How does it feel to be alone doing the thing you love? Like going on a late night drive in the city you love. The city becomes shy, going into her shell and is tranquil. You love her and know that the she loves you back. But it is not possible to get this out of her. This mutual love that feels requited but is only expressed from one side also happens with music. When we have a protagonist who wants to hear the love of his life profess her love for him and claims he is waiting for it, through music, I feel interested to give it a listen for it is Rahman composing. I would be ready to love the song if it is Enna Solla Pogiraai? and be left like the protagonist is, with his shy lover. Rahman begins his much celebrated Kandukonden Kandukonden with this song that fetched Shankar Mahadevan his first national award. The film, an interesting and not exactly wholesome but a rather faithful take on Jane Austen’s 19th century novel, Sense and Sensibility, is more loved by yours truly for its musical score. There are days when I feel thankful that my generation had Rahman to savour where an earlier generation felt everything was done and dusted, not without reason, by a Maestro. Kandukonden Kandukonden is an effort that makes my gratitude justified.
When the leading man is following his dreams, what follows is a celebration of life in Smaiyaai. The song was also next in line after Sandhana Thendralai in my cassette (an ode to the untouched days of listening to albums in cassettes). I had to try numerous times to figure out where the synth takes over from the female vocals in the first interlude for the transition is seamless, giving quite a demonstration on using synth and technology to justifiable intelligence. The way Dominique reaches the high scales as the song ends places a cherry over a surprisingly enjoyable synth based song.
The other leading lady is an anti-thesis of her sister, extrovert, bouncy and in a bid to take us into her life and share her enthusiasm to live, we are taken into Konjum Mainakkale through the middling Tamil but beautiful voice of Sadhana and the lovely melody of Madhyamavathi. The rhythm springs in and out of the ears and infuses life as long as it lasts. Life is for those who live, says she, the perennial romantic and the music to convey this is effective, in one word.
Now, this girl who desires to live likes Tamil literature and loves Bharathi and we feel compelled to listen to her professing her love for Kannan, for Bharathi gets our blood moving when he loves his Kannan. A tune married to Chitra’s exquisite voice has the girl asking the man of her dreams to stop the hide and seek and appear and sweep her off her feet. Set in N??ttakurinji, the song shifts to a lovely sah??n?? as she requests her Kannan to plant a peck on her mouth, drifting from one melodic scale to another as if to catch the attention of the forever wandering Lord of the womenfolk. Pristine, in one word.
Having made her intentions clear, she is pleasantly surprised to find the answer in a man who seems to sing to her, his Kannamma, Bharathi’s Kannamma. Suttum Vizhi Sudar Dh??n is an all-time favorite of yours truly from the inexhaustible oeuvre of Bharathi. The song swings from Beh??g and Hams??nandhi to a multitude of R??gas as Bharathi swings passionately in his imaginary yonderland bringing in a multitude of metaphors to describe his crush, yes infatuation (maruva kadhal), on a teenage Kannamma (vaalai kumari)! A song so bold, for it was most likely written more than a century back inside the confines of a dingy home in an agrahAram, is beautifully brought to life by Rahman, who transports the ambiance of a midsummer night’s rapture into our being through the twinkles that peep inside the ears when Hariharan reaches for the stars in nakshathirangalLadi, the aural sparks that mystically brighten Kannamma’s already sundhara punnagai and the cuckoo’s waltz, making you go weak in the knees. As you listen to Hariharan reach a crescendo in s??thiram uNdo adi, you feel the piece de resistance hitting you between the eyes. A masterclass of 2 and a half minutes in rendering a song of surreal lyrical quality is delivered with such bewitching ease that I can only doff my imaginary hat off to Rahman and Hariharan for doing some justice to a genius’s poetry.
She is now fully in love having seen the Kannan of her dreams and breezes into a duet in the title song. It is in the songs that this film gets poetic and never is this more apparent than in this song. Beginning with strains of Nalinakanthi, the flute and the violins in the first interlude transport us to some distant but pleasant place inside the dream of the protagonist. When her man does remark that he will knock her door, Rahman on cue mimics the same with a subtle tap on the bass and the song has the leading lady open her heart out in response with what-a-lovely-tune written all over it that makes it essential.
The love has failed, dream has crashed and her Kannan has moved to another woman. She sings her heart out. Chitra, the mridangam that bounces the sorrow from her voice into us through the rain and the shehnai in the second interlude win the song for us, set mainly in Sindhu Bhairavi. Rahman seems to be sublime when he handles this raga, finding something to resonate in us, be it in Margazhi Thingal or in The Dichotomy of Fame. Srinivas’s Pirai vandhavudan refrain provides relief from the heaviness around and the final crescendo as things take a serious turn end this beautiful song most aptly for the situation.
She does see her man. However, the 15 minutes under Rahman’s sun go to her sister in the climax. The earnest plea in Enna solla pogiraai? based on Mukhari and Kharaharapriya, is repeated in the climax, and elevated by the nadhaswaram as the curtains come down in what is an album that asks us to view music and Bharathi from Rahman’s prism. The dream is realized for us.