Thursday, October 22

Thiruda Thiruda (Music) - Probably Rahman's best album!!

Album - Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil)
Director - Mani Ratnam
Producer - Mani Ratnam
Cast - Prasanth, Anand, Heera, Salim Ghouse, SP Balasubramaniam, Anu Agarwal
Music - AR Rahman
Lyrics - Vairamuthu
Singers - Mano, Anupama, Unnimenon, KS Chitra, Carolene, Shahul Hameed
Writers - Ramgopal Varma, Mani Ratnam, Sujatha
Cinematography - PC Sriram
Year - 1993

This is my first music review in the classics revisited section. There is no point reviewing the music of Thiruda Thiruda as it is widely acclaimed even now after almost 16 years of its release. I was listening to the songs of this movie continuously after a long time yesterday, and I felt I had to write about them. So I am just sharing my thoughts about the music of this movie. I seriously consider this one as AR Rahman's best album as a whole, closely followed by Dil Se and Bombay. It is interesting to note how Rahman always reserves his best for Mani Ratnam films. Thiruda Thiruda was a comic thriller, written by Ramgopal Varma for Mani Ratnam. It was quite different from what Mani Ratnam was known for, and drastically different from his highly acclaimed Thalapathy, Anjali and Roja, which came just before this movie. The movie bombed at the box office, but is now seen as the cult movie, which can be thoroughly enjoyed when it comes on TV. PC Sriram got back together with Mani Ratnam for this movie. (Santosh Sivan had worked for Thalapathy and Roja). That is another exciting part as they are an awesome team together. But the best reason the movie is remembered for is its music. Apparently Rahman was first offered to do the music for this movie by Mani Ratnam, before Roja. But then this one got postponed and Roja happened. Either way, it would have been fine as both movies have amazing soundtracks. Lets talk about the music now. 

The first song is 'Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal' by Mano. It is the song that introduces the two petty thieves to the audience. The wonderful lyrics by Vairamuthu talks about their lives and dreams. Right from the chorus going 'Tu Tu Tu Tu Ru Ru Tu' in the beginning, we are hooked. The song explodes with energy and most of it is due to Mano's powerful vocals. The beat pattern keeps changing and that is among the best parts of the song. Guitar is also used effectively. And sound effects so typical of Rahman, can be heard throughout the song. The chorus vocals add more depth to the song. The song has brilliant visuals shot on amazing locations by PC Sriram. The song is still as fresh as it was 16 years ago. Deadly!!

Next up is THE song - 'Konjam Nilavu' by Anupama, one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. I just dont have words for the composition by Rahman - it is truly out of the world. The vocals by Anupama are nothing short of deadly. Her powerhouse singing is the backbone of this song. The stress she gives to certain words like 'Mirugam' and all, is wonderful. She sings in extreme high pitches with ease (at least it sounds like she is at ease singing those parts). And as far as the orchestration is concerned, I'm too much in awe of it to analyse it. There are backing vocals by Suresh Peters also, if I'm not wrong. If I'm asked to make a list of the most unique compositions by Rahman, this song would certainly be there in the top 3, even though there is a slight Michael Jackson influence in the composition. The picturisation of this song takes it to another league. It features Anu Agarwal, doing something which can now be referred to as an 'item' number. The lighting schemes followed in this song by PC Sriram is astounding. It is still one of the best picturised 'item' songs in Indian Cinema. (I wish the 'item girl' was someone better though.)

'Veerapandi Kottayile' used to be my favourite Tamil song as a child. I still remember jumping from the sofa to the floor trying to imitate some dance steps from this song, when I was hardly 6 or 7. Another mindblowing composition by Rahman with great vocals by Mano, Unnimenon and the ever-reliable KS Chitra. Chitra's melodious voice is in contrast with the powerful vocals by Mano and Unnimenon and that is what makes this song work. And the complex orchestration, still sounds so amazing. I'm pretty sure it'll sound fresh even 20 years from now. The part which goes 'Nee sollum sollukkulle' is just deadly. The grand picturisation in the middle of a village fair again takes this song to a greater level. Mani Ratnam always makes sure that Rahman's songs are given its full due on the screen. PC Sriram helps him in fulfilling that. Again one of Rahman's all time bests. 

While talking about deadly compositions, how can 'Thee Thee' be far behind? I still dont know how Rahman must have conceived this tune in his head. I read in his biography that he had made this tune as an ad jingle, but that ad never got shot. Thank God for that, as it made him to develop this deadly tune into a full-blown song. The song has vocals by Carolene. The credits mention only her name but the male voice who keeps going 'Thakita thaka' is probably Palakkad Sriram (I guess so). His parts are more striking than the female parts, not that she is not good. She does an awesome job too. Rahman also does some parts in the chorus. The flute part towards the latter half of the song still gives me goose-pimples. That particular portion is my ringtone now. :) Malayalam composer Ouseppachan (for whom Rahman used to play for) copied this song completely into 'Muthum Pavizhavum' for the movie Darling Darling. As we can see, one of Rahman's gurus himself was tempted to copy from this song, because it is SO good. The completely sensual picturisation of the song by Mani Ratnam is again excellent. Heera looks gorgeous and moves graciously to the steps of Raju Sundaram/Prabhu Deva along with Prashanth. PC Sriram scores yet again with his lighting. 

'Rasathi' shows us how wonderful the usual mandatory sad song can be, if it is done by Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman. The folk based song has Shahul Hameed behind the mic and reveals a completely different side of Rahman. The humming and chorus parts are beautiful and adds much more value to the already wonderful song. Shahul Hameed's folk based voice is the soul of this song. PC Sriram captures some amazing hues and colours for the video of this song. Folk is usually Ilaiyaraja's forte, but Rahman bridges the gap between folk and contemporary music beautifully through the song without tampering the souls of both those kinds of music. Vairamuthu's lyrics also give the authentic folk feel. 

'Putham Puthu Bhoomi' will make one feel very happy and positive. The song is full of positive energy and has vocals by KS Chitra and Mano. The beautiful lyrics by Vairamuthu talks about the dreams of the three characters. Chitra's voice is heavenly as usual and is ably supported by Mano with his powerful vocals. The flute part gives you goose-pimples like in the 'Thee Thee' song. The orchestration is beautiful. The western choir style chorus is also something very unique. Chitra sings in different pitches and comes out in flying colours. Hearing her wonderful voice itself would make one feel so good, especially when it comes to songs like this with positive energy. Beautiful picturisation in amazing locations by Mani Ratnam and PC Sriram also makes this song memorable. 

Summing up, we have six out of the world tracks in the movie which are still as fresh as they were, when they released 16 years ago. If Rahman won an Oscar for his score in Slumdog Millionaire, what would the Academy give him if they hear the soundtrack of this movie??Another interesting fact is that the legendary singer SP Balasubramaniam plays an important character in the movie but is not featured in any of the songs. Each song is a gem, but the singers who impress the most are of course, Anupama and KS Chitra. 'Konjam Nilavu' was performed by some other singer in Rahman's recent Chennai concert, but it came nowhere near the original version. But the crowd still goes wild when they hear that song. Rahman himself is yet to make a completely awesome album like this, with each song being better than the other, even now. (Though Dil Se came close). And Mani Ratnam does full justice to Rahman's deadly tracks through the visuals with the help of PC Sriram. Too bad that the movie wasnt a hit. 


  1. Hey Vivek,
    Nice review.. But i think Rahman touched and gone past thiruda thiruda through delhi 6... dont u think???

  2. Very nice & detailed review....
    Goosebumps... the best soundtrack of all time from Rahman.