Ishq is perhaps the most infuriating movie I have seen in quite a while. And this is mainly because the film topples, on its head, 2 well-known movie tropes – vigilante justice and home invasion.

I missed it when it was in theaters – I reserve my theater experience to larger-than-life films, and indulge in so-called smaller films at the comfort of my home, on one of the many OTT platforms that thankfully offer them with English subtitles.

So Ishq, on Amazon Prime.

Considering I recently watched Kumbalangi Nights on the same platform, I couldn’t help marvel at the connection between the two:

Shane Nigam as Bobby, in that film, shouts, “I am a man!”, when Baby (played by Anna Ben) refuses to kiss him in the cinema theater.

Shane Nigam as Sachi, in this film, growls, “I am a man. I need to know”, after what he and Vasudha (Ann Sheetal) have endured the previous night.

(Should I also connect, Rangan-style, the first names of both actresses – Anna and Ann? Nah.)

To me, Ishq was perhaps the most refreshing and intimate take on the vigilante justice trope Indian cinema is usually obsessed with forever.

It is to the film’ credit that I couldn’t watch it without squirming when two of its biggest, most impactful stretches were playing. I felt like a pervert watching those two stretches and I have to accept that it makes for a riveting watch – something you don’t want to see, but still persist, with your mouth agape and mind numb, hoping/praying for the best.

But, Ishq is also 10X more problematic than an Arjun Reddy. Arjun was propped with a lot of hero’ness – he is not real, but aspirational (unfortunately so). But he is a make-believe in the way they stretch his actions into something utterly incredulous. Sachi, in comparison, is the boy next door – sheepish smile, and utterly normal. When he decides to turn vigilante and avenge the insult to his manhood (and not for the harrowing experience of his girlfriend, which had already been sidestepped when he didn’t react to that at all after the ordeal, something Vasudha points out to him too, categorically), he empowers every boy-next-door to believe that this is a possibility.

In that alarmingly realistic scenario comes the equally alarming and intimate focus on something very few vigilante justice films ever venture into – a focus on the collateral damage. Alvin’s wife and little daughter are the collateral damage I’m referring to. And here, the home invasion trope is turned upside down because of who performs the act!

Even here, the details would make you squirm merely thinking about them: In the first ordeal, you knew that the perpetrators were obviously and visibly ‘bad’. They mean bad and behave horrendously. The film could have gone into a tailspin and really bad things could have happened otherwise ‘good people. But, you heave a sigh of relief that the film doesn’t take it to that extreme, even as the trauma that the good people are left with is going to last a lifetime because of what was not done and merely hinted at.

But, in the second ordeal, you are aghast that the perpetrator is not a conventionally ‘bad’ person. And he does heinous things to two good people, one of them being a little child. You probably know in the back of your heart that he won’t resort to any extreme (unlike the earlier episode where anything was possible), though he does cross several boundaries in his quest for revenge. It’s the inherent evil within a supposedly good person that is the ultimate horror in Ishq. The level of evil that has him hounding two people only because they happened to be connected to his target of revenge.

Hence, it was a relief the way the film ended, even though that denouement is hardly representative of the crime he has perpetrated. But two things stand out in this ending – that Vasudha didn’t turn vigilante on Sachi and offer an extreme punishment and merely did what was in her purview. And two, this is what Arjun Reddy’s Preethi should have done, though that’s hardly representative of Arjun’s misdeeds.

Shane is perhaps overdoing his goofy, boy-next-door gig (considering I saw Kumbalangi Nights last week), but he is incredibly effective in Ishq in selling first his boy-next-door, and his tentative-in-love and eventually his man out for vengeance. Shine Tom Chacko, playing Alvin, is stupendously good. That he disgusts you incredibly is the power of his role and acting, while Jaffer Idukki, as his co-perpetrator, brings an enormous amount of sliminess to his role.

Ann Sheetal is a revelation. The range of expressions she brings to the role – while madly in love, while tentatively agreeing to what Sachi asks her to do, while not giving in fully, yet in a surprise gesture, moving to the back seat of the car as her own minute way to offer her consent and express her desire, while fearing for her self and for Sachi during her ordeal, while expressing shock at Sachi’s behaviour post the ordeal and the placid Vasudha during the final stretch! Along with Leona Lishoy (as Alvin’s wife), the 2 actresses are outstanding in making us fear for them, feel for them and quite literally, pray for them.

A special note to the cinematography. The choice of angles to highlight the way Sachi’s car enters the desolate parking zone is brilliant, and the home invasion scenes in the second ordeal are incredibly real. Jakes Bejoy’s music is minimal, and Parayuvaan is an easy highlight, thanks to Sid Sriram’s singing. Some of the editor’s and composer’s choices are questionable – like the framing of the end of the second ordeal, almost making it right, together with pumping background music.

But Ishq is that kind of film that you simply cannot not think about and not have an opinion about. That is remarkably good cinema. This one questions moral ambiguity in multiple directions – the ‘good’ characters’ in the film, the director’s, and your own, for persisting with the perversion on display.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 81: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
12 songs this week. Malayalam music seems to have given up on JioSaavn and trusts only YouTube, it looks like! All the 4 Malayalam songs this week are missing from JioSaavn. YouTube has 11 songs and is missing only the Marathi Querida Querido from Girlfriend and that too only because the song is inside a jukebox.

The Wakhra Song – Judgemental Hai Kya (Tanishk Bagchi and Badshah) – Hindi/Punjabi: Tanishk Bagchi is everywhere, as usual, remixing and creating singles in this film or that. I wasn’t really impressed with Psycho Saiyaan from Saaho and Zilla Hilela from Jabariya Jodi, this remix of Badshah’s Wakhra Swag passes my test. The original seems to have jumped multiple labels – first released by Times Music in 2015 and raking up 209 million views! And then with Speed Records in 2018, and now, finally with Zee Music as Tanishk’s remix. Tanishk cleverly adds pace to the original that was rather oddly paced for the rap/lyrics and music.


Paagal – Badshah: The first ticket-to-fame is the 91 million+ views on YouTube in just 3 days! Is that some new world record? The song is very, very catchy, no doubt, but not something I’d associate with that big a number, but that’s just me. To paraphrase Badshah, Yeh Duniya Paagal Hai Paagal Hai Paagal Hai!

Querida Querido – Girlfriend (Hrishikesh-Saurabh-Jasraj) – Marathi: The composing trio’s tune here is similar to the title song, with an extra dash of the Latino sound. It’s a compellingly joyous tune and the lively singing by Shalmali Kholgade and Jasraj Joshi adds to the fun.

Adugula Madgula – Baba (Rohan Rohan) – Marathi: There’s an easy, rhythmic tune in Adugula Madgula that makes it endearing almost immediately. Combined with Marathi language’s beautiful sound (and Rohan Pradhan’s singing, in large part too), it’s a lovely, lilting listen.

Chaaruthanthi – Munirathna Kurukshetra (V.Harikrishna) – Kannada: While Hari tries the M.M.Keeravani sound in the first single (Saahore, not to be confused with a similarly titled song from Baahubali or Prabhas’ Saaho), Chaaruthanthi is more his trademark sound that he knows and does well. It has an Ilayaraja’ish edge that Hari does particularly well. Though I’d have loved to hear Kannada singers sing for this ambitious film, you cannot fault singers like Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal at all – both are phenomenally good.

Banda Nodu Pailwaan – Pailwaan (Arjun Janya) – Kannada: The 2nd large project with Lahari as the record label, after Munirathna Kurukshetra, this week. This one is larger, with a pan-Indian, multi-lingual ambition. And takes composer Arjun Janya to Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam too! The song is very-Arjun Janya – well-mounted, larger-than-life sound with a tune that has very well-rhyming lyrics in almost all languages. This is also the 2nd South Indian film in recent times that has pan-Indian goals, the other one being the Telugu-first Saaho.

Kanneer Meghangal – Sachin (Shaan Rahman) – Malayalam: Good to hear Shaan Rahman’s music after quite some time. Even this film had a few singles released a few weeks/months ago – not sure why this staggered release, and the film’s release. The melody is something you can easily relate to Shaan – a soft pathos-laden tune with lovely singing by Hesham Abdul Wahab and Bindhu. The long’ish phrases in the pallavi are particularly beautiful.

Illikoodinullil & Ambaram – Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo (Shaan Rahman and Viswajith) – Malayalam: The second Shaan Rahman song of the week. Delightfully simple and likeable tune, with a particularly lovely flute phrase by Josy Alappuzha and a fantastic percussion from Kerala folk music. Pitch-perfect singing by Sudeep Kumar and Merin Gregory. The other song from the same film has music by Viswajith! It has a spritely tune that traverses through multiple genres, including Western Classical in the 2nd interlude and Kerala’s traditional music in the bridge from anupallavi to pallavi in a particularly imaginative stretch. And that ending is a complete surprise!! It’s a fantastic mix that works very smoothly, led by KS Harisankar’s singing.

Jaathikkathottam – Thanneer Mathan Dinangal (Justin Varghese) – Malayalam: The video looks like a sequel to Kumbalangi Nights, with Frankie’s life being expanded into a spin-off even as he has moved to cricket, from football (he is called Jaison, in this film though). Justin’s tune and sound is especially fantastic – a wonderfully constructed melody that’s a slow burner with superb singing by Soumya Ramakrishnan and Devadutt Bijibal. There’s also an eclectic mix of sounds, with the nadaswaram and thavil topping the list, besides an excellent vocal chorus featuring Daya Bijibal, Pavni Prakash, Anamika Prakash, Megha, Vygha, Girish.A.D and Dinoy.

Thaarame Thaarame – Kadaram Kondan (Ghibran) – Tamil: While I didn’t like the other new song by Ghibran this week (from the Tamil film Sixer), this one I can work with. It isn’t particularly unique, but it grows thanks to Sid Sriram’s singing and the little nuances Ghibran incorporates in the background.

My Best Life – KSHMR ft. Mike Waters: Oddly catchy, with a lovely dose of electronic sounds and a bizarre video to boot! The vocal slices are addictive, no doubt and the single cover is a hoot, in what looks like a Hindu Godman but is not 🙂

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 80: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
15 songs this week. JioSaavn is missing 4 – Manase Muttaala from Aadi Lakshmi Purana, Maayathe by Charles Nazareth, Rathrimazha from Porkkalam and Anuraga Kilivathil from Shubarathri. YouTube is missing 4 too, but not the same 4 🙂

Siriki – Kaappaan (Harris Jayaraj) – Tamil: Nothing seems to have changed in Harris’ music and parts of it continues to sound like the faux-folk music that A R Rahman concocted when he began composing for films. Many of the phrases in this song sound like bits and pieces of Harris’ own songs and that has been comfortably and adequately addressed as an advantage than a disadvantage by fans. And yet, this does sound good, enhancing the Harris-Suriya track record. The steady rhythm that doesn’t deviate, the quality of singing work in its favor, besides the simple, hummable tune.

Nee Vaanavilla, Onnumilla, Oru Naal, Aadai Theme – Aadai (Oorka, Marti Bharath) – Tamil: Oorka’s film debut song is clearly modelled on a classic rock template. And roping in Shakthisree Gopalan seems perfect given her range and handling. The ending, in particular, is very good, where the searing guitars pave way for a somber finale. Onnumilla too is by Oorka and like in Nee Vaanavilla, the lyrics are worth noting (by Bharath Sankar). The song continues the band’s rock sound and is racier, with a pulsating finish. Oru Naal, composed by Marti Bharath and sung by Pradeep Kumar, is a fantastic composition too… easily makes you wonder who this Marti Bharath is! Marti Bharat, of course, is Chennai-based producer and keyboardist who founded the band Sapta. Oru Naal isn’t typical of Sapta’s electronic music, but the musical flourishes are as good. In Pradeep’s accomplished singing, the moody track is a great listen. Aadai Theme is (finally) by Pradeep Kumar! Incredibly poignant and sweeping orchestration featuring a string quartet from Budapest. I believe there’s another song composed by Pradeep Kumar in the soundtrack (called Thoppi) that is sung by Vijainarain (who has turned composer recently, for the Santhanam starrer Dagaalty) that will be released after the film’s release. Really looking forward to that one.

Naanum Neeyum & Endha Poovum – Unarvu (Nakul Abhayankar) – Tamil: Naanum Neeyum clearly depends on singer Karthik’s fantastic skills and he delivers, expectedly. Nakul’s composition soars after the pallavi using that beautiful nadaswaram interlude, though I couldn’t help hearing the chorus voice pronouncing it as ‘unarvu’ instead of ‘uNarvu’. Nakul’s tune for the anupallavi is very good too, backed by a racy guitar backdrop. Endha Poovum is a simple, catchy song that’s easy on the ear. Nakul’s singing is very good, though Ramya Bhat pronouncing ‘Thannan thaniyai’ as ‘Thannan ThaNiyaai’ irks.

Seetha Kalyanam – Ranarangam (Prashant Pillai) – Telugu: Director Sudheer Varma has worked extensively by composer Sunny M.R (Swamy Ra Ra, Dohchay and Keshava; and I working with Ajaneesh for the Telugu version of Kirrak Party made sense since the Kannada original was by the same composer). So, it’s a surprise he chose Prashant Pillai for Ranarangam – not that I’m complaining at all (more like wondering – doesn’t Sunny want to focus on his solo career too, and is he content with working with Pritam in Bollywood?). Prashant’s reimagining of Thyagaraja’s classic melody set in raaga Shankarabharanam is typical of his fusion – with a fantastic nadaswaram layer in the backdrop and an ambient chorus. Sreehari K singing tops the song, of course.

Manase Muttaala – Aadi Lakshmi Purana (Anup Bhandari) – Kannada: I first noticed the 4-song soundtrack of the film 2-3 weeks ago on Saavn, but before I could listen to them over that weekend, the album vanished! Then, one song, Boom Boom, surfaced as a single – I didn’t like it much. Now, I see 3 songs on Saavn but they are marked as ‘unavailable’. The 2nd single from the film, Manase Muttaala, is a much better affair by Anup. It uses a whimsically paced tune that goes from Latino ballad-style to a faster vaudevillian’ish sound and back. The singing, led by Vijay Prakash, also features Supriya Lohith, Aishwarya Rangarajan and Anup Bhandari himself. Vijay, of course, is brilliant.

Maayathe – Charles Nazareth (Malayalam): Charles Nazareth’s music is an enchanting experiment that works precisely because it traverses an unusually constructed tune. Gowry Lekshmi’s part in the melody is in striking contrast to Charles’ own parts and that interplay is stunning! The electronic sounds that envelop the tune are beautifully imagined too!

Kaatum – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup) – Malayalam: Yet another impressive song from Luca! Sooraj sings this one too and given its pulsating sounds, fits perfectly for the melody. Not just that, he features as the singer in the video too! Do I see a future for Sooraj as an actor too? Of course 🙂

Rathrimazha – Porkkalam (Sunil Pallippuram) – Malayalam: The melody seemed like Vidyasagar’s Thankathinkal from Indraprastham all over again! Brindavana Saaranga/Hamir Kalyani raaga? It continues to be wonderful, though 🙂

Anuraga Kilivathil – Shubarathri (Bijibal) – Malayalam: Do I sense a trace of Sahana raaga in the melody? That could be my trigger to like it instantly. Glad to have Bijibal back in the composing mix.

Imagination – Foster The People: Adequately trippy and psychedelic! The singing goes with that too, with a chorus that soars equally well.

Señorita – Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes: This is pop aimed at a massive billboard hit and one that delivers too, with a sensual video to boot!

Wednesday July 3, 2019

Milliblog Top 10 – June 2019

Hindi

01. Jugraafiya – Super 30 (Ajay-Atul)

02. Nadhkula – Malaal (Shreyas Puranik)

03. Naina Yeh – Article 15 (Piyush Shankar)

04. Madaari – The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir (Amit Trivedi)

05. Pehla Pyaar – Kabir Singh (Vishal Mishra)

06. Intezaari – Article 15 (Anurag Saikia)

07. Zara Suno – Malaal (Shail Hada)

08. Paisa – Super 30 (Ajay-Atul)

09. Main Deewana Tera – Arjun Patiala (Sachin-Jigar and Guru Randhawa)

10. Koka – Khandaani Shafakhana (Jasbir Jassi, Shyam Bhateja, Tanishk Bagchi)

Tamil

01. Thanimai Siraiyinil – Siragu (Arrol Corelli)

02. Kadhal Megham – Mazhai Saaral (Yaadhav Ramalinkgam)

03. Unaalathaan – Sindhubaadh (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

04. Uthira Uthira – Pon Manickavel (D.Imman)

05. Neeyum Naanum – Sindhubaadh (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

06. Vaanam Sumandha Megam – Chennai Palani Mars (Niranjan Babu)

07. Magaraaniye – Pon Manickavel (D.Imman) 

08. Nenja Unakaga – Sindhubaadh (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

09. Sigarame – Raatchasi (Sean Roldan)

10. Vaa Penney – Siragu (Arrol Corelli)

Telugu

01. Gira Gira – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)

02. Naaku Nuvvani – Mallesham (Mark K Robin)

03. Evaro Evaro – Kalki (Shravan Bharadwaj)

04. Naalo Maimarapu – Oh Baby (Mickey J Meyer)

05. Padipoyanetho – Hippi (Nivas K Prasanna)

06. Ee Kshaname – Malli Malli Chusa (Shravan Bharadwaj)

07. Talapu Talapu – Brochevarevarura (Vivek Sagar)

08. The Canteen song – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)

09. Vaale Chinukule – Brochevarevarura (Vivek Sagar)

10. Undipo – Ismart Shankar (Mani Sharma)

Malayalam

01. Ore Kannal – LUCA (Sooraj S Kurup)

02. Aval – Kakshi: Amminippilla (Arun Muraleedharan)

03. Yaminiyaai – Neermathalam Poothakaalam (Sheron Roy Gomez)

04. Vanil Chandrika – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup)

05. Mazhamukil – Prekashante Metro (Rahul Subrahmanian)

06. Neeyilla Neram – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup)

07. Tu Hi Rani – Kakshi: Amminippilla (Arun Muraleedharan)

08. Kaanumbol Ninne – Thamaasha (Rex Vijayan)

09. Jeevante Jeevanay – Sameer (Sudeep Palanad)

10. Nee Mazhavillu Polen – Finals (Kailas Menon)

Kannada

01. Abbabba Ninna Kande – Preethi Irabaaradey (Sabu Varghese & Yelender Mahaveer)

02. Yenanno Helalu Hogi – Gubbi Mele Brahmastra (Manikanth Kadri)

03. Naaligege Jwara – Fan (Vikram-Chandana)

04. Awasara – Yaanaa (Joshua Sridhar)

Indipop

01. Nee Illama – 7UP Madras Gig (Ghibran)

02. Sreeragamo – Sanah Modutty (Sharreth)

03. Hey Zara – Ben Human

04. Orey Neel Dariya – Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change (Kaushik Hossain Taposh) – On YouTube (since embedding is blocked)

05. Vivasayam – Anthony Daasan

06. Milon Hobe Koto Dine – Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change (Kaushik Hossain Taposh) – On YouTube (since embedding is blocked)

07. Vakratunda Mahakaaya – Flute Navin

08. Aaj Ei Brishtir Kanna Dekhe – Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change (Kaushik Hossain Taposh) – On YouTube (since embedding is blocked)

09. Aamay Dekhona – Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change (Kaushik Hossain Taposh) – On YouTube (since embedding is blocked)

10. Hidden Happiness – Weeping Strings (Manoj George) – On JioSaavn.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 79: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
20 songs this week. JioSaavn has 19 songs! It’s just missing the Malayalam song, Mazhamukil from Prekashante Metro. YouTube playlist has 18 songs and is missing Bastar Awaits from Unda (I have embedded the playlist below) and Hidden Happiness from Weeping Strings by Manoj George.

Koka – Khandaani Shafakhana (Jasbir Jassi, Shyam Bhateja, Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi/Punjabi: T-series at its game again, taking a simple, earthy Punjabi song and jazzing it up significantly. Sometimes, it sounds terrible, but this one, with that effortless catchiness of the original and Tanishk’s zing, works!

Main Deewana Tera – Arjun Patiala (Sachin-Jigar and Guru Randhawa) – Hindi: I’m getting increasingly confused between Khandaani Shafakhana and Arjun Patiala given the multiple points of commonalities – T-series, the heavy Punjabi bent, Varun Sharma! This one is supposedly composed by both Guru Randhawa and Sachin-Jigar – I wonder how they apportioned the composing duties. It sounds a lot like Sachin-Jigar’s music to my ears, though Guru’s lively singing props it up easily.

Vaanam Sumandha Megam – Chennai Palani Mars (Niranjan Babu) – Tamil: I was honestly underwhelmed by Niranjan’s music in this soundtrack, though Think Music’s record of new composers is pretty good. The one song that stood out was, ironically, so much like Harris Jayaraj’s tune! But it was handled well, with that minimal music and a very lush tune, sung brilliantly by Sujay Iswarian Isaac DP.

Magaraaniye – Pon Manickavel (D.Imman) – Tamil: A somewhat familiar and predictable tune by Imman is made better thanks to the choice of singer – Srinivas. The usual Imman-style jaunty rhythm and sound is intact and the anupallavi is a particularly nice diversion.

Canteen – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran) – Telugu: The Gold-standard in Telugu cinema canteen songs is still Botany Patamundi from Shiva, by Ilayaraja. Justin’s attempt is a very, very brave and solid attempt, incidentally. It seems to be picking a leaf out of Sam CS’s music in Vikram Vedha’s Tasakku Tasakku. But yes, the tune is earthy, folkish and effervescent with a lot of swag!

Undipo – Ismart Shankar (Mani Sharma) – Telugu: I haven’t liked any of the 3 songs released from the film so far, though I really like Mani Sharma’s music. This one is interesting since it seems to riff on Junoon’s Sayonee not directly in terms of the tune, but in terms of the overall aesthetics! That, and the Anurag Kulkarni’s singing (not so much Ramya Behara’s, though) make it work… into a catchy song!

Vaale Chinukule and Brochevare – Brochevarevarura (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: While Vaale Chinukule is trademark Vivek song, with brilliant vocals by Sooraj Santhosh and the composer’s familiar alluring sounds, Brochevare hits it out of the park with its haunting and frenetic rock sound! Anurag Kulkarni is right on top of the pulsating song.

Andanike and Anaganaga – Burra Katha (Sai Karthik) – Telugu: This could easily pass for Devi Sri Prasad’s music particularly with that rhythm and use of Veena! But, credit to Sai Karthik, his tune is very efficient, with a faux-semi classical sound that occasionally gets down to the masala business very well. Anaganaga too is DSP’s signature sound, with that incredibly catchy and swanky rhythm that Sai Karthik alternates with an assortment of sounds, like the prayer’ish middle portion and an ebullient Bajrangi call-out towards the end! Dhanunjay’s singing is on the mark, with the casual ‘bro’ throw.

Evaro Evaro – Kalki (Shravan Bharadwaj) – Telugu: Shravan’s first song from Kalki was an unabashedly middling item song, but he thankfully showcases his form in Evaro Evaro. Shweta Mohan (singing along with Vedala Hemachandra) is in particularly great form too! The Rara Dasharadha Rajakumara interlude (by Thyagaraja’s set to Bhairavi raaga) is uncredited though! The musical breakout over the ‘Dorike Dorike’ phrase is lovely!

Neeyilla Neram – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup) – Malayalam: The 3rd hugely impressive song from Luca! This one, Sooraj takes it upon himself to sing it solo! The tune has an ethereal feel and the melody builds itself beautifully. That silence in the ‘Kaalam karuthidum’ and the off-tone phrase in ‘Doore Oraayiramirul’ lines are brilliant!

Nee Mazhavillu Polen – Finals (Kailas Menon) – Malayalam: Theevandi-fame Kailas Menon’s music! Nice enough song, with a pleasant pop’ish lilt. The surprise is wink-fame Priya Prakash Varrier’s singing – she’s not bad at all!

Sreeragamo – Sanah Modutty (Sharreth) – Malayalam: Sanah attempts Sharreth’s iconic song from Pavithram and does pretty well, I should say. It’s a testament to both the original’s beauty, in Karaharapriya raaga, and to Sanah’s refined cover version.

Bastar Awaits – Unda (Prashant Pillai) – Malayalam: This Prashant letting loose his creative instincts within the confines of the film’s plot! The song sounds like heady world music, with African’ish sounds thrown in, but uses local folk singers from Bastar, where the film’s plot is based. Result? Eclectic fusion!

Mazhamukil – Prekashante Metro (Rahul Subrahmanian) – Malayalam: I missed this song when it came out in April. Fantastic, ambient melody that perhaps has a similar raaga to Shaan Rahman’s stunningly beautiful song, Thennal Nilavinte from Oru Muthassi Gadha. That’s reason enough to like this new song too, besides Najeem Arshad and Shweta Mohan’s delightful singing!

Tu Hi Rani – Kakshi: Amminippilla (Arun Muraleedharan) – Malayalam: Arun Muraleedharan gets it right again, like last week’s Aval. Like that song hinged on Harisankar’s singing, this one rides on Arjun Krishna’s wonderful vocals. The melody is warm and endearing with a beautiful tabla backdrop.

Naaligege Jwara – Fan (Vikram-Chandana) – Kannada: I thought there was definitely a spark in Vikram-Chandana’s music, even though parts of this song reminded me of V.Harikrishna’s outstanding Paravashanadenu, from Paramathma. Still, this is a good song with smart, peppy orchestration, and Vijay Prakash’s singing makes it even better.

Awasara – Yaanaa (Joshua Sridhar) – Kannada: Joshua’s n’th return to Kannada cinema, after that outstanding, but sadly immediately-forgotten soundtrack in Tamil, July Kaatril! He even reuses Kayathe Kanagathe in Beauty Queen here – thankfully, the primary record label (Saai Media) seems to be the common owner so this Kannada version may not be rudely removed like it has happened with Hiphop Tamizha recently. Awasara is the only song that worked for me, with fantastic singing by Shashaa Tirupati over that breezy melody and the background sounds regurgitated from A R Rahman’s Neethaan En Desiyageetham from Parthale Paravasam.

Hidden Happiness – Weeping Strings (Manoj George): Manoj’s new album is a soft, serene and somber affair. My pick of the album was the very-Indian sounding Hidden Happiness, that took me to Sona and Ram Sampath’s Aaja Ve. A common raaga, perhaps.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 78: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
20 songs this week. JioSaavn has 18 and is missing Aval from Kakshi: Amminippilla and Yenanno Helalu Hogi from Gubbi Mele Brahmastra. YouTube playlist has 17 songs and is missing 3 songs from Malaal (I have hence embedded the YouTube jukebox of the soundtrack below).

Nadhkula, Aai Shapat, Kathai Kathai, Zara Suno – Malaal (Shreyas Puranik, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shail Hada) – Hindi: Malaal is, in my view, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s best as a composer. He has 5 songs to his credit of the 7 songs, with the other 2 by Shreyas Puranik and Shail Hada). Nadhkula (which Shreyas seems keen on pronouncing as ‘Nadh kuzha’ (almost making it sound like a Tamil word!). The melody is delectable, with a jaunty rhythm keeping it company – the combo is enchanting! Shreyas’ singing is top notch, and the chorus that ends the song is perfectly layered too.

Shail Hada composes the wonderfully lilting Zara Suno that Aanandi Joshi sings really well, even as Rutvik Talashilkar has an odd edge that is a hit-or-miss. The melody keeps the song thoroughly enjoyable, though. Rutvik, however, is outstanding in Aai Shapat, handling the incredibly catchy folk tune, with a lovely spring-in-the-rhythm. And then there’s Shreya Ghoshal and Kathai Kathai! I have usually heard the word ‘Kathai’ (light brown?) used with the color of the heroine’s eyes (my favourite song being Duplicate’s Kathai Aankhon Waali Ek Ladki). Here, the hero’s eyes as being described, for a change! Shreya owns the song like only she can, with a particularly fantastic tune for the antara! Sanjay’s tune is endearing and very pleasant.

Paisa – Super 30 (Ajay-Atul) – Hindi: A lovely retro-twang like Kalyanji-Anandji’s Don title song is what makes this ‘item’ song work effortlessly. And Vishal Dadlani is a perfect choice, delivering it with panache.

Uthira Uthira – Pon Manickavel (D.Imman) – Tamil: A very, very unusual tune! The melody took me to ‘Suno Sajna papihe ne’ from Aaye Din Bahar Ke, with mind-blowingly beautiful music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. That song, I gather is Raag Nand (though some other websites claim it is Bilawal). Is the Tamil song on the same raga? I don’t know, but it sounds bewitching! Maria ‘Roe’ Roshni Vincent’s catchy vocal hook and the singing by Sreekanth Hariharan and Shreya Ghoshal are spot on.
Update: The song is set in Rasikapriya raaga, same as ‘Ding Dong Kovil Mani’ from Ji, by Vidyasagar.

Sigarame – Raatchasi (Sean Roldan) – Tamil: Raatchasi is a surprisingly middling soundtrack from the otherwise super Sean Roldan! The one song that I thought has potential is Rahul Nambiar’s Sigarame that shines with a kind of edgy energy that the other songs lack, including the over-indulgent Rekka Namakku, which seems severely over-sung by Srinidhi.

Talapu Talapu – Brochevarevarura (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: Phew! Vivek pauses bluegrass’y template to go back to his jazz’y template in which he has produced a fantastic range! Vandana Srinvas is very good with her vocals, and the guitar in the song is also a particularly good layer.

Gira Gira – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran) – Telugu: A new song from Dear Comrade that’s already bubbling with brilliant music! Of the 4 versions, I liked the Telugu the most, thanks largely to the singing by Yamini Ghantasala and Gowtham Bharadwaj. Justin’s tune sounded like the perfect melting point of M.M.Keeravani and A.R.Rahman’s music!

Maha Adhbhutham – Oh Baby (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: The song is something one can easily identify as Mickey’s music! The familiarity is both an advantage and a clutch. And as the anupallavi starts, the sound and tune go so mild that I thought the song was fading to an end! But it picks up tempo again, thankfully! Nutana Mohan’s serene vocals carry the gently sonorous melody.

Vanil Chandrika – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup) – Malayalam: After Ore Kannal, Sooraj strikes again with another winner! Arvind Venugopal’s lead vocals, Zia Ul Haq’s Hindi lines and Sooraj’s own haunting melody coated with the beautifully ambient orchestration! The build-up to the song is slow, steady and seductive, and the chorus by Pavithra Das and Pranavya Das too adds tremendous value!

Aval – Kakshi: Amminippilla (Arun Muraleedharan) – Malayalam: Arun Muraleedharan, of Adventures of Omanakuttan fame, has a better song than his earlier one from this film (Chandam Thikanjoro), even as he shares credit with Samuel Aby. That his melody is easy-on-the-ear with its lush tune is one thing, but where it scores is in Harisankar KS’s singing!

Yenanno Helalu Hogi – Gubbi Mele Brahmastra (Manikanth Kadri) – Kannada: The first song from the film, an odd fusion over Swagatham Krishna, didn’t work for me, this one is more like comfort food! Simple, hummable tune, delivered very well (expectedly) by Karthik. The chorus-like additions in second interlude was an interesting surprise.

Abbabba Ninna Kande – Preethi Irabaaradey (Sabu Varghese & Yelender Mahaveer) – Kannada: While the rest of the soundtrack is generally bad, this one song caught my attention sounding almost like that of Tamil composer Bharadwaj. Catchy and rhythmic, with a very interesting bridge from anupallavi to palavi that literally breaks down the melody. Santhosh Venky’s singing is one reason why the song works. Also interesting to see 2 composers listed for the whole soundtrack – did they compose all the songs together (they haven’t been a duo in the past as far as I recall), or did they compose some songs individually between them?

When You Know What Love Is – Craig David: An energetic melody that’s punctuated well by the equally energetic rhythm and house-style sound.

Ice Cream – Mika: Mika’s new song in 4 years, from his upcoming album, My Name Is Michael Holbrook (releasing in October). The falsetto, the whispery, throaty singing, the stylish pop sound that is straight out of George Michael’s repertoire… this is joyously vintage Mika!

Peace Of Mind, Heaven & Hold The Line: AVICII’s posthumous album Tim is an excellent compilation recalling the producer’s body of work. The bounce in the album, across multiple tracks and the vibrant, innovative musical flourishes (particularly in songs like Excuse Me Mr Sir and Hold The Line) are a testimony to the late DJ’s legacy. (Since I had earlier included SOS and Tough Love in Weeklies, not repeating them here).

Walk Me Home – P!nk: I first heard the song in the trailer of the upcoming film Peanut Butter Falcon and I was smitten with the ‘Walk me home in the dead of night’ hook!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 77: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
21 songs this week. JioSaavn playlist has 19 and is missing Yaminiyaai from Neermathalam Poothakaalam (I have embedded the full soundtrack jukebox below) and Ee Kshaname from Malli Malli Chusa (YouTube song embedded below). YouTube playlist has 16 songs.

Jugraafiya – Super 30 (Ajay-Atul) – Hindi: The waltz’y backdrop, the retro flourish in the rhythm and the delightfully sweeping strings – what a lovely song by Ajay-Atul! And I believe ‘Jugraafiya’ is the Bhojpuri version of Geography 🙂

Madaari – The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir (Amit Trivedi) – Hindi: Madaari is Amit channeling his inner R.D.Burman and it works beautifully! Less so, in Tamil, despite very impressive singing by Benny Dayal – in Hindi, with Vishal Dadlani’s mighty impressive singing, the lively song is a fantastic listen!

Pehla Pyaar – Kabir Singh (Vishal Mishra) – Hindi: After Bekhayali, I lost interest in Kabir Singh’s music since the other singles released were, to put it mildly, meh! Thankfully, Vishal Misra redeems the soundtrack with his 2nd song (after Kaise Hua), Pehla Pyaar. Armaan Malik’s singing is emphatic and affecting, as much as Irshad Kamil’s simple, evocative lines. Besides the mukhda, the antara has a particularly lovely tune, with a wonderfully lilting bridge to the mukhda’s Pehla Pyaar hook!

Naina Yeh & Intezaari – Article 15 (Piyush Shankar & Anurag Saikia) – Hindi: It is both baffling and very odd that these 2 songs, composed by 2 different composers, sound so much like Adnan Sami’s music; Naina Yeh, in particular, that sounds straight out of Adnan Sami’s Tera Chehra. Intezaari is less Adnan, but when the rhythm/tabla starts, your mind goes back to Adnan’s musical style! 🙂 Both are fantastic songs, however. The former gains enormously from Yaseer Desai and Aakanksha Sharma’s singing. Intezaari, with its 3 versions, expands on the melody’s canvas! Armaan Malik’s version is the best, in my view. Ayushmann’s unplugged version strips the rhythm layer completely and his vocals make a huge difference in bringing another facet of the same melody. Asees Kaur’s 3rd version is yet another dimension to the same tune, with a tinge of pathos and stupendously stylish singing by her.

Udhal Ho – Malaal (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) – Hindi/Marathi: Lively, lilting and catchy song by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Adarsh Shinde nails the ebullient singing and helps the song get its verve. That opening music that plays elsewhere in the song too reminded me of something else and I was trying to get it. Finally, I was able to make the connection – “Ye Uska Style Hoinga, Honthon Pe Na Dil Mein Haan Hoinga” 🙂

Vivasayam – Anthony Daasan (Tamil): A searing wake-up call on the death of farming and farm lands. The lyrics yearn for an age long gone wistfully and Anthony’s voice carries that pain so evocatively. The music is pounding, almost as if at least the pounding would wake us all up from the stupor! The tune is familiar Tamil folk, something that A R Rahman used in Kizhakku Cheemayile’s Kathaazhankaattu Vazhi.

Thanimai Siraiyinil & Vaa Penney – Siragu (Arrol Corelli) – Tamil: Thanimai Siraiyinil evokes pleasant memories of a Rahman of yore, with Sadhna Sargam in tow! The melody is so gentle and frothy, with Arrol’s beautifully realized music never wavering from the light feel. And Vidhya Hariprasanth is absolutely stunning with the singing, handling it with such poise! Some of the notes towards the end that go off track are particularly fantastic! The energetic Vaa Penney is good enough, but perhaps needed some other singer besides Arrol, though Saptaparna Chakraborty is very good.

Kadhal Megham – Mazhai Saaral (Yaadhav Ramalinkgam) – Tamil: Wow!! That was a completely unexpected throwback to the Ilayaraja style of the 80s! Fantastic tune and music combo with a delightful classical touch – did I sense Gowrimanohari raga? The start of the anupallavi particularly harks back to “Maalai andhi maalai indha veLai moghame” from Raja’s evergreen Bhoopaalam Isaikkum, from Thooral Ninnu Pochu!

Unaalathaan & Neeyum Naanum – Sindhubaadh (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: I didn’t like the obviously-flashy Rockstar Robber, but Yuvan had a great song in Nenje Unakkaaga, last week. And he follows it up with 2 equally good songs! Unaalathaan is every bit the lush, hugely likeable slow burner that Yuvan is an expert in creating! In Al Rufiyan and Priya Mali’s voices, and the enchanting music in the backdrop, that song just works instantly. Santhosh Venky is brilliant in Neeyum Naanum, another expansive melody. The way Yuvan concocts the anupallavi, made up of one word per line, is lovely! This is Yuvan doing what he does best!

Naalo Maimarapu & Changu Bhala – Oh Baby (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: Both the songs carry that quintessential Mickey J Meyer signature that you can easily identify… and relish! Mohana Bhogaraju is absolutely delightful in handling Mickey’s feathery tune in Naalo Maimarapu, while Nutana Mohan offers a different perspective in Changu Bhala, with the tune’s ebullience never moving to loud but still remaining liltingly enjoyable!

Title song – Ninu Veedani Needanu Nene (Thaman S) – Telugu: Thaman template, but works 🙂 The musical palette is so very familiar and identifiable as Thaman’s, and yet, it continues to be alluring!

Naaku Nuvvani – Mallesham (Mark K Robin) – Telugu: I wasn’t that taken to the first song (Dhana Dhana Dhann), but Naaku Nuvvani is a stunning winner!! The biggest problem with the song is that it heartbreakingly short! It is so soft and mellifluous that you want it to last longer, to soak into it a bit more. And the background music (keyboard, in particular) is shockingly (happily!) Ilayaraja’ish!

Ee Kshaname – Malli Malli Chusa (Shravan Bharadwaj) – Telugu: Shravan has 2 new songs this week. One is from the new Dr.Rajashekar starrer Kalki (the song, Horn Pom Pom Okay Please) – it is a painfully pointless item song. But in Malli Malli Chusa’s Ee Kshaname, Shravan lives up to his promise. If only he controlled the urge to sing it too, and had got a better singer (he sounds a bit like Yuvan!), this Yuvan-style melody would have reached another level.

Ore Kannal – LUCA (Sooraj S Kurup) – Malayalam: After last year’s completely-ignored Tamil soundtrack, Vandi, Sooraj is back! And what a comeback it is! Ore Kannal is a sweeping canvas, with a profusion of singers (Nandhagopan, Anju Joseph, Neethu Naduvathettu, Sooraj S Kurup), revolving around what sounds like just one extended pallavi playing amidst scintillating and pulsating music!

Yaminiyaai – Neermathalam Poothakaalam (Sheron Roy Gomez) – Malayalam: I had written about 3 fantastic songs from this soundtrack earlier in February and March this year. The makers of the film have finally released the full soundtrack and it has 9 songs, featuring 3 composers. But it looks like they knew the best songs (the 3 released earlier: Anivaga Poothoren, Chenthamara Poovin & Vennilavin Thaliralle) since the rest pale in comparison! The one saving grace is Yaaminiyaai, and that is mainly because of Agam-frontman Harish Sivaramakrishnan’s effervescent singing!

Title song – Mogra Phulaalaa (Rohit Shyam Raut) – Marathi: A calming, classical/ghazal’ish melody that an expert singer like Shankar Mahadevan completely owns. Rohit’s tune is so intricate that it demands active attention at every turn.

Nachya Got A Girlfriend – Girlfriend (Hrishikesh-Saurabh-Jasraj) – Marathi: One more reason for the Marathi musical duo to get a national stage, beyond just Marathi film music! The song’s fun tonal change kept me hooked and smiling all through.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 76: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
20 songs this week. YouTube has 19 of them and is missing only Padipoyanetho from Hippi. JioSaavn has 15 songs and is missing the 4 songs from Wind Of Change Season 5 and Jeevante Jeevanay, from Sameer. I have also embedded the original Bangla versions of the 4 Wind Of Change Season 5 songs listed below, for context. The newer versions are anyway in the YouTube playlist.

Vakratunda Mahakaaya – Flute Navin: From Think Music’s new line-up called Think Divine. What starts out as a pop song, given how versatile Ganesha is as a God when it comes to music, picks up pace when Navin introduces his flute.

Angrezi Luv Shuv – The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir (Amit Trivedi) – Hindi: A harmless melody that is so very Amit Trivedi. I didn’t like the Tamil version sung by Dhanush himself, as much as the Hindi one.

Nee Illama – 7UP Madras Gig (Ghibran) – Tamil: A surprisingly sobering melody, though punctuated by that lovely electronic musical phrase that plays almost contrastingly to the core melody. Considering other composers have largely produced fun, catchy songs in this series, it’s quite a surprise Ghibran picking this mild a melody. It does sound fantastic, in his own voice.

Nenja Unakaga – Sindhubaadh (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: What starts out as a by-the-numbers melody by Yuvan breaks out beautifully in the ‘Othanela KeNikulla’ line by Haricharan. From then on, the song takes a life of its own and easily stands out.

Hey Zara – Ben Human (Tamil): After a couple of cover songs (incl. Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You and Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like), and a couple of originals that had more of Harris Jayaraj’s influence (Konjam Kovatha Koraiamma and Meendum Thedi Vanthaen), Ben Human hits the big time, moving away from his own release of music to Sony Music! The production and video are bigger and better now, and the song, with a catchy ‘Hey Zara’ hook, is a nice listen too, sounding a bit like Rahman’s early music.

Padipoyanetho – Hippi (Nivas K Prasanna) – Telugu: Now that the film has released and is a certified turkey, I feel bad for Nivas’s Telugu debut. The film’s decent-enough music could be washed away by the film’s commercial prospects, or the lack of it. Padipoyanetho is a good song too, and joins Hey Yela (both versions) and Yevathive, to round off the good work by Nivas. There are a lot of lyrics-less phrases and Haricharan handles his part superbly.

Jeevante Jeevanay – Sameer (Sudeep Palanad) – Malayalam: If I had no seen the composer’s name, I’d guess Shaan Rahman in a heartbeat! Delightful, harmonious melody lifted by Karthik, Sithara Krishnakumar and chorus singers’ singing.

Kaanumbol Ninne – Thamaasha (Rex Vijayan) – Malayalam: Trust Rex to deliver! After the first single by Shahabaz Aman, Rex composes the 2nd song in the Malayalam remake of the Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe. The real hero of the song is the singer – Ashajeevan, with a unique texture in his voice that lifts the song significantly.

Orey Neel Dariya, Aaj Ei Brishtir Kanna Dekhe, Aamay Dekhona & Milon Hobe Koto Dine – Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change (Kaushik Hossain Taposh) – Bangla: The Bangladeshi Coke Studio, called Gaan Bangla’s Wind of Change, produced by Kaushik Hossain Taposh is back for season 5. This season features a whole of Indian artists, including Sivamani, Mandolin U Rajesh, Kailash Kher, Papon, Aditi Singh Sharma among others. Of the 8 songs, my pick includes Orey Neel Dariya, with Papon holding sway with his incredible singing, offering a beautifully realized tribute to Abdul Jabbar’s original. The guitar and Jalal’s flute, in particular, are lovely. Papon does very well in Aaj Ei Brishtir Kanna Dekhe too, a closer-to-original tribute to Lucky Akhond’s tune sung by Ustad Niaz Md. Chowdhury. Aamay Dekhona, a flamboyant Latino melody by Lucky Akhond, gets a snazzy recreation featuring Aditi Singh Sharma, who completely owns the rendition, diva-style. Lalon Shah Fakir’s Milon Hobe Koto Dine is perfect for Kailash Kher’s singing style and he relishes the melody like only he can.

OREY NEEL DORIYA (ORIGINAL):

AAJ EI BRISHTIR KANNA DEKHEY (ORIGINAL):

AAMAY DEKONA (ORIGINAL):

MILON HOBEY KOTO DINEY (ORIGINAL):

One Less Day, I Love It, Breathe Out, Worst In Me, The Man To Hold The Water, Timeless, Early In The Morning & Tomorrow – Chip Tooth Smile (Rob Thomas): One Less Day (Dying Young) is a song about living, despite calling it ‘Dying Young’. Loaded with pulsating chorus and an anthemic interlude, this is vintage Rob. I Love It has a superb guitar layer and Rob contorting his voice a bit more. The mellow Breathe Out, Worst In Me and The Man To Hold The Water take a leaf out of George Michael’s ballads and that George Michael signature is accentuated in Timeless where Rob goes, ‘I’ll be your father figure, I’ll be your Major Tom…’, with a catchy tune and hook straight out of 80s rock. Early In The Morning, melodically, reminded me of (of all things!!) Nickelback’s Rockstar, while Tomorrow took me back to Phil Collins’ Another Day In Paradise. In all, an excellent follow-up to Cradle Song and North!

Listen to the songs on Filmcompanion.

Tuesday June 4, 2019

Top 10 Telugu songs of May 2019

See the list and listen to the songs on Filmcompanion.

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