The quality and the quantity of output in Tamil film music over the last two months has been remarkable. We had some of the year’s best songs from several composers including Govind Vasantha, Santhosh Narayanan, Dibu Ninan Thomas and AR Rahman. A selection in no particular order:
1. Yuvan Shankar Raja – Saattaiyin Munaiyil (from Om)
It is quite remarkable that in an album of 12 songs, the best song is the only song composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja; the album includes 9 songs composed by N.R. Raghunanthan and 2 by Sharran Surya. Yuvan has had a successful run this year, and this song is a great addition to his repertoire. Priya Hemesh renders the semi-classical song quite well.
Ilaiyaraaja’s first proper offering this year unfortunately turned out to be very terse. ‘Iraivanai Thedi’ is a serene composition in a sub-genre that is very familiar to the composer (‘Appanendrum’ from Gunaa, ‘Oorukkula Chakkaravarthy’ from Panakkaaran). Ilaiyaraaja’s vocals makes the song complete.
Santhosh Narayanan is completely turning it around in the second half of the year. In Pariyerum Perumal, he produces a fantastic soundtrack, and ‘Pottakaattil Poovasam’ is one of the year’s best. Sung exquisitely by Fareedha, and Yogi Sekar, the song’s highlight comes unpredictably in a classical touch that singer Ananthu brings.
4. G V Prakash – Nilavin Niramum (from Adangathey)
Composer G V Prakash has remained relatively low-key this year. ‘Nilavin Niramum’ is a lovely short composition, that comes in two versions. This version is especially good, a large credit to the singer Jothi who has a very distinct voice.
5. Dibu Ninan Thomas – Oonjala Oonjala (from Kanaa)
Composer Dhibu Ninan Thomas lives up to the promise he showed in his debut film Maragatha Naanayam. All the five songs in the album work very well, especially ‘Oonjala’. Sid Sriram renders this song in his inimitable dramatic style. The song hinges on the titular hook and a chorus, but gets a great character from the classical interludes by Niranjana.
6. Santhosh Narayanan – Kaarkuzhal Kadavaiye (from Vada Chennai)
Santhosh Narayanan has delivered a career highlight in Vada Chennai for director Vetri Maaran. ‘Kaarkuzhal Kadavaiye’ is easily the pick of this elaborate soundtrack. The flute-percussive portions of the song are immensely appealing, as are the singer-ensemble in top form.
7. Arun Gopan – Kanna Enthen Thaaye (from Amutha)
Singer Arun Gopan debuts in Tamil as a composer with Amutha. ‘Kanna Enthen’ sung by the veteran KS Chithra is easily the best song in the album. The chimes, the flute and Chithra’s singing come together very well. The singing in some places evokes another ace Chithra’s song, ‘Yen Uyirey’ (Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathile).
8. Ghibran – Ey Piriyame (from Ratsasan)
Ghibran has had two releases already, and Ratchasan is his third release this year. ‘Piriyame’ is Ghibran channeling his best and reaffirming his form. Pragathi Guruprasad leads the song beautifully, supported well by Anudeep Dev and Yazin Nizar.
Sid Sriram takes Santhosh Narayanan’s ‘Ennadi Maayavi’ and makes it his own. This is the only song in the album (VadaChennai) set in the melancholic style that the composer often gets very right (increasingly apparent in the last two outings with Rajinikanth-Pa Ranjith). Lyricist Vivek keeps the writing simple and lets the melody take over.
10. AR Rahman – Bhoomi Bhoomi (from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam)
‘Bhoomi Bhoomi’ in many ways is the song of Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, the movie as well as the album. Shakthisree outdoes her sparse but terrific track record in collaboration with composer AR Rahman. The grungy mid-segment of the song gives the much-needed hinge for the otherwise segmented nature and unconventional arrangement.
11. Govind Vasantha – Anthaathi (from 96)
Govind Vasantha’s 96 has gotten rave reviews that are hardly matched by any other Indian album in the recent times. ‘Anthaathi’ is a fantastic summary (albeit a long one) of the album and possibly the movie itself. The dubstep ‘Kaadhale Kaadhale’ (which is a song, in fact two, of its own in the album) that appears in this song is a rage, as are the semi-classical portions in the song.
‘Naan Yaar’ is another pulsating track from Santhosh Narayanan’s Pariyerum Perumal. The composer’s regular singer-affiliate Vijaynarain is at his best here. The humming portions are mildly evocative of the chorus in Pritam’s ‘Hai Junoon’ (New York). The rhythm is heady and the rock sound thoroughly entertaining.
13. Govind Vasantha – Iravingu Theevaai (from 96)
Singers Chinmayi Sripaada and Pradeep Kumar are the one of the most exciting singer-duos today. They are in their peak elements in ‘Iravingu Theevai’, a meditative melody with some wonderful metaphors and similes by lyricist Uma Devi. The interludes are a throwback to a golden era of Ilaiyaraaja in early 90s.
14. AR Rahman – Madura Marikozhundhae (from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam)
Chekka Chivantha Vaanam OST from the trio AR Rahman-Mani Ratnam-Vairamuthu may not have received the usual response the combination gets. The album nonetheless is very listenable and loop-worthy; this is especially true in the case of ‘Madura Marikozhundhae’. The song is an earnestly executed chorus by Anuradha Sriram and Shweta Mohan (with an added vocal track of Aparna Narayanan).