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Rich and unsure
about the way

An indiscriminate lushness defines Karthik Raja's score

NIC Audio
Rs 45

Karthik Raja gave some good songs in the unreleased Jackie Shroff starrer Grahan. A Western pop sensibility pervades his music. He has learnt texturing from his father Ilaiyaraja and tries his own techno-rock stuff tinged with Indian inflexions.

Starring Vijaykanth and Ramya Krishnan, this "musical action" album features six songs. Shaan sings Amul baby with Sujata. Not a very memorable number by any standards. But it is not as disappointing as Roja vanna roja, rendered by an off-colour Yesudas who makes it pure drudgery for the ears.

Srinivas and Harini sing the much-heard on TV number Muthamida vendum, which starts off like Madonna's Frozen. The rock guitar riffs are stylish, and the orchestra leans towards techno. In the interludes, Srinivas and Harini sing uninspired alaaps based on raga Abheri.

In Rende kallulu by Unnnikrishnan and Bhavatharani, the smallest of inflexions lends it a Karnatak nuance; for the rest, the tubular bells are singularly Chinese, contrasting with the rock guitar and some winding Arabic passages.

Cirikkum sirippil is a folk-based number that comes with heavy drums and chords. Harris, Harini and Swarnalatha sing this one.

Karthik Raja positions himself on the threshold of a patchwork style where various styles meet and generate a non-labellable genre. Of all the music turned out by Indian film industry in recent years, Tamil film music has perhaps been the most venturesome. Indian film music has always been unabashed in its appropriation of genres and styles, but even so, it tends to fall into a habit every time a certain mix of styles clicks. Tamil film music seems to regularly want to break out of that mould.

While Hindi film composers still follow the same violin arrangements and chord progressions, Tamil film composers, and to some extent Kannada and Telugu music composers, have moved on. The phraseology, the syncopation, the beats -- everything has changed. Whether for better or worse will of course be debated furiously, but that the south consciously moves towards new experiments won't be disputed.

In Tamil, A R Rahman, Deva, Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja bring their own flair and idiosyncrasies into the film style, while Dhina and D Iman are hogging the limelight on the small screen.

This album is forgettable, but it does give you a clue to the direction the young composer is taking.

Shailaja R

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