TAMIL cinema has an unnering habit of not celebrating, or maybe even underrating a talent until it loses the talent to it’s “big brother” in Indian cinema- the Hindi cinema- maybe more popularly known by its internationally given moniker- Bollywood.
I wouldn’t say Shankar Mahadevan, Loy Mendosa, and Ehsan Noorani were Tamil cinema rejects- far from it- but you can’t help but to feel as though they should have been give more opportunities in the southern music scene- they only composed two Tamil albums in the past ten years- at the same period of time they have collaborated constantly with some of the biggest names in Bollywood and are largely recognised as one of Bollywood’s most reliable composers.
It is thus only ironic that they should return to Tamil cinema under the flagship of the very man who handed them their Tamil debut ten years ago- Kamal Hassan. Aalavanthan might not have worked as a film for everyone who had watched it, but there is no denying the fact that SEL had delivered a solid, variety-filled album that complimented Aalavanthan’s theme and mood so well. Aalavathan was easily one of the Kamal’s best albums post-2000, but it is a pity that it remained so underrated despite some great compositions. SEL are capable of delivering international standard music,something that Kamal has obviously marked down as a prerequisite for this ambitious 100-crore project which he is directing himself.
Viswaroopam- Suraj Jagan
Talk about a start! We have heard glimpses of this music in Viswaroopam’s trailer, but even after hearing those glimpses, I didn’t expect it to be this good, to be honest. Of course this is no masterpiece- this was meant to be a fast-paced theme number that is supposed encompass the genre of the film- a thriller. This is incredibly high on energy, aided by some stunning crooning by Suraj Jagan, who has sung a fair share of nerve-pumping numbers in Hindi but has hardly gotten the chance to do the same in Tamil. Vairamuthu’s lyrics are a peach, and the full studio sound arrangements by SEL works like a charm. This will linger for a long time, especially if the movie works with the masses. The haunting tone reminds us in some ways of Aalavanthan’s music as well. Ah well.
Thuppaki Engal Tholile- Benny Dayal, Kamal Hassan
This song starts with tune that makes you feel you are watching the credits of a Hollywood spy thriller, with Benny Dayal in charge of the English part of the crooning. In truth, this remains reminiscent of a spy thriller theme song for the first part, until Kamal Hassan comes in and gives impecabble stress on the lyrics, which were written by Vairamuthu. The song chronicles a man’s relationship with his gun- giving more insight to the film’s terrorism-based plot which I’m sure will trigger discussions aplenty when the film releases. This is not your conventional composition, it is more like situational song- but if you have an ear for good lyrics, you will appreciate what this song was trying to say- of course when Vairamuthu writes something and Kamal sings it- there must be a very deep meaning, right?
Unnai Kaanadhu- Kamal Hassan, Shankar Mahadevan
Oh, oh, standing ovation! Saying this is the work of a genius is an understatement. You want to know what a talent Kamal Hassaan is musically? Then listen to this.Forget all that nerve-pumping music, this is a pure Tamil classical song with Kathak influences, and Kamal has written some of the most divine lyrics you can imagine (not bad for an atheist, eh). I don’t have to say how well this song was sung- Kamal handles all the ‘sangeetham’ parts, and again flaunts hiw knowledge of carnatic and classical Indian music with an almost impeccable imporvisation of his voice. He wouldn’t fare so bad if he ever chooses to do a classical music concert. But whilst I’m effusive in my praise for Kamal, Shankar Mahadevan must not be forgotten. His voice is like a sweet nectar, and you can’t find a better candidate to have sung this song. SEL might be known for composing more contemporary music- but here they prove that given a chance, they can deliver classical beauties. This song is pure class!
Annu Vidhaitha Boomiyil- Kamal Hassan, Nikhil D’Souza
For some reason, this reminded me of the timeless “Nee Partha Parvai” from “Hey Ram”. Of course, this is not Kamal Hassan and Illayaraja at work, but this is not bad compared to such a classic. It is haunting, sad, almost tugging at your hearts. It starts with the lyrics- “There’s a place far away, I wanna be there someday”- rendered serenely by Nikhil D’Souza- and this lyric will stay with you at the end of the song, if not- then at the end of Viswaroopam for sure. Because Kamal Hassan’s lyrics bring out the pain of an isolated man whose has no home to claim as his own (probably a man who has resorted to terrorism without a chance.) When Kamal enters the fray crooning, he sings with such apparent sadness in his voice- he even goes to the lowest of stanzas to leave you thinking, or maybe even disturbed. With some great images, this song can have a deep impact on how we perceive terrorists or terrorism. Fabulous aching beauty!
Viswaroopam Remix- Suraj Jagan
Just send this to the clubs already. This is more of a club mix, not that it is a bad thing. It is a foot tapping number, but I personally prefer the original version. Remixes often serve to heighten the tempo and this song does exactly just that.
When you pick up Viswaroopam’s album, you are aware that the film is a thriller so there is much scope for music. Bear in mind the film doesn’t have a single romantic song. But given the circumstances and the limitations provided by the nature of the script, Kamal and SEL have combined to deliver at least two classy numbers which are just as good as anything in Kamal’s CV. The theme music is captivating while Thuppaki serves its purpose well. There are only four songs in this album- but the quality that is served means you can’t really ask much more from a film with such a serious premise going for it.