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Saarangi in Tamil Music

5 Dec

Saarangi is considered to be the musical instrument which is closest to the human voice. It is quite challenging to play and like every instrument it has a very unique signature sound of its own. Many composers in Tamil music have used Saarangi to great effect. Ilaiyaraja used it as early as in Kaadhal Oviyam (used to fantastic effect in Naadhan Enn Jeevane) and I would say Rahman brought back its usage in many movies during the early 90’s and it again became popular with many composers. Below is an incomplete list of songs with wonderful Saarangi interludes categorized per composer:


  • Naadham En Jeevane (from Kadhal Oviyam), a masterpiece tune with Hindustani-styled Saarangi interludes
  • Oru Pattam Poochi (from Kadhalukku Mariyadhai), again a magical first interlude which is very unique as its played very fast with counterpoints supported ably by the flute
  • Poongaatre (from Friends), the usage of Saarangi amplifies the effect of Chakravaaham raaga used here


  • Kappal Yeri Poyachu/Pachai Kiligal (from Indian)
  • Aayirathil Naan Oruvan (from Iruvar, starts with a nice Saarangi, played by the legendary Sultan Khan)
  • Snehidhane (from Alaipayuthey), my favourite use of Saarangi from ARR


  • Engengay (from Nerukku Ner), starts with Saarangi
  • Sivappu Lolaaku (from Kadhal Kottai), this is a Rajasthani-styled folk song with Saarangi

Other miscellaneous songs with Saarangi usage include:

  • SABESH MURALI: Oru Muraidhaan (from Thavamai Thavamirundhu)
  • HARRIS JAYARAJ: Edho Onru (from Laysa Laysa), brilliant Saarangi usage, a wonderful song too
  • YUVAN: Oru Devathai (from Vaamanan), one of Yuvan’s best songs with fantastic Saarangi pieces, Roopkumar Rathod just aces the songs
  • IMMAN: Marhaba (from Saravanan Irukka Bayamen), a Hindustani-styled song composed in Hindolam with nice Saarangi, suits the song very well
  • ANIRUDH: Neeyum Naanum (from Naanum Rowdydhaan), very innovative use of Saarangi with Piano in a slow, mellow tune

Rajini Intro Songs

1 Jun

One of the things that has become an integral part of any Rajinikanth movie is the “Rajini Intro song”. It is an occasion for which the Rajini fan waits with bated breath. It is the first time that the fan can see his “superstar” first time in the movie. So, if you are at a theatre watching a Rajinikanth movie then you will see a lot of frenzy during the intro song, when the fans whistle and jump in joy. So, composing an intro song is quite a tough job for a composer as he has to please the zillion fans of the superstar. Considering this, almost all the composers have done a fabulous job of it. If I remember correctly, this concept started with Annamalai movie and since then has become the indispensable part of every Rajini movie. The different intro songs in Rajini movies’ are:

  1. Vandhendaa Paalkaaran-Baasha-Deva
  2. Uzhaippaali Illadha-Uzhaippaali-Ilaiyaraja
  3. Naan Autokaaran-Baasha-Deva
  4. Singa Nadai Pottu-Padaiyappa-A.R.Rahman
  5. Adhaanda Ithaanda-Arunachalam-Deva
  6. Oruvan Oruvan-Muthu-A.R.Rahman
  7. Dippu Dippu-Baba-A.R.Rahman
  8. Devuda Devuda-Chandramukhi-Vidyasagar
  9. Ballelaikka-Shivaji-A.R.Rahman

I like most of these intro songs but Oruvan Oruvan and Ballelaikka are my favourites. The unique feature of these intro songs apart from their energy are that though they are fast and thumping, they still sound pretty melodious. Moreover they generally have very good philosophical and inspiring lyrics. I feel Rahman has done a wonderful job of composing amazing intro songs for the superstar as its no mean achievement to please the superstar’s fans’. Credit must also go to S.P.Balasubramaniam for singing these songs beautifully. Only one intro song among these is sung by Shankar Mahadevan for Baba movie, which was just an okay song.

I am now waiting the intro song in Endhiran, Rajini’s next movie for which ARR has composed the music.

Found a TREASURE: I am elated!!!

2 Apr

I had been to Landmark this evening for browsing books and music (my monthly ritual of visiting major music shops-my temples!). When I was crossing the Tamil music section, I just saw 2 A.R.Rahman MP3 CD’s released by Aditya Music. I thought they must be Telugu songs of ARR but I was wrong! To my pleasant surprise, the CD’s contained most of the Tamil albums of ARR, especially the older ones whose original CD’s are difficult to buy today. Without second thought I bought them and when I listened at home, they were of superb quality.

The reason I am elated is that I did not have the original CD’s of many of these old albums of ARR as I could not find them. Aditya Music has bought the rights of all these movie albums from Pyramid Music-the original audio company which used to release these cassettes!

When I was listening to the songs I remembered my childhood, when I used to rush to the music shop to buy the cassettes of these films and play them so much that they almost got erased. Now I have the wonderful, ORIGINAL QUALITY MP3 LEGAL CD, which I can hopefully savour for the rest of my life! Thanks to God for giving me this treasure. The curious thing about this is that I searched and searched but found only 1 copy of these 2 CD’s Volumes 1 & 2. I was searching if there is a Volume 3 of these CD’s but could not find them. The tried the Aditya Music site but it is a static website 😦 I will visit other music shops to see if there are more volumes.

It was almost I was destined to buy these today. This has happened to me innumerable times, where an album I am searching for years, suddenly falls into my lap! Each of the CD’s cost only Rs 75. Here are the details of the film albums on the CD’s.

Volume 1

  1. Padayappa
  2. Indian
  3. Bombay
  4. Karuthamma
  5. May Madham
  6. Kizhakku Cheemaiyile
  7. Love Birds
  8. Pavithra
  9. Rangeela (Tamil-I prefer the original Hindi)

Volume 2

  1. Muthu
  2. En Swaasa Katrae
  3. Duet
  4. Mr.Romeo
  5. Gentleman
  6. Sangamam
  7. Iruvar
  8. Uzhavan

This is A.R.Rahman’s vintage collection at its best. I already have Roja/Kadhalan & Pudhiya Mugam/Thiruda Thiruda original audio CD’s.  The only old albums left to have in original are:

  1. Indira
  2. Minsaara Kanavu

A million thanks to Aditya Music for bringing out these old gems of ARR again. I am going back to listen to these melodies………..

The Maestros together!

6 Mar

Look at the following pictures from A.R.Rahman’s felicitation held at Chennai. The entire Tamil music industry was there to acknowledge Rahman’s  achievement.  For a music lover there is nothing better than seeing the Trimurtis/Trinity of Tamil music-nay Indian music, together-M.S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraja and A.R.Rahman. Click on the photos to see them fully.

Evolution of Tamil Music-Part 2

10 Jan
I am blogging again after a month owing to continuous travel. But its great to be back. Here I would like to speak about more music directors who have created memorable melodies in Tamil music.
1. A.R.Rahman-He is the obvious choice after the legendary Ilaiyaraja. Rahman burst into the Tamil music scene in 1992, composing for “Roja.” Man what an explosive debut it was!! He took the nation by storm. Until then, we had not heard such a sound that Rahman created for Roja. After that till today, Rahman has clearly shown that he is another maestro. When people compare Rahman & Ilaiyaraja, I just say Raja is like Bradman and Rahman is like Sachin. Both have their unique class. Besides being a fan of Raja, I am a fan of Rahman too. Some say that Rahman has lost his touch but I beg to disagree. He is much better than some 2nd rung composers who keep composing fast songs all the time, delivering nothing but trash. Rahman has created so many magical melodies that, we need another blog to discuss them. Besides his music, what I admire about him is his remarkable humility. If you go to, you can read his life story, which is so poignant and touching. He has faced so many difficulties to become what he is today. He definitely deserves this and more. I just pray that he keeps giving us great music all throughout his career.
2. Vidyasagar-I feel he is one of the most low-profile and underrated composers of today. His music is a wonderful combination of the orchestration of Ilaiyaraja and the techno-melody of Rahman. Vidyasagar has given amazing music not only in Tamil but also in Malayalam and Telugu. What I like about him is that his fast songs too are quite catchy and melodious unlike theother noisy ones. His melody songs are a class apart. I saw an interview of Vidyasagar in Asianet during Onam and was impressed with his simplicity. Many of his melodies are classical and they still appeal to the common man. Like Ilaiyaraja, he has also taken classical music to the masses. His Malayalam melodies are quite different from the Tamil ones and they show the other side of this great composer. He has the unique skill of having Carnatic keerthanas with wonderful orchestration in many of his movies. I still wait for every music release of Vidyasagar, as I feel he is another genius.

A Brief Snapshot of the Evolution of Tamil Film Music-Part I

11 Dec
It is my personal opinion that Tamil music is one of the technically better ones in the overall Indian Music Industry. I say this because many geniuses and maestros have left their mark here and have created some astounding melodies ever heard in Indian Cinema. I would like to trace the growth of Tamil Film music in this way:
1. One of the earliest stalwarts were K.V. Mahadevan and M.S. Vishwanathan (who composed for many films individually and along with Ramamoorthy). MSV is till today, the composer who has composed for the maximum number of films in India, over 1000 movies!! In Hindi, I recently read that Laxmikant-Pyarelal held the record with about 450 movies. (Thats a mind-boggling 550 short!!!). This is what I know about these composers, who were the earliest trend setters.
2. Tamil cinema in the mid-70’s was blown over by a phenomenon called Ilaiyaraja. What can I write about him?? From that time till today (he is still going strong with about 4 projects in hand at the age of 63), there is no branch of music where Ilaiyaraja has not shown his class. Last year in Chennai I attended his concert “Andrum Indrum Endrum”, where I was surprised to see his colossal fan following. Morever, what really stunned me was that most of the crowd were people in the age group 20-40. Ilaiyaraja’s music contains almost all the elements that one can think of: Western classical, carnatic raga-based songs, jazzy songs with great beats, folk songs etc etc. The achievement of Ilaiyaraja is very great also because most of his great music came in an era when there was live recording and he has done unimaginable things in spite of the constraints of live recording. Apart from redefining Tamil music, Ilaiyaraja also set a new benchmark in the film background scores. Even today, I feel there is nobody in the Indian music scene who has surpassed that benchmark, though some individual BGM’S of movies are very good. Today, Ilaiyaraja is a legend. His music has become immortal-even today people listen to his songs and feel the same freshness. IR’s biography makes a staggering read-I would just focus on one thing that he is a gold medallist in piano and guitar from Trinity College of music, London.

I leave this post here and will continue about the other geniuses in the next part.