Anudeep and Yazin try their best singing the utterly predictable Come back, while Ghibran has a nice surprise in the anupallavi’s tune! Baby doll too has lot of catchy sounds, but the tune is pedestrian. Ompula dhaniya is the pits – with a groan-inducing bum chiki bum chorus. But Ghibran does throw a surprise in the anupallavi, again. Sameera Bharadwaj is the star of Naalo nenenaa, even as the song around her collapses in all its familiarity. In Hypare hypare, Ghibran successfully fuses Devi Sri Prasad’ish repetitiveness with his own style, to middling effect. Hyper is Ghibran’s weakest work yet.

Keywords: Hyper, Ghibran

Listen to the songs:

Sunday September 25, 2016

Rekka (Music review), Tamil – D.Imman

That Imman reserves some of his best melodies for Shreya Ghoshal is well established already. And when he hands her a mesmerizing tune that seems to be alluding to both Simmendramadhyamam (possible shades of Panneer Pushpangal’s Aanandha raagam!) and Gowrimanohari raagas, the results are bound to be awesome. So, Kanna kaattu podhum totally rocks, in Shreya’s fantastic vocals and Imman’s wonderfully imagined interludes that bring the rich beauty of Gowrimanohari raaga! Imman’s choice of Nandini Srikar pays him rich dividends in Kannamma, and he adds to that a rich, resonant musical backdrop that sees him adding imaginative interludes featuring guitar and nadaswaram. The tune, an enchanting melody on the lines of Raja’s Karpoora bommai ondru (raaga Saraswathi, perhaps?), gets so much better with Nandini’s phenomenal rendition. Pollapaiyya is trademark Imman – brilliant, energetic guitar-led tune, but on an almost-Raja melody. Haricharan and Shweta Mohan sink into the tune with relish. Virru virru is an interesting homage to Vidyasagar’s repertoire for director Dharani – like a new-age Inthaadi kappakezhange from Dhool. Jithin Raj’s vocals sound fresh in the attitude-laden masala song. The Furious Wings theme is an energetic background-music melange. After a spate of middling soundtracks, Imman gets his act together!

Keywords: D.Imman, Rekka, 200, #200

Listen to the songs on Saavn.

Sunday September 25, 2016

Hitman – September 24, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Texas pogiren – Chennai 2 Singapore (Tamil – Ghibran)
The lyrics video on YouTube for this song starts with a warning: ‘This song is not for the faint-hearted. Listen at your own discretion’! If Tamil pedants were mildly annoyed by Udit Narayan’s ‘Yedho sowkiyam parva ille’, they’d perhaps be speechless and shell-shocked by Texas pogiren! Ghibran unleashes a singer named Narrow Smith (an obvious parody of Aerosmith) who sings Tamil lyrics in the form of heavy metal, including a manic ‘Aaathaaa, Maariaatha kaapaathu’ which makes a child (in the song) cry inconsolably! The result is a mind-bogglingly inventive song that screams for attention!

Aave re hitchki – Mirzya (Hindi – Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Aave re hitchki is what happens when you are traveling on a camel cart, one night in Rajasthan, with a guitarist for company! Shankar Mahadevan rocks this swaying melody, set to a stunning mix of sarangi (Mame Khan Troupe) and guitar (Neil Mukherjee), and also an enchanting vaudevillian interlude. There’s a point in the song’s beginning where Shankar goes—hiccup-like—’Hitch!’ before getting back to ‘Hitchki’… it’s these little, nifty touches that make this song so enjoyable!

Oththa mazhayila – Kadalai (Tamil – Sam C.S.)
Composer Sam C.S made a noteworthy debut in the Vijay Sethupathy starrer Mellisai, though that film is yet to release. Kadalai is his second film as composer and he proves that his impressive debut was no flash in the pan. In fact, this one has even better music, as a whole soundtrack! Sam gets Hariharan to croon Oththa mazhayila, a simple and gorgeous melody. The simplicity of the lovely tune is reminiscent of Deva’s style, though Sam’s sense of sound, consisting primarily of guitars and flute, is far more updated and modern.

Dibbaradindi (Kannada Pop), Singer: Shachina Heggar. Music: Judah Sandhy
Kannada composer Judah Sandy has already made his mark in the two films he has worked on. Here comes the 3rd, a pop song. The song is obviously and incredibly catchy, with an insanely addictive hook. On that hook – it may sound mighty familiar to many people, though. That’s because you’d perhaps end up singing ‘Yela yela yela, yela yelamma’ from Anniyan’s Andankaakka Kondakkaari… which itself owes its existence to Chinnanchiru chitte endhan, from the MGR-Bhanumathi starrer Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum, with music by S.Dakshinamurthy!

Neelakkannulla maane – Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho (Malayalam – Shaan Rahman)
There’s a whiff of yesteryears’ retro in Neelakkannulla maane that’s very, very inviting! The beautifully melodic song features Vijay Yesudas and Shweta Mohan, who, given the retro-feel bring back pleasant memories of Yesudas and Sujatha Mohan in the way they sing. Shaan Rahman is usually adept at creating such hummable melodies and this one works effortlessly too.

Mai ri mai is an enchanting combination of Swanand Kirkire’s lovely lines and immersive melody by Hitesh. Kalpana Patowary rules the item’ish Bhookamp, and Hitesh adds distinctive funk to drown the bawdiness! Neeti Mohan’s Kachhuva has better lilt, with a riot of funky sounds. Of the two traditional songs curated by Rahul Vohra and produced by Chinmay Harshe and Hitesh, Baisaa treats Gazi Khan Barna’s engrossing vocals with great care, and a gradually increasing pace. In Hichki, they go places, with a fusion sound that adds a brilliant mod layer over a Rajasthani melody. Parched’s soundtrack is earthy and contextual.

Keywords: Parched, Hitesh Sonik

Listen to the songs:

Suman Sridhar’s retro-style opener to Mona Darling rides on her splendid singing, with an awesome hook. The song shifts mood suddenly with a wonderfully waltz’y—and Ilayaraja’ish!—tone, led by Shreya Ghoshal, even as Sonu Nigam swoops-in in full style. Kunal Ganjawala offers the 3rd shift with a lovely Broadway-style flamboyant ending. Vaat disu de too is a lot Ilayaraja-like, with a jaunty rhythm, a lovely folk melody, and particularly incredible interludes. The Marathi folk base is deeply ingrained in Gondhal, but where the composers leave their mark is in the spectacular symphonic interludes! In fact, the overlap of both genres is mesmerizing! Ever wondered how the Marathi version of the Jewish song Hava Nagila may sound? Listen to Bring it on! It’s Vakulabharanam’ish raaga base is total fun, with a manic rhythm and a more manic hook! But trust Ajay and Atul to top this song with an even more insane number in the form of Dolby walya! In what is most likely to usurp the place of Sairat’s Jhingat, Dolby walya throbs with an addictive energy and sudden bursts in the name of hooks! Nagesh Morwekar rocks the show with his funky rendition! Composers Ajay-Atul in outstanding form, yet again!

Keywords: Ajay-Atul, Jaundya Na Balasaheb, Ajay Gogavale, Atul Gogavale, 200, #200

Listen to the songs:

You know what I mean is a perfect sequel to Socha hai and Pichle saat dinon mein. Farhan’s gruffy vocals is almost manageable and those energetic guitars rule. In a more indulgent melody like Manzar naya, Farhan’s voice seems woefully inadequate, though the trio’s tune sails through effortlessly. Jaago, a soul-sister to Rock On’s title song, pales in comparison, but Sheldon D’Silva’s bass and the drums make it tolerable. Shraddha Kapoor has a superb run through the soundtrack! Udja re is a stunning, U2-style rock melody, with Shraddha admirably handling the rock shenanigans. Tere mere dil is even better, the trio’s mellow start beautifully soaring with Shraddha’s vocals along and the vibrant musicscape. Oddly enough, Woh jahaan, where Shraddha joins Farhan, is the one where she—and he, of course—sounds most tentative, though the composers have a fantastic tune playing confidently. Ishq mastana is Mirzya-style, with a hypnotic Ahir Bhairav’ish tune that Shankar and Digvijay Singh Pariyar handle brilliantly. Hio kiw (Chalo chalo), the Khasi-Hindi song that closes the soundtrack is a pulsating package, with superb vocals by Usha Uthup, Kit Shangpliang and Pynsuklin Syiemiong, with brilliant guitaring all through. Despite Farhan’ish vocal shortcomings, the trio keeps Rock On 2 rocking.

Keywords: Rock On 2, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, 200, #200

Listen to the songs:

Agarotulla (Pathivaayi Njan) and Prema pusene (Kaalam Kettu Poyi) gain from better voices (compared to Shabareesh Varma) of Naresh Iyer and Karthik, respectively – the tunes remain pleasant and nice. Ninna leni (Chinna chinna), in Karthik’s accomplished voice, acquires an extra polish. Rajesh’s pièce de résistance continues to be Malare… here, Evare – absolutely gorgeous! Gopi’s opener is the strictly-middling Bang bang, but his impressive Telugu form surfaces in the spritely Ennosarlu, wonderfully sung by Sachin Warrier. In the Rockaankuthu-equivalent, Evadu evadu, Gopi skillfully Telugufies what was essentially a Tamil kuthu, picking strands from the foot-tapping original. Good, likeable mix.

Keywords: Premam, Premam Telugu, Rajesh Murugesan, Gopi Sundar, Gopi Sunder

Listen to the songs:

Listen to Premam in Malayalam, on Saavn.

Thennal nilavinte is good old Shaan-Vineeth magic, given how tuned-in the duo is, with each other’s musical sensibilities. The melody, with a gorgeous violin backdrop, is immersive, and superbly sung by Vineet and Aparna Balamurali. The parody’ish tone of Nakkile prakkukal is accentuated by Mano’s exaggerated style of singing and just about passes muster. Oronnoronnayi sees Shaan struggle with the pitch of the parts he is singing and even the situational, flashy tune has better music than tune. The participative song, Jam thakida, that invited lyrics from viewers, is simple, catchy fun. Thennal nilavinte outshines everything in Oru Muthassi Gadha.

Keywords: Oru Muthassi Gadha, Shaan Rahman

Listen to the songs on Saavn.

Listen to the Jam thakida:

Sunday September 18, 2016

Hitman – September 17, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Virinja poonkurunne – Guppy (Malayalam – Vishnu Vijay)
Flautist Vishnu Vijay’s most recent ticket to fame was playing flute for Maya nadhi and Vaanam paarthen in Kabali, for Santhosh Narayanan. His composing debut in Guppy is strongly thematic and the song that stands out in the soundtrack is the short one that Vishnu himself sings. It’s highly reminiscent of Prashant Pillai’s score in Amen, a similar streak of quirkiness that is instantly appealing.

Satrangi re – Wrong Side Raju (Gujarati – Sachin-Jigar)
The young musical duo, Sachin Sanghvi and Jigar Saraiya (better known as Sachin-Jigar) have already composed music for a Gujarati film (Bey Yaar). Wrong Side Raju, their second, has music that runs on a similar vein – largely region-agnostic, likeable music that may work equally well in Hindi too. That factor is compounded by singers like Arijit Singh who further tone down the regional identity of the music. Satrangi re, then, works effortlessly – feathery melody, accentuated by brief French phrases by Dawn Cordo!

Aakupachhani chandamaamalaa – Jyo Achyutananda (Telugu – Sri Kalyanaramana)
This name changing business may be running in the family. His talented brother happens to be Maragadhamani in Tamil, M.M.Keeravani in Telugu and M.M.Kreem in Hindi. Younger brother started as Kalyani Malik, became Kalyan Koduri, moved to Kalyani Koduri and has finally renamed himself as Sri Kalyanaramana! But his music has been consistently engaging and inventive. Aakupachhani chandamaamalaa is no different, with its buoyant sound and tune that is easy-on-the-ears, handled beautifully by Karthik and Ramya.

Hota hai – Mirzya (Hindi – Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has always been fantastic with his music sense, going by his film’s soundtracks, right from his debut, in Aks. After 2 films with A R Rahman (Rang De Basanti and Delhi 6), he moved to Shankar Ehsaan Loy in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and now Mirzya. The trio produce a mind-boggling score for the film, offering an incredibly inventive range. Hota hai is the soundtrack’s goosebumps-inducing highlight! Nooran Sisters ace the singing incredibly, while the trio builds a hypnotic sound around what is a beautifully folk’ish tune.

Senjittaley – Remo (Tamil – Anirudh)
Anirudh continues to the purveyor of catchphrases for the Tamil youth mired in meme-culture. His latest contribution is a new meaning for ‘Senjiduven’ – what was once used to denote, ‘I will finish you’ (made popular recently by Dhanush in Maari), is now being used to denote ‘falling’ in love. The music is heady and very-Anirudh – catchy hooks (the ‘Enakku nee’ hook is easy ammunition for roadside romeos, unfortunately) and an ambient melange of music.

Get set go ready has an energetic sound, seemingly tweaked to showcase the best dancing moves of the debutant hero. Chandan Shetty’s vocals are spot-on. Priya priya and Mamaseetha are trademark Thaman materials – simple, almost droning melodies with repetitive phrases that, by the songs’ end, become earworms! Rahul Nambiar and Karthik handle these songs with flair. Thaman uses his favorite kuthu rhythm in Selfie and the result is predictably catchy. Sampige too is templatized catchiness, delivering the goods while it’s on. Jaguar is minimum-guarantee Thaman – good, likeable music, though given the person it is launching, it’s surprisingly low-key.

Keywords: Jaguar, Thaman S, SS Thaman

Listen to the songs:

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