Gira Daftan’ from Rahman’s Delhi-6 as I get in the thundering coda of ‘Om Shivo hum’ from Raaja’s ‘Naan Kadavul’. The kind of music in the songs that I compare here has nothing in common in its sound and yet the purpose is the same. Illayaraja is a way and A.R.Rahman is another way to attain a musical Nirvana. Everybody has the right to choose his own way but the one who foul talk about the other ways is no different from those extremists who in the name of religion, do things which their religion itself doesn’t preach.

I don’t believe in religion but I believe in a God and in the same way I believe in music and I take the best of both to pave my own way to reach its purpose. I am both a devotee of Illayaraja and a Rahmaniac and I find it perfectly normal and rational to be so. And some call it incomprehensible and eccentric? I don’t know how to answer them because they never really explained to me why they feel so.

When A.R.Rahman wave was spreading all over India, everyone told that A.R.Rahman’s popularity is not because he is a genius or he has any talent but because he borrows heavily from western music but it is the westerners who now say that they have never heard a music score like that of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ before. And so where did Rahman borrow all this long? Nobody seems to be talking about this.

And what is this cry about Illayaraja deserving many International Awards and not A.R.Rahman? These are utterly ridiculous arguments. Oscar or Golden Globe is not given to greatest music composed by the greatest music composer of all time from a country. Why can’t we be practical and realistic about these awards? Raaja is contended in whatever he does in Indian films and if he gets a chance he will definitely do it right in an international movie too, I believe in it more than any other so called Raaja fan. And do you mean you want Illayaraja to win an Oscar for his background score in ‘Naan Kadavul’ to prove that he is the best background score composer in, the country? An Illayaraja doesn’t want that because he has no intention to go global or is in no contention with any Rahmans out there to prove his genius. Now if both Illayaraja and A.R.Rahman were nominated for their respective scores in ‘Naan Kadavul’ (though Raaja has slightly overdone it in Naan Kadavul) and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, and if I say A.R.Rahman deserves it, then I can be crucified. But that is not the case here. I feel Illayaraja is one of the best in the world when it comes to composing background score. When I wrote this, I was just trying to understand the impact of the music in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and explain it to others who are interested and who otherwise would easily oversee it. I was trying to illustrate the life that Rahman’s vibrant music brought to a movie like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

In this year, even if Thomas Newman wins it in the Best Original Score category, I wouldn’t be disappointed because I have totally fallen in love with his score for ‘Wall-E’. I felt its impact while watching the movie. I have heard only the audio of Alexandre Desplat’s score for ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ and I loved what I heard but I don’t know how well it serves its purpose in the movie. A great music needn’t always be a great background score.

And I can go on and on, I think it is best to conclude this piece with this video


Director's Composer

In film music business, for a music composer to have a long standing career, a good working relationship and successful track record with a movie director is vital. Instead of presenting the huge list of successful director composer duos who made it big, I can make it vivid by quoting one composer who couldn't make it big inspite of being most talented than most of the composers in Tamil Film music today. Karthik Raja. This man has immense talent and potential. Inspite of some brilliant soundtracks, he couldn't sustain simply because he has not continuously and consistently delivered good music with one particular movie director. In Tamil Film Music, year 2008 has seen most number of popular director composer break ups. But none of the break-ups worried (as much as I would have worried if Balumahendra broke up with Illayaraja) me, because the directors have gone either to a better composer or to a composer at par.

The biggest surprise is Charan picking Colonial Cousins (Hariharan and Leslie Lewis) for his next ‘Modhi Vilayaadu’ over Bharadwaj. From what little I heard in television interviews, it sounds interesting. Together, Charan and Bharadwaj (and Vairamuthu) gave some beautiful melodies and one hit kuthu or item number was an inevitable in their soundtracks and sadly that is what they would be popularly remembered for. I am sure Colonial Cousins would bring a totally different sound to Charan’s (occasionally intelligent) masala entertainment.

More than Selvaraghavan it is an opportunity for G.V.Prakash, as he is going to replace Yuvan Shankar Raja’s sound and music in a Selvaraghavan movie. I always felt that Selvaraghavan interferes too much in the making of his movie’s music (and probably why Yuvan had to plagiarize for some of the songs and background score), and extracts the best from the composer. I hope he does that with G.V.Prakash too (without pushing him to plagiarize). G.V.Prakash became a routine masala movie composer doing one kuthu song, one peppy song, one pathos song, two romantic melodies after Veyil. Now he gets an opportunity to compose music for a movie director who knows how to carry the story forward with music and songs. I hope he utilizes this opportunity and reach the next level. Another important aspect in a Selvaraghavan movie is background score, and infact all Selva + Yuvan’s background score were released in a separate CD after the release of the movie. G.V.Prakash who already has shown some promise in this area as he has been doing and including at least one instrumental theme music in most of his soundtracks (recent one being from Aanadha Thaandavam - that serene flute playing the beautiful melody of Poovinai on a happy note which after a bit of turbulent rhythms turns trembling and shivering, conveys almost the entire narrative arc of the movie), would definitely have to work hard for background score of a Selvaraghavan movie as the visuals in his movies demands so much drama from its music. I am eagerly waiting for ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ soundtrack, to know how much of Selvaraghavan is there in his movie’s music.

According to me, Gautam Menon is at no loss because of Harris Jeyaraj’s decision to not work with him again. Harris Jeyaraj gave his best is Gautam’s movies, but those are the songs that would have worked in any other movie equally well. After Ameer’s controversial remarks about A.R.Rahman working only in high budget commercial movies, here he is working with a upcoming movie director’s, the budget of which could be well below what Rahman usually takes as fee for his music. (It is little puzzling that Rahman who now says that he wants to work only in such independent cinema like Slumdog Millionaire and not in big budget Hollywood movies where he will not have creative freedom does exactly the opposite when it comes to picking the movies in Tamil). I am really anxious about ‘Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam’ soundtrack as Rahman returns of youthful love story in Tamil after quite a while (I hope he doesn’t use his songs from Jaane Tu).

I don’t know if I have to say it as break-up, but though they worked together in just two films, the movie’s music and especially the kuthu songs were one of the prime reasons that drew the crowd to theatres to watch the movie and thereby making both the movies a big hit. I am talking about Sundar C.Babu and Mysskin. By watching recent interviews I came to know how much Mysskin hates to have songs in his movies (and that is evident from the way he picturised the song Manasukkul in Anjathey) to an extent that he has chopped even two of Illayaraja’s song from his forthcoming movie ‘Nandhalala’. When it comes to Illayaraja, it is not the director who has a say, Raaja does what he feels like doing. And that clearly shows in ‘Nandhalala’, but still the simplicity and less complicated approach of Mysskin towards his screenplay is evident in Raaja’s compositions also. I am really looking forward for the background score of the movie also. Mysskin is also a director, who gives good importance to background score, and he even included the main music themes in the soundtrack CD of ‘Chithiram Pesudhadi’ and ‘Anjathey’ but this time it isn’t there in ‘Nandhalaala’. I hope they release a separate CD with the background score after the release of the movie.