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.
You want to judge their work? Take time and let the music soak in. The best compositions of all time were never instant chartbusters. You almost never recognise a masterpiece instantly. It probably dawns on you- depending on your intellect- hours, weeks, months, years, a decade, or maybe, at your deathbed.
This was Vikram Kumar’s return to Tamil cinema after a brief hiatus following Yaavarum Naalam, the 2009 horror flick starring R Madhavan, which I reasonably enjoyed. And that is a lot coming from someone who hates the horror genre as much as I passionately detest a Vijaykanth movie. It’s also the first Surya film to have ARR’s music in 10 years (yes, you read that right). The last time that happened was in Jillendru Oru Kadhal, which was in 2006, and in hindsight, that was a pretty brilliant album.
Naan Un (Arjith Singh, Chinmanyi)
This is only the second time Arjith had sung a Tamil song, and the first time ARR had crossed him over for Tamil. Many of ARR’s recent marbles take some time to get going, but this gets into a settled mode pretty fast. A breezy romantic beat accompanied by soothing orchestra, it has a calming effect the more you listen to it. Arjith comes into the fore immediately and his voice defines the song- a sweet delectable number, that tries to stay in the confines of the mainstream.
Of course, this is no “Tum Saath Ho’, but ARR knows exactly what he is doing here- the piano and keyboards are layered so eloquently in the background to allow two singers with such irresistable voice, including Chinmayi, to dominate the number.
Mei Nigara (Sid Sriram, Sanah Moidutty, Jonita Gandhi)
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.
The song is infused with a jazz influence, and Sid, yet again, does what he does best with his unique voice and excellent vocal cords. In hindsight, no other composer has quite shown the capacity to use Sid’s voice this well apart from ARR.
Jonita Gandhi too is excellent in complimenting Sid in each different stanza. Both Sid and Jonita have been ARR’s favourites in recent times, and it’s easy to see why. Half mental, half beautiful. Just a landmark AR Rahman composition overall. 24 might not be a very musical album, Mei Nigara is an expression of ARR’s experiment.
Punnagaye (Haricharan, Sashaa Tirupati)
Punnagaye’s start immediately reminds you of “Marudhaani” from Sakarakatti. Sasha Tirupati takes charge immediately and sets the tone- and just like Naan Un, this is another soothing and delectable song that does not take any time in get going.
Haricharan gets the faster stanzas, and Sashaa balances it out, making it a half celebratory, half romantic song. Reminds you of several ARR compositions be it from Jillendru Oru Kadhal, Azhagiya Tamil Magan, among others.
Sure to grow and linger on with time.
Aararo (Saktishree Gopalan)
A lullaby about a young child’s destiny, this song compliments the movie’s theme more than anything else. And I can’t help but to have mixed feelings about this number. No, on the balance of it, this is actually a very soulful composition. It’s just when you see Saktishree’s name on the playback you tend to expect something very magical.
This song is likely to run more on the background rather than be an all out song within the context of 24, and just like Naan Un and Punnagaye, continues that soothing and breezy. And Saktishree does a fantastic job in crooning with restraint to bring the right emotions to the table.
My Twin Brother (Instrumental)
Okay, for this you have to say wow. 24’s theme is full of musical panache thanks to ARR’s copious use of the orchestra, and the appropriate underplaying of the music at parts. The recurring “Ayushman Brava” chants are consistent with the oft repeated dialogue from the movie, if you have watched the trailer.
A director’s pleasure, this theme seems to capture everything that needs to be captured for 24- it’s haunting mode, a node of mystery, a heady orchestra. Work of a master.
Kaalam En Kadhali (Benny Dayal)
Then comes the only out and out peppy number of the movie, and how. The energy and fun this number packs more than makes up to the fact that the album is otherwise filled with songs that veered more towards melody.
ARR puts in a good techno mix beat, and Benny Dayal brings everything he has to the table- including his infusing singing energy. Sash want Singh and Abhay Jodhpurkar provide excellent support with the vocals. Kalam En Kadhaali is energetic and melodious at the same time- and you don’t expect anything less from AR Rahman.
For most AR Rahman mainstream albums (I define films by Shankar and as such as mainstream), the album is laced with that mandatory masala numbers with an AR Rahman twist, and a couple of melodies here and there. For 24, Vikram Kumar must be given credit has his brief for the film’s music has more soul than you would expect from a thriller film- and none of the songs had any mindless lyrics for the sole purpose of filling up the charts.
24 is a very delectable, simple yet melodious album. Of course, for someone who is still basking in the music of Tamasha (one of his best albums of all fucking time), I won’t be using many colourful adjectives to describe this album.
But I know this too will grow on me. Just like almost every AR Rahman offering has done in the past.
Now, for the person who said I will be negatively surprised by the album- fuck you. On hindsight, thanks for prompting me to write again after four months.