‘Avalum naanum’ is a very simple Paavendhar Bharathidasan song set to a very simple and likeable melody. There is a nice 60’s MSV ring when the song begins and then gives way to a more ARR flute section. Vijay Yesudas is someone I really like off late and he does utmost justice to the nice poem. This song too doesn’t follow a traditional pallavi-charanam approach and instead takes somewhat of a 2 part pattern. There is a very moving musical interlude in the middle with an operatic violin section and a sweet flute piece. The tune changes a tad post this, but does not let up one bit on the melody and simplicity. Kudos to ARR, Vijay Y for keeping things very simple and profound respects to Pavendhar for a timeless classic.
Song highpoint – Violin interlude and ‘Avalum naanum narambum yaazhum, poovum manamum’
The first thing that strikes you about ‘Thalli pogathey’ is its totally free flowing pattern of music and poetry. The AYM curtain raiser video says that even lyricist Thamarai found it very difficult to grasp this unconventional tune progression at first. It organically describes the symptoms of the hero falling in love. Weather changing, heart beating faster, mind searching for words to describe something, it just goes on and on in free flow and the tease briefly ends at about 2.22 when the main hook line ‘thalli pogathey’ hits you. ADK’s rap kicks in a minute layer and the rest of the chorus is nicely wrapped around it to create a great feel. I could write an essay about just the lyrics of the song, but that is not the goal of this piece. But gems like ‘kasayadi pole mudhugil mele vari vari kavithai’ and ‘yen mudhal mutham…… thamarai veguthe’ keep hitting you constantly. If you are a tamizh loving ARR fan it is sheer poetry, else it is still musical poetry at work.
Song high points – ‘Kasaiyadi …. Vari vari kavidhai’ and the ‘Thalli pogathey’ reveal
‘Raasali’ is a very melodious, inspired and layered take on newly blooming love. I use the word inspired in a very positive sense here as the song has a bunch of healthy lyrical and musical inspirations which it blends to great effect. Very uniquely, the male singer starts off by using a falcon and competing with it on who is ahead. There seems to be a few layers to this. Being a road movie, at the surface it just is a simple speed angle to it. But the actual meaning is, both the hero and heroine competing eagerly to profess their love, which by now is taking full flight. Musically, the song has 2 important inspirations.
The first of them is the beautiful extraction from ‘Valachi varnam’. Not only has ARR chosen a lovely Carnatic composition to blend into his song, he has smartly chosen 2 different parts of the nava raga malika i.e the Kamboji charanam and the famous sree ragam chitta swaram. Not only that, it is way more than a gimmicky fusion and serves as a crisp tone changing interlude at the end of the pallavi.
This brings us to the second big inspiration of the track. The 2 charanams are sent in the rhythm pattern of the iconic ‘Muthai thiru’ by Arunagirinathar. The inspiration is very innovatively used, Sathyaprakash sings very comfortably and is at ease with the quality lyrics and the rather difficult pacing of the sandham. Above and beyond fitting to a tough pattern, thamarai excels with quality lyrics like ‘munnil oru kaatrin kali mugathinil pinnil oru pachai kili….’ To beautifully describe the hero’s 2 key passions in life i.e his bike and the girl in his life.
Sasha Tirupathi takes over from the 2nd interlude and though her voice and Hindustani prowess are easily evident, she does struggle a bit with the ‘muthai thiru’ pattern on 2 counts. Her shrill voice puts her at a disadvantage and her unease with tamizh gets accentuated by the tough pacing of the sandham. She just about gets the words right, but a lack of full control over the tamizh emotions is easily evident to a discerning tamizh listener. Still a beautiful, instantly likeable and well sung song with great musical sense, lyrics and rich inspirations.
Song high point – ‘valachi varanam’ interlude with ‘muthai thiru’ transition.
‘Idhu naal varayil’ as someone pointed out has a nice boy band ballad feel to it. It has a nice free flow feel to it. The song talks of the feelings of a pretty boyish guy feeling the beauty of things around him after falling in love for the first time. The central pivot of the song is the concept ‘Idhu varai yedhume ulagail azhagillai endru naan ninaithadai poi aakinaal’ i.e she smashed my feeling so far that nothing in the world is beautiful. Everything else lyrically in the song is an extension of that. And the trick like in ‘Thalli Pogathey’ is the song takes a good 1 minute to come to the central hook and keeps you on the edge till that. This too neither follows a pallavi-anupallavi pattern nor a typical pop number template and keeps you guessing all the time. Joanita Gandhi makes a brief appearance with her rich vocals too. But all in all this song would be so much lesser without the imposing presence of Adithya Rao.
Song high point – ‘Idhu varai yethume ulagil….’
‘Showkali’ is definitely not my kind of song. So I wouldn’t go too much in detail there. It is an interesting rap number with 2 sets of guys going against each other on whether love for bikes or love for girls is more important to their lives. What sets it apart from other typical rap songs is the hyper fast last 30 seconds, which is technically well pulled off, but since the genre by itself is not up my street, I will leave it you to judge it for yourself. It has some good talent involved in Adithya Rao and rappers ADK and Sri Rascol.
Song high point – Last 30 seconds (if you like that kind of stuff)
A very satisfying album in Tamizh for ARR after a rather unsatisfactory 24. He clearly has put his heart and soul into the tracks here and also bought into the director Gautham’s vision and aesthetics. Most of the songs have a very unique song structure and the lyricists Thamarai and Karky(Idhu Naal) have happily come on board by adapting to the innovative structures, yet not a bit compromising with the quality of Tamizh poetry. The album has some healthy inspirations and roots ranging from Paavendhar Bharathidasan to ‘Valachi varnam’ and ‘Muthai Thiru’. Very laudable and purposefully modernized.
To me personally ‘Showkali’ was the only jar and ‘Idhu Naal’ though very likeable I am skeptical about its longevity. Otherwise all the songs are instantly likeable and very pleasant.
3.5/5 and a smile on my lips for a melodious, soulful and linguistically rich Tamizh outing from ARR and team.