Perhaps Govind Vasantha’s greatest achievement this year has been that of lending a new collective noun to the violins he put to use in the now famous ‘Kaadhale Kaadhale’ (96). A melancholy of violins can exclusively describe the beautiful instrumental passage that Vasantha had strung for the song – something that caught – and retained – the attention of popular music sneerists as well. That’s really why 2018 could easily belong to Govind Vasantha – and also, to Santhosh Narayanan whose soundscape for Pariyerum Perumal was quite evocative of the film – and the language it spoke.
1. Anthaathi (Peranbe Kaadhal) – ‘96
This part dreamy, part lyrical composition about the different guises of love was written by lyricist Karthik Netha, with music by Govind Vasantha. Netha writes of a love so wonderful and all-encompassing that makes its presence felt even during those moments of strife.
மாற்று கருத்தில் மோதும்
‘Peranbe Kaadhal‘ has markedly different energies throughout, with lyrics that turn frivolous during the second part.
காதல் தெய்வீக எதிரி
காதல் சாத்தானின் விசிறி (?)
It has one of the best interludes in a romantic song though – a synth of soft D&B and piano to mimic a beating heart. Director Prem Kumar’s poem rendered in Nasser’s voice is an ode to love that can never be, one that must never be let go, nonetheless.
2. Pottakkaattil Poovasam – Pariyerum Perumal
Lyricist Vivek writes of those first stirrings of romance in this song from Pariyerum Perumal. While the composition itself is deceptively breezy as it follows the protagonists – a lower caste youth and his upper caste classmate – as they flirt with love and with each other, the instances of casual violence it shows – for a romantic number – is a telling prelude to what is to come. The song and its visuals lay bare the canvas of the movie – where love and bloodshed co-exist in a single frame. Yogi Sekhar’s vocals are cheerful, with that only too familiar quality of someone daring to hope. Also featuring Fareedha, with music by Santhosh Narayanan.
3. Vaa Rayil Vida Polama – Pariyerum Perumal
Yet another song from Pariyerum Perumal that sings of delicious innocence which ascribes simple emotions to sinister events. Narayanan pulls back the strings to allow Prithika’s lovely – and raw – vocals to take precedence. That, and the minimal orchestration leave you with a sense of foreboding. Something’s about to happen, or already happened, you can’t quite tell. Vivek acquires a young voice, as yet untouched by stark realities of life, but one that begins to awaken, and wonder at what it perceives.
4. Kannamma – Kaala
Set to music by Santhosh Narayanan, much of this song is a rhetoric on the yearnings of an unfulfilled romance. Lyricist Uma Devi writes of a love that cannot be had and yet which colours the soul, and of thirsts and mirages and latent desires. The visuals alternate between Kaala (Rajini) and Zarina (Huma Qureshi) as they take heart in and also despair at those fleeting – and furtive – expressions of love that the other shows. This well-placed song acquires especial significance in the face of the characters’ divergent views and realities; the moment they realise they are bound by something more powerful and intense and less worldly. Sung by Pradeep Kumar and Dhee.
5. Edhuvaraiyo – Kolamaavu Kokila
Perhaps one of the best Anirudh Ravichander-Sean Roldan collaborations, this song with lyrics by Vivek follows Kokila’s transformation in the film from that of a regular young woman (with some spunk, we have to say) to a canny drug peddler. While lyricist Vivek reflects on never-ending pain and the protagonist’s lonely struggle, the composition grows progressively upbeat – and hopeful – with light percussion to mark the switch. With Keba Jeremiah on guitars.
6. Naana Thaana – Thaana Serndha Koottam
Composed and sung by Anirudh Ravichander, this romantic song picturised on Suriya and Keerthy Suresh, is visually retro, with old Madras props. With lyrics by Vignesh ShivN, the track’s distinct folk energy is its best feature. Sure enough, the tabla, dholak and harmonica are part of the acoustics.
7. Thandhaay – Nadigaiyar Thilagam
Mickey J Meyer opts for a beautiful Carnatic base for this song that presents the early days of the Gemini Ganesan – Savithri romance. Charulatha Mani’s soothing rendition lulls one into thinking of rosy endings, and gives voice to a young Savithri as she sinks into the illusory comforts of forbidden love. Madhan Karky’s lyrics are almost too sanguine, with no hint of the turmoil or conflict that the union would later present.
8. Yaar Ival – Mangai Maan Vizhi Ambugal
Another melody rooted in Carnatic, Thameem Ansari relies on traditional instruments to deliver a composition that belongs to the rare but well-loved genre of music that is light and classical all at once. Sung by Sathyaprakash.
9. Geedhara Kiliye – Nimir
A surprising confluence of genres, this song has a classical prelude and verse before acquiring a soft but pulsating techno rhythm – which by now can be associated with Darbuka Siva. Sathyaprakash’s vocals stay firmly in place even as the score skirts the boundaries of something modern. Featuring Parvatii Nair and Udhayanidhi Stalin, Nimir is the remake of the critically-acclaimed Malayalam film Maheshinte Prathikaram which featured great music by Bijibal.
10. Pondatee – Goli Soda 2
A runaway hit, ‘Pondatee’ has a pre-chorus and refrain made catchy by some smart programming, squarely aimed at fans of popular music. Composed and sung by Achu with lyrics by Amuthavan. Goli Soda 2 was a disappointing sequel to Vijay Milton’s well-received 2014 film.