I wrote this special article last year which factually marked Rahman’s 25th Year but found no good occasion to publish it. So, on the behalf of Academy award-winner A R Rahman‘s Birthday – here is (self) anticipated article. His first film was Mani Ratnam’s “Roja” released in 1992 which had an absolute fresh and vibrant soundtrack, barring this evergreen debut album which will always be cherished and recalled immediately when someone says, “A R Rahman” ; following are my 25 favorite songs/albums of the maestro from 1992 to 2017:
- Ae Nazneen Suno Na – Dil Hi Dil Mein (2000)
Though this is the Hindi version of “Enna Vilai” from the 1999 Tamil film “Kadhalar Dhinam”, the song has its own beauty in the Hindi version featuring Sonali Bendre. With Rahman’s defining and mesmerizing music which soars to a different romantic level, undoubtedly singer Abhijeet’s best song till date. Lyrics by Mehboob are captivating, following is my favorite part:
Tarasha Pyaar Se Jise, (like a lovely star)
Rab Ne Woh Moorat Ho Tum (you’re an embodiment of God)
Sangtarashon Ki Jaise Devi Tum (sweet like a citrus fruit, you’re a goddess)
Tum Sa Jahan Mein Koi Na.. (there’s no one like you in this world)
- Vaan Varuvan – Kaatru Veliydai (2017)
This is the grand love ballad of the Mani Ratnam-A R Rahman’s latest venture which has the quintessential romantic touch of Rahman’s magic all over as it goes wild. Shasha Tirupati is the new Shreya Ghosal who doesn’t even remind us of the latter, soulfulness at its peak. Mani Ratnam is one of the few directors who visually justifies Rahman’s music.
Probably, the best goodbye song; (in an unique manner) which was shot beautifully by the Cinematographer Ravi K Chandran in Mani Ratnam’s bilingual venture. Lucky Ali’s (Hindi) best song while Shankar Mahadevan’s (Tamil) one of the last collaboration with the maestro- intensely charming goodbye.
- Ya Muhammad (SAL)– Muhammad: The Messenger of God (2015)
Majid Majidi’s Iranian Islamic epic film was scored by the maestro that prominently had an emotional score. This is one the unheard songs of the maestro which had the big crescendo featuring the traditional way associated with religiously mesmerizing hook yet had the Bollywood association.
- Then Kizhakku Cheemaiyile – Kizhakku Cheemaiyile (1993)
Sung by Chitra and Malaysia Mahadevan, the song grows slowly over and charms with its rich (simplistic) ambience. Minimal instruments and the soulful voice of Chitra creates a soul-touching magic. “Aathangara Marame” by Mano and Sujatha is another delightful and quirky tuned song which infused my liking slowly.
Karthik’s melodious voice intrigued me to the core when the song released and the song which triggered my ears towards Tamil songs. Taking its own time while diving into the depth slowly and exquisitely, accompanied by veteran lyricists Vairamuthu (Tamil) and Gulzar (Hindi) in complementing the music totally with narration of hopeless anguish of a wish which cannot be fulfilled. It does reminds of Rahman’s own songs, not totally: Satrangi Re (Dil Se, 1998) and Kulirudhu (Taj Mahal, 1999).
I love the composition and the lyrics of the following parts:
Aiviral Theendida Nenaikuthadi (my fingers crave to feel you)
Agnini Pazhamunnu Therinjirunthum (even after knowing you are a fruit of fire)
Shart Lagi Hai Marr Jaane Ki (it’s bet that I have to die)
Jeena Hai Toh Pyaar Mein (And I have to live only in love)
Deha Kahin Bhi Ho Mera Jaan Rakhi Hai Yaar Mein (doesn’t matter where my body is, my life resides inside my beloved)
- O Paalanhaare – Lagaan (2001)
Few years back, I was at the early morning Diwali celebration at a public park with huge crowd where this Rahmaniac song tripped my soul with its divinity. Until then, I loved every other song from the Lagaan album but this one caught me sooner. That fine day, one my friends co-incidentally messaged me telling the divinity and the feel during the Winter Morning. It is beautifully rendered by Lata Mangeskar while Udit Narayan sings soothingly. The limited use of temple bells, cymbals and tabla proved to be visually enchanting in the due course of the film. This is an exhilarating and heavenly bhajan, even the maestro exclaimed in an interview back then, “an album is like a bhajan”.
In his second directorial ace painter M F Hussain teams up with A R Rahman to create a stunning and magical album. Rahman’s creativity flows seamlessly throughout the album be it “Rang Hai”, “Yeh Rishta” or “Chinnamma Chilakkamma” or even the “Cyclist Rhythm”. My favorite songs are the love ballad “Do Kadam” sung by Sonu Nigam- the best collaboration of the two and the the controversial qawwali “Noor-Un-Ala” where he provides fast-based table intervening harmonium. Watch out for the magnificent (artistic) picturisation by M F Hussain.
Who thought that loneliness can be beautifully tuned into a sensational contemporary style? A R Rahman. A new style introduced to the Indian Cinema which will immediately strike a chord with someone sitting alone. Rahman sings passionately and painfully, “New York Nagaram”. Love ballad sounding conventionally soulful with master orchestration capable only in the hands of the maestro sung by Shreya Ghosal and Naresh Iyer, “Munbe Vaa” is a dazzling song with breathtaking chorus. Every time I hear the Naresh Iyer’s part accompanied by Tabla- Oh, what a musical orgasm!
- Oh Kadhal Kanmani – Whole Album (2015)
I’m sure that if every Rahmaniac or critics or common people sit and list out top songs of A R Rahman, the list would prominently feature handful of Mani Ratnam’s films. “Classical yet cool”, as reviewed by The Hindu; the album is youthful, fresh, contemporary, delicious and proof that the terrific combo of Mani Ratnam-A R Rahman-Vairamuthu will prevail. Although I love all the songs from this album but to name my favorite picks, are “Theera Ula”, “Mental Manadhil” and “Naane Varugiren”. Rahman’s son debuts with “Maula Wa Salim”, a divine composition which I felt was used way too less – Mani Ratnam shot it against a prominent architectural structure in Gujarat.
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