Sunday January 22, 2017
Originally published in The Hindu.
Kanna Katti – Kaalakkoothu (Tamil – Justin Prabhakaran)
Among present-day composers who offer melodies strongly reminiscent of Ilayaraja, Vidyasagar tops the list. While others like Harikrishna (Kannada) come close in occasionally bring back the Raja nostalgia magic, it is Justin’s capability to compose songs that evoke Raja in spirit and not just superficially, that is astounding! You listen to Kanna katti or Kannukulla (or Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum’s Enakkaaga porandhaaye, for that matter) with your eyes closed and you could actually visualize a young Prabhu or Karthik dancing around a Revathy or Khushboo. But Justin adds a layer on top that is decidedly more modern and spiffy, even as the soul of the tune is magnificently influenced by Raja.
Sunn bhavara – OK Jaanu (Hindi – A R Rahman)
When the Bollywood powers decided to remake OK Kanmani in Hindi, they would have made the obvious decision to retain the already tried and tested soundtrack by Rahman. It worked wonders in the Alaipaayuthey remake, so why not again, in this remake? Of course, but the powers-that-be also decided to drop the Tamil soundtrack’s best song, Parandhu Sellavaa, in the misguided assumption that it won’t fit in Hindi and landed with an abomination of a remix of Bombay’s Humma humma, in its place. But the other, correct decision to replace the very South-Indian
(Carnatic), Malargal kaettaen works very well for the makers. The replacement, Sunn bhavara, is the Hindi soundtrack’s best, with a lovely raag Bihag base and Shashaa Tirupati acing the classical rendition.
Aerii sakhi morae – The Story Now (Indipop – Papon)
Papon debut pop album, The Story So Far, seems so long back, considering it released in 2012. The Story Now, his latest album sees the singer in impeccable form as usual, and what stands out is the Amir Khusro written sufi track. Papon’s touch to the timeless song, made iconic by singers like Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is to make it light and frothy, like a pop-jazz tinged ghazal. And this works wonderfully, in Papon’s breezy rendition, and beautifully supported by Manasqam Mahanta on guitar and Rinku Rajput on the piano. The nuances Papon brings to the much-familiar tune make a massive difference.
Priyakara – YZ (Marathi – Hrishikesh, Saurabh and Jasraj)
Even as the other composing trio from Hindi compose in Marathi too—Shankar Ehsaan and Loy, for Katyar Kaljat Ghusli—the other trio, Hrishikesh, Saurabh and Jasraj offer a glimpse of their impressive range in a song that is surprisingly in Sanskrit! The lyrics, from Kalidasa’s Shakuntala are completely fresh, to listen to, also considering the impeccable diction and singing by Ketaki Mategaonkar and Swapnil Bandodkar. The composing trio’s tune is the clear winner, though, seemingly treading on Bhimpalasi raaga, much like Prashant Pillai’s Aberi-tinged (Bhimpalasi’s Carnatic equivalent) Malayalam song Vasanthamallike, from Chandrettan Evideya? The song picturizations too seem interestingly similar, incidentally!
Panchiyaa – Dewarists Season 5 (Amit Trivedi & V Selvaganesh)
Considering he started composing independently (beyond his band Om, in 2005) in 2007—4 songs in Abhijeet Sawant’s album Junoon and a single in Prashant Tamang debut album Dhanyavad—Amit Trivedi enters his 10th year in music composing! He starts the year with a non-film song, interestingly, collaborating with Ghatam virtuoso Vikku Vinayakram’s son Selvaganesh, who has proven to be a nifty composer himself, with films like Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu. The combination is interesting, though the tune, besides being a good listen, is very, very Amit, sometimes a bit too predictably so.