Music Review: Uttama Villain (Tamil)

Composer(s): M. Ghibran
Listen to the songs online here: Saavn

Uttama Villain, from the initial look of it, felt like a quickie comedy from Kamal Hassan, but if the movie's musical score is any indication, it is anything but it. And having listened to it, I can't wait to see what Ghibran does with Vishwaroopam 2 and PapanasamLoveaa Loveaa, sung impeccably with lots of variations by Singaravelan Kamal and Sharanya Gopinath, is a techno frenzy on the lines of Rayile Raa and is foot-tapping as hell! The percussion is top-notch and the second interlude in particular is arresting. The Hindustani-based Kadhalaam Kadavul Mun has a clear Ghibran stamp to it. It's beautiful, blissful even, and more or less takes off from Chillendra Chillendra beat-wise with singer Padmalatha (of Aruvaakaaran fame) effortlessly leading the vocals.

Uttaman Introduction is a musical fiesta, a richly detailed villu paatu showcasing Arjuna's quest for Pashupatastra in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, and possibly the most uttama (read excellent) introduction one can have for Kamal! The chera-nattu (present day Kerala) theyyam influence and the pace shifts towards the end are terrific, and so are the singers Subhu Arumugam and Kamal Hassan. Saagavaram oozes grandeur, be it in terms of Ghibran's magnificent arrangements or Kamal's first-rate singing. In fact, the sheer range of emotions the actor manages to convey is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Kamal roars as Hiranyakashipu - En udhirathin vidhai/En uyir udhirtha sadhai, he furiously exclaims - in Iraniyan Naadagam as he summons his son Prahlada (voiced perfectly by Rukmini) to question his uncontested devotion to Lord Vishnu in a majestic theatrical (or operatic?) retelling of the father-son equation in the Bhagavata PuranaMutharasan Kadhai, the next drama track, masterfully narrates the downfall of Mutharasan and his quest for immortality to escape a gora maranam (horrible death) by ordering Uttaman, a man said to have escaped death five times, to be brought before him. The orchestration is a melange of several musical genres and the folk twist towards the end imbues it a comic touch.

The solid atmospheric follow-up track Uttaman Kadhai (or rather Uttaman pizhaitha kadhai), with its impressive strings-laden arrangement and a first-rate chorus, details how he manages to cheat death (there are chants of mrityunjay - one who has conquered death!) and how the villagers go the extent of even calling him a ghost owing to his miraculous escapades. The instrumental Uttama Villain Theme is short, crisp and riveting from start to finish, and builds on the previous track, taking its mrityunjay chants, but with Kamal ominously singing it at a lower octave. Guru and Sishya stands in stark contrast, and is serene and beautifully composed (the clarinet bits are just splendid!), while Father and Daughter makes stunning use of violins to deliver a moody instrumental piece.

Uthaman and Karpagavalli's expansive tune, encompassing flutes(?), piano and strings, is ethereal. Father and Son likewise begins on a pleasant note but progressively adds more chords, humming and more cries of mrityunjay rising into a crescendo. Letter from and to YaminiKadhalaam Kadavul Mun's instrumental variant, is heavy on strings and percussion (is that santoor or a wind chime towards the end?), as Dr. Aparna brings the epic soundtrack to a close with a gorgeous musical assemblage throwing in santoor, harps and strings for good measure. There's no getting around Uttama Villain. It's astounding and a musical experience that's fresh, genre-defying and simply mesmerising.