Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Puthiya Theerangal (Malayalam)

Sathyan Anthikkad is one of the popular film-makers in Malayalam. While his films till 2000 had music by composers such as Johnson, Shyam etc., he has been roping Ilaiyaraaja for most of his films after that. Most of his films in the last decade share a unique characteristic – the songs were small in number but fine on melody. His latest “Puthiya Theerangal” is his 10th film with Ilaiyaraaja and has 3 songs.

Maaripeelikaatte – Hariharan (another version by Madhu Balakrishnan)
The song begins on synth wind-instrument sounds and thumbing electronic percussion with a very poignant humming by Ilaiyaraaja himself (I think). A warm melody backed by guitar, this song’s tune bears Ilaiyaraaja’s signature all through. The quietly flowing string sections in the interludes aptly connecting to the charanams evoke a sense of calmness that some of Ilaiyaraaja’s compositions have. After Vilayatta Padagotti from Dhoni, this is perhaps the best soulful composition that Ilaiyaraaja reserved for Hariharan. Though there is another version by Madhu Balakrishnan as well, I liked up Hariharan’s version a lot.

Sindhoora Pottumthottu – Madhu Balakrishnan
The song begins with guitar strumming that makes us prepared for a country-music kind of song but Ilaiyaraaja quickly moves our attention to the native south-indian rhythms. The percussive elements in this song are a highlight. The melody, set in Mohanam raga, is more folkish in its execution with Madhu Balakrishnan and male chorus delivering it perfectly well. Ilaiyaraaja doesn’t keep it completely acoustic. The synth-elements he uses to fill-up the backgrounds when the pallavi comes to a close are typical Ilaiyaraaja ideas which vie for our attention just as he conjures up a brilliant closure to the taala pattern there. Interludes glide from one instrument to another while guitars and bass-lines stand-out in the charanams. Watch out for the 2nd interlude, which ventures into his recent “Neethane En Ponvasantham” orchestral sound.

Raajagopuram – Vijay Yesudas, Shweta Mohan
A weird combination of Mridangam and Harmonium set this hummable melody on roll and just as one begins to doubt if this song would ‘sound’ just this bland, Ilaiyaraaja abruptly changes the soundscape with violins, acoustic guitars and a swinging rhythm backed by some staccato effect. While the 1st interlude just warms up to the song, the charanams have impressive synth portions as the melody keeps changing the scale. In this song too, it’s the 2nd interlude that is goose-bumpy with just snapping of fingers as the rhythm while the guitars (and keyboard) play variants. This composition is lilting melody that many would like.

Like some of Ilaiyaraaja’s recent Malayalam films, this one too is very short but has remarkably wonderful music. It is difficult to pick the best one out of the 3 songs, although I personally feel that it’s a tie between Maaripeelikaatte and Raaja Gopuram. After the full-throttled music in Neethane En Ponvasantham, Ilaiyaraaja belts out a short, calmer and sweet album. Looks like he is back to his old ways – of not letting us completely soak in one album.


Suresh S said...

Good to see your review. Been a bit tied up with work that I haven't been able to write anything on this album yet.

I too love all the three songs. The challenge Raja has with Sathyan is that he has to keep doing the same sound but make it sound 'different'. Sathyan himself in a interview said that he asks Raja only for melodies. Again they are always simple melodies, given that Sathyan's films don't have a big budget. Within these constraints Raja has been delivering superbly with Bhagya Devatha, Kadha Thudarunnu, Sneha Veedu and now this.

And as you rightly say, Raja is not letting is settle down with an album. New is on the way. And I now wait for 'Gundello Godavari'

Sarath Chandar said...

True...giving back to back albums is little overwhelming....Nice review!

Aakarsh said...

Suresh: I am now able to understand Sathyan's choices. As you said, he prefers simple rooted melodies. Not too synth but slightly synth for the pep and atleast 1 song will be more percussive with folkish tune kind of stuff.

Sarath: Thank you :-)