In the thematic instrumental, Ghibran’s beautifully woven strings and flute combo is reminiscent of Ilayaraja’s. Banupriya’s (Karu karunnu), Oorvashi’s (Carratu Pottazhagaa) and Saranya’s (Time Passukkosaram) songs are short, but highly rhythmic and appealing. Chennai Qawwali Kids’ vocal harmony in Bullet Song is impressive, on a middling Mast Qalandar recreation. Karthi does quite well in the bluegrass’y Gubu gubu, but Padmalatha sounds out-of-sorts in Ghandhari yaaro, already weighed down by the familiar rhythm. The soundtrack’s best is Adi vaadi thimiraa, a rousing rock anthem superbly handled by Gold Devaraj and particularly the chorus. Ghibran’s music is markedly different in Magalir Mattum.

Keywords: Magalir Mattum, Ghibran

Listen to the songs on Saavn and YouTube:

Guru Randhawa and Rajat Nagpal get composing credit for Suit, an already super-hit 2016 Punjabi track composed by Intense (who is credited for ‘original music’, though it’s the same!) and sung by Guru Randhawa and Arjun! Catchy, competent, albeit generic song. Sukhbir produces yet another remix of Oh ho ho ho, credited to Abhijit Vaghani as well. That leaves Sachin-Jigar to save the soundtrack, and they seek Atif Aslam’s help in Hoor, a heart-warming melody with a serene harmonium-tabla mix. Thier Ek jindari is standard-issue, but, though with a nice children’s chorus led by Taniskaa Sanghvi. Hoor tops Hindi Medium.

Keywords: Hindi Medium, Guru Randhawa, Rajat Nagpal, Intense, Sachin-Jigar, Sukhbir, Abhijit Vaghani

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 6.59.16 PM

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Sunday April 23, 2017

Ramesh Vinayakam retrospective

Ramesh Vinayagam-1

Considering I have been tracking (and eventually writing about) Tamil and other film music in India, have always, at various points in time, felt that some composer was promising, besides those who ruled the roost at those times. VS Narasimhan, Vidyasagar, Adithyan, Balabarathy… back in those days. And many of the new composers these days. Some of them go on to do really well (like Vidyasagar) across other languages too, and many of them vanish (Adithyan and VS Narasimhan are good examples, though the former started cooking more often on TV!) after a big burst.

Amongst those who seemed massively promising and continue to exist in the brink is Ramesh Vinayakam. Everybody seems very hopeful about him, people want to like his music, but something goes wrong somewhere when it comes to success. I had judged his Ramanujan as the best soundtrack of 2014, and deservedly so. But the man has been active since 1989, if you were unaware. He started as Narendranath, in Telugu and produced music for 3 films directed by Mouli. What is remarkable is how much his music sounds like Ilayaraja’s (not that it is a badge of honor, though, given that imitation is the best form of flattery). But those 3 films had very good music.

It is also interesting to note the musical sense changing in his work, albeit gradually. Take for instance, Namansulo from Manchi Roju. You hear the piano in the beginning and you could swear it was by MM Keeravani! Mind you – Keeravani debuted in 1990 and Manchi Roju was 1991. Is it that Ramesh was trying to emulate the sounds of those times? I don’t know.

1995’s Aunty had a high-energy song Dimba dimbaro that could fit in any Vidyasagar-composed Telugu potboiler! In fact, Ramesh ended his Telugu innings with a pretty bad soundtrack for Raghava Lawrence’s debut – the 1999 film Speed Dancer.

Then, Ramesh moved completely to Tamil, starting with the single Thottu thottu from Vasanth’s multi-composer album Yai Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke and produced consistently good music, largely. Azhagiya Theeye’s Vizhigalin aruginil remains my favorite Ramesh Vinayagam song, followed by Thuli thuliyai from Ramanujan and Aasaiyaparu from Mosakutty.

Mainstream success continues to elude Ramesh Vinayakam like a life-long curse, but the man is talented, at least in my opinion. So, here’s an attempt to unearth and expose some of his good music.

Related watch: Ramesh talking about his career in this Jaya TV interview, including the point about MM Keeravani, Vidyasagar, A R Rahman and Mani Sharma working with him!

Ponge yevvanam – Paila Pacheesu
Naa chaithra geethame – Paila Pacheesu
Namanasulo – Manchi Roju
Oohallo aavesam – Manchi Roju
Sogasula ranive – Manchi Roju
Tam tam kotti – Manchi Roju (not available on YouTube)
Dimba dimbaro – Aunty
Nenje thullippo – University
Enna idhu – Nala Damayanthi
Vizhigalin aruginil – Azhagiya Theeye
Dil mera – Azhagiya Theeye (not available on YouTube; listen on Raaga)
Yen swaasathil – Jerry
Yaarodum – Sollakathai (not available on YouTube)
Thuli thuliyai – Ramanujan
Vinkadantha – Ramanujan
Narayana narayana – Ramanujan
Aasaiyaparu Aasaiya – Mosakutty
Kalla Payalae Payalae – Mosakutty
Vada Dai Enpurusa – Mosakutty
Mosakutty – Mosakutty (not available on YouTube)

Damn damn screams heroine-introduction. ‘Vaadi en chellakili’ screams Britney Spears. The song screams ‘Harris Jayaraj’. Morada sticks to standard-issue boy-band sound, but Karky’s city life idiosyncracies (“Idhu wifi kaadu”) is entertaining! Bombay Jayashri’s Yemma yea reaches a tantalizing high with the tribal’ish hook, set on a wonderful, Vaseegara’ish melody. Vijay Yesudas’s Silu silu is uncluttered and beautifully serene, while its variant, Vanam theme gives Harris a legitimate reason to use his gibberish with context. Pachai uduthiya has Abhay Jodhpurkar and Harini lifting an already lovely melody to a new high. Harris, in his 50th, scores big with the three melodies!

Keywords: Vanamagan, Harris Jayaraj

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In Maana ke hum, Parineeti Chopra sounds earnest enough to carry the pleasant melody. But earnestness alone isn’t enough, as is quite evident. Arijit completely aces the lovely rock ballad in Haareya, while Monali Thakur breezes through the whispery Bengali-Hindi mix of Khol de baahein. The Pancham swagger generously helps Yeh jawani teri, even as it traverses familiar territory. The soundtrack’s best is Iss tarah, with Clinton and Dominique holding the song’s funky Indipop vibe beautifully, even as Sachin-Jigar offer a compellingly catchy tune with a superb brass layer! After a lean 2016, Sachin-Jigar open 2017 on a great note!

Keywords: Meri Pyaari Bindu, Sachin-Jigar

Listen to the songs on Saavn.

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Wednesday April 19, 2017

Thiri (Music review), Tamil – Ajesh

Akka maga is Deva 2.0 gaana, with a significantly more modern sound. Gana Vinoth’s blistering rendition outplays S.P.Raja Sethupathi’s vocals in the other version, Kannu Rekha. Uravey is absolutely gorgeous, with that awesome ‘Oru kadalil vandhu sernthaal’ line! Sathyaprakash’s version is considerably better than Thilak Anand’s reprise. Yaavum needhaaney‘s charukesi-raga base makes it an easy win, but that also renders it too familiar. Vaetta pen vaetta falls flat, with its obviously-item-song template. Thaman’s Dhillirukku tholodu has a catchy, inspirational hook, but the generic Middle Eastern sound is a downer. Ajesh’s Paambhu Sattai spark is intact but in a limited dose.

Keywords: Thiri, Ajesh

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

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Mella mella has all the hallmark of a Ghibran song – multi-layered orchestration, excellent vocal harmonies that beautifully lift the anupallavi and interludes and a saccharine-sweet melody perfectly handled by Shwetha Subram and Abishek. Bodhai poo raises the bar significantly further with its exotic instrumental mix and a fabulously rhythmic hook that Sharanya Gopinath renders with aplomb. Marana Gaana Viji’s oddly distorted, digitally managed voice leads the foot-stomper of a techno-kuthu Maya masthava – adequately catchy! Of the 13 impressive background pieces, Chase the shadows, Wrath of Maya and Flush and rush are instantly appealing. Interesting, imaginative music from Ghibran.

Keywords: Maayavan, Ghibran

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

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Nangu beka makes apt use of Puneeth Rajkumar’s vocals in a simple, catchy tune. Ammi ammi is predictably outdated, though with a passable enough rhythm, though it is Vijay Prakash’s vocals that holds the song together. The song’s EDM mix is atrocious. Somebody say is a complete u-turn in tone! The song, sung by rapper Chandan Shetty and Anuradha Bhat is a punchy techno melody that has a retro’ish appeal, though the interludes go completely haywire. Doora doora has a decent enough Everlasting Love Songs-range sappy melody, but Sadhu Kokila kills it with his singing. Barely functional soundtrack by Arjun.

Keywords: Preethiya Raayabhari, Arjun Janya

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Madhumatiye is quite and earworm, with its reggae-meets-retro charm, and sung particularly well by Shreekumar Vakkiyil, with a distinct nasal twang that amps up the old-worldly feel, and Preeti Pillai. Bijibal and the chorus—and Anwar Ali’s word-play—ace the pulsating propaganda song Lokam ennum, while Udhichuyarnne picks up the pace steadily, amidst the street-theater style music, with lively singing by Sithara Krishnakumar and Vaikom Vijayalakshmi. Theyyum thindaka‘s hypnotic, intonation style tune is instantly catchy, along with the captivating folk percussion, brass and guitar fusion, though the baby is definitely not going to sleep with that short an Aarariro. Rich, thematic soundtrack.

Keywords: Sakhavu, Prashant Pillai

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

The title song is yet-another generic high-pitched call for some cause. Chellakutti joraa, like Justin’s Ethithu veetu kaliflowere (Raja Mandhiri) has a gently playful and retro’ish touch, with a particularly imaginative nadhaswaram-thavil mix, but for a middling tune. Poi varavaa‘s maudlin medley drones on, but in Vaikom Vijayalakshmi’s voice, Vaasamulla poovaa makes for a haunting and soulful listen, with composer Bijibal’s young daughter Daya ending it with a twist, by singing a lullaby! Pradeep Kumar rocks the exuberant Ettoorum kekkum, with a lively percussion and interestingly imagined chorus-enabled anupallavi. After recent highs, Justin’s music in Thondan is relatively less impressive.

Keywords: Thondan, Justin Prabhakaran

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

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