Sam goes overboard with his vocal shenanigans in Kallooliye, but his glitzy music jumps excitedly with that ‘Kaathaa kalakkura’ and with Swagatha’s fantastic singing, it works. Yedhedho aanene ups the ante with superb guitar, a tantalizing rhythm, and Sam and Chinmayi’s singing for the engaging melody. Rajaadhi raja‘s idea to offer a paean to Karthik’s heydays fails. Theeraadho is standard-issue pathos, while Guna’s poor man’s Anthony Daasan show in Kandapadi is middling. The theme, with its delightful waltz and Brindha’s vocals ends the soundtrack on a good note. After a series of highs, Sam slips; Mr. Chandramouli is merely average.

Keywords: Mr. Chandramouli, Sam C.S.

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Episode 4 of Milliblog Monthlies, featuring 18 20 songs by M.M.Kreem.

His name is incredibly unique! In Hindi, that is. He may be the only music composer in India who has a different name for each language he composes in, at least the 3 major languages he composes/has composed! So, he is M.M.Keeravani in Telugu (Koduri Marakathamani Keeravaani), Maragathamani in Tamil and the oddest of all, M.M.Kreem in Hindi! This multi-moniker trend runs in the family too – his brother, Kalyani Malik, a very, very competent composer himself is known by many other names – Kalyani Malik, Kalyan Malik, Kalyan Koduri and Sri Kalyan Ramana!

This list focuses on M.M.Kreem, the Hindi repertoire of M.M.Keeravani. The man is a well-established and successful composer in Telugu and has also produced some fantastic music in Tamil (he made his Tamil debut with K.Balachander’s Azhagan, one year after his Telugu debut! Here’s a more detailed note on how good the music of Azhagan was.)

Kreem’s Hindi debut was in 1995, 5 years after his Telugu debut, with Mahesh Bhatt’s Criminal (an ironic title since the plot was criminally lifted without credit or royalty from the Harrison Ford starrer The Fugitive. From then on, Kreem has been associated with the Bhatt family across many movies and worked with other directors and producers too in Hindi. His trademark Hindi sound is soft and melodious, and very unique as a body of work.

The composer once wrote on Facebook that he had marked his retirement date as December 8, 2016, on the day he recorded his first song in Telugu (December 9, 1989)!

Thankfully, in 2017 he decided to stay on, through a tweet!

The following playlist has 20 songs from M.M.Kreem. These are my absolute favorites from the composer’s body of work in Hindi.

Playlist on Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube

01. Raat sari – Zakhm (1998)
I know that Gali mein aaj is the more/most popular song from Zakhm, I love it too, and the fact is Zakhm is Kreem’s best Hindi soundtrack to date. But Raat saari makes my heart flutter, literally. Alka Yagnik was absolutely incredible with her singing, bringing out the longing in the waiting of the song’s lyrics (Anand Bakshi). Kreem himself joins in with a vocal hum in the end and the instruments used are so well thought-out and classy – including santoor, sitar and strings. The prelude sound before santoor kicks in is haunting and memorable!

02. Chup tum raho – Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996)
The film was Kreem’s 2nd Hindi outing. The film was in news back when it released even though it was being seen as an ‘art’ film. Nida Fazli’s lyrics add a beautiful dimension to the soft ghazal-like sound that Kreem plays around with creatively in the antara. Between Chitra and Kreem, the soulful and very serene—perfectly apt for the ‘chup’ of the lyrics—veers in an awkward direction only in the ill-conceived second interlude.

03. Awarapan banjarapan – Jism (2003)
What a wonderfully immersive song! Sayeed Quadri’s lyrics are so evocative of the wayward, aimless feeling that occurs to all of us at various points in life. And KK breathes life into those lyrics so beautifully. Kreem’s music is understated and lets the melody flow through, with a lovely choice of instruments, the oboe being my favorite. This song has been torturing me for a very, very long time for a different reason, though. There’s a particular line in the song that tune of which I’m sure I have heard it in some Tamil song – some old Tamil song is what I can recollect… the M.S.Viswanathan, Sivaji Ganesan period. But I just cannot place the song. The tune in the Hindi song repeats 4 times (only the lines outside the bracket – just the tune for that!!),
“Apne liye toh thik usee pal (roz dhala hai seene mein)”
“Ho na ho uss par kahee koyee (khwab jala hai seene mein)”
“Ishq kee aise rah guzar ko (hamne chuna hai seene mein)”
“Thoda sa dil meraa bura hai (thoda bhala hai seene mein)”
I keep hearing the song in loop for that reason too, in the hope that some day I’ll stumble on the song I’m looking for. 🙂

04. Anjana dil kya jaane – Dhokha (2007)
This is probably more upbeat than most of Kreem’s Hindi songs! KK’s vocals are vibrant and highly enthusiastic and Kreem’s tune has a verve that reminds me of Vishal-Shekhar’s Subah Subah from I See You for some reason. The outlook, of optimism and positivity, seemed similar in sound and lyrics.

05. Tu mile – Criminal (1995)
This is the song that made Kreem a known name in Bollywood! Perhaps picking a thread from Mahesh Bhatt who is usually unabashed in his intent and execution of plagiarism of plots from all possible sources, Kreem used parts of Enigma’s Age of Loneliness in the opening of the song where Chitra hums extensively (it’s her in Hindi too, though Alka Yagnik sings the actual song) modelled on Enigma’s original. Not just that, Kreem also lifted Snow’s Lonely Monday Morning for the song Keemti Keemti! But, on Tu mile, the song now is a cult classic, plagiarism or not. The melody is wonderfully rich and sweeping, and Kumar Sanu and Alka sing it so well, particularly the gorgeous antaras!

06. Gali mein aaj – Zakhm (1998)
This is a heart-breakingly beautiful song. If Raat saari was about hope and longing, Gali mein aaj is wish-fulfillment. It’s where the hope ends in happiness. I still remember an email from Piyush Pandey (Ogilvy) that he sent to all employees (I was one, at that point; not anymore) about how the song’s lyrics came through a brief.

A few days back, I met a doctor friend of mine who shared a wonderful story with me. My friend met Anand Bakshi’s son, who narrated the story. One day, producer-director Mahesh Bhatt met Mr. Anand Bakshi and asked him to write a song for him. His brief of the situation was about a man who visited his wife once in a blue moon. The key words are ‘once in a blue moon’. Here the song and you will know the difference between a brief in English and a response from the heart.

It’s interesting that Anand Bakshi approaches the brief from the woman’s perspective and not the man’s point of view. Her perspective is expressed so beautifully through that idiom, ‘once in a blue moon’ which finds a literal but thoughtful translation of ‘gali mein aaj chaand nikla’. The simple, lilting tune and Alka’s singing are part of the song’s magic.

07. Chalo tumko lekar chale – Jism (2003)
Shreya Ghoshal incredibly sweet vocals literally makes this song work. The rhythm is standard-issue faux-Enigma, but Kreem’s melody is deep and engaging. The song featuring a temptress needed this tempting a tune and lyrics to work and the combo or Kreem and Shreya deliver it really well. The way Kreem approaches the antara is a lovely touch: “Gaati sarsarati in hawaon sang aao” paves way for a lengthy “Paas m-e-r-e A-n-a-a”, while ‘Zarasa’ ‘Lamha’ ‘Chupa tha’ are delivered one line each!

08. O saathiya – Saaya (2003)
I believe this song was composed for originally for Zakhm and the dholak-led sound perhaps makes it very apt for that film too! It’s a classic Hindi film song template that I’m surprised Kreem nails it so well, complete with a qawali style clap sound towards the end of the antara. The main refrain from the song, ‘Dil chura liya… saathiya’ is a very memorable hook!

09. Dil mein jaagi – Sur-The Melody of Life (2002)
This one’s Sunidhi’s show! Kreem gives her a really lengthy and almost-breathless mukhda that she sings with pitch-perfect emotion. You can almost picturise Gauri Karnik breathlessly ending the lengthy mukhda and smiling as you listen to the song! Nida Fazli, in the lyrics add little touches like free-form vocalizing: “Aisa chhaaya mujhpe jaadu, haa haa hee hee hey hey ho ho” that adds to the song’s appeal. The keys in the first interlude are very reminiscent of Azhagan’s music, by the way!

10. Hum yahan – Zakhm (1998)
Doesn’t Hum yahaan sound like a soul-sister of Saaya’s O saathiya (Dil chura liya)? 🙂 The rhythm, though, evoking a much older Hindi-retro style sound is so charming, along with the trademark Kreem-style violin! And Kreen himself takes on the 2nd interlude, much like Rahman’s sweeping ‘Yelelo’ humming interlude from Roja’s Chinna Chinna Aasai! My favorite is the Alka version, more than the Kumar Sanu variant; Alka brings a tenderness to the melody that is so, so involving.

11. Kaun mera – Special 26 (2013)
Kreem’s tune here is breezy, and Papon singing underlines it too. But the song’s inherent pathos comes out so well too, and that works even better in the more pronounced pathos versions of the song, beyond the Papon version.

12. Kab tujhe – Dhokha (2007)
I always assumed that Kreem made this tune for a Telugu song! I could easily picture Mahesh Babu or Pawan Kalyan dancing for this! Plus the female-chorus in the prelude, the violins after ‘kuch pataa na chala’ and the strings in the second interlude are very indicative of Kreem’s Telugu repertoire. In the KK and Shreya Ghoshal’s voices, the song’s happy, full-in-love feeling comes out wonderfully.

13. Aa bhi jaa – Sur-The Melody of Life (2002)
Kreem has worked with Lucky Ali in this film and Kasak. While Kasak is a terrible musical, this song, featuring Lucky Ali’s vocals is a much better bet. The opening violin set to the tune of ‘Aa bhi jaa’, for some reason, reminds me of Himesh Reshammiya! But it gets much, much better as it progresses, particularly the absolutely lovely antara – the antara’s tune is actually more interesting to me than the main hook.

14. Jaadu hai nasha hai – Jism (2003)
Much like Chalo tumko lekar chale, this song too uses a Enigma-style rhythm in the background and lets Shreya lead the temptress-tune again!

15. Dheere jalna – Paheli (2005)
Kreem, I felt, was an unusual choice to score music for a Rajasthan background film, directed by Amol Palekar and starring Shah Rukh Khan no less! I’m not a big fan of the film’s soundtrack, but Dhree jalna is at least one song where Kreem’s inventive mind comes to the fore. He interlaces the softer parts of the melody—the interlude and antara are incredibly soft!—while occasionally exploding it with the Dheere jalna chorus!

16. Musafir – Lahore (2010)
Lahore had a mighty good soundtrack that was completely overlooked due to the film’s limited run. Kreem is a surprising choice for this film too! Musafir is one song he sings himself and for the other version, he ropes in Daler Mehndi who handles the somber melody in a way we haven’t heard him, away from his ebullient musical style.

17. Mujh mein tu – Special 26 (2013)
Kreem’s expansive singing lifts this pathos-laden tune. I was surprised he chose to sing it himself, but the decision works well, given how his unique voice and singing style adds a specific dimension to the song. The sparse and minimal orchestration helps too.

18. Main tujhse pyaar – Baby (2015)
After the Bhatt family, the only other director in Hindi who worked with Kreem twice is Neeraj Pandey (Special 26 and Baby). Both films had music that was understated and plays to Kreem’s strengths in melody. Papon aces this one effortlessly, given the soulful melody Kreem hands him.

19. Jaane kya dhoondhta hai – Sur-The Melody of Life (2002)
This song’s hook is hardly like Kreem’s and could easily fit into Lucky Ali’s album Sunoh! It’s remarkable that Kreem composed a hook that sounds so much like Lucky Ali’s own sound. However, the rest of the song is so very Kreem, and the combination of Kreem and Lucky Ali gels perfectly with each other.

20. Maine Dil Se Kaha – Rog (2005)
This song could work perfectly like a companion piece to Jism’s Awaarapan Banjaarapan! The tone is similar – about sweeping loneliness, and KK’s voice connects both songs too! Like Saeed Qadri in the Jism song, here Nilesh Mishra pens a similar state of mind, and so beautifully at that!

Sunday April 22, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – APR22.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 20:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
14 songs this week. All of them are available on Apple Music, while Saavn and YouTube are missing just one song – Dhruv Visvanath’s Botswana. Do remember to check out the music video of DJ Snake’s Magenta Riddim if you use the playlists on Apple Music and Saavn. The twist in the end is worth the time 🙂

A note on the songs in the playlist.

Ae watan, Dilbaro, Raazi & Ae watan (female version): Read the review of the music of Raazi here.

Badumbaaa (102 Not Out, Hindi): The song, composed and arranged by Amitabh Bachchan, (produced by Rohan-Vinayak) seems like a literal showcase of Big B’s character in the film! It’s a simple tune that the veteran repeats endlessly to make it addictive. The upbeat Western sound gradually moves to tapori dance mid-way, in a clever nod to the Bachchan-style music. While his own singing is great, as always, Rishi Kapoor makes up in terms of enthusiasm what he lacks in terms of singing.

Magenta Riddim (DJ Snake, EDM): DJ Snake’s latest song is a cross-cultural hodge-podge! The French DJ mixes Jamaican Riddim and an irresistible dance-hall sound. The video, shot in Telangana featuring local actors playing a firefighting troupe, has a mind-bogglingly poignant twist!

Oru Mara Nizhalil (Mercury, Tamil): Santhosh’s prelude to the song is very Chaplinesque and closer to Edith Piaf’s La vie en rose even though the film uses her Non, je ne regrette rien! The melody smoothly moves to his trademark melody in Sathyaprakash’s resonant voice, with the prelude turning into a haunting waltz.

Villupaattu (Lady Kash, Rap): Singapore-born rapper Kalaivani Nagaraj aka Lady Kash’s homage to the Tamil folk music art form Villupaattu and showcases the similarities between Villupaattu and rap, in terms of use of rhythm and story-telling. The song is heady with pulsating rap by Lady Kash, backing vocals by V.M.Mahalingam and stellar nadaswaram by Thirumurthy. The song transcends commercial parameters given Lady Kash’s interest in highlighting the plight of perhaps the oldest Villupaattu exponent alive, in Kanyakumari – Poongani Amma.

Mooga Manasulu (Mahanati, Telugu): The first song in the biographical film based on the life of South Indian actress Savitri is a spectacular showcase of the kind of sweeping sound composer Mickey J Meyer has in mind for the film. The song, powered by a superb horns section, is expansive and a wonderfully immersive melody that Mickey does so well! Shreya Ghoshal and Anurag Kulkarni are absolutely fantastic with the singing!

Mazha Megham (Krishnam, Malayalam): Composer Hariprasad R’s music for Krishnam has been impressive, based on the singles released. If Thoo Manju had Vidyasagar’ish Tamil repertoire as a reference point, Mazha Megham has Vidyasagar’s Malayalam repertoire as a reference point! In Vijay Yesudas’ delightful voice, evoking wonderful memories of his legendary father, the song is an easy winner.

Aaro Varunnathai (Mazhayathu, Malayalam): Gopi Sundar gets Divya S Menon to sing a classic ghazal in Aaro Varunnathai! The music is beautifully simple and uses a predictably nice ghazal template, featuring Dilshad Khan on sarangi and P K Anand on the tabla and dholak. The second interlude, featuring strings is so very typical Gopi, though!

Sogasaagi (Krishna Tulasi, Kannada): This song released late last year, but given the film’s release last Friday, and the full soundtrack’s release last month, it deserves a listen now. Composer Kiran Ravindranath sings the homage to the city of Mysuru himself – a homage in intent more than nativity of the sounds Mysuru could generate.

Wild, Botswana (The Lost Cause, Dhruv Visvanath): Dhruv’s sophomore effort after this 2015 album Orion is a great listen, coming on the back of his extensive travel that led to the album’s inspiration. The song Wild, featuring Ajay Jayanthi on strings, with its intimate and poignant sound is perhaps the best showcase of the album’s sound, while Botswana is the other end of the spectrum, with its infectiously fun sound!

Ae watan works perfectly as a fervent prayer as much as it does as a patriotic song! The trio’s music, with beautifully layered chorus (Mani Mahadevan, Ravi Mishra, Binaya Mohanty, Arun Kamath and Arshad Mohammed), Gulzar’s verse, and a rousing sound, keeps the emotional quotient of the song on a constant high. The song’s second version, featuring Sunidhi Chauhan, and The Shankar Mahadevan Academy Children’s Chorus, has the innate charm and innocence when children enter the mix, while also enhancing the melody’s raag Kedar-like flavor. Dilbaro is an absolute beauty! Harshdeep Kaur relishes singing Gulzar’s lines that bring out the beauty and brittleness—within the Indian context of bidaai—of the father-daughter relationship. Shankar Mahadevan’s entry in the antara is goosebumps-inducing given the way he adds a heartrending edge in his pronunciation. The title song is magnificent, thanks to Arijit’s deeply involving vocals, Tapas Roy’s Bouzouki/Mandolin strings and Arshad Khan’s Esraj that constantly underline the resolve needed to do the impossible for the country, penned beautifully by Gulzar. The chorus, featuring Mani Mahadevan, Ravi Mishra and Arshad Mohammed, and the thrumming rhythm are highly effective. For their total absence in 2017, Shankar Ehsaan Loy deliver a rich, thematic soundtrack to open 2018!

Keywords: Raazi, Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonsa, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, #200

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Sunday April 15, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – APR15.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 19:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
15 songs this week. YouTube has all 15 songs, while both Apple Music and Saavn are missing the last 3 songs – Varika Rasika from Panchavarna Thatha, Mazhayil Nanayum from Kaitholachathan (Manorama Music and Millennium Audio really need to work on their distribution online) and James Vasanthan, Madhan Karky’s Odahuttidhavarae.

A note on each song in the playlist.

Anjaana (Indipop, Shor Police): Ananthaal minus Vijayprakash is Shor Police! Ananthaal had a fantastic debut album; Shor Police, with music co-composed by Clinton and Bianca promises to be equally good! The groove is tried and tested Clinton signature that flows oh-so-smoothly!

Dead To Me, Nuestro Planeta (Isolation, Kali Uchis): Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis’ debut album is a heady pop-soul-R&B melange. The bouncy and anthemic Dead To Me, and Nuestro Planeta, with a lovely whiff of reggaeton and Kali singing in Spanish, are my favorites.

Energia, Best Friend (Treehouse, Sofi Tukker): The duo had earlier featured in the March 11 playlist, and now their album is out! The infectious EDM jungle pop is all over the album, with Energia, a compelling Portuguese track with incredible bossa nova swing and drumbeats, and Best Friend, that’s already massively popular given it featured in an Apple iPhone X ad, featuring Alisa Ueno, The Knocks, and NERVO, with an entertaining chorus section and a cool outro by The Knocks.

Beautiful Love (Telugu, Naa Peru Surya): Vishal-Shekhar transplant their dependable ballad’ish sound to Telugu. In Armaan Malik and Chaitra Ambadipudi’s singing, the melody shines beautifully and I won’t be surprised if the tune isn’t reused for Hindi film!

Sakkath Tagaru (Kannada, Tagaru): Charan Raj’s Tagaru title song is already a superbly handled tune, but what Dheerendra Doss does on top of it, with a veena (Mahesh Prasad Veena) + heavy metal (guitar by Ajay George Joseph) + konnanol (Somashekar Jois) layer is astounding!

Wah re wah (Kannada, Dalapathi): The 2nd Charan Raj song this week came out in late 2017! The movie is releasing only now! The song’s rhythm is an easy standout with its punch, and Vijayprakash effortlessly glides through the vocals, along with Sindhuri.

Mugulunage (Kannada, Edakallu Guddada Mele): Composer Ashic Arun had a good outing in the 2016 film Coma, but hasn’t been seen after that. Edakallu Guddada Mele is decent enough. In Mugulunage, Shreya and Karthik help prop the song beyond its predictable tropes.

Jeevamshamayi (Malayalam, Theevandi): After last week’s Tha Thinnam, composer Kailas Menon is back, with an absolutely gorgeous Reetigowlai-raaga based Jeevamshamayi! Shreya Ghoshal and Harisankar KS are outstanding, as also Cochin Strings and Vishnu Vijay on flute.

Rasathi (Malayalam, Aravindante Athidhikal), That word is so strongly associated with Rahman’s Thiruda Thiruda number, but the other Rahman—Shaan—makes a valiant effort to frame another song starting with that word! With Vineet singing it, the effort works mighty well.

Aaha (Malayalam, Orayiram Kinakkal): I wasn’t impressed with the 1st song from the film (by Ranjit Melappat), but this one, composed by Sachin Warrier, is an easy winner! With its mild Electro Swing feel and the peekaboo Middle Eastern sound, this MG Seekumar-sung song is superbly catchy!

Varika Rasika (Malayalam, Panchavarna Thatha): The song, composed by Nadirsha, is a spunky carnatic-techno medley that works for 2 reasons – Jayaram’s almost unidentifiable look and outrageous moves, and Shankar Mahadevan’s stellar vocals!

Mazhayil Nanayum (Malayalam, Kaitholachathan): Jibu Sivanandan’s tune is an interesting idea that worked much better during the anupallavi than the charanam. The latter seemed weaker, but the former, with a possibly Reetigowlai’ish feel is very neat!

Odahuttidhavarae (Kannada, James Vasanthan): Lyricist Madhan Karky debuts as Kannada lyricist in this song that is a lovely bridge of languages (with Tamil subtitles) and the spirit of brotherhood between the troubled neighbors (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka). If James starts getting Kannada film offers after this song, I won’t be surprised at all.

Saturday April 7, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – APR08.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 18:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
15 songs this week. Apple Music has all 15 songs. Saavn is missing Sona and Ram’s Tori Surat and Kammara Sambhavam. YouTube playlist is missing a lot of songs – Tori surat, Prabhu ji (since it’s inside a jukebox; embedded below), all 3 songs by Pineapple Express (embedded as a jukebox below) and Kammara Sambhavam (inside a jukebox – embedded below).

A note on each song in the playlist.

Tori surat (Indipop, Sona Mohapatra, Ram Sampath): Sona and Ram’s 2nd song from Lal Pari Mastani is a spritely reimagination of Amir Khurso’s Tori surat ke balhari. The sound is energetic and Sona’s rendition adds a special zing to Ram’s already punchy sound.

Prabhu ji (Hindi, High Jack): The best song from High Jack’s soundtrack, IMO, is Prabhu ji composed by Anurag Saikia. The one by Asees Kaur is my pick, with a lovely classical tune layered over frenetic dubstep. The lyrics by Akarsh Khurana add to the quirky mirth & irreverence.

One Kiss (Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa): Uptempo with a deep house beat that Calvin effortlessly slays. Dua Lipa’s easily recognizable voice and rendition lifts the song to a new high that’s already brimming with instant likeability.

Cloud 8.9, The Mad Song & Uplift (Progressive Metal, Uplift EP): The name Yogeendra Hariprasad may not fit Pineapple Express’ pulsating outburst of metal, but Yogi does. With the band’s vocalist Karthik Chennoji Rao, they produce a mesmerizing carnatic-metal melange in Cloud 8.9, with no lyrics (only free-form carnatic scatting!) but with an awesome mix from Bhargav Sarma and Ritwik Bhattacharya’s guitars, Arjun MPN’s flute, Shravan Sridhar’s violin and particularly incredibly drums by Gopi Shravan. The Mad Song is one similar lines, but comes loaded with a catchy Kannada hook, with Karthik’s splendid vocals. My favorite from the band’s debut EP is the title song, with what seems to me like Dhanashri raaga. The melody is straight out of composer Vidyasagar’s repertoire but the way the band layers in the metal is astounding!

Kangan (Punjabi, Harbajan Mann): Kangan is proof of the Oye Hoye man’s staying power! Composer Jatinder Shah mixes a heady Punjabi tune over what sounds distinctly like a Middle-Eastern base, and the combination works very easily.

Ghar se niklate hi (Amaal Mallik): The original by Rajesh Roshan is a cult classic. But the reimagination by Amaal Mallik is a very competent effort – it retains the soul of the original but packaged in a significantly modern way (though with new lyrics that seem shoehorned).

Vachaadayyo Saami (Telugu, Bharat Ane Nenu): The soundtrack of Mahesh Babu’s latest is standard-issue Devi Sri Prasad material. But this song stands out easily featuring Devi’s splendid sense of rhythm – jaunty and enjoyable, this case.

Doore Vazhikalil (Swathandriam Ardharathriyil): Jakes Bejoy, after a spate of substandard Tamil soundtracks, seems to be getting his mojo back! This song’s melody has a haunting Middle-eastern tinge. Shreekumar Vakkiyil’s soft voice contrasts interestingly with the ominous tune.

Thaa thinnam (Malayalam, Theevandi): Half of composer Kailas Menon’s job is done when he picks Job Kurien to sing! The melody built around a catchy very-Kerala hook gets a new life in Job’s excellent singing even as Kailas does an especially good job with the interludes.

Orey nila (Malayalam, BTech): Rahul Raj can compose such immersive and likeable melodies in his sleep now given his recent track record! That he has Nikhil Mathew singing it makes it even better, besides the beautiful flute-led outro. The video is a particularly good watch too!

Title song (Malayalam, Ranam): The 2nd song by Jakes Bejoy this week! Saint TFC’s Tamil-English rap is a clear highlight, with Jakes’ rhythmic backgrounds working well alongside. Ajaey Shravan, Jakes Bejoy & Neha S Nair’s main vocals are interesting, as is a jadhi-led interlude.

Njanoo ravoo (Malayalam, Kammara Sambhavam): The best song from the 3-song soundtrack. Gopi’s melody and interludes are enchanting, though the comparison with Sairat zaala ji is inevitable. Haricharan is his dependable self, while Divya S Menon adds a lovely dollop to the tune.

Va va vo (Malayalam, Mohanlal): Yes, that’s the film’s name! Tony Joseph’s music is pleasant, with a delightfully soft reggae’ish rhythm, a dreamy flute tribute to Omana thinkal, and excellent vocals particularly from Nithya Menen.

Friday March 30, 2018

Milliblog Quarterlies – Q12018

The first 3 months of 2018 are already over! So, this week, instead of Weeklies, I made Milliblog Quarterlies, a 7-playlist collection that is culled out from Weeklies from the start of 2018, across the 3 months. There are 7 playlists, one each for Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Assorted Indian and Non-Indian. As usual, the playlists are on 3 platforms – Apple Music, Saavn and YouTube.


Hindi: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube


Tamil: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube


Telugu: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube


Malayalam: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube


Kannada: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube

Assorted Indian

Assorted Indian (including Indipop, Marathi, Punjabi & Bengali): Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube


Non-Indian: Apple Music | Saavn | YouTube

Saturday March 24, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – MAR25.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 17:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
14 songs, this week. YouTube has all 14 songs. Saavn is missing 4 – the 2 Punjabi songs from Sajjan Singh Ranroot (understandably since Speed Records proudly displays ‘exclusive on Gaana’ all over the video, thereby reducing its spread, the new song from Agam that’s available only on YouTube and the song from the Malayalam film Naam, which is from Satyam Audios that has a deal with Apple Music and rarely lists its music on Saavn. Apple Music has 11 songs – it is missing the Agam song and the 2 from Sajjan Singh Rangroot, for the same reason 🙂

A note on each song in the playlist.

Theher Ja (October, Hindi): Even as Abhishek Arora’s tepid Sooraj Dooba Hain knockoff in Dil Juunglee’s Dil Jaane Na is in circulation, he gets it superbly right with Theher Ja! Armaan Malik significantly elevates it, with its serene melody that truly accentuates the theher ja’s thehrav sentiment.

Sataasat (Blackmail, Hindi): After the T-series inserted songs, finally Amit gets his songs in Blackmail, starting last week’s Badla. While Bewafa Beauty is the most un-Amit Trivedi’ish song ever, Sataasat is a total comfort zone. Trippy and sedate melody that he sings himself like only he can.

Laung Laachi (Laung Laachi, Punjabi): Gurmeet Singh’s tune is very Punjabi – effortlessly rhythmic and instantly catchy, but with a marked feminine grace that Mannat Noor brings with her phenomenal vocals. The natural beauty of the language adds to the whole charm.

Sheesha (Laung Laachi, Punjabi): Mannat Noor pulls off again in Sheesha too, this time the tune is very folksy and melodic, with a softer lilt. That ‘Sheesha ho’ hook is haunting in Mannat’s mesmerizing voice.

Roti (Sajjan Singh Rangroot, Punjabi): The Punjabi war movie based on the experiences of Sikh Regiment during World War I has 3 songs by Jatinder Shah and one by Uttam Singh. Roti is true-blue Punjabi earthiness, made better by leading man, Diljit Dosanjh’s involved vocals.

Pyaas (Sajjan Singh Rangroot, Punjabi): Lovely old world’ish charm in Uttam Singh’s backgrounds, reminiscent of Dil Toh Pagal Hai. It’s Diljit again who carries the searing yearning in the melody which seemed like raag Pilu to me (Pardesiyon se na, Jab Jab Phool Khile).

Tui Ki Kore Dili (Ghare And Baire, Bengali): This is Anupam Roy’s home territory. This is his trademark style, a breezy soft-rock melody that he always sings himself. That hook, “Tui, Tui Ki Kore Dili… Tui E Ki Kore Dili Re… Bol Na, Bol Na, Bol Na” is marvelous!

Kedaya (Kalari, Tamil): VV Prassanna’s tune is largely predictable and familiar, but there’s no denying its charm. Between Prassanna and Vaishaali, the melody’s inherent beauty does come out very well.

Azhuku Jatti Amudhavalli (Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuththu, Tamil): A first for Tamil cinema – a song titled, ‘Amudhavalli’s dirty undies’! The bawdy lyrics are replete with double entendre, but given the whatever-goes horror genre, Balamurali Balu’s song seems oddly and weirdly fun!

Naaloni Nuvvu (Needi Naadi Oke Katha, Telugu): Composer Suresh Bobbili keeps up the promise showcased in last year’s Maa Abbayi. In Naalonu Nuvvu, he ropes in Sony and Naani for the soft and lush melody, with a particularly lovely strings and shehnai’ish profusion.

Vaaram (Chal Mohan Ranga, Telugu): Vaaram plays out like a template of a Thaman song – the melodic intro, followed by the rhythmic hook. In Nakash Aziz’s dependable voice, this works perfectly! The sound and choice of instruments in the interludes is particularly very, very good!

Ardham Leni Navvu (Chal Mohan Ranga, Telugu): A surprise, considering Thaman uses Thyagaraja’s Hamsanadam-raaga based Bantureethi Kolu as-is! Still, the new layer of lyrics juxtaposed on the familiar tune, the modern backgrounds and Sreenidhi’s singing make for lovely listening.

Tanka Takkara (Naam, Malayalam): Kerala produces more college songs than any other Indian language; result of high literacy rates? This song by Ashwin & Sandeep is no doubt reminiscent of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Tattad Tattad from Ram-Leela, but that innate Malayalee charm is a winner.

Koothu Over Coffee (A Dream To Remember, Indipop): The 5th song from Agam’s 2nd album. An original Tamil folk written by Agam’s keyboardist Swamy Seetharaman, the simple and lively folk tune gets a massive fillip from Harish’s superb singing, the choir, and the celtic soundscape!

Saturday March 17, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – MAR18.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 16:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
13 songs, this week. YouTube and Saavn are complete – they have all 13 songs. Apple Music is missing 3 songs and has only 10 songs – the missing songs are: The Mercury Song, the Kannada song Hosa Padmavathi (my favorite from this week’s list!) and the Punjabi song Rabb Jane from Shaadi Teri Bajayenge Hum Band.

A note on each song in the playlist.

Everybody Hates Me (The Chainsmokers): The first 2 singles (Sick Boy and You Owe Me) were largely whiny, but in Everybody Hates Me, the much-hated Chainsmokers drop all pretense and go full on, with a bloody cool EDM drop and some pseudo self-analysis:
“I’m a product of the internet
And now, I’m face to face with all the voices in my head
I can’t even check the time without facing regret
Why do I still have to mean everything I ever said?”

Done For Me (Charlie Puth, featuring Kehlani): Charlie Puth collaborates with R&B star Kehlani who has been scoring some really impressive collaborations recently. The song’s funky sound is effortlessly appealing, thanks to the synth horns.

Hosa Padmavathi (Johny Johny Yes Papa, Kannada): While Ajaneesh is making waves in Telugu with Kirrak Party, this new Kannada song drops… and rocks!! Superb horns, an incredibly catchy ‘Colour colour’ hook and fantastic singing by Vijay Prakash and Indu Nagaraj.

Most Wanted Abbayi (MLA, Telugu): Trust veteran Mani Sharma to whip up a scorching hot Telugu masala track! The lyrics, in typical Telugu-style rhyme (Armani) suit-tu, (Adidas) boot-u, cut-out-u, sweet-u, chocolate-u and many other things to a raucous effect!

Hey Indu (MLA, Telugu): This is the kind of song Mani used to compose in his sleep during his peak in Telugu film industry. Glad to see him back in this game. Rahul Sipligunj breezes through the wonderfully rhythmic tune and that ‘Chinnadaana’ hook.

Tere Naal Rehna (Jeet Gannguli, Punjabi): I’m really glad that Jeet Gannguli picks a serene and melodic tune for his first ever Punjabi song! Along with Jyotica Tangri (who is very, very good!), the song’s pleasant melody is thoroughly appealing.

Badla (Blackmail, Hindi): Amit Trivedi and DIVINE are angry… very, very angry in Badla. The sound is edgy, with a ‘Badla’ hook that literally explodes. DIVINE’s rap is mighty punchy, as usual.

Rabb Jane (Shaadi Teri Bajayenge Hum Band, Punjabi): Composer Rupak Iyer’s melody seemed like classic Charukesi raaga to me, with its thoroughly engaging and beautifully rich tune. Who better than Sonu Nigam to sing such a melody? And the man completely owns the song!

Thoo Manju (Krishnam, Malayalam): The trilingual has music by Hariprasad R, and of the 3 versions (sung by Karthik in Tamil and Kala Bhairava in Telugu), this Malayalam version sung by Vineeth Sreenivasan is my favorite. Full Vidyasagar feels in the stately melody!

Mayathennum (Mayathennum, Malayalam): There’s a distinct Gopi Sundar-style in Arun Ashok’s song. But he has a way with the likeable melody that takes an interesting turn after the 2nd interlude. Nikhil Mathew and Sangeetha Sreekanth are very good with the vocals.

Morning Is Coming (Album – 44/876): Sting and Shaggy are an unusual combo! This single, from their upcoming album, is a smooth downtempo and easy-listening track that combines the best of reggae and Sting’s incredible voice!

The Mercury Song (Mercury, Hindi): The last really well-known ‘silent’ film, the Kannada film Pushpaka Vimana (1987) wasn’t silent after all – it had no dialogs, but had fantastic background music by L.Vaidyanathan. This new ‘silent’ film by Karthik Subbaraj takes the same multi-lingual route to release like Pushpaka Vimana which was effortlessly welcome in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Malayalam as well. But, this one has a song – a promo song, at that, in Hindi no less. The song’s lyrics, by Sayeed Quadri, awkwardly shoehorns the word ‘Mercury’ into the flow, but other than that, this is perhaps the most energetic song composed by Mithoon in recent times, far removed from his brooding melodies.

Bhannat (Gavthi, Marathi): The trailer and the other songs from Gavthi seems to indicate some inspiration from Sairaat and this pulse-pounding song is on the lines of Zingaat — a manic Marathi kuthu song composed by Shreyashh and sung well by Suhas Sawant.

I speak 3 languages fluently – Tamil, English, and Hindi. I can understand bits of Kannada and Malayalam reasonably well, and understand Telugu even lesser. But, if you put me in an autorickshaw in Hyderabad, Bengaluru or Kochi, I can assure you that I can discuss (in English or another broken language) with the driver about the hottest songs in the language of the state.

[To sign up for Milliblog’s language-agnostic weekly new music playlists – on Apple Music, Saavn & YouTube, just enter your name and email ID in this simple form]

I have stunned many Uber drivers with my discussion on the Kannada songs they have played while not speaking a word of Kannada with them (discussion in English, Hindi and sometimes Tamil). I have also recommended songs they should listen to if they liked a certain song!

Thanks to Milliblog… yeah, my own music blog that I have been running since 2005.

I have always been fascinated with languages – not the learning a new language part, but the pop culture of those languages. My interest has always been around the ethos and expressions of the language more than the grammar or basic knowledge of those languages.

I found a way to indulge in this esoteric interest via music. In a way, the music website that I used to manage that predates Milliblog – ItwoFS – was an expression of that interest too. I used to love the world music sources that our Indian composers lifted from and loved listening to all those alien (to me) language music.

With Milliblog, I decided to sink myself into Indian languages, via film music.
The idea was simple – I love music.
I have a voracious appetite for new music.
I wanted to be on top of music from all states in India.
I was looking for curators who can help me with that without language as a barrier.
But there was not a single language-agnostic music curator in India.
So, I became one myself.

Through language-agnostic music reviews, I started taking that role seriously because it primarily helped me find what to listen to. On average, there are about 5-10 new soundtracks released across India, across languages. That’s easily 35-40 songs per week, including non-film ‘pop’ music. So, it sure needs a curator to help me with ‘what do I listen to?’.

After 12 years of using music reviews as an expression to curate, I pivoted to playlists as a way to curate (though I was doing it with my monthly lists earlier, they didn’t translate into single playlists for a long time) starting 2018. I do this mainly for myself. This is how I find what to listen to. And I use it in a very normal, everyman way – I would like to listen to something 2-3 days of the week during my drives and in the background at work.

[To sign up for Milliblog’s language-agnostic weekly new music playlists – on Apple Music, Saavn & YouTube, just enter your name and email ID in this simple form]

Considering I do not understand what they are singing in about 70% of a weekly playlist, it gets even more interesting. I have heard people balk at me for listening to music in a language I do not understand. People have argued with me extensively (and angrily) that I’m ignoring an integral part of the music – meaning – while consuming such music. And that it’s massively unfair to lyricists. I do not deny any of that, but what can I do if (a) I do not know those languages or have time/inclination to learn them and (b) I relate to music and other languages at a ‘sound’ level, more than the meaning level?

There it is! Sound-level is my way to define my interest in music and languages. To me, music is beyond boundaries – music has no language. I have believed that I was either a Spaniard or a Telugu speaking person in my previous birth, given my massive interest and love for both languages (besides Tamil and English, of course), though I have heard more Tamilians make fun of Telugu than appreciate it (despite Bharathiyar offering, ‘Sundhara Telunginil paatisaippom’ in his famous ‘Sindhu nadhiyin misai’ poem).

Almost every mainstream music curation effort in India is language-specific, across TV, digital medium, radio etc. It’s almost like we shut ourselves to one language consciously and refuse to explore unknown languages however enjoyable they may be, at a sound-level! Very few songs break the language barrier and go places – ‘Lajjavathiye’ was one, in the last decade. Gilli’s Appadi podu was a good example too. Then, ‘Jimikki kammal’ in 2017. But the recent Oru Adaar Love’s Malayalam song ‘Maanikya Malaraya Poovi’ crossed borders because of Priya Varrier’s wink, more than the song or the sound. But many Hindi songs have crossed into the South and have become songs that people sung in their heads by not understanding a single word – mainly because Hindi films enjoyed better exposure across the country.

So, if you are reading this, give other (than your own) Indian languages a chance. Start with their film music. At least in the ones that have a reasonably well-established film industry, there are many songs that are so worth your time and span an incredible range of genres. At present, I track new film music in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada, primarily. A bit of Punjabi and Marathi too, at times. I haven’t found myself actively tracking Bengali film music yet (more because whatever I sampled didn’t appeal to me at one point and I lost interest ever since).

You can start with my weekly new music playlists. I create them on Saavn and Apple Music because those are the 2 services I pay for and have subscribed to. Plus, they are, in my opinion, truly exhaustive when it comes to pan-Indian music. I added YouTube recently for playlist-creation because not everybody has a paid subscription to either Saavn or Apple Music, and many new songs are first uploaded on YouTube by record labels anyway.

To help you appreciate the songs a little more, I also write a small (tweet-sized) note on each song in the playlist. The weekly playlists are updated every Sunday and it’s already been 15 weeks since I started curating them.

Take this week’s playlist for instance. This the 15th weekly playlist and has 18 songs. I love the range and this is a great example of a language-agnostic new music playlist that spans so many varieties of music.

  • Heer, by debutant Ved Sharma, from Madhya Pradesh, is a nice Punjabi/Hindi pop ditty.
    Sofi Tukker and Meghan Trainor’s singles are fantastic dance songs that can lift your mood anytime!
  • Edhuvarayo is a superb showcase of what Tamil composer Anirudh is capable of – highly engaging melodies with several intricate layers.
  • Composer Achu’s Tamil song Pondattee is a highly rhythmic ode to the ‘wife’ (Pondattee meaning wife in Tamil – one of the perks of knowing Tamil!), while composer Santhosh Narayanan’s Karuppi is a mighty intriguing R&B ode to a dead black dog – it’s almost an elegy of sorts; Tamil culture’s musical elegy form is called ‘Oppaari’ (the old lady’s voice lamenting the dead dog, towards the end, is real oppaari, by the way).
  • Rangamma Mangamma, Kala Kala Kalamandhir and Pedda Puli are true-blue Telugu masala kuthu songs – the first one is more authentic Telugu folk, while the last 2 are incredibly catchy masala songs.
  • Vanolam is the Malayalam equivalent – punchy and catchy Malayalam folk’ish music, while Naadotukku literally starts with the sounds of a bus travel in Kerala and brings to mind the lush green interiors of the state in Job Kurian’s (one of my favorite Malayalam composer/singer) excellent vocals.
  • Then there are 2 songs from the new Kannada film Trunk – it has music by a trio (debutants) and the music sounds very promising.
  • I close the week’s playlist with 4 songs from Moby’s brand new album – my favorite 4 from the 12-song album that released on March 2nd.

How to follow my language-agnostic weekly new music playlists?

The best way to do it is,

  1. Subscribe to Milliblog’s weekly email – you get just one email, every Sunday, with the per-song notes and the 3-platform playlist links. No spam *at all*.
  2. Visit this website on Sunday evening.

This week’s playlist is here, for your listening pleasure!

[To sign up for Milliblog’s language-agnostic weekly new music playlists – on Apple Music, Saavn & YouTube, just enter your name and email ID in this simple form]

Milliblog Weeklies on email

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