Sunday January 22, 2017

Hitman – January 22, 2017

Originally published in The Hindu.

Kanna Katti – Kaalakkoothu (Tamil – Justin Prabhakaran)
Among present-day composers who offer melodies strongly reminiscent of Ilayaraja, Vidyasagar tops the list. While others like Harikrishna (Kannada) come close in occasionally bring back the Raja nostalgia magic, it is Justin’s capability to compose songs that evoke Raja in spirit and not just superficially, that is astounding! You listen to Kanna katti or Kannukulla (or Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum’s Enakkaaga porandhaaye, for that matter) with your eyes closed and you could actually visualize a young Prabhu or Karthik dancing around a Revathy or Khushboo. But Justin adds a layer on top that is decidedly more modern and spiffy, even as the soul of the tune is magnificently influenced by Raja.

Sunn bhavara – OK Jaanu (Hindi – A R Rahman)
When the Bollywood powers decided to remake OK Kanmani in Hindi, they would have made the obvious decision to retain the already tried and tested soundtrack by Rahman. It worked wonders in the Alaipaayuthey remake, so why not again, in this remake? Of course, but the powers-that-be also decided to drop the Tamil soundtrack’s best song, Parandhu Sellavaa, in the misguided assumption that it won’t fit in Hindi and landed with an abomination of a remix of Bombay’s Humma humma, in its place. But the other, correct decision to replace the very South-Indian (Carnatic), Malargal kaettaen works very well for the makers. The replacement, Sunn bhavara, is the Hindi soundtrack’s best, with a lovely raag Bihag base and Shashaa Tirupati acing the classical rendition.
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Aerii sakhi morae – The Story Now (Indipop – Papon)
Papon debut pop album, The Story So Far, seems so long back, considering it released in 2012. The Story Now, his latest album sees the singer in impeccable form as usual, and what stands out is the Amir Khusro written sufi track. Papon’s touch to the timeless song, made iconic by singers like Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is to make it light and frothy, like a pop-jazz tinged ghazal. And this works wonderfully, in Papon’s breezy rendition, and beautifully supported by Manasqam Mahanta on guitar and Rinku Rajput on the piano. The nuances Papon brings to the much-familiar tune make a massive difference.

Priyakara – YZ (Marathi – Hrishikesh, Saurabh and Jasraj)
Even as the other composing trio from Hindi compose in Marathi too—Shankar Ehsaan and Loy, for Katyar Kaljat Ghusli—the other trio, Hrishikesh, Saurabh and Jasraj offer a glimpse of their impressive range in a song that is surprisingly in Sanskrit! The lyrics, from Kalidasa’s Shakuntala are completely fresh, to listen to, also considering the impeccable diction and singing by Ketaki Mategaonkar and Swapnil Bandodkar. The composing trio’s tune is the clear winner, though, seemingly treading on Bhimpalasi raaga, much like Prashant Pillai’s Aberi-tinged (Bhimpalasi’s Carnatic equivalent) Malayalam song Vasanthamallike, from Chandrettan Evideya? The song picturizations too seem interestingly similar, incidentally!

Panchiyaa – Dewarists Season 5 (Amit Trivedi & V Selvaganesh)
Considering he started composing independently (beyond his band Om, in 2005) in 2007—4 songs in Abhijeet Sawant’s album Junoon and a single in Prashant Tamang debut album Dhanyavad—Amit Trivedi enters his 10th year in music composing! He starts the year with a non-film song, interestingly, collaborating with Ghatam virtuoso Vikku Vinayakram’s son Selvaganesh, who has proven to be a nifty composer himself, with films like Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu. The combination is interesting, though the tune, besides being a good listen, is very, very Amit, sometimes a bit too predictably so.

The women in Rangoon seem to be having raucous fun, while the men either brood or sing jubilant praises of the woman! Sunidhi enthusiastically swears (in) Bloody hell, lamenting the bell that stalled a proposal, with Gulzar adding many other ‘English’ acts, besides English kiss! Mere miyan gaye England is Gulzar mischievously subverting Mere piya gaye Rangoon, invoking whimsical reactions from Hitler and Winston Churchill! In the atmospheric Tippa*, Sunidhi delivers the emotional high, with excellent support from Rekha, Sukhwinder and the out-of-the-blue OS Arun! Ek dooni‘s Latino pop is instantly catchy, and Chori chori—aptly chirpy—is the only retro-style tune. Dominique Cerejo’s Be still my heart is whispery, intimate jazz while the foot-tapping rock ‘n’ roll Shimmy Shake works because of Vivienne Pocha. As for the men, Arijit’s Yeh ishq hai is almost like Vishal’s cover of Dil se re! Sedate start that eventually hits the high-pitched ‘Yeh ishq hai’ like ‘Dil se re’! Rekha’s version, in comparison, is an incongruous quasi-qawali. In Alvida, Arijit is desolate, with a searing melody. The men go ga-ga over Julia, in a flashy, theatrical manner and the Rangoon theme is all pensive and very Chinese. Vishal at his usual, unorthodox best in Rangoon.

Keywords: Rangoon, Vishal Bhardwaj, 200, #200

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

*Tippa seems to be a recreation of Vishal Bhardwaj composed title song of the Japanese animated series, Alice In Wonderland. Lyrics was by Gulzar, as always! Thanks to Vaibhav Kalway for the trivia.

Idho thaanaagave sees Ghibran go hard-rock with a vengeance, almost like a sitar-infused Blaze of Glory (Bon Jovi) even as Yazin Nizar rocks the high-powered rendition! Its variant, I Have Nothing is a slow-burner R&B that’s foot-tapping, complete with Jah Hill’s gibberish verses.Ponapokkil has an elfin charm, and even segues into an unusually retro anupallavi and highly interesting interludes. Thandiraa has an instantly alluring tune; Rajan Chelliah’s lead vocals props the song while Ghibran’s tune veers off in imaginatively uncomfortable directions. The Adhe kangal theme builds on Thandiraa impressively, into another dimension. Curious, unconventional music from Ghibran, as always.

Keywords: Adhe Kangal, Ghibran

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Next enti is DSP trademark – punchy rhythm and repetitively corny fillers. Arere yekkade is a lovely surprise from DSP! Delightful melody set to an engaging rhythm with beautiful snatches of violin and flute, sung fabulously by Naresh Iyer and Manisha Eerabhathini! Disturb chestha ninnu too is a pleasant surprise! Superbly funky bass and a tinge of retro in the orchestration! And Prudhvi Chandra’s singing is darn good! Champesaave nannu is passable, using a generic pop sound. Side please is DSP giving up and succumbing to his earlier self. 2 songs showcase that DSP is capable of a lot more!

Keywords: Nenu Local, Devi Sri Prasad

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Hulli hulli, presumably the hero-intro song is, unlike current trend, not a kuthu number, but is hard rock! Siddharth Basrur’s grungy vocals and the pulsating sound make it work. Hebbuli theme too is on similar lines; powerful, guitar-booming sound. Vijay Prakash is at his usual best singing the easy-on-the-ears semi-classical Sundari. Usire is usual Arjun Janya material, made more interesting by the funky orchestration. Devare, the soundtrack’s best, is an incredibly immersive that Armaan Mallik sings brilliantly! Yennenu soda is good fun; tipsy reggae with mighty enthusiastic vocals by Rajesh Krishnan and Vijay Prakash. Good mass’y music by Arjun Janya.

Keywords: Hebbuli, Arjun Janya

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

The holi song, Go pagal, has Manj Musik as composer and Nilesh Patel as co-composer! For that composing power, it is a pretty mundane mix, albeit with a frivolously catchy tone. Chirantan Bhatt’s Bawara mann is a lot more assured, with a breezy accordion sound and a tinge of retro in the pleasant melody, besides very good singing by Jubin Nautiyal and Neeti Mohan. Meet Bros’ Jolly Good Fellow is as addictive as a simple nursery rhyme; that it’s also adequately corny helps. Vishal Khurana’s qawali, O re rangreza is earthy and resonant, and nothing more. Middling multi-composer mix, this.

Keywords: Jolly LLB 2, Manj Musik, Nilesh Patel, Chirantan Bhatt, Meet Bros, Vishal Khurana

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

A single playlist for all the songs listed below, on Saavn:
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Haanikarak bapu, Dhaakad, Title song and Gilehriyaan – Dangal (Pritam)

Title song and Saara zamaana – Kaabil (Rajesh Roshan)


Kadhal pennae – Kadikara Manithargal (Sam C.S)

Vaaraai – Bogan (D.Imman)

En oruthiye – Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga (C.Sathya)

Azhagiya soodana poovey – Bairavaa (Santhosh Narayanan)


Mellaga tellarindoi, Title song and Nilavade – Shatamanam Bhavati (Mickey J Meyer)


Irulu neelum raave and Lailakame – Ezra (Sushin Shyam and Rahul Raj)


Belageddu, Thirboki jeevana and Hey Who Are You? – Kirik Party (Ajaneesh Loknath)


Aerii sakhi morae – The Story Now (Papon)

Shuruvaithu‘s classic rock format is likeable, thanks also to Anand’s repetitive musical phrases and Chetan Gandharva’s softer-Raghu Dixit vocals. Shaliwahna case is corny, using an IPL jingle as filler, but is catchy nonetheless, with superb singing by Manasa Holla. In Edi jagavidhu saladhu, Anand uses a techno sound, but plays around with the tune in interesting ways too, to impressive effect. Thaliru thoranadi‘s Reetigowlai raaga base and Anuradha Bhat’s vocals make it mighty listenable, while Bunga bunga, the obviously-item’ish song is punchy masala. Debutant Anand Rajavikraman’s music doesn’t break any new ground but he seems pretty confident with his craft.

Keywords: Lee, Anand Rajavikraman

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Hinge ondivasa is breezy pop—reminiscing on college days, no less—that a singer like Karthik has aced many times. Lavvayya lavvo has a catchy, foot-tapping outlook but for the generic tune. Saddillade is where Chetan surprises, with a brilliant ghazal-like melody that gains immensely from Chetan’s light orchestration and Deepak Doddera’s singing. Theera dooradalello is an equally good listen, in Chetan’s own engaging vocals, the melody and guitar-base strongly reminiscent of Mano Murthy’s style. Saniha has a nice nostalgic touch, complete with a mandolin-violin sound and Priya Himesh handling it competently. Customary, albeit highly melodic, composing debut by singer Chetan Sosca.

Keywords: Kaal Kg Preethi, 1/4 Kg Preethi, Chetan Sosca

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Ekimeeda‘s uncluttered and simple tune is easily likeable, particularly in Shreya and Udit’s vocals. Gana gana gana is perfunctory group song that is best left on screen with visuals, while Mrignayanaa featuring S.P.Balasubrahmanyam, despite the great start, gets into sitar-driven period-classical template. In Saaho saarvabowma saaho, Vijayprakash and  Keerthi Sagathiya scream their lungs out ambitiously, but the tune is clearly—and only—intended to go with on-screen visuals. Vijay’s vocals power the narrative-song (Kadhaa Gaanam) Singhamu pai langhinchenu considerably better, with him vocalizing the dialog-medley really well. Composer Chirantan Bhatt delivers a generic, period or context agnostic score for a Telugu historical.

Keywords: Gautamiputra Satakarni, Chirantan Bhatt

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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January 2017
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