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Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam music - an article of appreciation

By Dr J Vijay Venkatraman

Profession : Doctor

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Two years after ‘Julie Ganapathy’, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja joins the ace cinematographer & director Balu Mahendra in ‘Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam’ to throw a bunch of sweet surprises that are expected of their union though! Vaali, Na Muthukumar, Mu Mehtha and Muthulingam have penned a song each, leaving Ilaiyaraaja to write & render the remainder of His compositions, which happens to be the crown of the album!

‘Andha Naal Nyaabagam’ opens with guitars in the lead and rhythm sections followed by a short synthetic flute bit that makes you nostalgic even before lyrics that imply the same begin! The song appears to back the optimistic emotions of recently re-united lovers, based on its lyrics and subtle romance-filled orchestral arrangement. Apt and able usage of strings, synthetic flute, guitar strokes with simple but effective percussion make this song a cool melody. Each verse of Vaali suits the situation. Vijay Yesudas & Shreya Ghoshal together remind us the magic of ‘Enakkup piditha paadal’ that they had sung individually in ‘Julie Ganapathy’.

While the first interlude circles around Vijay Yesudas’ humming and guitars, the second one features bells and strings, with the humming and strings in harmony! The beauty is at its peak when the song nears the end of its second stanza, when you hear temple bell sounds in conjunction with the rhythm following the lyrics, ‘ketkudhey ketkudhey koil ponmani osaigal’ (the sounds of the golden bell of the temple are audible) which is not featured in its corresponding part in the first stanza. Nevertheless, the first stanza seems to have richer chord progressions towards its end compared to the simpler second one, compensating it. It should be musical balance from the Maestro, I suppose! The pallavi ends with cute flute fillings and rich strings that give a strong but tender finishing touch to the beautiful composition.

‘Kaattu Vazhi’ is the one composed, written & rendered by Ilaiyaraaja Himself. When He starts singing in a South Indian folk style with minimal support of simple percussion, which too He adds only after singing the whole pallavi once with a deliberate attempt to sound an older man, I bet you would be expecting a native number from the veteran! As usual of Him, you will be thrilled to note that the short rich interlude following the pallavi is set in a Celtic style with three solo violins playing simultaneously in different tracks. Ilaiyaraaja’s soulful singing strengthens the song further, because His stresses, pauses and emotions suit the situation’s demands better.

The lyrics are full of advice to today’s confused adolescent youth who find it extremely difficult to walk past the temptations of their age. Ilaiyaraaja stresses the need to comply with certain rules of life in order to beget a glorious future. ‘Vaazhkkai kanavilla nanavilla unmaiyadaa’ (Life is neither dream nor wakefulness; but truth) is more a synopsis of many Philosophy books than just a verse. He compares youth to the early hours of the day and as any sensible traveler who would not waste them in order to reach home before midday, He asks the young minds to channelise their attention so that they would not be stranded midway on life’s road.

Since the need of the day is to awaken the capabilities of our youth from the deep slumber they have put those into, He asks them to wake up and view life in its real form. As the wise older generation’s guidance to the budding architects of our nation, the rustic lyrics deserve rich applause, particularly because they do not impose ruthless restrictions with blind dominance but extend the little finger of their mighty past for the youth’s unsure future to hold on, as to enter the noblemen’s palace. Naturally, this makes the song the crown of the album though not all the reasons for it are musical!

‘Unnaala Thookkam’ written by Na Muthukumar is set for an erotic mood and he does justice to the lyrics the situation demands. Malathi has sung under Ilaiyaraaja’s baton after ‘Taraanaa Tankuchalo’ from the movie ‘Sivashankar’ (Telugu), which was released last year. While that song had her singing in her regular high tones, this one comes with a lot of surprise as she has been made to sing subtly without much hardness in her voice!

The pallavi has small harmony effects throughout, which are different for each time the pallavi repeats itself. Bass adds itself at the end of the pallavi just before the first interlude, which is dominated by trumpets. The trumpets continue as supporting instruments in the first saranam also along with synthetic guitars until the line ‘theeraadha nadhiyil irangikko’, which is followed by the saxophone thereafter. Similar trends apply for the second saranam that follows the second interlude played just by drums, female humming parts and trumpets. The male voice seems to be Tippu’s rather than Ranjith’s as mentioned on the CD’s cover, mainly because of the sturdy tone. Anyhow, whoever it is, he has rightly underplayed his part with Malathi in not taking the song to vulgarity.

‘Kilitthattu Kilitthattu’ is a rich native melody filled with admirable lyrics from Mu Mehtha. Starting with resonating notes of the tabla as the lead along with guitars and percussion also on the tabla, the first few lines of lyrics of the pallavi are sung by children in chorus, making one guess what the situation could be. Flute & strings take part in the first interlude, which is rather a short one. The main voices lent by Bhavatharini and Jothi are comfortable for the song’s structure and feelings it has to convey. A long original solo flute bit in association with its synthetic counterpart gives us a tender touch in the second interlude.

Mu Mehtha deserves special mention for his unique imaginative lyrics ‘malargal nadakkum vaasam ennum kaalgalaal; manamum parakkum ennam enum rekkaigalaal; ennennavo arpudhangal; dhinam namakkoru thiruvizhaa’ (flowers walk with their fragrance for legs; the mind flies taking thought as its wings; many are such miracles; everyday holds a festival for us) at the end of the first stanza! It is not a surprise to expect such aesthetic sense from the veteran lyricist who exclaimed ‘Iraivanidam varangal ketten; swarangalai avane thandhaan’ (I prayed to God for boons; but He gave me musical notes instead) in the movie ‘Kaasi’ and ‘Tajmahalin kaadhile Raamakaadhai odhalaam; maarum indha boomiyil madhangal ondru seralaam’ (Let us whisper the Ramayana into Taj Mahal’s ears; let the religions unite in the resultant Earth) in the movie ‘Velaikkaaran’ earlier!

Muthulingam’s ‘Ennadaa Nenacha’ is the last song of the album, but definitely not the least. I guess the song depicts the temporary ‘high’ a lad would experience after winning in a street fight and he has written the lyrics with the situation in mind. Ilaiyaraaja has deliberately avoid heavy voices and used Ranjith to suit Dhanush and impress upon the audience that the victorious situation in which the hero sings in praise of himself is not real or permanent, probably! Ranjith does a good job in simulating an untrained adolescent voice and is soon to become versatile provided he keeps singing all varieties of songs including atypical ones like ‘Ennadaa Nenacha’.

The song starts with the applause of a crowd followed by a guitar before the voice begins. The supporting parts and fillings are by guitars. Trumpets, synthetic drums and guitars form the first interlude. The second interlude has a funny male vocal humming, trumpets and applause sounds along with the synthetic drums. Though this song would appeal to the frontbenchers mainly, it should be noted that it does not seem to have been unnecessarily thrust into the script. That is the strength of this song.


Some albums by Ilaiyaraaja would tell you the summary of the story that the script holds for you. ‘Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam’ is one of those and is best enjoyed when listened as it is without comparing it to any other album. It is more a subtle feeling of happiness close to the heart rather than the ‘high’ that follows dancing to songs of super duper hit albums.