Music in Manirathnam movies (Part 3- The Rahman years)- From Alaipayuthey to Kadal

This is the concluding post in a trilogy dedicated to music in Manirathnam movies. We embarked on this journey a few weeks ago with the brilliant piece from Pallavi Anupallavi and will wrap it up with the gentle waves of Kadal. For earlier posts see Part 1 (Raaja Years) and Part 2( ARR years).

In what is really a wonderful coincidence, this post starts with Alaipayuthey and ends with Kadal. And here we go.

Love was in the air

It was 2000 and I was very much in love. Manirathnam was trying to bounce back from the financial disaster that was Dil Se. And thus, Alaipayuthey was born. A simple love story told in inimitable Mani style and reminding us of his deft romantic touches once seen in MounaRagam, Alaipayuthey was a runaway hit. And ARR, true to form delivered a great soundtrack where every song struck gold. 

Endrendrum Punnagai” sets the tone for the movie. A breezy piece that is short on duration but lasting. “Pachai Nirame” is a beautiful number that is gorgeous to look at and wonderfully set to Vairamuthu’s words by ARR. Evano Oruvan is a wonderfully melancholic song that captures the mood of separated lovers. ”Snehidane” is one of my favorite pieces from the movie with wonderful visuals and a great composition from ARR. And there is another small wonder in the form of “Mangalyam” which redefined the wedding piece for ever. But the best song for me from this great album is “Kadhal Sadugudu”. Still fresh after all these years and romantic as ever. Just the strum of guitars at the beginning of the piece is worth it.

After the huge success of Alaipayuthey, Mani decided to take up a serious subject in the form of the Sri Lankan tamil refugee problem. A very serious movie, “Kannathil Mutthamittal”, ARR stood by his director with some strong pieces. The “Nenjil Jil Jil” piece featuring the very talented Jayachandran and Chinmayi stays and makes an impact. A male version of the same song packs a solid punch alongside brilliant visuals. But the entire movie is conveyed through the brilliant lyrics of Vairamuthu for “Vidai Kodu Engal” sung by M.S.Viswanathan or VisRa fame. The song that delivers the best punch and universal message of love and peace is “Vellai Pookal”. It plays throughout the movie and lasts for a long time. ARR’s voice does full justice to the gentle song. 

After tasting multilingual success with Bombay, Mani set about making another truly multilingual movie with dual starcasts and simultaneous shoots in the form of “Aaydha Ezhuthu/Yuva”. The movie featured a huge starcast and an intersecting storyline akin to Amores Perros. The movie did average business but the soundtrack made it big thanks to some foot-tapping and youthful numbers from ARR.

There is the breezy “Nenjam Ellam” by Adnan Sami and Sujatha. There is the interestingly set “Sanda Kozhi” with the brilliant ARR interlude (at 2:10). “Nee Yaaro” is a fast paced romantic piece with some awesome humming by Sunitha Sarathy and Lucky Ali. “Jana Gana Mana” is something I listen to whenever I need to amp myself up. The song delivers with sheer beats and pace. “Yakkai Thiri- Fanaa” is my personal favorite from this movie. ARR packs a super punch with the composition and his raw vocals. And be sure to check out the “sapamapa-nirisasa nirisasa” that ARR delivers in this song.

As with the rest of the career, Mani shifted gears with his next movie from a youth driven movie like “Aaydha Ezhuthu” to a biopic of Dhirubhai Ambani in the form of “Guru”. Made in Hindi and dubbed in Tamil, the songs were disappointing to me as a tamil listener and jmuch better to me as a Hindi song listener.

Guru had its share of good songs but the overall soundtrack was not outstanding.  It just felt a step below the ARR-Mani benchmark. The movie though was engaging and turned out a hit. “Barso Re” was pretty popular although I didnt find it that exciting. “Tere Bina” – a soft romantic number that somehow reminded me of “Snehidane” from Alaipayuthey struck a chord with me.

The standout piece, one of my ARR evergreen brilliant pieces was the background piece, “Jaage Hain”. It is just fantastically orchestrated and the lyrics truly pack a punch. I often hear to this song and feel completely invigorated and ready to go. The rough translation goes thus:

I have been long awake, let me sleep for some more time.

The night is not yet over, let the morning come.

Incomplete dreams that will never come true

Once more, let me build/weave those dreams again. 

The first real misstep

After the success of Guru, Mani wanted one more bilingual movie for a national audience. He had his own take on Ramayana for this venture titled “Raavanan”. The movie bombed. This also was the first movie of Mani I didnt feel like seeing and never did. The songs, like the movie didn’t make a big mark. “Kalvare” was a pleasant and soft piece. The only song worth mentioning otherwise is “Kattu Sirukki” which has an addictive tune to it.


And all this finally brings us to “Kadal”. After the failure of Raavanan, Mani had a lot riding on Kadal. And based on reviews, Kadal doesnt look like it will save Mani’s hide. The movie seems to be a flop (although it is too early to call). The songs came in for some praise. It doesnt measure up to the lofty Mani-ARR standards but is still significantly better than everything else out there. It is definitely one of ARR’s better albums in the recent past but I would rate “Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya” as better overall.

I tried to like “Magudi” but failed. It was just noise for the most part. Adiye” is an interesting jazzy piece but doesnt last long after. “Anbil Vaasale” starts very strongly but doesnt finish with the same flourish. Good but not great. “Chithirai Nela” is good and mellifluous. “Elay Keechan” is a fun piece and very hummable. I like it quite a bit as does my 4 year old. Which brings us to the standout pieces of the movie and it is a toss up for the gold. “Nenjukkule” is a fantastic piece and stays with you for a long time. But my vote for the best piece in the movie is the hauntingly beautiful “Moongil Thottam”. 

And as the song says, “Idhu Podhum enakku” and very much so. People often times ask me why I blog. It is so I can relive some beautiful songs and cherish the memories that go with them. Hopefully Mani can bounce back from Kadal. ARR will be there to give him all the support he needs.

As always, all the songs featured in this post and the preceding Part 1 and Part 2 posts are in the same public youtube playlist. Enjoy. 

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