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Ilaiyaraja regains form

Nilave Mugamkattu
Five Star
Rs 42

After Rahman stormed the Tamil film music scene with Roja, Ilaiyaraja had slowly faded into the background. Whatever music he scored seemed so untypical of his style. Kadal Kavithai, for example. Why was he so listless? This album is good news. The master is back in form.

The sarangi strains in Hariharan's Vaigai Nadikarai remind you of old Hindi film songs. It's not one of Ilaiyaraja's better songs though. Hariharan is restrained and not superficial as when he sings fast songs which don't quite suit his temperament.

Thenralai kandukollu maane is a gentle tune sung by Hariharan. It's the best song in this album, and evidence of Ilaiyaraja's recharged inspiration.

In the second interlude Ilaiyaraja sings a Sanskrit verse, a chorus overlaps with a Tamil interpretation, and a soft Western orchestra of flutes and violins carries it away to some magical, unknown space. Soon the song returns. Vintage Ilaiyaraja.

Chitra's Suttrade bhoomithaye nillu is another version of the same song. The opening soft Western flute is wonderfully evocative. The background is unabashedly Western, but the melody is very Indian with Karnatak-style gamakas. Kalaiyarasi and group add a rustic bit in the middle and give it a very distinct sound.

In Chittu parakaddu kuttralathil Shankar Mahadevan and Sujatha sound very good. It has a stylish tappangucchi beat, and rises to Kirvani-raga phrases. The flute-shehnai interludes are typical Ilaiyaraja.

Ilaiyaraja too sings a couple of songs. Pungatthu adu bhoomiyengum is a fast group song in the mould of Raja rajadhiraja from Agninakshathiram. Tannanthaniyag oru theevundu is soulful again.

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