Saturday September 10, 2022

Milliblog Weeklies, Week 196 – September 11, 2022

Posted by Karthik

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 196: On Spotify | On YouTube
11 songs this week! All the songs are available on YouTube, but Spotify is missing the song from ŠKODA Deccan Beats. It’s a bit surprising because it is on Sony, a label that usually gets its act together very well in terms of streaming availability.

Sol, Devaralan Aattam, Alaikadal & Ratchasa Maamaney – Ponniyin Selvan (PS-1) (A R Rahman) – Tamil: After the 2 songs that I have written about already (Ponni Nadhi and Chola Chola), the full soundtrack is finally out.

Sol is unusually shorter than not just the other songs but also the conventional song length if you consider the song situation – a between-the-girls song mainly between Kundhavai (Trisha) and Vaanathi (Sobhita Dhulipala). Rahman keeps the background aesthetically mild given that they are most probably traveling in a boat since you can hear the sound of the water and birds. The opening vocal humming effortlessly harks back to the 50s Tamil film music though the actual tune is decidedly more modern—and pleasant—with a very stylized and unexpected second ‘Sol’ in every line.

Devaralan Aattam is what you get when Rahman visits his own Veerapaandi Kottayile (1993), with the evolution of 3 decades of composing, musical exposure, and most importantly, age! In place of the former’s predictable and comfortable flow, there’s more abstract tune-making, but the basic aura and grandeur remain! Ratchasa Maamaney, in comparison, has a closer precursor – Kedakkari, from Raavanan! Shreya Ghoshal holds fort like only she can magnificently till the vocals start flowing freely much like the Raavan song – ‘Hey Maapla’ vs. ‘Hey Maama’! Palakad Sreeram and Mahesh Vinayakram are really good in this portion, even as Shreya keeps reminding us of her presence.

Alaikadal is perhaps the best song on the soundtrack; or at least as good as Ponni Nadhi! Kalki’s novel informs the reader that Poonguzhali’s (the boat woman) song is very beautiful and exotic. Rahman’s melody aims in that zone with a deeply melodic appeal, wonderfully accentuated by Antara Nandy’s singing. Even in this song, it feels like Rahman was trying to bring in the 50s Tamil cinema music, like Sol.

While Rahman’s music within the movie construct of Ponniyin Selvan is very, very good, I do wish Mani Ratnam had explored more period-contextual musical cues for Rahman to work on. For instance, the Chozha kings referred to in the novel are known to be extremely passionate and generous patrons of the verses and music of Thevaram, devoted to Shiva. And then, considering one of the crucial characters—Aazhwaarkadiyaan Nambi aka Thirumalai (played by Jayaram)—happens to be a deeply devout Vaishnavite, there are so many Vaishnavite musical and lyrical cues in the novel. Both these are missing in the soundtrack.

At the same time, Chozha kings were also supportive of other religions like Jainism and Buddhism (Arul Mozhi Varman/Raaja Raaja Chozhan’s period in Sri Lanka, when he is asked to be the king of the island by a Buddhist sect is an integral part of the novel). These are very, very rich music cues that I hope finds a part at least in the subsequent part of the film. Overall, while I did enjoy the music of Ponniyin Selvan 1 as an enjoyable modern musical soundtrack, I do wish Mani Ratnam had also offered cues to Rahman to depict the religiosity of the period, an integral part of the original books.

Veera Soora – Naane Varuvean (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: It looks like Yuvan reserves something special for Selvaraghavan. The sound he has concocted in this song is captivating, with a haunting Middle Eastern twang. The singing part is limited and Yuvan’s minimal singing, turned out mostly into a chorus-style, works pretty well in this context.

Thani Maramai – Buffoon (Santhosh Narayanan) – Tamil: This is the kind of melody that Santhosh usually calls Pradeep Kumar to sing – you know instantly the kind of song for that combo. Surprisingly, Aditya Ravindran sings this very-Pradeep’ish song, along with Pavithra Ramesh. It’s gorgeous, with a haunting ‘Ooo ooo’ refrain that stays long after the song is over.

Life Ante Challenge – ŠKODA Deccan Beats (Alphons Joseph, Karthik Devaraj) – Telugu: ŠKODA Deccan Beats was launched in February as a talent hunt with mentors like Andrea Jeremiah (Tamil), Geetha Madhuri (Telugu), Sithara Krishnakumar (Malayalam), and Raghu Dixit (Kannada). Of the 3 songs released so far, two are in Telugu (including one featuring Tamil artist Bhavna Balakrishnan singing in Telugu) and one in Malayalam. I’m assuming the Tamil and Kannada songs are yet to be released. Of the 3, Life Ante Challenge works easily (compared to the other two songs that are at best middling), thanks to Alphons’ catchy music (fresh from Sundari Gardens’ excellent music), though the singing (Sony & Adviteeya) is functional.

Mabali Vanne – Onam Song (Gopi Sundar) – Malayalam: Imagine a very-typically likeable, sedate melody that Gopi composes usually in Telugu. That’s the precise template he uses in this Onam song. Along with Amritha Suressh’s impressive singing, the tune, the orchestration… everything works!

Melleyenne – Ini Utharam (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: Hesham is having a pretty good year, with Hridhayam and Mike stopping the output so far. Melleyenne is a relatively predictable and simple melody, but not without its charm. The Gujarati start is a pleasant surprise. KS Harisankar can hardly ever go wrong with a melody like this, and he is such an important element in making this song appealing.

Megharajana Raaga – Monsoon Raaga (J Anoop Seelin) – Kannada: After the Raaga Sudha song, Anoop impresses yet again! The 2 songs are poles apart, and this one has Anoop’s trademark-style melody that Arvind Venugopal seems perfect for the vocals. K J Dilip’s violin is the other Anoop-style highlight.

Out of Love – Raashi Sood, The Raja Kumari, produced by Hiten (Punjabi): Working with Rashi and Raja Kumari’s folksy tune, Hiten produces a very cool synth sound in the tune. Raashi’s folk’ish part plays very well with the contrasting hiphop phrases from Raja Kumari.

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