Blaring horns, the rich strings section, resounding percussion and a well-utilized chorus – Engae Pogudho Vaanam is probably the most majestic a Rajni-SPB song has ever sounded. All that majesty still doesn’t make the song best in the category however; the song is fraught with too much heard-before-ness for that. Nevertheless, it is heartening to hear SPB’s voice teeming with energy and flawless as ever, the man hadn’t been looking that great of late. Rahman later builds on the title hook of the song, accentuating the period feel around it to produce the pensive instrumental piece called Rana’s Dream, played by the London Sessions Orchestra. In keeping with the dream theme, the composer keeps it tranquil – strings and woodwinds washing over each other in an enchanting fashion. The title song is another elaborately orchestrated piece, sung by the Kochadaiiyan Ensemble. It is the orchestration that rules this one though, particularly the multifarious percussion (chenda, edaykka, pakhawaj,temple bells to name a few) that form a killer combination with the deftly incorporated synth elements. Maattram Ondrudhaan Maaraadhadhu is essentially Rajinikanth rendering some punch-lines to an orchestral background, with the occasional recess filled by Haricharan and chorus’ singing. In the end there is a minute-long konnakol session by Umashankar Vinayakram which doesn’t seem to bear any particular connection to what preceded it, maybe the visuals turn out more explanatory.
The guitar strains that kick off Medhuvaagathaan sounds almost exactly like the opening of Maahi Ve! Fortunately that phase passes soon enough, revealing a beautiful kalyani/yaman-based melodic piece instead. With SPB and Sadhana Sargam doing a fab job on vocals as well, there are times when you are taken back to the ARR music of 90s. Seeing the name Latha Rajinikanth on the vocal credits, I wasn’t very sure about Manappennin Sathiyam. The lady however does manage an endearingly earnest rendition of the charming melody that is predominantly dwijawanthi raaga, with the occasional hint of hamir kalyani (I think) in places. The other highlight of the song is the lovely use of naadaswaram. The male version titled Manamaganini Sathiyam has Haricharan in the lead, and expectedly does a better job of the singing. Idhayam is a curious composition, the most classically-oriented and period-sounding of all – predominantly panthuvarali (says @vijaynarain, who has also done backing vocals to a couple of songs here and in the dubbed versions) but with many curious shifts all through. The dominant Hindustani elements in the arrangement add to the intrigue. If there is one person who well and truly owns the song though, that is Chinmayee, making what is undeniably a complicated rendition sound like a walk in the park. The male vocal credits have been given only to Srinivas (haven’t seen that name on ARR’s vocal credits in a long time)
though there seem to be others. Turns out it is four vocal tracks of Srinivas himself, as the singer confirms. Finally there is Karma Veeran, another grandiose anthemic piece sung by the composer and sister A R Raihanah. But this one too winds up as one of the weaker songs of the soundtrack, mainly owing to two reasons – the déjà vu factor, and Raihanah’s singing.
When I started listening to Kochadaiiyaan I wasn’t pinning a lot of hopes on it. But I am delighted to have been proven wrong. Easily one of the best soundtracks that A R Rahman has produced for the Superstar!
Music Aloud Rating: 9/10
Top Recos: Medhuvaagathaan, Manamaganini Sathiyam, Idhayam, Engal Kochadaiiyaan