Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why this Kolaveri on "di"?



Few seconds into listening to Moondru soundtrack – by debutante composer Anirudh Ravichander, I felt irritated, because in the first song of the soundtrack Idhazhin Oru Oram, the word “Naadiyai” is sung as “Naadeeyai” (Naadeeyai Silirkka Vaiththaai). It irritates me to no end, when in a song a word is mispronounced to make it fit into a preset melody. Music in a song is not just the melody; the inherent musicality of the language in which verses of the song are written is also a vital part of it. One may not consciously listen to the sound of the words sung or even understand the meaning of words, but the vowels and consonants of the language bring with them their innate rhythm, timbre, tone, and contour. If the musicality of the language in the song doesn’t seamlessly blend in with the music in the melody, it ends up being a highly jarring dissonance, at least for me. The short vowel sound in the word “Di” must be placed on a musical note of appropriate duration that doesn’t disturb the length of the vowel, for, stretching it a little beyond its original length would change the meaning of word completely or make the word meaningless; in this case, we have a meaningless word “Naadeeyai”. (A.R.Rahman’s ridiculous Kaadhal yendraal kaayam dhaan in Kannukkul Kannai song from Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa was the last time I got irritated as much with the way the lyrics was skewed into a song template)

I have heard Anirudh Ravichander play Piano in A.R.Rahman’s Band Hunt show “Ooh la la la”. He was part of the band called Zinx and their song Comp 6 even made it to the final “Ooh la la la” album. But, nothing much can be judged about the caliber of Anirudh as a composer from Comp 6 for it was a band song meant for live performances with sections for each instrumentalist and vocalist to flaunt their musicianship in front of a live audience. When Kolaveri di became a rage that it was, there was huge skepticism on his abilities to deliver tender and breezy romantic melodies, for 3 is a love story. Suchitra Karthik Kumar on twitter said, “Anirudh Ravichander is a Piano Prodigy. Kolaveri di is his most normal work”. But, I am quite underwhelmed by his melodies. They are sweet, yes, but shallow; when the melody begins with a sweet, nice phrase, you expect it to turn sweeter and nicer and take you on a journey to hit its sweetest route, but mostly those sweeter turns never come by and sweetest spots are never hit and it hangs around and meanders just as a sweet simple melody. The melody doesn’t make you fall in love with the romance. What Anirudh does get right is the hook line of the song. Hook is the keyword. In contemporary Hindi film music, almost every song is written with a hook line, which gets repeated throughout the song. Even in the soundtrack CD’s back cover, the songs are titled, not with the line with which the song begins, but which the song wanders and meanders all the way to hit - the punch line, the hook. Fortunately, this isn’t a trend in Tamil Film music yet. Such songs have meandering and middling melodies that takes path leading to that one Hook line. It is the hook line that is important, and if that is hooky enough, you can just put anything else around it and pass it on as a song. It would be unfair to say these romantic songs are amateur compositions, but definitely there is a scope for refinement in there and it just doesn’t hit the right emotional chords.

Anirudh fares far better when it comes to songs like Kolveri di. Come on girls is such unadulterated fun. The spontaneity is written all over the composition; the arrangements sound adequately fresh. The instrumental pieces are too short to tell us anything about his orchestration skills, though the life full of Love violin theme sounds interesting with orchestral layers and counter melodies that sound genuinely sprang along with the main melody in the composer’s mind. Po Nee Po remix included in the CD is not exactly a remix. It is a totally different version and far better and interesting one than the original, for the increase in tempo blurs the blandness of the melody in the middle section of the original song. They should have named it Po Nee Po – Hard Rock Version. Satya Prakash – the Airtel super singer runner up, makes his debut as playback singer with this song and he embellishes the tune with an inimitable classical tinge. And to whoever has sung (Harish Swaminathan) that exquisite “Janani” scream where he pours love, passion, angst, desperation and despair all into one – Well done. This blink-you-miss non musical moment is the most heart-felt expression of romance in the whole soundtrack.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Suresh,

Indian vernacular works of art is filled with so many instances of getting excessively pre-occupied with the aesthetics of the language & ornamentation, many times at the expense of ideas/thoughts of any import/significance (My opinion, anyways).

Vocal-gymnastics kind of singing is abound in our vocal-heavy traditional music. "Frig what's written & its meaning, check out where *all* my voice goes and what *all* it does" - this at the expense of the poetry and sometimes even the music as originally 'composed'.

Any ways, don't let stuff like "three" get to thee.

check out a contrasting play on the word 'born' in the soprano & alto voices -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAW7kcEb6LE&feature=related

G

sirish aditya said...

What an amazing website. I must thank you for the rich repository. I found your site today afternoon and I've been glued all day.
You've got another regular follower here.

Anonymous said...

this post of yours looks very prejudiced and self-obsessed. Sorry but I had to say this. I completely disagree with your comments on Anirudh's music skills. I have been glued to his songs since last week and it's simply beautiful. He has fitted the words so beautifully by rendering such good music.

Anonymous said...

the bgm is a rip from many famous hollywood movies...sad