6.16.2009

Aayirathil Oruvan Soundtrack

A folk song, an item song, a soft melody (mostly a duet for romance), a hero introduction and a heroine introduction song, a somber song – any Tamil masala movie soundtrack will easily fall into this template. Even otherwise a hip-hop, a remix, a rap, two soft melodies – one fast paced and the other slow paced, one happy and the other sad will be the template of other kind of entertainers. Amidst such boringly repetitious soundtracks, it is such a revelation to listen to a movie soundtrack that doesn’t fit into any of such regular formulae of songs.

Soundtrack of ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ is one such revelation. It isn’t just that. It is a true movie soundtrack in every sense of the word, because a song from this movie wouldn’t fit into any other movie. In such soundtracks, there always is a danger of over indulgence (especially when it comes from a director like Selvaraghavan) which leads to melodies and song structures that doesn’t strike a chord instantly with casual listeners. Such an indulgence pushed Selvaraghavan to choose a classical symphony to underscore the gangster saga in Pudupettai and me being someone who crosses that area often, I just couldn’t get the intention and connection. Expectedly the score was completely out of synch with the visuals in the movie. But in ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ it seems Selvaraghavan’s indulgence has yielded positive results.

I am talking more about the director than the composer here because I am sure G.V.Prakash Kumar as a composer wouldn’t have ever thought of composing such a soundtrack without a guiding and pushing force like Selvaraghavan.

‘Oh Eesa’ starts off with high techno hip-hop beats and a very ordinary melody line. It picks up momentum as GVP throws in the stolen phrase of very popular ‘Govinda Hari Govinda Venkata Ramanaa Govinda’ melody with a tribal, Arabic and hip-hop mix of rhythms that is intoxicating to the core. With the whole song sounding like a cacophony of e-sounds on first listen, it takes a lot of concentration and effort to unlace the beauty of the melody that flows underneath especially the place where Karthik ‘tham thanathom’ is punchy. In spite of GVP grinding every single voice in his sound machine, Karthik’s exuberant and dramatic singing shines in the fore.

‘Maalai Neram’ is a very casual melody presented without much ado. It is simple and easy on ears and what lifts the whole song to great heights is the abundance of guitar riffs backing the melody throughout. I can’t say when I started listening to this song and when exactly I started liking it. The melody just melts out of Andréa’s solid voice, flows and fills our ears and sits in memory. The simple orchestration maintains the aura of breezy romance throughout and that guitar motif is like the sparkling light emanating from the candle in a romantic dinner. My only grouse is the singing of Andrea in lower octaves, in which she sounds so scary.

The slow paced ‘Un Mela Aasadhaan’ sucks us into its seducing pace and rhythm right away with its instantly likeable melody. Especially the melody in the lines sung by Danush is so catchy and the lethargy with which Danush sings his lines adds to the effect further. The excerpts from ‘Sittar Paadalgal’ are nicely interwoven into the song with each verse getting a respectable melodic treatment. GVP has tweaked the melody borrowed from Yuvan for betterment and has given a much better orchestration than what Yuvan did to ‘Adada Vaa’ in Sarvam.

After reading the director’s note or rant about the 11th and 12th century music, when you read the title as ‘The King Arrives’, you expect some ancient sounds and sure it begins with such but surprisingly it shifts to hard rock guitars and banging drums and one can visualize how brilliant it would look and sound if an ancient Chola king walks up to his throne with this head banging rock music. Can’t wait to watch this music play out in its entirety in the movie.

The scintillating symphony of Rudra Veena welcomes us into the 11th century in ‘Thai Thindra Mannae’. The percussion arrangements with real instruments are brilliant throughout the song. There is so much of attention and detailing that has gone into the selection of percussions for different sections of the song. While ‘Nellaadiya, Solladiya, Villadiya, kallaadiya’ gets Udukkai beat, the increasing pain in next stanza gets a hesitant Tabla rhythm that hits each stroke as an afterthought; the courage of Cholas when expressed as ‘Pulikkodi poritha chola maanthargal elikkari porippathuvo’, it moves on to a more turbulent and bold percussion and alternatively the ecstatic Telugu portions are accompanied by classical Mirudangam and Ghatam. In spite of all these intricacies in musicality, the song belongs completely to Vairamuthu. Vairamuthu brings out the pain of a person (the king) seeing the fall of his Chola dynasty with such poetic beauty and confidence in chaste Tamil.

The bass and brass heavy opening leads to a song of deep and heavy emotions in ‘Pemmanae’. The cry in the very beginning in Bombay Jayshree’s alaap conveys it all. The whole song is set in a lower register registering the deep pain due to which they won’t be able to croon any higher. The feel in the peculiar ancient wind instruments used add to the pain and to authenticity of the period in which the song is set in. Vairamuthu again builds up poetry with chaste Tamil words to express the pinnacle of pain people undergo when they are pushed out of their home land.

‘The Celebration of Life’ is a flute symphony by Naveen who plays a variety of flutes on various layers bringing out utmost sensuous sound out of each and every reed of the flute and blow of air. The aptly arranged percussions bind itself with the flute creating a heavenly aura of celebration of different kind.

The classical version of ‘Thai Thindra Mannae’ is an extended version of the original song. The Yazh (equivalent to Harp) begins the song with a sharp somber sound and it continues to loop throughout the song and when in the climax Vijay Yesudas pours in all his heart and soul to sing the line ‘Yenthan kannin kanneer kazhuva ennodazhum Yaazhae azhaadae’, we understand why the Yazh motif was looping throughout. The song is orchestrated differently this time with lengthy interludes filled with grand string section playing every note evoking the sound of ancient times, choirs and thundering percussions. The extended verses of Vairamuthu are equally effective squeezing more pain out of the situation.

The extremely catchy bass guitar riff leads to a melody in 'Intha Paadhai' that is so unusual in its beginning and continues to be unusual till the end. But once you settle in with the groove and sway with the riff, the melody of the song sinks deep within and it is unbelievably addictive. Adding to the kick is the acoustic guitar solo pieces sprinkled throughout the song. A song that is so light with simple words, simple orchestration and ultra cool singing by G.V.Prakash actually has a hefty thought in its lines penned by Selvaraghavan. I can’t stop listening to this song.

Considering that on an average 100 movies are made in Tamil every year, the soundtrack of ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ is one in 100.

15 comments:

Vinith said...

Outstanding Soundtrack. No Second thought.

Great review... But too technical! :)

Club numbers did not appeal to me. Chozha period songs and the other two melodes sucks me into it.

//Pulikkari poritha chola maanthargal elikkari porippathuvo’//

It's Pulikkodi :-)

Lyrics by Vm for chola period songs are amazing. Kudos!

Cant wait to see the movie.

Krishna said...

A perfect reflection.

Meanwhile, everyone is complaining about the "Un Mela Aasadhaan" song that GVP has borrowed it from Yuvan. First of all , we have to understand that Selva was in mood to waste his lyrics which was already composed for a tune in his busy schedule, so he would have asked to use the lyrics. And with the pre-written lyrics, u cannot do more justice rather than this.

What to do u say Suresh?

Prem said...

Great soundtrack, but it's out and out Selva's and not GVP's work here. And in my opinon it's defintiely below Pudhupettai.

Unmela Aasadhan, Oh Eesa, Maalai Neram and Indha Paadhai can be skipped, these are those songs, that would fit in most usual Tamil masala films. (And to me, Adada Vaa is far better than Unmela Aasadhaan!)

It's the remaining songs and Instrumentals, that make this album stand out. Fantastic orchestration, perfect lyrics by VM.

And @ Krishna,
if someone borrows a tune from someone else, it has to be credited, otherwise it's COPIED! It's ok, that he wants to ruse the tune, but then give credits!

Suresh Kumar said...

Vinith - Too Technical??!! But yet the music has raised a lot of expectations on the movie..

Krishna - I really didn't complain about GVP re-using the tune. I am all for it and i like the song.

Prem - Yes, Selva has given a lot of inputs but it is harsh to not give any credit to GVP.

Above or below Pudpettai? One can say only after how these songs fit in the movie. None of the intrumentals in Pudupettai suited the visual material...

//Unmela Aasadhan, Oh Eesa, Maalai Neram and Indha Paadhai can be skipped, these are those songs, that would fit in most usual Tamil masala films// - again one can comment on it only after watching the movie... but even if not i am not skipping any of them.. the only song i am skipping right now is the club mix of oh eesa

Prem said...

I meant as a soundtrack I found Pudhupettai much more innovative and also enjoyable. I felt, that when GVP concentrated on orchestration (what he did here), he missed to give a great tune as well.

And that the instrumental pieces didn't fit the visuals, is director's fault. He must know, what kind of music to give for which visual and so he must bring out the "right music" out of the MD.

About the four can-be-skipped songs: I found these, somehow, too ordinary (for a Selva soundtrack) and not that special. Of course, you may listen to them, but these aren't those songs, that will stay in mind forever nor show the excellence of the album. And these songs are perhaps the reason for putting AO (far) behind PP. The difference is, I compared them as soundtracks, you compared them as film scores. But as I said, in terms of soundtrack, the Yuvan-Selva(-Na. Mu) combo churned out a far better and more accessible album, IMO.

Suresh Kumar said...

Prem - They definitely are not too ordinary. Problem is that when you have such simple songs amidst those that has innovative sounds and suprise factor... the later makes a quick impression.. First of all one has to define what is ordinary.. anything that has already heard insturments, sounds, lyrics and format is not ordinary.. At the end it is all about melody and right orchestration.. right orchestration needn't always be innovative orchestration... in that sense, i would listen to all the songs (excluding the club mix) of this soundtrack anytime..

Vinith said...

Yes. Technical - In the sense, contemplating the notes, instruments, the mood of the song and presenting here beautifully. Especially the review for Thai thindra manne (both versions) is very good.

I have a great passion for Lyrics. An avid fan of Tamil lyrics. Lyrics in Chola songs simple killed me and ruined my peace of mind. Expressing the pain of the fall of chola kingdom. Kudos to Vairamuthu.

Betw, were you able to understand the lyrics of Pemmane. I tried my best... Not able to get few words right! Lol....

It is said that Vairamuthu did special study on ancient Tamil words to write these lyrics! Great to hear isn't it? He took months time to write the lyrics for this songs! What a dedication! BOW!

Suresh Kumar said...

Vinith - Thanks.

And yes I could understand 'Pemmanae' word by word.

Arun said...

Very good review, Suresh! Excellent album this by GVP. Hardly a weak link anywhere.

P.S: Do check out and review Kailasa's new album 'Kailasa Chaandan Mein'. It's brilliant!

Suresh Kumar said...

arun - Thanks. Though I heard high praises about the songs of Kalaisa's new album, I am yet to listen to the songs, I definitely will.

Rams said...

Though the album was nice, was kind of pissed off about GVP lifting tunes...

Unmela Aasaidhan, towards it's end reveals the original song from which it was culled out. It is Beyonce's Beautiful Liar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aLFmVwbxro
He has modified the above song, that's all.

The main tune in "The King Arrives" is based out of ARR's Meenaxi: "Potter's village". What a shame!

At such an early stage, he should desist from such acts.

Ramesh said...

I have to agree with Prem. I listened to the album a couple of times. Except for "maalai neram", I don't find any soul in the songs. I find it hard to appreciate the songs. Infact it gets on my nerves when I listen to this album. No amount of grand sounds / great artists or musicians will help if the compositions are not soulful.

I think there was too much expected from him. And he couldn't deliver. Yuvan would have definitely done a much better job.

And why in the world did he have to copy the devotional song in Oh Eesa? Apart from the Govinda lines and the tham thanathom, there is nothing else in that song. So it aimlessly wanders here and there. And the club mix is just awful.

I generally don't follow the lyrics, so I am purely writing based on the song compositions.

The only saving grace being "Maalai Neram".

Sureshkumar said...

Ramesh - Thats surprising to hear. don't like even 'Intha Paadhai'.. it is one of the coolest compositions i heard this year... And further I don't know how correct it is to judge a song without paying attention to lyrics... but I still listen to this album.. i don't find any problem with it..

EnvyRam said...

Suresh,

"GVP has tweaked the melody borrowed from Yuvan...." means it is lifted? Didn get that part, while the song easily sounds yuvan-ish.

Smiles,
Vinayak

Sureshkumar said...

vinayak - Yes it is a tune composed by Yuvan when he was composing for this movie, Selvaraghavan wanted to keep the same tune. (which Yuvan made as Adadaa vaa song in Sarvam)..