Readers Write In #127: Five favourite Tamil songs of ARR from the decade gone by

Posted on January 10, 2020


(by Raghav Ravichandran)

The past decade has actually been a pretty mixed bag as far as ARR is concerned in my opinion. I don’t think I would have said that pre 2010. It was tough not to like an ARR song till then. But from 2010-2019, there have been many songs that still send shivers down our spines and give goose bumps while we listen to the song even now, but there are songs I just couldn’t believe was composed by ARR.  The songs sounded bad, had too much technology used and lacked complete originality (Sarkar and Mersal are examples).

I personally found his combination with the one and only Mani Ratnam untouchable and unmovable in the past decade as well. I don’t think its possible and it’s very tough to pick one song that stands out from the rest. But if I were to chose one from each album of the ARR-Mani combination since 2010, then it would have to be ‘Usure Poguthey’ from Ravanan, ‘Moongil Thotham’ from Kadal, ‘Aye Sinamika’ from OK Kanmani, ‘Nallai Allai’ from Kaatru Veliyidai and ‘Mazhai Kuruvi’ from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.

This article mainly focusses on five of my favourite ARR songs that don’t include his collaboration with Mani Ratnam. Hope you guys also would agree and find some connect with the song selections:

  1. Arima Arima from Enthiran

 One of the best cinematic experiences for me personally was Chitti 2.0. Super Star Rajinikanth was at his epic best, he made evil look so good! I was literally jumping from my seat in the theatre for most of the second half in Enthiran. Such was the staging, performance of Rajini and the truly world-class BGM from ARR.

To add cherry to the cake was ‘Arima Arima’.  This song glorified the evilness and the picturization was really good (an art that unfortunately seems to be slipping away from Shankar in his past few forgettable outings). Just the thought process that would have gone behind such a song still intrigues me.

You couldn’t have asked for a better singer to compliment the rousing orchestration put in place by ARR. Just amazes me as to how Hariharan can get into the high pitch zone with such amazing ease. He elevates this song to a different level altogether. Shankar and ARR collaborated for 2.0 which had a similar kind of a song “Rajaali” but that doesn’t stick to my mind, mainly because the video was childish which completely puts me off when I re-listen to this song.

Arima Arima works for the instrumentation, singing and picturization. A complete package, would definitely find a place in the songs of the decade for me. I am eagerly waiting for ARR- Hariharan to get together for another song in the near future.

  1. Innum Konjam Neram from Maryan

 There are some songs that seem so right and you start to cling onto in tough times. It either can be inspiring anthems like probably ‘Singapenney’ from Bigil or even ‘Nenje Ezhu’ from Maryan. But personally, a true test of a song’s impact is when you listen to it in any situation it should calm you and give you peace of mind for that 5 minutes.

This is one such song. Serene, peaceful and blissful- these are adjectives that can describe this immortal melody from ARR. Off late, he hasn’t shown the inclination to let the interludes speak and form a shape of its own. One classic example of that could be ‘Neethane’ from Mersal and ‘Unakaga’ from Bigil which were nice and praiseworthy melodies but I sincerely wished the interludes could have been what we are used to hearing from an ARR melody.

The significance of the song in the narrative also still remains fresh in my mind. In among my most loved movies in the past decade, Dhanush and Parvathy just complete this song. Lovely, simple tune that explodes so beautifully with the melodies! Vijay Prakash and Swetha Mohan hit this out of the park with their rendition. For anyone wanting to enjoy and cherish a simple melody (which actually is an art that’s slipping away as people want instantly likeable tunes), Innum Konjam would be right up there. Give it a few hearings if you haven’t still and I am sure it will impact you for sure.

 Ennodhu Nee Irindhaal and Ennodu Nee Irindhaal (Reprise version) from I

 If there is one movie that I couldn’t sit through after 20-30 minutes into the movie in recent times it has to be Shankar’s epic and colossal disaster I. What was he thinking by making such a painful age-old revenge saga? And more importantly an actor like Vikram dedicating three years of his life for this role? Seriously, what’s wrong with him. The movie had lot of hype heading into it’s release- Shankar and Vikram re-uniting post ‘Anniyan’ and all the talk about Vikram literally living and breathing the role by losing 30 odd kgs and gaining them back etc.

But frankly the only thing people will remember even now is the soundtrack by ARR. Even the ardent, loyal fans of Vikram who have endured and waited patiently for I to release, were left deeply saddened and disappointed by this movie. It neither worked from a massy perspective nor from an acting point of view. It fell rather flat on both grounds.

Full credit must be given to ARR for actually keeping people awake in the theatres with his songs. I remember personally dosing off for a while before ‘Ennodu Nee Irindhaal’ came on screen. For all the brickbats or appreciation Vikram would have received for doing this movie, one can’t take away the hard-work and dedication he put in for this Beauty and Beast theme song. Full marks to the team for ensuring the song video matches up to the quality of the song.

Everything about the song is so good. This is the Sid Sriram I enjoy the most- when he completely lets his voice takeover and is in control of high pitch. Also, the way in which he expresses pain right through the song is noteworthy. It would be go down as among the best songs composed by ARR and would rank as my all-time favourite Sid Sriram- ARR combination song which probably followed by ‘Thalli Pogathey’ from AYM.

I sincerely wish ARR taps the Sid Sriram of Yennai Matrum Kadhale from Naanum Rowdy Dhaan or Pularadha from Dear Comrade. Get him to sing in such a tone, with that feel and it would be really an exhilarating experience listening to that! As songs like Mei Nigara from 24 or Rajaali are good but don’t have the long-lasting impact. I myself haven’t heard these songs in a while but I definetly listen to one of the two versions of Ennodu Nee Irindhaal daily, such is the beauty of the composition.

  1. Yarumilla from KaaviyaThalaivan

This song’s review online says it all- the signature Rahman melody with Shwetha, is soulful to the core. A song which will definitely have its own set of repeat plays for the mellifluous feel. Unpredictable rhythm change is a Rahman genius again. Theveenai in the interludes and the audible lyrics (unusual) make the tune timeless.

What struck me and made me fall in love with this song is how the interludes are so haunting yet pleasing to hear. That’s typical ARR for you. He transports you to another world with such evergreen melodies. But my favourite portion in this song would definitely the humming of Srinivas at the fag end of the song which elevates the song to an all new level.

It certainly was tough to pick one song from this album to feature in this list. But just how much this song hits me every single time I listen to it made me go for this. Not to undermine the quality of songs like ‘Vanga Makka’, ‘ Solividhu’, ‘Aye Mr Minor’ or ‘Ali Arjuna’. Each one of them is special in one way.

  1. Sarvam Thaala Mayam from Sarvam Thaala Mayam

 This album came as a much-required breath of fresh air post him working continuously with Atlee-Vijay combo. Definitely those movies went to become big blockbusters but the ARR I have got used to listening and liking was missing. He was catering to the masses and the fans of Vijay too much and the quality of songs in movies like ‘Mersal’, ‘Sarkar’and ‘Bigil’ are a testament to that. Bigil was a better experience than the two others mentioned but only ‘Singapenney’ sticks to the mind for being so groovy and uplifting in nature apart from being a women anthem.

Amidst ARR choosing big budget, big banner movies came this breath of fresh air – Sarvam Thaala Mayam.  Just to see the return of Rajiv Menon in the director’s seat along with the fact that the movie would be based on music itself was enough to create a different level of excitement. When they worked together earlier way back in 2000 for Kandukondein Kandukondein and Minsara Kanavu they created magic- even now songs from those movies have a different fan base altogether.

Sarvam Thaala Mayam’, the title track of the film, starts off with a fusion of mostly electronic sounds and the chendamelam. Haricharan, one of AR Rahman’s regulars in recent times, joins forces with Arjun Chandy for this toe-tapping song which flows excellently. Although the song doesn’t entirely live up to the reputation of the AR Rahman-Rajiv Menon combo, it, indeed, offers for a very nice and enjoyable  listen. The well-integrated tune comes together in the end with a rousing beat.  I only wish the beat that comes at the end could have been used in one of the interludes in the song- that would have elevated the song to an all new level.

Personally, when I am in need of a positive feeling and in pursuit of a song that will push me in the right direction, I often go to the title track of Sarvam Thaala Maayam in recent times. I just love the flow of the song, with the perfect synchronization and co-ordination between Arjun Chandy and Haricharan.

The past decade has seen ARR considerably reduce the amount of Tamil or Hindi movies and focus more on Hollywood and his projects there. I sincerely hope that when he does pick a Tamil movie henceforth it offers scope for one or two melodies that reminds us of the ARR we love so much. He can and should cater to the masses and the fan base of the big actors but that shouldn’t not come in the way of him compromising on quality in pursuit of getting instant chartbusters.