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Monday, November 22, 2010

Manmadhan Ambu music: Has DSP’s name written all over it

I was astonished when Kamal chose Devi Sri Prasad to take charge of the background score in Dasavatharam. But DSP came up with a neat backup job though the re-recording wasn’t the best. This probably influenced Kamal’s decision to rope in DSP for his romantic saga “Manmadhan Ambu”. The music was recently released amidst widespread speculations and a plethora of expectations. The soundtrack consists of six numbers and a theme score. This is what I thought after listening to it three times:
The first song “Dhagita thathom” starts off with a mild strumming (very uncharacteristic of Devi Sri). Slowly some peppy beats are incepted and the tempo stepped up, as we get glimpses of the familiar and infamous DSP zone. The music director seems to have been bitten by the jazz bug of late and the influences are there for everyone to see. The amalgamation of typical DSP beats and sudden jazz interferences slowly give way to the household sounds of kuthu. This makes us sit back and give up the bewilderment, as the stark realisation that this is just another DSP album creeps in. What saves this song is the man himself, Mr. K! He comes up with his trademark improvisations and makes this one a worthy listen. The composer even slips into melodious terrain occasionally to add spice to this number and gives it a Latino touch via the interludes; totally unimpressive refrains though. Listen to this one for Kamal’s class and the impressive percussions.
Next, I tuned into “Who’s the hero”, another song over-equipped with jazz influences. This one’s actually a nice attempt by DSP but what ruins it for him is the ironical combo of experimentation for the heck of it and shamelessly predictable instrumentation. You are almost able to sense the follow up and instrument preference after a line is rendered. Andrea’s horrible Tamil diction, a visibly desperate and deliberate attempt to show off her vocal range and ability to modulate are evident. The lengthy sustain towards the end is a case in point. One, it doesn’t fit in there, two it sounds horrible and three its improvisation for the sake of it. The trumpeting obsequiousness on display is horrible too.
“Neela vaanam” is the most wannabe melody I have heard in the recent past. Even Kamal’s rendition fails to save this one. The English lyrics that have been used to fill in during the initial stages of the song sound so irrelevant and stick out like a sore thumb. The absolute lack of continuity visible in the misplacement of an aurally pleasant string of notes caught me befuddled! To make things worse, we are treated to “Pallandu Pallandu” as it makes a guest appearance in the form of one of DSP’S “innovative” refrains. DSP also seems to be in love with his own songs as he occasionally steals a leaf out of his old books and slips them into his new ones. Glimpses of his tunes from “Santosh Subramaniam” and “Mazhai” are glaring here, even more so when his violin gets to work.
“Oyya Oyya” is your typical DSP song complete with words like jaggunakku and rathasaanire, which find an exclusive place in DSP’S dictionary. The beats in the background are tried and tested ones that have been successfully used in A.R. Rahman’s “New” and G.V. Prakash’s “Vellithirai”. The song features the typical kuthu rendition. DSP’s terrible sense of fusion comes to the fore as he tries to fuse folk-like harmonium notes with bassy string fill-ins. I wish this new craze among composers to begin their songs with nonexistent words sinks into oblivion quickly. The result is atrocious.
“Kamal Kavidhai” isn’t a song. It’s a rhythmic exchange of verses involving two people ruined by DSP’s ghastly fill-ins. The dialogues in the interim are intriguing and it’s absolutely heartening to see a Tamil speaking actress speak chaste Tamil! A fair bit of strain is visible though. Kamal the poet takes centrestage with this one and the end product is exemplary.
The title song has been sung by DSP himself. This cacophonous piece is complete with his traditional hooting and howling. The English lyrics make it worse. The lesser said the better.
Finally, there is the theme score which is decent enough to warrant mention. That doesn’t mean it has been spared of DSP’s signature howls and catcalls though.
To sum it up, this one’s a total slump. Just the kind of take off you would not want your movie to get off to. Hope Kamal makes up for it onscreen. And I also hope he exercises much more care in choosing a composer next time around. As for DSP, its time he gets out of the warp he has got himself into and composes tunes that atleast attempt to sound novel.

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