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Love in the time of e-mail

Kadalar Dinam
Music: A R Rahman
Five Star Audio
Rs 45

Premikula Roju (Telugu)
Rs 45

Internet wooing is in. And Valentines Day too. This is India entering the millennium. And the album's full of the brave new world.

E-mail has edged out the romantic carrier pigeon of black and white films, and our screen couples no longer sing of the prem patr that comes by snail mail. O Maria celebrates the Web:

Kadalukku fishing nettu
kaadalakku Inter nettu

A fishing net's for the seas,
the Internet for love!

The song opens with the sound of a modem, and then proceeds in an Anglicised Tamil in the voices of Devan and Yugendran. Ah, we are like this only. We speak all our languages in English!

Rahman's thrown in a Portuguese element. R D Burman, remember, composed for Sagar a similar but faster Goan-style song, full of carnival music, also beginning O Maria.

Roja roja by Unnikrishnan is a mushy rock ballad, and sounds very, very familiar. You may not have heard this song before, but you've heard many like it.

Ennavelai by Unni Menon begins like a pop song and develops into a tamate-based folk song. A Karnatak style violin, a Hindustani style sitar and flute, and a half-hearted Celtic folk chorus make up the first interlude. The second interlude has better adaptations of Celtic folk on the flute. What's impressive is the intelligent combination of various folk elements.

Dandiya begins excellently. The deep reedy instruments in the background sound fresh; they've hardly been used in film songs before. The rhythm is built up with Gujarati folk instruments. The sticks of the dandiya and the tambourine-like jiggling sounds add to the festive effect. Just when you're enjoying this unusual melody, Rahman goes off into the over-familiar 4/4 beat, into passages reminiscent of some of his own older songs. The lovers play hide and seek in the midst of the Dasara festivities, and the song builds up to a crescendo with violins ascending breathlessly in the background.

The Chuttu chutti tune from Padiappa finds its way into this song too. What's that? Popular demand?

The orchestra in Nenachapadi reminds one of the Kannaalane qawwali in Bombay. But midway it gets too loud and meanders. You hear both the southern nadaswaram and the northern shehnai, pipes played at weddings, and that is the novelty here.

Kaadalenum is a catchy duet with good bass and sprinkled liberally with santoor and banjo notes. SP and Swarnalata sing effortlessly.

A nagging doubt. Is Rahman repeating his own tunes?

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