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"This album's got a couple of tunes that are catchy, but no number that will haunt me for ever "

Chiranjeevi's new film's shot in South AfricaReview
A Chiru album
out of Africa

The Chiranjeevi-starrer Mrugaraju is rich in production values, as are its songs, but then who said lavishness is all?

Aditya Music
Rs 35


Chiranjeevi's latest film, shot in South Africa, is produced by his brother Devi Varaprasad. It stars another brother, Naga Babu, in an important role. Simran and Sanghavi are the added attractions.

Chiranjeevi and Naga Babu had earlier starred in films like Maranamridangam and Rakshakudu. Directed by Guna Sekhar, Mrugaraju has music by Mani Sharma, who is also one of the three keyboard players on this album. 

A major part of the film is shot in African jungles, and so it's no surprise that two of its six songs sound very African.

Ramaiah padaalette is inspired heavily by African music, and Shankar Mahadevan does a very convincing imitation of the beautiful dissonances of their tribal music. There are also staccato choral bits propping up the main voices, generally giving the song a very agreeable movement.

The second song, Yalale yalale , is also very African in its leanings, and features Udit Narayan, who's increasingly getting popular among southern music directors. The female lead is S P Sailaja.

Shatamanamannadile, a soft love song by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam, shows shades of ragas Kirvani and Patdeep, and an orchestra that's a mix of the Middle Eastern sounds of the banjo, the jazz sounds of the trombone, and the Spanish sounds of the castanets, and a rich group of unison violinists playing along with the voices. Sadhana's biggest hit in the south yet is Snehitane from the Tamil film Alai Payuthe, and Hariharan is the voice behind many hit songs like Uyire uyire from Bombay. In this song, both singers try to sound very soft and caressing, and end up almost being inaudible. Or maybe the recording engineer gave too much sibilance to their voices.

Ye chai chatukkuna is a rap number that sings the praises of tea, and its powers to cheer up people in various walks. For dramatic effect, it is punctuated by the shouts of chai vendors. Just to give you an idea of what the song is driving at: Driver babulaku ee chaiyu petrolu/doctor babulaku ee chai tonikku, meaning this tea's the petrol that fuels the drivers, and the tonic that keeps doctors going! It's sung by Chandrabose, with Chiranjeevi's voice too coming in at a point or two. You may discern some echoes of Rahman's Chukku bukku in the way the orchestra is done -- pipes, deep bass, a brass ensemble and a pipe that could be a clarinet or a shehnai.

Hungama, sung by Kula Shekhar and a chorus (why is the female lead not identified on the credits?), is another upbeat song that thrives on banjos, guitars. The Latin sounds are spoilt by the ubiquitous dholak beats, but on the whole the tones are rich.

Dammento choopincharo features Sukhwindara Singh and Swarnalatha, who have it easy in this folksy dance number. Nothing memorable about this one, but the natural tones of the folk instruments do make you sit up because the film music industry routinely uses just keyboard tones that don't really match up to the real thing. But there's too little of them, and too much heavy drumming.

The audio rights of Mrugaraju fetched so much money for the producer that, according to one report, he wouldn't have lost a paisa if the film had flopped
. In any case, Mani Sharma can't complain that the producers have been stingy when it comes to spending on the songs. Telugu cinema can beat Hindi cinema in lavishness, but lavishness by itself is no virtue. This album's got a couple of tunes that are catchy, but no number that will haunt me for ever.

Bhuvaneswari M 

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