Sunday March 29, 2020

Plucking the Genda Phool, twice!

Back in 2009, A.R.Rahman had a song called ‘Genda Phool’ in his iconic soundtrack for Delhi 6. The song was credited as “Courtesy: Raghubir Yadav” even in Delhi 6’s CD. From what I gather, the original song that goes,
“Saas Gari Deve,
Nanad Muhaan Leve,
Devar Babu Mor…
…Karaar Genda Phool”
…was supposed to have been written by a Chhattisgarh poet named Gangaram Shivarey and the music composed by another Chhattisgarh composer named Bhulwaram Yadav. The song describes a bride’s perspective in her new home and the marigold flower becomes a motif to weave in her marriage and her two families. Bhulwaram Yadav had supposedly taught the song to the Joshi sisters (Rekha, Rama and Prabha) who sang it in public concerts, to a rousing welcome. HMV/Saregama released it commercially and it became a popular song on radio and at weddings.

There is no credit to any of the original artists in Delhi 6’s CD or the film.

(PS: The Delhi 6 CD is one of the best designed that I have ever owned! The entire CD design is a labor of love!)

T-series’ 2011 YouTube upload of Genda Phool:

T-series’ 2011 YouTube upload of Genda Phool (remix):

Cut to 2020!

On March 25, 2020, as if it had astronomical significance, T-series decided to re-upload Delhi 6’s Genda Phool again. Exactly on March 25, 2020.

Why March 25th?

Because Sony Music was slated to release a new song called Genda Phool, featuring Badshah and Payal Dev.

So it was obvious that T-series was up to its old tricks again. In the 90s, T-series was notorious for getting Anuradha Paudwal to re-sing (cover versions) famous songs from other music labels and release the duplicate versions through audio cassettes with dirt-cheap prices. This used a loophole in the copyright law in India at that time.

What T-series did on March 25, 2020 was a new-age version of that tactic. The timing was to use the search interest for the term ‘genda phool’. If you see the 2-digit million views for Badshah’s new song, you know what is at stake!

Now, incredibly ironically, Badshah’s song is based on a folk song too, and has been poorly credited, just like Rahman’s cover version.

The original of Badshah’s cover version is of Bangla origin.

The credit to the original was missing when the song was first released by Sony Music.

They eventually added a weak line to give credit to the original lyrics, but not the music, which is credited to Badshah alone.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 111: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
16 songs this week. All 16 available on JioSaavn, while YouTube is missing just one – Chollamo, from Ole Kanda Naal.

I Am A Disco Dancer 2.0 – Salim-Sulaiman, Ft. Benny Dayal (Originally composed by Bappi Lahiri) – Hindi: A very competent recreation, surprisingly. It keeps the spirit of the original alive and adds some bells and whistles that are pretty good, like those strategic pauses at places. Benny is a very, very good choice to hold this version together. But yes, Tiger Shroff’s fitness-regime-turned-dance is getting a bit tiring.

Manjha – Vishal Mishra (Indipop/Hindi): A delightfully imagined tune, sung brilliantly by Vishal Mishra himself. The way he keeps things basic, to focus on the melody till the antara and breaks the flow in the second interlude, towards the end, is lovely!

O Ashiqa, Nayi Nayi, Gori Godh Bhari and Veere Kadh De – 99 Songs (A.R.Rahman) – Hindi: In the current scenario when more and more films d not have in-film songs, and even a Mani Ratnam chooses to not bother releasing a soundtrack for his film (with music by Rahman, no less), and clips songs with just a few lines in the movie… Rahman’s own film (that he has written, but not directed) has a soundtrack with 14 songs!! It seems both ambitious and indulgent at the same time! There are flashes of the earlier Rahman in Bela Shende’s Sai Shirdi Sai, but the better, more interesting songs are the ones like O Ashiqa, featuring Shashwat Singh in stupendous form (all through the multiple songs in the soundtrack) breathing life into a beautiful, steadily building melody. Nayi Nayi and Veere Kadh De are perhaps the most ‘active’ song from an otherwise somber and sedate Rahman in recent times. The soundtrack’s best is Gori Godh Bhari, sung by the trio of Anuradha Sriram, Shweta Mohan, Alka Yagnik. In what I felt like a tune based on Rageshri raaga (snatches of Bharathi Kannamma, from MSV’s Ninaithaale Inikkum, and Shubhadina Ayo Rajadulara – from Mughal-e-Azam), the mix of voices and the music produced by Rahman is absolutely enchanting!

Andha Kanna Paathaakaa, Quit Pannuda and Polakattum Para Para – Master: Besides the hyper catchy Kutti Story, Master does have an overall sound that’s largely enjoyable. It doesn’t help that someone thought it was appropriate to name a song, ‘Vaathi Coming’ without pausing to consider that it evokes thoughts of ‘Vaanthi Coming’ to anyone who hears it for the first time. Yuvan-sung Andha Kanna Paathaakaa has a really interesting background sound and the tune itself sounds like it was co-composed by both Yuvan and Anirudh! Quit Pannuda’s sound is better than the main tune, particularly the persistent use of horns! But Anirudh’s singing carries the tune too effortlessly. Santhosh Narayanan is a hoot in Polakattum Para Para, a techno-folk song that Anirudh ‘erangi kuthufies’ with relish!

Munnoru Naalil – Kamali from Nadukkaveri (Dheena Dhayalan) – Tamil: I’m assuming this is Dheena Dhayalan’s debut – an impressive debut given he is wonderfully supported by both Madhan Karky, who writes some fantastic lines that are so poignant (Yenge andha naan? – “Where is that me?” – being the best!), and Shakthisree Gopalan, who gives the melody the necessary gravitas.

Vaan Thooralgal – Pon Magal Vandhal (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: It is obvious that Govind loves his 96 form; it’s understandable too, given how stupendously good it was. This song sounds almost like an extension, after-thought or rejected earlier version of 96. You can trace generous snapshots of ‘Konjum Pooraname’ and many other musical cues from that soundtrack. Yet, it continues to sound good. Chinmayi continues to be Govind’s voice of choice here too.

Mon Kyamoner Jonmodin – Hridpindo (Ranajoy Bhattacharjee) – Bangla: Composer Ranajoy has a clear winner in Mon Kyamoner Jonmodin and as if he realizes, he creates 2 versions of which one is sung by himself. The main version, sung by Mekhla Dasgupta, is captivating, given the sweet melody. The reprise sung by the composer has an interesting rock twist to the former’s Indian classical base.

Ole Kanda Naal and Chollamo – Ole Kanda Naal (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: The title song is a stellar reason why Vineeth Sreenivasan should sing more. Hesham does equally well too, handing Vineet a superb tune to sing, and adorning it with beautifully imagined interludes in violin and an unusually interesting rhythm that I thought was jarring at first, but warmed up to it eventually. Chollamo too has that sweeping sound, though it is a bit more familiar as a tune. Hesham does pretty well singing it, though, and the catchy backgrounds hold this package well.

The Guru – Is That So (John McLaughlin/Shankar Mahadevan/Zakir Hussain): This new album released back in January and I just managed to hear it. In fact, John McLaughlin’s guitar is featured only in Sakhi, though all the songs carry his stamp in terms of the orchestral flourish expected from him, and this group. The album is a stunning showcase of Shankar’s already established vocal prowess. I’d have loved The Beloved to go more on the start it takes, using the Sindhu Bharavi raaga Karunai Dheivame Karpagame, but the fusion elements take it into a different spin. But The Guru retains its aura till the end beautifully. Based on Shyama Shastri’s Thodi raaga composition, Ninne Namminanu, Shankar Mahadevan is exhilaratingly great here!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 110: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
18 songs this week. All 18 available on YouTube. JioSaavn is missing 5! 4 are from Aditya Music’s repertoire – is something wrong between Aditya and JioSaavn?

Teri Nazar – 99 Songs (A R Rahman) – Hindi: Rahman springs a mild surprise with Teri Nazar. No doubt the backgrounds go back to Pancham’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To, there’s something in Shashwat Singh’s earnest vocals that also simultaneously go back to Rahman’s own Dil Se classic, Ae Ajnabi! Definitely not one of Rahman’s best, but is pretty decent enough going by this recent standards.

Manusan – Dharala Prabhu (Kaber Vasuki) – Tamil: With 8 music composers, the film’s soundtrack is quite a record of sorts at least in Tamil. Though Anirudh recycles his own song from Gang Leader in the title song, and besides the other songs I have mentioned earlier, it is Kaber Vasuki’s Manusan that caught my attention for its fantastic electro-swing sound!

Ay Pilla – Love Story (Pawan Ch) – Telugu: This is a ‘Sekhar Kammula’ song and that much is evident even in the sound. Not take anything away from Pawan, he gets the best out of Haricharan’s already fantastic voice. And the Mickey J Meyer-style sweep in the orchestration is a beautiful touch too.

Vasthunnaa Vachestunna – V (Amit Trivedi) – Telugu: This is a pleasant surprise from Amit! Usually, his non-Hindi tunes sound primarily like a Hindi tune that has been well-translated in another language. But Shreya’s opening here sounds so very much like a Telugu song! And only when Amit makes his entry with Vasthunnaa Vachestunna does it starts to sound like this Hindi repertoire! The anupallavi has a fantastic flow too!

Manasa Manasa – Most Eligible Bachelor (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: This is so very obviously a tune concocted for Sid Sriram. Even as the opening sounds a bit too familiar and predictably Sid, Gopi works harder for the anupallavi’s melody and makes up.

Maguva Maguva – Vakeel Saab (Thaman S) – Telugu: After the Thaman-Sid super success in Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo, this is Thaman capitalizing on the combo with a very similar sound. It works, for now, particularly with a lovely harmony section in the background/chorus.

Monja Monja Munthiri Monja – Munthiri Monchan (Vijith Nambiar) – Malayalam: Reetigowlai raaga FTW! This seems to be a raaga that can never go wrong and can take in any tune with any kind of an emotion! Oddly, the child singer now turned teenager, Sreya Jayadeep, sounds a bit hurried and out of sorts!

Chemmaname – Yuvam (Gopi Sundar) – Malayalam: This is the typical Gopi tune and sound package. You can identify it as soon as it starts 🙂 Yet, it continues to sound very, very enticing. A large part of the credit should also go to the singer, Libin Zakharia. An excellent find!

Jalaam – Jithesh Edathode (Indipop/Malayalam): A rather plain sound (the backgrounds) but I thought I heard a familiar and lovely raaga in the tune. I think I heard Raja’s incredibly lovely song, “Chithira Sevvaanam Sirikka Kanden” from Kaatrinilae Varum Geetham. And there was a distinct Raja touch to the first interlude too, evoking Panivizhum Malarvanam! The hero of the song, though is clearly the singer, Najim Arshad.

Tujyavina – Neighbours (Nishaad) – Marathi: Of the 6 songs composed by Nishaad for this Marathi soundtrack, the one song that stood out for me was this, sung by Avadhoot Gupte. The song has a nice Indipop/rock vibe and excellent guitar work too.

Worry About Me – Ellie Goulding, Blackbear: Blackbear’s influence shows in the song’s intriguing tempo and the hiphop undertones. It’s a very catchy tune and Ellie handles it with a flourish, complete with those ‘Ooh ooh’s and the way she handles,
Ooh, why you tryna put me in a different mood?
Just because I’m still out seein’ someone new?

Didn’t I – OneRepublic: A lovesick duet from the band, from their upcoming album, Human. Lead singer Ryan Tedder’s singing soaks in the lovelorn pathos, with the ‘Didn’t I’ hook being a catchy high.

Heartbreak Weather, Small Talk, Nice To Meet Ya, Cross Your Mind, New Angel and No Judgement – Album: Heartbreak Weather (Niall Horan): From OneRepublic to One Direction… or former One Direction, to be precise. Niall’s sophomore solo album is a very competent affair! The title song, in particular, is straight out of an 80s Everlasting Love Songs compilation, and I say this in a good way!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 109: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
14 songs this week. All 14 available on YouTube. JioSaavn is missing just one song – Ningi Chutte, from the Telugu film, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya.

Baatein Karo – Vayu (Indipop/Hindi): Vayu, the other half of Tanishk-Vayu who occasionally composes and writes songs independently, has always seemed to me like the other halves of other duos like Jatin-Lalit or Vishal-Shekhar or even Jeet-Pritam. Vayu’s previous efforts, with or without Tanishk has been mighty good. Baatein Karo is very, very good too, with a lovely melody, sung well by Vayu himself. The music video, however, goes completely overboard in espousing digital addiction and seems to say that there can only 2 extremes – with phone and without phone. Even as we have stopped using standalone cameras during our vacation and use the phone for photos and videos, the dependence on phones is now being portrayed as an all-purpose evil and no one seems to be advocating moderation in usage! But I understand that in a way that moderation doesn’t make for a great script or a narrative device – extremes do. So, throwing off your phone dramatically gets people talking, while showing moderate use is hardly noteworthy.

Kasam – Babloo Bachelor (Jeet Gannguli) – Hindi: Talking of musical composing duos, here’s a new song by Jeet, the other half of Jeet-Pritam that sounds like a poor-man’s Pritam! The tune and sweep is very reminiscent of Pritam’s highly celebrated title song from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil! And both songs are sung by Arijit Singh, incidentally! Sharman Joshi could also be seen as the poor-man’s Ranbir Kapoor, perhaps!

Kaadhal Theevey – Dharala Prabhu (Sean Roldan) – Tamil: For a song that has Sid Sriram has the star attraction, it starts with a chorus featuring Sean himself, along with Ravi G and Manoj. That chorus is a very, very effective back-up to Sid’s lead vocals, with some great lines. Vijay Ganesan’s guitar work is a particular highlight and Sean’s tune in the anupallavi is worth mentioning!

Nagarathey – Ivan Than Uthaman (Thaman S) – Tamil: Thaman ropes in fellow composer Anirudh to sing this one and that pays off pretty well. Thaman usual mix of music including a lovely and generous violin phrase keeps the song very engaging.

Lovvu Lovvu – Anbulla Ghilli (Arrol Corelli) – Tamil: This is perhaps the most enthusiastic piece of music I have heard from Arrol, who, possibly owing to his allegiance to Mysskin, conjures in my mind brooding and somber music every time I hear his name 🙂 The other surprise is Arrol calling Yuvan to sing the song as if the composer is a singer of repute! But, as is the norm, other composers extract better vocals from Yuvan than Yuvan does from himself in his own songs. This is a frothy and breezy song, and the Yuvan-Andrea combo makes it so with their lively singing.

Nenjil Oru Vannam – Srinivas (Indipop/Tamil): A lively song by singer Srinivas, even if the music video seems like an extended ad film for Nippon Paints. But the song’s theme is layered very appropriately in the choice of the music video’s sponsor through Pa.Vijay’s lyrics and the simple, heartwarming story portrayed in it. The tune harks back to an older, gentler period in Indipop, when bands like Colonial Cousins were in circulation!

Manasara Sollu – Jones Rupert, ft. Tejenthan Arunasalam and Priyanka (Indipop/Tamil): TeeJay Arunasalam seems to be on a roll! Along with the starry pop single on Valentine’s Day (Aasai Thathumbucha) directed by a movie director (Nelson Venkatesan) and co-starring a film actress (Indhuja), there was another, similar effort that I had missed – co-starring another actress, Nandita. That he also had a fantastic role on the Dhanush-starrer Asuran is another part of this winning streak. Jones Rupert’s music isn’t that unique, but TeeJay’s singing, along with Priyanka’s lifts the song significantly.

Meeko Dhandam – 30 Rojullo Preminchadam Ela (Anup Rubens) – Telugu: Anup already has 2 bumper hits from the film – Sid Sriram-sung Neeli Neeli Aakaasam (47 million views on YouTube!) and Armaan Malik-sung Idera Sneham (almost 3 million views on YouTube). While I wasn’t all that impressed with the latter, here’s the 3rd song that I like the most, among the 3. The song’s vibe reminded me of the famous song from Gulabi, ‘Class Roomulo’! This is a fun college song, with all the shenanigans that go into one, and Dhananjay and Mohana Bhogaraju having fun singing it.

Ningi Chutte – Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (Bijibal) – Telugu: This is a pleasant surprise, seeing Bijibal’s debut in Telugu! The song seems very similar to his own Idukki song from Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and that makes sense since this film is a remake of that Malayalam film! Idukki paves way for Matyagundam in Araku Valley. Bijibal gets Vijay Yesudas to sing this song that has the same feel and shades of Idukki song, but there are many ways he differentiates it for Telugu. It’s also interesting to note that the Tamil remake of the same Malayalam film, Nimir, directed by Priyadarshan, went with a much larger and flashy format and different composers – Ajaneesh Loknath and Darbuka Siva (with some superb songs!), and shunned the simple, earthy narrative or music by Bijibal. And the Telugu film is mirroring the Malayalam original more than the Tamil version!

Emo Emo Emo – Raahu (Praveen Lakkaraju) – Telugu: You can add this song under songs that can and do exist only because of Sid Sriram. It’s almost like composer Praveen imagined the Emo Emo Emo hook only based on Sid’s singing. It’s a functional song that Sid elevates considerably with his singing.

Ventaade Gaayam – Hit (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: This is Vivek’s signature sound, with a haunting, raspy and jazzy sound. He has mastered this over the years even he grew up the film music ladder in Telugu films, though with repeated usage it seems a bit too familiar. But yes, Mohana Bhogaraju owns the singing in this one and lifts it up.

Neeyum Njanum – Sumesh & Ramesh (Yakzan Gary Periera & Neha Nair) – Malayalam: The composing duo, Yakzan Gary Periera and Neha Nair, has been consistently interesting, with specific highs in films like Iyobinte Pusthakam. Neeyum Njanum sounds like a song from that soundtrack too, incidentally – a lot of ‘Raave’ in this song too, or it is perhaps owing to Neha’s voice in both songs.

Paaraake – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup) – Malayalam: Even as Tovino takes his foreign visitor across the country in his bike, the song moves from Hindi, to Tamil, to Malayalam, and English seamlessly. Sooraj has a steady, thrumming rhythm keeping the tune together and even the background chorus portions are really good. Tovino schooling the girl on some of India’s nuances (like the dead body and open defecation) are hilarious, coming in his Malayalee accent 🙂

Running Back To You – Anish Sood, ft. Lisa Mishra (Indipop): Goa-based music producer and DJ Anish Sood gets Lisa Mishra to sing this very foot-tapping EDM/House number. The song’s sound would effortlessly have you shaking your head and moving your feet.

Two perspectives, recently.

A.R.Rahman has voiced his opinion against remixes and recreations. He specifically spoke about being really annoyed with the remix of ‘Ishwar Allah’.

Tanishk Bagchi voiced his opinion that the composers who handle background scores in the films where he composes songs use his songs to create those background scores. And that this robs him of credit!

I do not condemn remixes and recreations, in general. Cover versions have always existed in music. And they help bring to fore music from another generation to a new generation. It could also eventually spur interest in an older song, both among newer audiences and older ones.

There is no excessive or limited remix quota. At any given point in time, there’d always be some remixes in India that are popular because, right now, music labels think this is a good yardstick for instant success given that those songs have already proven to have worked once, years ago.

And Tanishk’s claim is rather funny 🙂 Though he (and the music label + film producer) do their recreation officially, after seeking all necessary permission and paying the royalty, despite all appropriate credits, people would end up remembering Tanishk’s name as the composer for a recreation. The original composer’s name is a fine-print, at best.

In the case of background music, very few composers even get prominent credit! And in any case, the compositions Tanishk produces for a film belongs to the production house + music label too. So, the claim of ‘why should someone else take credit for my music?’ seems specious, considering he claims credit for a lot of other composers’ songs and is known for that trend!

In context, recently my daughter, while watching Spies in Disguise exclaimed, “Hey, that’s Will Smith, no? He was the Genie in Aladdin!”. To use Aladdin as a frame of reference for Will Smith, who has a whole body of work to remember by, is a telling statement of how younger people look at things from their limited perspective, given the lack of exposure (that only comes with age).

My son too exclaimed when he heard the remix of Urvashi Urvashi: “Hey, this is will-i-am’s song, no?” 🙂

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 108: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
14 songs this week. All 14 available in the YouTube playlist, while JioSaavn is missing 3 – Amit Trivedi’s Telugu song, Manasu Maree from the film V, and 2 Malayalam songs: Sibu Sukumaran’s May Maasa Poove and Kannil, from Kappela.

Nachan Nu Jee Karda – Angrezi Medium (A.S.Burmy & K.S.Burmy/Tanishk Bagchi) – Punjabi: While Tanishk’s remix aptly catchy and foot-tapping, this is more of a visual song than aural. Radhika Madan, who was outstanding in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota with her uninhibited acting chops, unleashes all that in a single song! You simply cannot take your eyes off her in this song video 🙂

Nira – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna) – Tamil: Nivas hits it out of the park with Nira! What starts off a somber melody gets that fantastic lilt at 1:20 and builds on progressively and steadily! There’s so much to observe and like, here: Sid Sriram’s lead vocals, Gautham Vasudev Menon (the man is suddenly everywhere and not as a director! As actor/villain in Trance and Kannum Kannum KoLLaiyaditthaal; and as rapper here!), and Malvi Sundaresan’s part later in the song! Finally, when Sid and Malvi’s voices alternate, it’s a lovely way to end the song.

Pesatha Mozhiye – Kombu Vatcha Singamda (Dhibhu Ninan Thomas) – Tamil: Despite good enough music in films like Maragadha Naanayam and Kanaa, I wondered what happened to Dhibu. Good to see him back! And it is even better to hear a song that deftly uses Hindolam Saramathi raagam in the melody. Knowing he has a really effective tune, he gets Chinmayi and Harisankar to do the honors, so appropriately.

Nanbiye – Teddy (D.Imman) – Tamil: A stunning tune that Imman layers so well with the background chorus complementing Anirudh’s lead vocals. That Imman chose 2 different tunes for the anupallavi and charanam, and that both sound so incredibly nuanced says so much about his imagination! A special note for Madhan Karky’s magnificently pure Tamil poetry, right from the use of the female form for friend!

Sirikkalam Parakkalam – Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (Masala Coffee) – Tamil: Despite having an 8-song soundtrack shared equally between Masala Coffee and Harshawardhan Rameshwar, this is a surprisingly underwhelming soundtrack. The only song that actually stands out is the one by Masala Coffee, sung by Benny Dayal, with rap by Madurai Souljour. It’s an easy-on-the-ear catchy and funky sound.

Aayizhai – Shabir (Indipop/Tamil): Amidst the pulsating music and the lofty main melody, Shabir manages to add the “Azhagiya Rathiye’ phrase that seems straight out of Reetigowlai raaga! That this song has shades of Shabir’s own title song of the Singapore Tamil TV series, Kalaba Kadhala, could be the reason, though. It’s just that Shabir seems to be singing with his mouth half-open, the way he sounds 🙂

Manasu Maree – V (Amit Trivedi) – Telugu: That’s a surprise – Amit’s 2nd Telugu film after Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (if you park the now-parked That Is Mahalakshmi which is a multilingual!). The song is very, very-Amit! He sings it himself too, along with Shashaa Tirupati. Very catchy, in a typically Amit way.

Kannil Kaanum – Rajath Raveendran (Indipop/Malayalam): For a non-film song, this was surprisingly so very good! Rajath has a lovely melody to anchor his tune, and the choices he makes within that, including that “Niryayaathor aasathanna prana naayike” twist that he employs, makes the song all the more interesting. The background rhythm in the anupallavi too deserves a mention. And yes, Harisankar is super effective once more!

May Maasa Poove – Sibu Sukumaran (Indipop/Malayalam): This song has the sweep of a Shaan Rahman song… almost. The jaunty and catchy rhythm perhaps takes a huge chunk of why this song is likeable, besides Najim Arshad and Anagha Suresh singing.

Thenezhuthave – Varky (Sumesh Somasundar) – Malayalam: This is the 3rd song sung by Harisankar (along with Sreenanda) and he seems to be in stupendous form yet again! Sumesh’s melody reminded me of Abhogi raaga. It’s wonderfully lush and beautifully orchestrated.

Kannil – Kappela (Sushin Shyam) – Malayalam: Sushin mounts his charming melody on that lovely whistle-led hook (by Sushin himself) and that works beautifully. The singing, by Sooraj Santhosh and Swetha Mohan, and the background sounds, using mandolin, ukelele and acoustic guitar, make it all the more exciting.

Psychedelic Maaye – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj) – Kannada: True to the song’s title, the song is adequately psychedelic, and Sanjith Hegde’s singing adds to that feel too! The hip-hop sound paves way for Rahul Dit-O’s rap too seamlessly.

The Other Side – SZA, Justin Timberlake: Superbly funky and totally in line with Justin’s signature sound. Justin sings alongside SZA (who sang on Black Panther’s All the Stars) and the retro rhythm keeps it darn catchy.

Stupid Love – Lady Gaga: A brand new single from Lady Gaga! And this is her first collaboration with Swedish super-producer Max Martin. It’s brilliantly frothy and addictive, with that punchy kick drum staying on your mind long after the song is over.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 107: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
10 songs this week. 9 each in YouTube and JioSaavn, but not the same 9 🙂 YouTube is missing the song from Shivaji Surthkal, while JioSaavn is missing the song from Varane Avashyamund.

Bhankas – Baaghi 3 (Bappi Lahiri and Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi: Tanishk does what he does best and what is expected of him these days – recreate yet another song from another era and makes people go that song’s video and comment under it, ‘Who is here after Baaghi 3?’. As usual, he also cranks up the shoosha significantly to outdo the original’s spunk. It’s all solid fun and immensely catchy.

Tum Na Ho – M Ajay Vaas, Ft. Arjun Kanungo and Prakriti Kakar (Hindi/Indipop): Ajay’s tune is what made this song for me, more than the star singers and the fancy music video. Of course, Arjun and Prakriti do their job darn well, but the main tune and the music elevates this song pretty well.

Cycle Gap – Shakthisree Gopalan (Tamil/Indipop): Written, composed and sung by Shakthisree herself, this is a simple and cute song for Valentine’s Day 2020. The lyrics are pedestrian including using a dialog from Alai Paayuthey and Pepsi’s ad slogan, but it’s all good, harmless fun within the theme of the song. What is truly interesting is that it allows for the feminine expression of being in love, without showing the object of affection (which is usually the case in film songs’ equivalents). And the music video could easily be confused as a Lenskart advertisement with Shakthisree as their brand ambassador.

Neela Vaan (Lovers’ Lullaby) – Staccato (Tamil/Indipop): Wonderfully serene music to look back with fondness and nostalgia, and wanting to go back to that time. Lines like ‘Naam tholaitha naangu vasantham meetteduppoma’, expressively sung by Gowtham Bharadwaj and Niranjana Ramanan make this pleasant melody thoroughly enjoyable.

Jaalame & Mathayichan – Trance (Jackson Vijayan) – Malayalam: Jaalame builds very impressively on top of a hymnal/religious prayer like sound. The choir (Asima Ensemble Malayalam Men Choir Group) in the song is expansively utilized and the music has a haunting quality too. Mathayichan is a punchy rap led by Blaaze and Soubin Shahir. The repetitive sounds and the occasional dialogs in between keep it interesting.

Muthunne Kannukalil – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph) – Malayalam: Alphons continues with the semi-classical sound he so astutely used in Nee Vaa En Aarumukha, in this song. The singers, Swetha Mohan and Swetha Somasundaran, truly bring out the joyous outburst of an emotion in the song.

Smaranakal Kaadayi – Bhoomiyile Manohara Swakaryam (Sachin Balu) – Malayalam: This is a warm throwback to a different era of Malayalam film music. There’s also an Ilayaraja’esque touch in the interludes and the anupallavi. Wonderfully sung by Shabazz Amman and Sithara Krishnakumar; particularly Shabazz in the anupallavi as it turns into a gorgeous ghazal-like sound.

Aparichita – Shivaji Surathkal: The Case Of Ranagiri Rahasya (Judah Sandhy) – Kannada: A short 4-song soundtrack from Judah, mainly at the service of the film, from the sound of it. The one song that did stand out for me is this, sung beautifully by Shreya Sundar Iyer. Judah’s melody is low-key and very mellifluous, with a mild retro-touch.

Best Friend – Shan Vincent de Paul & Yanchan (Rap) – Yanchan’s mridangam mix doesn’t play up at all in this song, but this one also samples A.R.Rahman’s Mustafa Mustafa to an alluring effect. The whole song is built on that sample and Shan’s rap is layered into it really well.

If you’d like to sample the real mridangam rap mix, here’s a track!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 106: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
Fully loaded musical week! 21 songs this week. JioSaavn has 19 songs and is missing Varane Avashyamund’s single (which has been released only via Dulquer’s own YouTube channel) and the theme song from Kannada film Dia (Soul of Dia). The latter is a particularly fantastic song that deserves to be up on more streaming platforms. YouTube has 20 songs and is missing only Chhavi Sodhani’s Banne Re (a JioSaavn Artists Original that may get a music video soon).

Rahogi Meri, Aur Tanha, Yeh Dooriyan, Shayad (Reprise), Parmeshwara, Dhak Dhak & Haan Tum Ho – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam) – Hindi: Pritam had already produced a masterpiece of a soundtrack for the earlier film with the title. That he produces a monster of a soundtrack for another film with the same title, for the same director, speaks volumes about the composer’s evolution and imagination! I have already written about the earlier 3 songs – Shayad, Haan Main Galat and Mehrama. There are 8 more songs and together, this is one heck of a soundtrack, on the lines of Pritam’s Jab Harry Met Sejal!

Rahogi Meri puts Pritam in Coldplay territory once again, and in Arijit’s searing vocals, this is an effortless winner. Aur Tanha has KK and need I say anything more? This one goes back to Pritam’s rock-band days of Life in a Metro, with a smattering of African-style chorus in the background! Yeh Dooriyan’s sweet tune is accentuated significantly by MOhit Chauhan dependable singing, while Haan Tum Ho is the only song that seems to be overdoing the whiny sound. But then, it gets Shilpa Rao to join Arijit Singh and that redeems the sound almost immediately.

The 2 songs that do not fit into the rest of the soundtrack’s sound (along with Haan Main Galat) are Parmeshwara and Dhak Dhak. Both are absolutely enjoyable, though. Parmeshwara is a rap-style ode to Lord Shiva led by Raftaar, with a hilarious hymn-style phrase! Dhak Dhak is the oddest one out in the soundtrack, with a Calypso/Carribean touch! As Nikita Gandhi and Akasa go Dhak Dhak, the song picks up pace and becomes a head-shaking indulgence!

Arey Pyaar Kar Le – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Bappi Lahiri/Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi: Tanishk Bagchi adds a phenomenal spunk to the already super funky Disco classic by Bappi Lahiri and the result is one massive floor-banger. The original was alluding to yaar in the opposite sex while the recreation upends that notion in service of the film’s theme, much like how people started seeing new meaning into George Michael’s earlier songs after he announced that he was gay. Full marks to a A-list star like Ayushmann Khurrana for headlining and carrying this evolution!

Channa Ve – Bhoot – Part One: The Haunted Ship (Akhil Sachdeva) – Hindi: Akhil, Nasha band’s vocalist made his Bollywood composing debut with Humsafar from Badrinath Ki Dulhania. That was strictly functional, but he does far, far better here, both in terms of the tune and the singing, where he is joined by Mansheel Gujral. In fact, it’s their singing and the energetic background sound that keeps the song steadily likeable.

Firse Machayenge – Emiway Bantai/Tony James (Hindi): Pulsating rap with hilarious lyrics that are apt for Valentine’s Day 🙂 Tony James’ music traverses through the usual repetitive framing of sounds and phrases, but that goes well with Emiway’s edgy rap style.

Banna Re – Chhavi Sodhani (Indipop/Hindi): Composed by Chhavi Sodhani, and sung by Chhavi and Bawa Sahni, this one’s a catchy song with a Rajasthani tinge. The composition reminded me of Sachin-Jigar’s musical style, as also Maatibaani’s music. That’s definitely a complement!

Aasai Thathumbucha – Justin Prabhakaran (Indipop/Tamil): A surprise non-film single from Justin, for Valentine’s Day 2020, directed by Nelson Venkatesan of Oru Naal Koothu fame. Justin keeps the tune low-key and tantalizingly low-key, with wailing violins for company. Teejay Arunasalam, the lead singer and star in the video, holds the brief rather well in terms of the vocals.

Kadhal Kozhappudhey – Oh My Kadavule (Leon James) – Tamil: What started an average soundtrack gets a fantastic closure with the 3rd good song by Leon James. Leon ropes in rocker Sanjeev Thomas (who himself has been doing incredibly well in Malayalam film music with soundtracks like Manoharam) for punchy rock number on the lines of The Doors.

Veyyon Silli – Soorarai Pottru (G.V.Prakash Kumar) – Tamil: GVP gets many things perfectly right in the song. His own captivating tune and the jaunty rhythms is one. Vivek’s lyrics, full of interesting wordplay is another. The best part is the choice of Agam’s lead singer, Harish Sivaramakrishnan. Harish is stunningly good in his rendition of this high-pitched melody.

Kutti Story – Master (Anirudh) – Tamil/English: Anirudh returns to his Kolaveri template, in an obvious nod to that global chartbuster. Just like that song, there is a generous sprinkling of Tanglish mix, and has the lead actor singing it too. And cheekily, it uses a dialog that Vijay Sethupathi is known for (from Vikram Vedhaa) as the opening for a Vijay song, though both are featured in the film. It’s all very, very catchy and enjoyable. A special mention for the music video animation by Realworks Studios, Coimbatore.

Raletti – World Famous Lover (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: A very, very charming tune that, sung beautifully by Divya S Menon. If only the tune and sound didn’t sound so similar to Manikanth Kadri’s 2018 Kannada song, Shaakuntle Sikkalu from the film, Naduve Antaravirali.

Mathi Kanna Ullathu Chollan (Unnikrishnan Song) – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph) – Malayalam: A solid ‘fun’ song 🙂 The tune’s tone shifts often, including a rap portion and a joyous outburst. But Alphons keeps all tightly knit within his grasp, in a thoroughly enjoyable package! The video is a lovely watch too!

Vazhkaiyin Payanam – Sunadhshankar (Indipop/Malayalam): Even though it takes almost 2 minutes in the music video to get to the song (with the lengthy dialog prelude even alluding to the lead actress as ‘Gautham Menon film heroine’), it does pay off! Sunadhshankar has a really involving tune with a strong Middle Eastern undercurrent. The interlude sounds and instruments are pretty inventive, and San Jaimt’s rap too works very well in the flow. Singer Harisankar KS spectacularly holds everything together.

Soul of Dia (Theme Song) – Dia (Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: Oh boy, what a mesmerizing melody! Ajaneesh hits it out of the park with a brilliantly lush melody and layering it inside that lilting rhythm! And then the singers – Ajaneesh gets Chinmayi and Sanjith Hegde for the duet and that choice works absolute wonders!!

Joru Joraagi – Thurthu Nirgamana (Dossmode) – Kannada: I wasn’t that impressed with the film’s first single, Somberi (The Lazy Song). But Dheerendra Doss a.k.a Dossmode gets this one right. IN what sounds almost like a companion piece to Justin’s Aasai Thathumbucha, tune-wise, this one is warm and serene, getting the best out of Suneel Rao and Varijashree Venugopal’s singing.

Whispering Hues – Varun Sunil, ft. Rajhesh Vaidhya (Indipop/Instrumental): Even as Masala Coffee’s lead vocalist Sooraj Santhosh has gone in his own way, here’s the band’s other vocalist going solo while remaining in the band! Varun’s composition is largely instrumental barring Malavika Rajhesh’s background humming. The star of the song is obviously Rajhesh Vaidya and his magical veena! The overall sound Varun puts together is ambient and very new-age, and the veena brings a fantastic Indian angle to it.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 105: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
12 songs this week. JioSaavn has all the songs, while YouTube is missing just one (since it is inside a jukebox – embedded below) – Marali Manasaagide, from the Kannada film Gentleman.

Mehrama – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam) – Hindi: Pritam is on his way producing an encore for the film of the same title, a decade later. In Darshan Raval and Antara Mitra’s highly expressive vocals, his music booms through the sedate melody with an extra punch in the background rhythm.

Rab Raakha – The Yellow Diary (Indipop/Punjabi): The Yellow Diary had a prolific run in 2018, with both Marz and Izafa, two 3-song albums. They are back after drawing a blank in 2019, but the form is intact. Rajan Batra, the lead vocalist, continues to remind me of Rekha Bhardwaj (male version of Rekha Bhardwaj, that is), and that is a mighty engaging vocal style! The band’s tune continues to be thoroughly interesting.

Mar Jaayein Hum, Ghar Bhara Sa Lage & Shukrana Gul Khile – Shikara (Sandesh Shandilya & Abhay Rustom Sopori) – Hindi: Sandesh Shandilya can always be trusted to produce an elegant soundtrack and with his long-time collaborator, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, all the more so. Mar Jaayein Hum is the soundtrack’s best, literally flowing oh-so-beautifully t the sound of water! Papon and Shradha Mishra are absolutely fantastic! Papon and Shreya Ghoshal handle Irshad Kamil’s lived-in experiences in the lines of Ghar Bhara Sa Lage, with the tune harking back to an older period in time. Santoor exponent Abhay Rustum Sopori’s Shukrana Gul Khile is all-Kashmir… the sound we associate most with Kashmir, with a haunting, foot-tapping Central-Asian sound.

Sila Naal – Titanic (Nivas K Prasanna) – Tamil: Yaazhini, from the film was first released as a short promo in 2018, and then the full song was released in 2019! In between, another song was released as Promo song, Kaalamum Kettu Pochu, in 2018! At last, it looks like the film is actually being released, given that the full soundtrack is now out. If you go past the lovely Yaazhini (about which I wrote in February 2019, and the corny faux-Carnatic music’ness of Kaalamum, the only other song that stands out is Sila Naal, that rides heavily on Abhay Jodhpurkar’s extraordinary singing. The tune reminded me of A.R.Rahman’s music for K.Balanchander in Paarthaale Paravasam… not any single song, but the overall ethos of that soundtrack.

Gaandu Kannamma – Vivek-Mervin (IndiPop/Tamil): Let me begin with clearing the fact that the first word in the title is not the abuse in Hindi, but in Tamil (!), which means ‘getting annoyed/angry’. Having said that, this is a gently lilting and catchy song, even as the duo is known for far more energetic numbers. But this one’s good too, in a different way – I’m glad that they are exploring music beyond films!

Hey Konjum Maaya – Oththaikku Oththa (Justin Prabhakaran) – Tamil: The first single from the film was an unabashed throwback to another era, almost as if the song leapt out from R.Parthiban’s Sarigamapadani. Thankfully, Justin does far better in the 2nd single! The slow Latino dance sound works very well for Nikhita Gandhi and Gowtham Bharadwaj’s singing.

Nee Parichayamutho & Venakane Unna – Choosi Choodangaane (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: Even as Gopi is recycling his Malayalam material successfully in World Famous Lover, he comes up with a gem of a little soundtrack for Choosi Choodangaane. Probably owing to Madhura Audio’s relatively poorer distribution, I stumbled on it only when someone pointed it out and I found that some singles have been available since late last year! Sid Sriram-led Nee Parichayamutho is a delightful listen even if it is so, so Gopi’ish, with very familiar sounds from his repertoire. Venakane Unna too has many shades of Gopi’s standard sound, particularly in the anupallavi, but it is a gorgeous tune made even better by Chinmayi’s singing. There’s a lot of vocalizing in both interludes (the 2nd one, featuring thavil is particularly lovely) that I feel is by Gopi himself, going by the voice.

Marali Manasaagide – Gentleman (Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: Ajaneesh’s use of the rhythm easily makes this song hugely interesting! The beats are wonderfully inventive, and they delightfully change track in the anupallavi, before getting back to the original one. To some extent, Sanjith Hegde and C.R.Bobby take a backseat in front of such a flashy use of the beats!

No Shame – 5 Seconds of Summer: A new single (the 3rd) from the band’s upcoming album, CALM. The video sees lead vocalist Luke Hemmings fake his own death… and other things people do for the sake of social media posturing! The sound, with a steady thumping, is a catchy affair.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 104: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
19 songs this week. YouTube has all the songs, while JioSaavn is missing 3 songs – Vellai Yaanai’s Aara Thedum, Bheeshma’s Whattey Beauty and Ayyappanum Koshiyum’s Kalakkatha.

Haan Main Galat – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam) – Hindi: Hemant Kumar’s sapera-been interlude from Nagin (part of Man Dole) takes on another life, after being used in the 2009 Love Aaj Kal. Pritam adds extra zing in the tune and it works effortlessly once more!

Maragadha Maalai – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna) – Tamil: Unlike last week’s single from the film, Nivas gets his singers incredibly right in this one – composer Pradeep Kumar (who gets credited as Pradeep Vijay, for some reason!) and Chinmayi. And Nivas employs a mighty racy background rhythm for an otherwise melodious tune. That contrast works really well, as also the completely unusual structure of the tune and Navin Iyer’s flute. And then there’s Vijay Yesudas too, in the song. It always confounds me when a 3rd voice appears in what is otherwise supposedly a duet and a film that has only one male star. I wonder if there’s another male actor in the film who may get this other voice, or both voices may be used in the same song for Siddharth!

Aara Thedum – Vellai Yaanai (Santhosh Narayanan) – Tamil: After last week’s Vennila from the same film, Santhosh impresses again, with Aara Thedum. The sound, once again, is minimal and evoking a different period in time. Santhosh takes on the singing duty himself and the sparse, haunting melody suits his vocal style pretty well. Rajumurugan’s lyric deserve a special mention.

Ennada Life Idhu – Oh My Kadavule (Leon James) – Tamil: I was looking for more spark from the film after Kadhaippoma, and thankfully Leon delivers again. The song is a cool and funky, and in Santhosh Narayanan’s singing, it sounds very catchy!

Yedho Maayam – Dagaalty (Vijaynarain) – Tamil: A very Santhosh Narayanan’ish song from Vijay, or it’s perhaps Dhee’s voice and singing that brings that familiarity. Lovely tune, though, with a surprising Begada-raaga based interlude (a mentioned by the composer on Twitter).

Whattey Beauty – Bheeshma (Mahati Swara Sagar) – Telugu: Mani Sharma’s son has been trying his hand in music and has done some decent-enough work too (like Jadoogadu). But I have a feeling he may hit the big time after this song/film. This song is almost like a rite-of-passage – the quintessential Telugu masala song, and delivered so darn well! Even the voices, Dhanunjay and Amala Chebolu, seem very fresh.

Oohale, The Life of Ram, Naa Kale Kalai and Inthena – Jaanu (Govind Vasantha) – Telugu: Oohale is the Kaadhale equivalent, retaining the soul and essence of the original. And a Hindi/Hindustani ‘Piya Mora Baalam Mora’ twist to what was essentially Tamil in 96! But oddly, this song is not even featured in the official soundtrack/jukebox? Something to do with the copyrights between Think Music and Aditya Music, I presume, since Oohale was released by Think Music, and the 4-song jukebox is on Aditya.

And as if on cue, the jukebox has a completely new set of 4 songs, with only minor traces of the Tamil soundtrack. Life of Ram, once again, is Pradeep Kumar’s show, but Govind closes the song with the Tamil’s memorable ‘Thaane’ hook! Naa Kale Kalai and Inthena, sung by Brinda and Chinmayi, respectively, are perhaps the equivalents of Yean and Vasantha Kaalangal. That brings us to the missing equivalents of Iravingu Theevaai and Thaabangale. But, even if you do not do the comparison (which is rather difficult given the iconic status of the original), the Telugu soundtrack does stand up on its own, impressively.

Neeli Neeli Aakasam – 30 Rojullo Preminchadam Ela (Anup Rubens) – Telugu: It’s a simple enough tune, and the backgrounds too are extremely familiar and simple. This is all Anup’s signature style, of course, but he also does something mildly unusual by roping in Sid Sriram for the male vocals. That makes a big difference, layering Sid’s unique tone on Anup’s template – it works because this is the first time it is being tried.

Theera Kadha, Bang Bang & Ud Chala – Gauthamante Radham (Ankit Menon) – Malayalam: Much like Santhosh Narayanan and Vellai Yaanai, Ankit Menon had Uyire last week from Gauthamante Radham and has Theera Kadha this week. And much like the Tamil song, here too, the composer sings it himself. Preetha Madhu Menon joins him after the 3-minute mark in a wonderful high for the otherwise-serene melody. The video, offering a road trip from Kerala to Rameswaram on a Tata Nano, is a lovely watch! Bang Bang is a complete contrast from these 2 songs! Sayonara owns the overall song with her usual flair, and since it is her song all the way, but the surprise element is Neeraj Madhav’s rap in between! Ud Chala is interesting given that it is an entirely Hindi song! It’s wonderfully calming and demonstrates debutant Ankit Menon’s confidence.

Noolupoya – Trance (Jackson Vijayan) – Malayalam: This is Pradeep Kumar’s 3rd song of the week in the 3rd language (though no credited as ‘Pradeep Vijay)! Jackson Vijayan scores phenomenally in the 2nd single as well, with a haunting sound that manifests itself in a trance in the interludes! The video makes for a riveting watch too!

Aadiyilalo – Masala Coffee (Indipop/Malayalam): After the heart-breaking announcement of Sooraj Santhosh exiting the band, Masala Coffee moves on with a new single. It is energetic, very wonderfully folksy in their unique style, with excellent singing by both Crishna and Varun Sunil.

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Kalakkatha – Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Attapadi Musicians/Jakes Bejoy) – Malayalam: For the first single from the new Prithviraj-starrer, Jakes Bejoy uses a folk song by the tribal musicians of Attapadi, near Palakkad. He retains the ethos and soul of their song, and the singers and background music too, and layers it in his arrangement. It’s deftly done, and sounds very, very rhythmic. The lead singer Nanjamma is phenomenal.

Dheera Sammohagaara – Bicchugatthi Chapter 1 (Nakul Abhyankar) – Kannada: I was so looking forward to hear Hamsalekha’s music (given the historical sweep of the film, with the plot adapted from Dr.B.L Venu’s novel based on the Palegaras of Chitradurga, I thought his music may lend itself well, almost like how M.M.Keeravani’s music did to a Baahubali in Telugu) after quite some time, but surprisingly the first single is composed by Nakul Abhyankar!! It’s a lovely melody, handled brilliantly by Anuradha Bhat.

Yeddelo Bharathiya – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: Ajaneesh, in tow with Anthony Daasan, delivers a rocking, rhythmic number with a heady brass band’ish sound! I was reminded of Sam C.S’s music, but this is right within Ajaneesh’s domain as well.

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