Ever kept humming a tune long after you’ve long forgotten the film? Vaali’s songs for MGR in Tamil films have had a life of their own, long after the films themselves have been forgotten. Everyone has heard of the song ‘Naan Aanaiyittaal’ but not many can recall that it was in the film Enga Veettu Pillai. Songs transcend the films they exist in, but only if the films use them well, and are themselves successful.
You instantly think of Prabhu Deva dancing on a transparent bus when you hear ‘Oorvasi’, but what can you think of when you hear AR Rahman’s ‘Medhuvaagathaan’ from Kochadaiiyaan, or have you even heard of Santhosh Narayanan’s ‘Poo Avizhum Pozhudhil’ ? Here is a list of ten songs that deserved better films:
‘Enthaaraa Enthaaraa’ from Thirumanam Enum Nikkah — Ghibran
Right from the lazy arpeggios it begins with and the staccato-like rhythms that swing between your left and right ear, ‘Enthaaraa Enthaaraa’ alternatingly climbs and descends. It alternates between stretches of lush orchestration and parts that are very quiet except for the voice. The song itself sounds a bit like a palpitating heart but the its prosaic visuals in the film douse all the poetry and leave us with just a tune.
‘Seramal Ponal’ from Gulaebaghavali — Vivek-Mervin
Sung by Mervin Solomon and Sameera Bharadwaj, ‘Seramal Ponal’ has a comforting refrain that feels like you just unclenched your teeth. The visuals are superbly choreographed to the music: there’s a shot of Prabhu Deva leaning back on to an elephant’s trunk as the song gets quiet and atmospheric. Lyrics by Ko. Sesha are delicate, but it’s a disappointment that this great song is used for a generic romantic track in a zany comedy.
‘Kannave Kannave’ from Sketch — Thaman
‘Kannave Kannave’ is sung by Vikram himself, and his manner is tentative in a way that sounds good, especially as the song itself is a bit messy with it’s shifting rhythm and melody. This song exudes a low-key coolth that’s not shared by the rest of the film which is messy too, but not in a good way.
‘Un Kaadhal Irundhal Podhum’ from Kavalai Vendam — Leon James
Irrespective of whether you’re a fan of the film’s brand of adult comedy, ‘Un Kaadhal Irundhal Podhum’ made the relationship between Jeeva and Kajal Aggarwal feel way deeper than the writing or the performances. Also, it’s a bit disappointing to see Jeeva dance inanely with group dancers to the lines ‘un kaadhal irundhaal podhum (just your love is enough)’. It looks like you need just love and group dancers.
‘Medhuvaagathaan’ from Kochadaiiyaan — AR Rahman
Watching ‘Medhuvaagathaan’ is like hearing a song by MS Subbulakshmi while being forced to stare at a scarecrow. AR Rahman goes back to Sangamam and digs out a tune from the same mine as the one where he found ‘Mudhal Murai’: this one sounds like a more ornate and lilting version of it. There’s a sense of completion when the mridangam starts playing near the one-minute mark (and a sense of disappointment when you see Deepika Padukone’s animated avatar begin to spin rigidly like a self-winding robot).
‘Kambathu Ponnu’ from Sandakozhi 2 — Yuvan Shankar Raja
‘Kambathu Ponnu’ is a gem from Yuvan. It’s rhythms are like those of a bullock cart. But there’s a minimal synth-like layer on top of that. Together with Yuvan’s staccato folk-style singing, reminding you of his ‘Thaakkuthe’ from Baana Kathadi, the song is something like a delightfully confusing mix of folk and pop. But its visuals are a confusing mix of generic and random.
‘Poo Avizhum Pozhudhil’ from Enakkul Oruvan — Santhosh Narayanan
This song of yearning begins with sounds that tease you before it settles into a rhythm played by an ECG machine. Lyrics by Vivek and singing by Pradeep Kumar come together when he sings “un moochu kuzhazhiley’; the song has several such unassuming lyrical turns. It’s almost like a bellow: heaving in for a few lines before heaving out at the refrain.
‘She Is My Girl’ from Dev — Harris Jayaraj
With ‘She Is My Girl’ one felt that — finally — Harris was going back to his Lesa Lesa days with the song following the foot-tapping steps of ‘Mudhal Mudhalai’. It’s been a while since he’s created something with as much abandon — that ‘pep’ is finally back. But sadly, going back to his Lesa Lesa days also meant going back to his days of making great music for duds like Samurai and Arasatchi.
‘Koodamela Koodavechi’ from Rummy — D. Imman
This is Imman at his minimalistic best. For the most part, it’s quiet like a conversation. It’s difficult to write about a song when a lot of it is filled by silences. In the charanam the melody twists superbly before perfectly landing at the refrain. Until you’ve learnt the tune, it’s a little puzzle you can work out every time you hear the song: how is Imman going to retrace his steps back to the refrain from the charanam?
‘Kadavulae Vidai’ from Rum — Anirudh Ravichander
The entire album is an unnoticed gem. ‘Kadavulae Vidai’ comes in two flavours: a folksy sounding version by Sean Roldan and a more introspective version sung by Anirudh. Both versions are unhurried, like the songs in Vanakkam Chennai. Why this song ends up in a film like Rum: god is the answer.