Indira by Suhasini ManiRathnam was about empowerment/liberation of women. The movie was a moderate success at the box office, largely due to the music, that was very melodious and had an folkish appeal.
All the songs were picturised very beatutfilly. You could still think of Arvind Swamy dancing on the boat for 'Odakara' or the girls dancing around in the backyard for 'Nila Kaigirathu' and the duet between Anu hassan & Arvind in the forest.
Lets get to the music....
Acham Illai - Anuradha Sriram, GV Prakash, Sujatha
This song brings out the now familiar, then pretty new, side of ARR's experimentation. The pace of the song (for the first half of the song) along with the treble, provides for the rhythm base for the song (People in 95-96 started crying hoarse, that ARR copies/repeat beats, pretty hollow accusations, one must add), children in the chorus, and Anuradha & Sujatha together. (He has since taken a liking to having Anuradha & Sujatha singing together like in Taal etc)
Raga Kalyani seems to primarily dominate the song - very nice, easy flowing, melliflous. Tabla & claps kicks in at 3.19 as if to challenge the pace of the song, but the kids singing pattamboochi so adorable, that you feel as if you are amongst kids in a school. vaanam pakkam is so nice, as if you are riding on the lines themselves and you start getting goose bumps....
The song takes another turn at 4.13 to panthuvarali bringing a forceful but tense mood to the song, appropriately so, since the song demands a puratchi by emphasising the need for optimism. Vairamuthu is simply superb when dons this role of conveying 'all is not lost' e.g - in Pudhiya Mugam Netru illatha (pathos).
Song ends on a high note both figuratively & literally. Well done
Rating 4.6 out of 5
Nila Kaigirathu - Hariharan
This was the time when people were going gaga over Hariharan after his stupendous hit of 'Uyire' from Bombay. He had made improvisation as his forte and you could 'feel' much of it in this song. He has met & exceeded the expectations, so to speak and done a wonderful job.
The original song (by Harini), is one among the all time bests of ARRs and the pathos version is even better. Chords play a major role in complementing the emotion of Hariharan (Katru veesum...). You would never want to stop hearing the pallavi - it is so beautful and oozes the passion, melancholy and tons & tons of melody.
Synth flute fills in the interlude, it is nice, but after hearing the pallavi, one can't wait to get to the charanam. Adho pogirathu... Hari, brings out the feeling of 'yearning' aekkam very well. His modulation is excellent.
Guitars (synth?) step in to a beautiful backing to complete the song.. this song, as pointed earlier, must be on one of ARR's all time best melodies.
The jury is still out on the ragam of this song...but Behag seems to be the predominant notes, while occasional Tilang Kamod touches can also be found... we will leave it to the 'spin-doctors' to tear their hairs out, while we 'repeat' enjoy the song, by the debutant Harini
Rating 5 out of 5
Thoda Thoda - SPB, Chitra
This is a very very simple song in its structure - but gosh, it does not compromise one bit in melody. Credit goes to SPB for a top-class performance.
A dreamy ambience is setup by the pallavi starting with a 'lub dub dub' that continues through the end and trademark flute by Naveen.
SPB eases his way through the pallavi, as only he can - he makes it sound sooooooooooooo casual and at the same time waltzes thru the lyrics. pretty short pallavi by ARR standards ;)
interlude Naveen walks away with such a nicely done flute piece, at times it feels like you are being teased to join in on a journey and ultimately leaves you behind or take you to different plane.
the charanam is lovely duet - but felt Chitra was a bit flat - once again by her standards. most of the song feels like shankarabarnam swarams - not sure, there is any specific raga pattern one can observe.
the second interlude - ARR steps in with a brief alaap (man, this guys is so comfortable even at such high notes) and then a brief pause, conveying the tense mood (same lub dub) and then violins come togethe to evoke a melancholy. You need to watch the song to see how nicely the situation is conveyed by the emotion in the music.
and SPB, at his best, finishes the song with his smooth vocals - (listen to 4.50-5.00)
The song gives you the feeling of listening to choir performance (that's the best way of describing the use of instruments - may be some one case explain it better)
IMHO, this is very very cute & melodious song by ARR
Rating 4.8 out of 5
Nila Kaigirathu - Harini & co
Harini announced herself with a big bang in this song. She grabbed with both hands, the oppurtunity that ARR threw her way and she did come out successful in the song.
The song starts with a alaap by Harini, (ofcoursing faking her voice for young kid) and with jaltharang. Once again, at Katru veesum... you can notice the absence of chords, but you can enjoy how cutesy/adorable the childish voice of Harini is. (Only time will tell, whether the occasional odd note, not out-of-scale, but still 'odd' was added only to convey the child singing)
interlude is sung as swarams - it is so wonderful, with Harini doing the alaap. the mridangam is simple but very sweet - important to note how ARR managed to bring instruments like mridangam, thavil(ottagatha), gatam (Azhagan Ratchasiye) & ganjira (Akkada) that were relegated only to the song with a concert scene etc to mainstream film music. the rest of the song finishes before you know it. one word - superb.
PS: The song reminds you of a beautiful oldie 'Humko man ki shakti dena' from Guddi.
Rating 5 out of 5
Odakara Marimuthu - SPB, Dr. Sirkazhi Siva Chidambaram
The setting of the song is the 'youth-talk' and who better than SPB to fill you with enthusiasm and 'thullal'(spring) in his voice. The highlight of the song is its structure. It has a more conversational touch, not faced paced, not many instruments during the stanzas - but nonetheless caught the attention of all the youth and became a raging hit.
Dr. Sirkazhi Siva Chidambaram assists SPB amply in this song - the interludes are when you can hear some serious instruments - they are lovely & sprightly with a very folksy touch to it.
Rating 4.3 out of 5
Munnerudhan - TL Maharajan, Swarnalatha
Folk song - captures your attention immediately - very short song. Listen to the piece starting 1.26 - wonderful chorus and the alaap - takes you into the lush green villages on the rural parts of the country. Even though ARR has belted out folk songs that are chart busters, the critics never stop accusing him of dishing out only fast-paced songs and the accusation are so not true.
Rating 4 out of 5
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Verdict - Must Buy for melody lovers.