Welcome to Tamil cinema, Justin Prabhakaran!

Recent earworm: The song from Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum – Onakkaaga Poranthaenae!

Totally addicted to the lovely tune, enough to write about it in a separate entry! From whatever limited memory I have, we have very few period-transition songs in Indian films… where a song starts with one period in time (the kind of music associated with that period), and moves to another.

The first I recall is Parthiban Kanavu’s Bak Bak Bak which had 3 distinct periods in terms of picturization and musical cues (from Tamil cinema). Good effort from Vidyasagar.

Then there was the Kannada song from Govindaya Namaha – Pyarge Aagbittaite – which mixed a dated Urdu sound with a more modern sound admirably well. Music by Gurukiran.

In Onakkaaga poranthaenae, since I’m yet to see the song picturization, I’m not sure if there are visual cues to depict the transition, but I find the two segments to be handled really well – though I do have a huge soft corner for the 2nd part, sung by SPB Charan and Anu Anand.

To me, it reminds me not so much of Ilayaraja’s 80s/90s style – it does, this IS very much his sound – but more of how Deva interpreted and delivered Raja’s sound. For instance, in films like En Aasai Machan, Deva created a sound that was so much like Ilayaraja, but he also had something on his own that I cannot place my fingers on – it was not as polished (wrong word, I know, but not able to get a grip on what it is) as Raja’s music, but was at the same time very tuneful and beautifully orchestrated (in songs like Rasidhaan kai raasidhaan or Karuppu nila). Deva has been called ‘Poor Man’s Ilayaraja’ for a reason – even in one of his earliest hits from Vaikaasi Porandhaachu… Chinna ponnudhaan, this Raja sound was evident.

Back to Pannaiyaarum… the other version of this song (Enakkaaga porandhaaye) is sans this 2-phase and transition and plays out straight like a classic Raja song. When the violins start playing in the 1st interlude, I can almost picture Rajinikanth in white and white, with his hands in the pocket walking amidst greenery in his usual style (like in Malaayala Karayoram). And that ‘Lai lai lai’ phrase by SPB Charan… lovely!! This son of SPB is severely under-rated and under-utilized, despite having stand-out songs like ‘Kaadhal Sadugudu’ from Alaipaayuthey!

Also, I look forward to a LOT from this composer, Justin Prabhakaran, where he impresses with a sound of his own and not entirely depending on nostalgia from Raja to impress – I don’t mind it at all in this song, however!

PS: As ‘MusicallyAVI’ adds in the comments section, Ajay Atul have a Marathi song from Aga Bhai Arechha – Kunjawanatil Sunder Rani – that could possibly fit into the period-transition list. But honestly, I found it to be a visual period-transition than anything based on tune – the tunes for each period are completely different and so is the lyrics. Visually, they progress across periods, but musically, this song is vastly unlike Bak bak or Pyarge, where the same lyrics and tune were transitioned across 2 different periods. For record’s sake, here’s the Marathi song, however.

PS2: Kiran Kumar Bandiatmakur asks (in the comments) why Dil Chahta Hai’s Woh Ladki Hai Kahan cannot be included in this list. I find only one tune in the song which doesn’t musically differentiate periods. There is visual split, however – but the music is seamless across the periods IMO. But adding it here, for the record!