Author Archives: underscoreviju

About underscoreviju

Yet another Rahmaniac and music-lover, who will not use the words rambles/rants/musings etc. to describe this blog.

Thalli Pogathey

(A post by Deepi)

I watched Accham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada in the theatres and needless to say, it was good money down the drain. Having not listened to the songs at the time of their release too many times, I still did enjoy a pretty fruitful experience at the movies. Thalli Pogathey on the first (and multiple other listens) didn’t hold any specific impact for me. I remember thinking back then that it was an average song made even less memorable by the surprisingly below average picturisation of it.

tp

But then I developed this recent affinity for this particular song and it’s been continuously looping in my playlist. The more I think about it, I like how right in the middle of the song we reach this dramatic point (with the female singer humming and the beats setting in) and it coincides with the narrative’s turning point; a bike crash and the possibility of life fading away now melding with the urgency and desperation of the lyrics and the mood of the song seem to make more sense (Nodi nodiyay neram kuraya! Yen kaadhal ayuzhl karaya!) This is probably the most addictive part of the song for me. I like how the song moves from the love-struck man beseeching for attention from his love interest to this mid-point of some kind of unexpected drama in their lives to moving towards just wanting to finally confess his feelings for her.

While the album in itself is pretty memorable, I don’t think I liked their placement in the narrative thread. It all happens so fast, as opposed to say how it was spaced in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. In retrospect, I think Thalli Pogathey is one of the best placed songs that very precisely captures the tension in the storyline and elevates the mood, which is until then very light-hearted to the point that you aren’t interested in the proceedings and do not care about the leads’ romance. As a standalone album, it is pretty refreshing but then I suppose Time would determine how well it ages!

Song Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiL5UTTTrxk

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Rustic Rahman

(A post by @atlasdanced)

Everybody who was anybody growing up in TN in the 90s will tell you that the album, that turned Rahman from being talked about as the “new kid in the block taking the industry by storm creating interesting music with computer generated sounds” to someone who everyone started taking really seriously as a guy whose success wasn’t going to be with defined by just ‘sound’, was “kizhakku cheemaiyilE”.

Bharathiraja was no longer the director whose movies were going to be box-office hits because it was “A film by Bharathiraja” (his previous 5 thamizh films, captain magaL, nAdOdi thenRal, pudhu nellu pudhu nAththu, en uyir thOzhan & kodi paRakkudhu were disastrous flops). I will stick my neck out here and say that had it not been for the album and the rage it created, the man’s career could’ve hit rock bottom with a 6th. But boy how much the success of the album turned everyone into finally believing that the kid wasn’t a one trick pony! “mAnooththu mandhaiyilE”, “kaththAzha kAttu vazhi” & “edhukku poNdAtti” were such brilliantly done folk numbers that have stood the test of two decades’ time.

There was another movie set in the village, “Uzhavan”, that released around the same time. But it was so damn insufferable that even a decent soundtrack from Rahman couldn’t save it. Although it had just one folksy number, it was enough to make us know what the guy was capable of. ‘mAri mazhai’, in the eminently likeable voice of Shahul Hameed is another number i go back to every now and then.

A handful of such brilliant numbers, picturised in a village backdrop, followed over the years – “senthamizhnAttu thamizhachchiyE” from vaNdichchOlai sinrAsu, “nee kattum sElai” from pudhiya mannargaL, “mazhaiththuLi” & “varAha nadhikkaraiOram” from sangamam, “thirupAchchi aruvALa” from tajmahal (i am obviously not including the few lovely melodies/ballads set in a village backdrop here), but none as supreme, as standout, as complete as my all-time favourite song among such songs one of my all-time favourite songs – “kAdu pottakkAdu” from kaRuththammA.

Everything about this song is well done, the picturisation (check out the video…the movie was centered on the ‘female infanticide’ theme…almost every stage of a woman’s life in a village is covered in 5 minutes of directorial/editorial brilliance…sigh, if only the entire movie had that kind of quality overall!).

The lyrics..ah the lyrics! Vairamuthu is in elements and shows you how much of emotional value lyrics can bring to a song. Every line makes you realise and even feel a bit awkward about the privileges of an urban life.

And what to say of the rendition by the third of the holy trinity of thamizh cinema’s male playback singing of my generation. SPB is a mad genius rockstar, KJY is gifted and should sing all our lullabies but ‘Malaysia’ Vasudevan is the voice that makes you appreciate the extraordinary art of (at the risk of sounding like a The Hindu katcheri review) – soulful rendition. Check out the “ada pOda vekkakkEdu” around 1:59-2:00. An entire life resigned to the tragicomedy of being a puppet in nature’s scheme of things brought out in half a second of nonchalant snigger while singing about it!

I have always thought it was a masterstroke to make Bharathiraja sing those opening lines…i mean, can it even get any rustic?

The minimalistic arrangement fits perfectly well with the mood of the song and one of those songs that i’ve probably heard a zillion times by now. It is *that* special.

“பட்ட மரத்து மேல…எட்டிப்பாக்கும் ஓணான் போல வாழ வந்தோம் பூமி மேல” (because some lines shouldn’t even be transliterated, leave alone translated.)

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Am I a Rahmaniac? Let’s just say i’ll probably be the first guy who’d take a dig at a lot of those as ‘Rahmehniacs’. So why am i writing here? I’m just tired of reminding even my good friends that I am a fan of the man’s music too. Just because i take a dig (almost always in good humour) at some of his recent works, doesn’t make me dislike the other 100+ songs that i love. Does my opinion even matter? No. Then why?

I have been wanting to write in this blog for a while, primarily because the good folks who are managing this blog are two of the nicest folks you’d come across online. People whose ‘mania’ i respect & relate to. This is just for them and of course, the music we all love.

That One Song: Part 4

This is Part 4 of the 4-Part ‘That One Song’ series for Rahmania’s fourth anniversary. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.  

Anantha

A few days ago, when Aishu asked me to write about one of my favourite ARR songs and added her suggestion (i.e. which song I should write about), I immediately agreed but wondered about the suggestion. I started evaluated other songs too. Then lighting suddenly struck and I immediately stopped thinking about other song choices.

You see, one day, as a wee blogger, wondering what I’d do if I met someone (an Indian that is) who did not know who ARR was, I started making a list (a sort of “ARR for Dummies”, if you will) and posted on my blog. The 1st song on my list that day? Paakathey Paakathey (Gentleman). That was in 2005.

The one line that you will hear from a lot of ARR fans is that his songs will grow on you slowly. This is not always true. Like Paakathey, specifically in my case. The cheerful fun song with the catchy whistling and the violin interludes stole this Rahmaniac’s heart at the first listen itself. And today, 20 years since I first heard it, this song has not aged on me at all. And I can safely say that of all the earworms I get, this one song still repeats the most.

Paakathey not the most popular song from the Gentleman soundtrack by any measure (Chikkubukku, anyone?), but to me, this was the song of the soundtrack, that one song that will always be in my personal all time ARR top 10 list.

And hey, whatever happened to Minmini?

 

Priya (@enthahotness)

Netru Illatha Matram from Pudhiya Mugam is one of the first Rahman songs I can remember. I was ten and spending the summer with my cousins in Chikmagalur. We didn’t have a TV so our time was divided playing carrom, exchanging WWF cards and listening to the tape recorder. That’s what we called it, the tape recorder. When it was my turn we only listened to one song. I rewound that tape until I had written down all the lyrics, or what I thought were the lyrics and sang along to the happiest song I’d heard.

Two decades later as I watch a deliriously happy Revathi running through a field of flowers hugging everything in her sight it doesn’t feel odd because that’s how this song makes you feel – insanely happy. It has remained my theory that those last fifteen seconds of spectacular flute were added to trick you into hitting repeat. It works every time. Try it.

 

Happy_statue

Vennilave (Minsara Kanavu): Probably my first favorite from A. R. Rahman after reaching the part of childhood when one starts to recognize and enjoy music. Who else other than Hariharan and Sadhana could have done justice to this song in that period. You lie down there and wonder if the moon will ever come and listen to them and feel the same way. Surely, this one is up there with other melodies which can only be compared to a mother putting a child to sleep with a sweet request.

 

Vijaynarain

Thirakkadha Kattutukulle (En Swaasa Katre): This song instantly takes me a different world where there is abundant happiness and only positive emotions. Every time I listen to it, it is as if a portal opens that leads me to a secret utopia safely tucked away by nature, only accessible to a fortunate few. Fortunate indeed are we, to be able to surrender ourselves to such a work of art that presents an experience that transcends its own musical form and touches an emotional chord instead, like the tiny fingers of a new born child reaching out and clasping its mother’s hand. Fortunate indeed are we, to experience the magician that is A.R.Rahman.

 

Blogeswari 

If you had asked me on my most favourite ARR song two weeks ago it would’ve been this. A month ago was this. 3 months ago . 6 months ago… wogay wogay, so it keeps changing according to Ragu kaalam, Yama gandam, Kaarthigai Somavaram, Ashtami, Navami & so on.

Recently Sun TV’s flashback section started airing all ’90s ARR songs (Yabbah, I feel like a kezhavi!) And this is one song, whenever on air, takes me back to the fun days in Madras with friends – TVS champ, Kinetic honda rides from Besant Nagar beach to Mount Road Khadi bhavan, Nungambakkam Landmark to …. Pantheon Road shopping, the vetti days spent at Gangotree, Hot Chips, Appappo (Ethiraj) College, friends’ places… Aahaa, the carefree 5 years with the maddest, funnest gumbal were indeed the best. I miss my friends terribly & so so wish I could back to the fun days in Madras.

Shot across Madras featuring Prabhudheva, directed by Shankar with music by Isaippuyal A.R.Rahman, this song with its lyrics, rendition and music truly captures what it was all about – No kavalai, only kalaai! This one’s for you Ush, Rasiks, Tees, Vones, Deepz, Sachu, Kripa and all my Madras dosths – Namma policy eppavume Take it easy policydaan

Thank you Rahmania and congratulations on completing four years! Here’s to many many more.

That One Song: Part 3

This is Part 3 of the 4-Part ‘That One Song’ series for Rahmania’s fourth anniversary. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Mahesh (Cornerd)

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.

 

Sudharshan

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.

 

Ramya

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?

 

Deepika

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.

 

Maryam Javed

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.

Katniss Everdeen – The Girl on Fire

(After yet another unplanned hiatus, here’s something by @amrith10 on Pataaka Guddi, a song from Highway, a movie that impacted me quite a bit! –Viju)

At first, it was the teaser. A city girl kidnapped; a ruffian, stubble et al; a lorry; a gag; perhaps a touch of Stockholm syndrome. All this was the promise. The premise, even. The backdrop was the scenic beauty of the hillside and the ghats. Aptly named, the movie captured the spirit of the road. For this visual, a techno-Punjabi beat started, quite plainly, if one may say so. But then came the voices. Those earthen voices that accentuated everything that was rugged about the premise.

The song was played. Over and over. And then over. There was nothing profoundly great about the music, save for, perhaps, one flute solo, or two. But those voices were, well, something else entirely. The entire package simply made for some compelling listening. And re-listening. And re-re-listening.

That, of course, was a teaser of sorts. After the previous effort that had an angry rocker as a protagonist led to such stupendous levels of brilliance, the expectations from this album, it is safe to say, were sky-high. And this, for a teaser. One could not wait.

Of course, when such teasers come out for an album, there is always the lingering feeling that the best song might just be the one that is put first. Of course, the song in question would well have qualified to be the ‘song of the album’ in any album. Then again, this was no ordinary album, was it? It never could be, could it? No; not after its predecessor.

And then the track-list came out. Zeb was crooning. The heart skipped a beat. Several, perhaps. The expectations were no longer sky-high. Sky was no longer the limit. Nowhere near.

And then the eyes wandered. And then they swooned. And then they looked incredulously. And then they lost focus. And then the focus returned. And those words were still there. There was ‘another version’ of the teaser. It was no ordinary version, however. He would be the centrepiece of it. Knees buckled. The anticipation was, quite simply, too much. Of course, the dread was too.

And so the album came out. And then, track by track, it was devoured. Zeb was drooled at; Alia, commended. Sunidhi was patted on the back and Jonita Gandhi was lauded for being yet another find. Wanna Mash Up was regarded as a drishti pottu that simply did not gel with the rest of the album but then again, that would have to wait for the situation in the movie might change that opinion. That song, however, was left for the end. It had to be.

The dread built up. How could the teaser be improved? I mean, of course, anything could be but… the hand quivered. The play button was pressed.

No techno. Simple guitar notes. Fifteen seconds in. Slowly, a drum beat. Softly. Nineteen seconds. The ear picks up the faintest sign of the start of a hum. This really is happening. It really is. Three seconds. The words begin. Tu ne naam… twice, that happens. And then something out of the corner of the ear is heard. Of course, not. That has no business being here. The ear is strained. That disappears. Of course, must have been a figment of the imagination. There is no other explanation.

And then it is back. There is no mistaking it. It is a constant presence now. A harmonium. Ah the audacity of it! Incredible. Absolutely incredible. And just when the mind begins to comprehend this, his voice again. This, the mind is not ready for.

This is not the easy singing. No, of course not. The eyes close. He is imagined, chest out, one hand donning a mic; the other, beating his chest. The pronunciation is long drawn. On purpose. Words are elongated. Syllables are stretched. On purpose. This is not a song. This is a statement. When the voice usually goes under certain words, in this case, it goes over them. The words are in command. They have their place. He is the king of the jungle. His is the word. What might usually be sung a few decibels lower in the same octave are sung louder. Not blaringly loud; that, of course, would be rude but louder all the same.

Then the point is made; or so it would seem. The voice dies down again. And then it starts again. Each ho is not sung; it is punched. The harmonium kicks in again. The cha in the chali is not a cha but a chha. Then, it becomes familiar. The pitch rises with every ali until it reaches a crescendo, and then it recedes. He must be a Monty Python fan. Must be. For, what transpires for the next minute or so, is simply him taking a back seat and letting the Carnatic guitar man do his thing, and telling the people, and now for something completely different.

The mind struggles to get to grips with all of this. All this is happening too quickly. No. this is quite criminal. He cannot do this to us; there is only so much that can be processed. This bit in the middle is totally out of place and yet, it is somehow perfectly there. Just when the mind is slowly registering what has been happening for the past minute or so, he decides to turn around and face the audience. He stands in front of us, with a nonchalant smile and holds his arms outstretched, and opens them. There is nothing.

On cue, the song starts again, or so you think. He leads you to believe that. And you do. Because there is no evidence that anything happened. You look incredulously as he just stands there, shrugs his shoulders, and smiles. He simply stands there, with a glint in his eyes, shrugs his shoulders as if to say, ‘what are you looking at? Keep listening. I did nothing.’   Sure enough, it is all there. The harmonium and all else. Simply like nothing ever happened.

Before too long, that familiar feeling of something that is ending before its time dawns. You just know that you are in the last throes of this experience. The brashness is gone. The punches are gone. The decibel level is normal. The instruments do their thing. He lets them, of course. And then it is over. The oooo ooo oooo oooo ooooh takes over. There are still a few chatiyas left, though. He is smiling at you now. The chattiya is not so much a chattiya as it is chchattiya. That mischievous glint in his eye is there.

You look at that and you smile. He knows. You know. He knows you know. And yet, he lets the oooo ooo oooo oooo ooooh have the last word. He has finished. As ever, he lets someone else take the limelight, while he slinks away.

You press the rewind button and press play again. 

Dafatan

(A post by @techrsr which went missing during the move to WordPress, originally posted on June 23rd 2012)

Time seems to stand still, as a cavalcade of harmonies and this shrill, indescribably involved vocal melody pierce the ear. The brief silence that follows it is punctuated by an evocative arabesque of instruments, whence comes the confession: “My heart has fallen somewhere… suddenly”. Dafatan.

Free verse in Urdu-laden Hindi is rendered by Ash King, while a happy marriage of diverse instruments – a santoor, a jaltarang, violins, synthesizers and a bass guitar somewhere, provide the seemingly arbitrary soundscape for the vocalist’s initial outpouring, itself an unusual crossover between an uplifting Gospel melody and some Bollywood cliché. In one memorable interlude, Irish sounds abound in bagpipes, and lutes from some village in southern China and some synthesizer in A R Rahman’s studio too, and they all seem to yearn for your attention.

The meandering soundscape has this one constant background melody, as the other instruments wrap around it. They are all beautifully chaotic, as winds may deflect some hovering bird, or as waves may splash carelessly on feeble monuments of loose sand. They break into order from discord, as if to be destined to arbitrarily synchronize with the vocals by Chinmayee and Ash Singh. There – a mention of pearls and seashells – where the bass and the vocals conspire to describe some epiphany. There – a mention of ghazals and intoxication – a musical dopamine shot and a lyric that incites more than musicality; a lyric that suggests the infatuation of music itself.

As the lyric melds into an arbitrary synchrony with the soundscape of melodies and synth, it is revealed that the object of his affection is unaware – utterly ignorant – of this drama, and entirely oblivious to his little romance. Cruelly and carelessly, the sea seems to inundate the vocalist’s love and he conjectures if the sea herself sleeps, drowned and covered in her waves. An intoxication takes over, the kind that is ceaselessly interesting and yet tumultuous. As the song winds up, this treat to the senses that started with a confession, ends with a regret : “Tu, magar, hai bekhabar… hai bekhabar”.

Dil… gira kahin par… dafatan. In my opinion, this is the best song on A R Rahman’s exceptional album, Delhi 6.

 

Despondency

(For Valentine’s Day, a post by Deepi)

The whispers of love in the air carried in by the wind, wafting gently in through the open window. As the breeze playfully brushes against the chime hanging by the window, sounds of beautiful, tinkling music rips the silent air apart. The voice of a maiden humming a soulful tune (Latika’s Theme) speaks of a yearning—yearning for a long lost love perhaps. As her voice dies down, there is noise of soft footsteps approaching and then she speaks. She speaks of having lost herself. She struggles as she seeks the name of the thief who dared steal her heart (Kannalane). But even as she sways in distraction, the young thief finds that he is a victim himself. He too seems to have drowned as he attempted to retrieve his soul. (Yennai Kannavillayae)

Their paths cross and there is joy! They, like their counterparts of ages past, encircle tall trees and woo each other amidst nature’s beauty. (Aathangara Marame) Playful flirting gives way to more serious attachments. A love sheltered from prying eyes, she says he is a secret lover who fulfills her every small wish (Snehidhane). A brief separation—they sing in one voice, mirrored thoughts (Malargale). They unite once more in the scenic backdrop of snow capped mountains. The passionate bonfires become a metaphor for the passion they share (Pudhu Vellai Mazhai, Tu Bin Bataye). But calamity awaits these unwitting souls.

The vacuum persists; he cannot survive any longer (Raasathi).  What greater forces have snatched her away from him, he wonders. He longs to know of her well being, her surroundings, her smiles, her sorrows, and her anger. (Anbe Sugama, Kahin Toh)

Unrequited love –so beautiful is her face, so terrible are her actions. Her presence fills his breath, his mind. The window snaps shut and the breeze is ousted (Tum Ko).