Veteran director K Balachander's Naan Avan Illai, produced by Gemini Ganesan and released in 1974, was a critically acclaimed Tamil classic, though not a commercial hit. Gemini Ganesan, who was 54 years old then, won accolades for his exemplary performance in the title role of a deceitful philanderer in the film.
Now three decades later, Jeevan of Kaakha Kaakha and Thiruttu Payale fame has replaced Gemini in a remake of the same name directed by Selva. Sneha, Jyothirmayee, Namitha, Malavika and Keerthi Chawla are the women who get seduced and duped by the protagonist.
Whereas the musical score of the original by composer M S Viswanathan was the highlight of the film, the music in this remake is a poor cousin.
Vijay Antony fails to impress with his tunes (set to lyrics by established names like Pa Vijay and Palani Bharathi). The lyrics are partly to blame, with most of the numbers comprising of disjointed phrases and borrowed couplets from the original as well as other films.
Kaakha kaakha, the opening number and the title track rendered by the composer himself along with a slew of female voices led by Charulathamani, has changing rhythm and mild hip-hop beats. However, the tune is old-fashioned and extension of words and syllables only make it sound flippant. There is a crude parody of a couplet from K B Sunderambal's devotional Pazham neeyappa from the Tamil classic Avvaiyar. Lyricist Pa Vijay has replaced the original word jnanam (knowledge) with kaamam (lust).
Following this we have Aen enakku mayakkam, a sentimental piece by Jaidev, Sangeetha and chorus. This track has a highly commendable rhythm, violin ensemble, flute patterns and catchy tune. The singers have also risen to the occasion with their emotive rendition. The only jarring note is the unnecessary lyrical interpolations in English.
After this enjoyable piece, we have Macha Kanni, a racy piece in koothupattu style. This track is full of passionate banter with no structured lyrics. The composer himself has lent his voice along with a couple of singers like Jayarajagopalan and Sathya Lakshmi. Lyricist Palani Bharathi has borrowed from L R Easwari's popular number Elanthapalam, which the composer tries his level best to match his voice to. Percussion too is tardy.
Up next we have Nee kavithai by Krish and Megha, a seductive duet beginning with guitar strains followed by western instrumentation and appreciable rhythm. Krish's unique tone is missing here. Megha's passionate rendition is appreciable but additional sounds and stretching of words distort the piece. Most of the focus of Palani Bharathi's lyrics is on the female midriff!
Thaen kudicha by Naresh Iyer and Deepa Mirium is the most abysmal track of this album. An attempt to recreate the musical magic of the original fails miserably. The remix of the opening lines of the popular Malayalam song Kadalinakkarae ponorae from the Malayalam classic Chemmeen, and Mandaara malarae immortalised by Jayachandran and L.R Easwari from the original Naan Avan Illai is an insufferable concoction. Both the lyricist and the composer have really gone berserk with this one.
Vijay Antony signs off with a slightly remixed version of Radha kadhal varadha immortalised in the original by S P Balasubramanyam. The additional rap, presumably to make it go well with today's youth, only spoils the otherwise comfortable rendition by Prasanna and a group of female singers.
All in all an arid lyrical fare with sub-standard music.