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:

Panthuvarali raaga meets Yakshagana chande in Adhara madhura to create pulsating fusion. The Yakshagana mix comes across beautifully in the interludes too. Teenu Treasa’s lush vocals and Manoj’s splendid violin phrases rule over the brooding melody. That Yakshgana style conversational singing appears in Kelu ranga kelu, but Manoj removes the chande to layer in a significantly more modern percussion layer, though everything else remains similar, including the harmonium! The profusion of singers includes Shwetha Pandit, Bhavani Prakash, Navya and Rama Rama Re composer, Vasuki Vaibhav! The short Urvi Theme song alludes to Adhara briefly, though is largely a pulsating Yanni-style orchestral track with Sylvester Pradeep’s Raghu Dixit’ish rendition. Thili prema sounds like something Charan Raj—who sings in it, along with Madhushree—would have composed! It’s wonderfully breezy, with fantastic interludes! Madhushree is even better in her solo version of the song, with only guitars for support. Kanna hani is Manoj’s trademark – a spartan melody adorned almost only with violin, with Chithra in impeccable form holding the quivering pathos in the melody. Ajaneesh Loknath, Judah Sandhy, Charan Raj, Vasuki Vaibhav, Dheerendra Doss, and now, the return of Manoj George (after Athmiya)! Kannada film music is going through a long overdue transformation!

Keywords: Manoj George, Urvi, 200, #200

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Ammadu Let’s Do Kummudu has a lazy rhythm and a joke of a tune that seems only to exist to fit the hook. Ratthalu is equally bad, loading absurd rhyming words on a stock Devi package. Sundari is standard-issue DSP material where he is keen on using the sitar. You & Me offers minor respite, thanks to Hariharan and Shreya’s singing, though the tune devolves into a droning sound eventually. Neeru neeru is the mandatory ‘serious’ song; Shankar Mahadevan and the charukesi raaga base help. It’s baffling why Anirudh’s original, significantly cooler and largely nifty score for Kaththi wasn’t reused.

Keywords: Chiranjeevi, Khaidi No 150, Devi Sri Prasad

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Justin constructs the somber Engeyo pogum almost like a bridge to Ilayaraja’s anupallavi from Aval Appadithaan’s Uravugal thodarkadhai. Kanna katti is delightful – spiffy tune and jaunty rhythm, and wonderful vocals by Haricharan! Latha Krishna joins him eventually and the nostalgic Raja flavor in anupallavi adds to the song’s charm. Kannukulla, a simple, 80s style pleasant melody harks back to Justin’s Pannaiyarum Padminiyum number Enakkaga poranthaye. The short Jeevan indha sounds like Kannukulla’s soul sister. Netri kungumam and Alli kodiye, despite fantastic vocals, and imaginatively moody orchestration seem more contrived and less interesting. Justin’s music remains highly listenable, and enjoyable.

Keywords: Justin Prabhakaran, Kaalakkoothu

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Sunday January 8, 2017

Happy birthday, Harris Jayaraj!

As much as I rip off some of the more banal recent songs of Harri Jayaraj in this blog, there’s no doubt that the man produced some fantastic music across his career. Here’s a playlist of my favorites from Harris Jayaraj, on his birthday today.

Sunday January 8, 2017

Hitman – January 8, 2017

Originally published in The Hindu.

Irulu neelum raave – Ezra (Malayalam – Sushin Shyam)
Sushin Shyam, the keyboardist of the band The Down Troddence, made an inspired composing debut last year with Kismath’s Kisa paathiyil, that Charukesi-loaded whopper of a melody. He follows that song with an equally haunting—this time, quite literally, given the film’s eerie theme—Irulu neelum raave. While Sachin Balu’s singing is top notch, Sushin really has an engaging and indulgent melody going for him, punctuating the melody with a fantastic orchestration, including that consistently ominous and surreal twang that rises in crescendo in an unsettling manner.

Azhagiya soodaana poove – Bairavaa (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
Santhosh had a great run in 2016, scoring for a Rajinikanth film and achieving an Ilayaraja’ish feat of having 2 films for a Diwali (Kodi and Kaashmora). He adds another feather to his cap – a Vijay film! But the man who balanced his sound with Rajini-needs in Kabali so well, seems unsure in Bairavaa. The soundtrack’s best though is Azhagiya soodana poovey. It is wonderfully sung by Vijaynarain and Dharshana, and Santhosh adds an unpredictable and cool Jackson’ish—or, rather Bruno Mars’ish—retro-pop sound that is instantly likeable.

Mellaga tellarindoi – Shatamanam Bhavati (Telugu – Mickey J Meyer)
Mellaga tellarindoi is so typically Mickey! The song’s ambient prelude and the consistently pleasant lilt is brilliant, and there is that Mickey-style infusion of world music too, in that catchy, almost African chorus featuring Ramya Behara and Mohana Bhogaraju. The build-up is lovely, helping Anurag Kulkarni leading the vocals very well. Mickey has been averaging three soundtracks per year in the last 3 years and this is a good start for 2017.

Kaabil – Kaabil (Hindi – Rajesh Roshan)
It is useful to remember that Rajesh Roshan made his debut back in 1974 with Kunwara Baap. He is perhaps one of the oldest composers still in business, though it is easy to counter that with the fact that he is the in-house composer of films produced by his brother, Rakesh Roshan, mostly featuring Hrithik Roshan. What works in Rajesh’s favour is songs like Kaabil’s title song – there is something charmingly old-world in the simple, hummable melody and the familiar comfort of the dholak-based rhythm.

You Have Been Loved – Older (George Michael)
Amidst the non-stop tributes to George Michael since his untimely death on December 26, 2016, the world remembered his most famous and obvious songs like Careless Whisper, Wake Me Up and Last Christmas. Dig deeper and you’d find absolute gems like You Have Been Loved, from his 1996 album, Older. His searing lyrics question the existence of God, after the death of his lover Anselmo Feleppa, and writes on behalf of Anselmo’s mother who wonders about her crime, in the eyes of God, that he punished her with the death of her son. It’s a beautiful contrast to the recent dialogue from Westworld where a grieving father says, ‘The pain is all I have left’, after the death of his son, since the only thing worse than grieving, is forgetting.

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