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Music Review: Raavan/Raavanan

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)


(A Simultaneous Review of the Music of the Hindi and Tamil Versions) 

The Mani Ratnam-A.R.Rahman team has given us a lot of wonderful moments of listening pleasure starting with Roja right up to the recent Guru.  Raavan has been one of MR’s most ambitious ventures to date – shot simultaneously in Hindi and Tamil (Raavanan) with different leading actors and dubbed into Telugu from the Tamil version.  With stars like Abhishek, Aishwarya and Vikram in the Hindi film and Vikram (who plays Abhishek’s role in the Tamil film), Prithviraj and Aishwarya in the tamil/telegu versions, the film seems to have all the trappings of a mega-Mani Ratnam offering.  As always, he has A.R.Rahman wielding the musical baton for this venture and the soundtrack and music for both films are the same – except that Rahman has employed different singers to do the Tamil, Hindi and Telugu versions.  The film is produced by Madras Talkies and the audio is being released under the banner of Sony Music. 

This review also carries in parts a critique of the Tamil version of some of the songs 

Beera Beera –Vijay Prakash, Mustafa Kutoane and Kirthi Sagathia share the credits for this song with strong African tribal overtones in beat, style and mood especially in the intro and interludes with vocals that are forceful and guttural and supplemented with an assortment of both African and Indian instruments– the xylophone especially. The end result is a song that is powerful and not necessarily melodic– that might suit the plot and while this maybe not a listener’s song it sure will rock you with its pounding rhythms and could become a hit with the DJs and dance floors!  It is a very short song however and just as you start catching up with the frenzied mood of the song, it finishes all too quickly! 

Veera Veera the Tamil version has ARR joining in the vocals along with Vijay Prakash and Mustafa and Kirthi Sagathia. 

Behne Do – this song is embellished with xylophone and bells, and starts off slow and laidback with a melody that is a typical ARR blend of Middle Eastern and Indian – sounding like many of his earlier songs. Again a strong percussion section stands out – the interludes are slow and long drawn while the vocal portions are fast and pacy. The lyrics are sensual and the film’s promo video for the song shows a passionately drawn encounter between the film’s protagonists Aishwarya and Abhishek, hinting of seduction, forbidden attraction and lust.   

Usure pogudhey is the Tamil counterpart sung very effectively by Karthik and Mohammad Irfan.  Karthik has a pleasant voice and sings with a lot of passion and emotion the desire-drenched lyrics of Vairamuthu. 

Thok De Killi – heavily martial and rebellious and anti-establishment lyrics with full throated singing in both the Tamil and Hindi versions – once again, loud and thumping - a group song sung with gusto and rural flavour by Sukhvinder in his usual style – the song again might serve for dance and storyline purposes but lacks charm.  The film’s promo video shows bare-chested men dancing or performing aerobic or martial art maneuvers in the rain.  

Kadu potta, the Tamil version is sung by Benny Dayal who pulls it off retaining the rural flavour and without anglicizing the lyrics.  

Raanjha Raanjha – This pulsating and heavily rhythm dominated song is sung with gusto by Rekha Bharadwaj, Javed Ali and Anuradha Sriram and has rural and folk written all over – Rekha has a fabulous voice and her vocal skills exploited to the best possible extent – Anuradha’s voice is synthesized in the opening and interlude alaaps.  The song somehow seems to possess a peculiar mood and left this listener kind of confused.  This song has shades of mayya mayya from Guru and may not appeal to the listener right away!  However, without a doubt, Rekha’s voice is wonderfully evocative. 

There is a horn like instrument that dominates through the song as does the female humming.   

Kattu sirukki, the Tamil version– sung by Anuradha Sriram and Shankar Mahadevan – Anuradha’s thin and shrill voice is not half as impressive as Rekha’s as she struggles to bring in the lusty mood into the song.  Shankar is as expressive as always and is the saving grace of this otherwise uninspiring song. 

Khilli Re – the sole melody or soft song in the album – brings back memories of ARR melodies like Tu hi re, Dheeme dheeme, Chupke se (from Saathiya)- mellow in mood and sung rather (too) sweetly by Reena whose vocals are fresh and young but a tad too cloying in parts. The song is invested with classical swaras and alaaps in the interludes by efficient male and female back up vocals and an impressive flute accompaniment that is haunting, rich and resplendent.  

Kalvare –Shreya Ghoshal just drenches this song with sensuality and her sweetness is so pleasing to the ear – the song in both versions may not be remarkable but nevertheless keeps the listener engaged to a certain extent 

Kata Kata - A song with dominant and requisite drums and brass sections to conjure up images of an elaborate group dance in the village square or in front of a presiding king or leader.  The vocals are group-chants in the beginning and Ila Arun and Sapna Avasti take over with their signature styles and endow the song with a lot of down to earth and rural essence.  This however turns out to be a mammoth pre-wedding or wedding folk/dance song – sung with riotous abandon and gaiety by the main singers – the song’s promotion has a characteristic Mani Ratnam group dance – the tune is typical Rajasthani folk and wedding – shades of pallo latuke and other familiar Marwari folk tunes abound in this song.  The song picks up tempo towards the end as it reaches a frenzied crescendo! 

Keda Kari in Tamil has the nadhaswaram substituting the shehnai and A.R.Rehana and Tanvi Shah singing– while the former does a decent job with the rustic singing; Tanvi Shah’s Tamil pronunciation is awkward in most part! 

The lyrics in Hindi are by Gulzar and in Tamil by Vairamuthu (except for one song Veera which has been written by Mani Ratnam).  Both have given some sparkling and meaningful lyrics in most of the songs.  However, none of the songs seem to be special in any way -most of them are the strong thumping dance type and to sum up Raavan is certainly not one of Rahman’s best offerings – I wouldn’t even place it as his better offerings – Raavan can boast of a couple of good songs and the rest that will just fade away and be forgotten very quickly!  A.R.Rahman’s music always has a hit and miss quality – some songs just hit you with the sheer beauty and genius of composition and arrangements while some just miss the mark – turning out to be mediocre and run of the mill compositions – of course some of them take a while to grow on you and then linger for at least a while if not longer in your minds and memories.   

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

June 9, 2010 

(Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao is a homemaker & amateur light music singer (specialising in the golden oldies) based in New England - sings with Saptaswar in the US and Friends' Orchestra in Chennai, India and also gives private Karaoke based performances. She is also deeply involved with Tanker Foundation (that helps the poor & needy with kidney ailments- www.tankerfoundation.com) and Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust (a home for orphan and destitute children in Chennai).
Sudha's music websites:
http://www.youtube.com/user/saptaswar )

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