TAMASHA – A.R. Rahman – Music Review

Click here for the movie review -> Tamasha Movie Review

I wont’s spend too much time on the intro, but let’s just say that this album was something I’d been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer. Imtiaz Ali and Rahman gave a knock-out album in Rockstar and I was too eager to find out what delights Tamasha hid in its quiver. So onto the songs without any further ado then –

Matargashti 

Another Masakali in the making, this is one of those instantly likable tunes from Rahman. It starts off with a motif that I like to call the ‘Theme of Tamasha’, which also forms the base for the chorus. While Mohit Chauhan has a blast at the vocals, it’s Rahman who transports you to the Mediterranean with thoroughly imaginative orchestration. There’s the usual suspects like the harmonica and accordion, lending a distinct European spice to the song. But he also intersperses it with very Indian string work and the fusion just sings.Read More »

OK Kanmani/OK Bangaram – Movie Review

Adithya Varadarajan and Tara We-Don’t-Know-Her-Last-Name! They really are going to remain in people’s memories for a very long time to come. Because Mani Rathnam has done it yet again! He gives us a classic couple, someone we root for till the end, someone we wish would end up happily together, and someone we see ourselves in, if only sporadically.

Where do I even begin to analyze the amazing piece of art that is OK Kanmani? This film just has everything going for it. Think of a negative? Nope! There is not a single thing in this movie that I disliked. And I think most of this is down to the director and his meticulous script-writing. His amazingly refreshing casting. The way he composes and frames each scene. And of course, the way he extracts the best out of PC Sreeram and A R Rahman. They form the holy trinity that hold this movie together. Knock off one, and it wouldn’t be the same.

Because what you see on screen is simply sheer love and passion for the art. It’s been a lot of time indeed that I’ve seen a move crafted with such beauty. Literally and figuratively.

I realize I do have to tackle this from one end so here I go –

CHARACTERS:

This movie is all about the characters. Their actions and decisions propel the story forward. So yes, this is a very important section indeed! First up – Adithya!

Now Adi is not your regular Indian movie hero. He’s well-educated, smart and pragmatic but also very down-to-earth at the same time. And he is a Video Game developer! (just how cool is that!). There’s an earnestness in him that attracts people towards him. And did I say he’s a great lover too?

Then we have the Kanmani herself. Miss Tara. One of the idealistic qualities about her is that she always follows her heart. No matter what. She is very much today’s woman. Mature, feisty, doesn’t build walls in her mind so pretty much lives life to the fullest. She works for an Architecture firm and dreams to take up higher education in Paris. Let me just pause for a moment and give my hats off to Mani Rathnam for giving our protagonists such cool and interesting careers.

Now just imagine what would happen when you bring Adi and Tara together! It’s fireworks and magic.

The other two important characters in this movie are Ganapathy (a retired bank professional) and his wife Bhavani, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The modern love story unfolds with the backdrop of this old and aging couple and their love towards each other.

CASTING:

Well it’s out now. Dulquer Salmaan has become an instant heart throb and deservedly so! He is so effortless in his role as Adi and brings much of the earnestness that’s required for the part. But who really walks away with honors this time is Nithya Menon! I’ve been a long time fan of her work, but here she just makes you believe that she really is Tara, flesh and bones, and not Nithya the actress. She is so adept and intricate in her emoting that you can’t help but lose yourself in her.

Both Dulquer and Nithya say so much with their eyes that sometimes dialogues become unnecessary. Think of the scene where Tara suddenly spots Adi on the train to Ahmedabad. They both exchange a lot of dialogues without actually talking. They do it with just their eyes. I thought that was pretty amazing. You actually notice this in pretty much every scene, if you observe closely. You see the love, the zest, the desire, and also the turmoil that they go through. Nithya, especially, aces with her expressions. In one brief scene, she gives a wholehearted smile to Dulquer but all you see is the sadness inside. It’s just these little things that make Tara and Adi seem like real people and not just characters in a movie. If I’m not wrong, they both have already reserved all the best acting awards for this year.

Prakash Raj is adorable in his role as Ganapthy but it’s Leela Samson who blows you away in the role of a mentally ill patient.

MANI RATHNAM:

Yes, he gets a separate section for himself. Because this movie is definitely his soul and blood. You see him in every frame. You realize how this man has got such a deft handle of things that he does everything just right. Emotions translate easily to the screen and leave you utterly mesmerized.

Let’s take a case study – the way the song Mental Manadhil was shot. The whole song is in stop motion with motion blur added. What does this say? This particular song comes at a moment when Tara and Adi are having their first sparks. The moment is care-free, effervescent and completely focused on them. When you see the song, you can actually feel all of these things. The stop motion effect adds a sense of flying high and the motion blur fades everything in the background keeping the focus on these two people alone. It also adds a sense of vagueness because at this point, their relationship still does not have a clear direction. You may think I’m probably over-analyzing this, but we cannot deny that there was some genius at play while constructing this song.

And of course, talk about setting the mood. Notice how he uses bright sunlight to punctuate moments of joy and then relentless rain during times of turmoil. The whole climax gets elevated to an other level just because of the rain element. It lets the characters pour out their frustrations, conflicts and also their deepest desires. Which brings me to…

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Now P.C Sreeram is a wizard! The movie is set in Mumbai and yet you don’t get any sweeping shots of the skyline or the surroundings. The camera always stays closely focused on the characters, because its them who matter. The movie could have really be set in any other city and would still have the same impact.

And he gets the color tone absolutely pitch perfect too. I lost count of the times they had a closed window with sunlight streaming in. And that once scene in train where Tara and Adi’s faces are just illuminated by the evening orange sun.

MUSIC

Rahman is a genius so I don’t even have to say anything about this one. The music has been rocking the charts ever since it came out. You can read my review that I did earlier. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can definitely see the reason behind some of the music choices. I thought that the songs were used so very well, not a single one seems out of place. And not a single song halts the flow of the movie. Each one carries the story forward beautifully.

And someone really needs to release the background score of this movie, please! I loved how Rahman used violins throughout the score. It was subtle and evocative and some of the scenes were brought up a notch simply because of it.


So there you go. I think I’ve covered most of what I wanted to say as soon as I finished watching the film. It’s pretty rare these days that you feel like going backwards and watching the movie again right after you’ve seen it but OK Kanmani is one such film. I’d definitely say don’t miss it!! The degree of your liking may vary but you will definitely like it!

Here are some of the other small things that stood out in the film for me:
  • How adorable was it when Adi says apologetically to a restaurant waiter  – “Naanga kal vaapas varum!” LOL
  • How refreshing is it that there was absolutely no melodrama?
  • How good was it to see that Tara and Adi never beat around the bush. They speak their mind even if it is an awkward topic. And even if they don’t really want to see themselves say it out loud.
  •  How wonderful is it that the movie doesn’t end with a cliched airport scene! Especially when the whole movie was leading towards it!
  • And how beautiful was it that the resolution of the movie happens with Adi and Tara staring at each other in the mirror. No heavy emotions, no loud music in the background. Just a simple confession.
  • The whole Mumbai 2.0 video game, which even though looked cheesy had pretty good graphics and was later expanded to form the epilogue to the movie. Don’t walk out of the theater as soon as the credits roll if you want to know how it all ends! 

VERDICT: Triple OK!!

OK Kanmani/ OK Bangaram – Music Review

[UPDATE: Iteration 2 is now up! Updated with how I feel two weeks later about the songs]

Rahman’s album release day is something a lot of musically thirst folks look forward to with outstretched ears. And now finally, OK Kanmani(Tamil)/OK Bangaram(Telugu) is out! I’ve listened to both the Tamil and Telugu versions of the songs one after the other and happy to report that the Telugu songs are equally good this time around. Probably because the Telugu lyrics sound apt and not off like other dubbed movies, the credit entirely going to lyricist Sirivennela.

The below is what I noted down as I was listening to the songs, so yes, it’s a bit concise. I would like to think of this as just Iteration One though  Updated with Iteration 2 now, as Rahman’s compositions are always better after repeated listens. I might write another review if and when I feel something more needs to be said –

Kaara Attakara/Raara Athagada: Starts off with a vivacious hook but becomes less interesting and disjoint as it progresses. He better have a good reason for introducing that rap. Now I know some people do like stuff like this but I don’t consider Rap as “music” so the rest of the song falls absolutely flat for me. It only comes live during the Kaara Aattakara line.

If you ask me, a perfectly good tune that was given a wrong twist, for whatever reason.

Mental Manadhil/Mental Madhilo: Upbeat. Lively rhythms. Will top radio charts.

Now see, when I first heard this I shrugged it off as “just okay”, since from a purely musical point of view, there is nothing enchanting about this song. But that tune turns out to be so wonderfully catchy that I can’t seem to get this song out of my head. I still don’t listen to this that much, but I continuously keep humming it!! What have you done to me Rahman!!?

Aye Sinamika/Aye Amayika: That flute. The electronic and acoustic guitars. And those Violins. Aaaah!

Karthik’s vocals blend beautifully with the music. And the song develops beautifully, adding additional layers of music. It’s a tad long at 6 minutes but Rahman keeps the feel intact till the end. And we get a classic crescendo ending too! Beautifully composed, this one!

First song I can listen to in loop.

Parandhu Sellava/Maayedo Cheyava: Uses singer’s vocals to orchestrate most of the first part to a good effect. And yet, the violins that spring up midway wonderfully complementing the tune, are the best thing about this song. A good enough breezy tune.

This song has grown on me. Especially after the violins enter, Sasha’s crooning sounds hauntingly beautiful!

Naane Varugiren/Yedho Adagana: Hmmm not sure what this song is doing in this album. Good singing and an old-age tune. But just doen’t fit together with the rest.

Oh how wrong I was about this song! This was an absolute delight to discover. Such a scintillating tune that reverberates through your heart. And Sasha Tirupathi’s vocals are perfect too! Added this to my loop now.

Theera Ulaa/ Neetho Alaa : Simply and utterly ethereal!! High-pitched vocals that actually work, with classical chants, pulsating beats and electronic sounds. Only Rahman can do this. Second song going in loop.

Mental Manadhil/Mental Madhilo (Female): A bit more playful when compared with male version. Nice variation in orchestration. Jonitha Gandhi’s tamil version is better than Dharshana’s vapid telugu rendition.

Malargal Kaettaen/Manasa Theeyaga: A very good classical melody. Chitra completely owns it, as usual. But would I go back and listen to this again? Most definitely not.

Maula Wa Sallim: Rahman gets to showcase his Sufi side again. Very serene song. Would be interesting to see the placement in the movie.


VERDICT: Even though initially I had only two songs in loop, the entire album has somehow grown on me now (well, surprise surprise!) Though it is still true that this is not ARR-Mani’s better efforts, it does fit the genre very well and fulfills what it sets out to achieve. I do feel  that songs like Mental Manadhil have a very short shelf life. They’re good while they last. What I’m guessing would stay for a long time are Theera Ulaa, Parandhu Sellava, Naane Varugiren.

Agree or disagree with me? Let me know what you thought!