Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tamil filmi songs:Best of 2011 - VJ's pick

Its that time of the year when you turn back and say 'Oh! Is it the end already??' and then start picking your brains on what went well and what could have been better in the last 365 days. Well I am back after a long hiatus which I would like to attribute to various reasons. Thanks to my friends who have given their thumbs up to my previuos efforts, I am encouraged to write the best way I could.

I would like to start with my favourite topic- Music. Tamil film music has been right up there when it comes to quality and experimentation. Lets find out what 2011 served us by examining the top 10 songs of the year, or shall I say, my 10 favourite songs of the year.

i. Songs from movies released in 2011 only.
ii. Remixes and songs lifted from other language films are excluded.

10. Molachu moonu - Velayutham

Music: Vijay Antony
Singers: Prasanna, Supriya Joshi
Lyrics: Viveka
Vijay Antony might have slipped down a bit this year, but in Velayutham he did gain some ground. Molachu moonu is a nice soothing melody that cares for your ears. Lyrics by Viveka gives a rural feel to the song and is catchy. Prasanna and Supriya Joshi blend well with the minimal instrumentation. One of Vijay Antony's best work.

9. Poraney Poraney - Vaagai Sooda Vaa

Music: Gibran
Singers: Ranjith, Neha Bhasin
Lyrics: Karthi Netha
Debutant Gibran impresses in his first outing by providing excellent score for a period movie first up. This song belongs to Neha Bhasin who expressess the angst of seperating lovers in a beautiful manner. Instrumentation is apt for the feel of the songs and Gibran does well to highlight Neha instead of spoiling the effect with too mmany instruments. A different attempt at a rural pathos song.

8. Nee Korinaal - Nootrenbathu

Music Sharreth
Singers: Karthik & Swetha Mohan
Lyricis: Madhan Karky
One of the best things in the otherwise forgetful film is the music score by Shareth. All the songs were fresh, but 'Nee Korinal, stood apart for its exemplary lyrics and soulful singing by Kathik & Swetha. The 'na na na na' verse that builds up to the pallavi is well executed. Romance oozes out of the song and this one will defenitely be on loop for the love birdies. We would like to see more of Sharreth after 180.

7. Engeyum Kadhal - Engeyum Kadhal

Music: Harris Jeyaraj
Singer: Aalaap Raju
Lyrics: Thamarai
Harris shone only in bits and pieces this year. Engeyum Kadhal was regular Harris affair, but still it had its moments. The title track is a charming number which was an ode to the movie and love itself. Aalaap Raju breezes through the song and we should thanks Harris for restraining from unnecessary raps and giberish vocals. The song though, stood out for its beautiful choreogaphy by Prabhu Deva.

6. Aariro - Deiva Thirumagal

Music: G.V. Prakash Kumar
Singer: Haricharan
Lyrics: Na. Muthukumar
This year is by far G.V Prakash's year. The young composer has put a claim on the spot next to AR Rahman with some brilliant work this year. Deiva Thirumagal is a classic case. Aariro is a soulful rendition by Haricharan which works magic with Na Muthukumar's words. Mulling over the intricate relationship between a father and his daughter, the song enchants us all. The whole album was a sumptous dish of unadultrated music.

5. Deivam vazhvathu enge - Vaanam

Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Singer: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Lyrics: Na. Muthukumar
This title track is the lifeline of Vaanam and it appears through-out the length of the film. Yuvan is back ito his elements in this soul-stirring number. He has the capacity to bring out the feel of the song without the help of instruments and he does the very thing in this song. Na Muthukumar complements Yuvan well with his philosophical touch in the lyrics. Yuvan's best rendition this year.

4. Pirai Thedum - Mayakkam Enna

Music: G.V. Prakash Kumar
Singer: Saindhavi & G.V. Prakash Kumar
Lyrics: Dhanush
Another hit number by the Saindhavi-GVP combo. 'Pirai Thedum' is a pleasent listen which is aided adequately by the smoothness of Saindhavi's voice. GVP complements her very well. Coming out of Selva's stable, 'Mayakkam Enna' is bound to have good music and GVP doesnt dissapoint. From 'Pirai thedum' to 'Voda Voda', all the songs entice the listeners. The theme music is also a delightful piece and it carries the film forward.

3. Adada En meethu - Pathinaaru

Music: Yuvan Shanjar Raja
Singers: Hariharan, Bella Shinde
Lyrics: Karthik Netha
A movie with rather uninspiring cast & crew was marketed as Yuvan's musical. And how did Yuvan respond to the occasion...Vintage Yuvan, this album was. His best album in recent period, contained the trademark Yuvan and Vijay Jesudas numbers, but 'Adada en meethu' ran away with the prize. Hariharan's subtle rendition weaved in superbly with Bella Shinde's innocent voice. The charanam is what gives the boost to this fantastic song. We might want Yuvan to work more with the director Sabapathy(), if he gives us such songs. Whos cares about the movie...

2. Yathe Yathe - Aadukalam

Music: G.V. Prakash Kumar
Singer: G.V. Prakash Kumar
Lyrics: Snehan
GVP as a singer can give the likes of Yuvan a run for their money. The National award winning film Aadukalam is one of the composer's finest works. 'Yathe Yathe' made everyone shake a leg with its mesmerizing rythm and the inevitable joy behind it. My pick for the best male singer would be GVP. He projects the mood of the song perfectly and the instrumentation is apt. This one is a cracker.

SONG OF THE YEAR: Ennamo Edho - Ko

Music: Harris Jeyaraj
Singer: Aalaap Raju, Prashanthini, Sricharan, Emcee Jesz
Lyics: Madhan Karky, Sricharan
Harris chances his arms many a times and he hits the target once and how!!! Harris shines brightly with this splendid song for 'Ko'. Everything from the pallavi to the humming to the rap to the charanam fell into place for this song. The 'Eno kuviyam illa oru katchu pedu' verse is the highlight and Madhan Karky should be credited for those wonderful lines. Im still hearing it.
This is arguably my pick for the SONG OF THE YEAR 2011.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Madharasapattinam is beautiful.

AGS Entertainment's latest offering is a treat to those who would like to have a time machine to rewind their lives from the hustling city of Chennai to the majestic and peaceful town of Madras. Directed by Vijay, Madharasapattinam is a cute love story set in the pre-independence era.

The story is simple and not at all new to tamil audience. It is another rich girl meets poor boy plot which also includes strict opposistions from girl's family. An old women in London, who is on her death bed, diognised with blood clot in her brain, wants to go to Chennai for reasons best known to her. She is accompanied by her grand daughter to the city and from there on scenes occilate between the flasback set in 1947 and the present. Amy Wilkinson(Amy Jackson), daughter of the Governer of Madras, comes to Madras during sometime in 1947. She is accompanied by Nambi(Haneefa, as the translater) to have look around the city, and she meets Parithi, a dhobi(and wrestler), who stands up to stands up to her fiance General Robert Ellis. She instantly falls for him, though she is engaged to Ellis. Love grows between the pair and the villain comes in the form of India's independence. Amy is forced to return to Britain, but she escapes her family's clutches and comes to join Parithi. Their fate is to found in the climax of the flashback.

The USP of the film is that it's set and the CGI works. To see our earstwhile Madrs in front of our eyes is more than a reason to watch this film. Art director Selva Kumar certainly deserves the lion's share of the accolades. Be it the charming Central station or the deserted Mount road, every details have been perfectly captured. The trams in middle of the roads and the hand pull carts bring the feel of period. The graohics work beautifully coincides with the sets. The scene where the modern-day Spencer plaza changes into Spencers and Co. is awesome. The washermanpet area is also recreated pretty well. But the one which makes us yearn for is the boat ride in Cooum river. What would we not give to have those moments back. And when the aged Amy shrinks her nose on the sight of the present day cooum, there where whistles all around the theatre.

As for the performances, Arya has done a decent job and he have done well by showing a few more reactions in his face. But his excellent physique was a treat to watch. Amy Jackson was adorable and fits the bill superbly. Her lip sync for tamil verses is suprisingly perfect, and it might well teach a lesson or two for our own actresses. VMC Haneefa steals the show whenever he is on screen. As Dubash he is a delight with his witty dialouges and facial reactions. Nasser could have been used better and the same can be said of MS Baskar. Balaji and Jeeva, who aid Amy and her grand-daughter in Chennai, were enjoyable. The English actors and the Secondary characters do a very fine job, especially the teacher who trains Arya and his friends in English and the guy who always dozes off, no matter whatever goes around him.

The film could have been a bit more crisper as far as the editing goes, but I didnt complaint as I got more to see of my dear old city. The screenplay undoubtedly has traces of Titanic throughout the film, and we are reminded of Lagaan when Amy challenges Ellis to wrestle with Arya and leave Dhobi-ghat to the people if he loses. Gv Prakash has done a good job in the songs and re-recording, and the picturisation has done them justice. Nirav Shav has captured the modern Chennai and old Madras with apt colour tones.

Kudos to the director and the producer to spend a lot of money on an offbeat theme, and I urge the movie goers to support such films as this is the least we can do to make more and more people to come up wih such different scripts.

My Rating:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ravanan - Definitely worth a watch

Quite a few years back, release of a Mani Ratnam film was a festival in Tamil nadu. Now it is a cause of celebration and anticipation for the whole of India. And when the ace director is back to do a straight tamil film after 5 long years(After Ayutha Ezhuthu in 2004-05), the expectations are bound to skyrocket. His latest offering "Ravanan"(Ravan in Hindi) is, as per the wild guesses by the pundits and laymen alike, a modern day adaptation of the epic Ramayana.

The film starts impressively with vaillage men running havoc by burning policemen alive, bombing police vehicles and looting weapons. We are bound to think that it would be a take on the burning maoist issue, which it is, eventually. But it is pushed into oblivion by Ramlila.

Ragini(Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is abductud by the forest brigand Veerayya(Vikram), for reasons that are revealed later. Trouble starts there as Ragini also happens to be the wife of police officer Dev(Prithviraj), and Dev starts his hunt into the forest to retrieve Ragini and finish off Veera. This manhunt forms the crux of the story, which is intertwined by the so-called-unethical yearning of Veera for Ragini, knowing well that she is another man's wife.

The films belongs to two men, one on screen and one behind it- Vikram and Santosh Sivan respectively. Vikram's charismatic presence tends to carry the film forward almost single handedly. He simply rocks as Veera. His body language and voice modulation steels the thunder and shows his experience. Be it the angry retribution or proposing love to a married woman, he brings all his histrionic skills into picture.

The major plus for the film, along with Vikram, is the cinematography. Santosh Sivan beautifully captures the wild forests with breathtaking hill-top visuals. Almost throughout the film, rain plays a major part, and Sivan brings in natural lighting and thereby nature itself onto the screen. Some fine close-up shots bring in the feel of watching "Avatar" in 3D. Defenitely a work worththy of the national-award.

Aishwarya Rai tries to be the terrified woman in the clutches of a badman and evoke sympathy from the viewers, but we are hardly moved by her plight. She becomes boring after a while with the same kind of expression throughout the film. Prithviraj looks dashing as the cop, but tends to get too stiff for one's liking. Prabhu and Munna as Veerayya's brothers are apt, and so is Karthik as the forest guard. Priyamani does her bit wonderfully well.

Though the visual grandeur overshadows any visible flaw in the screenplay, the movie is undoubtedly predictable. Though the story is based on an epic, we expect a filmmaker like Mani to treat us with some shocking stuff. Only that doesnt happen, except for the climax. And Dev(Modern day Ram) is shown to be a brutal officer who doesnt mind killing anyone who is related to Veera, and that might no go well with the religious minded lot.

Suhasini's dialouges are found wanting in many places and Sreekar Prasad's editing is slick. The fight sequences are excellently choreographed, especially the climax fight sequence in a dilapilated bridge is a masterpiece. The film is just over 2 hours which itself is a great plus. A. R Rahman's songs are already a rage, but they have not utilised well in the movie. Background score is apt and "Usurey poguthu" is well picturised.

Defenitely nowhere near to be one of Mani's best movies, but it is not very often you can see such a team together in a movie. Go for it just for Vikram and also to enjoy a visual feast.

My Rating:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vettaikaran Movie Review

This is the film which required the least effort for me to pen a review for. If you are too busy to read the long thie whole review, I would put it in short.

Villain wrecks havoc, Hero plays saviour of people, heroine plays the hero's eye candy, and in the end good wins over evil. And yes! It is a Vijay film.

Vettaikaran is a commercial cocktail, with ample doses of action, comedy and sentiment. But the only problem is none impresses you much. There is not even a sembelence of originality. The story and the screenplay have traces of previous hits of Vijay, and also other films. The film starts with 'Police' Ravi(Vijay) moving from Tuticorin to Chennai to pursue his dream of becoming an IPS officer, and joins the same college as his mentor IPS Officer Devaraj.

And there is Susheela(Anushka) who romances with Ravi, after a brief phase of petty fights with him. All goes well until the baddies led by Vedhanayagam(Salim Ghouse), enter the fray. The terrorise the city with fear, and might. No one dares to come in their way, except for one man, and no prizes for guessing it right. How he fights them and comes over victorious, is the rest of the story.

Vijay, is at his usual best, be it dance or comedy, but there is no scope for him to use his histrionic skills. His screen presence is the only saving grace for otherwise dull moments. Anushka didnt have much to do, but defenitely satisfied the front benchers with her oomph. Satyan and Srinath were good in their respective roles. Srihari could have been used well, while Cochin Hanifa and Sayaji Shinde did what they could do best. Salim Ghouse as Vedanayagam was
towering over the other characters. His voice still sends down chills down our spine. It is good to see a good villain return to tamil Cinema.

Vijay Antony's songs are already chartbusters, and he doesnt dissappoint in the background score too. 'Naa adicha' and 'Karigalan' songs were picturised well, with Vijay's son Sanjay making a cute cameo in the former. Camerawork and editing were adequate, and stunts defird all laws of gravity, which is a usual sight in Viay films.

The director has tried to keep it simple and play to the galleries. With a week story and a not-so-taut screenplay, the Babusivan misses the target by miles, but still clings on the edge to deliver an average potboiler.

You wont miss much, if you are to miss this movie, but for vijay fans they can celebrate for some time from now.

My Rating: 2/5

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Go watch Nadodigal!!!

Much before its release and even when talks where around about the start of the project Global Infotainment's Nadodigal had raised huge expectations. A small budget film directed by a person whose previous ventures never troubled the box-office doesnt garner interest all the time. But when you have Subramaniapuram fame Sasikumar in the lead, one cannot help about the buzz around it. Directed by Samudrakani, the cast is led by Sasikumar and a batch of new or lesser-known faces. The stills and promo for the film constantly reminds us of Subramaniapuram, and we enter the cinema hall knowing what to expect.

The story is set in the districts of Erode and Namakkal. Karunakaran(Sasikumar) is a BA History graduate with a gold medal is constantly in the firing line from his father for chosing the subject, which he thinks is good-for-nothing. Sasikumar enters the frame with a superb explanation on why History is no way lesser than other courses. He keeeps trying for a government job, in order to satisfy his uncle's wishes and marry his daughter(played well by Ananya). And as usual there are a couple of friends with whom Karuna hangs out. Pandi(Bharani)'s aim is to fly out of the country to make big bucks, but constantly ends up messing up with his passport application. Chandran(Vijay) plans to set up a computer centre in future, and also falls for Karuna's sister Pavitra(Abinaya) and proposes his love with the help of his father(super kudumbam...). These three are thick friends and they wander and booze together.

When there seems to be no trouble in their lives, enters Saravanan, a friend of Karuna, who keeps mysteriously quiet. He tries to drown himself in the well, and when enquired he lets out that he is in love with a girl whose father is a rival to his ex-MP mother. The three friends plan to help him out, and they travel to Namakkal in pursuit of his love. They pick up the girl, and unite the lovers. But each of the three lose something vital, in this operation. While Chandran and Pandi lose their legs and hearing respectively, Karuna loses his love and more. With time, the three learn to cope with their loses and things seem to settle a bit. But they are in for a suprise, when they learn that all they ve lost have become meaningless. How they make amends for that completes the film.

As is the trend now, the film follows a much realistic approach and all characters in the film are very close to the one's we see in real life. Each and every character makes a huge impact on the audience. The tone and dialouges in the film are refreshing. Samudrakani had once said in an interview that this film has no hero in it, and how true it is. There is hardly any heroism or dominance by any character.

SasiKumar has great screen presence and is able to garner the attention whenever he comes upon the screen. His actions appear to be unnatural at times and so is his dialouge-delivery, but his charisma makes amends for those. Bharani, as Pandi, is a revelation. He has us in splits at times and moves us into tears in the very next frame. We might see more of him in the future. Vijay was apt in his role, and Ganja Karuppu was used effectively, and when done so, he is a treat to watch. The leading ladies were a refreshing change. Ananya, as the bubbly girl reminds us of Gopika, and forces a grin out of us, whenever she is on screen. The real-life deaf and dumb girl Abinaya amazes us with her picture perfect lip-sync. Some of the other characters that stay in our heart are the comic politician with an air of VijayKanth, who clicks photos which boast about his deeds now and then, Bharani's father who abuses his son in fron of his second-wife and makes amends later, and the anonymous friend who joins the three in all deeds but doesnt speak a word.

On the technical side, cameraman Karthik and editor AL Ramesh have done a neat job. Sundar C Babu couldnt quite repeat his Anjathey success in the songs, but the re-recording is out-standing. On the down side, a forcefully penetrated item number in the first half put the brakes on the pace of the film. Scenes depicting the losses incurred by the three protaganists become a bit emotional, but are still tolerable.

Nowadays, whatever Sasikumar touches are turing into gold. He had become a bankable actor with this film. This film might well follow the path off other off-beat films in setting the box-office active for a few weeks. Nadodigal is defenitely worth a watch, especially with your gang of friends.

My Rating: 3/5

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Aayirathil Oruvan - Music Review

Aayirathil Oruvan is one film that Selvaraghavan's fans and all other people in Tamil Nadu have been eagerly waiting for. Produced by R. Ravindran's Dream Valley productions, the film stars Karthi Sivakumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Reema Sen, Prathap Pothan, Parthiban and others. Selvaraghavan wields the megaphone, while G. V Prakash Kumar joins hands with him after the infamous break up of the director with his long time buddy Yuvan Shankar Raja. The audio release of the movie was held in a grand manner in Chennai on 14th June. Let us see how the songs of the film fare(there are ten of them...)

Govinda Govinda starts off with a Snoop Dogg rap, and you sit up for a rather peppy song, but as soon as the lyrics make their way, you seem to be dissapointed. It is a rather faster edition of the tirumala devotional song 'Govinda Hari Govinda'. Karhik and Andrea lend their voices, but the lyrics by Selva himself, go rather unnoticed. A peppy number for the youth.

Maalai Neram is a fresh melody, and the only one in the album. Selva has written the lyrics for this one too, and the album cover says excerpts from Sithar padalgal, but there is no trace of such lines. Andrea excels in the charanam, where she has to go to a very low scale, almost in a husky voice. Will be in the hearts of melody lovers for a while.

Un Mela Aasadhaan has a striking resembelance to 'Adada vaa asathalaam' from Sarvam and you neednt be a genius to figure that. Maybe both the composers were inspired by the same song. You would not be much impressed with the pallavi, not that it is bad, but it is the same song that came a couple of months back. But the charanam is much better than the predecessor. The flute interludes and the Dhanush's casual voice makes it a sure-shot chartbuster.

Thaai thindra mannae is my pick as the best song of the album. A agile song with lyrics in Tamil and Telugu written to explain the state of the Chola Dynasty. Goes on for more than 8 minutes, but its dramatic pace keeps you glued. NityaSree Mahadevan is heard in films after some time, and she does what she is best at, giving a classical begenning to the song. From there Vijay Yesudas carries on a sorrowful rendition of the Dynasty's tale, and Sri Krishna and NityaSree complete the wonderful song in a classical note. You might be reminded of 'Raa Raa' from Chandramukhi at some point, but this one has its uniqueness. Two lines of the song stand out - 'Puli kodi pottrum sozha manndargal, eli kari poripathu eno' and 'Mandai odugal mandiya naatai mannan aazhuvatho'. Vairamuthu deserves a bow.

Thaai Thindra mannae(Classical version) is not exactly a classical version(the original itself is more classical). Vijay renders this slower version to perfection.

Penmaane is one strong song which denotes the downfall of a king. The lyrics by Vairamuthu are powerful and Bombay Jayasree takes herself to the next level through this song. I neither have the experience nor the knowledge of music to talk about the legendary PB Srinivas, who has done a extended bit at the end of the song.

Indha Paadhai is very much an inspired piece. You can Rahman and Yuvan all over it, GV Prakash has a better voice than the later. Selva's lyrics talks about take-it-easy policy of young men. Not much to talk about this song.

Celebration of Life performed by 'flute' Naveen is a good attempt to capture the mood of the historic life. Obviously a background score, one needs to wait to see the way it is used in the film.

King Arives is another background score, which I think will be used for the Chola king's screen presence. And again highly inspired by previous such scores in Tamil cinema.

Oh Eesa(remix) , the remix version of Govinda Govinda is a better version of the song. Performed by Bigg Nikk.

On the whole, the album has the class, but what seems to missing is the originality. G.V Prakash Kumar has a long way to go, to become what some think he is now. Nevertheless a good album, and I would defenitely recommend it for the few songs, for which it is worth a buy.

My Rating - 2.5/5

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sarvam - Music Review

Good music is created only when there is interest and enthusiasm in the creator and able support and guidance for him. In short, you need a good team, which can bring out the best in an induvidual. Yuvan shnakar Raja is a composer who needs all these, and when he gets them, you can prepare yourself for some good music listening experience.

Saroja happened few months ago, and that was the last good album from Yuvan. After a few unconvincing albums, he is back with the dream team - Vishnuvardhan and Arya. 'Think Music' presents the music of Sarvam, an Ayangaran release, and lets check out what the album offers.

1. Theme music

Starting off with a humorous and romantic tone , it manages to keep us interested for a while befor it slips into serious mode. The composer has borrowed his own tune from Billa and tried to create a racy tune according to the mood of the film. A good piece that can kindle your interest to see the film, even more.

2. Siragugal - Javed Ali, Madhusree

From the very begenning of the song it reminds you of Rahman's "Guzarish", and what makes that more convincing is the same voice(Javed Ali) for both songs. Nevertheless it is a treat for the melody buffs, with Madhusree's sweet voice matching the mood perfectly. Had only Javed's tamil pronounciation been a bit better, the song would have been one among Yuvan's best melodies.

3. Neethane - Yuvan shankar Raja

The song starts with an interrupted signal like sound, and sette down witha rythmic guitar interlude. A typical Yuvan number, with his signature all over it, sagging at no point. Yuvan manages to keep the tempo of the song at the right place where you can feel the melody and the rythm. This is my pick of the album.

4. Sutta suriyana - Vijay Yesudas

Vijay has become a regular in Yuvan's albums, as his father was in Illayaraja's. The tune is nothing new in this one and the beats also reminds us of 'Kappal eri poyaachu' from 'Indian'. But midway through you are introduced to the 'Megam karukuthu' piece and then the same tune is used in a flute, which makes the song an above ordinary fare.

5. Kaatukulle - Yuvan shankar Raja

This could have easily been the song of the album, if it was not for Yuvan's inablity to raise the tempo to the levels that the song required. This was again a trademark song from the composer, starting of with sound of water droplets and Yuvan's voice rising from the it. The choice of instruments is commendable and the sound engineer can take a bow for putting them beautifully in place. Nevertheless, it has all ingridients for a chartbuster.

6. Adada - Illayaraja

When was the last time you saw Illayaraja playing a rockstar?? He is back in that avatar, with this rollicking song, signalling that he can still create magic. Only he coud have managed to make an impact in a song dominated by loud BGm, wierd flute interludes and husky english lyrics in feminine voices. He has had a blast, and this song is set to burn the dance flores.

Overall, a good album from Yuvan aftera long time, and has made quite a few adjustments and tried to come out of the usual tunes without missing his punch

Rating: 3 1/2