"GV and I travelled extensively throughout South India, visiting many heritage sites dating back to the 11th and 12th century. Firsthand, we witnessed extraordinary men playing almost unheard of instruments which magically transported us to the exact period we wanted to depict."
"The rudhra veenai, a variety of ancient flutes, a plethora of 12th century percussion instruments, and the wondrous instrument known as the yaazh are just some of the beautiful sounds we've recorded for this album. We were, at the same time, saddened by the lack of their presence in the musical world today, and that they were fading away out of our lives ..."
Thus goes a heartfelt introductory piece on the cover of Dream Valley Corporations' Tamil movie Aayirathil Oruvan's (One in a Thousand, the title of which is borrowed from yesteryear's MGR classic) audio CD, directed by maverick filmmaker Selvaraghavan; arguably one of the most anticipated movies of the year.
Here's G V Prakash, who scores music to the lyrics of Vairamuthu. Let's see how this this (quite large) album fares.
The composer's mix of Oh Eesa begins with a burst of synthesized music, a rather sombre and stern melody, rendered by Karthik and Andrea Jeremiah. Arabic tunes carouse through the interlude, while a tribal chorus suddenly echoes through. The rhythm changes slightly, adding some variation, while the lyrics, contributed by both Selvaraghavan and Andrea Jeremiah intrigue you with their mysterious and layered implications. A number that retains its appeal, mostly for its instrumental segments, despite the Govinda refrain right at the end, which reminds you strikingly of a lot of the Govinda bhajan. There's a Club Mix version as well.
Soothing guitar strings that take you to the Wild West days begin Maalai Neram, rendered by Andrea Jeremiah and G V Prakash. You have to admit, it's a most appealing tune, especially in Andrea's fluttery, breathless voice. The appeal is increased by Selvaraghavan's lyrics which have a poetic quality, and actually talk about the end of love, the petering out of emotions, as against blooming love. Come the charanam, though, mediocrity raises its dreaded head, and the melody slips into ho-hum land. Still, this one's likely to garner widespread appeal, simply for the sheer magic of the pallavi.
Likely to be dubbed the celebrity song of the album, Un Mela Aasadhan begins on a notes of synthesized music and has been sung by Dhanush, Aishwarya Dhanush and Andrea Jeremiah. Once again written by Selvaraghavan, the number is sombre but reminds you strongly of Sarvvam's Adada Vaa, especially when it takes whimsical turns. Where it does score is the keyboard instrumentation, which certainly provides some appealing fare and really does tries to walk away from the routine. Dhanush's voice is as expected; no great shakes but then, he doesn't have to perform along the lines of a trained singer.
The King Arrives is a completely instrumental score, performed by Neil Mukherjee and the Madras Augustin Choir; an eclectic mixture of ethnic instruments and synthesized music.
Gentle salangai bells echo as Thai Thindra Mannae (The Cholan Ecstasy) begins, and you get a jolt of pleasant surprise as you listen to Nityashree Mahadevan's intriguing voice asks questions about music and getting an equally serious answer. What follows is a quaint and interesting mix of instrumentation, laughter and Vijay Yesudass's anguish-filled voice. It says much for the low percussion and the steady gathering rhythm that the throbbing emotion comes through perfectly, and much of the credit has to go to Vairamuthu's superb lyrics, along with Vetoori Sundarrama Moorthy. The duet with Nityashree is particularly captivating. A truly appealing number.
Bombay Jeyashree's low voice hums a sorrowful tune a la a ghazal, and Pemmanae, and her deep, raw voice, expressing such a wealth of sadness is yet another pleasing surprise. To an accompaniment of cruel laughter proceeds the slow lament and it really does tug at your hart-strings. Once again, Vairamuthu's words prove how the right words at the right time can work wonders, especially when a crowd screams that it won't leave Thanjai, its home-land. When the song morphs into the thevara pasuram Ponnaar Meniyanae -- a usually heart-warming song -- the anguish is complete. Again, this one's picturization should be intriguing.
Celebration of Life, yet another instrumental piece, performed by Naveen: an intriguing collection of ethnic instruments -- particularly the flute -- with a catchy rhythm, portraying a sombre mood.
Vijay Yesudass sings the classical version of Thai Thindra Mannae: the circumstances seem different, even the laughter. The anguish seems to have lost some of its sharpness in the pallavi and it reminds you of Pitchai Pathiram, from Naan Kadavul. Towards the charanam, though, the emotions are back in full force, and the instrumental interlude is perfect. The final segment of the song is particularly touching, the notes rising higher and higher in an emotional crescendo.
Indha Padhai is a return to modernity, so to speak, sung by G V Prakash Kumar, with the lyrics supplied by Selvaraghavan. Somehow, it falls flat after the previous energetic compositions.
Selvaraghavan has a knack for getting the best out of his music directors ; his collaborations with Yuvan Shankar Raja have turned out to be classics. And despite the familiar tunes in some of the modern numbers, it looks like G V Prakash Kumar has really put in some hard work to make the period numbers different. It works, and makes this an album that's worth more than one listen.