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Karthik Raja, who came into this film in place of Dhina, weaves rich colours into the orchestra







The arrival of
Karthik Raja 

With this colourful score for Dum Dum Dum, Karthik Raja has broken into Mani Ratnam's production house, till now a Rahman monopoly

Dum Dum Dum
Rs 45


There was a lot of speculation about who would make the music for this Madras Talkies production. With Mani Ratnam being the moving spirit behind this production house, all eyes were on Dhina, the music director he was to launch in this film. After all, Mani Ratnam gave Rahman his first film Roja, and, as newspaper hacks would say, the rest is history.

Dhina, whose name appears every day on television soaps like Chitti and Vaazhkai , didn't do Dum Dum Dum, for some reason that still hasn't made its way to the papers. The job went finally to Karthik Raja, and some reports suggest Dhina will make the music for Mani Ratnam's next production. Dum Dum Dum, starring Madhavan, is directed by Azahgam Perumal.

Karthik Raja has, you could say, arrived with this album. Dum Dum Dum has neat rhythms and chords, done probably on the computer, with the sort of attention that the industry now recognises as Rahman's trademark. There is also quite a bit of Ilaiyaraja colour in the way Karthik Raja blends the Western classical and Indian folk idioms, and in the way he structures his phrases.

An album like this (and Indian film music in general) puts together so many styles that it now seems impossible to pinpoint each influence. How one reacts to this mix depends on where one stands musically: someone looking for long stretches of virtuouso talent or a well thought-out development of one mood may be disappointed, but others may find in it a post-modern disregard for conventional order, and a fascination with colour even if it gets too distracting.

In Atthan Varvahaa , folksy Tamil words are styled to classical Karnatak phrases. One of the interludes evokes, with its violin phrases, the European countryside. Malgudi Shuba, Chitra Sivaraman, Harini and T K Karthik sing this number. The mridangam, morsing, and ghatam stand out in the dialogue between Karnatak and Western pop.

Rahasiyama by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam has a mystical quality, using some very unusual turns of phrase within what sounds predominantly like the Hindustani raga Bibas. Karthik Raja brings the shuddha dhaivath, shuddha madhyam and the pancham into creative play. A violin ad lib interlude adds a southern flavour. But on the whole, a little like the Sufi music made popular by Sukhwindara Singh with songs like Chaiya chaiya. The tone is reflective here.

Krishna krishna is more conventional, but definitely stylish.

Sutrum Bhumi by Harini with its rock guitar riffs and heavy beat is more than a lollipop song. It packs a neat punch with the udukkai sounds. The lyrics too reflect more maturity than the usual "happy" songs. A striking expression: "the line of the kite won't turn into a rainbow" (pattam parakkum kayiru oru vaanavil aagividaadu). Harini sometimes sounds too shrill. 

Desinghu raja by Harish Raghavendra and Sujata moves well, and the bass is outstanding. The involved beat is reminiscent of Ilaiyaraja. The lines after the interlude are modelled like a Western classical piece. The main melody lines as well as the horn/oboe and pizzicato/string are built into this passage. Texturally, the pallavi and the charana don't seem to belong in the same song.

Un peyar sonnalle by Unnikrishnan and Sadhana Sargam is quiet, building up its own momentum, layer after layer. The guitar, then the bass, then some tinkling instrument, the drums, and the voices, come in that order.

A good example of how Indian film music, more than ever before, has become a dizzying mosaic of genres culled from all over the world. This album is definitely worth listening to.

S Suchitra Lata

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