Sunday, May 23

Malarvaadi Arts Club (Music) - Refreshing!!!

Movie - Malarvaadi Arts Club (Malayalam)
Director - Vineeth Sreenivasan
Producer - Dileep
Music - Shaan Rahman
Lyrics - Vineeth Sreenivasan
Singers - Vineeth Sreenivasan, Shaan Rahman, Sujatha, Rahul Nambiar, Sachin Warrier, Rajesh Menon, Rakesh Kishore, Sharath, Divya S Menon
Audio on - Manorama Music

Manyamahajanangale, here's a great new album which is overflowing with energy and freshness. From Vineeth Sreenivasan and Shaan Rahman who exploded  into the Malayalam non-film music scene with their chartbuster albums Malayali and Coffee @ MG Road, Malarvaadi Arts Club is a complete departure from the usual Malayalam film music. The album has 7 songs and each one is done in a different genre. The movie has music by Shaan Rahman who made an impressive debut through the Mammootty film Ee Pattanathil Bhootham.(The track Maamarangale from that movie is still one of my favourites among recent Malayalam film songs) and lyrics by Vineeth Sreenivasan who impressed us with his smart writing in songs like Palavattam Kaathu Ninnu Njaan and Minnalazhake. Another interesting fact is a whole lot of fresh, talented singers are making their debut in this album, which is a refreshing change from the oft-repeated voices. Let’s get into the reviews of the individual tracks now. 

'Manyamahajanangale' is the track that announces the arrival of the Malarvaadi Arts Club guys. The song has vocals by Vineeth Sreenivasan, Sachin Warrier, Rajesh Menon, Rakesh Kishore and Sharath. The song is energetic, youthful and extremely catchy. You develop a liking towards it on the first hearing itself. Vineeth has written the lyrics in pure Malayalam (and a lil bit in Hindi) and teaches the senior lyric writers a lesson that songs for youth need not have stock English words like computer, SMS, mobile, etc. to make it sound youthful and energetic. Sachin, Rajesh, Rakesh and Sharath are all impressive, but it is difficult to point out the strengths of each one since they are all debutantes and I cannot identify each of their voices. But on the whole, they are all really impressive and refreshing. The track is rightly placed at the beginning of the album, and after we listen to it, we are definitely prepared to enter the world of Malarvadi Arts Club and its people. (3.5/5)

Kaathu Kaathu Vachoru’ is nothing like what we’ve ever heard before in Malayalam film music. A completely jazz based track, it has hilarious lyrics by Vineeth Sreenivasan and funky vocals by the music director Shaan Rahman. The jazz genre is a rarity in Malayalam, or for that matter, even in Indian film music. And a funny song being done in this genre is totally unimaginable. But these guys have come out trumps with their innovation with this track. The lyrics are on the lines of ‘Palavattam’ from the same Vineeth-Shaan duo, which talks about a ‘niraashaakaamukan’. But I should say that this song is even better than that one, mainly because of the way it has been rendered and that too in true jazz style. Everytime Shaan goes ‘Deivame, enikkenthinee vidhi!!’, we cant help but split into laughter. He has sung the song in an amazingly laid-back style which works wonders for the song and also adds the comic appeal. I’m super-excited about seeing Vineeth’s visualization for this song and I’m sure he would do a fantastic job with it. This song is a sure-shot superhit and will surely be the most popular track from the album in the coming days. Its my favourite track in the album. The only complaint I have is that it is too short. (4.5/5)

Lavan Kashmalan’ is the promotional song of the film. Performed by Vineeth, Shaan, Rakesh and Sharath, this song is also yet another funny track. Vineeth begins the song by mimicking one of our most famous politicians and sets the mood from there on. The song is about Jagathy Sreekumar’s character in the film and his ‘swabhava gunangal. :P Composed in hip-hop style, the song is super-stylized even while being rooted in our culture. Achieving that is extremely difficult and Shaan and Vineeth must have really worked on that to get that result. Lyrics again are in pure Malayalam which can be understood by each and every one. Simple and effective, with a wonderful comic punch. Vineeth leads the vocals with the others supporting him. ‘Lavan Kashmalan is sure to become a punchline soon. Another sure-shot superhit track. (P.S. – I’ve seen the promo video, and it looks superb) (4/5)

Innoree Mazhayil is the most beautiful track in the album and has vocals by Rahul Nambiar and Vineeth Sreenivasan. The song is about the most beautiful thing on earth – friendship and is extremely soothing to the ears. The vocals merge in beautifully into a wonderful flute interlude which, due to shortage of words, can be just termed as – too good!! Rahul Nambiar who mesmerized us through the beautiful ‘Swapnangal Kannezhuthiya last year, scores yet again with his soulful rendition. Vineeth joins in later and adds on to the impact. But it is the flautist Josy who has scored much more than the singers in the song according to me. It is that kind of song which one can enjoy sitting near an open window on a rainy evening. Refreshing, soulful and beautiful. Vineeth scores again with the lyrics. That guy is a powerhouse of talent and is a great multi-tasker. Double thumbs up for him!! Yet another favourite track from the album.  (4.5/5)

Next up is the delightful ‘Changaayi’ which instantly captures your attention and brings a smile on your face. A maappila-paattu rendered in a naadan-paattu style with modern beats, this song has vocals by Vineeth and the delightful Sujatha. The song has a distinctive rural flavour, but it also sounds like a pleasant Goan song at places. Vineeth does a great job with both singing and lyrics as usual and Shaan’s music creates a completely pleasant environment. But the song is elevated to a completely different level altogether when Sujatha joins in. The veteran singer who is rarely heard these days (due to competition from her own daughter) is just brilliant in this song and its lovely to hear her voice after a long time. The problem is that her portion is too short. But she makes a huge impact thru that short portion. Lovely and delightful!! (4/5)

Snehame’ is a situational track about separation. Rajesh Menon is the singer of this 1.39 minute track. This track is not as impressive as the other tracks of the movie, but may work better as a part of the movie. The composition is decent. It is a really short track which has been rendered well by Rajesh Menon. (3/5)

Aayiram Kaatham by Vineeth Sreenivasan, Sachin Warrier, Shaan Rahman and Divya S Menon comes as a grand finale of the album, and would hopefully be placed at the climax of the movie. The song has a semi-rock feel but has melody as its base. Drums in this song by Ashwin are very impressive. The song works very well and should work even better when it comes in the movie. It has all the traits of a grand finishing song and has been rightly placed at the end of the album. This is the album’s longest song at 5.35 mins. Vineeth and Shaan sign off in style with this song. (3.5/5)

There are Karaoke tracks of Manyamahajanangale, Lavan Kashmalan and Changayi for budding singers to sing along with.

All in all, the Malarvaadi Arts Club album is like a whiff of fresh air in between all the absurdities that are coming out in the name of music these days. It retains our ‘Malayalitham’ while being modern and youthful at the same time. Senior music directors and lyricists should learn that trait from Vineeth and Shaan and should refrain from creating those ‘mobile-computer-laptop kinda songs. Shaan had impressed everyone with his great album Coffee @ MG Road, the Maamarangale song from his debut film Pattanathil Bhootham. But it is through Malarvaadi, that we realize his full potential and range. He is an extremely talented musician to look forward to. He knows how to be traditional while going in for innovations. No amount of compliments would be enough for Vineeth Sreenivasan. Its not surprising that he has such a great amount of talent inside him. Achanteyalle mon!! But the truth is that he has beaten even his legendary father at multi-tasking here. His father does story, screenplay, dialogues, direction and acting. But he has gone ahead and done singing, acting, story, screenplay, dialogues, direction and even lyrics. This guy is here to stay!! Vineeth and Shaan took around 5 months to create the music of this film. Vineeth was missing from the playback singing scene for quite some time but he has compensated for all that through this album. The team has looked into each and every factor which can bring freshness to the whole album; right from the CD cover to the placement of the songs in the album. The CD also includes a ‘Making of the Movie’ Video CD in which Vineeth takes us through the whole process of making his debut directorial venture and the experiences he had while making it. The trailer of the movie is also included in the CD and the trailer definitely raises our expectation levels of the movie. Kudos to Dileep who has taken the role of the producer this time around and has backed such an interesting project with complete newcomers. So manyamahajanangale, go and grab your copy now!!


Saturday, May 8

Kadha Thudarunnu

Movie - Kadha Thudarunnu (Malayalam)
Director - Sathyan Anthikkad
Producer - Thankachan Emmanuel
Cast - Jayaram, Mamta Mohandas, Asif Ali, Innocent, KPAC Lalitha, Lakshmipriya, Anikha, Mamukkoya, Chembil Ashokan, Sreejith Ravi
Music - Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography - Venu ISC
Editing - K Rajagopal
Art Direction - Joseph Nellikkal
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Sathyan Anthikkad
Release Date - 7th May 2010

A Sathyan Anthikkad film is like going back home. Once in a year he comes out with a movie which has characters we all know, moments we all must have gone through, tunes we all would love to hum, and most importantly, has a heart and soul. People complain that he does not try different paths and sticks to his regular formula of simpletons and villagers and their daily routines and problems. In Kadha Thudarunnu, he has told a much more urban story of a girl who loses everything in life, but slowly regains everything through the help of some really good people. It is a small, simple story, told effectively with good performances and good moments. 

Vidyalakshmi (Mamta Mohandas) and Shanavas (Asif Ali) are a lovelorn couple and get married much against the wishes of their parents. They are disowned by both their parents and they start living an independent, happy life. They are blessed with a cute baby Laya (Baby Anikha) soon after. Shanavas tries his best to make ends meet as well as make sure that his wife does not experience any difficulty while living with him. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, Vidya loses Shanavas one fine day. And she is forced to leave her house and go to the streets with her little daughter, soon enough due to financial troubles. She comes across a young man called Preman (Jayaram) during her exile. Hearing her stories, Preman decides to take her to his colony where a whole lot of lovely people stay together. Vidya and Laya become a part of the colony soon enough. What happens later forms the rest of the story.

Even though the story sounds quite simple at surface level, it takes up many issues such as inter-religious marriage, financial stability and all, which are relevant even today and depicts them in a subtle manner. Sathyan Anthikkad departs from his usual style where lots of humour is utilized to take the story forward. In this film, he has played with emotions more than humour. But there are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the film, thanks to some smart writing and an excellent cast. The way the movie ends was quite impressive. As a writer, Sathyan Anthikkad still does not impress that much, and has gone one step lower after the very impressive Vinodayathra and Bhagyadevatha. The brilliance found in those films is missing in this one. But in spite, the movie has all the qualities which one would expect from a Sathyan Anthikkad movie. And it is a perfect option for a decent family viewing. 

Kadha Thudarunnu is essentially Mamta Mohandas' movie. She carries the entire film forward with her character Vidyalakshmi. She gives yet another impressive performance after Passenger last year. The emotional turmoil that the character goes through is brought out very well. The only negative I felt was that she had put on some weight and she didnt look as great as she normally does in this movie. And I believe she has dubbed for herself and has done a good job at that. The other star of the movie is baby Anikha who is exceptional in a pivotal role in the film. She is extremely cute and is one of the main reasons why this movie will be liked by many. It is extremely difficult to make kids of this age act well and Sathyan Anthikkad and his team should be congratulated for extracting a wonderful performance from the little baby. (She was present for the show I watched and I congratulated her after the movie got over as well). Jayaram makes a very late entry in the movie, almost near the interval. He has lost a lot of weight and looks very good in the movie. He plays the loving auto driver with a heart of gold, with considerable ease as he is in a comfort zone playing a character he has played several times before. But he's very good as usual and nobody can be better than Jayaram when it comes to playing such characters, especially in Sathyan Anthikkad films. Asif Ali gives a short, but impressive performance. This is his second release after the much-appreciated Rithu and he should be really lucky that he got to work with 2 of our best directors in his first 2 films itself (He's also working with Sibi Malayil in a soon to be released movie). He plays his short part well. All the Sathyan Anthikkad regulars are present in this one as well. And as usual, they do a splendid job. From Bhagyadevatha, two more people got added to the list and they are Lakshmipriya who does an amazing job as the housemaid Mallika and Chembil Ashokan (the awesome Thanku aashaan from Bhagyadevatha) as a part-time thief. Innocent, KPAC Lalitha and Mamukkoya can never be bad, especially in Sathyan Anthikkad movies. So I dont think I have to go into detail about them. 

Music by Ilaiyaraaja is soothing. The duet 'Aaro Paadunno Doore' featuring Asif and Mamta is shot very well at Sathyan Anthikkad's current favourite location Munnar. Except for Hariharan's bad pronounciations, the song is very good. The supremely talented Karthik sings a peppy number (like Aazhi Thira Thannil) called 'Kizhakkumala Kammalitta'. The best of the lot is 'Mazhamegha Chelin Pooram' which reminds one of the yesteryear blockbuster song 'Kuzhaloothum Kannanukku' from Ilaiyaraaja's Mella Thiranthathu Kathavu. Veteran cameraman Venu does a neat job with the camera but the visual beauty of Bhagyadevatha is missing as this movie has an urban setting. The other departments like editing, art, etc. have done a good job. 

On the whole, Kadha Thudarunnu is a safe bet for families to go and watch this season. It is a decent, simple and sweet film which can be watched by the entire family together. It has some good music, excellent performances and lovely moments. And most importantly, it comes from brand Sathyan Anthikkad, which is the most selling brand after Mohanlal and Mammootty in Malayalam. 

Rating - 3.5/5