No music director has given so many superb female solos like Raja has. Yes, there have been great combinations like Madanmohan – Lata and Baburaj – S Janaki which gave us some everlasting melodies but no one was able to provide the width and depth that Raja provides in the female solos. From the sensuous to the sublime (are they really different?) Raja has covered the whole gamut of human emotions via the female solos. If you collate only the female solos given by Raja, that itself would be enough to establish Raja as the greatest music director Indian Film Music has ever seen. Such has been the scope of female solos in his oeuvre.
I will discuss some of the recent female solos that were given by Raja. All of them are very melodic. Many of them happen to be in Telugu and Malayalam. In recent movies that Raja has been involved in, the number of songs have been limited (maybe 2 songs in a movie) or no songs at all (like Onayum Aatukuttiyum, Kutrame Dhandanai). Even with the 2 song limitation or short song (to be played in the background) limitation, he has come up with some lovely melodies.
Let me start with this amazing melody in Bhavatharini’s voice. Even those who are not fans of Bhavatharini will like this melody. A touch of melancholy pervades this melody. The orchestration is top notch. ‘nannu neetho’ from ‘Gundello Godari’ will make your day. The WCM first interlude enhances the melancholy aspect and as with a lot of Raja orchestration, then are sudden shifts which surprise us and enhance the listening experience. The charanam too has his patented shifts and the way he joins back to pallavi is Rajaesuqe. I love the second interlude and the sense of calm it brings with it.
The next song has a philosophical tone. Nice words from Na.Muthukumar. The song is in montage and the small challenges of life. The tune and orchestration are such that they convey the overall picture and at the same times the tune digs deep into your heart affecting you deeply. Shreya does a great job with her melodious voice
‘kalaiyile malai vandhadhu’ is from ‘Chittiraiyil Nilachoru’ directed by R.Sundarrajan. Raja has always been partial to Sundarrajan and this film was no exception. This song is an experimental one with the main classical line being countered with synth beats and keyboard. There is also veena and nadaswaram which appear as guests. The interlude brilliantly marries classical music to pop sound. This is a very different Abheri. As usual, the bass does a fabulous job. Some may have wanted a more standard orchestration for this but if you know Raja’s way, this is very enjoyable.
We will now shift to Malayam and listen to a breezy song. I had written earlier about how Raja creates movement in his music. This song is about the breeze and here too Raja creates the movement of the breeze. There tune and orchestration are so constructed as to provide the required dynamism to the song. This is from the Malayalam film ‘Dafedar’ and sung by Alka Ajith, who became popular after having won the singing competition, ‘Super Singer’, on Vijay TV. Watch out for that lovely AnuPallavi. I have heard Malayalis call it ‘tundu pallavi’
I spoke about short songs being used a BGM. Here is one such song for ‘Amma Kanakku’. The tune and orch bring out the sensitivity of the situation. This is not a situation for experiementation. Raja keeps everything minimal and enhances the scenes.
We get back to Telugu again. From the movie, ‘Abbayitho Ammayi’. The start itself is terrific. The acoustic guitar strumming followed by the lead guitar which plays what sounds like a Middle Eastern sound. The bass does its superb job when accompanying the pallavi. The beat structure and the pallavi structure are unique. A song which could only have been constructed by Raja. Or as we informally say, ‘Only Raja Possible’. Also notice how the orchestra interacts with the tune in the charanam.
He followed this up in Telugu with this superb beauty in the recent movie, ‘Kathalo Rajakumar’. ‘na kathalo yuvarani’. One more amazing melody against his name. This is trademark Raja of modern times. Merging the melody with newer sounds and being at peace with it.
Let us now move from these gay songs to a poignant one. ‘vaa vaa magale’ from ‘Enga Amma Rani’. Rajshri Pathak delivers the song. The prelude paints the mood of desperation and the tune latches to it to increase the sense of dread. Based on one of Raja’s favorite Raga, Mayamalavagowla, it is a master class on how to use a raga for your purpose. No one delivers this lecture better than Raja and that too when Mayamalavagowla is the example he is talking about
We will now move to a grand composition from ‘Rudrammadevi’, ‘punnami poovai’. The orchestration is keeping in line with the magnum opus that Gunashekar tried to make. Observe the vocal harmony in the first interlude and the counterpoint of the vocal with the orchestration. Similarly in the charanam when the tune changes, observe the countermelody between the tune and the bass which plays. An outstanding construction which is grand and delicate at the same time.
If ‘punnami poovai’ was grand, then this Shreya Ghoshal song from the yet to be released Malayalam film ‘Clint’ is very intimate. Melody is the key for this song and Shreya’s voice aids in this aspect. There is a joy which spreads when you hear this song
All the attributes that I mentioned above for the ‘Clint’ song are present in this superb melody from ‘Sneha Veedu’, ‘avani thumbi’. Once more it is Shreya. I love this song to bits right from the starting prelude.
I will end with the superbly innovative ‘chengkadhir kaiyum veesi’ from ‘Snehaveedu’. This song is set in Misra Chapu thalam, which is a 7 beat cycle. Raja brilliantly keeps shifting the ‘eduppu’, starting point, in the charanams thus giving the song a bit of asymmetry which makes it interesting for the listener and a challenge for the singer. Also, observe the hand beats in the second interlude. This is one ‘Raja Only Possible’ song. Chitra, as usual, does a wonderful job. She is anyway known for that.
Hope you loved listening to these songs.