You can listen to the whole soundtrack at the end of the review (link via @7hariqcp)
Kaara Aattakkaara that opens the soundtrack is a good preview of the kind of sound that ARR has tried for Mani Ratnam in OK Kanmani. The lovely hook that the song begins with (which featured in the teaser too) turns out to be the occasional melodic pit stop amidst a lot of frenzied rapping and shifting modes and synth-based wackiness (Aaryan Dinesh Kanagarathnam, Darshana, Shashaa Tirupati on vocals). The way it ended with thodarum, I half expected a reprise to the track. Mental Manadhil takes a relatively conventional route, but techno sounds rule the backdrop in this one too. The filler lyrics by Mani Ratnam and ARR (both of whom also penned the previous song alongside Aaryan; all other songs have been written by Vairamuthu) can be a distraction, but the song is otherwise immensely groovy. And compared to the male version delivered by the composer himself, female version by Jonita Gandhi works much better thanks to her nuanced singing. Karthik and Shashaa Tirupati’s pitch-perfect rendition of the melody (watch out for that beautiful carnatic segue) Parandhu Sellava receives a rather contrasting acappella-eque support for most part. It is only in the final two minutes that a gorgeous strings section kicks in which takes the tune to a new high. Theera Ulaa is the only track that carries a prominent heard-before sound about it, but the interesting presentation makes up for that – the vocoded voices of ARR, Darshana and Nikhita Gandhi along with the humming of the chorus, The fast-paced arrangement peppered with classical-sounding twangs (just guitar or veena too?) that lead up to a refreshing classical bit from one of the female vocalists which I wish was longer.
Karthik gets a second romantic melody too in the soundtrack, the one whose promo came out a couple of days back – Hey Sinamika. In its entirety the song is even more impressive – the tune is charming, the breezy arrangement makes it more so, and Karthik is flawless as always (I am assuming that instrument at about 1:50 is
continuum fingerboard or that new instrument he is supposed to have used in this Roli seaboard, @_curses and @amabirdman tell me). ARR’s son A R Ameen gets his solo debut with one of the composer’s favourite genres, sufi. ARR structures the traditional piece Maula Wa Sallim the way he did Soz O Salaam in Coke Studio(which incidentally also had a boy playing a prominent role) – like a quiet prayer. The arrangement is minimal, mostly just the humming by the chorus. Combined with Ameen’s soulful rendition, the effect is surreal! If only the evident processing in Ameen’s voice had been avoided. Compared to the past repertoire of ARR with Chithra, Malargal Kaettaen would come off as a regular track. Yet it is a delight to hear the lady sing a classical-flavoured (not sure what raga, have seen multiple people name it behag-ish) piece very nicely penned by Vairamuthu; she still owns it like she ever did! Superb use of kanjira and flute in the background. The song that qualifies as the best of the soundtrack is Naane Varugiraen. A long free-form prelude and then that take off, riding on the frenetic rhythm set by the harp (synth?) – goosebumps! Shasha Tirupati gets to take the lead on this one and does a fabulously nuanced delivery of the seemingly darbari kaanada raga based piece, with occasional support from another talented singer, Sathya Prakash.
The movie promos may have shown similarities to Alai Paayuthey, but O Kadhal Kanmani’s music has nothing on the former. And whatever this movie may turn out to be, Mani Ratnam still does manage to turn A R Rahman into his inventive best! The inventiveness here may not go down well in every case, but this will still remain a brilliant soundtrack.
Music Aloud Rating: 9/10
Top Recos: Go listen to the whole thing immediately!