Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 142: On Spotify | On YouTube
15 songs this week. YouTube has all the songs, while Spotify is missing 3 – Saregama Caravan Tamil’s Kannaale Pesi Pesi, Staccato’s 80’s Soirée Medley and the Punjabi song Cooper.

Kandaa Vara Sollunga – Karnan (Santhosh Narayanan) – Tamil: What a song!!! Santhosh and Mari Selvaraj produced a whopper in Pariyerum Perumal, and this single in Karnan lives up to that pedigree very easily. The sound is electric and the tune is searing! Kidakkuzhi Maariyammaal’s voice pierces with feeling and emotion, with Santhosh Narayanan’s interventions adding gravitas when needed. That Thiruvannamalai Parai Kuzhu’s percussion is the song’s soul, keeping it steadily engaging! The song’s structure too helps in the impact – the repetitive ‘Kandaa Vara Sollunga’ interspersed with the longer exposition before it, in particular. This is a beautiful blend of Tamil Nadu’s earthy sound in a way that makes it globally relevant.

Rendu Kaadhal – Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal (Anirudh) – Tamil: A gentle and very inviting song about heartbreak! Anirudh eschews easy hooks and instead goes for a sweeping melody that works overall. The FAME’S Orchestra is the stellar backbone, accentuating the song’s feel and overall feel in a splendid way.

Yaazha Yaazha – Laabam (D.Imman) – Tamil: What starts as a pleasant melody gets even better when Imman induces the gently lilting rhythm after 1:12! It’s wonderful to hear Shruti Haasan get her Tamil diction very right, and her singing is outstanding too. This is the kind of song that Imman would have easily offered to Shreya Ghoshal, but it is good to hear Shruti ace it too.

PS: The Tamil film Titanic had a song called ‘Yaazhini’ – seems like the girl (Yaazhini) and the guy (Yaazha) are in different films 🙂

Per Vachaalum Vaikkaama – Dikkiloona (Ilayaraja & Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: While Yuvan is on very, very dicey territory trying to recreate an absolutely iconic song that remains evergreen even today, I have to say that he merely airbrushes the sound to make it a wee bit modern. Every element is left as-is, and is just modernized in the instrumentation. And the original voices are retained, thankfully. I also expected ‘Bheem Boy, Bheem Boy’ to appear in the second interlude, but Yuvan has dropped it 🙂

Vera Level Sago – Ayalaan (A R Rahman) – Tamil: I know in my heart that I’m being very generous adding this song in the Weeklies. I like the fact that it is lively and rhythmic but the tune, beyond the opening, doesn’t work for me at all. It seemed to me like a couple fo very catchy ad jingles strewn together – all individual jingles are catchy, but together, they seem like a hodge-podge. From that perspective, it reminded me of Maduraikku Pogathadi from Azhagiya Thamizh Magan.

Kannaale Pesi Pesi – P. Adinarayana Rao & Aruldev, Ft. Vijay Prakash (Tamil): The last recreation under Saregama Caravan Tamil was disappointing – Engeyum Eppothum, by Karthik and Rajhesh Vaidya, despite the excellent track record so far in the series. It seemed overdone to me, despite taking up such an easily likeable song. But things get better this week, with this song from Adutha Veettu Penn. Vijay’s ebullient singing fits perfectly, and Aruldev’s music too, with the creative flourishes in twisting the original tune, and the vocal chorus… all add great value!

Hey Manasendukila​ – Ichata Vahanamulu Niluparadu (Pravin Lakkaraju) – Telugu: A very soft and feathery melody that works mainly because of Armaan Malik’s lead vocals (Ramya Behara joins in much later in the song). Pravin keeps the sound to a minimum and complements the tune very well with the ‘Oooo’ humming line.

Kola Kalle Ilaa – Varudu Kaavalenu (Vishal Chandrashekhar) – Telugu: The melody didn’t work for me as much as I would like it to (for a Vishal Chandrashekhar song), but he packages the song well, with the choice of Sid Sriram working for him too. That ‘Malli Malli Raave’ line seemed very interesting as a closing phrase the pallavi!

Hey Abbayi – Sreekaram (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: After his brooding, sweeping, soulful songs in recent times, it is refreshing to hear a catchy, fun, mass’y song from Mickey. This is the standard masala film template song – the girl singing about the girl, and then the guy singing about the girl, with people dancing in the background. The template itself presents well for catchy, fun music and Mickey delivers well.

Yaare Yaare – Ek Love Ya (Arjun Janya) – Kannada: Beyond the racy melody that hits all the right notes, Arjun employs the Symphony Orchestra Budapest akin to the Australian/British string quartet Bond. The sound is very similar to the band’s and it adds to the charm, as a layer above Armaan Malik’s singing.

80’s Soirée Medley – Staccato, El Fé (Kannada): The choice of songs is a no-brainer, of course, but picking 3 memorable Kannada melodies from Raja’s repertoire is the first win. The 3 songs, Naguva Nayana from Pallavi Anupallavi, Jeeva Hoovagide from Nee Nanna Gellalare and Geetha’s iconic Jotheyali, are presented with minimal background sounds that brings the melodies’ beauty so, so well! And since they start each song from the anupallavi instead of the actual beginning, the enjoyment is even more pronounced. Both Gowtham Bharadwaj and Niranjana Ramanan are stupendously good with the singing.

Cooper – Desi Crew & Rammy Chahal, featuring Gulrej Akhtar, Jovan Dhillon (Punjabi): The song, credited to Rammy Chahal for ‘composition’ and to Desi Crew for ‘music’ is a catchy to-and-fro between Gulrej Akhtar and Jovan Dhillon, not in a call-and-response manner but as a conversation of sorts – you go first, done? Now let me respond… manner 🙂 It is thoroughly engaging and musically works very well too. That they both sing very well—particularly Gulrej—is a big plus.

Me, the Ocean and the Sea – I and Self feat. Malgudi Shubha and Amrit Ramnath (Indipop): Very catchy, fun song! Great to hear Malgudi Shubha after a while, and that Tamil phrase (Kadaloram Kathi Paadu) is a lovely touch!

Yaana & The Road Not Taken – The Immersive Experience (Sandeep Chowta): A new album by Sandeep and it fits perfectly in his recent musical repertoire – atmospheric, wordless and wonderfully ambient. Yaana features Varijashree Venugopal’s free-flowing humming as the base for Sandeep to unleash pulsating music, while The Road Not Taken gains phenomenally from Abhay Nayampally’s scintillating mandolin. The tune, though, took me to M.Jayachandran’s title song from the Malayalam movie ‘Akale’!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 141: On Spotify | On YouTube
16 songs this week. YouTube has all 16, and Spotify is missing two songs – Maayangal from Kutty Story and Sokkuren Sokkuren from Chidambaram Railwaygate.

Roz Roz – The Yellow Diary ft. Shilpa Rao (Indipop/Hindi): What a combo – The Yellow Diary and Shilpa Rao! The tune is very Yellow Diary, and Shilpa carries the song, letting a very-Sid-Sriram’ish Rajan Batra (Yellow Diary’s lead vocalist) complement her beautifully. Thoroughly enjoyable song!

Mascara – Vayu (Indipop/Hindi): A fairly familiar and predictable tune, though made more enjoyable due to Paresh Pahuja’s singing. Surprisingly, Akasa Singh, another singer, is credited for additional composition and she doesn’t sing!

Angana Morey – Soumyadeep Ghoshal (Indipop/Hindi): Shreya Ghoshal’s brother Soumyadeep composes what seems like a Ismail Darbar’ish semi-classical melody. The classical notes of the melody has been mounted very impressively on the decidedly modern background that gets more and more interesting as the song progresses. The main flute note in the backgroudn took me back to the brief prelude flute from Satyam Shivam Sundaram’s Yashomati Maiyya Se Bole Nandlala that Viju Shah sampled in Gupt’s Yeh Pyaar Kya hai!

Lagan Laagi Re, Tu Kabhi Kabhi & Ajnabi – Songs of Love (Amit Trivedi) – Indipop/Hindi: After the 2 singles released earlier (Madhubala, Rusvaaiyaan), Amit releases the full album ahead of Valentine’s Day 2021. I’m really glad to see that Amit is finally able to release his unreleased song from the 2011 film Trishna, Lagan Laagi Re! The songs remains exactly the same, featuring Shreya Ghoshal and Kavita Seth’s voices, with its soft, warm Rajasthani lilt. Tu Kabhi Kabhi has a lovely rhythm and even has a line aptly summing it up, “Karo na, iss rhythm pe (dance/romance)”. Excellent singing by Amit and Jonita. Ajnabi is the other song that I really liked, featuring Abhay Jodhpurkar and Poorvi Koutish’s singing. I couldn’t figure out who the lyricist was, but the lyrics really made to sit up, with that line, “Ki dil hi dil mein gaaoon, Euphoria ke gaana” 🙂

Maayangal – Kutty Story (Karthik) – Tamil: The first single from the just-released anthology that I believe has more songs (hopefully in the coming weeks?). This song seemed like a new-age version of Rahman’s sound from Alai Paayuthey – I could trace ‘Sagiyaaaay’ at places. It’s a lovely song – very easily likeable and with a gorgeous lift in the ‘Maayangal’ hook that comes after an extended prelude of sorts.

Seevanuke – Aelay (Kaber Vasuki) – Tamil: The only song that worked from the soundtrack of Aelay. Kaber creates a dreamy sound with the guitar in the background, and the singing (by Yogi Sekar, and eventually by Roja Adithya, who appears much later) adds to that feathery feel. I was reminded a bit of Adityan’s style of music (Seevalapperi Paandi) in the overall sound, but that is only a mild reference since Kaber’s sound is fairly unique and interesting. The singers, though, seem to struggle – Yogi, in the higher notes, and Roja, almost all through.

Sokkuren Sokkuren – Chidambaram Railwaygate (Karthik Raja) – Tamil: Barring the VeNNilave VeNNilave reminiscence, this is vintage Karthik Raja, in terms of the sound and the singing (by Ilayaraja, of course… and they don’t even name the female singer!). It’s sad to see Karthik Raja, who had produced stellar music in films like Ullasam, be reduced to composing for such smaller/inconsequential films, though.

Avalo Avalo – Vasantha Mullai (Rajesh Murugesan) – Tamil: This is truly an odd one! I didn’t take as much to Rajesh’s tune—which seemed severely all over the place to cohesively appeal to me—as I did with Gowtham Bharadwaj V’s singing! Gowtham literally holds the fragmented song together with his excellent singing.

Jala Jala Jalapaatham – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: After the 2 mesmerizing songs, the new song by DSP too lives up to the film’s promise! The whispery melody is lovely and mid-way, the background gets wonderfully grand with the strings rising up to occasion wonderfully. The singing, by Jaspreet Jasz seems a bit labored, particularly in the higher notes, though Shreya Ghoshal is dependably excellent.

Neevevvaro – Boyfriend For Hire (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: This is that lofty Gopi-style melody that he rarely gets wrong! The chorus’ish line is so very Gopi, by the way. Chinmayi sounds fantastic, and so does the sax backdrop that gently lifts the song.

Rendu Kannultho – Dil Se (Srikar Velamuri) – Telugu: Srikar has a lilting melody that works effortlessly, and the choice of Shreya Ghoshal works wonders too! Subhani’s mandolin, in the background, stand out beautifully too.

Inkosaari Inkosaari​ – Tuck Jagadish (Thaman S) – Telugu: Even though the tune and sound is a bit too familiar to Thaman’s template, the tune still comes alive thanks to the lively backgrounds and Shreya’s singing. Kaala Bhairava’s higher-pitched ‘Yegaresey Oohalne’ call-out is very catchy too.

Guche Gulabi – Most Eligible Bachelor​ (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: Predictably familiar sound using every expected element from a standard-issue Gopi song… and yet, it ends up being an ear worm 🙂 Armaan Malik’s choice as singer works wonders.

Madhuradhari – Karlmarx Bakthanayirunnu (Manikandan Ayyappa) – Malayalam: Sooraj Santhosh is absolutely delightful, holding on to Manikandan’s pleasant and soft melody, enunciating the words with such care. This is the kind of tune where the choice of singer truly makes the song far more superior! K J Paulson’s sitar makes you sit up too, whenever it appears.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 140: On Spotify | On YouTube
10 songs this week. YouTube has all 10, but Spotify fares very poorly this week with 4 missing songs 🙁 Have embedded them below so that you may not miss those 4 while playing only the Spotify playlist.

Sajan More Ghar – Maati Baani (Indipop): Maati Baani continues with their brand of incredibly soulful classical music coated beautifully with a modern outlook. This is fusion at its most elegant iteration. If Nirali enthralls with her command over the singing, showcasing raag Jog in all its splendour, then Kartik’s backgrounds and presence offers a very neat foil, making the combination so thoroughly enjoyable. For context, the band Filter Coffee had created a fusion variant of the same song for the 2017 film Solo, under World of Trilok.

Pon Ondru Kanden – Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy, Abby V & Venky V (Indipop/Tamil): Abhishek Iyer aka Abby V, from Canada, has already demonstrated his incredible vocal prowess through his videos. The one where he sings 73 raagas is a phenomenal watch. His latest, which he sings along with his father, expands on Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy’s iconic Padithal Mattum Podhuma (1962) melody and even with minimal background instruments, uses the duo’s voice to stupendous effect! The duo brings out the beauty of Brindavani Sarang raaga (on which the original song is based) wonderfully well, playing on each others’ strengths and voices.

Enil Paaindhidum – Sinam (Shabir) – Tamil: Even though I had difficulty in assimilating Shabir’s singing (he seems to be singing as if he is in some extreme pain), the choice of raaga for this tune does the trick for the song, and for him – Reetigowlai.

Unnai Kaanadha Kannum – K.V.Mahadevan, Girishh Gopalakrishnan (Indipop/Tamil): Continuing on Carvaan Lounge Tamil’s track record so far, Girishh’s reimagination of this classic Tamil song is excellent. Girishh’s choice of twisting the tune of ‘Nee Sollaadha Sollum Sollalla’ (which registered a higher note in the original) works wonders along with the song’s jazz-style packaging, and Tanvi carries the singing with a lot of grace.

Feel Song – Vaazhl (Pradeep Kumar) – Tamil: This is the second song in recent times that has composer Deva playing against type – the first was Mookuthi Amman’s Saami Kulasaami. Here, singing Arun Prabu Purushothaman’s poignantly funny Tanglish lyrics, Deva excels in bringing the necessary ‘feel’ to the Feel Song! Pradeep too surprises, by gently slowing the tempo at places, for an already trippy melody, and that makes for an interestingly disorienting listening experience.

Nailu Nadi – WWW (Simon K King) – Telugu: It’s good to see Simon moving to Telugu too (though some of his films have been dubbed in Telugu in the past) – this looks like a direct Telugu film considering the director (KV Guhan) had directed a Telugu film earlier (118). There are 2 lyricists credited: Ramajogaiya Sastry and Madhan Karky. Is Karky writing the Tamil (dubbed?) version of the song too, or is he credited for the smattering Tamil interlude/chorus verse in the middle? I’m not sure. But Simon’s semi-classical rock style music works effortlessly! Vasanth David’s drums is a fantastic background presence, and Sid Sriram and Kalyani Nair relish the singing part for the gorgeous tune.

Romance In Trance – Mr & Miss (Yashwanth Nag) – Telugu: The soundtrack of Mr & Miss is interesting, though for reasons I’m not able to pin, isn’t interesting enough. The tunes could be the reason – the sounds are good, but the tunes don’t stick. The one song where it did stick was the consistently engaging Romance In Trance that uses a Reetigowlai base in the backdrop to build its frenetic melody. The vocal interplay between Kamala Manohari and Yashwanth Nag also works very well.

Mausam – Innu Muthal (Mejjo Josseph) – Malayalam/Hindi: The Malayalam film industry occasionally surprises by producing songs in Hindi and they sound fantastic too! Like Shaan Rahman’s Raathein from Love Action Drama, for instance. And Mejjo surprises here by producing an almost ghazal-like semi-classical song, and Javed Ali’s incredibly affecting singing makes it even better!

Sajanaa – Pro Bros (Indipop/Punjabi): It’s a delight to hear Raghu Dixit sing in Punjabi – his high-pitched singing style works perfectly for the electro-Punjabi ballad conjured by the Pro Boys, Sunny Sharma and Karan Bhalla.

Ocean Calls My Name – Anupam Roy (Indipop): What a wonderful song! After my initial enthusiasm for Anupam’s style of music, I warmed up and settled on presuming that his music continues to play in one zone, inside a template of sorts. It was great initially, and then settled to harmless. I thought he broke open that ‘harmless’ zone here – the English-language lines seemed a bit odd on top of the Indian package in the background and the tune, but it gets better as the song progresses. Purbayan Chatterjee’s sitar and Joydeb Nandy’s tabla offer fantastic support to let Anupam sink into the melody so well.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 139: On Spotify | On YouTube
9 songs this week. YouTube has all 8, and Spotify is missing just one – the Carvaan Lounge Tamil song that is usually sent late to the streamers.

Charkhe – Nyasa (Indipop/Hindi): What started like a Rabbi Shergill song suddenly takes off with that ‘Bolo bolo’ hook… and what a take-off it is!! The lyrics offer little hope though – desolate and asking us to struggle along, from whatever little I could comprehend, but the energy in the tune makes it a riveting listen!

Mera Hai Tu – Vasuda Sharma (Indipop/Hindi): A wonderfully soothing ballad composed and sung by Vasuda. The extended lines built around ‘Tu’ and the ‘Ooooo’ sounds accentuate the song’s charm considerably. Wonderful backing by Andrija Gavrilovic on the horn/trumpet, and Karan Sajnani on the guitar.

Dhakka Laga Bukka – Tandav (A R Rahman) – Hindi: A lot has happened since Tandav went live on Amazon Prime, but that’s a different tangent. I was surprised to see Rahman himself sort of remixing/recreating his Yuva number and I read that he made an exception for this (and perhaps not let anyone else do it, which he has said in the past is not something he appreciates/likes/prefers). The embellishments don’t sound particularly appealing, but the original song still sounds fantastic! The music has a verve that is hard to shake off!

Kaalai Adhikaalai – Naduvan (Dharan Kumar) – Tamil: One of those songs that seem specifically composed for Sid Sriram! Dharan’s melody is soft and easy-on-the-ear, layering a very soft melody with the racy rhythm at places. The swaram-based vocal interlude, though, seems a bit jarring for the song.

Thangamey – Paava Kadhaigal (Justin Prabhakaran) – Tamil: At last, the full audio jukebox of Paava Kadhaigal is out! Justin’s Thangamey is easily the pick of the soundtrack. Murugavel’s voice carries so much warmth that is so essential for the song – it reminded me of the late Shahul Hameed’s singing range/style.

Mannavanaanalum – Ghibran (Indipop/Tamil): Whoa! It’s great to see Ghibran expand his genre repertoire, adding electronic music to it. The lead hook, though, reminded me instantly of the incredibly famous and catchy song, “Rivara Riva” that I’m still trying to find the singer/band after finding that Tamil composer Vijay Ebenezer had sought generous inspiration from it for his 2012 song ‘Mokka Manusha’ from the film Kalakalappu (Masala Cafe). Still, Ghibran’s song is fairly different and could be similar from a genre point of view only. His mixing of the folk element, referring to a dialog from M.R.Radha’s Ratha Kanneer is a smart move and adds to the song’s appeal. There’s a manic energy in the song that is at once hypnotic and unnerving!

Aayiram Nilave Vaa – K.V.Mahadevan & C. Sathya, ft. Sooraj Santhosh and Saindhavi (Tamil): The 4th song from Carvaan Lounge Tamil is a winner too, picking the first (released) song by S.P.Balasubrahmanyam (that he sang along with P.Susheela). Both Sooraj Santhosh and Saindhavi do complete justice to the original melody that Sathya recreates with a reduced tempo to great effect. The little touches he adds, like swapping the 2nd anupallavi (sung by P.Susheela – “Mannavanin ThoL IranDai”) as the first (sung by Saindhavi) and then the actual song’s first anupallavi (NaLLiravu ThuNaiyiruka), plus adding a second vocal layer to “Indha Mayakam Ezhil Mugam” and “Illai Urakam Orae Manam”, while also flattening the tune of the latter (Sooraj is particularly fantastic here!) make the recreation so much more inventive and enjoyable!

Do listen to the original and then this recreation to appreciate the effort Sathya has put in.

Rusvaaiyaan – Amit Trivedi (Indipop/Punjabi): The song could have easily been a part of Amit’s Dev.D soundtrack! The ‘Yaariyaan tut gayee’ callout, and Shilpa Rao adding, “Ho gayee dil de rusvaaiyaan” is straight out of Amit’s style from a decade back. And it is thoroughly welcome! Shilpa Rao and Shahid Mallya, are, like always, superb with their vocals – and a fantastic pair to sing together!

Dil Da Khayal – Goldie Sohel (Indipop/Punjabi): A gorgeous ghazal in Punjabi! Goldie’s voice handles the soft, poignant melody beautifully, ably supported by Dilshad Khan and Sanjiv Sen’s tabla, among others. The simplicity of the song is its biggest strength!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 138: On Spotify | On YouTube
A short musical week – just 9 songs this week. Both YouTube and Spotify have all the songs!

Bajre Da Sitta – Rashmeet Kaur x Deep Kalsi x Ikka (Punjabi/Indipop) – The traditional Punjabi song has been given a really cool hiphop mix with a tantalizing rhythm and pulsating rap verses. Works effortlessly.

Unnai Paartha Naal – Kalathil Santhippom (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: Oh boy! This is vintage Yuvan that made us all love his music at one point. Thoroughly addictive, despite the now-familiar his off-key voice 🙂 The other thing that has been unfortunately carried over is the utterly corny Tanglish lyrics that used to be in vogue way back:
“Nee yaaradi yaaradi Sofia
Nee pine mara pookkalin selfieya
Nee manaseega mafia”.
This is particularly odd since the anupallavi has the same hook with proper Tamil lyrics.
“En swaasathin vaasatthai eerthavaL
En moochinil moolagai serthavaL
En vaazhvil vaanjai vaarthavalEn veettukkaaga pootthavaL”
If only Pa.Vijay hadn’t succumbed to the temptation of so-called “Pasangalukku puddikum saar” justification and wrote normal Tamil verse for the first line, this song would have been even better than what it is.

So Soku – V2 Vijay Vicky (Tamil/Indipop): An ebullient gaana-kuthu mix! The tune and rhythm are thoroughly infectious and the music video is added fun, playing on a love-triangle to great effect. Interesting to see more than 3 million views for this pop song that doesn’t seem to have the backing of a big music label or stars!

Chitti – Jathi Ratnalu (Radhan) – Telugu: A song that seems tailor-made for the lead funnyman, Naveen Polishetty – the lyrics are hilarious and the tune too, with a thumping dandiya-style rhythm, is a hoot! The tune is a functional appendage that chugs along with the humor!

Ozhukidum Nithaantha – Black Coffee (Bijibal) – Malayalam: A very pleasant melody by Bijibal that also sounds a lot more commercial than Bijibal’s usual style. I’m not able to pinpoint why, though – it’s possibly because I hear the melody as something that may have been composed by a few other composers too, besides him. That usually doesn’t happen with his music. Manjari sounds fantastic with her singing, and given this is a solo, she carries impeccably.

One Under The Sun – Akhil Ramachandran (Malayalam/Indipop): A searing anti-establishment song that comes alive in the contrast between James Thakara’s mellow portion vs. Vedan’s pungent rap verse. The mix works very well, in Akhil’s ably handled backgrounds.

Malhaar – Arun Kamath (Malayalam/Indipop): Ably supported by Akshay Yesodharan on the guitar, Arun’s new single, composed and sung by himself, Malhaar builds slowly and steadily, and takes off after the first minute when Arun spikes the melody adding a steady thrum in the background. Excellent listen!

Megh – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 4: A Megh raag bandish that Aizaz Sohail handles with astonishing proficiency! The music put together to prop the singing is equally stunning, hinting at blues and rock, and a lovely smattering of the sitar (Shehroze Hussain) and the rabab (Nawazish Nasri) as the song progresses. Aizaz’s vocal prowess gets more pronounced as the song ends!

Anbhol – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 4: If it was Aizaz Sohail’s vocal prowess in Megh, it is Sanam Marvi’s stupendous show in Anbhol! Rohail’s sound and production amps up the Yaman raag melody to help Sanam offer a magnificent showcase of the raaga. And Rohail himself is on the acoustic guitars!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 137: On Spotify | On YouTube
17 songs this week. YouTube doesn’t have the 5 individual songs from Maara, so I have added the full playlist. Spotify playlist has 16, and is missing only the latest song from Carvaan Lounge Tamil, Kunguma Poove.

Mawaali Dil – Shashwat Singh Ft. Nikhita Gandhi (Hindi/Indipop): A pleasant and easily likeable melody by Shashwat that he sings too, to great effect. Nikhita appears only towards the end, very briefly, but the overall package works well, with that captivating chorus’ish hook.

Theeranadi, Kaathirundhen, Unnaithaane & Oh Azhage/O Ajooba – Maara (Ghibran) – Tamil: Besides Yaar Azhaippathu and Oru Arai Unadhu, about which I wrote about in the Weeklies late last year (in November), I’m amazed at the quality of music in Maara, the Tamil remake of Charlie (which had stupendously good music by Gopi Sundar). In Theeranadhi, Padmalatha is stunningly good with her singing for the incredibly sweet melody! Ghibran layers the tune with a fantastic chorus to accentuate the effect.

Kaathirundhen took me straight to Raja’s Kaadhalin Deepam Ondru from Thambikku Entha Ooru, possibly owing to the Charukesi raaga usage. Ghibran’s melody is absolutely haunting and while this is Charukesi’s table stakes, the composer does a particularly lovely job in the anupallavi where it gets closer to the Raja song. Ananthu and Srisha Vijayasekar are so very good. Unnaithaane has such a strong whiff of Rahman’s early style at least in the way it begins, but Ghibran makes it his own eventually even in the short run-time by bringing the Yaar Azhaippadhu refrain.

In Oh Azhage (that also has a Hindi version, O Ajooba!), Ghibran’s nuanced orchestration comes to the fore the way it sounded to me in his period around Nayyandi. Both Benny Dayal and Yazin Nizar (in the Tamil and Hindi version, respectively) handle the soaring tune really well, marked by the ‘Adangaadha Kaatre’ (Jashn-e-zindagi hai) refrain.

Kaava Ulla Kalludi – Parris Jeyaraj (Santhosh Narayanan) – Tamil: Trust Santhosh to deliver a true-blue Gaana! The package is a tinge more modern than Deva’s bare-minimum authenticity, but it sounds effective overall. The lyrics by Asal Kolaar (who also sings it) and Rokesh is the clear highlight. It includes phrases like, “Indha gaanava like panna bell adi” indicating a YouTube bell icon!

Pakkam Neeyum Illai – Vivek-Mervin (Tamil/Indipop): Though there’s a tinge of Anirudh’s music, I found the duo’s new pop song closer to Salim-Sulaiman’s, for some reason. Very catchy and breezy, but with a hint of sadness all through. The music video is imaginative too, explaining why the sadness with an interesting twist!

Velli Nilave – Eeswaran (Thaman S) – Tamil: Eeswaran’s soundtrack (with 4 songs) is very, very Thaman, but I do not mean it in a good way. The tunes are way too familiar and the rhythm/beats/music too seems regurgitated. The only song that stood out for me was Velli Nilave with its melody ably backed by that techno sound that Thaman concocts imaginatively. ML Gayatri handles the tune very well.

Paadatha Pattellam – Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy, Dharan Kumar & Kunguma Poove – S.M.Subbaiah Naidu, Flute Navin (Tamil/Recreation): This Carvaan Lounge Tamil seems like a neat idea. After Vijay Antony’s Namma Ooru Singaari, here are 2 more Tamil classics recreated with chutzpah! Dharan’s breezy recreation of Paadatha Pattellam gains tremendously from U Rajesh’s Mandolin, and of course, the superb singing by Sathyaprakash and Nithyashree. In Kunguma Poove, Flute Navin turns the classic number into a brilliant dance-floor mix, wonderfully supported by Chinmayi’s and his own singing, besides the terrific flute bits.

Okey Oka Lokam – Sashi (Arun Chiluveru) – Telugu: A smashingly melodious song that gets almost everything right – the singer (Sid Sriram), the tune (a tantalizing combination of Kaadhal Rojave in the tune and Vennilave in the backgrounds, and many other songs that sound similar to it), possibly based on Kaapi raaga. Composer Arun Chiluveru has a winner here!

Padipoya – Alludu Adhurs (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: DSP’s famous dependence on the rhythm helps him once again, in this charming song! His repetitive background rhythm elevates an otherwise standard melody, and Javed Ali too contributes to that, to a large extent. DSP does play his creativity well in the interludes too, particularly’s Manonmani’s Saarangi, and himself on the Banjo.

Sandalle Sandalle – Sreekaram (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: Aah, the joy of hearing Mickey deliver a gorgeously lilting Sankranti song, timed so well for the 2021 Sankranti! Lovely song, beautifully sung by Anurag Kulkarni and Mohana Bhogaraju handling the Sandalle hook.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHcxrX-Jrsw

Korameesam Polisoda – Krack (Thaman S) – Telugu: Thaman’s melody is nice enough and Ramya Behara singing makes it better, but truly stands out is Thaman’s use of Chennai Strings Orchestra in the backgrounds. The effect is almost akin to an Ilayaraja song.

Kinavil – Sumesh & Ramesh (Yakzan Gary Pereira & Neha S Nair) – Malayalam: The film’s first single was back in early March 2020 (Neeyum Njanum), before the world went haywire. Here comes the 2nd single when the world is finding its way back, gradually. Just like the first song, this one’s sung by Neha S Nair and Sangeeth too. The composing duo, Yakzan Gary Pereira & Neha S Nair, weave a dreamy melody that waltzes (literally, in the anupallavi!) along beautifully.

Shivali – AK vs AK (Alokananda Dasgupta) – Marathi: Of the 4 songs in the Netflix film’s soundtrack, the one that worked for me is this cracker of a Marathi song. This is Marathi kuthu handled really well, with a punchy, earthy background and energetic singing by Nakash Aziz.

Monday December 21, 2020

Paava Kadhaigal (Movie review)

Some spoilers below – you have been cautioned.

In one of the scenes in Paava Kadhaigal’s episode ‘Or Iravu’ directed by Vetrimaaran, where Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi are seated in the latter’s home and talking, on the wall behind them, there is a photo of Sai Pallavi and her husband with the Northern Lights in the sky.

In Vignesh Shivan’s ‘Love Panna Uttranum’, the final scene is a clumsy text screen at the end of the episode that says that the otherwise cruel father goes to France with his remaining daughter and learns to rap from his son-in-law.

In Sudha Kongara’s Thangam, Shantanu and Bhavani escape to the town and live peacefully there.

The connecting thread in all this is the outside world that exists beyond the confines of the narrow-minded people in their respective villages where caste, creed or such superficial differences aren’t pressing concerns to anyone. The farther they go, the lesser such pointless problems.

Sai Pallavi and her husband seem to be doing very well for themselves in what seems to be Bengaluru city until a remnant from their village appears in the form of her father, to remind them of the painful lives they were leading before. Just like Anjali and Kalki who were perfectly peaceful away from the former’s village.

This is a nice, indirect hat doff to the overview effect, a cognitive shift in awareness reported by astronauts during space-flight while viewing the Earth from outer space. They realize how tiny and insignificant our day-to-day problems and constructs are, like geography, religion, caste, creed, and other such divisions we create in our own minds and grow it inside us to a massive size, making them to everything in our lives.

But, in all 3 instances, the characters are forced to return to the scene of their earlier problems for assorted reasons. And then they find the problems spiral out of hand again.

These 3 stories are also the ones where people who are very close to the protagonists and are fully trusted by them (fathers, in particular) behave most irrationally, or cruelly.

The 4th episode, ‘Vaanmagal’, by Gautham Menon, is the exception – the characters stay where they are, suffering the consequences of that lack of exposure to the larger world, and the trusted character does a gravely terribly thing only in their thought, not in reality.

The perils that people are put through in all 4 episodes are so very raw, immediate, and affecting. The effect is like watching the most unnerving portion of a mainstream movie 4 times, back to back! For instance, like sitting through the climax of Paruthiveeran 4 times in one go!

And each time it happens—and you are sure that bad/terrible things are going to happen to good, normal and sane people with consistency—it jolts you because you tend to look at how different things could have been if only the perpetrators simply minded their own lives instead of insisting that everyone live through some invisible code of honor, and they take it upon themselves to be the enforcer of the code. This they do for assorted reasons, of course – in Sudha Kongara’s segment, it is because the supposedly straying character is a son, in Vignesh and Vertimaaran’s segments, it is the daughter. Only in Gautham’s segment does this template break and the harrowing incident happens to a child.

In terms of characterization, it was so, so, so very refreshing to see actors who would have otherwise been constrained to play one or more templates in the name of characters in mainstream, theatrical cinema, break the flow and play something completely different, with so much honesty.

Kalidas Jairam brings so much dignity and credibility to the way he plays the transgender coming to terms with how difficult it is to be himself/herself in that claustrophobic village. Even Shantanu, saddled with a smaller role, does significantly better than his film roles that demand that he play as per some version of a conventional hero.

Sai Pallavi has always been a powerhouse, but in her final moments in Vetrimaaran’s segment, as her voice wobbles and she becomes unintelligible, her fear grips us viscerally even as we watch Prakash Raj in absolute horror, hoping he would come to his damn sense soon… though he doesn’t, or controls his urge to become sane so well.

You expect the same from the otherwise stoic Padam Kumar, playing Anjali’s father and sitting through her death being staged in the background by a remarkably cast Jaffer Sadiq playing Narikutty to deadly impact, despite the dark humor underlying this segment. But Padam Kumar doesn’t budge either.

Gautham’s limited range really impedes his character’s showcase in Vaanmagal, though Simran seems to be making up for him and goes beyond her film roles in demonstrating a mother’s helplessness when confronted with a horror of such intense proportions.

Paava Kadhaigal is a stunning, deeply disturbing watch. In a way, you need to consciously subject yourself to such grave injustices that unfold in front of your eyes knowing fully well what is going to happen. This is a tough call and a difficult watch. But it is a must-watch too. The anthology is proof that when familiar filmmakers break the template mandated by mainstream, theatrical cinema’s 2-2.5 hours and story-telling contrivances forced by audience segmentation, they can untether their own imagination to new, soaring heights. It’s a pity that their characters are not able to untether themselves from difficult situations, though – and this says a lot about the kind of world they, and we, live in.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 136: On Spotify | On YouTube
11 songs this week. YouTube has all 11 songs, while Spotify is missing just one – Vijay Antony’s recreation of Namma Ooru Singaari.

I really wanted to add Kanne KaNmaNiye by R.Sivatmikha (sung by Ananthu and Sivatmikha herself) and Thangam by Justin Prabhakaran, both from Paava Kadhaigal, the new anthology show on Netflix. But the makers/Netflix have not bothered to release the songs officially. The singers of the songs featured in the episodes have not been credited either, from what I could notice in the end credits of each episode. The composers are credited – Justin’s name comes up much earlier in the credits for the first episode, directed by Sudha Kongara, but Anirudh, who composed music for the 2nd episode directed by Vignesh Shivan, gets credited after Vignesh himself, as the penultimate name (producer Ashi Dua Sara’s name is the last)! When the songs are released officially, I’ll add them to my playlist.

PS: This is the last Weeklies of 2020. Next Weeklies on the January 2021 2nd-3rd. Wish you a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic new year… though anything even slightly better than 2020 is a blessing 🙂

Dil Tera – Indoo Ki Jawani (Rochak Kohli) – Hindi: What Dil Chahta Hai’s Woh Ladki Hai Kahan attempted with only the video/visuals, Rochak attempts to add music to the same idea. So the song traverses multiple periods in Indian film song sequences, from the Shammi Kapoor era, to the 80s Disco era to a hat doff to Rangeela, much like Woh Ladki Hai Kahan’s Black & White, 60s/70s and 90s style cuts. But Rochak also plays around those periods’ (and films’) references with his music too, which the Dil Chahta Hai song wasn’t interested in doing and retained a single musical narrative. Rochak’s effort isn’t as interesting as the Dil Chahta Hai effort, I should add and ends up sounding like a hodge-podge, but overall it is worth a listen.

Harla Farla – Chakra (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: A song that surprisingly sounds like Yuvan’s output from the beginning of his career… or even the period around Ameer’s Raam. The song’s ethos sounded similar to Raam’s Boom Boom. Catchy song with Yuvan sounding better than he usually does in his own songs.

Idli Chutney – Sean Roldan (Indipop/Tamil): After a series of relatively serious and well-meaning pop songs, Sean closes 2020 with a zany song that has the feel of a nursery rhyme and lyrics that sound like they were first written by Baba Sehgal and then translated to Tamil! It’s great fun overall and very catchy, and even enters some serious philosophy when Sean sings, “Without duality, no singularity”!

Namma Ooru Singaari – Vijay Antony (M.S.Viswanathan) – Indipop/Remix/Tamil: Vijay Antony has made a career out of acting where he barely emotes, remains stoic and unchanged all through any kind of situations, but chooses his scripts cleverly to suit his style non-acting. He seems to be extending that technique in this recreation where he removes all the nuances from SPB’s singing in the original and presents a flat version of the funky original! It is… well, different… is the best thing I can say. Vijay does what he knows and within that limitation, he does present a new variant of a much-loved song. On second thoughts, if he had perhaps tried to ape SPB or try to outdo him, the results would have been very different, so this sounds appropriate enough.

Isai Anjali (Tribute to S.P.Balasubrahmanyam) – Leon James – Indipop/Remix/Tamil: This is a surprisingly—and stunningly—well-produced recreation by Leon!! The base tune remains Rahman’s Anjali Anjali from Duet (sung by SPB, of course), but Leon ropes in four different singers to offer their own perspective of the well-loved melody – Srinivas, Anirudh Ravichander, Haricharan and Uthara Unnikrishnan. Madhan Karky’s new lines adorn the familiar tune in a completely new way and add significant heft to the effort. Anirudh’s part, in particular, is outstanding!

Nee Parichaya – Ninna Sanihake (Raghu Dixit) – Kannada: A Kannada song that credits Santhosh Narayanan as music programmer! Raghu’s tune is a lovely listen, with Abheri raaga seeming to the main base, though I could hear a couple of others too. Siddhartha Belmannu and Rakshita Suresh’s singing carries the song effortlessly.

Na Tutteya Ve – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 1: A pulsating, powerful all-woman star show! Shuja Haider’s tune follows a familiar Punjabi-Pakistani folk style, and the singers – Meesha Shafi, Fariha Pervez, Sehar Gul Khan, Zara Madani, Wajiha Naqvi and Sanam Marvi – carry it beautifully. Meesha Shafi’s rap towards the end adds another dramatic twist to the song. Brilliant!

Gal Sunn – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 2: Ali Pervez Mehdi leads the catchy, funky song, composed by himself and his brother Ahsan Pervez Mehdi. The tune’s energy is infectious and the backing vocalists, Nimra Rafiq, Kumail Jaffery, Shahab Hussain and Wajiha Naqvi deserve a special mention too in accentuating that! Meesha Shafi appears towards the end and spices things up incredibly. The song’s brass section is the true star, led by Marko Djordjević (Trumpet), Kosta Vukašinović (Trombone) and Ljumbomir Turajlija Tenor Saxophone.

Ishq Da Kukkar – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 3: Asim Raza’s composition uses the Middle Eastern-style prayer-like hypnotic melody handled phenomenally by the singer Sehar Gul Khan. Nicolas Nakhle’s Oudh is the standout sound in the background. Sehar’s range is mighty impressive and she showcases an entire spectrum that helps vary the phrases in the otherwise intentionally-repetitive melody.

Har Funn Maula – Coke Studio Season 2020, Episode 3: This is the quintessential Coke Studio sound! The fusion of the traditional dhol sound with rock elements is brilliantly blended and when Sanam Marvi enters after Umair Jaswal opening, the song enters a new high. The ‘Maula Maula’ utterance reminded me of something very, very familiar and after a few minutes of nerve-racking recall effort, I got it – Khaled’s ‘Didi Didi’!

Bhaktajana Vatsale – Oneness (Sant Namdev, Guruprasad Subramanian, ft. Revathy Kumar): Guruprasad and Revathy’s follow-up to their outstanding opening single from the Oneness collection is a delightful listen! Revathy’s highly involved singing is the first highlight. While the recreation uses the song’s original Brindavana Saaranga raaga beautifully, the way Guruprasad adds a new brief twist to the ‘Sajala Jalada’ phrase mid-way that seems use Puriya Dhanashree raaga is brilliant!

Saturday December 12, 2020

Milliblog Annual Music round-up 2020

This is the 13th year of my annual music round-ups.
Here are the previous editions: 
2019 | 2018 |2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014  
2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

I have been writing annual music round-ups since 2008 and I have got to say this: 2020 is the oddest year for music in India. For the first time in many, many years, film music was forced out of circulation – not by the people, but by an act of God… the pandemic! Film producers simply refused to release their already-recorded songs for multiple reasons – no visibility of theatrical release leading to uncertainty of music release, no video shots to accompany the music release (on YouTube) and this leading to many songs using animated videos as a stop-gap arrangement (the corniest was Cobra’s Thumbi Thullal, with terrible Kochadaiiyaan-style animation), and not having enough recorded songs because every kind of film-related work came to a stand-still!

That lacuna was filled up by non-film, independent music that rose to the occasion wonderfully, and also brought along a lot of composers (like Amit Trivedi, Ghibran, Sean Roldan, Justin Prabhakaran) who would have otherwise showered their attention only on film music. Also, music produced for TV shows was an early trend last year, and became totally mainstream with a stellar soundtrack for Bandish Bandits, possibly India’s first musical TV series. Not to be outdone, the Bangla TV series, Tansener Tanpura produced a whopper musical soundtrack!

I still think that 2020 was stunted musically given that a lot of film music did not release, but we have to do with what we have, right?

Also, unlike previous years’ multi-platform playlists (with which I have had a lot of grief, particularly with Apple Music, and spotty music availability on YouTube and so on), just one platform this year – Spotify! Thankfully, every song barring one in the Tamil list is available on Spotify. The overall experience of making playlists was also the best that I have seen so far among all streaming platforms. I intend to move my Weeklies too to Spotify from now onwards, besides sticking to YouTube.

Hindi

My Top 10 this year is peppered with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Pritam and A R Rahman… and one song by Sachet-Parampara (who were at No. 10 last year too!). The musical trio had a fantastic year with Bandish Bandits ruling the output. Their work in Panga and Chhapaak kept up their high-quality output. A very close second was Pritam who had a brilliant Love Aaj Kal (again!) and closed the year with a solid Ludo. A R Rahman too had a great year with Dil Bechara, and 99 Songs (that is yet to release).

There was a lot of good music from the many lesser-known composers like Anshuman Mukherjee, Anuj Garg and Siddharth Pandit, besides previously promising, but lesser-heard composers like Sandesh Shandilya, Amartya Bobo Rahut, Sneha Khanwalkar and Drums Sivamani. Govind Vasantha’s Hindi debut was noteworthy too.

Composer(s) of the year: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

Sajan Bin – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Dil Bechara – Dil Bechara (A.R.Rahman)
Shayad – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Dil Ne Kaha – Panga (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)
Khulne Do – Chhapaak (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)

Aabaad Barbaad – Ludo (Pritam)
O Ashiqa – 99 Songs (A.R.Rahman)
Garaj Garaj – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Haan Main Galat – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Ghamand Kar – Tanhaji The Unsung Warrior (Sachet-Parampara)

Mar Jaayein Hum – Shikara (Sandesh Shandilya)
Re Bawree – Taish (Govind Vasantha)
Daata Shakti De – Atkan Chatkan (Drums Sivamani)
Khushmizaaj – Darbaan (Amartya Bobo Rahut)
Chanda – The Forgotten Army (Pritam)

Mehrama – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Tehas Nehas – Khaali Peeli (Vishal-Shekhar)
Care Ni Karda – Chhalaang (Yo Yo Honey Singh)
Dhara Hogi – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Do Ka Chaar – Chaman Bahaar (Anshuman Mukherjee)

Pass Nahi Toh Fail Nahi – Shakuntala Devi (Sachin-Jigar)
Madari Ka Bandar – Gulabo Sitabo (Anuj Garg)
Koi Nahi – Chaman Bahaar (Anshuman Mukherjee and Kalyanji-Anandji)
Main Tumhara – Dil Bechara (A.R.Rahman)
Hardum Humdum – Ludo (Pritam)

Mann Ki Dori – Gunjan Saxena (Amit Trivedi)
Panga (title song) – Panga (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Khudkhushi – Yaara (Siddharth Pandit)
BamBholle – Laxmii (Ullumanati)
Aadhe Aadhe Se – Raat Akeli Hai (Sneha Khanwalkar)

Playlist

Tamil

Some of the great/good/largely-good soundtracks that got my attention include Nivas K Prasanna’s Takkar, Girishh Gopalakrishnan’s Mookuthi Amman, Leon James’ Oh My Kadavule and G.V.Prakash Kumar’s Soorarai Potru. But it was a tepid year with music releases getting postponed, pushed or singles releasing to make up for lower promotional avenues. There were perhaps more singles that sprouted here and there with no sight of the actual film or soundtrack releasing… which may release next year directly on an OTT platform.

Composer of the year: None!

Nira – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna)
Bujji – Jagame Thandhiram (Santhosh Narayanan)
Paarthene (Amman Song) – Mookuthi Amman (Girishh Gopalakrishnan)
Ennada Life Idhu – Oh My Kadavule (Leon James)
Kanna Thoodhu Po Da – Putham Pudhu Kaalai (Govind Vasantha)

Aagasam – Soorarai Pottru (Thaikkudam Bridge & G.V.Prakash Kumar)
Paaren Paaren – Dagaalty (Vijaynarain)
Pesatha Mozhiye – Kombu Vatcha Singamda (Dhibhu Ninan Thomas)
Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee – Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee (Darbuka Siva)
Andha Kanna Paathaakaa – Master (Anirudh)

Kadai Kannaaley – Bhoomi (D.Imman)
Sirikkalam Parakkalam – Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (Masala Coffee)
Mayangi Poguthey – 2 Stories (Jeffin Joe Jacob)
Rani Theni – Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (Adithyha – Soorya)
Azhagiya Sirukki – Ka Pae Ranasingam (Ghibran)

Vazhve Neelade – Paris Paris (Amit Trivedi)
Thumbi Thullal – Cobra (A.R.Rahman)
Paakkurappo Paakkurappo – Thamezharasan (Ilayaraja)
Neenga Mudiyuma – Psycho (Ilayaraja)
Ini Oru Thollayum Illai – Oh Andha Naatkal (James Vasanthan) [This song is not available on Spotify, or any other platform barring YouTube]

Maragadha Maalai – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna)
Kaattu Payale – Soorarai Pottru (G.V.Prakash Kumar)
Kaadhal Theevey – Dharala Prabhu (Sean Roldan)
Nagarathey – Ivan Than Uthaman (Thaman S)
Engenge Theduven – Manja Satta Pacha Satta (Ganesh Raghavendra)

Adiye – Vairii (Anthony Daasan)
Kutti Story – Master (Anirudh)
Thinam Thinam – Vaanam Kottattum (Sid Sriram)
Edho Solla – Murungakkai Chips (Dharan Kumar)
Yedho Yedho Aasai – Naan Thaan Siva (D.Imman)

Playlist

Telugu

Considering Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’s Samajavaragamana released in September 2019, I had added it to my 2019 list. But the same film’s Butta Bomma released during Christmas 2019, after I had shared my 2019 list 🙂 So, it’s only fair that I consider it for the 2020 list. It’s quite pointless to wait for a film’s release to consider it for an annual year-end summary given how unpredictable actual film releases are these days and the fact that there’s no correlation anymore between soundtracks and films since they are used more from a promotional perspective than anything to do with the narrative.

The big gainer this year is Mani Sharma’s son, Mahati Swara Sagar who has a whopper of a song in Whattey Beauty! The song is an unabashed celebration of why we love Telugu cinema and its cheerful over-the-top’ness. While Thaman continues his rule with great music in films like Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Disco Raja and Solo Brathuke So Better, Devi Sri Prasad is silently scoring aces in films like Uppena and Rang De even as he sheds his conventional style for more nuanced and melodic music. Chaitan Bharadwaj, who was very good in last year’s 7 and Manmadhudu 2, continues his form in SR Kalyanamandapam. I had noticed a spark in Madhu Ponnas with 2017’s O Pilla Nee Valla, and continues to showcase promise in this year’s Kanabadutaledu. My long-term bet on Shravan Bharadwaj’s capabilities proved right yet again with Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna, though big-ticket work continues to elude him. Gopi Sundar too continued his good run amongst the Bachelors (Most Eligible) and Lovers (World Famous), though his considerably smaller film, Choosi Choodangaane, had better music than those two.

Composer of the year: Thaman S

Buttabomma – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S)
Whattey Beauty – Bheeshma (Mahati Swara Sagar)
Chukkala Chunni – SR Kalyanamandapam (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
Rum Pum bum – Disco Raja (Thaman S)
Ranguladdhukunna – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad)

Amrutha – Solo Brathuke So Better (Thaman S)
Emito Idhi – Rang De (Devi Sri Prasad)
Alavaate Ledhemo – Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna (Shravan Bharadwaj)
Nee Parichayamutho – Choosi Choodangaane (Gopi Sundar)
My Love – World Famous Lover (Gopi Sundar)

Choosale Kallaraa – SR Kalyanamandapam (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
The Life of Ram – Jaanu (Govind Vasantha)
Vasthunnaa Vachestunna – V (Amit Trivedi)
Yedakemai Untunde – Kanabadutaledu (Madhu Ponnas)
Ay Pilla – Love Story (Pawan Ch)

Nee Roopam Edurugaa – Johaar (Priyadarshan Balasubramanian)
Emo Emo Emo – Raahu (Praveen Lakkaraju)
Hatheri Sehari – Asalu Em Jarigindhante (Charan Arjun)
Neeli Neeli Aakasam – 30 Rojullo Preminchadam Ela (Anup Rubens)
Ningi Chutte – Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (Bijibal)

Praanam – Jaanu (Govind Vasantha)
Venakane Unna – Choosi Choodangaane (Gopi Sundar)
Manasa Manasa – Most Eligible Bachelor (Gopi Sundar)
Dhak Dhak Dhak – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad)
Jaana – Maa Vintha Gaadha Vinuma (Ravi Sharma)

Freak Out – Disco Raja (Thaman S)
Tharagathi Gadhi – Colour Photo (Kaala Bhairava)
Mama Mama – Kanabadutaledu (Madhu Ponnas)
Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S)
Swami Natha – Bombhaat (Josh B)

Playlist

Malayalam

Malayalam film music continues to be in great form, producing wonderful variety. While there’s a lot to like, I was most impressed with Sreehari K Nair’s debut work in Maniyarayile Ashokan. Sooraj S Kurup’s Kilometers & Kilometers, Prashant Pillai’s Saajan Bakery Since 1962, Alphons Joseph’s Varane Avashyamund and Jackson Vijayan’s Trance follow closely with extremely competent and listenable music overall.

Some of the singles from considerably lesser-heard/known films offer good music too, like Nithin Peetambaran’s Ithal, Ranjin Raj’s Kathorthu Kathorthu, Sumesh Somasundar’s Thenezhuthave, Prakash Alex’s Eadanin Madhu, Anandhkumar G’s Poganathilere and Hesham Abdul Wahab’s Chollamo.

Composer of the year: Sreehari K Nair

Olu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Kamini – Anugraheethan Antony (Arun Muraleedharan)
Thelinje Vaanaake – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Thora Mazhayilum – Saajan Bakery Since 1962 (Prashant Pillai)
Kannil – Kappela (Sushin Shyam)

Ithal – Koora (Nithin Peetambaran)
Mullapoove – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Uyire – Gauthamante Radham (Ankit Menon)
Raat – Trance (Jackson Vijayan)
Kalakkatha – Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Attapadi Musicians/Jakes Bejoy)

Once Upon A Time In Ranni – Saajan Bakery Since 1962 (Prashant Pillai)
Kathorthu Kathorthu – Karnan Napoleon Bhagat Singh (Ranjin Raj)
Thaane Mounam – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Unnikrishnan – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Thornidathe – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)

Chemmaname – Yuvam (Gopi Sundar)
Thenezhuthave – Varky (Sumesh Somasundar)
Vidacholi – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Paaraake – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Eadanin Madhu – Varayan (Prakash Alex)

Rumaal Ambili – Lalbagh (Rahul Raj)
Neeyum Njanum – Sumesh & Ramesh (Yakzan Gary Periera & Neha Nair)
Vathikkalu Vellaripravu – Sufiyum Sujatayum (M Jayachandran)
Peyyum Nilaavu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Poganathilere – Grahanam (Anandhkumar G)

Mathayichan – Trance (Jackson Vijayan)
Muthunne Kannukalil – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Theera Kadha – Gauthamante Radham (Ankit Menon)
Chollamo – Ole Kanda Naal (Hesham Abdul Wahab)
Engo Ninnu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)

Playlist

Kannada

Kannada film music is already my Achilles heel with me finding it difficult to even get the best 30 songs. 2020 made things even worse – the overall state of film music in Kannada continues to be dismal, with composers like B.Ajaneesh Loknath and Charan Raj continuing to offer hope, just like last year!

Composer of the year: None!

Marali Manasaagide – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Suri Anna – Salaga (Charan Raj)
Soul of Dia (Theme Song) – Dia (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Joru Joraagi – Thurthu Nirgamana (Dossmode)
Ati Chendada – Window Seat (Arjun Janya)

Dheera Sammohagaara – Bicchugatthi Chapter 1 (Nakul Abhyankar)
Maadeva – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj)
Arare Shuruvayitu Hege – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
The Bengaluru Song – French Biriyani (Vasuki Vaibhav)
Aparichita – Shivaji Surathkal: The Case Of Ranagiri Rahasya (Judah Sandhy)

Taragele Samsara – Kaalachakra (Gurukiran)
Maleye Maleye – Salaga (Charan Raj)
Ista Patta Devthe – Bhakshi Garden (Leander Lee Marty)
Love You Chinna – Love Mocktail (Raghu Dixit)
Happy Song – Law (Vasuki Vaibhav)

Maley Maley – Ninna Sanihake (Raghu Dixit)
Yeddelo Bharathiya – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Psychedelic Maaye – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj)
Kannada Kali – India Vs England (Arjun Janya)
Yen Madodu Swamy – French Biriyani (Vasuki Vaibhav)

Playlist

Indipop

The Indipop scene was the biggest gainer of the pandemic-infused 2020. It was so busy that I’m forced to split the single top-30 list into multiple lists, with 2 separate top-30 lists for Hindi and Tamil alone that saw a profusion of single releases. In the Tamil Indipop list, the 2nd song is from 2014, not 2020. But given how wonderful the song is, and the fact that I happened to discover it only this year, I have decided to add it to this year’s list.

Besides that, there’s also a separate list for what I found as a decent enough trend – recreating classical compositions. In some of the other languages (besides Hindi and Tamil), while there was great music, for the sake of an annual list, I have clubbed them together in the playlist, though the listing here is mentioned individually.

Indipop – Hindi:

Liggi – Ritviz
Baatein Karo – Vayu
Tum Na Ho – M Ajay Vaas, Ft. Arjun Kanungo and Prakriti Kakar
Khayaal – Abhijeet Srivastava & Prateeksha Srivastava
Haari – In Other Words (Anhad+Tanner)

Kahaani – When Chai Met Toast
Rihaa – Arijit Singh
Manjha – Vishal Mishra
Mummy – Vayu
Namee – Shivam Srivastava

Tu Mujh Mein – Iraada EP (Vinayak Shukla)
Move – Raftaar
Genda Phool – Badshah & Payal Dev
Kya Karoon? – Zaeden
Beech Raaste – Salim Sulaiman (ft. Armaan Malik & Nikhita Gandhi)

Kehndi Haan Kehndi Naa (Composed by Sukriti Kakar, Prakriti Kakar, music by Rishabh Kant)
Baithi Hai – Songs of Trance (Amit Trivedi)
Ganpati – Amit Trivedi, ft. Adarsh Shinde
Jhalle Kalle – Denny & Nikhita Gandhi
Sang Rahiyo – Jasleen Royal

Iraada – Iraada EP (Vinayak Shukla)
Shiv – Amit Trivedi
Relentless – Passages (Pineapple Express)
Siyaahi – Papon & Shashaa Tirupati
Dooriyan – Zaeden

Chandni – Vibha Saraj & Raajeev V Bhalla
Aana Mere Pyar Ko – Aki Kumar (Jatin Lalit/Aki Kumar)
Yeh Saari Baat – Rochak Kohli
Yaad – Aayam (Shrinidhi Ghatate)
Fursat Hai Aaj Bhi – Arjun Kanungo

Playlist

Indipop – Tamil:

Yaarum Illai – Shadow and Light
Entha Neramum – Kadhalan Bharathi, 2014 (Girishh Gopalakrishnan)
Oru Chance Kudu – Karthik & Gaana Guna
Kanmaniye – Ganesan Sekar, ft. Arunraja Kamaraj
Thaththi Thaavum – Javed Riaz

Elay – Elay (Staccato)
Aaka Pirandhavale – Sean Roldan, ft. Vignesh Ishwar
Vazhkaiyin Payanam – Sunadhshankar
Aasai Thathumbucha – Justin Prabhakaran
Karmugile – Sathyaprakash

Aayizhai – Shabir
Manasara Sollu – Jones Rupert, ft. Tejenthan Arunasalam and Priyanka
Azhagu – Ghibran (All About Love Series)
Venmaniye Venmaniye – Aadil Anzar (4 Musics)
Gaandu Kannamma – Vivek-Mervin

Meendum Pirandheno – Sean Roldan, ft. Lalitha Sudha
Farishtha – A.R.Rahman, ft. Khatija Rahman
Vaan Thirakkindra Pozhudhil – Karthik KT, ft. Darshana KT
Va Kannamma – Anurag Saikia, Ft. Gowtham Bharadwaj
Vaaren Odi Vaaren – Sathyaprakash

Ezhara – Tea Kada Pasanga (TKP) ft. Kaizer Kaiz
Prabho Sri Gananatha – Singer Srinivas
Nenjil Oru Vannam – Srinivas
Neela Vaan (Lovers’ Lullaby) – Staccato
Suththam Seithe Yuttham Sei – Singer Srinivas, ft. Rahul Nambiar and Sharanya Srinivas

Kadhal Ecstasy – Sean Roldan, Ft. Susha
Chennai Paattu – Ramshanker
Cycle Gap – Shakthisree Gopalan
Marley – Tenma, Ft.Gana Muthu
Adiye Kutty Dhevadhe – Edwin Louis

Playlist

Indipop – Classical Recreations

Entha Muddo – Oneness (Saint Thyagaraja, Revathy Kumar & Guruprasad Subramanian)
Nee Daya Radha – Elay (Staccato)
Dwaitamu – Equilibrium (IndoSoul)
The Guru – Is That So (John McLaughlin/Shankar Mahadevan/Zakir Hussain)
Nee Maatale – Elay (Staccato)
Mukthi (Eppo Varuvaaro) – Pragathi Band
Muthai Tharu – Ghibran
70 Rupak – Varijashree Venugopal & Aman Moroney
Ganesha Pancharatnam – Ghibran
Mathangi Marakathangi – Muthuswami Dikshitar, ft. Hamsika Iyer

Playlist

Indipop – Others

Indipop – Telugu
Tholakari – Elay (Staccato)
Chusthundhi Pilla – Varun Sunil
Kotha Kotha Oohalenno – Pradeep Sagar
Chilipi Choopu – Amazon Prime Music Hyderabad Gig (Gopi Sundar)
Yetuvaipunna – Amazon Prime Music Hyderabad Gig (Justin Prabhakaran)

Indipop – Punjabi
Rab Raakha – The Yellow Diary
Nit Khair Manga – Sona Mohapatra and Ram Sampath
Morniye – Amit Trivedi
Kajla – Pav Dharia, ft. Tarsem Jassar
Pachtaoge – B Praak, ft. Asees Kaur

Indipop – English
Running Back To You – Anish Sood, ft. Lisa Mishra
Lead – Tejas
The Bombay Doors – Tejas
Write – Dhruv Visvanath
When We Feel Young – When Chai Met Toast

Indipop – Assorted
Aithalakadi – Pineapple Express (V.Harikrishna & Yogeendra Hariprasad)
Moti Veraana – Amit Trivedi
Sojatiya Sirdar – Divya Kumar, ft. Vidhya Gopal
Chapter Six – Yetto Velli Diaries (Sandeep Chowta)
Nund Banye – Uzer Khan, ft. Vibha Saraf

Playlist

PS: Considering there are not enough songs from Marathi films or Bangla films to make a playlist, do remember to listen to AV Prafullachandra’s Dhurala in Marathi and the Bangla soundtrack of the TV series Tansener Tanpura.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 135: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
14 songs, this week. YouTube has all the song, while JioSaavn is missing only 2 – the Tinder ad jingle by Mike McCleary and the Anubavam Pudhumai recreation (both embedded below).

Khushmizaaj, Rang Bhariya & Dil Bandar – Darbaan (Amartya Bobo Rahut) – Hindi: The last time I recall hearing Amartya Bobo Rahut’s music in films was in Drive, last year, if I recall correctly. He has been producing his own pop songs recently too (like Shaam Simti and Chup Chup that did not quite work for me. On his own YouTube page – in case you are interested) and I do keep track of this body of work. So, it comes across as a wonderful surprise to hear 3 new songs from him in a Zee film called Darbaan.

Khushmizaaj is easily the song of the album! It has Arijit’s comfortably addictive singing, and Amartya’s tune is wonderfully breezy with a constantly uplifting background. Rang Bhariya features yet another woefully underrated composer, Gulraj Singh, as singer, along with Amrita Singh, and Amartya’s tune this time is lively, rhythmic and effortlessly likeable! Dil Bandar is totally whimsical and I would have mistaken it for a Vishal Bhardwaj song! Tushar Joshi handles the ebullient, fun melody with his lively singing.

Aise Kyun – Mismatched (Anurag Saikia) – Hindi: Very-Anurag melody – soft, whispery (sung by Anurag Saikia, Raghav Chaitanya, Nikhita Gandhi) and makes for easy listening.

In Our Own Way – Tinder India (Mikey McCleary) – Hinglish/Advertising: Mikey, already well-known for his retro-inspired sounds and albums, indulges in a lush recreation of the 80s Hindi film music style for a Tinder brand film! It’s short, but within that duration, there’s so much reference, originally – and not merely aping – to the period it alludes to (not in-film, but only as an attention-seeking device) that it effortlessly brings Parveen Babi in a shimmering costume to your mind!

Moner Moto & Main Hi Hoon – JL50 TV Series (Aseem Trivedi, Keshav Dhar) – Bangla, Hindi: Moner Moto is a meticulous recreation of a classic Bangla song – the third such attempt this week, after the new Tinder ad jingle and Kim Kim (Malayalam)! Composers Aseem Trivedi and Skyharbour lead Keshav Dhar focus more on getting the atmospherics right even as the show’s director Shailender Vyas nails the nuances in the singing. Main Hi Hoon is singer Jubin Nautiyal show given how he owns the pensive melody with his fabulous singing! Aseem’s sound is soft-rockish and aptly mounted to depict the moodiness in the theme.

Baras Baras – Durgamati (Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi: The song sounds almost like Tanishk deconstructed Kalyug’s (2005) Jiya Dhadak (composed by Rohail Hyatt and Faisal Rafi) and reconstructed it to a slightly different package! The mood, setting and melody are remarkably similar, yet new! Considering Tanishk’s repertoire in known-recreations, this isn’t surprising anymore. The soul of the song is B Praak’s stupendous voice!

Anubavam Pudhumai – Staccato & El Fé + Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy (Recreation): Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy’s famous recreation of the Spanish classic Besame Mucho (inspired Kalyanji-Anandji’s Yeh Sama too, from Jab Jab Phool Khile) gets a lovely recreation by the 2 Chennai-based bands, Staccato and El Fé. The music improvises on the original tantalizingly and Niranjana Ramanan holds sway with the vocals wonderfully.

Neethone Vasthunna – Boyfriend For Hire (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: The 2nd single from the film is as charming as the first one. This one is less of anything dramatically different as I had observed in the first one, but is comfortably likeable. Sravana Bhargavi’s singing and the persistent sitar backdrop lift the song.

Kim Kim – Jack N’ Jill (Ram Surendar) – Malayalam: The makers clearly announce that the song is inspired by an older song, ‘Kantha Thookunnu Thoomanam’ from the Musical Drama ‘Paarijaathapushpaaharanam’. I wanted to hear the original, but there are scant references to the original film/drama online, dating back to 1932, directed by Raja Sandow! I don’t know if I got the right film. The recreation/inspiration wears its retro-style on its sleeve, much like Ilayaraja’s Naan Siritthaal Deepavali or O Party Nalla Paarthydhaan (from Nayakan and Idhayam, respectively). The song’s charm is primarily due to Manju Warrier’s uninhibited singing and she pulls it off beautifully.

Oru Kuri Kandu Naam – Vellam (Bijibal) – Malayalam: Tune-wise, the song is rather predictable and falls right under Bijibal’s familiar repertoire, but much like DSP’s style, Thaman’s style or Gopi Sundar’s templates, that familiarity too offers comfort at times. The rhythmic backdrop and the new singer Viswanathan’s singing help the song stand out.

Ati Chendada – Window Seat (Arjun Janya) – Kannada: Arjun choice of evoking the train sound is a bit too synthetic, but taken as a song, the rhythm works well for the melody. A large part of the song’s appeal is Vijay Prakash’s stellar singing.

Premachi Kahani – Vinod Bansode, ft. Hariharan (Indipop/Marathi): The contrast between the song’s language and the video’s setting (Kerala!) is quite unusual! Vinod’s melody seems mounted specifically for Hariharan’s singing – pleasant and is particularly good in the antara.

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