Dilani Rabindran



The Unfair Comparisons of DnA, Thanga Magan, DnA


The Dhanush and Anirudh - or D ’n’ A - combination is something that has fascinated me for a while. There are so few examples of repeatedly collaborating talent in Tamil Cinema history that stand out and consistently deliver unique, quality offerings of cinema and art. Perhaps they are our latest version to K. Balachandar and Kamal Haasan, or Shankar and Rajinikanth, or Mani Ratnam and A.R. Rahman. They are certainly our modern day, Tamil cinema answer to rockstars.


So when a combo has as much international success as they do and are known for delivering singularly trend-setting music and poetry - naturally our expectations are always heightened for whatever they produce. The Thanga Magan songs are not what I expected. They are beautiful, and romantic and poetically written, but the album is certainly not what I expected. But that is because I made the mistake of basing my expectations on some of their memorable past work - the Velaiyilla Pattathari album - which released almost 2 years ago, in February 2014.


Almost 2 years have passed since one of my all time favorite music albums in Tamil cinema, which contained such gems as ‘Po Indru Neeyaga’ and (by far the best “underdog” anthem I’ve ever heard) ‘Uthungada Sangu’, came out and took all our breaths away. Having been so obsessed with that album of 2014, I had such incredibly high hopes for the number of songs as well as the breadth of musical genres for Thanga Magan’s tunes. Sure DnA had Maari (and Kaaki Sattai and NRD) in between. But, I skipped those collaborations in my mind and went straight from VIP to Thanga Magan, because to me, this film is VIP 2! (I guess the social media tactic of alternate project titles really works on me.)


But as Tak Bak played on repeat on my iTunes this past weekend it suddenly struck me… it’s unfair of me to compare the albums, just as it would be unfair of us to compare Thanga Magan, when it releases, to VIP. When I think about it now, why would I want the duo I admire so much, for their ability to create and not replicate, to deliver an album exactly like the one they put out 2 years ago? That would be totally contradictory to exactly what I love about DnA - their ability to be trend-setters; their ability to deliver fresh entertainment.


Instead, I now listen to the Thanga Magan songs and appreciate the unique sounds and its stark difference to the VIP album, and I become even more excited for this upcoming film directed by Velraj. I may not relish the songs as much as VIP but I now have greater expectations that this film will be a unique new offering for Kollywood, and Velraj will give us a new engrossing story about a different captivating character.


There is also a lot to be said within the secret, musically coded language of DnA itself. The large quantity and wide diversity of songs in the VIP album spoke so clearly to a terrific film that touched on family, romance, friendship and careers, all with action and comedy throughout. The soundtrack conveyed all of those elements of the film - even the comedy!


Now, when I think about the poetic compactness of the Thanga Magan album, I read between the lines and listen between the bars and imagine a film that will focus strictly on the meaning of love at different times in a young man’s life - an out and out romance! Posters and stills of the film featuring Dhanush and the film’s 2 female leads, Amy Jackson and Samantha support this guess of mine. I for one would love to see Dhanush the performer return to such a dedicated love story role, like his past ones of Raanjhanaa or 3.


I also think that in the time passed since the VIP album came out we as audiences have slowly began to better appreciate the BGM and scores of films and their ability to enhance a film. The fewer tracks of the Thanga Magan album make me think that perhaps we should be bracing ourselves for another stellar OST score from Anirudh, that will compliment the film’s performances and dialogues even better than additional singles might have. In fact, the smaller number of tracks on this album is a gutsy and unique move in itself…so in other words - exactly what we would expect from D’n’A.


In biology, DNA is the source that determines the unique singularity of a life form. In the case of Tamil Cinema’s D’n’A: they have given us more than enough beloved entertainment to date for us to trust that the films they give musical life to are usually just as unique and singular as D’n’A themselves.


In summary: My expectations for Thanga Magan the film just got a lot higher.

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