The experience called Yuvan Shankar Raja
By Behindwoods Visitor Sandhya Renu,
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It was when Rahman had conquered the King’s dominion by the mid 90’s and Ilayaraja had started coming to terms with not being the ruler anymore, this teenager hiked on a picnic that no one expected to turn into a new era of music. Sure, at 16, you are too naïve to take the bull by the horns and have a ride on it. But this teenager certainly had a bigger future which Kollywood conveniently didn’t see coming. Though Aravindhan hardly took any notice, Yuvan certainly seemed to get a grip of things in just about three movies. With the bouncy Jyothika dancing away to the tunes of his in the scenically captured ‘churidhar anindhu’ or Surya crooning to his aching love in ‘Irava Pagala’, Poovellam Kettupar did send noises about somebody landing on Tamil music. After a couple of more forgettable scores, Yuvan seemed determined to prove his grit when A R Muradoss trusted him with Dheena. I can see what you are thinking; Murugadoss was not as huge a brand as he is today. But the combination proved lucky to Yuvan for it took away the skepticism that surmounts celebrities hailing from affluent families. Then came Thulluvatho Ilamai and later, Nandha. Almost every music lover I knew invested in a copy of Thulluvatho Ilamai music cassette (people were yet to be introduced to CDs then) which was indeed worth the money, sabotaging all doubts about this musician who by then had emerged into a brand called ‘Yuvan Shankar Raja’.

From his baby-walk days to the most recent season where his topical Telugu blockbuster ‘Oy’ is dancing on top of the charts, he has a journey defined more by music than commercialism. When I say that, I mean it’s refreshing to see him not investing much of his interests in films that start and end with the hero. I am not debating if music in such movies (where the story is made to make the hero
Yuvan Shankar Raja
heroic) is inferior. It could have been a coincidence but Yuvan’s projects predominantly teamed him up with directors who preferred stories to heroes which is perhaps the reason why he did not have to meet dead ends while letting his experiments take over.

I wonder what his personal favorite is. If I were to pick one, among a few others, I would hand pick the theme-track of 7G which am sure would definitely make a haunting memory in the minds of music lovers. What about Kadhal kondein or pudhupettai or the incorrigibly haunting ‘engeyo partha mayakkam’ from Yaaradi nee mohini? You ask. Sure, his compositions are unique yet carry a discernible difference from another which is perhaps why the best tracks by Yuvan seem to fall in completely different genres. Engeyo Partha Mayakkam which is a blend of soft instrumentals playing in the backdrop of a love-struck mood is sweet to listen to and instantly dwelling while the husky tone of kadaloram from Kungumapoovum Konjumpuravum sizzles with the inexplicable desires of love. The two songs belong to different families of tunes yet beautifully bring about the different shades of love, almost setting in a state of trance where the mind wanders to the romantic phase of one’s life.

Talking of romance, who can forget the background score from 7G, especially that in the climax? It’s nothing less than a master piece and the BGM is one of the reasons why the movie still stands apart in the chronology of love stories in Tamil. That way, though greatly acclaimed for his flair for background scoring, an award exclusively in the category of background score from his home ground is yet to arrive, not to forget the Cyprus International Film festival for best musical score for Raam that couldn’t have suited anybody better. From the immensely youthful Chennai 28 to the rusty folk of paruthiveeran to the humanly heroic pudhupettai, Yuvan has hit the masses and the classes alike and has successfully been at it, even outside the horizons of romantic tunes.

With just about a decade to his musical resume’, what is surprising is that Yuvan has not yet hit the drums for the big-heads like Rajini or Kamal or even Vijay and yet has found his steps up the ladder to the top notch. Is it because he did not find an offer his way or is it a reason left better in the dark? Intriguing, considering how much Ilayaraja’s music had elevated the stardom of Rajini and Kamal. Speaking of which, to say he has followed the maestro’s footsteps would be a gross understatement for Yuvan has created his own path and his own style, along the way. He makes music that is intelligent, sensitive, humorous and real. While, we still live in the world, where music was redefined by A R Rahman and memories of Ilayaraja are treasured, Yuvan has made himself a comfortable home - one he does not need to be insecure of being taken over. It looks like the night is still young for this lad to be partying and wow, the journey so far calls for a toast. With Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood, the future for Yuvan Shankar Raja is absolutely inviting and with him still hanging in there, we music lovers have more music calling.

Sandhya Renu,

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