Maacho, with its dramatically diverse soundscape, is Rahman throwing everything including the kitchen sink at it! Awkwardly enough, with adequate gibberish, it sounds like a Harris Jayaraj song – a meta-milestone! Mersal arasan and Aalaporaan Thamizhan are even more disconcertingly disparate, with enough bits of alluring sounds that just don’t seem to cohesively come together. Neethane starts well enough, with a semblance of a likeable flow, but then Rahman—laughably—goes ‘yaache yaache’ and then induces his trademark faux-sufi sound in the second interlude before asking Shreya to—again, laughably—go ‘yaalle yaalle’! Mersal is Rahman’s weakest in ages; for Vijay, it’s Puli-level tedium.

Keywords: Mersal, A R Rahman

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Iravil varukira is Shreya’s show… almost all the way! She’s impeccable, as expected, but ‘almost’ because Ishaan, interestingly, throws in so many things into it – exquisite orchestration (particularly that second interlude!), a sweeping tune that demands your attention given its complex path, and a jaunty rhythm reminiscent of 80s Bollywood! In comparison, Ishaan’s vocals in the other version seem labored. Abimaaniye pulls off what can be termed as a Tamil film song’s equivalent of a musical deus ex machina! The song starts with Priyanka’s dreamy, serene melody and then suddenly, led by Ishaan’s vocals, transforms into a bewilderingly manic thara-local kuthu forcing you to fold your tongue inwards and start dancing helplessly! Simbu does a thesis-level explanation of the titular missing slipper in the title song, but Ishaan’s melody, with what seems like a lovely smattering of Hamsadhwani raaga keeps it highly enjoyable despite the utterly corny lyrical premise. RJ Love Guru opens Ayyo ayyo theri ponnuda with his mock weather update when Anthony Daasan takes over with a gaana style melody with a gentle and captivating lilt! Like Abimaaniye, this song gets punctuated with a brief, frenetic rap, mid-way! Ishaan Dev makes a very promising Tamil composing debut!

Keywords: En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom, Ishaan Dev, 200, #200

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The title song—with the mandatory inclusion of ‘Tsunami’—has Daler Mehndi headlining the exuberant faux-Punjabi template. In Mama ek peg la, Balakrishna raps his way to seeking that elusive peg set to a raucous sound. Anup fashions Padhamari as a modern-day faux-qawali and getting Mano to lead it is an excellent decision, given the man runs riot all over the song, with fantastic support from Geetha Madhuri. Theda Singh is a standard-issue title song, but Kannu kannu kalisai closes the soundtrack on a surprisingly beautiful Charukesi note, while also layering it with a lively rhythm! Anup’s music perfectly matches Balakrishna’s shenanigans!

Keywords: Paisa Vasool, Anup Rubens

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Kaavaan kaavaan, Arjunna Harjaie’s rearranged version of Mychael Danna’s Monsoon Wedding number, Aj mera jee karda, retains the original’s heady dhol-based Punjabi mix, with Divya Kumar rocking the lively rendition. The remix is a re-mess. Arjunna’s Teen kabootar, that jail-band-jam song seems situational, given the melange’ish sound. His best is Rangdaari, with Arijit shedding his Qaidi-Band-Amit-Trivedi impersonation and acing the earthy semi-classical melody. Rochak Kohli’s Meer-e-kaarwan has a charming Indipop sound that Amit Mishra and Neeti Mohan handle really well. Item-specialist Tanishk Bagchi’s Baaki Rab pe is a punchy ending, with its racy dance-mix. Lucknow Central’s soundtrack is consistently enjoyable.

Keywords: Lucknow Central, Arjunna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi, Mychael Danna

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Shaan exploits Eantammede jimikki kammal‘s hook thoroughly, with Vineeth and Renjith Unni leading amidst lively background vocals. M G Sreekumar rocks the jaunty melody of Karayum kadalum, even as Shaan keeps the backgrounds spritely with a noticeable early-Rahman influence. Neeyum has that too, though it is a largely Shaan-style melody. Manpaathakale‘s rhythm is standard-issue Shaan material, but his singing and the appealing melody keeps it likeable. Mele arimulla‘s lilt gives a tremendous edge, and combined with the ‘Thom thakita tham’ vocalized rhythm and Madhu Balakrishnan’s singing, it makes for a fantastic listen. Good stuff again from Shaan Rahman, after Godha.

Keywords: Velipadinte Pusthakam, Shaan Rahman

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Sreya’s exuberant voice and the generally bouncy tune props Tapp tapp; a simple and catchy song with an earworm’ish hook! Kavalam painkili is an interesting mix – Jayachandran adds Eastern European influences to a tune that is essentially a racier Raja’ish Malayalam retro melody. Vijay Yesudas and Sreya handle the vocals impeccably. In Mathalathen malaralle too, the backgrounds offer a decidedly old-world’ish charm though the melody—layered seemingly incongruously on top—works thanks to Vijay Yesudas. Anne Amie is the soul of the soundtrack’s best, Kilivathilin chare nee, a beautifully ornate melody with lovely violin strains. Jayachandran is sure on a roll!

Keywords: Pullikkaran Staraa, M.Jayachandran

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Disco disco supposedly had some input from Karan Johar. It shows. Amidst compelling 80s-style disco funk from Malayalam and Zeb’s Ishquiya (Lipstick Under My Burkha), this one’s bland Punjabicized abomination. Baat ban jaye fares better with its likeable bounce, though it’s templatized pop. Arijit and Shreya (lovely lower pitched antara!) are dependably good in the standard-issue pathos of Laagi na choote. The soundtrack’s highlights are Bandook meri laila, a cool hip-hop concoction oozing swagger, and Chandralekha, a delightful retro-tinged tune that Vishal Dadlani and Jonita handle with panache, amidst glorious sax! Gentleman’s music is sundar, susheel and not enough risky.

Keywords: A Gentleman, A Gentleman Sundar Susheel Risky, Sachin-Jigar

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Tanishk Bagchi’s Sweety tera is built efficiently around the hook and with that catchy rhythm, it works effortlessly. Tanishk’s other composition that he shares credit with Vayu—Twist kamariya—isn’t quite as lucky, with its templatized sound. Arko’s Nazm is a lovely melody that is not in its best form in his own sappy voice, but in the other 2 versions, by Ayushmann and Sumedha Karmahe! Samira Koppikar’s Bairaagi has a wonderfully warm melody that shines in both versions. Sameer Uddin’s Badass babuaa closes the soundtrack with a cool and funky hip-hop mix! Bareilly Ki Barfi gets the multi-composer mix just right.

Keywords: Bareilly Ki Barfi, Tanishk Bagchi, Arko, Tanishk – Vayu, Samira Koppikar, Sameer Uddin

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Amrutam Gamaya sisters’ Veerangana has a conventional Kerala folk fusion sound and it is their spirited vocals that keeps the song charming. Anitha Shaiq’s Mappila pattu sound in Melakey is rhythmic and engaging and sung well by Shweta Mohan. M Jayachandran opens his set with Oru vela; he sings and retains the charms of an evocative ghazal. Makane is just his soulful voice carrying the serene tune. Jayachandran tunes Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda Ashtapadi in the classy Nama sametham, but with Dimthana (sung by Abhirami Ajai), it makes for a disjoint listen. Crossroad’s anthological form applies to the varied soundtrack too.

Keywords: Crossroad, Amrutha Suresh, Abhirami Suresh, Anitha Shaiq, M Jayachandran

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Amidst the wailing electric guitar, the Major Sundarrajan style title song—Kathanayagan The Hero—is adequate for Vishnu Vishal’s slow-motion intro. Anirudh is perfect for On nenappu, a song with Dhanush-level lyrical prowess (GKB’s lyrics, however) and a catchy tune with a lovely violin and harmonium layer. The swankily conceived brass-led tune of Tappu tippu works alongside Mukesh’s trademark corny vocals. Sean’s twist to the ‘thanni’ song, Sunday Na, has Ravi G pouring his heart out to an uncle set to a foot-tapping rhythm. Rise of a Hero theme is short and background’ish. Sean’s reasonably ‘mass’ soundtrack for a yet-to-be ‘mass’ hero.

Keywords: Kathanayagan, Sean Roldan

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