Director Saran's movies always raise a lot of expectations, and Mediaone Global Entertainment's Tamil film Modhi Vilaiyadu is no exception, particularly since it's got Hariharan and Leslie Lewis of Colonial Cousins composing its music, and Vairamuthu penning the lyrics.
Here's what the album has to offer.
Vellaikari begins intriguingly. Perhaps it's the trumpet solo, or the brisk, catchy rhythms, or Hariharan's enthusiastic voice. It doesn't quite sustain its momentum during the charanams but who cares when the refrain is captivating? With Achu rapping briefly, Kalyani, Subhiksha, Ramya and Rita providing the female back-up, it manages to transform the song from yet another mundane exercise to something different.
Lazy guitar strings and the jangling of what seems like anklets signal the beginning, and you sit up with surprise at the almost near perfect pronunciation of Shaan, who sings Otrai Vaarthaiyil. Adding some depth to the orchestration is Bondo's intermingling of wind chimes cymbals, cowbells and congas. It's a curious mixture and its appeal increases on successive listens.
Leslie and Surmukhi have rendered the peppy Chikki Mukki, while Stephen Devassy has backed them up ably with the programming. Hi Vocal solo Fx is the backbone of the song. There's a striking resemblance to A R Rahman's Sambo Sambo, but thankfully, there are interludes that shift from Hariharan's classical aalap to divine church choir and a musical medley that jumps, literally from one crest to another. It's almost as though the composer duo don't want the listener to linger very long anywhere. Rushed, and not very satisfying.
Bombay Jeyashree sings Paadhi Kadhal. Though you admire her fluidity, you have to wonder how the brigha-heavy notes fit in with the general tone of the song. Added to this romantic number is Sunitha Sarathy's strong voice, contrasting with Jeyashree's softer vocals. Vairamuthu's lyrics denote the sensual nature of the number perfectly. There's a rather melodious aalap from the classical singer but somehow, it takes a good deal of time before you can reconcile it with the erotic lyrics.
Ranjani renders Latcham Vaarthaigal, a reprisal of Otrai Vaarthaiyil -- and it seems a lot of more appealing the second time around. You have to admire the versatility that abounds in the lyrics, which describe the other side.
Just as you were wondering about Saran's trademark theme song, comes Modhi Vilaiyadu. Its beginning, with faint Arabic intonations, is certainly bewitching. Hariharan is at home here with this brisk number which extols perseverance and the urge to win and bashing your enemies into dust. Pitching in with his contribution is Deva. A faint resemblance to Ilaiyaraja's classic Agaya Vennilave flits by but it is forgotten quickly amidst the screaming vocals of Kalyani, Ramya, Subhiksha and Co. Even more important is Sivamani's rousing Octabaan solo and multi percussion groves. Vairamuthu's words are uplifting, and true to its genre, the song ends on a brisk note.
The music of Colonial Cousins shorn of the excellent orchestration and keyboard arrangements may not be scintillating, but the special effects take your focus away from the purely musical aspect and provide you with a good show. Worth a listen.