Kaatru Veliyidai- Music Review by Ram Anand

Personal note: Two years ago, when Mani Ratnam’s last directorial venture OK Kanmani was about to be released, I was out of commission following an accident. The music review for OK Kanmani was the first time I found motivation to write anything, despite my hands not being fully functional, and the quest to watch OKK was the first time I had walked and stepped out of my house in close to two months. Similarly, Kaatru Veliyidai is helping me come out of what is also a rather difficult moment emotionally for me. And just like how their works inspired me to start dreaming 13 years ago, Ratnam and Rahman’s magic somehow keep that dream alive for me regardless of what beatings I take in life. And for that, their works will always mean something more than just a movie or a song.

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MANI Ratnam is a name that is largely credited with transforming the face of Tamil cinema. Soft spoken, media shy, and a man of few words- Ratnam has built an aura that completely contradicts his demeanour as an individual. The incoherence in his public speech is a contradiction to how his screenplays has flowed over the years. It takes a moment to appreciate the genius of Ratnam when you count the amount of films he has actually done. With Kaatru Veliyidai (Breezy Expanse), he reaches what is actually his first notable milestone in the amount of films done- it is his 25th film, some 34 years after he debuted as a filmmaker.

KV is only Ratnam’s seventh film since the turn of the millenium- and only three of his six previous ventures had been successful. But the fact that his name alone takes in such a following in an industry that often sees the name of actors and superstars to identify the value of a movie speaks volumes. KV’s release also marks 25 years since AR Rahman, the man Ratnam brought into the music scene in 1992, made his debut.

Rahman’s indisputable genius somehow seems to be able to bring an extra flavour and authenticity to the musical score whenever he works with Ratnam, and with KV, his first original album of 2017, the expectations does not seem to be misplaced. 

Nalla Allai (Sathya Prakash, Chinmayi)

The album starts with a bar raised high enough to cause a musical hangover. Just like Moongil Thottam (Kadal) and Parandhu Sella Vaa (OK Kanmani), Rahman delivers another poisonous ballad with an element of journey with Nalla Allai. Sathya Prakash, who shot to recognition after singing the delectable and hugely memorable Raasali last year for Rahman, does an exceptional vocal in the vocals, accompanied delicious percussions and sound arrangements- including the perfectly tuned strumming of the guitar in the background.

Chinmayi makes one of the best vocal cameos one can make without having a single line- her humming in the middle stanzas elevates the melody of this number. Vairamuthu, as he has done so many times, pens lyrics with excellent depth and beauty. 

Oligalil theedal enbathellam mounathil mudigindrathe, mounathil theedal enbathellam gnaanathil mudigrindrathe. 

Nalla Allai is however only four minutes long, and with such flawless arrangements, ends as soon as it starts. A breezy expanse is encapsulated with the start of this album.

Azhagiye (Arjun Chandy, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi)

The romance gears up into a modern, playful territory with Azhagiye, but with equally addictive results. Azhagiye gets going with an energetic guitar base and the tone is set the vocal imitation of birds and the “bang bang” chorus. Rahman sumptuously balances the art of fusing energy and the same time retaining a heavy dose of melody with this song- building up nicely with the infusion of English words such as “marry me”, “flirt with me” and “get high with me.”

And right at the middle stanza, Punjabi folk music makes a surprise entrance, and Rahman transcends immaculately to Jonita Gandhi’s slow hum, setting the tone for some beautiful poetry and melody in the middle stanza. 

Thulli kaalam ketten, thulli kaadhal ketten, thulli kaamam ketten.

Madhan Karky has written lyrics for this number- and does an admirable job infusing the modern juggernauts in the opening lines, but the same time doing some seriously good writing in the middle stanzas. Arjun Chandy and Haricharan’s vocal combination works so well it is difficult to tell who is leading the singing at any one point of time. Definitely the song for an upcoming wedding season, or even a few proposals. 

Just like Nalla Allai however, Azhagiye is just under four minutes long and makes for a breezy and effortless listen.

Vaan Varuvan (Shashaa Tirupati)

AR Rahman is known for his slow poison numbers- songs that seems too ordinary at first but grows years, or even decades later. But Vaan Varuvan is a little different- its a poison that works pretty fast by his standards. Three or four listens in, the full appreciation of this beautiful composition comes easily to fore. Sashaa Tirupati, who has been behind the vocals of some Rahman’s best numbers in recent years- including Naane Varugiren from Ratnam and Rahman’s previous collaboration OK Kanmani, does not get a single vocal chord wrong and carries this song almost entirely with  beautiful voice.

The film’s setting the chilly northern hills of India such as Ladakh can almost be felt in the way Vaan was composed- paced not an inch too slow nor inch too fast. Rahman starts with soothing piano base before introducing the flute, and then infuses the middle parts with ever-so-subtle techno beats. This is the kind of song that Rahman often speaks about- where you feel a certain “connection”. 

Something that definitely should be done in a Coke Studio setting, similar to what Rahman did with Nenjukulle for Kadal (2013), another Ratnam film.

Saaratu Vandiyila (AR Raihanah, Nikitha Gandhi, Tippu)

Can a semi-erotic piece of poetry be a wedding song?

That appears to be what Vairamuthu, Rahman and Ratnam have combined to do here, with some phenomenal results. A special mention has to go to Ratnam for the way wedding songs have been picturised in his films over the years. Ratnam’s films are known to include songs that celebrate the act of lust, and shot ever so sumptuously too. After the likes of Yaaro Yaarodi from Alaipayuthey, he has clearly recreated that playfulness and mischievousness with Saaratu Vandiyila. 

Rahman walks a fine line- at times, this is like a throwback to the 1990s AR Rahman, which an entire state grew to love and adore. But he makes sure there are enough tweaks and little surprises to take the listener of a fresh journey. Rahman’s sister AR Raihanah brings her unique voice to the table, accompanied by Tippu, who returns to the mic after a notable absence, and nevertheless brings his own playful flavour to the song.

The real winner here is however Rahman’s sound arrangement- the use of traditional percussions, including flutes and tablas, to set a wonderful wedding aura. And Vairamuthu accompanies that mastery with a semi-erotic assortment of lyrics- the kind of lyrics that can make you baulk if you realise the meaning behind a series of beautifully arranged words. Vairamuthu and Ratnam have done this before- as recent as Parandhu Sella Vaa in OK Kanmani. 

And Vairamuthu proves yet again how the beauty of poetry can describe even the most mundane acts into a grand celebration. 

He says ratham sudu kolla paathu nimisham thaan raasathi,

And then she says aanuko pathu nimisham thaan, ponnuko anji nimisham. Go figure!

And this is truly the AR Rahman- Mani Ratnam “Baani” (style).

Tango Keelayo (Haricharan, Diwakar)

A salsa-melody (as the title implies), Tango Keelayo sounds experimental in the first few listens, but is a gem that has some exceptional act of fusion that displays Rahman’s musical range. The number starts with a heavily influenced usual tango music, with the initial parts handled ably by Diwakar. But soon Haricharan enters to infuse a little melody with lines like “Unnai Pirindhaal” and “Nee Ennai Maravai”.

And at 2:50, a little bit of magic happens- tango beats accompanies Haricharan as he stretches his vocals to his melodic best setting the listener into a pretty quaint zone. And suddenly, what initially sounded experimental, now looks like a deliberate work of genius.

Probably there’s very thin line between being experimental and being a genius. Rahman constantly threads this line and has made a career out of being able to come out of it being the latter and not just the former. 

It takes two to tango- and here Rahman’s music sensibilities pairs that tango with the sensibilities of the avid listener. An underrated and underdog of a number.

Jugni (AR Rahman, Tejinder Singh, Raja Kumari)

Just like Tango Keelayo, Jugni (Firefly) does not immediately fall into place. Sung mainly by Rahman itself, the song however clearly seems to be the most important pivot for KV’s plot, describing the polarisation of both the protagonists. 

Jugni does not have much in terms of lyrics. It is mainly filled with minimal Hindi lyrics, with two lines sung by Tejinder Singh. More of a journey song, Rahman also mostly repeats two lines- ha-chalengi ha, na-chalengi na. 

Just when it seems to become a little monotonous, Rahman ropes in Raja Kumari, the American-Indian rapper, with fantastic results. Raja Kumari elevates the middle stanzas with her subtle rapping- you’re there, you’re not there.

Though clearly a number that would carry the mood of the movie, Jugni’s juxtaposition of a little bit of Punjabi music, rap and techno beats is delectable to the ears.

Kaatru Velliyidai continues in the vein of every Mani Ratnam-AR Rahman combination, setting higher than usual standards and offering songs that each in their own right could develop a cult following. Only six songs, and none too long- but when four of them are absolute masterpieces, you can only call the album one thing- gorgeous.

Now, to wait for the movie.

AR Rahman 50- The 10 best compositions of all time

This is also his year silver jubilee year. And to reach the silver jubilee, Rahman had swept away all possible awards that he could possibly obtain to recognise the quality of his work- from the Indian National Award to the coveted Academy Award.

Allah-Rakha Rahman, known popularly as AR Rahman, turned 50 two days ago. Come May 11, he would have completed 25 years, or two-and-a-half decades since he first burst into the Indian music scene (Roja, his debut movie album, was released on May 11, 1992).

This is also his year silver jubilee year. And to reach the silver jubilee, Rahman had swept away all possible awards that he could possibly obtain to recognise the quality of his work- from the Indian National Award to the coveted Academy Award.

And he had never changed his trademark saying for 25 years- “Ellam pugalum iraivanekke.” (All praise belongs to God).

Needless to say, listening to his music has been a spiritual experience. When I got my very first Mp3 player when was 16 years old, the first album I purchased was a cassette for Aayitha Ezhuttu (2004).

My own personal journey with AR Rahman’s music began then, via Madushree’s effervescent “Sandaikozhi” and Rahman’s own rhythmic hum halfway through the song.

Here, I am charting down 10 best AR Rahman compositions (in my gestation), in chronological order of the song (album)’s release:

Continue reading “AR Rahman 50- The 10 best compositions of all time”

Mohenjo Daro- Music Review by Ram Anand

The way ARR has spread so much richness into a soundtrack with limited vocals goes to show the meticulousness that has gone into every recording.

Eight years. That was how long it has been since one of India’s grandest filmmakers, Ashutosh Gowariker, has teamed up with AR Rahman. To understand the significance of their collaboration, one has to look at the films they worked on together in the past- Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar- all three critical and musical successes. Since Jodha Akbar, Ashutosh’s films without an AR Rahman soundtrack seemed devoid of a soul and failed to live up to its the expectations of the three epics mentioned above. Continue reading “Mohenjo Daro- Music Review by Ram Anand”

24- Music Review by Ram Anand

Sid Sriram, in an AR Rahman composition. Has that combination ever gone wrong? No AR Rahman Tamil album is complete with even the least of Sid Sriram’s voice nowadays, and Mei Niagara comes across as the best song of this album.

For once, I was not particularly aware regarding the audio release of a new AR Rahman album until I chanced upon a review in one of the flimsy film sites calling the album of “24” a surprise- in a negative way. First of all, I would never understand how anyone who calls themselves a thorough reviewer can attempt to write a judgement on an ARR album within a couple of hours, and after listening to the tracks merely once. In fact, I’ll go even further and say this actually applies to the work of all musicians worth their salt.

Continue reading “24- Music Review by Ram Anand”

Best four of Indian cinema- 2015

The four films that earned my applause and repeated viewing in 2015.

  1. Uttama Villain (The good villain)
Cast: Kamal Haasan, K Balachander, Andrea Jeremiah, Urvashi, Pooja Kumar, Parvathy
Director: Ramesh Aaravind
Plot:
Manoranjan is an alcoholic middle aged South Indian superstar. At the premiere of his latest film, he discovers that he is suffering from a brain tumour and also discovers that he actually has a daughter from a previous affair that ended tragically.
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Now married with a son while at the same time maintaining an affair with his family doctor, Manoranjan confronts his mortality by returning to his cinema mentor to make one last movie, while at the same time reconciling all the relationships in his life- including his long estranged daughter who resents him.
My take:
Uttama Villain wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who had taken a liking to the film, it is highly likely to feature high in their list if they were ever to make one such list for 2015. Written by the ever versatile Kamal himself, Uttama Villain is an unique cinematic experience, there is an intense family drama, a deconstruction of fame, and a half-satire about mortality all rolled into one film.
This is something South Indian stars had almost never done before, deconstructing their own fame to a human level and even putting out their flaws out there for everyone to see. Uttama Villain was almost a self parody of the enigma that is Kamal Haasan himself and how he views his own life story- with ambiguous, albeit very personal, spiritualism.
And the way the screenplay weaves in all the relationships he has- with his wife, with his son, with his family doctor, his mentor, and also his past love affair which resulted in a daughter, is subtle and poetic, and the same time without judging or preaching about a flawed man’s life.
Easily the most delectable piece of work in Indian cinema for 2015.
  1. O Kadhal Kanmani (O love, my dear)
Cast: Dulquer Salman, Nithya Menen, Prakash Raj, Leela Sampson
Director: Mani Ratnam
Plot:
Aadhi and Tara are two South Indian youths plying their trade in India’s financial capital Mumbai. They hit it off immediately after meeting at a friend’s wedding and their whirlwind romance ends up with them living together under the same roof, albeit sharing the space with Aadhi’s middle aged landlord, who cares for his wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
But as time passes by, Aadhi and Tara must confront the realities of living together in a largely traditional society, while at the same time choosing between chasing their individual dreams or staying with each other.
My take:
Mani Ratnam, the man credited for revolutionising Tamil cinema, has not had pleasant outings with his last two movies- Raavan and Kadal, even though the former remains an all time favourite for me.
OK Kanmani, in so many levels, is Ratnam going back to a turf he had not touched since his timeless romantic drama Alaipayuthey, which was made 15 years ago. But it also completes an unique romance trilogy that displayed his mastery as an auteur.
In 1986, Ratnam broke into the scene with Mouna Ragam, which explored the relationship between a couple who had got into an arranged marriage half heartedly and how they try to make it work. 14 years later, with Alaipayuthey, the central theme was about a couple who elope to get married without their parents’ consent.
With every movie, Ratnam had documented the changing societal landscape in India, which is still largely traditional. OK Kanmani explores live in relationships in the context of India, and also brilliantly juxtaposes it with the relationship of an older couple who are devoted to each other.
It also raises a crucial dilemma for the youths of today- being torn between chasing individual dreams and trying to reconcile them with a partner. Of course, above all this, is the ability of the 59-year-old master filmmaker to capture the pulse of the young generation in the way he develops the romance between the two leads. The dialogues are minimal yet exquisite, the shot compositions are typically masterful, and the overall mood of the film are in the hallmarks of a legendary filmmaker.
Mani Ratnam is back.
  1. Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan, Jimmy Shergill
Director: Anand L Rai
Plot:
Four years after Tanu and Manu’s marriage, their romance has petered off, leading to consistent fights. Manu finally has a meltdown, resulting in him being admitted in a psychiatric ward. When he does get discharged, he is ready to divorce Tanu and in the process meets Tanu’s doppleganger, Kusum.
Things between Manu and Kusum proceed quickly and ends up in them being set for a marriage, but Tanu is not prepared to let go so easily, even though she initially starts dating other men in her effort to get over him.
My take:
If Tanu Weds Manu was sweet, twisted, and funny, it’s sequel is just double in dosage, thanks in no small part to Kangana Ranaut, who plays a dual role in this film.
She again steals the show as Tanu, but this time, she is not competing with with any other actors but herself- the other role- Kusum. And by the time credits roll, it’s difficult to tell which role packed a bigger punch.
TWMR is also packed with brilliant, quirky subplots that makes you feel like you are watching a Shakespearean stage comedy play. The pacing is brilliant, the acting exceptional, laughter aplenty, and a fitting ending to go with the tone of the rest of the movie.
TWMR is a pure, classy riot of an entertainer.
  1. Tamasha ( The spectacle)
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Plot: 
Ved and Tara meet in Corsica during vacation and their romance takes off. They make a pact never to meet each other again post the vacation, but Tara could not get him out of her head despite four years passing by.
She tracks down the man she fell in love with in Corsica, who is a sales manager by professions, but is slowly confronted by the reality that Ved in Delhi was not the same Ved she had longed for from the French trip.
At the same time, Tara’s presence reveals Ved’s struggle with his inner creativity, his childhood frustrations, and his yearning to come out of a box.
My take:
The most beautiful movie of the year. Tamasha had the best music of 2015, by the timeless AR Rahman, and of course a filmmaker, Imtiaz Ali, who had made a glowing career by making each and every film with an element of self discovery.
Tamasha is the crescendo of what Ali has been building up over the years- here, he sheds conventional, methodical storytelling traditions, and weaves the screenplay like a stage play- divided into acts.
It is also a musical, filled with gorgeous music that flows seamlessly with the narration.
Ranbir Kapoor is immense as Ved, as the sales manager and the creative storyteller yearning to express himself. Deepika Padukone’s Tara shares excellent chemistry with Ved and holds her own in the scenes she is involved in.
Tamasha is just a beautifully made movie. And a movie that was made right from Imtiaz Ali’s heart.

Tamasha- Movie Review by Ram Anand

Why do they always end the fun part? But of course, the younger Ved constantly asked that question to his banyan tree ‘storyteller’ in this non-linear narrative. But that’s life. Fun ends. Insecurities start.

Sitting at a cafe library in Delhi, Tara (Deepika Padukone) is reading a book called Catch 22, eagerly hoping she would somehow bump into Ved (Ranbir Kapoor), the man whom she knew as Don from her short holiday in Corsica, France.

We all know what is eventually going to happen- there is no unpredictability here. This scene has been played a hundred times over, in a hundred movies over. The fun at Corsica just had to end, and they just had to make life difficult for themselves. But don’t we all?
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Then she catches a glimpse of him. The background music, which was silent, gives way to the final beats of “Heer to Badi Sad Hai”. We are treated with the grinning faces of Punjabi folks music performers, singing about Heer’s state of mind, as she runs down the stairs, runs back back up, and struggles to make up her mind on whether she should make herself visible to Ved. When she finally walks over and he says hi to her, overcome with excitement, she sits at a coffee table and does a small fist pump to herself. Now, this, you don’t see in a hundred movies over. It’s called treatment and characterisation. And in Tamasha, it’s as gorgeous as Deepika’s heart melting reactions- especially when she hesitates and says “Oh okay” when Ved tells her she has no boyfriend.
Of course, the mass populace will moan and gripe about the “boringness” of this second half, especially after a rollicking first hour in Corsica. Why do they always end the fun part? But of course, the younger Ved constantly asked that question to his banyan tree ‘storyteller’ in this non-linear narrative. But that’s life. Fun ends. Insecurities start.
But then, Ranbir Kapoor’s bravura performance takes over. The way he converses to the mirror, somewhat creepily, shows, the alter ego, the dual personality, that he has been hiding. And in more than one way, hints at how that common 9am-5pm man on the street, who does exactly the same things everyday, might have hidden a Don inside himself.
Ved and Don fight each other quintessentially in the second half- and Don can no longer take it. He is yearning to come out, and the more Ved restraints, the more damage Don causes to Ved’s sanity. This is not something new for an Imtiaz Ali movie, he started this paradigm of exploring the psychology of his protagonists intently with Rockstar. He followed that up a notch higher with Alia Bhatt fighting the demons of sexual abuse and Stockholm syndrome in Highway. In Tamasha, the canvas is larger, and the performance a masterpiece.
There will plenty of reviews to tell you how good the Corsica part was, but Tamasha can be best epitomised in that intense scene at a pub when Ved and Tara wrestle each other.
Ved is telling Tara he might hurt her as he is unsure of his own behaviour, while Tara, looking totally shattered, asks herself “what have I done?”- she had touched a raw nerve that had triggered his other personality.
As Ved finally succumbs to crying and admitting that Tara’s words had totally changed him, he turns away from her and lays his face on the table. She imitates him, and pats on him on the head. AR Rahman works his magic here with the best number of a sumptuous album- Tum Saath Ho.
And there is this line from Irshad Kamil, the lyricist- “There are dreams in your eyes, your dreams are full of disappointment, I feel whatever you may say- they are full of lies. What difference does it make- if you are with me or not? Life is cruel, and always be cruel”.
Fine poetry, legendary musical, aesthetic direction, and two wonderful talents competing with each other on their acting chops.
Yes, I will tell you Tamasha is entirely predictable- as predictable as the high you will get if you drink a bottle of wine all on your own.
The question is- do you enjoy the taste of fine wine? Does it make a difference whether it’s wine bottled in 2010 or one bottled 100 years ago?
If you have proper, delectable taste, Tamasha will bowl you over, and leave you moved.
And just think, how many of us are struggling to get out of the box liked Ved?
A beautiful movie made on a canvas of great emotions, this will linger on me for sometime, I can tell you that much.
Rating: 9/10

Tamasha- Music Review by Ram Anand

Nah, I’m kidding. This song is more than seven minutes long. Discovery? Fuck that. I’m getting lost in this number. I’ll lose myself. I’ll rediscover myself some other day. I’ve been taken over by the music.

There are two things that I look forward the most when it comes to Indian cinema- a Mani Ratnam film and an AR Rahman musical. With “Tamasha” (Show), the legendary Rahman teams up with filmmaker Imtiaz Ali for the third time, and their previous two collaborations is enough to cause pangs of excitement.

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First, there was the timeless album Rockstar (2011), in which the range that was brought out by Rahman made it one of his best albums in a career spanning over two decades- while Highway (2014), was a hidden gem that contained some of the most carefully composed tunes you’ll ever hear, if you are bothered to listen carefully.
Hence why, the first thing I did this morning was to get my hands on a Tamasha album, and quickly ensured I had listened to each tracks at least three times before I posted this review.
And there is not gonna be a review more apt for me to end my hibernation from Thou Art So Beautiful, as I had not written much here this calendar year.
Here goes.
Matargasthi (Mohit Chauhan)
Now, the promo video making rounds since last week had already captured the imagination of millions. Ranbir Kapoor’s quirky dance moves, with Deepika Padukone’s energy, had already promised a great musical number with a mix of unconventional sound mixing. If anyone remembers what Mohit Chauhan did for ARR in Rockstar, this is right up that classic alley. Once again, Rahman brings out a new range in Mohit’s vocals, and both of them combine to deliver an absolutely mental, breathless, and soothing number.
Where Rahman stands out in the deluge of Bollywood hit numbers is the fact that he does not relegate his dance numbers to all of high pitch noise and blasting music. Keeping in mind that the song is shot in the outdoors of Corsica (a gorgeous island), Matargasthi tells a story of its own with the flow of its music. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics flow seamlessly with the music- resembling “Hawa Hawa” from Rockstar, which was shot in Prague.
The highlight, apart from Mohit’s vocals and that cute “ding a ding” and that minute pistol sounds (all part of the storytelling elements)- is of course the rather melodious second half of the song- where Mohit switches his vocals- and the violins come in to allow Ranbir to do his effervescent impersonation of Dev Anand. An absolutely Tamasha way to start an album to begin an album that Rahman fans had been craving for months now.
And man, he did not disappoint.
Rating: 10/10
Heer To Badi Sad Hai (Mika Singh, Nakash Aziz)
Mix that Punjabi folklore tune with Mika Singh’s voice, you’d normally expect a high pitched dance number- but again this is AR Rahman’s touch. With Irshad’s lyrics, this song describes the female protagonist (Heer)’s sad emotions and frustration. There is a journey element in this number (Imtiaz’s films always have an element of travel interconnected with personal emotional growth).
The beats are absolutely catchy- for a song that has the word “Sad” in it, this song is far from a sad hearing. Mika gorgeously goes high pitch at the middle stanzas, and this must have been one of the best numbers he had sung in a long, long time.
Then, comes the final one minute in which ARR takes it to another level with a gorgeous beats that have become the theme of the film’s trailer. Captures your imagination- and your musical senses. Sumptuous..
Rating: 9.5/10
Tum Saath Ho (Alka Yagnik and Arjit Singh)
Look who’s returned! Aka Yagnik is behind the mic for ARR after a long time, and my, the results are as sweet as her voice. An out and out, soulful, romantic number- ARR kills it with his use of flute and two different tempos for Alka and Arjit’s portions.
This stands right up there with the likes of Tum Ho (Rockstar), and Heer (Highway)- songs that takes you to a different plain altogether.
The soul of AR Rahman’s songs in this album is captured in this extremely delectable number. “Teri Nazrein Me Sapne, Tere Sapne Mein Narazi”.
This is beautiful poetry mixed with beautiful sound mixing, with the voice of one of the best female singers of the recent generations. And it has everything- tablas, flute, you name it.
Not to forget, Arjit does an exemplary work with his parts as well. You do not expect anything less from an AR Rahman album do you?
Rating: 10/10
Wat Wat Wat (Arjit Singh and Sashwat Singh)
This is another song that has Punjabi folklore elements- and elements of a personal journey. This tells a story of a man who, literally, got “done over” by a woman he loved- hence the “Wat”.
The percussions are absolutely quirky but it all settles nicely in a soulful rhythm. Arjit does an excellent job and seems to be having fun behind the mic.
On another day, this could have been a situational song- but as situational the lyrics sound, this song comes out as catchy as Heer To Badi Sad Hai.
Rating: 9/10
Chali Kahani (Sukhwinder Singh, Haricharan, and Haripriya)
Begins with a slow flute, and suddenly you have a grand orchestra coming in. Probably the richest composition in the album, Chali Kahani is the central song of the album- the one that befits the theme “Why always the same story?”
Fittingly, this composition never settles in a monotony. The tune changes orchestra to carnatic effortlessly. Sukhwinder Singh, needless to say, does what a veteran like him does so best- anchor the different tunes so well, before Haricharan flexes his sweet vocals for a brief time- along with Haripriya.
This song is an important backstory to the film- and befitting to an album like Tamasha, is so bloody high in musical quality. Three or four listens, and you’ll be taken in by ARR’s stunning background musical mix.
Now, it’s time to wait for the story.
Rating: 9/10
Safarnama (Lucky Ali)
Who would have thought Lucky Ali will get one of the best songs in the album? Soulful, rich, and spiritual. “Shuru tumse, khatam tumse”.
ARR uses minimal instruments for this song, but the effect is almost magical. It’s deeply emotional too at the same time. You really don’t get compositions like these often, even in an ARR album.
This packs so much soul and depth that even if you don’t understand the language, the heaviness won’t be lost on you. A man’s search for his love encapsulated so well in its music and BGM work.
You can only take your hats off.
Rating: 9.5/10
Parade De La Bastille (Instrumental)
Now- imagine a track named Parade De La Bastille, starting with some Sufi humming, following Mediterranean touches, and then flute, and then a rehash of Matargasthi.
Nothing left to say- it’s just pure creativity- AR Rahman way. Listen.
Rating: 9.5/10
Tu Koi Aur Hai (AR Rahman, Alma Ferovic, and Arjun Chandy)
There, finally, with the final track, ARR goes behind the mic- and how. Such rich orchestra, and such soulful lyrics. A song about self discovery, Tu Koi Aur Hai is something you should listen on a quiet morning overlooking the sea- because the richness is so vast and can move you places and also invoke so much emotions.
Alma Ferovic returns to the mic after Rockstar and again provides ample support for ARR with the orchestra parts.
And there is also the use of opera vocals, which goes along with this beauty of a composition. Discover yourself. Discover the music.
Nah, I’m kidding. This song is more than seven minutes long. Discovery? Fuck that. I’m getting lost in this number. I’ll lose myself.
I’ll rediscover myself some other day. I’ve been taken over by the music.
Rating: 10/10
There’s nothing left to say. Some albums leave you speechless, and this has done exactly that. Beauty. Perfection.
Thank you Imtiaz, for providing a script that has clearly enabled ARR to weave his magic again. Apart from Mani Ratnam, it seems only Imtiaz brings out such richness in ARR compositions. This is a hat trick of stunning albums.
Never stop collaborating.
Now, Phir Tamasha Dekh!
Whole a album rating: Sumptuous. Delicious.

OK Kanmani- A Mani Ratnam love letter

OK Kanmani was Mani Ratnam’s love letter to the wind. The pleasure is ours that it has been translated scene by scene, and immortalised through a camera for generations to come.

In OK Kanmani’s second half, there is a scene where the young, carefree, commitment phobic, living-in couple Adiyta Varadarajan (Dulquer Salman) and Tara Kalingarayar (Nithya Menen) bring back their landlord’s wife Mrs Bhavani (Leela Sampson), who suffers from second stage Alzheimer’s and had forgotten her way home.

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The landlord, Ganapathy (Prakash Raj) is tending to Bhavani, who’s curious to know what is wrong with her and does not want to hear Ganapathy gloss over her health problems. He finally relents and admits that her Alzheimer’s has gotten worse, after she says “I am losing my memory, not my mind.”

The door to the room in which the middle age couple are having this subtle conversation is slightly ajar, and the younger couple who stay in the same house are witnessing it from the small opening from the hallway. As that conversation progresses, Tara and Adi, who made a pact to just live together until they go their separate ways to pursue their ambitions, move closer to each other while eavesdropping.

At last, Bhavani asks Ganapathy the most packed one-liner question- “will I forget you one day too, Ganapathy?”. At this point, Tara, close to tears, is leaning on Adi’s chest.

That’s Maniratnam- his composition of a shot, his composition of minimalistic dialogues, and his composition of his characters’ body language. More often than not, his characters convey more through body language rather than dialogues.

This is the man who revolutionised Tamil cinema in the late 80s- the man who showed that its possible to make movies with minimalistic dialogues in an industry where lengthy dialogues and over the top drama ruled the roost. This is the man who could shoot songs in a single room by playing around with lighting and plethora of aesthetics. This is the man who perfected even the most simple scenes. Decades later, spanning three decades, Mani Ratnam had never shot a song abroad despite the fervour among many filmmakers to fly their crew to exotic locations for a song and dance sequence. He only broke the rule once to shoot a song in Turkey, that’s because a portion of the story in “Guru” took place in Turkey.

In his 1986 classic Mouna Raagam, Mani Ratnam told the story of a couple in arranged marriage who tries to come to terms with the fact that one of them had been in love with someone else before and could not change their minds just for the sake of marriage. It was an exploration of a changing social landscape. In 2000, Alaipayuthey explored couples who eloped and married without their parents’ consent and how learnt to deal with their issues later on. OK Kamani, in keeping up with the times, he explores live-in relationships and the dilemma many young couples face- the need to sacrifice their careers for the sake of a relationship or otherwise.

Tara, Mani’s effervescent firefly, an absolute beauty who ranks at among the most loveable female characters he had carved out in a glorious career, sums this up when her landlord asks her if she would choose between Adi and her career.

“If you asked me six months ago, I would say Paris for sure. Now, I have become a little too greedy. I want both,” she says.

Can we have both? Do relationships always have to mean compromising goals? As goals grow bigger in today’s world, can an institution like marriage evolve itself to be a supplement rather than a hindrance to youth ambitions?

These are the motifs of this new Mani Ratnam celluloid artwork, accompanied by his trademark appreciation of emotions without ever being judgemental towards the choices his characters make. I would run out of space if the scene highlights of this movie needs to be listed down- frame by frame, this is one of the most beautifully crafted, yet simple, straight-from-the-heart movies you will ever see. And the most important part is that you will see yourself, your wife, your husbands, your boyfriend/girlfriend/ex-partners in at least several scenes.

OK Kanmani epitomises stunning teamwork. Dulquer Salman enters the long list of the overtly charming, middle class, carefree, NRI-ambition laden Tamil youth archetype that Mani often creates in his movies. Compared to his Tamil debut Vaaya Moodi Pesavum, this is a massive upgrade on all levels. Prakash Raj as Ganapathy is endearing, and inspires the narration just as crucially as his appearance in Kannathil Muthamittal (2002) did.

But it is the women who own this film. Nithya Menen soars as Tara. Her eyes speak volumes, his mischief is unparalleled, and her dialogue delivery makes you feel like reaching out your hands and hugging her if Tara had existed in real life. An actress could have not asked for a better character to cement her standing and boost her career.

Leela Samson as Bhavani too has some of the best dialogues in the movie, and owns the scenes in which she is involved. This was one hell of a casting masterstroke by Mani.

PC Sreeram showed once again why he is the brilliant cinematographer that he is. His collaborations with Mani had always produced gems, dating back to the 80s, and the way the two of them set up aesthetics to shoot the best song in the movie, Parandhu Sella Vaa, within the confines of a simplistic lodge room is stamp two legends at their very best. There is also a gorgeous scene in Ahmedabad when Adi, from a high floor, converses with Tara, who sits on the ground floor at the edges of a cascading body of water, shimmering under the sunlight.

He also captures the pigeons of Mumbai with such beauty, in a scene where the huge flock of birds original to the coast metropolitan fly above the gorgeous Tara and Adi rides his Royal Enfield into the frame while she is feeding the birds.

Then, of course, there is AR Rahman’s music. Parandhu Sella Vaa, the recurring Naane Varugiren, and the sumptuous Hey Sinamika are all done justice to the way only Mani Ratnam can do, while the background music is faultless.

Even the voodoo game- Mumbai 2.0, is created with such great perfection that it did not seem like haphazard work.

The dialogues are like a long-list of collectibles that can be used and re-used in romantic situations in your life, and that is an amazing feat for a director who turns 59 this calendar year and had survived two heart attacks resulting from the high pressure environment he creates on the sets of his own movies.

There’s a long list of celebrated filmmakers across the world who make great movies well into their later years- Martin Scorcese, Clint Eastwood to name just a few.

But Mani Ratnam is not only the director who explores the juxtaposition between right and wrong atop a cranky bridge in a dense forest, as he did in Raavanan (2010)- n0 matter how old he gets, he hasn’t lost that ability to be young again and to be able to understand how the current generation negotiates love and relationships in a social and cultural context.

This understanding from a filmmaker of his age and calibre is astounding. Mani Ratnam did not direct OK Kamani, he packaged it straight from his heart. That’s a rarity very few can emulate.

OK Kanmani was Mani Ratnam’s love letter to the wind. The pleasure is ours that it has been translated scene by scene, and immortalised through a camera for generations to come.

Hence, that’s why Mani Sir is the legend that he is. Hence why he is a trendsetter. Now, anyone cares to call for his retirement again? (I just had to do that).

Rating: 10/10 (C’mon, I can’t give it any lesser).

O Kaadhal Kanmani- Music Review by Ram Anand

OK Kanmani’s music has nothing on Alaipayuthey’s music, it instead has something completely different, unique, and inventively mesmerising on its own.

It is difficult to be generous with my words on a keyboard when you only have one and a half hands to function with. But I guess that is how much I owe my will to persist to my inspirations- Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman, that I have to review their latest offering, OK Kanmani.

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Many comparisons have been made between OK Kanmani and Mani’s 2000 film Alaipayuthey, owing to the fact that the film retains the same youthful romantic spirit last seen in a Mani film 15 years ago. But knowing Mani and AR Rahman well enough and having followed their careers together over the past 23 years, these two never offer a repeat dish on a platter. OK Kanmani’s music has nothing on Alaipayuthey’s music, it instead has something completely different, unique, and inventively mesmerising on its own.

Kaara Attakara (Dinesh Kanagaratnam, Saasha Thirupathi, Darshana)

The theme song that had accompanied the trailer for the film, the album starts as refreshing and breezy as we had expected, with a full-on whacky rap number interluded with melodious breezy renditions in the middle.

Dinesh is in top form, while Darshana gives him great company. Shashaa Tirupati comes in with dialogue based whispers in the middle. This is like the Endrendrum Punnagai of Alaipayuthey, breezy, and trend setting.

And of course, it looks like it will go with the image of a young man in love riding a Royal Enfield in the middle of a massive city. (rings a bell?) This song will definitely run through the movie.

Ya man!

Aye Sinamika (Karthik)

Bring in those light touches of guitars strumming, Karthik behind the mic, and AR Rahman orchestrating the whole arrangement to lyrics penned by Vairamuthu, then well, you have- a gem.

With minimal use of instruments, Aye Sinamika is an unique expression of love just like the masterful Usure Pogudhey from Raavanan. Though not the same intensity, it is another demonstration of Karthik’s talent of owning and handling an entire number like this with perfection and restrained intensity in his voice.

This song might take some time to grow on you-but once you get used to its irregular qualities, you won’t stop being hooked to it. A perfect song to be imagined along with Mumbai’s coastline. Redefining and full of soul, and what other combo can bring such an effect?

Nee ennai neengadhe.

Mental Manadhil (AR Rahman Male Version, Jonita Gandhi Female Version)

Like-a-like my Laila!

The most groovy, youthful number of our times, of course, has been doing rounds for sometime now since it was released as a single. AR Rahman is in top form as both singer and composer in the the energetic male version of the song. A definite chartbuster!

The female version by Jonita Gandhi is sung using Jonita’s own talents and unique voice modulation. This is Jonita having fun with a stripped down version of the instrument heavy male version. Equally catchy, equally appealing, and added with with some class too. Equally, and uniquely, good.

Parandhu Sella Vaa (Karthik, Shashaa Tirupati)

Just like that- what a composition. Masterpiece in simplicity. Paced ever so subtly, sung with such clarity, almost seductive voices, Parade Sella Vaa is the diamond of the OK Kanmani album. The minimalistic vocals at the background are accompanied with stunning variety in the modulation for both Shashaa and Karthik. We knew how good Karthik was for over a decade now, but to see the quality Shashaa offers on the vocal range is nothing short of pure magic.

Karthik brings the song to another level by enlivening it with a second half ballad accompanied ARR’s genius touches that brings you to a zen mode.

An absolutely stunning piece of work. The Pudhu Vellai Mazhai reinvented with a modern touch, 23 years later.

Naane Varugiren (Shashaa Tirupati, Sathya Prakash)

Again, Shasta’s voice immediately grips you with its class and she owns this number throughout. Laced with contemporary touches based on very classical raagas, Naane Varugiren is AR Rahman at his inventive, fusion best. The song takes its own sweet time to pick up, but two minutes in, the quality is splattered all over it, before Sathya Prakash comes in with beautiful classical notes in the interludes.

Naane Varugiren reminds one of Snekithane from Alaipaayuthey on so many levels- only that they don’t sound the same, at all.

But the effect and the quality of it is pretty much at the same level. This is musical beauty in its purest form.

Threera Ula (AR Rahman, Nikita Gandhi)

Probably the only song in the album that is filled up with mostly electronic touches, but even in that Nikita Gandhi comes in with classical interludes making this another fantastic fusion number. This song sounds more like a situational number than one with lengthy picturisation, but it is very good nevertheless.

Malargal Keatten (Chitra, AR Rahman)

Remember the Alaipayuthey Kanna number from Alaipayuthey? Just like that, this sumptuous number starts with complete classical notes before ARR weaves in his magic with his brand of fusion. It is refreshing to hear Chitra sing a song for an ARR composition after a long gap. The touches of the flute in the middle is the work of a genius.

Vairamuthu’s lyrics are also brilliant for this song. AR Rahman has a small bit at the end, and at times, this number also reminds one of Enge Enathu Kavithai from Kandukondein Kandukondein.

Truly classical.

OK Kanmani is another inventive, ground breaking offering from Mani and ARR as they attempt to define modern day romance set in a metropolitan city in 2015.

AR Rahman is in top form, as he always is for a Mani Ratnam flick, while the lyrics are sumptuous. There some gorgeous vocals from Karthik and Shashaa Tirupati especially, not to be missed.

I would pick the whole album for a complete experience, but my personal favourites are- Parandhu Sella Vaa, Naane Varugiren, Mental Manadhil (Male), Malargal Kaetten, Aye Sinamika, and Kaara Attakara.

Er, that’s pretty much the whole album, isn’t it?

Rating: 9.5/10

AR Rahman’s 10 best soundtracks- a compilation by Ram Anand (Part 2)

I rest my case. AR Rahman’s best works were spread throughout his career. Not just 90s. You are musically deaf if you don’t appreciate how he had innovated himself and music for the industry.

Number five-  

Duet (1994)

One of the best use of saxophones in a soundtrack came in Duet, and AR Rahman without an ounce of doubt used this to great effect to present us with what was arguably his his most diverse albums so early in his career. Duet, a tragic love story featuring Prabhu Ganesan and Ramesh Arvind which was directed by K Balachander, featured ARR’s first collaboration with the famed KB. KB’s script and tempo resulted in an amazing, word-class score that feature timeless classics that remains relevant until today, including songs such as Anjali Anjali, Vennilavin Therril,  and En Kadhale, which were great romantic compositions.

There were also quirky numbers such as Kathirikka and Kulicha Kuthalam, and also Mettepodu, a sweetly composed introduction song.

The background score, regardless to say, is a masterclass of its own.

 Number four-

 Dil Se/Uyire (1998)

I mean, I can’t possibly compile a list of ARR’s top ten soundtracks without including in it a movie directed by Maniratnam, ARR’s guru and mentor, right? It is difficult to pick what has been the duo’s best collaboration, but Dil Se/Uyire was definitely a bilingual marvel. The music was such a marvel that it peppered cracks in the movie itself, and shot Shah Rukh Khan into some sort of global fame.

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The original soundtrack was in Hindi for Dil Se, which was Maniratnam’s first attempt at a full on Hindi film, while the music was replicated for the Tamil dubbed version, Uyire.

Chaiyya Chaiyya was the song that won most popularity, and remains extremely famous to date. It has been featured in more than one Hollywood productions, and that image of Shah Rukh dancing atop a moving train became an iconic image that propelled ARR, and by extension Shah Rukh, into global recognition.

Jiya Jale head a beautiful raaga to it set in Kerala, and sung by the inimitable Lata Mageshkar, and has gone one to become another timeless classic of its own. It’s Tamil version, Nenjinile, was sung by another female singing legend, S Janaki, and was good on its own stead.

Dil Se Re, and Sandhosha Kannire, the Hindi and Tamil versions of ARR’s own romantic rendition in the backdrop of bombs and wonderful scenery in war-torn north India, is a majestic composition which was sung with such fervour and passion by the composer himself. The lyrics from Gulzar and Vairamuthu encapsulated one-sided passion in love so well.

Saatrangi Re explained the theme of the entire movie, which is the seven shades of love leading to obsession. Its setting in a dessert and ARR’s rather Arabic influences to the music added to the enigma.

But the best underrated jewel in this album is “Poongatrile”, the Tamil version of the Hindi original “E Ajnabi”. Unni Mennon brings out such pang and such depression in his voice and you can almost “feel” this heartbreaking song of a lover’s yearning. The Hindi version, in my opinion, did not replicate that magical level of emotion because Udit Narayanan’s voice didn’t contain just as much emotions.

Dil Se and Uyire were magical albums that deserve to be one of the best works a music composer had ever produced, world over. It is arguably the best ARR work. Yes, ARGUABLY. It’s bit redundant to say that when I’m compiling a list of his ten best albums and I’ve just place this album at number four. That’s because there are three albums that are more majestic, better, and perhaps more underrated than this. Read below.

Number three- 

Rockstar (2011)

What can be better than Dil Se? One word-ROCKSTAR. This was one album of Rahman’s recent works that completely blew me away and would have jerked any music connoseiuers off their comfortable seats.

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I have already reviewed the album before on this same website here: http://www.ramyuva.com/voice-of-the-winds/378/

But heck, it’s so good I’ll repeat my laurels. Rockstar was ARR’s maiden collaboration with Imtiaz Ali (the second one was Highway, which also featured in part one of this list), but given that the movie was, well, about a troubled “Rockstar” and his troubled love story, the rich variation of emotions that came in this album is stuff legends, no, stuff of folklore even. Mohit Chauhan delivered a singing masterclass, singing almost all of the songs in the album as ARR and Imtiaz uniquely attempted to retain the authenticity of Ranbir Kapoor’s performance.

Phir Se Ud Chala was a brilliant and Jo Bhi Main were soul singing at its best, while Kateya Karun brought forth the quirky Punjabi music elements.

Kun Faya Kun sits right up there with AR Rahman’s best Sufi masterpieces, while Sheher Mein demonstrated Mohit’s singing prowess. Hava Hava had a distinct Eastern European touch to it, while Aur Ho had so much passion and grandeur.

Tum Ko and Tum Ho were two beautiful renditions of slow melody in female and male voices respectively, something ARR is so good at doing regularly.

The best two, however, would be Nadaan Parindey, a legendary composition on which ARR and Mohit combine behind the mic to encapsulate the lead character’s angst, yearning and love with generous use of soulful rock music, and of course, Saadda Haq.

The latter is a one-of-a-kind, brilliant, timeless nerve pumper which is akin to holding the middle finger to capitalism and the system it perpetuates. It’s a song any political revolutionary can sign to the power elites, at any corner in the world. A blood rush can can typify any mass demonstration or major rally in this world.

Rockstar gave ARR the opportunity to delve into rock music and capture the sojourn of a musician’s life. It was an opportunity he did not miss to deliver the third best work of his career, in my view.

Number two-

Iruvar (1997)

Iruvar isn’t about the songs alone. Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman’s best combination to date, both musically, and cinematically, is also about AR Rahman’s best background music work in his career, added to it songs that retained a period era feeling but were highly delectable on its own right.

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The film was peppered with beautiful rendition of poems, recited by Arvind Swamy, and two such examples in the soundtrack, Udal Mannuku and Unnodu Naan Irundha, typifies this. The minimal instruments but the heightened emotion in each poem gave the words of a poet a brilliant platform to shine on. Also check out the background music in the climax scene of the movie, shortly before, and during Prakash Raj’s recital of a heart wrenching poem mourning the loss of a friend in an empty hall while the old friend’s body is being paraded in the streets filled with crowd. If you never lived you to feel how MGR’s funeral might have been, this scene would have given you an idea.

There is also this one scene where Mohanlal’s character is introduced to a huge crowd waiting downstairs of his home by Prakash Raj. The music that accompanies the gesture of slowly raising one’s hand to the crowd and the crowd going berserk is why this was a world-class movie with world class musical work.

The songs were timeless as well. Kannai Kattikolathey and Aayirathil Naan Oruvan is like listening to MGR’s best hits being remastered and rebranded to make them sound contemporary, catchy and periodic at the same time. They remain unique compositions that still fall sweetly on the ears almost 20 years after being produced.

Narumugaiye is high on the ARR’s classical qualities, a combination of two distinct raagas, and a brilliant composition. Vennila Venilla is a jazzy number with a classy treatment, so is Hello Mr Ethirkachi, which is faster and catchier. Pookodiyin Punnagai is another brilliant slow melody reminiscent of movies of old.

 Number one-

 Swades (2004)

Mastery. Legacy. AR Rahman’s had always, in his entire career, been most passionate about patriotism more than anything else. Very few ARR works tops works that he does for movies or albums that carry a patriotic statement. I have no doubts in my mind, in my decades of following his work, Swades is one album whose level of depth, genius of music, and overall feel is almost unmatched. It can give even a person who had never been to India a glimpse of how you will fall in love with India despite its imperfections. The background score, for which ARR won a Filmfare Award, can move you to tears. Shah Rukh Khan delivered was was arguably his most restrained, best performance over the past decade. He felt the script. He felt the music. The emotions showed in his eyes. Ashutosh Gowariker treated the film as carefully, as patiently, as a father would bring up his daughter, or a son would find beauty in an ailing mother.

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This film’s music was all about beauty. In every word that Javed Akhtar penned, in every tabla beat that came with the music, with every scenery of rural India. This was just a complete musical experience, unmatched, unrivalled. The work of a lifetime.

Yeh Tara Woh Taara can make you smile and cry at the same time if you had understood the lyrics and had watched it with the video. Udit Narayanan’s rendition won him a National Award. At over seven minutes long, this song is a marvel that didn’t try to overshadow brilliant lyrics that had so much of depth and message, but at the same time, had great music that can send you to someplace beyond earth. When they say God is in Music, I understand that through many ARR compositions, but this album has many such songs, and this is one of it.

Saanwariya had such sweetness and innocence in it and was very sweet to the ears. Alka Yagnik’s voice was pitch perfect for the song, and it was one song where Gayatri Joshi’s simple beauty was encapsulated.

Yu Hi Chala was a song that had defined my entire life, from the moment I heard it. Javed’s lyrics were a masterpiece. The picturisation by Ashutosh, having Shah Rukh sit in a caravan along with a quirky saadhu who was showing him the path on a gravel road, with the lyrics blaring about how the traveller keeps on travelling in an unknown road were stuff of magic. The song talks about ambiguity of life- appreciating beauty while not knowing your final destination. That’s life. That’s how a journey should be. Sitting atop a caravan and enjoying good music while not knowing where you are heading to. Hariharan’s voice was sweet, Udit gave passion to the song, while Kailash Kher was brilliant as the voice of the saadhu, who through the words of the saadhu, says the wisest things you will ever hear being written in film lyrics. The song of my lifetime.

Aahista Aahista had such pain, longing and nostalgia packed inside it, that it is another brilliant composition. It is one song that you would love to close your eyes to, and enjoy the emotions poring through it. Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam combine to great effect here, but the dubbed Tamil version, Thai Sonna Thallatu packs an even better punch- with KJ Yesudas’ voice tugging at your heartstrings. This song might be slow, but you must be missing a lot on life’s finer details if you can’t appreciate the beauty this number entails. This was written soulfully, and composed even more soulfully. By someone who was in touch with the elements around him.

Yeh Jo Des Hera Tera had already become a song for a generation. ARR goes behind the mic and delivers the best rendition he had ever done for a song. There’s so much subtle longing and passion in this song, so much so you can imagine the character’s struggle without having to watch the scene. Lyrics such as “your motherland is calling out to you…” takes patriotism and one’s affection to homeland to a new level. The love of a man to his motherland, and the need his motherland has for him, as never been married so well as it did in this song. This song can move you to tears, no matter which country you are from. Try going away from home for a long time, and when you miss it, listen to this song.

Paal Paal Hi Bhaari was another peach of a beauty from Madushree and Vijay Prakash. It is the sweetest song you can imagine Seetha singing while being kidnapped by Raavanan. The use of the Ramayan analogy to relate to struggles in a rural village was brilliant, and so was ARR’s flute-based composition.

Dekho Na is a slow romantic song that builds up nicely and is extremely sweet to hear to. Not to forget, the album has two magical instrumentals, a flute-only version of Paal Paal performed by Naveen and a shehnai-only version of Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera, performed by Madhukar T Dhumal.

I basically ran out of superlatives praising this album. End of. Nothing more to say.

I rest my case.  AR Rahman’s best works were spread throughout his career. Not just 90s. You are musically deaf if you don’t appreciate how he had innovated himself and music for the industry.

And give us some more albums to make this list seem irrelevant.