If you still haven’t tuned to ‘Mental Manadhil’ – A.R.Rahman’s latest track from O Kadhal Kanmani – you’re perhaps missing the initial stages of what promises to be a huge musical treat from Kollywood’s favourite combination of Mani Ratnam and the Mozart of Madras.
At 12 midnight yesterday, thousands of fans across the world waited with bated breath for a whiff of the magic. That’s when ‘Mental Manadhil’ hit; a super fun, groovy track from the combination. One that has grown and matured, just like the fans, since the time of Roja.
The song has such a catchy hook-line, something that’s most important these days. With easy-to-hum words such as ‘Mana Mana’ and ‘Laka Laka’, it could well go on to become the ‘Yaakai Thiri’ of our times. Of course, there are some negatives as well – the starting beats does sound like the ones used in the ‘Ahaah Tamilama’ song, and the lyric is a tad pedestrian (‘Naetru Enbadhu Indru Illai...’ is, surely, a discovery!) – but once it grows on you, it’s highly addictive.
It’s well known that Rahman reserves his best for this filmmaker, and it’s not hard to understand why. They think alike, they’ve grown up together and approach a subject with the same sensibility. If it’s a romance, like the unforgettable Alaipayuthe was, it’s about colourful, young music, and if it’s a biopic, like Guru was, the music is more defined and structured.
So, what is it about this filmmaker that brings out the musical best of Rahman? The answer seems to lie in this statement. “He’s my guru. He wants something not seen, not heard, and makes me think differently,” Rahman said during the promotions of Kadal, their earlier film together. It is this challenge to think out-of-the-box that makes the composer delivers his best in such compositions. It is also the same challenge that listeners face – which is why first-time listeners might initially scoff at ‘Mental Manadhil’, only to secretly hum it after a few listens.
The two might have matured but that doesn’t stop them from having fun. For one, they have written the lyrics of the recently-released single, while Vairamuthu has penned the rest of the album. And, Rahman the singer seems to have brought out the college kid in him in the rendition... isn’t the uber-stylish pronunciation of ‘Taka Taka Taka’ in the latest song proof enough?
A lot of Rahmaniacs had a common complaint a few years ago – that the composer had given Tamil cinema a raw deal by opting for many international projects. This seems to have reached his ears – with several exciting projects last year, including Kaaviya Thalaivayan and I, we now have nothing to rant about. The future, too, is exciting – there’s the music Vikram Kumar’s 24 with Suriya to forward to. It’s a new, interesting combination that offers a lot of musical possibilities.
For now, it is tripping on ‘Mental Manadhil’. And waiting for the rest of the tracks of the album.
The surge of new composers in Kollywood is heartening; Santhosh Narayanan stands out, with many describing him as the ‘Hans Zimmer of Tamil cinema’. That may well be true, but give us the Mozart of Madras any day.