It had been a few years since Rahman was at the centre of my universe. I thought I had grown up, and mistakenly, for a brief while, even thought grown beyond Rahman. The delusion of an adult with a new found exposure and appreciation of a bit more varied music than what I was used to. I still cared about every Rahman album but with a somewhat diluted intensity of a fanboy at the crossroads. It’s hard to pinpoint one song, rather than a phase, which slapped me out of the delusion , but if I should, then it has to be Tu bole from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. It was neither Rahman’s first foray into jazz nor necessarily his best for Iruvar fans might be up in arms. But this was Rahman subtly, surreptitiously pushing himself and us out of his comfort zone. Enough of the ostentatious, rich orchestration of his Bollywood soundtracks of that time. This was Rahman sucking the weight out of his composition and letting it float in the air like only he can. But that even the Rahman of old did it wonderfully well – Kadhal sadugudu, anyone? This wasn’t just about letting it float, but how? Except the two lines of the pallavi, there’s no hint of a hook at all. The quirky, staccato melody lines in the voice of a lazy, happy, semi-drunk Rahman crooning as if it’s a duet with the Saxophone swirling in and out of the song takes an amorphous shape all its own. This isn’t a genre-defining or genre-bending song, nor is it an astonishing melody which hits the gut and leaves you transfixed. This is just an utterly delightful lighthearted song but with the unmistakable signature of Rahman stamped all over it.
The greatest Rahman songs face this grueling test of time inside my head, a sort of extreme transformation from ‘why does this song exist?’ to ‘how does this song exist?’. Chithirai Nila took its own while at that, but I never imagined it would fill my mornings and round off my nights like it did, like it does. Maybe if this was the most popular number from Kadal, I wouldn’t have felt this strange connect, exclusivity with it. Happy, sad, indifferent, lifeless; any emotion I’d throw, it would echo back from this infinite soundscape of surprises; the joy of floating away with those serene riffs emanating from the continuum fingerboard; the feeling of being engulfed in the French horn crescendo, soaring over Vairamuthu’s “Naalaiyai thirandhaal nambikkai sirikkum.”
Vellai pookal invokes an emotion within me that I fail to comprehend. Or, maybe the song is trying to tell us that we are not to over-analyze the simple things in life. Who said music must be pompous to be appreciated?
The closet Rahmaniac in me came to see daylight about 4 years ago, when the album Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya was released. It’s almost impossible for me to speak of Rahman’s work without mentioning this album. It lends a very airy and light feeling to the soul every time I listen to it. Particularly the song Omana Penne! The lyrics and the picturisation conveys the emotion so beautifully. What with that naadhaswaram bit setting in and the lovely girl pulling her hand away playfully, ever so teasingly as he looks on in longing, I just lean back and close my eyes as the tunes steal me away to a faraway land.
First of all, I feel privileged to be invited in to pen down, rather type in my thoughts on the Indian Mozart’s masterpiece. So thank you, Aishwarya for the same. And, Oh my God! It’s so hard to pick ONE song to write about. So, ‘the one’ song is a part of the music album of Delhi 6. The album released five years back and that’s when, for the very first time, I fell in love with a song! “Rehna Tu, hai jaisa tu‘. The first line of this song defines the meaning of true love. Although this song is primarily about romantic love, to me it’s about loving friends, family, colleagues or even pets, basically everyone who is a part of my life. To me, true love is about loving people with their imperfections and never asking them to change. And it sounds more convincing in Rahman’s voice.