Originally published in The Hindu.
Manogatham bhavaan – Anuraga Karikkin Vellam (Malayalam – Prashant Pillai)
Prashant Pillai, who delivered an outstanding song in Chandrettan Evideya’s Vasanthamallike last year, has been on an odd slide in form with middling soundtracks like Andhra Mess, Double Barrel and Rockstar. In Manogatham, he picks up his form back! It’s Coldplay’ish sound, wonderfully endearing melody and splendid singing by Haricharan, and Mathangi in particular make it a fantastic listen. Not just that – Prashant adds a lovely layer of sax to the song that makes it all the more appealing.
Rasaali – Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (Tamil – A R Rahman)
Rasaali should ideally be Raasaali, since it refers to the bird Accipiter badius, else it risks being misread as rastaali. But the song is gorgeous – a sprawling, spritely duet with Satya Prakash and Shashaa Tirupati in mind-boggling form (the latter, particularly in that goosebumps-inducing Ninnukori piece!) for its conversation-style lyrics. Rahman also is in the mood to throw in everything from Patnam Subramania Iyer’s Valachi Vachi Varnam in the first interlude and a delightful Muthai Thiru-inspired anupallavi to produce a highly inventive cocktail.
Jhanak jhanak – Run Antony (Kannada – Manikanth Kadri)
Jhanak jhanak is clever imagination by Manikanth Kadri! His tune is a nifty ode to Pankaj Mullick’s iconic Piya milan ko jana (Kapal Kundala, 1939!) no doubt, but he appropriates it in a completely modern, playful avatar, complete with blaring horns and more retro-style flourishes. Manikanth also ropes in the resident one-song highlight of Kannada film music—Puneeth Rajkumar—to grace the song and the Rajkumar scion, with his casual singing style, does complete justice to it.
Raa rammantunna – Rojulu Marayi (Telugu – J.B.)
Back when Ilayaraja was in his peak, you could, by listening to a song, make out if the song was about making out, to put it mildly. It was perhaps a combination of raagas (certain raagas had Shringara rasa oozing out of them anyway) and specific instruments that led to this familiarity. J.B. makes tantalizing use of Dharmavathi raaga to create a similar instant familiarity in Raa rammantunna – you listen to it and you inherently understand that the film’s leads are compelled to indulge in acts barred by Pahlaj Nihalani. Hymath and Ramya Behara do a wonderful job of sticking to the song’s feel.
Veera thurandhara – Kabali (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
In the largely un-Rajini soundtrack of Kabali, there’s a very Kamal Haasan’y song too! Yes… Veera thurandhara, headlined by Gana Bala in a very un-Gala Bala’ish way, is a curiously alluring mix of a Bond theme song (imagine a Bond theme song sung by Gana Bala!!) and Vikram’s title song! It’s a highly enjoyable mix for its sheer audacity and for the joy of waiting for Bala to go (he doesn’t, of course), at any point, ‘Per sollattum, en per sollattum… radhagaja padai engum sellum, vinnai vellum; vaanum mannum A-HAA…!’.