Milliblog Weeklies, Week 247 – June 1, 2024

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly, new music playlist.
Week 247: YouTube | Spotify

Back, after a month, considering the last Weeklies was on April 28, 2024! A lot of travel (Dubai, Coimbatore) necessitated this break. Thanks to the long break, the number of songs in this Monthlies-turned-Weeklies is 26! Excellent music to listen to, at that!

Satyanaas – Chandu Champion (Pritam) – Hindi: Pritam seems to have regurgitated his own Gandi Baat and Galti Se Mistake into a heady new concoction 🙂 In the voices of Arijit Singh, Nakash Aziz, and Dev Negi, it all works swimmingly well.

Theera & Mannavan – Election (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: While I’m over the template adopted by Hesham Abdul Wahab already, Govind Vasantha’s standard templates continue to work for me… for now 🙂 For instance, Theera is the precise kind of sound that I would expect from Govind (sung by Kapil Kapilan, for added effect) since it sounds like a milder variant of a standard Thaikkudam Bridge song. And Mannavan is the kind of melody, heavily punctuated by a spritely vocal chorus, that Govind has been producing with alarming consistency in Tamil films. And yet, thanks to the competent vocals by Haricharan and Shwetha Mohan, a lovely turn in the anupallavi, and some excellent instrumental choices, the song comes together beautifully.

Vaada Poda & Paakura Thaakura – Emakku Thozhil Romance (Nivas K Prasanna) – Tamil: While Paakura has a generally likeable, lilting tune (and well sung by Kapil Kapilan, as always), where Nivas scores is in the sound, particularly when he launches Rajhesh Vaidhya’s Veena in the first interlude. Vaada Poda has a more interesting melody, with a lush, guitar-backed tune beautifully handled by Vaishali who sounds a lot like Shreya Ghoshal! Even here, the interludes (Guitars by Naveen Samson Benjamin, Keba Jeremiah) and the anupallavi’s tune stand out!

Neelorpam – Indian 2 (Anirudh) – Tamil: What I have heard from Indian 2 so far has been middling. But Neelorpam seems like the brief from Shankar to Anirudh was, ‘Compose a complex song’ 🙂 And I’m glad that this is sung by Abby V (and Shruthika Samudhrala) and not Sid Sriram (who would be adequately adept for this melody, though way too familiar). The melody is great, most probably based on Desh raagam, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that the song seems labored. It feels pleasant enough but doesn’t flow as naturally as I expected it to.

Adangaatha Asuran – Raayan (A R Rahman) – Tamil: Rahman seems to be channeling the intensity of his own Satrangi Re (Dil Se), and makes it contemporary with a lot of nuances like ‘Bhogi Bhogi Bhogi’, ‘Dum Dum Dum’, ‘Giri Giri Giri’ that come fast and thick!

Theraattam Poguthu – Kurangu Pedal (Ghibran Vaibodha) – Tamil: A simple, likeable melody that harks back to Ghibran’s early form, which itself was mirrored on Rahman’s early form. Take for instance the lines starting with, ‘Nataraja Service Mavan Ivan’ – it goes straight back to Uzhavan’s ‘Siru kaivalai konjidum koiya poo, Aval kaiviral ovvondrum panneer poo…’ from ‘PeNNalla PeNNalla’! Still, a lovely song thanks also to Gold Devaraj’s earthy vocals and nostalgic lines by Bo.Manivannan.

Sooseki – Pushpa 2 The Rule (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: Devi Sri Prasad’s tune is fairly simple, but two things significantly accentuate the effect: one, Shreya Ghoshal’s impeccable singing, and two, DSP’s rhythm sense that comes to the fore in the really addictive, repetitive rhythm layer.

Picchiga Nacchesave – Gam Gam Ganesha (Chaitan Bharadwaj) – Telugu: This energetic, guitar-loaded, highly rhythmic sound seems to have become Chaitan’s calling card, given the consistency with which he produces them. Sounds great here too, what with Anurag Kulkarni’s fantastic singing!

Love Jawan – Nadikar (Yakzan Gary Pereira & Neha S Nair) – Malayalam: While my bar for the music by the duo, Yakzan Gary Pereira and Neha S Nair is fairly high, Nadikar didn’t work for me as much as I liked it to. Besides Kireedam, the only other song that I thought had the stamp of the duo’s musical quality was Love Jawan. The melody has a soft, melancholic tinge that the singers, Sangeeth and Neha S Nair handle beautifully. The song’s other highlight is Nathan’s Clarinet, particularly towards the end where it gets a solo and ends, surprisingly, to Vande Mataram!

Premalola & Choondalanu – Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hrudayahariyaya Pranayakadha (Dawn Vincent) – Malayalam: I recall writing about Dawn Vincent’s songs some time ago on Milliblog, including his Kannada song from Adventures of Omanakuttan, Iblis, and most recently in The Teacher. His music in this really long titled film is definitely interesting, though it probably isn’t consistent. For instance, the period sound he attempts in Choondalanu works brilliantly, getting the right parody’ish tone, but the same doesn’t come together in Changurichalu. Similarly, Premalola gets the vocal chorus-led Western musical style perfectly with excellent singing by composer Sushin Shyam. But another musical’ish attempt in Naadake Nadakam ends up disjoint. And Bonda is the soundtrack’s weakest.

Theerame Thaarage – Jananam 1947 Pranayam Thudarunnu (Govind Vasantha) – Malayalam: That Govind Vasantha sound I referred to earlier while talking about the songs from Election… this is it! Both songs are sung by Kapil Kapilan, and the tunes are vastly different. But structurally, they seem similar, with a gorgeous high-pitched take-off that is something I recognize as Govind’s signature.

Nee Nee Nee – Andrea Jeremiah x Abby V x MS Jones (Tamil/Indipop): The tune by MS Jones and Abby V sounded a bit like early Harris Jayaraj and has a wonderfully pleasant ring, particularly the ‘Nee Nee Nee’ hook. But more than the melody, this song is constructed on the twostar singers as their showcase of a duet. And both Andrea and Abby V do a terrific job! Good to see Abby V going places, at least – this song and the new song from Indian 2. Well deserved!

Athavaninno – Nisarg Patil (Marathi/Indipop): Nisarg’s composition and music reminded me of early Rahman’s music, specifically Indira’s Nila Kaaigiradhu! Is there a Hamir Kalyani connection that made me remember the older song, I wonder. It’s a lovely tune though, with Nisarg Patil and Aarya Ambekar holding the soothing melody impressively.

One Day God – Sid Sriram (English/Pop): This is an incredibly bold idea because Sid sings English verse the way he’d sing Tamil! Listen to him sing ‘When will we learn’ the second time, at 01:57 and you would swear that you are not hearing English! But it works wonderfully since Sid brings the best of both worlds because he is proficient across both genres. This is fusion of a very different kind!

Ranjani, Harivaa Jhari, Summaniru, Nee, Jaathre, Search, Kannada, Chasing The Horizon, Where It All Began – Vari (Varijashree Venugopal) – Kannada/Indipop: Ranjani holds a spell-binding raaga exposition by Varijashree, with brilliant support by Béla Fleck on the Banjo, though I heard more of Dharmavathi raaga (Ranjani is the janya of Dharmavathi anyway) than Ranjani per se. This is especially explicit at 3:06 when Varijashree’s alapanai gets closest to the alapanai towards the end of Azhagan’s Thathithom! Fantastic listen, in all aspects.

In Harivaa Jhari too, the music turns up a particularly powerful wail-like sound at 1:42, much like how it did at the 2-minute mark in Ranjani. I assume Michael League and his Moog Matriarch is the reason behind this haunting sound. But this song goes several steps ahead, particularly in terms of the use of the vocal harmonies, and the effortlessly beautiful Thavil (Thavil Raja) and Nadaswaram (Dakshinamurty) duet towards the end.

I recall listening to a recital of Purandara Dasa’s Summaniru Manave on her YouTube page 2 years ago, where she sings while playing the guitar. But the tune she has used in the album version of Summaniru is vastly different. The earlier one seemed like the standard tune (possibly PanthuvaraLi based) that was very calm and inward looking, while the new one has a vastly different tune, with a powerful callout (of Summaniru Manave), with an energetic folk percussion to go with it. And then there’s Rajhesh Vaidhya eclectic Veena interlude that completely rules that segment!

Nee is perhaps the most accomplished song of the album when it comes to the use of vocal harmony- it is mesmerizing! The Shehnai section does make the song sound like a Bidaai melody, though.

Jaathre is my favorite from the album, with Varijashree exploring Hemavati raaga to stupendous effect, with the almost hypnotic music racing along with her splendid singing. Search and Kannada are the most accessible song in terms of the simple, instantly appealing melodies where the former is also beautifully accentuated by Rajhesh Vaidhya’s Veena. In Kannada, the vocal harmony is outstanding!

In Chasing the Horizon, while Varijashree explores Vagulabharanam raaga, she has stellar support from both Brazilian jazz musician Hamilton de Holanda on the Bandolim (his playing is truly, truly astounding!), and bassist Victor Wooten. This track is as world music as it can get, in this album.

Where It All Began closes the album on a serene note, situating the Hamsadhwani raaga Lambodara amidst a dreamy vocal chorus!

I recall listening to Varijashree’s singing in Ricky Kej’s world music (that won Grammys). Ricky Kej’s music does not work for me at all, unlike say, the world music produced by Sandeep Chowta. But Varijashree, with her debut album, proves to be a far more observant and imaginative composer, beyond just singing. Her soundscapes are magnificent, and together with her singing and global musical influences, Vari is a proficient debut album!