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This hasn't got the masterly touch of an Ilaiyaraja, but it's not entirely empty either


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Shankar Loy Ehsaan make a trendy score for the Kamala Hasan starrer Aalavanthaan, called Abhay in Hindi and boasting an Australian stunt master

Kamal and Raveena in 'Aalavanthaan' Just about everyone knows Kamala Hasan borrows scripts from Hollywood -- Avvai Shanmughi was inspired by Mrs Doubtfire, Tenali by Stuart Little and so on. But the fact remains that he is damned good at getting the adaptations right: he knows how much to spice them up for the Indian audiences. Aalavanthaan, one of our regular readers S Karthik has written in, could be Kamal's adaptation of Link, a 1986 film directed by Richard Franklin. Kamal is credited with the screenplay of Aalavanthaan, and he has roped in Grant Page, of Mad Max and Mr Nice Guy fame, to do the stunts and the car chases. The producer, Kalaipuli Thanu, is known to be a lavish spender.

Coming back to Link, it is about a primatologist and a psychotic chimp. Karthik suspects that Jerry Goldsmith's score for the 1986 Elizabeth Shue-starrer has been lifted, and for those who might be interested, he has mailed a link to the original score (

The inlay card of Aalavanthaan shows Kamal posing in the nude, and that still promptly made it to the tit-bit columns of magazines like India Today. And for trivia collectors, here's another bit of information: Magnasound has inserted lottery tickets in the cassette boxes, so you could win a lakh or two from Bhutan State Lottery if you buy this tape and you're lucky enough! That's a new trick in the bag of music marketers.

Kamal reportedly plays two roles -- a bald toughie with a tatoo on his arm, and a commando -- and we have two heroines in the film, Raveena Tandon and Manisha Koirala. Aalavanthaan will be released as Abhay in Hindi. Shankar Loy Ehsaan (three people, as against the standard two-member music composing teams we are used to) earlier made the score for the Hindi film Dil Chahta Hai. The six tracks on this album show their ease with music that may be described as trendy.

Africa Kaatupuli by Nandini and chorus has predictable African tribal chants amidst a neat tune. The interlude takes on a Latin fiesta feel in the trumpets and rhythm. The second interlude goes Arabian with flutes piping in and the rattle of snare drums.

Un azhagukku by Shankar Mahadevan and Sujatha has a repetitive beat and back-up orchestra which sustains a sort of drone for this love song detailing various responsibilities:

Un kannukku pani poruppu
Un panivukku mazhai poruppu

(The ice is responsible for the (look) in your eyes
The rain is responsible for your humility)

It gets naughty soon after:

Un kozhandaikku naan poruppu
(I am responsible for your child)

And Vairamuthu, for your kind information, is responsible for these words.

Nee yaaru and Kadavul paathi are both sung by Kamal. Wry, ironical songs about the good and evil in man. Nee yaaru sounds like a grand theme. The flutes and violins weave in well with the female vocals. Again the stress is Arabian, but Mozart's The Barber of Seville also finds some echo here (violins arranged by Srinivasa Murthy).

Aalavandan has Shankar Mahadevan singing a set phrase with chromatic notes. Loy says they did this track with a lot of techno elements and sent it to Kamal and the director (Suresh Krissna), thinking it would be thrown out, only to be pleasantly surprised when they loved it and embraced it wholeheartedly. In its rendition and tightly packed orchestration, the title song might remind you of Shankar's private track Breathless.

Siri siri siri, by Kamal Haasan and Mahalaxmi, is full of jokes for interludes, some so widely circulated as to be stale.

Shankar Mahadevan, with his training in Indian music, may be the one who brings in the Indian-style inflections -- in fact, the title song has two catch phrases from raga Jog, or Nattai -- and you will also find considerable fusion of genres, but the music of this trio is young rather than maturely cohesive. It hasn't got the masterly touch of an Ilaiyaraja, but it's not empty either.

S Suchitra Lata

Published on 30 August 2001

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