Ramesh Vinayakam retrospective

Ramesh Vinayagam-1

Considering I have been tracking (and eventually writing about) Tamil and other film music in India, have always, at various points in time, felt that some composer was promising, besides those who ruled the roost at those times. VS Narasimhan, Vidyasagar, Adithyan, Balabarathy… back in those days. And many of the new composers these days. Some of them go on to do really well (like Vidyasagar) across other languages too, and many of them vanish (Adithyan and VS Narasimhan are good examples, though the former started cooking more often on TV!) after a big burst.

Amongst those who seemed massively promising and continue to exist in the brink is Ramesh Vinayakam. Everybody seems very hopeful about him, people want to like his music, but something goes wrong somewhere when it comes to success. I had judged his Ramanujan as the best soundtrack of 2014, and deservedly so. But the man has been active since 1989, if you were unaware. He started as Narendranath, in Telugu and produced music for 3 films directed by Mouli. What is remarkable is how much his music sounds like Ilayaraja’s (not that it is a badge of honor, though, given that imitation is the best form of flattery). But those 3 films had very good music.

It is also interesting to note the musical sense changing in his work, albeit gradually. Take for instance, Namansulo from Manchi Roju. You hear the piano in the beginning and you could swear it was by MM Keeravani! Mind you – Keeravani debuted in 1990 and Manchi Roju was 1991. Is it that Ramesh was trying to emulate the sounds of those times? I don’t know.

1995’s Aunty had a high-energy song Dimba dimbaro that could fit in any Vidyasagar-composed Telugu potboiler! In fact, Ramesh ended his Telugu innings with a pretty bad soundtrack for Raghava Lawrence’s debut – the 1999 film Speed Dancer.

Then, Ramesh moved completely to Tamil, starting with the single Thottu thottu from Vasanth’s multi-composer album Yai Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke and produced consistently good music, largely. Azhagiya Theeye’s Vizhigalin aruginil remains my favorite Ramesh Vinayagam song, followed by Thuli thuliyai from Ramanujan and Aasaiyaparu from Mosakutty.

Mainstream success continues to elude Ramesh Vinayakam like a life-long curse, but the man is talented, at least in my opinion. So, here’s an attempt to unearth and expose some of his good music.

Related watch: Ramesh talking about his career in this Jaya TV interview, including the point about MM Keeravani, Vidyasagar, A R Rahman and Mani Sharma working with him!

Ponge yevvanam – Paila Pacheesu
Naa chaithra geethame – Paila Pacheesu
Namanasulo – Manchi Roju
Oohallo aavesam – Manchi Roju
Sogasula ranive – Manchi Roju
Tam tam kotti – Manchi Roju (not available on YouTube)
Dimba dimbaro – Aunty
Nenje thullippo – University
Enna idhu – Nala Damayanthi
Vizhigalin aruginil – Azhagiya Theeye
Dil mera – Azhagiya Theeye (not available on YouTube; listen on Raaga)
Yen swaasathil – Jerry
Yaarodum – Sollakathai (not available on YouTube)
Thuli thuliyai – Ramanujan
Vinkadantha – Ramanujan
Narayana narayana – Ramanujan
Aasaiyaparu Aasaiya – Mosakutty
Kalla Payalae Payalae – Mosakutty
Vada Dai Enpurusa – Mosakutty
Mosakutty – Mosakutty (not available on YouTube)