But for the language, Suraj Jagan’s Tamil debut isn’t very different from what he generally sings – Ilayaraja creates Pudikala Maamu as a regular rock-flavored track. Or so it seems until Karthik takes over at half way mark, where the song takes on a folksy twist with some brass embellishments – an arrangement that gets wackier and wackier as it nears the end. Karthik also sings two other solos in the soundtrack. Actually Kaatrai Konjam cannot be called a solo; Raja structures it like a duet between Karthik and the saxophone! Yennodu Vaa Vaa has the singer going about crooning a nice retro-ish (and very Raja-esque) tune while the arrangement in the background switches subtly from brass-based opulence to synth-dominated mod sounds. The composer gets Sunidhi Chauhan to sing the title song. The song as such isn’t anything special, but the arrangement is once again brilliant, particularly the strings section. First time I am hearing Sunidhi sing Tamil, and she pulled off the accent neatly I thought.
The only thing going against the stunningly orchestrated Vaanam Mella is the singing. Ilayaraja’s rendition quite understandably is limited by the age factor, but even Bela Shende is surprisingly nasal and shrill in places. But even if the vocals don’t work, the song is totally worth the money just for the interludes. More vocal letdown follows with Pengal Yendral where the honours are done by Yuvan Shankar Raja. Thankfully Pengal is one of the weaker songs in the soundtrack even otherwise, a staid rock-based arrangement with a classical (charukesi raga?) edge to it. The real heartbreak happens in Saayndhu Saayndhu, which could have been a song of epic proportions with its sedate orchestration. IF not for that rendition that makes you cringe. At the other end Ramya NSK delivers her part very nicely, but that is not enough to balance the damage caused by YSR. Ramya gets a second track, Sattru Munbu, a song which I found to have the strongest past hangover. Nevertheless the orchestral arrangement coupled with the chorus, and the wonderful singing by Ramya, make it worthwhile despite the déjà vu.
A musical extravaganza was promised, and a musical extravaganza has been delivered. There are few joys that match hearing Ilaiyaraja in all his orchestral grandeur. The only regret is about the couple of singer choices. Neethaane En Ponvasantham. Must.Not.Miss.
Music Aloud Rating: 8.5/10
Top Recos: Kaatrai Konjam, Yennodu Vaa Vaa, Pudikkala Maamu, Sattru Munbu, Vaanam Mella