Thamizh Talkies: A downpour of talent
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
Walking on a January evening, I had one person for company, albeit only through his voice. My current playlist has ONLY his songs. A few of them are composed by him as well. I’m referring to the personification of his Twitter adage, “All love, no hate”: The mighty talented Sid Sriram. My playlist began with songs from Vaanam Kottatum, which marks his debut as a music composer. Just earlier in the day, a filmmaker friend of mine, speaking about the album, had commented on how if you didn’t know the name of the composer, you would think that the songs were composed by AR Rahman. They were that neatly done. The slow melody combined with the jazzy rhythm and staccato beats makes for an amazing repeat hearing (start your walk with Sevvizhi Venkadal on your headphones and see how your pace quickens as the song progresses into the faster, ‘Easy come easy go’ chorus). The other aspect to note in Vaanam Kottatum’s album is the lyrics.
Written by writer-director Siva Ananth, who also wrote Madras Talkies’ Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, the lyrics in this Sid Sriram musical directed by Dhana, take you into the world of similies without touching on the mundane, ‘Maane, thene, ponnmaaney’. Every song has stand-out lines which give you visual imagery and connect you with your inner poet. Take these lines from ‘Kannu Thangoam Raasaathi’: Azhagi unn punnagai, arai dozen pournami, aasaiyaa pesudi, manasula maargazhi… Or the more philosophical number, ‘Poova Thalaiya’ (good symmetrical beats), which has lines that made me chuckle: “Sari thavara pirichu, vari variya padichi, dharumam needhi, velluminnu sattamilla. Kadavul ninnu kollum, kadhaigal ellaam kanavu, theerpu solla, vaanathula yaarum illa.”
However, my favourite song from the album is En uyir kaatrey, which has a crescendo like take-off whose chorus right in the middle of the song stuns you. Fitting in a ‘finish’ into the ‘middle’ of a song, takes a special music director. Sid Sriram hits it out of the park with this one as a singer as well, as he belts out the ‘Pa ni sa ga… kavithaigalil karaiyavaa’ bit. The song gave me the feeling that both Sid and Siva got into a sort of contest, with the music and lyrics trying to outdo the other. The result is a simply great song.
Only a few mainstream singers can hold a live performance in the film classical and light music genres and know how to engage with the audience. In the line of Yesudas, SPB, Shankar Mahadevan, Karthik, and Vijay Prakash, is now Sid Sriram who electrifies the stage from the moment he steps on it. My playlist also has a few of his all-time hit numbers like Ennai maatrum kadhaley, Thalli pogathey, Maruvaarthai, Andhi malai neram, Aalankuruvigalaa, Ennodu nee irundhaal, and even his Telugu hits like Samajavaragama (from the current super hit film, Ala Vaikunthapurramloo) and of course, the by-now legendary, Inkem inkem inkem kaavaaley. Sid has so many of these super-hit solo numbers in his repertoire, which now has a new addition with an Ilaiyaraaja song from Psycho, Unna nenachu nenachu urigi ponen mezhugaa, in which he displays a certain restraint and kindness that endears him further to the listener.
When there are no rules to adhere to, creators can make their own rules. With a production house like Madras Talkies where creative collaborations and contributions stand out from the crowd, the latest offering of music and lyrics from Vaanam Kottatum truly shines. It is perhaps a result of not applying conventional rules of the trade, like ‘songs across genres to please all sections of the audience’ or ‘the usual three duets, one hero entry song, one (bubbly) heroine song, and one pathos song’ formula. Given that the trailer of Vaanam Kottatum reads like a testimonial of talent led by Sarathkumar, Radikaa, Vikram Prabhu, Aishwarya Rajesh, and Shantanu Baghyaraj, and a technician crew that has Preetha Jayaraman as the cinematographer (watch that shot of Radikaa looking up into the light or Sarathkumar sitting on top of a lorry holding an umbrella or the sun-kissed frames that caress Aishwarya Rajesh’s face) and Kadhir as the art director, the film itself seems like proof of what can happen when a producer (Mani Ratnam) who knows to balance the business wing of cinema with the creative, is at the helm. Needless to say, I look forward to the film next month. How about you?