Dawn Cordo’s ethereal vocals go perfectly with the main tune of Satrangi that is equally dreamy orchestration to boot, besides Arijit Singh’s involved singing. The jaunty garba rhythm is no doubt catchy—ending in a frenzy, at that—but Gori Radha ne kado kaan has a thoroughly engaging melody as well. Zindabad re (and Amdavad re), despite the pulsating rock sound and Vishal’s spirited singing (“Dry State Re Zindabad”) is relatively less interesting. Ditto with Katputhla that soars with Keerthi Sagathia and Jasleen Royal’s vocals and the lovely sarangi note, but the tune remains fairly staid. Sachin-Jigar second Gujarati outing is functional.

Keywords: Wrong Side Raju, Sachin-Jigar

Listen to the songs:

Sunday August 28, 2016

Hitman – August 27, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Nila nila – Yaanum Theeyavan (Tamil – Achu)
Achu Rajamani has time and again proven himself to be a nifty, dependable composer in Telugu films. His Tamil efforts haven’t been all that successful, though, despite fantastic music in Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakathilaey, back in 2012. After Urumeen, he tries again in Tamil with Yaanum Theeyavan, and Nila nila is the pick of the soundtrack. The charming melody builds up really well, with Swetha Mohan’s eventual entry and the tabla layer add to the song’s appeal.

Pranaamam – Janatha Garage (Telugu – Devi Sri Prasad)
By now it seems completely pointless to dwell on Devi Sri Prasad regurgitating his own tunes and sounds since (a) it seems to be working for him and (b) talking about it doesn’t produce any meaningful outcome anyway. So, Janatha Garage is more of the same from the composer. Within that limitation, Pranaamam works perfectly as a nice pop bhajan. Shankar Mahadevan’s deep voice is apt for the song, and Ranina Reddy’s background vocals merge well too.

Kanasalu/Gamanisu – Mungaru Male 2 (Kannada – Arjun Janya)
That Mungaru Malu is getting a sequel is news by itself, but the bigger news is that the composer of the first film—Mano Murthy—is not composing for this one! The currently in-form Arjun Janya does the honors and he does a great job! Perhaps owing to sentimental reasons, Arjun ropes in Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Nigam to sing the same tune in Kanasalu and Gamanisu, respectively, like they sang Mungaru Male’s Araluthiru and Anisuthide, (though Jayanth Kaikini wrote both versions in that film; he writes only the latter here, the former written by the film’s director Shashank)! An outstanding melody, wonderfully sung and even evoking A R Rahman’s anupallavi from Duet’s En kaadhale in its own anupallavi.

Judaiyaan – unIndian (Hindi – Salim-Sulaiman)
Going by the lyricsaan that go overboardaan on the ‘aan’ suffixaan to every wordaan, this does seem like the typical Bollywood sad (usually called ‘pathos’) song. But Salim-Sulaiman’s music simple, lilting and earnest faux-sufi, with a nice dash of Sarangi. What works significantly in the song’s favor is the spirited singing by Digvijay Singh Pariyar, who had earlier sung Jaago Mohan Pyaare in Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s Katti-Batti.

Purza – Akira (Hindi – Vishal-Shekhar)
Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani seem to be on a comeback streak of sorts. After a contextual and enjoyable soundtrack for Sultan, they produce a good soundtrack for the gender-altered Hindi remake of the Tamil film Mounaguru (which had good music by Thaman, incidentally). Purza, the soundtrack’s best, is vintage Vishal-Shekhar. It flows smoothly with a breezy tune, is brilliantly sung by Arijit Singh and has a dash of Latino. The most interesting and surprising element in the song, though, is a smattering of thavil in the second stanza!

Aakupachhani chandamaamalaa has a buoyant sound and tune that is instantly appealing. Karthik and Ramya handle it like the pros they are. Suvarna, on the other hand, seems terribly templatized and ennui-inducing. Ditto for the title song that flows with its melody barely causing any impact, though there are shades of M M Keeravani in the interludes. Shankar Mahadevan aces the semi-classical, possibly-Kalyani based Oka lalana. Harini Rao’s other, modern, pop version of Oka lalana is equally captivating. Kalyani Malik to Kalyan Koduri to Kalyani Koduri and now Sri Kalyanaramana – but his music remains consistently pleasant and engaging.

Keywords: Jyo Achyutananda, Sri Kalyanaramana, Kalyani Koduri, Kalyan Koduri, Kalyani Malik

Listen to the songs:

Thaman builds the title song gradually, but surely, accelerating things with lovely guitar’ish carnatic piece in the first interlude. The composer consistently layers Krishna Chaitanya’s voice akin to a chorus, and this adds a harmonious layer to the vocals. The tune is frothy and easy-on-the-ears. Anu anu is standard-issue Thaman propped by digitally enhanced vocals and a passably decent tune. Desi Girl too is usual Thaman, but the bounce in this kuthu is heady and immediately catchy, even invoking Madhubala in a Mani Ratnam film, while Revanth is fantastic handling the singing! Srirastu Subhamastu is minimum-guarantee Thaman soundtrack, yet again.

Keywords: SS Thaman, Srirastu Subhamastu

Listen to the songs:

Lo maan liya has all the earnestness of a nursery rhyme. Raaz aankhein teri is no different – a mildly Latino-tinged, cloyingly predictable melody. It’s other version Hummein tummein is even more maudlin. The Sound of Raaz is based on the same tune too, frustratingly. Things get slightly better with the celtic whiff in Yaad hai na where even Arijit sounds a bit more interested. Jubin’s Unplugged version too has an interesting country flavor! Sangeet and Siddharth Haldipur’s O meri jaan falls in Jeet’s comfort zone of being painfully droning. A soundtrack that was perhaps better off being a raaz.

Keywords: Raaz Reboot, Jeet Gaanguli, Sangeet Haldipur, Siddharth Haldipur

Listen to the songs:

Antony Dasan is perfect for the street-brass-band sound of Gabrielinte that even adds a clever dash of RD Burman! Athiraliyum wears its melodic retro like a badge of honor, even as Lathika struggles and lets Vijay Yesudas carry it. Sooraj Santhosh is excellent in handling the lovely soft-rock sound of Thaniye. Thira thira is catchy and lively enough, despite the predominantly early-Rahman faux-folk sound. Virinja poonkurunne, by Vishnu himself, is the soundtrack’s whimsical best, with a quirky sound that accommodates a sliver of the Muslim sound. Vishnu Vijay makes a confident and interesting move from a flautist to a composer.

Keywords: Vishnu Vijay, Guppy

Listen/buy to the songs on Amazon | iTunes

Listen to Virinja poonkurunne:

Bappa, in Vishal’s energetic vocals, works perfectly as a masala-pop bhajan. Om Ganapataye namaha is more pop than bhajan, but the stadium’ish grandness of the sound is impressive. The pulsating festive sound carries in Rada too that Vishal, with his full-throated singing, holds confidently. Pee paa ke loses some steam relying on a catchy hook an nothing more. The soundtracks clear highs are the two melodies – Hriday Gattani rocks the accordion-loaded vaudevillian beauty, Udan choo, while Ajay Gogavale is fantastic handling the sweeping and pensive prayer-like Rehmo karam. Banjo sees Vishal-Shekhar produce the third good album in recent times.

Keywords: Banjo, Vishal-Shekhar

Listen to the songs:

Saturday August 20, 2016

Hitman – August 20, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Thalakaalu puriyalaye – Kidaari (Tamil – Darbuka Siva)
When Anitha K opens the Thalakaalu puriyalaye, it is an amazingly misleading prelude that hardly indicates what is to come after it! What follows the prelude eventually is a joyous outburst of a song, with a brass section and a rock sound full of swagger. Debutant composer Darbuka Siva, of La Pongal fame, brings his own brand of folk music, infusing a lovely smattering of nadaswaram and thavil in the second interlude!

Toota jo kabhi tara – A Flying Jatt (Hindi – Sachin-Jigar)
Toota jo kabhi tara is Sachin and Jigar answering director Remo D’Souza’s ask for a sweeping, ‘timeless’ romantic song. The intent is obvious and the tune flows gorgeously passing through a wonderfully lush orchestration, particularly in the antara, with the main musical hook used appearing often. Pakistani singer Atif Aslam is dependably good, while Sumedha Karmahe sounds confident.

Ota – Sanjay Divecha and Secret (Indipop)
Guitarist and composer Sanjay Divecha’s latest band, Secret, comprises of Sanjay himself on acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, programming (and occasional vocals), Chandana Bala and Raman Mahadevan handling the main vocals, Sonu Sangameswaran handling bass and Sanket Naik handling the percussion and pitching in on vocals. Ota, the Kannada opener of the album is a lovely song split by marked changes to the sound at the end of each utterance of ‘Saaguve na munde’ by Chandana Bala! After the first, there is a subtle percussion addition to what was till then primarily guitar-driven. After the second, the lively jazz’y backgrounds kick-in. After the third, the track acquires a beautifully divergent, free-form direction. At the fourth, the song ends!

Ee khalbitha – IDI (Malayalam – Rahul Raj)
Malayalam composer Rahul Raj has, by now, created his own trademark melody. Ee khalbitha has all the signs of that trademark (of sorts) – a soothing melody that is instantly likeable, a harmonious chorus, topped by fantastic vocals. The vocals here are being handled by Suchith Suresan and he does a phenomenal job. Rahul also throws in a dash of Rahman-styled flute to added effect.

Hot coffee kappu – L 7 (Telugu – Aravind-Shankar)
Composing duo Aravind-Shankar made their debut back in 2002, in Vasanth’s Yai Nee Romba Azhaga Irukey, as one of the 5 composers. From then, they have had a chequered career, often sharing credits with other composers. Their latest, the oddly titled L 7 sees them going solo, and they produce a delightful mix. Hot coffee kappu is classic, time-tested mambo presented really well by the duo! Harshitha Krishnan’s sultry vocals add to that, while Shudeep Chandrasekar offers her good company.

In Rajj rajj ke, while Sonakshi struggles hard, Nahid Afrin—the Indian Idol finalist from Assam—handles the angsty tune effortlessly in the other version. The remix evens out the angst to make an odd dance track. Purza is vintage Vishal-Shekhar! Breezy tune, brilliantly sung by Arijit, with a dash of Latino, and a surprising smattering of thavil in the second stanza! Shekhar is fantastic in the rhythmic, North-Eastern’ish melody of Kehkasha*. Baadal is Sunidhi’s show all the way, though the pop tune is conventional enough, but with some inventive guitar work by Adil Manuel. Vishal-Shekhar in good form again, after Sultan.

Keywords: Akira, Vishal-Shekhar

*Kehkasha is based on Vishal-Shekhar’s own Marathi song from Balak Palak, Haravali Pakhare.

Listen to the songs:

Hot coffee kappu is classic, time-tested mambo presented really well by Arvind-Shankar! Harshitha Krishnan’s sultry vocals adds to that, while Shudeep Chandrasekar offers her good company. Yazin Nizar is incredibly earnest in the blues’y ballad-style So so baby, literally singing outside the window of the lady, complete with a dog barking in the background). The composing duo are inventive in My name is Ammu, breaking the standard Telugu folk kuthu pattern with a lively mix of multiple genres and sung with superb verve by Bindhumalini! From YNRAI’s Yamini Yamini, Aravind-Shankar, despite a chequered, credit-sharing career, have come a long way.

Keywords: L-7, L 7, L7, Aravind-Shankar, Arvind-Shankar

Listen to the songs:

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