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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya Background Score

The moment I heard those flamboyant piano runs in the theatrical trailer of ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya’, I had a gut feeling that this film is going to be an A.R.Rahman musical. Since this is a Gautam Vasudev Menon film, I was initially surprised by the quirkiness of the soundtrack of the film. However, in few days, the music totally embraced me or rather I totally embraced it. I knew that these melodies would make base for delightful instrumental pieces for the background score of the film. There is a scene in ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya’ in which after setting the frame and explaining how the camera should move to capture a shot for a film being canned within the film, K.S.Ravi Kumar says, ‘Inga Rahman background music potturuvaaru’ (Rahman will put some background music here). While making this film, I guess Gautam Menon would have told the same to his crew for almost every single scene. There is so much music in this film.

Usually, pure love stories are a composer’s delight to write background score for. Though it does not challenge with any freshness in what happens, the challenge is how to score for the freshness in how it all happens and bring within it the aura of romance through music. Gautam’s love stories have lots of silence in it, and little awkward dialogues and conversations with too many bits, pieces and phrases concatenated into full sentences. It provides a lot of scope for a composer to fill these silences with music and add to the romance that Gautam wants to ooze.

That conversation between Madhavan and Reema Sen in Reema’s house, after a power cut, just before the song ‘Verenna’ is one such instance where Harris Jeyaraj had his moment of glory in the background score. That saxophone bit did wonders in sparkling a chemistry and attraction in every meeting between Maaya and Anbuchelvan in "Kaaka Kaaka". There is this stirring orchestral version of ‘Uyirin Uyirae’ melody wells up in Anbachelvan’s eyes, when he carries a wounded Maaya to Hospital. I do not remember much of ‘Vettaiyaadu Vilayadu’ or ‘Pachaikili Muthucharam’.

This film is full of conversations between a boy and a girl in love - before, after and much later. They either they talk about loving each other or about parting ways. The moment we hear the stirring string section that flaunts the inner butterflies of a man, who falls in love with a girl on the very first sight, it is evident that Rahman is going to shower this film with his musical rains. He does and How! The score lightens the film, sprinkles romance in the air, and builds drama and adds momentum to a film that is packed with a series of conversations between a boy and a girl.

Melodies of all the songs in the film are used beautifully in the background score. Hosanna melody fills in for that initial euphoria of Karthik in finding his soul mate. The little funny moments in between them before they begin to talk to each other is filled with Vibraphone version of the song. The lyrical melody of the poetic “Yen Idhayam Udaithaai Norungavae Yen Maru Idhayam Tharuvaen Nee Udaikkavae" plays on flute and angelic female voice to enhancing the serenity of silences, where it is, throughout the film. The cello theme from ‘Kannukkul Kannai’ is aptly used whenever Jessie walks out of a conversation in the scenes preceding the song. The best used song musically and thematically is ‘Mannippaya’, the lines of which reveal the whole story of the film. The title track is almost used entirely as a background score. Aah! That female version of ‘Aaromalae’ for Jessie is heavenly.

Apart from the melodies of the songs, there are many music themes in the film. The shocker bangs followed by symphonic strings swirling is for Jessie’s reaction to Karthik’s sudden proposal in the middle of the road. This theme recurs many times for all such twists and turns that arises out of the unpredictability in Jessie’s character. A mild piano theme that borders on ‘Kahin Toh’ melody from ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ gives a serene touch to the scenes of intimacy. There is another all strings theme that pumps in chokes with pauses in between phrases and also momentum into the scenes whenever something unfathomable happens to Karthik. Rahman mildly introduces a disturbing Guitar melody creating a subtle discomfort in the aura when the conversation between Karthik and Jessie is about to turn into a conflict. The folk-rock fusion in that odd boxing scene also works well for the effect of the scene. The only misfire in the whole background score is that rock-jazz number (this is the first song played when the end credits begin to roll) that loudly overpowers the scene in ODE cafe where Jessie speaks of break-up. However, may be the loudness and the genre chosen is intentional to imply how torturing it is for a guy to deal with a fickle girl like Jessie. Oh! Now that I think of ODE cafĂ©, I recollect the scene where the camera zooms in from the shot of giant Wind chimes, for which Rahman also begins to play his music on wind chimes to set the atmosphere.

And there is so much more music in the film which I have not talked about here. This is just a random rambling that I scribbled out of excitement immediately after watching the film. The background score of this film requires a detailed scene by scene analysis, which I am sure I will do later, after I get a DVD of the film. Until then, I am going to watch this film again, again and again in theatres, as many times as I can. The repeated viewing of the film is as much for the film as a whole as for its background score.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And the Award Goes to..

Ilaiyaraaja’s score for ‘Naan Kadavul’ would definitely sound divine if heard as a standalone piece of music, but despite evoking apt emotions, it ended up sounding loud in the film. With ‘Eeram’ Thaman.S has finally arrived. Thaman has perfectly understood the film’s requirements and has given a score that helps to enhance the gloom, intrigue, thrill and eeriness in the visuals. The 13B score by Tubby and Parik is too loud to be called even average but still wanted to nominate to know how many actually liked this kind of loud scoring for a thriller. Shruthi Hassan managed to not draw any attention to her edgy Rock music score in “Unnai Pol Oruvan” and for a starter that is quite an achievement. Karthik Raaja’s orchestral riffs of tension and suspense, though doesn’t lift up the dull film, is apt in ‘Achamundu Achamundu’. I nominated James Vasanthan’s score for ‘Pasanga’, for no particular reason. I liked the film and liked music cues in some of the scenes which I don’t exactly remember now. The music just flows smoothly with the tone of the film, neither too subtle, nor so overpowering. It is important to note that James didn’t resort to any childish stock sound bytes for comedy scenes involving children. I haven’t seen Yogi yet.

My Favorite – Thaman.S for Eeram

Poll Result

Ilaiyaraaja is at his usual best in ‘Paa’. The enchanting violin theme of Auro needs no introduction. The chirpiness, the sarcasm and witty charm of Auro is embodied in the way Raaja plays the theme with playful staccato pauses between notes and phrases of the main melody. Though it was a melody originally composed for a somber philosophical number about soul wandering, Ilaiyaraaja proves that a composer can tweak a piece of music or a melody to evoke any desired emotion.

Rocket Singh – Salesman of the year is in my opinion, one of the toughest films to write a background score for, for any composer. The film is set in a pace that is true to real life by the writer and the director but the burden of adding rhythm, energy and pushing the momentum has been delegated totally to Salim-Suliaman. It annoys me when a filmmaker, who is unsure of his screenplay, pushes the job to the thump and loudness of a background score and wants it to solely carry the narrative through, but it worked perfectly for this film. It is a tough rope to walk on, but Salim-Sulaiman has succeeded in doing that. The score pushes the momentum to a desired extent and yet never overpowers the proceedings. It would be interesting to know what transpired between Shimit Amin and Salim-Suliaman, when they discussed the background score and the general aural tone of the film.

For the freaking madness of a capper “Kaminey”, Vishal Bharadwaj’s score is as gloomy as Tassaduq Hussain’s cinematography. Vishal resorts to retro and western for action and chase scenes with the theme ‘Go Charlie Go’ recurring throughout the film, and switches to a surreal classical orchestration for Charlie’s colorful dreams. The Charlie and Guddu’s flash back aided by an aching violin solo tries to add an emotional heft to what happened in the past. The mad rock-choir song (which wasn’t included in the Soundtrack CD) that converge all parallel lines to an exhilarating climax is the cherry on the cake.

I have already written about Amit Trivedi’s Score for “Wake up Sid” here and also about why I didn’t nominate Dev.D here.

My Favorite – Amit Trivedi for Wake up Sid

Poll Result