Monday June 6, 2016

Most promising Indian music composers – version 3, 2016

Posted by Karthik

The last time I did this list, it was in 2014 (and in 2008, before that). It’s time there’s another list like this. Except Hindi film music, where multi-composer albums are almost the norm these days, the other 4 major film producing languages that I track consistently (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) are, thankfully, sticking with single-composer soundtracks. From my 2014 list, Ghibran, Santhosh Narayanan, Shaan Rahman and Anupam Roy (Hindi debut with Piku) have already made it to the mainstream!

The following list is titled ‘most promising composers’, but it simply is—as always—most promising, in my opinion. That is, the composers, whose work I look forward to the most (besides the A-listers, of course).

Hindi

Hindi’s A-listers are easy to name – Pritam, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, A.R.Rahman, Vishal-Shekhar, Amit Trivedi, Vishal Bhardwaj and Sachin Jigar. There are a whole lot of T-series led composers who have become as prolific as T-series is – Jeet Ganguli, Ankit Tiwari, Amaal Malik, Meet Bros, Manj Musik, Toshi-Sharib etc. who produce music like it comes out a machine (the T-series movie machine, with many of them sung by Tulsi Kumar).

The Next 5 in Hindi:

01. Ram Sampath
The most promising of the lot, right up to his latest work for Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 (and the mighty fresh Bangistan, last year). He’s, in my view, the most inventive and progressive, in trying newer sounds and genres.

02. Krsna
Krsna was so, so good in the Tanu Weds Manu series, but even outside that, in little-known, did-it-release-or-not films like Cute Kameena, he does well (though Issaq, Tamanchey and Jolly LLB were more misses than hits). But, for Tanu Weds Manu alone, I have hope!

03. Mithoon
Mithoon was in my 2008 list too. And he has made some moves that are worth keeping him here, though A-list eludes him severely. He produces the occasional one-great-song in some of the albums he’s in—Keh bhi de (Traffic), Ji huzoori (Ki & Ka), Sanam re (Sanam Re), Kinna sona (Bhaag Johnny)—that I’m willing to overlook his other not-so-interesting and hugely templatized songs in some of his other recent films.

04. Clinton Cerejo
Clinton Cerejo is more known for his Coke Studio work than film music, but he made his debut only recently, with Jugni. He followed it up with an equally great soundtrack in TE3N. Plus, he did Ananthaal, with Bianca Gomes and Vijay Prakash. Here’s expecting tons from Clinton!

05. Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh
The duo, an odd one, at that, had 2 films (Sooper se Ooper – bad; Jal – decent enough), but their pop album The Music Room is reason for them to be here in this list!

Other worth a mention include Raghu Dixit, Ajay-Atul (who are way beyond the ‘promising’ tag if you consider their Marathi output alone, and also, after Sairat, in particular), Gulraj Singh (who showed tremendous promise with Ganaraj Adhiraj and Tutiya Dil, and much later, with a song in Ungli and a pop compilation from Max Life Insurance’s talent show, Shukriya & Malanga), Mikey McCleary, Anupam Roy, Sneha Khanwalkar and Shantanu Moitra.

Tamil

The Tamil A-listers are fairly well known and well demarcated, regardless of some of their last few works not going places. The list includes, Ilayaraja, A.R.Rahman, D.Imman, Anirudh, G.V.Prakash Kumar, Sean Roldan, Santhosh Narayanan, Harris Jayaraj, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Ghibran. Others like Vijay Antony, Bharadwaj are in the periphery or find acting more useful than composing.

The Next 5 in Tamil:

01. Justin Prabhakaran
5 soundtracks old Justin tops my list, particularly after that show-stopping music in Oru Naal Koothu (that is releasing only now!). In that 5, he even managed to go to Kerala and produce a Kunjiramayanam there! An a-list star’s film still evades him, but he manages great music in relatively low-key films like Raja Mandhiri.

02. C.Sathya
Severely under-rated, and continues to produce good music even in films that seem fairly low-key. That’s a very sad combination. I’ve rarely seen him in public or read his interviews.

03. Leon James
Just 2 films old! Son of veteran music arranger of A R Rahman, Noel James (a familiar name in the era of early Rahman, when many Pyramid cassettes named him in the credits!). Vaaya veera from Kanchana and the entire soundtrack of Ko 2 has me looking forward to his output with anticipation.

04. K
One of the most unconventional composers in Tamil films today. K’s music refuses to stick to any formula or template and he manages to head to Malayalam with the occasional Annayum Rasoolum too, and a song in Kammatipaadam! He also has the knack producing mega duds like Onbadhula Guru and 49-0 (did it for friends?).

05. Nivas K Prasanna
3 films old, and a dud even in that (Sethupathi). But Thegidi is reason enough, and Zero is a close 2nd. Here’s hoping he gets bigger, better films (he did, once, with Sethupathi – ok, will stop lamenting about it now!).

Other composers worth noting, in this connection: Gopi Sundar (though I find his Malayalam and Telugu output considerably better), Hiphop Tamizha, Navin, Vivek-Mervin, Achu Rajamani, Dharan Kumar, Ramesh Vinayagam, Sam C.S, Arrol Corelli and Ved Shankar Sugavanam.

Telugu

The Telugu A-listers list is rather short, with only Mickey J Meyer who made his entry into it recently. This would be M.M.Keeravani, Devi Sri Prasad, Thaman S and Mickey J Meyer. Past A-lister Mani Sharma seems to have lost favor, only occasionally resurfacing in films like Gentleman and Lion.

The Next 5 in Telugu:

01. Gopi Sundar
Along with his prolific output in Malayalam, Gopi has made a solid claim in Telugu, with fantastic music in films like Seethamma Andalu Ramayya Sitralu, Bhale Bhale Magadivoy and Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju. Oopiri, his first ‘big’ film in Telugu (and in Tamil) was bloated, but decent enough.

02. Sunny M.R.
Sunny, erstwhile arranger to Pritam, somehow landed in Telugu-land and has already done 6 films (he was in my 2014 list too, as Sunny Samour!)! Swamy Ra Ra, his debut, was noteworthy, and even besides the dud in his first ‘big’ film (Dohchay, starring Naga Chaitanya no less), his music has a uniquely different stamp!

03. Kalyan Koduri
Kalyan may be the composer with most names, much like his brother M.M.Keeravani, who goes by the name Maragadhamani in Tamil and M.M.Kreen in Hindi. Kalyani Koduri, Kalyan Koduri and Kalyani Malik are some of his names in Telugu itself! From 2003’s Aithe, his music has a definite twang to it that is different from his brother’s music and other composers too.

04. Anup Rubens
Amongst the 5 composers here, Anup has had the most films starring a-list stars (Manam, Soggade Chinni Nayana) and directors (Puri Jagannadh, Heart Attack), but he, for some reason, still hasn’t become that sought-after a composer. His output is consistently good, though a lot templatized.

05. Shravan
Shravan is the most low-key composer I’ve witnessed in recent times in Telugu. He had 2 releases this year and both had decent music (Savithri and Meeku Meere Maaku Meeme). He has, in the past too, showcased a good range of sounds that make him deserve the 5th spot here.

Others who missed this list by a whisker include J.B., Achu Rajamani, Bheems Ceciroleo, Sagar Mahati (Mani Sharma’s son) and Manikanth Kadri. A special note to Tamil composers who have done well in Telugu, albeit producing only one album – V.Pradeep Kumar (a knock-out composing debut in Maine Pyar Kiya) and Santhosh Narayanan (fantastic music in Billa Ranga), and Ghibran, who has been fairly consistent even in Telugu, with films like Run Raja Run and Jil (and his new film, Venkatesh starrer Babu Bangaram is just round the corner).

Malayalam

Malayalam film music is the most progressive, in the sense that they seem to have given up on the standard 5-songs per film norm long back. They thankfully stick to single-composer albums, but the money seems pretty bad, if you go by what Gopi Sundar has jovially noted in an interview during Oopiri’s promotion. Still, the A-listers are very visible – Gopi Sundar, Shaan Rahman, Rahul Raj, Bijibal, Prashant Pillai, Deepak Dev, Vidyasagar and Sharreth.

The Next 5 in Malayalam:

01. Roby Abraham
Roby had 2 releases back in 2012 (Friday and Theevram; the former was very good, while the latter was passable). He even had Rasputin, in 2013, with relatively middling music (barring Parayathey). His show-stopper was last year’s You Too Brutus. He also has an impressive range with his band (featuring Madonna Sebastian among others) Everafter, plus his compositions in Kappa TV’s Music Mojo.

02. Job Kurien
Between his debut (Thalam, with Yakzan Gary Pereira and Charan Raj) and his only film, Rasam (Mohanlal starrer no less), Job has composed less and sung a lot more. But whatever he has had a hand in composing, they have been fantastic, including Rasam’s Maayamo! Here’s hoping he gets to compose more!

03. Govind Menon
Thaikkudam Bridge’s Govind Menon has definitely branched out well in film music, with impressive work in films like 100 Days of Love, North 24 Kaatham. He was supposed to debut in Tamil with Jayaram’s son Kalidas’ Tamil debut (Oru Pakka Kadhai), but for some reason, Kalidas’ 2nd film, Meenkuzhambbum Manpaanayum (with music by hit-machine Imman) came first.

04. Neha S. Nair & Yakzan Gary Pereira
Between them, as a duo, they have just one soundtrack—Iyobinte Pusthakam—but, adding that to Yakzan’s earlier effort (Thaalam, along with Job Kurien and Charan Raj), I feel a lot more confident about this duo, if they decide to produce more music together.

05. Sooraj S. Kurup
I’m going out on a limb in naming Sooraj as the 5th in this list, with just one album out (Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti). And that’s largely because of the majestic Karaharapriya-infused Pularkaalam pole! Here’s hoping the man lives up to the high standards I expect from him!

Others worth noting here include Rahul Subramanian, Viswajith, Rex Vijayan and the Ramesh Vinayagam os Malayalam, Stephen Devassy.

Kannada

Kannada’s A-listers list is rather short. It was just V.Harikrishna earlier, but now it includes Arjun Janya.

The Next 4 in Kannada:

01. Ajaneesh Loknath
The most promising among the new lot. An explosive debut in Ulidavaru Kandante and then more recently, Akira and Ishtakamya. I see phenomenal growth for Ajaneesh in Kannada.

02. Charan Raj
The 3rd person in this list connected to the Malayalam pop album Thaalam! After Godhi Banna Sadharna Mykattu, he sure deserves a place in this list!

03. Manikanth Kadri
Manikanth, much like Prashant Pillai, Gopi Sundar and Raghu Dixit has been moving between languages (Kannada, Telugu and Tamil), but his major works have been in Kannada, right up the newly released Run Antony. His consistency is such that it makes it worth following what he does next!

04. Vijay Prakash
I had singer Vijay Prakash in this list the last time (2014) for just one film (Andar Bahar). He hasn’t composed anything since then for films, though he was part of a pop album (Ananthaal) along with Bianca Gomes and Clinton Cerejo. So, here’s hoping the man composes too, besides singing so well, so often.

Others like the fairly prolific Anoop Seelin and now-missing Joshua Sridhar complete the list. I heard that Jassie Gift has recently completed 25 films – not sure if it is his multi-lingual output or 25 just in Kannada, given how often he composes (only) in Kannada.

Comments

comments

  • Rakshith Saxena

    Ajay Atul? I am surprised not to see their name on your list.

    • milliblog

      Oh c’mon – they are beyond ‘promising’, if you go by their Marathi repertoire alone. They have wonderfully proven themselves multiple times, and most recently, again, with Sairat.

      • Rakshith Saxena

        Agreed! I started to listen to Marati songs (a language that I don’t understand) just to listen Ajay Atul’s music. The last time downloaded songs of the language I don’t understand were by Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman. They (Ajay Atul) are kind of modern Ilayaraja ( specially in Sairat jala ze arrangements , flute in Yad lagela and O saiyaan from agneepath.)
        I really hope composers like Ajay Atul, AMIT Trivedi, (Probably two of the best in current generation for different reasons though) get better scripts to work on with.
        Let’s see what future holds for these amazing musicians.

  • Vishnu

    Don’t think Sean Roldan is an A-Lister. Yet.

    • milliblog

      Sigh. You’re right. I think I let my assumption of the quality of his music come in the way.

  • Prakash Srinivasan

    The sad thing for me is that Vidyasagar is no more mainstream in Tamil alongwith the other legends. He was my 3rd favourite composer after IR/ARR, because he was a wonderful combination of both their styles and he has given so many fabulous tunes. The silver lining is that Malayalam still uses him and I pray he continues to get offers. A severely underrated composer.

    • milliblog

      Totally agree. I’m glad that he’s at least still doing work in Malayalam, where he usually produces his best.

  • zx12r

    Sathya was the keyboard player in Raagamalika TV show. So many would have seen him

  • rnjbond

    Great list and totally agree… Ram Sampath is definitely a talent to watch out for. I love how unexpected Qatl-E-Aam from Raman Raghav 2.0 was. Worth mentioning is his work on Satyamev Jayathe as well, which really illustrates his versatility.

    On a side note:

    it’s a little bit of a bummer for me, personally, to see Mithoon still in the “promising” lot and not as “promised” yet, but I’m hoping the fact that he put together a fantastic album in Traffic (which had three great tracks and one good track, in my view) can change that.

    It is a bigger bummer to see Gulraj Singh on that list, though. It feels like he hasn’t really been given a chance, in spite of the fact that all his work has been fantastic (Tutiya Dil, Ganaraj Adhiraj, Malanga and Shukriya). He did get one “A-list” opportunity, which was composing the song Pakeezah for Ungli and that was a lovely song!

    • milliblog

      Guilty as charged, to both the bummers 🙂 I know Mithoon hasn’t yet reached where I expected him to be and continues to only show flashes of that promise now and then… and he’s taking a very l-o-n-g time, I can tell you. He won’t be in my next list 🙂

      As for Gulraj, I’ve been betting on him right from Ganaraj Adhiraj and still think he has so much to contribute, but given that single in Ungli (which was good, but it was a single, sidelined by everybody else in the film including a washed out Sanjay Dutt (I thought it being a Karan Johar production may up Gulraj’s chances, but he’s not a Meet Bros or Ankit or Amaal type to look for alternate routes like multi-composer albums)… I have very less hope. But for his stellar work in Shukriya and Malanga (which were essentially corporate gigs, not filmy) he has nothing in hand that I’m aware of 🙁

  • Fincher Rocks!

    Yes, the total music budget of a Malayalam film has been very less. ‘Bangalore Days’ was a flm produced at a budget of Rs. 9 Crore, but the music budget was just Rs. 15 lakhs! The 2012 film Casanovva was made at a budget of Rs. 21 Crore, but the music budget was again apparently less than 15 lakhs!

    In Malayalam films, the music budget has always been not more than 1/100th of the film’s total budget. Where as in Tamil cinema, the music budget would be close to 1/10th of the movie’s budget (or more, if A. R. Rahman is on board).

    For example, the 2009 Malayalam film ‘Pazhassi Raja’ was made at a budget of Rs. 27 crore then, but the total music budget allotted to Ilaiyaraaja then would have been less than Rs. 45 lakhs.
    At the same time, the 2009 Tamil film ‘Ayan’ was made at a budget of Rs. 20 crore, but the music budget allotted to Harris Jayaraj then, would have been almost 1/10th of it, that is, close to Rs. 2 crores!

    It’s true that off-late, Malayalam films have changed the way songs are used in the movie. They are almost part of the ‘score’. But they should at least start allocating 5% of the total budget for music.

    Despite all this, the background scores in many Malayalam films have been top notch, some of them world class!!

  • Anon92115

    How come you’ve missed Vishal Chandrashekhar? Just for ‘Jil Jung Juk’ he warrants a mention I feel!

    • milliblog

      Intentional. I find his music swinging wildly between terrible and terrific. Jil Jung Juk and Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gaadha are the 2 soundtracks where he found his style and rocked them both. Rest are very patchy.

      • Anon92115

        Alright, makes sense!

      • 1 hindu

        Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gaadha, what’s this?!

  • Jaydeep

    Although Jeet Ganguly is part of T-series music factory, he deserves some credit here. Whatever said and done, he composes great melodies. Be it his original Hindi compositions or Bengali rehashes, his compositions are soulful.
    Other composers that I felt showed a spark are Shashi-Shivam and Anupam Roy.

  • Sagar Dhara

    Very nice blog…I really liked it soooooo much.
    Thanks,
    Sagar Dhara,
    http://songslyricsbysagardhara.blogspot.in

Sponsored links

June 2016
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Like Milliblog? Help spread the word!

Get reviews by email