Hitman – January 9, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Kaadhal oru sathurangam – Azhagu Kutti Chellam (Tamil – Ved Shanker Sugavanam)
Ved’s tune for Kaadhal oru sathurangam is so soft and velvety that when Chinmayi sings Na.Muthukumar’s imaginative lines briefly comparing love with chess, her voice exudes a certain care, as if the song may feel the pain if she sang any more forcefully. Then there is a generous smattering of a solo violin that beautifully enhances the melody during the interludes. The anupallavi and charanam structures are also reasonably complex that it feels good to unwrap them into familiarity, slowly.

Tere bin – Wazir (Hindi – Shantanu Moitra)
Despite moving into his favorite waltzy territory eventually, Shantanu Moitra does have a winner of a melody in Tere bin. He gets the best duo to sing it—Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Nigam—and they rarely go wrong with a tune like this. The composer also has a lovely ghazal’ish middle portion that goes well with the feel of the song. The only impediment, however, is that the song sounds alarmingly like a rather obscure Malayalam non-film song called, ‘Oru naal arukil’ from the album Oru Naal (2012), with music by Afzal Yusuf.

Masti masti – Nenu Sailaja (Telugu – Devi Sri Prasad)
When Sooraj Santhosh and Shweta Mohan start the anupallavi in Masti masti, it feels like walking into into Ilayaraja’s stellar recent soundtrack for Abbayitho Ammayi (which, incidentally, released alongside this film and was mauled by critics and filmgoers). And there’s that beautiful, short piano note before the anupallavi too! The rest is Devi Sri Prasad, however – a simple, lilting tune with masti written all over it. Devi has a way of using catchy, repetitive sounds that he inserts ad nauseam, and here it’s a whistle like hook that does the honors.

Aattakkaari maaman ponnu – Thaarai Thappattai (Tamil – Ilayaraja)
Aattakkaari maaman ponnu is a Ilayaraja song all the way, a trademark Raja song, if you will. The melody is incredibly engaging, with a soft, soothing and simple orchestration to back it up, but with a wonderfully rich violin and guitar layer that is the veteran’s signature by now. M.M.Manasi and Prasanna’s vocals capture the playful banter between the male and female parts of the song and the anupallavi (and charanam) has a particularly alluring tune. Another noteworthy highlight of the song is the way the anupallavi and charanam end without bridging the opening line (and head straight to the magical interludes), almost teasing us to look for it and smile at the fact that the composer has consciously dropped it!

Thillu mullu – Gethu (Tamil – Harris Jayaraj)
There used to be an age-old, time-tested conceit in Indian films that use twins (better known as double-role) as a plot device. One of the two identical twins distinguishes himself (or herself) with a mole in the cheek and the world around them won’t be able to recognize this character as the one without the mole. Thillu mullu, from Gethu, pulls off something similar, with A R Rahman’s Mersalaayitten, from I. You get that feeling instantly, of it sounding familiar and at some point the light bulbs inside your head switches on and you see Vikram dancing. And then the composer’s standard-issue hook, sung so very enthusiastically by Naresh Iyer, surfaces and ushers you deeper into Harris territory.