Thiruda Thiruda by Mani Ratnam, with P.C.Sriram and music by A.R.Rahman. It was one of those movies that had no logic and was purely entertainment movie. It was rumored to be entirely re-shot after MR did not like the outcome of the first rush. It was a big time flop at the box-office but had some of the best music and amazing camera work.
Rasaathi - Shahul Hameed & Co
A totally new voice was creating waves with the release of Thiruda Thiruda & Gentleman. Shahul Hameed it was !. Very different and pleasant at the same time, he was an instant hit with the audience.
It opens with Raasathi, and you can immediately bet your life, that you have never heard of such 'sounding' song before in your life !. Pallavi is simple and awesome. especially, the lines 'nee pona en'. Vocal harmony is all you get for any musical backing or interludes.
'mmmmhmmm's by the male harmony produces the equivalent of bass effect. 'aaah's by the female voice is nicely layered. First up, a single voice hums that, and then a chorus joins in. Looking at such wonderful layers of vocal harmony, Man, you are floored already and yet to even get to the stanza.
Shahul continues his rendition of the main theme, while the harmony picks up a faster tempo, and you could hear the first traces of bass (the only instrument in the entire song) being used. The male harmony, adds to the nicety in the humming (Manajal Araikkum Munne, 00.59 )
Every single line gets a vocal harmony which nicely complements the line. Listen to porava ponava dhaan at 1.13 - 1.17. The stanza is finished with a nice hum by the lead with harmony continuing.
The second interlude is made up of just female vocalists humming the theme of the song, with male vocal harmony providing with a such a peacefully satisfying tune.
The second stanza follows the first stanza to a 'T' and the song finishes off in the same vein, just that all the vocal harmony tracks are 'layered' to produce amazingly soothing effect.
The song proved early on, how much ARR loves to experiment. The song for the most part is bereft of any musical instrument, but for best ever known musical instrument, vocal chords ;)
It conveys the emotion of sadness caused by separation, excellently well.
Rating 4.6 out of 5
Kannum Kannum - Mano & Company
Yet again, the song starts with vocal harmony. The first time i heard it, don't know what hit you !. It was such a 'never-before-heard' in Indian Film Music type opening. You can replay from 0.00 till 00.23 and it will never disappoint you.
Mano starts the song with Kannum and immediately one notices the novelty. Every line alternates between a 'tick' kinda rhythm and hard-rock rhythm. The guitar work along with bass is awesome. The pallavi lines get repeated twice, before the first interlude sets in. The interlude is simple and cute. The stanza still uses the bongo ticks and hard-rock pattern. Bass guitar is the best part of the entire stanza.
The variety of voices/sound combination is evident by the use of 'vocal oohs' and the vocal effect at 2.22 - 2.27. The second interlude continues the vocal effect seen in 2.22 - 2.27 and uses the female vocal harmony to amazing effect. The guitar accentuates the hard-rock effect of the song.
Some of lines in the lyrics are funny, while some of them are downright superb like edhiri peyarai solli adhithal vetri endre artham. The song is relatively short by ARR standards at 4.06 but the tempo of the song is so fast that you dont even realize it has been just that short.
The song drags you into shout your heart out or shake your body out mode and you can really feel all our stress thrown out at the end of the song. Ecstatic best at the higher octaves and soulful swaras at the lower end.
For the carnatic music lover in your - learn agmark Sivaranjani from this song :-)
Trend-setter, pathbreaking rock song - and appropriately rocks !
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Konjum Nilavu - Anupama & Chorus
What can one say about this song ? About the husky vocals, the awesome programming, jaw-dropping rhythm or the tune itself !. This truly was a master-piece song from ARR's stable.
The song starts with opera like singing. The rhythm is such a free-flowing programming, built on top of traditional beats. Lotsa 'sounds' can be heard, that add the 'techno' feel to it. Bass, is noteworthy here. I think just the sheer work that goes into programming such stuff deserves high applause. The high point of the song is 'chandralekha' with nice chorus humming and superb chords. Interesting to note that some of the bass patterns were slightly touched up and used in 'oorvasi' and 'andha arabic'.
The stanza continues the bass loop, with ARR's forte, rhythm, being tweaked with techno effects like glass breaks etc. It already transports you into a dreamy fantasy mode, and wait till you hear the stanza. To the observant ear, you can notice the wonderfully done synth track that runs through the length of the stanza. The beautiful aspect of the stanza is how the melody theme, even though is very carnatic'ish gets superbly made-over to a western style. Listen to 'vandhu naan' at 2.32- 2.35, one could easily do an alaap in natabhairavi or related raagas as an extension to the song, but still one can swear that it is purely a western style song ! :-) Funny it is to realize that all music is contained in time-sequences of the seven swaras :-) !!!!!
The Suresh peters lead chorus at 2.47 through 2.55 adds a twist to the seriousness to the song and brings an awesome cresecendo to the song by Anupuma. The high point about the crescendo is the 'veena' piece between 3.05 and 3.08. No words to describe how we get puppetted at the wizardry of the music. Anupama scales the upper octaves as easily as she brings the seductive huskiness to the song. The second interlude is basically a re-work on the theme of the song and some from the first stanza. After a very brief pause, the song goes into the meditative mode yet again between 4.14 - 4.32 with the loop being played out by synth this time around. Yet again, the veena shows up for the brief cameo and brings the song back to its final phases, where Anupama once again lends so much 'emotion' to the song. The song finishes off with yet another amazing piece of higher octave singing and great work with the veena between 5.33 and 5.40
The end kinda wakes you up from the high-tech trance the song caused you to enter into :-) Only ARR !
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Putham Pudhu - Mano & Chitra
Sounds of thunder & rain greet you in this sweet melodious song wonderfully picturised in lush green background. PC Sriram and MR combo at its best ! Notes played by 'Bell' signifying rain drops (ARR does that often). Flute chirps away as if birds are dancing to the tune of nature, when beautiful run through of piano happens. I can still remember, how my friends (AP & AS) and I were excited to place our head right in-between in the two speakers of his boombox and see how the piano-roll would travel between one speaker and the other !. Chorus singing, violins and flute form the rest part of intro for 1.05 minutes into the song, before the actual pallavi starts.
(Remember all the audio casette store walahs ?, how they used to crib, "indha payyan, *in apparent reference to ARR* vandhapram, paatu ellam 5-6 nimishan ayidichu pa...munnadi ellam, 4 nimisham vandhale perisu" with a big sigh ! )
Mano opens the song with putham pudhu and Chitra follows him. There is the simple piano chords with lotsa treble, minimal violin instrumentation for the pallavi, and chorus is back at it again. The interlude is so wonderful, yet again, it transports you into such wonderful locations like only Ram.C manages to find :)
Mano continues with the charanam - Sondha Agayam vendum. Treble support continues but the bass steps in do amazing things to the song. Listen to the bass at 2.10-2.12. (Arun@Musicpaithiyam is to be blamed for all overflowing references to bass :P). The orchestration is simply superb and some of the lines (lyrics) are quite nice punnagai enghal thaai mozhi endra varam kodu is an eternally appealing line to lyricists of all times.
The second interlude is a show that is hijacked by the violins that continue with the dream world theme. Short but quite nice. This one song has quite a lot of chords that are underplayed, highly unlike ARR. As said earlier, the piano, violin, flute and heavy bass (awesome pieces between 2.13-2.15 and 3.36-3.38)
The lyrics, do definetely need some deserved credit. For the optimist, asking for peace, no cross-border disputes, no poverty, deserts turning into oases etc and are very good and fit well with the context of the song. Hopefully it just does not limit itself to the 'dream world' and works its way into reality as well.
Very melodious, sweet, simple and wonderful song.
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Thee Thee - Carolene
Jathis (Jathi Raja ?) and slap/bass guitar presenting 'straight from the book' opening of a perfect western-classical fusion song welcomes you to Thee Thee. As always with ARR, the complements of heavy percussion alternating with melody is brought out amply in this song as well. Carolene does the honors with this song, quite easily sung with beautiful chords. ARR redefined how chords get used in music arena after his arrival. This song is a classic example of the same.
Since we talked about fusion, this song is based on raga Bahudhari (S G3 M1 P D2 N2)-yes there bas been some liberal usage of 'ri' . Interlude treats you to another fusion of swaras sung out, with jathis and good work on drums leading you into yet another trance. Kannukul Thee Irundhum sets the stanza into motion with lovely chords with simple jathi backing to the fag end of the stanza.
Starting at 2.55, Tte second interlude IMHO is the best part in the entire song. The guitar plays amazing swaras from bahudhari. And you can keepo the inimicable Naveen on the flute away can you ?. Till you reach 3.30, the song maintains the racy tempo with fusion ambience produced via the rendition of Bahudhariraga. Listen to 3.27 - 3.28, how wonderfully Naveen executes that piece !!!!!!
Second stanza offers nothing new from the first stanza and the song gets ready to sign-off, with simple improvisations on the jathis and ARR unleashes another session of jathis and slap guitar and piano to end the song !.
Wonderful ! Watch out the bass riffs throughout the song ! nice one !. Fusion at its best. Even though western, carnatic style are in the race, in the end, the listener is the winner :-)
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Veerapandi Kotayile - Mano, Unni Menon, Chitra
Chitra (?) opens the song with a hum with immediately, a very innovative rhythm pattern sets in. If i remember correctly, it was played with rings (worn on fingers) tapped against (something like) cocunut shell. The thumping of rotosets the pace for the song.
Mano starts off with 'veerapandi kotayile' and now honest confession... ever since i heard that song, 'veerapandi kotayile' has always been 'punctuated' with 'zzzaaan zzzaan zzzannn zzzzan zzzzan' by the strings section. It is so addictive !!!
For the discerning listener in you, ARR has done voice layering. Mano sings a bass layer as well with his higher octave voice. Get a good ear-phone and a stero system, pump-up the volume and there you can hear him. Very nicely done :-)
Unni Menon backs up as the second male voice for the song. He does an equally nice job. His market picked up after ARR brought him back into the circuit. But poor him, with advent of Srinivas (who has similar voice/style) his market has come down drastically :-(
By the time pallavi is complete, you are 2 minutes into the song, but that does not take away the surprise element - finishing line of the pallavi. Listen to 1.59- 2.03. The 'ohh ohh' vocal are just out of the world - it goes through un-expected hoops with awesome string backing.
The pallavi itself has a 'recitative' feel to it - more like a narration than a song - which kinda gels well with the fast tempo. ARR, IMHO, has mastered the art of 'recitative' songs. Many of his songs have very simple and easy structure, that makes it easier to get into one's mind. At the other end of the spectrum, he has some of the most complexely structured compositions as well. (More on it, in a different post)
The interlude is very interestingly done. The tempo continues with minimal violin and flute combo, evoking the emotion of 'lonely night in a forest fraught with danger' :-). Checkout the section 2.57-3.03 beautifully done trumpet piece along with the orchestration of array of instruments . All of that paves way to the simple rhythm and chitra's voice.
Suddenly the song seems to take a turn for the 'softie' in you with 'rettai suriyan'. The pieces at 3.32 -3.36 distinctly brings a western classic touch to the song. ARR has used similar arrangements in Melissai (a very good song from 'Mr.Romeo') and couple of other songs (that i forget now). The instrument combo of flute, violin and strings bring that effect i presume :-)
The situation is supposed to bring out the herione love-torn between two heroes competing for her hand and the lines 'manavalan inge naanamma'and 'magarajan inge naanamma'provide for nice twist to the otherwise soft charanam and Chitra gets back to softie touch with 'idhu maalai mayakkam' and suddenly from nowhere, the song jumps back to 'ohh ohh' and back to pallavi !
The second interlude is really string in its bass'est mode (if there is a term like that ;) ). I can't seem to describe all the bends of the song in this section, but anyway within a brief period of 20 seconds, you get back on track with a normal theme and our now familiar ohh ohh and finally the chorus finishes off the song.
Pure and bold experimentation that gave us a brilliant song to like instantly. Sheer genius !
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Noticeably, all the songs had so many layers of musical tracks. That has been the hallmark of ARR. Many enthusiasts feel that, the number of layers explain why, sometimes, it takes so many hearings, for ARR's songs to grow on you :-). Every time you listen, you un-cover a piece. (To me, the only thing that comes closest to that experience is watching MMKR. Every single time, one finds a dialog that has been seemingly missed out, but is still rib-ticklingly funny.)
The Album for many years was rated as the best every by ARR - I would still like to think, it was one among his bests with his combined variety of melody, fast paced, fusion and experimental music. There has not been many such bold attempts at defying trend and setting new trends. For that very reason this album, IMHO gets a rating that is higher than the highest of any individual song :-)
Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5 ; if you don't have the album, go get it ! :-)
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Acknowledgements : Arun@MusicPaithiyam