Sunday February 5, 2017
Originally published in The Hindu.
Idho thaanaagave – Adhe Kangal (Tamil – Ghibran)
Take Jeff Beck. Yeah, the guitarist from Bon Jovi. Take his guitar away from him and give him a sitar. Yes, a sitar. Now, ask him to play snatches from Bon Jovi’s song ‘Blaze of Glory’. Ghibran pulls off something akin to the result of that bizarre experiment in ‘Idho Thaanaagave’ and it works wonderfully. The bigger surprise from Ghibran is how he recreates the same tune in English too, as ‘I Have Nothing’, with a fantastic, incredibly catchy R&B package and stellar vocals by Addie Nicole. They don’t sound similar on a casual listen, but listen carefully, it’s the same.
Arere yekkade – Nenu Local (Telugu – Devi Sr Prasad)
Despite being offered prime projects like Khaidi No.150 , Devi Sri Prasad has, lately, been in a rut. His music has become repetitive and derivative, and his stock of hooks and instrumental regurgitations have reached a peak. Given this background, it is pleasantly surprising to find a song like ‘Arere Yekkada’. The melody, most possibly set to Abheri raaga, is highly engaging. Devi adds a neat rhythm with beautiful snatches of violin and flute—that are accentuated in the interludes—sung fabulously by Naresh Iyer andManisha Eerabathini.
Thili prema – Urvi (Kannada – Manoj George)
The Kannada film music scene is going through a long overdue transformation of sorts. Ajaneesh Loknath, Raghu Dixit, Judah Sandhy, Charan Raj, Vasuki Vaibhav, Dheerendra Doss… the list of promising new composers goes on. Violinist Manoj George made his film debut back in 2008, with Athmiya… and the time is right for him to make a comeback. Urvi’ s breeziest and most melodious is ‘Thili Prema’, set to what sounds like raaga Kalyani. It’s a wonderfully warm melody, beautifully sung by composer Charan Raj and Madhushree. Manoj offers another, guitar-based version of the song that sees Madhushree going even more evocative with the tune.
Udi udi jaye – Raees (Hindi – Ram Sampath)
Back in 2013, Ram produced an excellent set for Coke Studio India (MTV, Season 3, Episode 2). The mix of folk musical idioms fused with a decidedly more modern sound was particularly alluring in that set. Ram produces something similar in ‘Udi Udi Jaye’, with a lively, lilting folkish rhythm (Nitish Ranadive’s live percussions) as the base. Tapas Roy’s mandolin and charango make their presence felt too, while Sukhwinder Singh and Bhoomi Trivedi are at their usual, ebullient best.
Penne penne – Basheerinte Premalekhanam (Malayalam – Vishnu Mohan Sithara)
Well-known Malayalam composer Mohan Sithara’s son, Vishnu, has had a tentative start with composing in Malayalam. His last was Kumbasaram , back in 2015. The young composer seems to be getting his mojo back, with Basheerinte Premalekhanam . He sings ‘Penne Penne’ himself very confidently, and does even better with the gorgeous quasi-sufi tune and the ghatam-guitar mix. The orchestration is rich and evocative, while the high-pitched ‘Kanne’ hook is addictive.