Chinmaye

Rahman beyond Hindi


I have been wanting to write about this for a very long time … Because there are times when I am asked why do you listen to Andu-Gundu, Madrasi songs! I also remember that often people used to start speaking to me in Tamil because my hello tune was Pachai Nirame. Some of my closest friends love music perhaps as much as I do … but they love lyrics more than the tune. Recently A R Rahman was criticized for playing too many ‘Tamil’ songs in a concert (the title of the concert was Tamil … something the critics conveniently forgot) I am a Marathi speaking Mumbaikar … I love Marathi and Hindi! But music is beyond language. Music has its own ability to communicate and express … I have nothing against words or poetry … but images and music can communicate something very complex and abstract … something that is more open to interpretation! I remember how I was ridiculed for wanting to play Alaipayuthey songs in my college picnic and then a couple of years later the same guys were going gaga over Saathiya tracks. Though I must confess that I did not start listening to Tamil music because of A R Rahman. The first Tamil CD I bought was selected works of Ilaiyaraja. And yes I also had a collection of Bangla songs by Salil Chowdhury and RD Burman. How can you say you love Pancham and Salil Da and just to listen to their Bollywood tracks? How can you love A R Rahman … listen to only Hindi tracks and then evaluate him as a composer! My flight is delayed by a couple of hours and I decided to put together a playlist for those with open mind. If you love music and love ARR and if you have not heard these tracks just because of the language! Here is a glimpse of the musical treat you have missed out on! close your eyes … just listen to sur and taal!

Roja is popular … but another early Mani Ratnam flick ARR composed for was a musical storm … it is tough to pick one song from the album … but let me try …

Contrary to the claim that ARR makes only fast paced-rhythm driven techno music … there are many tracks are simple, melodious and soothing … Uzhavan is a great example from the early 90s!

Item songs? Dance numbers … well if you have a dancer like Prabhu Deva … you have to give him the track that he can weave his magic around … Chikku Bukku from Gentleman

Now lets go to 1994 to Duet …. just listen to the interaction between the sax and S P Balasubramaniam’s voice …

Fusion chahiye!!! well if you play an Indian tune and play dhik chak beats on that does not mean fusion ho gaya …. the symbiosis has to be organic …. the real fusion is where you forget the existance of two genres or schools of music

Duets are musical interactions … Athangaramarame is my favourite duet … I didnt understand a word … but it felt like a great musical interaction …. and flute, guitars add their mood to the voice…

I will also add a cover version of the same song here to the playlist … just go unplugged and enjoy … Keba who plays regularly with ARR interprets it a bit differently ..

This one was dubbed into Hindi …. but the beautiful Yesudas rendition is pure joy .. simple and captivating …

When a music composer creates music for a Rajinikanth film … production, orchestration all goes larger than life … power packed brass section and orchestral arrangement makes this my favourite …

flutes … strings … orchestration … ARR’s recipe for a sublime romantic number …

Lets come back to the Maniratnam-ARR combo … Iruvar … Aishwarya Rai’s debut film and a song with carnatic touch …

There is an interesting unplugged version put together by the students of ARR’s KM Music conservatory and his sunshine orchestra …

Good cinema is about creating a great visual experience and ARR knows that … but the problem is … sometimes directors cannot create a spectacle that music deserves … S Janaki sings this Bhairavi based song in Sangamam … Unnikrishnan does his bit too. Amazing violins and ghatam …

As we come into the new millenium lets listen to Unni Menon’s voice in this song woven around a flowing river

Debut song for a singer and national award …. Chinmayi Sripada sings this soul melody about a mother’s feeling about her child …

I have largely excluded songs that were dubbed or re-made in Hindi later … but this one cant be missed … It will not be an exaggeration to call this a perfectly produced, arranged and mixed song … Naveen Kumar is always world class with flute … Hariharan sings this song visually…

Boys is one of my favourite albums … and Ale Ale is a duet of its own kind ….

It is interesting to see how ARR composes differently for Rajini films … I love Sahana because of Udit Narayan’s smiling voice …

ARR has composed some fine songs for fine singers like Vijay Prakash … Hosanna from Vinnaithandi Varuvaya … the voice interacts with beats and strings build up mood … bells and choral sounds take us to a crescendo …

Every new album is an opportunity for a new voice to come into limelight … with a melody that gives justice to the talent … Nenjukulle from Kadal which brought to us a rare voice like Shakthishree Gopalan

We remember some songs more for instrumental solos in them …. Innum Konjum Neram for the accordion played by ARR himself …

And if I think of a clarinet … I think of Yarumilla … Of course Swetha Mohan’s intense rendition is an attraction too …

When I heard that OK Kanmani would be re made in Hindi … I was hoping to see the Hindi version of this song … but unfortunately a great song was replaced by a horrible dhik chik mix of hamma hamma … Parandhu Sella Vaa makes you want to fly …

Avalum Naanum is simple melody you want to keep humming …. but the violin solo with orchestration is a surprise package in the song …

There are many tracks I have got immersed into and played in loop … for hours … Nallai Allai is one such track

Well there are many songs that I would have loved to include … but one can never make any comprehensive playlist on any theme when the body of work is spread over two decades … Now I am about to board my flight back to Mumbai … I leave you with three non Tamil non Hindi …. non Film songs …  ‘journey home’ an English track from Bombay Dreams a theatrical production … Mann Chandre a Punjabi song from Nokia Connections album … and Garvi Gujarat … A Gujarati song composed for the 50 year celebration of the formation of the state …

One comment

  1. Anand Swamy

    I can very well relate to all of these as i too was in the same Boat, Music has no language barriers. I am very much impressed by this write up as i have some similarities, cannot write more in details as time constrains…. All The Best…..
    A.R.Rahman Rocks Always !!!!!!!!!!!!

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