Movies are all about moving off the beaten track these days, and Alka Film Corporation's Tamil film Varnam, directed by S M Raju, seems to be one of those movies: a coming of age tale about a young boy who's caught in the ramifications of caste politics. It's got one other added attraction -- music composed by National Award winning Malayalam composer Isaac Thomas Kottukapally.
And here's what the collection has in store:
Right away, the keyboard instrumentation and percussion combo engages you for a snappy Vanam Muzhuvathum Megam -- is that strong voice really Naresh Iyer's? You're so used to his incredibly mellow voice and partly that's what makes this rather steady-paced song likeable, despite the fact that it covers familiar ground. Na Muthukumar's lyrics are standard, and you wonder how many such words he can pen about endless optimism, getting through life and the mercy of angels that help whenever they can. Towards the end, it joins the clan of oft-heard songs.
Veerapandi Boomi Ithu is a refreshingly folksy number, and it's here that you can smile with appreciation at some of the writer's lyrics -- especially when they sing about the poor people's deity too, wishing for a drop of arrack. Jayamoorthy, Benny Dayal and Sangeetha lend their voices enthusiastically, with obvious enjoyment to this casual number, fresh with the tones of a village festival.
Haricharan starts Kannamoochi Aattam Nadakkum, a slow number filled with a gentle anguish penned by Na Muthukumar again. And here, the number enters a musical landscape often used by composers and carries a strong of the sorrow filled numbers in Karuthamma. Sweet, but not very original.
"Muniya!" screams Jayamoorthy, as he begins this number by the same name. Penned by Ragu, this one is hardcore rustic stuff, describing the legend of Muniyandi, his appearance, and the way he stands guard over the land. This one scores for the composer's complete ease with the medley of ethnic instruments and his ability to infuse familiar melodies with a rather chilling shot of uncertainty.
Back to romantic square one is Kadhal Vandhal, sung by Karthik and Swetha, with the lyrics penned by Na Muthukumar, which seems a bit stilted -- possibly too many syrupy poems have soured his imagination. In fact, it follows the set route so much that after a point, you lose interest.
Danga dunga seems to the watchword these days after Paruthiveeran and here's yet another rustic number but there the resemblance stops. In fact, there's a startling similarity with the yesteryear hot favourite Mama Mama. The nadaswaram tires you after a while, but Jeyamoorthy's lyrics and Senthildas's voice sort of save you from the boredom.
Pudhu Vazkkai, Modhal, Mudhal Kaadhali (this one in particular, with Japanese influence is enticing), Thurathal and Danga Dunga version 2 are all instrument-versions, and sound reasonably pleasing to the ear.
It might often seem like a parcel of familiar tunes, but Varnam has one or two numbers that are refreshing, and the instrumentation does have several good moments.