Originally published in The Hindu.
Azhagae – Kathakali (Tamil – Hiphop Tamizha)
There’s so much of Yuvan Shankar Raja in Azhagae… and then something more. Something about the way Adhi (one half of Hiphop Tamizha, which, unlike the singular name, is a duo!)—perhaps that nasal twang—makes it Yuvan-like. The tune is right up the composing duo’s alley, with an interesting, seemingly never ending tune that does away with conventional structures. The other intriguing facet is the pronunciation – the lyrics are in fairly clean Tamil, but the way Adhi pronounces ‘bayam’ and ‘sugam’ is the colloquial way—’bayo(n)’ and ‘sugo(n)’—that adds a casual edge to it!
Manasantha meghamai – Kalyana Vaibhogame (Telugu – Kalyan Koduri)
M.M.Keeravani’s (Maragadhamani in Tamil and M.M.Kreem in Hindi) lesser known, talented brother has been a silent force in Telugu film music, producing quality stuff mighty consistently. His forte has always been music akin to his brother – pleasant and unhurried melodies, usually with a strong local/native lilt. Manasantha meghamai is a great example – a soft, feathery melody backed by beautiful, almost-constant violins and Chinmayi singing the tune like only she can.
Follow follow – Nannaku Prematho (Telugu – Devi Sri Prasad)
The word ‘follow’ has a vastly different meaning in these days of social media. Junior NTR goes ‘I wanna follow follow follow follow follow follow you’ (yes, six time, every time he sings that line, and he does it a lot of times in the song!) – this may seem like stalking in the real world, but may seem completely natural on say, Twitter! The tune is very Devi Sri Prasad – using a catchy hook endlessly and make a catchy tune of it. But yes, there’s also a tinge of jazz that he adds and that makes a big difference.
Dugg duggi dugg – Jugni (Hindi – Clinton Cerejo)
There was a time when Suresh Wadkar was a regular in soundtracks with music by Vishal Bhardwaj. At some point, Vishal started singing the songs that he would have otherwise handed over to Suresh. Now, Vishal himself gets songs that sound like his style of music, and in Jugni’s case, composed by Clinton Cerejo. The tune is resonant, and complex enough to give it a serious listen to follow its flow. Shellee’s lyrics are contemplative and the combination works pretty well.
Vaa machaney – Irudhi Sutru (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
2016 might well be a showcase year for the talented Santhosh Narayanan, one of the new-age musical trio of Tamil cinema (along with Sean Roldan and V.Pradeep Kumar), given his upcoming films starring Rajinikanth (Kabali) and directed by Karthik Subbaraju (Iraivi). For now, he produces a cracker of a soundtrack in Irudhi Sutri. He craftily mixes foot-tapping kuthu rhythms with a very blues’y tune in Vaa machaney, and Sean Roldan sings it fabulously. But what’s truly interesting is the fact the Santhosh hands the song over to Sunidhi Chauhan, in its Hindi avatar, Saala Khadoos, turning the point of view from male, to female, even as the lyrics primarily portray the female point of view!