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Vidyasagar uses the veena in his interludes, and the instrument has almost become his signature


Gentleman as writer, director and actor


Vidyasagar's music for Vedam, directed by Arjun, bears his signature -- veena in the interludes. Arjun, hero of hits like Gentleman, is also scripting the film

This is an Arjun film with six songs. Arjun started off acting in Kannada kids' films like Putani Agent 1-2-3 and Simhada Mari Sainya. His father Shakti Prasad was the villain in innumerable Kannada films. Arjun is known as Arjun Sarja in Kannada and Sri Manjunatha, a film starring him and Chiranjeevi, is now running in theatres across Karnataka. One of the main actresses in Vedam is Sakshi Shivanand, who recently got into a row with Kannada actor-producer Yogeshwar. Yogeshwar told the press that Sakshi's sister, who he claims looks just like her, quietly stood in for her for some of her shots. Sakshi first laughed it off and said Yogeshwar had taken too seriously a joke she had cracked, and then denied the charge vehemently and accused Yogeshwar of kicking up a racket for the sake of publicity. Vedam is a bilingual, and will be released in Tamil and Telugu. It also stars Divya Unni from the Malayalam film industry.

In Tamil, Arjun is the hero of hit films like Gentleman and Kodi Parakkudu. His recent Rhythm, a love story directed by Vasanth with music by A R Rahman, didn't excite the box-office. The opening shot of Vedam, at AVM Studios in Chennai, demonstrated the goodwill he enjoys in the industry. The guests included Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Kannada star Ambarish and several other luminaries. Anil Kapoor and the other Hindi stars were shooting in Chennai for Nayak, which is a remake of Mudhalvan, starring Arjun again. Shankar, who directed the Tamil original, is directing the Hindi version too.

Arjun, like Kamala Hasan, has been dabbling in jobs on the other side of the camera as well. The story of Vedam is his own. He produced a Kannada film called Thutta Mutta. Some of the songs in Vedam are shot on location in Austria. Vidyasagar, the music director, is the composer of hit songs like Malare mounama from Karna, which also, incidentally, is an Arjun starrer.

O anbe anbe is an outright '80s song, with the same bass arrangement. But while '80s disco songs were full of flowing violins on a tightly packed bass pattern (remember the Beegees or Chic or even our own Biddu and his tunes for Nazia Hassan?), here the synth is prominent. A mild Latino hue comes on with the brass. Shankar Mahadevan delivers with style.

S P Balasubramaniam sings Konji konji, a slow ballad with a guitar and violins. Mudhalpoo edhuvo starts with some kunnakol passages which are replaced by heavy drums and bass. Hariharan and Sujata make the sound come alive. The sitar interlude adds a classical sparkle to an otherwise mediocre R&B style.

Umma ayya by Sriram Parthasarathy and Anupama is one of those numbers that are termed "sizzling". Anupama is surely one of the most underused singers, considering her vocal quality and a good rounded timbre. The sudden piano notes rounding off the stanza contributes just that touch of creative thought.

Malai katru by Hariharan and Mahalaxmi starts off with a bass guitar pattern. And then a chorus followed by flute sets the tone for a slow, soft number in the vein of Malare mounama from Karna. The classical overtones of the last song are not so pronounced here. The effect is more Western pop, except for Vidyasagar's signature in the veena interlude. Must say he has consistently used this instrument where others overdo the synth. The second interlude has an Arab effect. The song does not stay with you though.

Hey Meenalochani is a fusion of sorts with its mix of 'Meenalochani', Sanskrit for 'fish eyed one', and the American salutation of 'Hey'. Swarnalatha and Shankar Mahadevan have a good time rendering this fast number. The tune is not very memorable though.

The recording quality (digitally mixed at Real World Studio, London) is very good, but can't say the same about the music.

S Suchitra Lata

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