The second film of every director is special, considering it is a make or break situation for most of them. Kadhalan came right after Gentleman made a splash at the box office counters of Tamil Nadu & the rest of South India. The film was remade in Telugu with megastar Chiranjeevi donning the lead role. The soundtrack of Gentleman was super popular and thus everyone was looking forward to seeing what the director will make after this solid debut. This was before Brahmandam (grandeur) and Shankar became synonymous. Continue reading “Kadhalan (1994): The Beginning of Shankar’ Extravaganza”
The album begins on a grand note with ‘Engae Pogudho’ which was launched a few weeks earlier. Rousing, inspiring and majestic are words to describe it. We all know that the Rajni ecosystem learnt the hard way from Baba and Kuselan that you just cannot keep the SPB blessing out of any superstar venture and here as a compensation we are blessed twice over. The rousing arrangement at the outset is an indicator of things to come for the album which has pretty dense orchestration by ARR standards. The song is pretty inspiring and has pretty solid lyrics by the Kaviarasu. It sings of the sky being the limit and there being no boundaries for the hero. It has apt war cry words around victory conch, the sword . The country instrumentation touch post ‘suriyanai undakku’(>1.30) is classy , so is the slightly familiar ARR strains post(2.46) blended well which sound a bit like the charanam ‘katrae po’ of ‘maya maya ‘ from Baba. The lyrics start with a war cry goes on to overcoming obstacles and ends with a note of resurgence. 3.75/5 with Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali at 5 in the intro song genre.
Soothing strings welcome you to ‘Medhuvaagathan’. I may have issues with Sadhana Sargam’s pronunciation and nativity, but her god gifted voice is beyond question. It really is a honey soaked vocal gateway to the big boss joining at 1.07. I will not start talking about SPB as it will totally hijack this post. He is not my favorite singer. He is an integral part of my life and more akin to a family member for the gamut of moments and emotions he gives me every day. But some highlights on this song. The line starting ‘Padai venduma’ at 1.44 where he talks about how the girl effortlessly wins over the warrior, the smile with ‘innum solla mozhiyillaye’ at 4.00 or the outstanding modulations at the end are all champion stuff which the legend achieves every day in his life. Sadhana’s voice is an asset but her struggles with the ‘LAs’ , ‘NAs’ and ‘Zhas’ surely rob a little bit of an otherwise outstanding song. Still a 4/5 on the simple melody duet segment for me. And yes the song has some very high standard lyrics by the Late Valee Sir.
‘ Maatram Ondrudhan’ is fashioned as an anthem of sorts to Rajni fan boys. The tune is pretty simple and catchy. It does have elements from other ARR songs such as the beat pattern similar to ‘Sonnalum Ketpadhillai’ from Kadhal Virus and a little bit of ‘Nenje Yezhu’ hangover I could feel though the songs are pretty different. The important part of the song is the dialogue portion of the superstar and it is a compendium of sorts of the opinions he has been espousing for a long time on issues such as friendship, revenge, patience, wealth and permanent nature of soul. Thalaivar of course has a magnetic voice and you get fangasms in quite a few places such as the start on forgiveness, when he starts of about forgiveness, the attributes of a leader and ofcourse that iconic laugh in the end. Only drawback of the song is a few questionable things on lyrics such as mention of money, ice formation etc which in reality might not have been known in the raja-rani times. So it is impractical but if this is a simple anthem song not featuring in the movie then it’s not a big issue. My high point of the song is the beautiful jathi section that creeps up in the end. Overall a decent tune, some rich arrangement and the magnetic thalaivar make up a 3.25/5.
‘Manappenin Sathiyam’ is cute and has some nice raagas such as Dhwijavanathi and Sahana going for it, but somehow I felt it is a bit of an odd man out in an otherwise grand album. It is a pretty routine ARR composition in terms of achieving new ground. Not too much scope for fancy lyrics but pretty adequate in conveying what it sets out to. It talks about promises from a bride to the groom during the marriage on purity, values, companionship, child upbringing etc. Sweet voice of the superstar’s wife, but still leaves me somewhat wanting more. 3/5.
Ok this is not by any means a new ragam for the ARR fold. In ‘Idhayam’ you have strains and beat inspirations from Hai rama(Rangeela), Kiliye kiliye(Thenali) and few more, but Chinmayi and Srinivas just own it in the first half of the song itself. The unconventional rhythm pattern in the beginning is very inventive and Chinmayi just teases the first time she does ‘Idhayam nazhuvi nazhuvi…’ . See this is when magic is created. She absorbs the lyrics and can modulate to give the feeling that the heart is slipping and moving away. That requires a combination of good music, great singing and clear sense of language. This is what I lament most when a non-tamilian sings. It’s so much harder to nail. Though the song abounds in a lot of great lyrics, Srini’s section ‘Poopadhu marandhan kodigal, punnagai marandhadhu minnal, kaaypadhu marandhadhu kaadu, kaviyam marandhadhu yedu’ is brilliant and I won’t dilute even a little by attempting to translate. The lines for the same section in the next charanam too are brilliant. The interlude singing by Chinmayi is clearly out of Thenali but otherwise a very rich song all in all. Want to stop with a 3.75 but am getting generous and pushing a 4/5.
The title song starts with a, what’s so special about it feel. But slowly and steadily ARR’s cheekiness hits you. The clincher in the song is the fusion of traditional percussion with electronic guitar (especially post 1:30 and 2:30). Post 3rd minute ARR has a field day with grand pianos, chorus effects and the electronic stuff. A pretty catchy title song in the end and should do even better with time. A 3.25 for now and it may improve with time. I am left wondering who the singers are in the ensemble. Some sound like Super singer familiars.
‘Manamaganin Sathiyam’ for me is marginally better than the lady version. Haricharan is a bit more of a seasoned voice and brings a tad more meat to the song. Though I do have my concerns over why someone as young as Haricharan for Superstar, it is still not a first. It would pass through fine if it is more of a background track. This is a groom’s list of wedding promises to the bride. It talks of love , fidelity, companionship and support. This time round I could much easier appreciate the nadaswaram strains though I have difficulties in plotting the exact ragam of the first one (2nd one ends in an easy Sahana). My favourite lines are ‘ovvoru vadham…..’ where he says at ever argument he would happily lose in the end. A 3.25/5 on this one.
Rana’s dream is a routine instrumental version of ‘Engae pogudho’. It is a bit disappointing to me that someone of ARR didn’t try out a totally independent instrumental track and chose to rehash a song in this form. Might not be his decision or choice in the end but it is an opportunity lost on doing a rousing theme. The track is routine and has some decent depth kicking in at about 3:30. 2.5/5 for me as it is a bit below expectations.
The album draws to a close with ‘Karma Veeran’, which sets me thinking a bit. It’s not trailblazing in terms of novelty of tune. It has inspirations from lot of ARR work, especially the song ‘One love’ from the album Tajmahal. Also the ARR sung motivational anthem is no longer as novel a genre as it used to be. But there are lot of nice layers and elements thrown in to revitalize the tune, starting with the opening violins and Rehana’s lines ‘Aagayam Megagangal Pozhiyum Bodhu, Aadhayam keladhu. Thainaadu kakindra ullam endrum thanakkaga vazhadhu’(which means the sky never expects any favors when it showers clouds and a true soldier never lives for himself). ARR sings initially about struggles and the value they have in the larger scheme of things and the ultimate triumph of truth and hard value. ARR’s high point is at 4.13 when he sings the ‘Kozhaigal mannithal’ section where he shows his true vocal strength. Sheer class. The lyrics at the end showing difference between Kadamai veeran and Karma veeran is again really impactful. Still a 3.25/5 at this instant for me and probably will grow more on me.
This is a very successful album overall. Baring a so-so theme track, none of the songs are downers by any stretch. Lyrics are of highest quality and by and large diction too is fine. Orchestration is pretty heavy and this is atypical with ARR. It seems to be done given that it is an animation movie with a worldwide release. Not too much experimentation with singer choices and reliable rendition from the usual suspects. A rounded off 3.5 to the overall effort.