Sep 03, 2012 at 12:12pm IST

'NEP' Music Review: Illayaraja deserves respect

#The following review is by a user and is not IndiaGlitz's take towards anyone or anything. Written by Ramesh Ganapathy.

Much anticipated, skeptical, unbelievable, worried are some of the adjectives that have been used with 'NEP' in the past week leading to its launch. Now that the time has come, it's time to see if the Maestro will be able to deliver with an album on which everybody has his or her eyes on. And trying to pass judgment will probably be the toughest thing I've done yet. Anyway, here goes...

Saayndhu Saayndhu - Yuvan Shankar Raja, Ramya (Upvote)

'NEP' Music Review: Illayaraja deserves respect

Directed by Gautham Menon 'Neethanae En Ponvasantham' is starred by Jiiva and Samantha and music is by Illayaraja.

'Saayndhu Saayndhu' is the opening song of the soundtrack and is not a first time listen for all of us. If you have been following things around, you'd probably heard it somewhere over the past month. It looks like an offbeat, slow, modern song. Chords, and few clarinet pieces that add a sensual feeling to the song heavily back the lines throughout.

Yuvan takes up most of the lines in the track and it's seems to be down his corridor of emotional but kind of sluggishnes(remember 'Kaatrukulle' from 'Sarvam'?). At the high-pitched notes, he is impressive. Ramya gives you an impression with the few lines she gets, and almost sounds too western in the final parts of the song. I can already start imagining how the visuals will be for this one.

Kaatrai Konjam - Karthik (Upvote)

'Kaatrai Konjam', the first song in the album takes you back to the 80's instantly. The short prelude by the male backup voices, percussion that stops and with the track and the entire orchestration reminds you of an era that is almost never seen today in Tamil cinema. Clarinets, strings, flutes, pianos and vocal chords all adore the song magnificently and are available to enjoy in the first interlude. If anything, the charanam is reminiscent of Illayaraja's classics and by the time it settles in, you are glued to the song.

Karthik takes on the track and tries to bring in some youthful exuberance to the retro-like composition and succeeds. With all his subtlety in the pallavi and flowing vocals in the charanam, things become ever so gorgeous. Na Muthukumar's lyrics hitting the right notes (Illayaraja's masterful notes) seem more soothing than usual. Just two songs down, and I am already preparing myself to be bowled out.

Mudhal Murai - Sunidhi Chauhan (Upvote)

If you thought the lines 'Neethane En Ponvasantham' was going to be used as a gooey romantic catchphrase throughout the film, you might be wrong. It turns out that Illayaraja has different plans. With Mudhal Murai, he composes a dark, strong cry of anguish. The repetitive strings maintain the tone of the song through interludes that are focused on not straying from the purpose of the song. The violin (which almost sound like another lead) accompanying the most dramatic lines are brilliant. This one is packed with so much detail that it will take you hours of playing over before you realize how good a job Illayaraja has done.

No many voices in the industry can make an impact like Sunidhi Chauhan's and choosing her is probably the best thing that could happen to song after the composition. Everything she does, sounds perfect - the emphasis on strong words, the short yet expressive end to phrases and especially how she treats the not-so-short lines. Talk about taking a song and going ballistic all over it.

Vaanam Mella - Illayaraja, Bela Shende (Upvote)

Definitely village-ey, I thought after reading the name, but I was wrong. 'Vaanam Mella' is a blend of genres, and the orchestral of the introduction of the song tells you why. When it soon settles into Illayaraja's voice, things just seem no natural and beautiful. I honestly don't think anyone else but him can pull off something close to this.

The last time we saw Illayaraja and Bela Shende come together, we got called beautiful number in 'Machchaan Machchaan'. This one is similar, and even better. The maestro's subtle voice and Bela Shende's magical vocals that always sound sweet add more and more plaudits for it. And not for the first time in the album, Na Muthukumar's pen has found the right words, without over-exaggerating or over-emphasizing, but still capturing the poetry in emotions.

Pudikale Maamu - Suraj Jagan, Karthik (Upvote)

With typical college-hero introduction song, the soundtrack takes a pleasant turn with 'Pudikala Maamu'. Comparing with 'Yethi Yethi' (again Gautham Menon, but with Harris) offers a lot of retrospect. Illayaraja is more confident in leading with the vocals and the percussion makes way for the singer to make an impression, making the lyrics a lot more expressive. Suraj Jegan, known from 'Give Me Some Sunshine' from '3 Idiots' sounds like a rugged young Hariharan who is totally psyched about being a teenager.

Just when you think the song was totally hip and western, it takes a wicked turn and become a folky number in the latter half. Na Muthukumar deserves come credit again on his part for this. Why it was composed this way is unclear and the sudden change doesn't help the song much. However, Karthik and the very down-to earth percussion sound natural and rebellious. Some retro touches here and there and it suddenly becomes a wise man's song. It will totally take you by surprise.

Yennodu Va Va - Karthik

'Yennodu Va Va' is another track that is a leaf out of Illayaraja's rich music from the 80's. It might sound a bit old fashioned for today's generation, but the slow paced beats and straightforward lines aren't enough to write it off. The singer pausing between lines now and then indicates that the song is clearly old-fashioned, just like it did with the first track. With his composition, Illayaraja makes the pallavi a bit serious and the charanams more casual.

This is the third song for Karthik in the soundtrack, and he gets an opportunity to showcase his different sets of skills. Versatile as he is, it doesn't take long for you to forget his renditions in the other renditions as you listen to this one. Na Muthukumar's lyrics don't have the same impact here as they did in 'Kaatrai Konjam'. Good to listen, still.

Pengal Yendral - Yuvan Shankar Raja

Six songs into the album, I finally hit a song that I couldn't enjoy much. For some reason, this one sounds a lot like Yuvan composed it. The added rock effects, overly dark tones and continuous beats are not very common for Illayaraja. And in all fairness, it doesn't really come closing to expressing agony. Instead, the track seems to have taken the wrong lane and turned into hatred lane.

What is with Yuvan and 'i-hate-you-love-failure-songs'? He is quickly becoming the master of such songs, and somewhere in Tamil Nadu, there's probably a bunch of lonely sad boys who are worshiping him for it. Also, the continuous bashing of love and also probably the heroine along with the usual hate feeling, which follows right after love, is highly overdosed. Shocking, after so many good numbers.

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