Readers Write In #93: 27 years of Rahman

Posted on August 27, 2019

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(by Nirupama V)

A.R Rahman’s music has always been a part of my life.

I have an old CD that contains the video songs of Baba from when I was 4 years old that used to be played on our old Philips VCD player that doubled as a tape recorder.

I vividly remember falling in love with the songs from Boys and Azhagiya Thamizh Magan and singing along gibberish lyrics to the songs from Sillunu Oru Kaadhal from when I was 10 years old.

Little did I know back when I was a kid that as I grew up so would my love for AR and his music and music in general.

It’s been 27 years since Roja released.

27 years since the world experienced the magic that is AR’s music.

Here’s a little something about the music of Roja. Music that has remained or probably gotten more beautiful and magical through all these years.

Chinna Chinna Aasai

The film opens with the visuals of army men running through a forest.

We hear sounds of jeeps and guns. We then learn that a terrorist by the name of Wasim Khan has been captured in Kashmir.

The sun then rises over a village, just then the opening notes of Chinna Chinna Aasai starts playing. I believe that that’s how a sun rise would sound.

We then see a village nestled between mountains, a village filled with rivers and lush green farms and coconut trees, a village that’s a paradise far far away from the troubled lands of Kashmir.

We then see a girl, singing a song about her dreams, her desires and her love for all the little things like the fishes in the rivers, the muddy paddy fields, jasmine flowers, a rainbow, the moon and winds and clouds.

It’s impossible not to smile at this song.

And just as you hear AR go Yelelo Yele Yelelo, you will be transported to a place shielded from worldly concerns.

With each time you listen to this song you can’t help but fall in love a little more with music and the little joys of life.

Rukkumani Rukkumani

This is probably the most underrated track of this album.

It took several years of my existence for me to go from “why does a song like this exist in an otherwise magical album?” to “why on earth did I not like this song much earlier?”

That’s how it is with a lot of Rahman’s work.

You’ll be coming back home after a long day at work, your iPod would be on shuffle and it’ll play a song that you always end up skipping. But for reasons unknown you just don’t feel like skipping it that day.

The song starts to play, you first hear the quavering voice of an old woman and then you hear an insanely catchy chorus and then come the pounding and thumping beats and what follows is a celebratory duet.

The celebratory duet that is now a quintessential Mani Ratnam- ARR thing. (Yaro Yarodi, Saarattu Vandiyila, Keda Kari)

It all started 27 years ago.

Thamizha Thamizha

This song begins ever so gently with minimal instruments, telling us that our day will be here soon and then after a few seconds the music is not so calming anymore it’s orchestral, it becomes a cry. A cry that tells us that despite all our differences and diversity we’re all one.

This alternating progression of the song makes you feel overwhelmed with emotions.

It’s been 27 years and sadly this song still remains relevant to our disturbing times.

Kadhal Rojave

Kadhal Rojave is some kind of parallel to Pudhu Vellai Mazhai.

While Pudhu Vellai Mazhai is a celebration of their union Kadhal Rojave is a lament. A longing lament about the sadness the memory of their union brings the protagonist.

Similar to the kind of cameo AR does with the Yelelo part in Chinna Chinna Aasai you get a magical sounding one by Sujatha Mohan here.

It makes sure that it’s not such sad a song that it makes you weep from the heart-ache, but its most certainly not a happy song either.

It lives in the sweet spot between the two.

SPB’s vocals aided by soft percussive elements soothe your soul, like your favourite old blanket that gives you warmth on a cold winter’s day.

Pudhu Vellai Mazhai

Every time someone speaks of Roja I remember snow. White, pristine snow.

I remember being spell bound by the visuals and even more so by the music.

The song as a standalone piece feels like a journey in itself.

A journey through the highs and lows of valleys and snow clad mountains.

I believe that the soul and energy of this album all lie in this song.

This song is the sheer joy associated with getting something you never expected you’d get. This song is the summer showers and the rainbows it brings with it.

This song is the white, pristine snow of Kashmir.

The rush of energy in that soaring “Nadhiye Nee Aanal Karai Naane” liberates me to a point of obliviousness to everything but the music.

That is what freedom must sound like.