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 πŸ™‚ 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 happensβ€”and you are sure that bad/terrible things are going to happen to good, normal and sane people with consistencyβ€”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 πŸ™‚

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 surprisinglyβ€”and stunninglyβ€”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 DjordjeviΔ‡ (Trumpet), Kosta VukaΕ‘inoviΔ‡ (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:Β 
2019 | 2018Β |2017Β |Β 2016Β |Β 2015Β |Β 2014Β Β 
2013Β |Β 2012Β |Β 2011Β |Β 2010Β |Β 2009Β |Β 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 πŸ™‚ 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 FΓ© + 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 FΓ©. 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.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 134: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
18 songs, this week. YouTube has 17, and is missing only Ludo’s Dil Julaha because it is embedded inside a jukebox. JioSaavn playlist has 16 songs and is missing Oh Andha Naatkal ‘s Ini Oru Thollayum Illai and Chivaraku Migiledhi’s Saami Saami (both embedded below).

Meri Tum Ho & Dil Julaha – Ludo (Pritam) – Hindi: Ludo has turned out to be a wonderful album for Pritam – yet another one! Jubin Nautiyal and Ash King join their voices in Meri Tum Ho’s gorgeous melody that gains a lot from the instruments Pritam assembles. Darshan Raval-sung Dil Julaha is a lot of fun, with that captivating rhythm that, for some reason, reminded me of music from the North East.

Madhubala – Songs of Love (Amit Trivedi) – Hindi/Indipop: This is Amit at his most prolific – after Songs of Faith and Songs of Trance, here he is with another album! The first single is a pleasant departure from those earlier album sounds and is almost sparse with a solo piano in the background mostly to go with his singing. The singing is a bit flat, but Amit makes it up with the background’s emotional pull.

The Mission Paani Anthem – A R Rahman (Advertising jingle/Indipop): I thought I had become immune to most of A R Rahman’s ‘anthems’ given how monotonous they seem to have started sounding, either the ones in his films or his advertising jingles. This anthem, for Harpic, stands out as a superb exception! The core melody is very, very immersive. And given Antara Nandy’s rendition, the kids’ chorus that starts off so beautifully with those vocal effects, and the progressive build-up in the tune, Rahman has a winner here! Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics are brilliantly on point – I could imagine that ‘Paani’ and ‘Zindagaani’ callouts in
“Swachata Aur Paani
Humko Bachani Hai Ye Zindagani”
…coming from Rahman’s uniquely familiar voice too, though he doesn’t sing in this one πŸ™‚

Dagar Dagar – Jyoti Kavi (Hindi/Indipop) – Jyoti’s debut single is a great listen and took me back to a time when A R Rahman was composing his Tamil-fused melodies for Hindi films like Kabhi Na Kabhi or Doli Saja Ke Rakhna! Her voice is apt for the melody, the melody itself is a flowing, nicely accentuated affair, but where she truly aces is the background music that is so well put together.

Bujji – Jagame Thandhiram (Santhosh Narayanan) – Tamil: If Harris Jayaraj took inspiration from Michael Jackson literally to produce his many songs, Santhosh does it the right way by getting the soul of MJ’s music aptly and concocting something very original. He has superb support from Anirudh’s singing, and Dhanush’s outstanding dance moves. Towards the end, everyone gets down to the thara-local level like only they can, in a thoroughly enjoyable twist!

Ini Oru Thollayum Illai – Oh Andha Naatkal (James Vasanthan) – Tamil: An outstanding attempt at tuning Bharathiyar’s lines, again. James is not quite correct that this is the first time these lines are being used in film music. The 1982 film Thookkumedai had music by Shankar-Ganesh and they have composed these lines too, sung by T.M.Soundarajan. The 2 versions are like chalk and cheese, though! James’ melody is beautiful, like a lovely ghazal, with extremely good singing by Karthika Vaidyanathan. As if not content with that, James also gets Chithra to sing a kavadi-sindhu style middle portion, and when she enters, the song gains a new high!

Oru Arai Unathu – Maara (Ghibran) – Tamil: When was the music of Maaa composed, really? I get a vibe of Ghibran’s earlier form in this soundtrack so far, with 2 songs – not his current style! This song’s Celtic style music and the vibrant melody is propped really well by Yazin Nizar and Sanah Moidutty’s singing. Thamarai’s lyrics are fantastic, splitting everything between yours and mine, though I first thought they are singing about a slap for me and a slap for you, before realizing they are singing about rooms πŸ™‚

Thank You ISAI – Srinivas (Tamil/Indipop): Now, that was a highly inventive song! It’s less of a song and more of a CV/resume for singer Srinivas where he cleverly creates a coherent song out of the songs he has sung! So Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu song names/titles merge with each other as they are listed! Creative idea, handled well as a thank you note for music, and the opportunities Srinivas got in his career.

Saami Saami – Chivaraku Migiledhi (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: Vivek Sagar composes and sings an eclectic, hypnotic song that sounds like Thaikkudam Bridge’s music on an acid trip! The sound is both relentless and frenetic, but in a wonderfully coherent way that has superb impact!

Emito Idhi – Rang De (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: This is such a delightful surprise from DSP – a song that completely belies his familiar style and actually enters the Ilayaraja zone in terms of the melody and the backgrounds! The background music is so carefully and tastefully done, particularly the use of keyboard (by Vikas Badisa) and strings (by CMU Orchestra, Chennai)! Observe the anupallavi and charanam – they both have the standard 2 lines by Haripriya, followed by 2 lines by Kapil Kapilan. But when Kapil sings in the anupallavi
“Kala laa chey jaaripokamundhe
Shila laa samayanni nilapamandhe”, the backgrounds remain without the high that DSP hits in the charanam when Kapil sings the equivalent,
“Nene unnantha varaku neetho
Ninne chirunavvu vidavadhanuko”, the keyboard sweep is quite something else! Beautiful song!

The Guntur Song – Middle Class Melodies (Sweekar Agasthi) – Telugu: Usually, the Malayalees get this template of a song based on a city (in Kerala, of course, besides the Gulf) really well. It’s great to see Sweekar nail that template. The song, sung by Anurag Kulkarni, is a lovely ode to Guntur, with a special focus on the kinds of food available! The visuals are mouth-watering, as much as the lyrics!

Ranguladdhukunna – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: This is the second song this week by DSP where he plays against type and wins spectacularly! That beautiful vocal chorus by El FΓ© team is the first thing that stands out wonderfully. Then, the vocals by Yazin Nizar and Haripriya (her second song this week, with DSP). The anupallavi’s gentle rhythm and the interludes are so charmingly handled! And I notice the film also stars Vijay Sethupathy!!

Bhalegundi Baalaa – Sreekaram (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: In a pleasant twist, Mickey’s new song sounds like trademark Devi Sri Prasad! It’s only later in the song, after the second interlude, Mickey’s touch seems apparent before getting back to DSP territory. The rhythm is straight off DSP’s repertoire, though Penchal Das’ earthy singing lifts the song considerably, while Nutana Mohan’s brief sojourn is where Mickey identifies himself.

Poganathilere – Grahanam (Anandhkumar G) – Malayalam: After the Vineet Srinivasan-sung Mizhinilavai, released last month, the new single from Grahanam too impresses! The tune has a light, uplifting feel to it, and Vaishnavi Kannan’s singing too is on the dot. That Poganathilere hook leading to the first interlude, with Vaishnavi’s humming is lovely, in particular.

Kanavukal – Enpathukalile Ebhyanmaar (Renjith) – Malayalam: A gently flowing melody by Renjith that shines with excellent use of the flute and Kerala-style rhythms in the background. Vijay Yesudas’ singing is the icing, though – it is exceptionally engaging. The melody’s raaga escapes me but that’s what made to sit up and take notice. Shades of Darbari Kaanada, perhaps? I don’t know.

Titliaan – Avvy Sra, ft. Afsana Khan (Punjabi/Indipop): Composer Avvy Sra gets an easy win given the melody’s Shivaranjani raaga base. It’s a classic template used umpteen times in film songs, but it continues to shine, with a specific allure only that raaga can offer. Afsana Khan is stupendously good with her singing!

The Mountain King – Dhruv Visvanath (Indipop): I hear Dhruv reserved this song for Bejoy Nambiar’s soundtrack for Taish when the director heard it first and requested the song. I love Dhruv repertoire a lot but the first reason why I loved this song may not be something he would have envisaged – the melody reminded me of Charukesi raaga! Fantastic song!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 133: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
17 songs, this week. YouTube has all 17, while the JioSaavn playlist is missing just one – Khatija Rahman’s Farishtha.

Bhaari Bhaari, Jindhadi, Patanga, Naino – Waah Zindagi (Parag Chhabra) – Hindi: The film’s teaser and the first song, Bhaari Bhaari, were launched in January 2019, promoted by none other than A.R.Rahman himself (considering Parag’s work with him as producer). This is Parag’s debut film (though Jai Mummy Di came out earlier, as a full soundtrack) and he shows immense promise even if his music sounds a lot like Amit Trivedi’s. Bhaari Bhaari is lifted by the mellow tune that gently flows along with that lilting rhythm and the combined vocals of Mohan Kanan, Shadab Faridi and Parag Chhabra.

You may be forgiven if you assumed this is by Amit, as much as the next song, Jindhadi! The boisterous song reaches Amit zone when Nikhita Gandhi confidently utters the hook and the music turns techno, in true Amit style. Parag adds his own flavor in the interludes and they work pretty well. Patanga could be a song straight out of Amit’s Udaan soundtrack, but to give Parag credit, it stands on its own even beyond that feeling. And it is so, so, so good to hear Gulraj Singh again (amidst the singers – Suvarna Tiwari, Gulraj Singh and Parag Chhabra). The energetic tune and splendid singing lift the song easily. Naino is a sweet melody delivered well by Parag in a profusion of vocal harmony and brass sounds. The singing elevates this one too, thanks to Jonita Gandhi and Devender Pal Singh.

BamBholle – Laxmii (Ullumanati) – Hindi: Zee Music gets Acme Muzic’s 2017 super hit song composed by Ullumanati and sung by Viruss and turns it into a superstar vehicle. There are minor changes between the two, as the newer version evens out some of the sounds and makes it even more accessible. It’s a frenzied, electronic ode to Lord Shiva, intended to generate a trance-like effect, and it works quite well! The original was a monster hit, gathering more than 200 million views on YouTube alone!

Waareya – Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari (Javed-Mohsin) – Hindi: If you have been missing the ‘Mohit Suri-sound’, this song is a pretty good appropriation! The sweeping sound, the Punjabi lyrics and Vibhor Parashar’s singing… all work well in recreating a quintessential Mohit-Suri brand of song, though the man is nowhere involved in this venture.

Mahi Re – Harry & Sid (Indipop): If you were aching for some music that sounds like the Euphoria of the yore (90s), this song adds up mighty well! Harish Lakhmani & Siddharth Pathak distill the Euphoria sound but without Palash’s powerful vocals, and do deliver something fairly interesting.

Aatha Solra, Paarthene (Amman Song), Chandai Alangari & Saami Kulasaami – Mookuthi Amman (Girishh Gopalakrishnan) – Tamil: Despite making what we normally call ‘comedy films’, the music sense in RJ Balaji’s films is surprisingly good. It was the case with Leon James’ music in LKG and it is even better in Girishh Gopalakrishnan’s (of Marina-fame) soundtrack in Mookuthi Amman. Nakash Aziz owns the energetic tune of Aatha Solra and the racy pop sound is an interesting choice in an Amman film! Paarthene (Amman Song) is easily the song of the soundtrack! The tune took me back to Raja’s Janani Janani (Kalyani raaga), though I also hear shades of Revathi raaga, perhaps. [Update: I gather that this song is based on a fairly rare raaga called Kosalam] Jairam Balasubramanian is stupendously good with the singing (I had written about Girishh-composed, Jairam-sung Entha Neramum, from the non-film album Kadhalan Bharathi, last week – another outstanding song from the duo) and the emotional high in the song is so worth the experience.

Chandai Alangari has a first of sorts – probably the first ever film song by Aruna Sairam. And Girishh hands her a tune that befits her stature and she relishes the hypnotic melody effortlessly. The melody segues into the Mahishasura Mardini Stotram tune (Aigiri Nandini) and amps up the song even more. Saami Kulasaami takes the honors as the second best song of the album. Sung by composer Deva (who turns 70 on November 20th, this year!), it is a wonderfully earthy (highlighted by the harmonium, and the ektara-like solo violin, among others) and simple, focusing on the sparse and serene melody. It reminded me, in terms of the feel, Seevalapperi Paandi’s Kizhakku Sevakkaiyile – the simple melody takes precedence over everything.

Farishtha – A.R.Rahman, ft. Khatija Rahman (Tamil/Indipop): After a forgettable Iltaja (composed by Ricky Kej, and a song that even A.R.Rahman did not promote on his social handles), Rahman’s daughter Khatija seems to be on firmer footing in Farishtha. The song’s sooting melody and sound is vintage Rahman – I could picture this as an alternative version of Minsara Kanavu’s Anbendra Mazhayile. Even in this song, what is primarily an ode to Islam and Medina, the tune occasionally seems to touch Christian devotional music, at least the way it is appropriated in Tamil Nadu. That only goes on to underline the fact that our expressions, musically or with words, may be different and diverse but we, as humans, are all looking for the same thing with Gods of different names.

Yaar Antha Oviyaththai – Kalathil Santhippom (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: Yuvan has been out of circulation for quite some time, and this is a nice comeback of sorts! The most interesting thing about this song is that it has 2 pallavis and one charanam! The opening stanza (Yaar antha oviyathai) is identical to the next stanza (Naan paartha devadhaikku), and is about the 2 heroines of the film (Manjima Mohan and Priya Bhavani Shankar). And then there’s a charanam of sorts that closes the song. The prominent musical phrase, though, sounds a lot like a racier bit from VeNNilave VeNNilave from Minsara Kanavu.

Naa Chinni Lokame – Miss India (Thaman S) – Telugu: While the film (on Netflix) has been panned universally for being insipid, the music is not very far from that criticism either. Yet, there is some Thaman spark intact in Naa Chinni Lokame at least. Thaman intersperses the hymn-style opening by Aditi Bhavaraju and Ramya Behara with a racy 2nd phrase and then unleashes a profusion of techno music blended with strings!

Chukkala Chunni – SR Kalyanamandapam (Chaitan Bharadwaj) – Telugu: After the first song from the movie (Choosale Kallaraa), composer Chaitan has an effortless winner yet again! The song rides on an incredibly rhythmic melody and on Anurag Kulkarni’s superb vocals (backed by Chaitan’s own singing too). Lovely song!

Vachesadu Hire Ke Boyfriendu – Boyfriend For Hire (Gopi Sundar) – Telugu: After a fairly long time, there’s something refreshingly new in Gopi’s musical style. To be sure, there are parts of this song that hark back to his signature style (in a good way), but largely, he has something fresh here! The mixing of the rap-style singing and the melodic parts works very well and the music too is consistently engaging, with that retro-style pop sound.

Jaana – Maa Vintha Gaadha Vinuma (Ravi Sharma) – Telugu: I don’t recall seeing Ravi Sharma’s name as composer before this song and it’s a pleasant surprise to listen to a very confident and complete package! I would have guessed it to be Thaman’s music if I didn’t know the composer’s name – it’s that polished. Ayaan’s singing does a lot of heavy-lifting too – I reckon both Ravi Sharma and Ayaan having a good enough future.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 132: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
10 songs, this week. YouTube has all 10, while the JioSaavn playlist has 9, and is missing Anurag Saikia’s Tamil song.

Hardum Humdum – Ludo (Pritam) – Hindi: The second single from the film is as zany as the film’s wacky trailer – a curiously interesting mix that layers a very tuneful, retro-style melody (accentuated by Arijit’s singing that seems to be deliberately overdoing the retro part) that seems distantly reminiscent of Pancham’s Namak Haraam classic, Diye Jalte Hain… over a catchy, dance-floor style interlude!

Teri Choriyaan – Chhalaang (Vee) – Hindi: The second song from Chhalaang is a lovely listen too, once again for the earthy flavor it brings. The song’s simple, gorgeous Punjabi lilt and Guru Randhawa’s pleasant singing lifts it instantly.

Entha Neramum – Kadhalan Bharathi (Girishh G) – Tamil/Indipop: Girishh Gopalakrishnan debuted as a composer with Marina, had released an independent album in December 2014 that I seem to have completely missed! The album is called ‘Kadhalan Bharathi’ and explores Bharathiyar’s songs that focus on love – the human love variety, beyond love for the country or nature that is more popularly cited in his incredible repertoire.

To be sure, others have tuned some of the songs in this album too – like Suchitra Karthik’s Paayum Oli, composed by Sai Madhukar, and more recently, Ratchakan Sridhar’s Paayum Oli Kannamma that has a completely unique tune. And then there’s MS Viswanathan’s famous Ninnaye Rathiyendru from the Tamil film, Kanne Kaniyamudhe, that had a captivating newer version by Vinod Krishnan last year.

The entire album of Kadhalan Bharathi is worth a listen, of course. But one song, in particular, is the clear winner in my view – Jairam Balasubramaniyan-sung Entha Neramum! Is it based on Hamsanaadham raaga – I sensed quite a few strains of the raaga in this haunting tune. Jairam’s singing is phenomenal, at a goosebumps-inducing level.

Meendum Pirandheno – Sean Roldan, ft. Lalitha Sudha (Tamil/Indipop): This is Sean’s 3rd independent single and I’m surprised he hasn’t collaborated with any record label for all his 3 singles so far, just like Amit Trivedi (who released his singles and album spree on his own, newly launched label!). Sean’s melody, based on Kalyani raaga, is outstanding, as usual. His sense of fusion, mixing a carnatic-style tune on top of a sound that is so very modern pop, is lovely! Lalitha Sudha, who sang previously for Sean in Mehandi Circus (Siragi Un Sirippaala), is an inspired choice for the song given how affecting her singing is. Sean’s voice continues to grate me a bit, but he makes it up more than adequately with the sheer quality of his singing.

Yaar Azhaippadhu – Maara (Ghibran) – Tamil: Maara’s original, the Malayalam film Charlie had outstanding music from Gopi Sundar. Ghibran has a very high bar to clear in the Tamil remake. The first single actually seems like Ghibran of yore – the layering in the backgrounds indicates a Ghibran from the time of Naiyaandi. The tune is relatively less interesting than the backgrounds, and even Sid Sriram sounds a bit different from his usual self. Still, Ghibran’s overall sound makes it a good enough listen.

Mukthi (Eppo Varuvaaro) – Pragathi Band (Tamil/Indipop): Pragathi, the band led by singer KS Harisankar (with music produced by band member Abishekh Amanath) creates a spritely, modern remix of Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Jonpuri raaga-based Kriti ‘Eppo Varuvaaro’. The sound is psychedelic, with fantastic guitar by Abin Sagar and Arun Thomas, and topped by Harisankar’s always dependable singing.

Va Kannamma – Anurag Saikia, Ft. Gowtham Bharadwaj (Tamil/Indipop): Now, this is a surprise – to hear Anurag Saikia’s composition in Tamil! Is it due to his past association with Chennai (he studied music at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, to be specific)? His melody is a very calm and serene lullaby, sung extremely well by Staccato’s lead singer Gowtham Bharadwaj. Prachotosh Bhowmick’s guitar is a constant layer of comfort on the song too!

Kanna Mucche – Bheemasena Nalamaharaja (Charan Raj) – Kannada: While I didn’t specifically like the first single from the film (Tanner Meedre), Charan more than makes up for that with this song. Singer Siddhant Sundar’s soaring, deeply affecting voice lifts the song effortlessly, as does Balesh’s shehnai.

Icche Khame – Rupak Tiary (Bangla/Indipop): Rupak composes and sings this Bangla single, but the composer does better than the singer. His music is lush, with a lot happening in the background. The sound reminded me Pritam’s music to some extent, but Rupak has something going for him on his own too, no doubt.

Love Language – Positions (Ariana Grande): Ariana’s latest album is out and is already being hailed as her most suggestive/horny body of work! My favorite song from the album was Love Language that shines with its captivating pop sound and a good mix of jazz and 80s disco in the backgrounds. The lyrics go,
“Ain’t no need to remind you
It’s AG in your face”
(AG is, of course, Ariana Grande!)

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 131: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
16 songs, this week. YouTube and JioSaavn playlists have all 16 songs.

Roshni Si & Re Bawree (both versions) – Taish (Prashant Pillai, Govind Vasantha) – Hindi: It’s so good to see a full soundtrack actually release at one go before the film’s release – an increasingly rare event these days. True to Bejoy Nambiar’s style, this too is a multi-composer album where he picks talents from multiple places and puts them all in his thematic vision for the musical expression of the film. The most exciting songs here are by Prashant, and Govind Vasantha, who makes his Hindi debut, I presume.

Prashant’s Roshni Si is every but what you expect from him – beautifully layered, soaring vocals by Ashwin Gopakumar and Preeti Pillai and a superb techno sound pulsating throughout.

Govind’s Re Bawree could easily be mistaken for a Thaikkudam Bridge tune! The semi-classical sound in the melody is hauntingly beautiful, accentuated by Prarthna Indrajith and Govind’s vocals and the tune shifts in the antara! That ‘Pal pal gin ke’ line in particular is a delightful turn! The song’s other version, Re Bawree (Jahaan Lost In Love), by Sona Mohapatra is another level, with her majestic voice bringing in immense gravitas to the same tune.

Aabaad Barbaad – Ludo (Pritam) – Hindi: Anurag Basu’s new film, so that means new goodness from Pritam! And the first single doesn’t disappoint at all, with its addictive tune. When Ghulam Ali’s sarangi peeks in, in the beginning of the song, I had assumed it may be a more desi song with a tinge of retro, but when the actual song starts, Pritam unleashes an energetic electronic sound that amps up the song almost to a breezy dance number. Arijit is, as usual, extremely competent, though his repetitive ‘kardo’ seems a bit grating by the time the song ends.

Ban Ja Wo Diya, Sehen Kar Liya, Aisi Hi Zindagi, Meraki, Ruhana, Yaad and Nisarga – Aayam (Shrinidhi Ghatate) – Hindi/Marathi/Indipop: I was very, very pleasantly surprised by the sheer range of gorgeous tunes in Shrinidhi’s new album, Aayam. The whole album makes for a great listen, and the album’s uniformly Indipop’ish sound, that too from a different period, was particularly alluring. Songs like Aisi Hi Zindagi, Meraki, Ruhana and Ban Ja Wo Diya exemplified that style more explicitly. Sehen Kar Liya was very Amit Trivedi’ish, while the mildly semi-classical Yaad and the Marathi pop song Nisarga too showcase her composing skills as well as singing proficiency really well.

Naach Meri Rani – Tanishk Bagchi (Ft. Guru Randhawa and Nikhita Gandhi) – Hindi/Indipop: Tanishk is back, after the broad pounding he got for the Masakali 2.0 remix that saw even the otherwise affably let-me-stay-out-of-controversy A.R.Rahman fluttering his wings. He doesn’t remix anything this time, but his material here is a pulse-pounding dance track that Guru and Nikhita deliver very well. It’s a simple, catchy one-hook song, something Tanishk handles very easily, to good effect.

Care Ni Karda – Chhalaang (Yo Yo Honey Singh) – Punjabi/Indipop: For a song where the lead singer Sweetaj Brar is outstandingly good, it is a pity that her name is not part of the video title, nor is it mentioned anywhere in the descriptions first 2-3 paragraphs!

What T-series sells is Yo Yo Honey Singh’s name, who has composed the song (very well, at that) and raps along with Sweetaj. The song has a wonderfully earthy charm, amped up by the repetitive ‘ni karda’ refrain that Sweetaj delivers with a beautiful Punjabi charm that includes pronouncing ‘spare’ as ‘sa pair”.

Kadai Kannaaley – Bhoomi (D.Imman) – Tamil: Imman’s second single from the film sees him coming back all guns blazing… or, all sitars blazing! The most prominent and repetitive musical hook possibly starts off without the sitar (electronic sound?) but it seems to be blending and made by the sitar eventually, even as the instrument (played by Kishore) plays a much larger part. And when Imman ropes in Shreya Ghoshal, it usually results in something very good – here too, he hands her a really lush, layered melody that she relishes singing. The melody, that already sounds interesting because of the long pallavi and a single anupallavi/charanam, has gorgeous twists like that ‘Vizhiyai imayai virithen’ line in the anupallavi/charanam.

Aagasam – Soorarai Pottru (Thaikudam Bridge & G.V.Prakash Kumar) – Tamil: This is how a song recreation is done! G.V.Prakash Kumar uses the main vocal refrain from Thaikudam Bridge’s Urumbu and builds on it with his own main melody/tune that gels perfectly in a new set-up with searing lyrics from Arunraja Kamaraj! And he gets the singer of the original Christin Jos (along with Govind Vasantha) to sing his version – the recreation is given adequate respect and credit everywhere, both literally and figuratively, as it should be, normalizing the, “Here’s a recreation – do listen to both the songs and pick what you like!” sentiment confidently. Extremely well-played.

The Bombay Doors – Tejas (Indipop): The second single from Tejas’ upcoming album Outlast (the first single, Lead, dropped in June). An ode to Mumbai with a very vibrant synth-based sound. The backgrounds remains consistently intriguing, springing a surprise every now and then, even as the vocal layer compliments that surprise equally well!

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