Thursday, March 06, 2014

Tamil film music - Light at the end of the tunnel

If you, like me, have been frustrated with the general quality of Tamil film music over the last couple of years and the lack of fresh talent, here is some good news for you. There are a couple of really stand-out composers in the scene and these two 30-something talents look like they are very much there to stay....Wait to know more about who I am talking about.

With YSR finding 'new' religion and thankfully sparing us of his Thamizh kolais, Harris Jayaraj continuing to create templatised music that sounds good for 2 months and then completely fades away, Anirudh rehashing idli maaavu to create dosa and uthappam already in his short 4-5 movie innings, DSP continuing to be DSP and Imaan refusing to let go of his 80s Ilayaraja hangover, TFM buffs have been starved of genuinely new material. Enter Ghibran and Santhosh Narayanan from Coimbatore and Trichy respectively :)

I've already waxed lyrical of Ghibran and how much I loved the score in Vaagai Sooda Vaa and Naiyandi. Of course, Vatthikuchi was what brought him firmly to the limelight but my personal favourite amongst his efforts is Thirumanam Ennun Nikah. His ability to take a classical raga and then create commercial magic out of it is what makes me really look forward to his next 2 efforts, Viswaroopam 2 and Uthama Villain. As long as he doesn't get Kamal to sing much in these films, he's got me waiting with bated breath. If you've still not heard about this guy or his music, sample this, this and this - these are my personal favourites currently.

‎Santhosh Narayanan has been another gem I managed to chance upon thanks to Karthik here. First off, I must confess that I did NOT like Attakathi (the film) one bit which meant I wasn't open/willing to take away any positives from the film  - it didn't help that the Aadi Pona Aavani song which was all over the airwaves absolutely drove me nuts. Since then, I've had a chance to revisit the album a few times over and even I cannot deny that it heralded the return of Gaana as a cool genre and gave us that man, Bala. Pizza had an excellent score but it was with Soodhu Kavvum that Santhosh blew me away. The album was a quirky mix of rock, trance, rap and even techno fusion elements & his choice of unknown (to me atleast) singers to deliver this rollicking sound track was a brilliant move - absolutely mad, zany music that had me oooohing and aaaahing. Come Na, Mama Douser and Kaasu Panam attained cult status and ensured that the world sat up and waited for his next....and then came Jigarthanda. This one will divide people straight down the middle - you'll either looooooooooove it or hatttttttttttttttte it. No prizes for guessing which camp I belong to.

I've never been a fan of the logic that music has to be judged in the context of where it fits in the movie. If you're releasing a full fledged album and I pay hard-earned money for it, I want to enjoy it stand-alone. Period. (This is where ARR's Highway failed but I digress). Having heard so much already about Jigarthanda being an urban gangster film, I was keen to see how Santhosh would treat this and boy, does he deliver. The effort is as good as Pudhupettai which is the Holy Grail in this genre and Jigarthanda feels more of an OST than a regular album. Each track is stand-alone wowwwww, unique and feels like nothing I've heard before which is saying a lot. I'm not able to put a finger and tell you exactly why this is awesome but awesome it is. Its just been a couple of listens and the tracks do grow on you.

PS: Technically, Cuckoo came before Jigarthanda but I've not listened to it much so more on it later.

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