Ayutha Ezhuthu by Mani Ratnam was an action thriller with a 'message' and the novel (to tamil industry) of narrating three people's lives and how they intersect.
Music was by the maestro ARR. On many hearings, it did little to tickle the melody 'lover' in one. However, as with many ARR's albums, it finally grew on me. Lets get to the review without much further ado.
Sanda Kozhi - Madhushree
The song opens with bells (like cow bells) and a nice and easy ghatam piece. Madhushree opened her account with Tamil songs, not on a very good note, one must add. The pallavi is very very cute, the melody only dampened by her pronounciation. A nice udukkai joins in to setup a catchy rhythm and the plucking of the stringed instrument (guitar or mandolin) brings a deeply relaxing mood to the song.
There is little or no interlude, highly unlike ARR. Power chords of the highest order greet you when the stanza starts at vaangi thandha vethala. The crescendo is comfortably handled by the singer bringing back to the anupallavi, devoid of any musical instrument, but for the rhythm. The occasional bells here and there are so simple but provide such a pleasing context to the song.
The second interlude was a precursor to the now-familiar mature singer in ARR. The alaap is so wonderfuly free flowing, with guitar nicely backing up his vocals. Latter half of the interlude switches the song for a brief period into 'grimness' from its casual feel....the interlude fades into the second stanza.
This time around, as his wont, ARR reduces the power chords to just chords ;). To the keen observer in you, would notice this 'style' of ARR where the chords of his second stanza is always under-played or minimal when compared to his first stanza. Sometimes it is very disappointing. In this case it is apt.
The song closes off with the same sombre note it started.
It is a wonderfully done song, very folksy, quite casual but, does not sound that 'peppy'. Somber i think is the best word to describe.
Rating 4.6 out of 5
Jana Gana Mana - A.R. Rahman, Karthik
A typical rock number opening greets with acoustic guitars leading the way. ARR hits the higher notes in his 'strained' style. ohh yuva yuva is full of emotion. Strings section dominate the song. The rhythm has stick/clap on top of the regular beats to bring a grandise touch to the song.
The whistle interlude sounds like title music of a wild west movie. It is quite cool, brings vague memories of lines (stanza) from the song 'tauba tauba' (Vande Mataram). Alaap from the opening lines continue in the background of the interlude.
The stanza goes from monotonous 'ayudham edu' to ecstatic 'irulai porAdu'. The mood swing is wonderful, but at the end of it, it brings the song back to the monotony mood.
Second Stanza has more guitar backing and improvised rhythm, but the instruments sound too 'crowded'. To make it up, the pallavi has only strings to back it up :-)
The bass guitar finally steps in to bring such a cool feel to the song. One wonders, why the stanzas had to be that different in musical structure from the pallavi ? Another ARR experiment ?
Rating 4.2 out of 5
Hey Goodbye Nanba - Sunitha Sarathy, Shankar Mahadevan, Lucky Ali, Karthik
The song is a techno-pop dance number. The song feels as if it is made of three different sub-songs. The first sub-song is the 'hey goodbye nanba' - it has the dreamy/romantic flavor to it. The second sub-song is the 'nee yaaro naan yaaro' - this has a typical pop feel to it. The third sub-song is the 'kalla vizhigalil' (starting at 1.33) is a simple,melodious, fast paced section.
Even though all of them are 'connected' via the overall song..the connection seems very 'artifical'. The subsongs individually nice themselves but together it makes the 'kalla vizhigalil' section stand out and other two pieces fade out.
Out and out experimental piece. I would not be sure of the successful outcome of this expirement.
Rating 3.9 out of 5
Nenjam Ellam - Adnan Sami, Sujatha
Haunting loop of music welcomes us that runs throughout the song. Drunken sounding, Adnan Sami, who now seems to be a permanent fixture, joins Sujatha in this song. All the instruments used, can never be thought of as a filmi song. The overall song has a variety of instruments thrown into it, they gel well, but never sound 'natural'. It adds such a 'gadget' touch to the song. The melancholic tune structure, with beautiful singing by Sujatha redeems the melody aspect. Once again, very valid attempt at fusion, only this time the elements being fused are not carnatic & western, it seems to be western & western !
Rating 4.1 out of 5
Yaakai Thiri - Sunitha Sarathy, AR. Rahman, Shalini Singh
So many reviews have called it a disco number. I dont feel like disagreeing with them. But would have to add that, this is a better song as most reviews have made it out to be. The rhythm is as good as any fast number. The tune has arabic touch it, which is, but expected, from ARR - be it Humma Humma or Chayya Chayya. ARR's alaap is wonderful with the song getting into a mode of repetitive recitation swaying the dancer in you.
Rating 4.2 out of 5
Dol Dol - Blazee, Shaheen
Another disco/rap number, the loop is haunting, setting you up for another grim but melodious piece. Trumpet (?) piece is very nice (sounds like Sivaranjani ?). Quite passable song. It more showcases the skills of the programmer than a composer.
Rating 3.8 out of 5
Mani Ratnam - ARR combo has been producing musically rich and wonderful movies. This was another movie they setout to do with no music in mind. But having ARR sit in front of you and get no songs out of him is like having cute little baby in front of you and controlling your urge to curve your lips for a smile. Irresistible !
MR tried once in Alaipayuthe and failed to resist the temptation. He tried it second time in this movie and failed once again and finally had ARR compose the songs.
The entire album had a bold, non-mainstream, (still)fast pace to it. As with dance numbers, it has a touch of melancholy to all the songs which leaves a 'deep' mark in you. You may not necessarily smile after this album, but still feel relaxed.
Overall Rating 4.2 out of 5
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Acknowledgements : Arun@MusicPaithiyam