Music Review: Kaaviyathalaivan (Tamil)

Composer(s): A. R. Rahman
Listen to the songs online here: Saavn

Isai Puyal A. R. Rahman returns in yet another period film this year after Kochadaiiyaan, and needless to say, Kaaviyathalaivan is one of the most anticipated soundtracks of 2014. Yaarumilla is a mesmerizing melody, oozing an old-world charm but at the same time incorporating elements of sufi and an orchestration that is notably majestic in the second interlude, with Shweta Mohan (backed by Srinivas) rendering it beautifully. The harmonium, veena, flute and tabla make for a lovely mix, I must say.

The retro-styled arrangement of the jazzy Aye Mr. Minor!, with its strings and bongos, is playfully wonderful, though I doubt whether such a composition had its place in the 1930's, the period the movie is supposed to be set in. That aside, singers Haricharan and Shashaa Tirupati are fantastic, channelling the required mirth and mischief required for the song.

The folky Vaanga Makka Vaanga's mridangam-morsing-laden orchestration is marvellous and works as a fitting tribute to the theatre troupes and nadaga sabha's of the bygone era. And Haricharan and Dr. Narayanan make it sound all the more welcoming and joyous with their superb singing. Sandi Kuthirai is rock 'n' roll at its best. The tune is once again a little ahead of its time I suppose, but Rahman makes it up with a bubbly and effervescent arrangement that gets pitch-perfect vocal backing in Haricharan.

Mukesh's cadence and inflections are downright commendable in the rousingly orchestrated Sollividu Sollividu, while Vani Jairam is effortless in her rendition of the devotional chant Thiruppugazh, the minimal use of veena, cymbals and mridangam lending it a blissful touch. Alli Arjuna, the dramatisation of Alli and Arjuna's marriage, is marked by dexterous transitions across eight short tunes and top-notch performances from Haricharan and Bela Shende, and it would be an understatement if I were to say that one could easily visualise the entire act on stage.

A. R. Rahman ultimately conjures up an epic retro musical extravaganza with Kaaviyathalaivan, its distinctive musical leitmotif manifesting in full glory. More than anything, I am super happy for Haricharan Seshadri who seems to be going from strength to strength these days with each of his songs. It feels as if I've just heard his Anbin Vaasale from Kadal, and it amazes me to see the sheer variety of tunes he has sung for A. R. Rahman over the past few albums.