After a four year hiatus, the combo of Shankar-AR Rahman is returning for the first time in a decade for a non-Rajinikanth film. This Vikram-Amy Jackson starrer has drawn plenty of attention for its captivating teaser that has shown Vikram at his best- taking various avatars, but at the same time, given its romantic theme, much is to be expected of ARR’s music.
There is no major surprises in the music of I, if you have the last two combinations that Shankar-ARR had produced. Similar to Sivaji and Endhiran, the music is modern, electronic, and is meant for either a dance number or a romantic number to be shot at posh locales.
But one thing that I’s music has that the music of the two previous albums did not, in my opinion, is some added soul. Instead of just a catchy, appealing romantic number, Shankar and ARR had made it a point to tune the romantic numbers with an added dash of soul and emotion, something we rarely see being utilised in Shankar’s film (as he is known for grandeur and toys very minimally with emotions in this movies).
Then again, it is probably the first time in aeons that Shankar is attempting a full-on romantic theme. Though the love attraction was a mainstay in Endhiran, the movie was all about robots fighting humans. All the previous movies he had done had been about a hero with a social cause and the love track is often relegated to one pretty heroine and a couple of glamorously canned songs. As such, the music’s depth is more rich here than the typical commercial value and bravura that regularly awaits us in a Shankar-ARR combo.
Aila Aila (Aditya Rao, Natalie Di Luccio)
Orchestra, opera, Indian beats, you name it. ARR begins the album by once again flaunting his knack for an unconventional mix. Canadian singer Natalie handles the opera bit and even chirps in with some Tamil lines, while Aditya Rao holds his sport regularly. The song changes beats at every stanza, and there are small pleasures to find at every juncture.
At over five minutes long, it provides plenty of room for ARR to innovate and that is exactly what ARR has done. The middle stanzas, in typical ARR style, is magical, and can send you to a zen mode. The beats will sound uncommon first. but give it two additional hearings and this seamless marriage of different bodies of work into one number will absorb you.
There’s even a bit of bhangra bit! Very good!
Ennodu Nee Irundhal (Sid Sriram)
Remember the soulful “Adiye” from “Kadal”? If you ever wished to hear another song like that, we have it here with the same composer and the same singer. And my, if you thought Adiye was good, ARR and Sid combine to deliver a blast even better than that. The choruses, the beats, the haunting music, and Sid’s unmistakable voice makes this one of the standout numbers in the album.
It starts pretty slow, with some good slow music, reminiscing Adiye as the chorus kicks in the a grand manner. But at the second stanza, unassumingly, the song picks up pace and gets even more special. The middle stanzas shows the best of Sid’s voice and the absolute best ARR’s musical genius, and he increases the tempo incredibly while maintaining the soul song.
Sunitha Sarathy chips in with a few lines of her own, and there’s a little rock bits to end the song. But, overall, this is Magic!!
Ennodu Nee Irundhal- Reprise (Chinmayi, Sid Sriram)
Basically, the female version of the earlier song is haunting, peaceful, slower, melodious and brings with a different kind of soul than the previous composition. ARR lets the able voice of Chinmayi to guide this song along, keeps instruments at a minimum.
The middle stanza is extremely sweet to the ears, and Sid then chips in towards the end of the song. It retains similar lyrics that Sid’s version but carries a different, more melodious atmosphere, and is equally good. Thumbs up.
Ladio (Nikita Gandhi)
Immediately, you are taken to a nightclub. This is a full-on western number with electronic beats, something that is quite common in a Shankar film. Nikita’s high energy rendition starts this number like a typical Western number, but then the Tamil lyrics kicked in, and settles into a right balance between electronic beats and a breeze.
If Irumbile Oru Idhayam was such a popular song, Ladio can be twice that song, is utilised properly.
Mersalaayaiiten (Anirudh, Neeti Mohan)
If you don’t know what this album is before listening to the song, the first minute will you give you an impression that you are listening to an Anirduh composition, especially with Anirudh himself behind the mic. But ARR shows his touch by elevating a foot-tapping romantic number to new levels of innovation that is persistent throughout the song. Where most composers play safe after reaching a foot-tapping tunes and tend to repeat it, ARR tweaks with the tunes and beats constantly, and attempts to this song unique in its own way.
This will slowly grow, and when it does, it will top of the charts, and stay there for a long time. Will clearly promoted to be the most commercial and mass-appeal song in the album. And rightly so. A surefire chartbuster.
Naan Mersalaayaiten. In time you will be smitten too.
There’s a remix version of this song that I am not reviewing as it is not much different from the original, just a shorter, faster version.
Pookale Sattru Oyivedungal (Haricharan, Shreya Ghosal)
After combining with ARR to reveal his maximum potential in Kaaviyathalaivan, Haricharan comes in and grabs all the attention with arguably the best song of the album. The best duet of the album, with the inimitable Shreya Ghosal lending the female voice, that will definitely (must) be shot at Shankar’s typical posh, eye-pleasing locations.
In the lines of Ale Ale (Boys), Sahana (Sivaji) and Kadhal Annukal (Endhiran), comes a number that has some added soul but is just purely good music at the end of the day.
Haricharan starts it off with the aid of some electronic beats, but this song very quickly settles into a nice rhythm. It explains the film’s title, hence why the conclusion that the film is romantic-themed. Shreya’s voice adds to the sweetness of this song, as there is no need to elaborate how good both these voices are. The middle stanzas, in best ARR form, is honey to the ears.
Savour this one!
Verdict: An ARR-Shankar combo is all about commercial appeal, and this album has a little bit more than commercial appeal alone. It has some soul, some added spice and innovation. Definitely it will be a very popular album in the long run. Maybe not ARR’s best work, but this is definitely one of ARR’s better body of works for a Shankar film.
In terms of quality, it is better than Sivaji and Endhiran. This is more beautiful.
My picks: Ennodu Nee Irundhal (both versions), Pookale, Merasalayiten