(A post by Viju)
In these 20 years, A.R.Rahman has introduced many a singer, re-introduced a few more, and made us rediscover a hidden singer in many of them. I hope to write about that soon, but this post will have the singer duet combinations, both conventional and unconventional. And a lot of these duet combinations made me crave for more songs from the duo. And Rahman surely didn’t disappoint me, in most cases.
This list, as always, is ever growing and is definitely not complete. Also, this is mostly based on the combinations that struck a chord with me. Feel free to add the singer duos/combos that I might have missed.
And in many cases, the songs with a certain duo appear to have been recorded in a certain time frame, maybe around the same time and Rahman hasn’t gone back to the pair after that. Evolving times, perhaps? 🙂
Be it Vennilave (Minsaara Kanavu) or Udhaya Udhaya (Udhaya), specifically the latter, Sadhana and Hariharan competed with each other, and yet complimented each other so well. In fact, Sadhana went on to say Udhaya is one of the toughest songs she’d sung in her career. The duo did sing many many other memorable non-ARR duets both in Hindi and Tamil. Perhaps, this is my favorite duo of all time. They also had a recent duet in Endhiran/Robot (Arima Arima), which did have some brilliant orchestration. But it did lacked some of the usual sheen from the duo.
Interesting duet combo which also has the distinction of being the only duo to have voiced for the same actress in the a single song, twice. Once for Aishwarya Rai in Ishq Bina (Taal) and another for Anu Hassan in Achamillai (Indira). And they did sing Ishwar Allah (1947 Earth) together. They also rendered Revival – Vande Mataram tofether (via @ursmusically).
The ‘En Kann Paarthadhu, En Kai Serumo’ and ‘Oru Kannil Neer Kasiya, Udhattu Vazhi Uyir Kasiya’ parts of Kandukonden (Kandukonden) and Kurukku Chiruthavale (Mudhalvan), both by Mahalakshmi Iyer, gave an interesting dimension to the songs that Hariharan started off. Definitely the dream of any singer to sing alongside Hariharan. And Mahalakshmi aced it and how!
Making a debut in two languages with the same singer is a rarity these days. And by getting noticed for both songs Mayilirage (Ah Aah) and Tu Bin Bataye (Rang De Basanti), Naresh Iyer had the biggest debut in recent years (with Roobaroo included). As you’ll see later in the post with another duo, this had a perfect blend of rawness and sweetness.
While I wonder why the chirpy and versatile Chitra Sivaraman didn’t sing a lot more songs, along with Karthik she sure got three of the best duets in the early 2000s, including Karthik’s debut song. With Nendhikitten (Star), Ale Ale (Boys), and Anarkali (Kangalal Kaithu Sei), Rahman explored three very different territories with this duo. And they sure did make a mark in all three. The non-linearity of Anarkali specifically is a thing to watch out for.
Not particularly a favorite of many people that I know of, this duo had the Serendipity-sque Santhippoma (Enakku 20 Unakku 18) and Ennuyir Thozhiye (Kangalal Kaithu Sei). And the latter is one among my favorite duets of all time. And I can’t help but imagine how Sahana Saraal (Sivaji) would have sounded with Unni Menon rendering instead of Udit Narayan.
As Srinivas himself said in a decade old TV interview on how he was asked by Rahman to cut through Sadhana’s mellifluous voice in Snehidhane (Alaipayuthey), it was indeed interesting to see how the otherwise-soft singer sounded different in the song. And the combination returned to give us the evergreen Anbe Sugama and Azhage Sugama in Paarthaale Paravasam, with the feeling of ‘longing/yearning’ rendered by both of them so well. And interestingly, Snehidhane was also about ‘yearning for a secret friend’.
Alka Yagnik/Udit Narayan
While this combination has had many many non-ARR duet songs to their credit from early 90s and were easily the SPB-S Janaki (of 80s Kollywood) equivalent of 90s Bollywood, Rahman ensured that they sounded refreshing in Hai Na (Zubeidaa), O Rey Chori (Lagaan), Maahi Ve/Jogiya Re (The Legend of Bhagat Singh) among few others.
This duo has had many songs to their credit, with the most memorable ones being Then Merku (Karuthamma) and Thirakkatha (En Swaasa Katre), both being a nature-themed song. And how well they both nailed it, especially Chitra in the latter!
This is one of my favorites combinations from late 80s itself, and imagine my delight when I heard their version of Kannamoochi Enada (Kandukonden Kandukoden). A perfect combination of experience, versatility and class!
Saving the combinations involving the person himself for the end:
The humming between the charanams in Kabhi Neem Neem (Yuva), Sandai Kozhi (Aayitha Ezhuthu), and Marudhaani (Sakkarakatti) would definitely not have sounded the same without the Man himself voicing those. The mild rawness in ARR’s voice and the saccharinity (and the naughtiness, in Kabhi Neem/Sandai Kozhi) in Madhushree’s voice blended really well. Co-incidence or not, this singer jodi ranks among my favorite jodis of all time. And they did recently have a proper duet, Sharminda Hoon from Ekk Deewana Tha.
The ‘Kya Bataoon Maa, Kahaan Hoon Main,’ following Lata(ji)’s voice in Lukka Chuppi (Rang De Basanti) still induces goosebumps in me. Every single time I listen to the song. Divine combination this! And the duo voicing the swaras at the end (ri ga ri ga sa sa… part) together, simply short of words to describe that!
PS: A few of the duet singer combinations I left out: Chitra-Hariharan (Malargale – Love Birds, Uyire – Bombay), Sonu Nigam
-Lata (Khamoshiyaan – One Two Ka 4), Sonu Nigam-Madhushree (In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein – Jodhaa Akbar), Sadhana-SPB (Swaasame – Thenali, Mansukkul Oru Puyal – Star, Katril Oru Vaarthai – Godfather).
Addendum (April 16th):
I think it was blasphemy to miss out SPB-Chitra. Anjali Anjali (Duet), Thoda Thoda (INdira), Rukkumani Rukkumani, Theendai and more.
A few others suggested by folks on Twitter/friends:
ARR-Chinmayi – Tere Bina (Guru) (@palavertalk)
ARR-Shreya Ghoshal – Mannippaya (VTV), Tu Meri Dost Hai (Yuvvraaj) (@thepuccacritic)
Benny Dayal-Shreya Ghoshal – KAise Mujhe (Ghajini), Tu Meri Dost Hai (Yuvvraaj)