Thoughts on Kadal

Chithirai Nela

Perhaps my least favourite song in the album, Chithirai Nela is good, but only just. Vijay Yesudas makes the song gloomy and the fake coastal accent is not doing any help. Despite the voice, the song is soothing. But I doubt its repeat value. Among giants like Moongiland Nenjukkuley, this is one song I would give a miss anytime. Vijay Yesudas runs the risk of being his father’s shadow, someone to be used if and when Yesudas stops singing. Also he sounds a bit like Unni Menon. The request is not to change the voice, since it is not possible.  The emphasis is to develop a distinct style. As an example we have SPB and his son. Their voices are similar. But, one can vouch and say that Kathal Sadugudu was not sung by SPB, that there was something so non-SPBish about the song, that you can safely conclude that the song was not sung by him, even though the voice reminds us of him.
Watch OutSee if you can listen to traces of Tu Bin Bataye from Rang De Basanti and Mannipaaya from Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya


This is a “Jessie’s Been Driving Me Crazy” genre, even the situation too strikingly similar, where the hero asks his lover, repeatedly, where she is taking him to. It has a 60s night club/ 20s Jazz Era feeling, where the singer is having a perpetual vibration in his voice which imperceptibly gives way to surprising ups and downs in his rendition making the song a singer centric song rather than ARR’s usual where the musical instruments take the centre stage. The singer Sid Sriram mirrors a younger Shankar Mahadevan. He has a distinct carnatic voice which has been used in this seemingly western song. His variations add spice to an already unique song in the album. The man has some range – his voice might shatter glass into pieces. I just might have found my favourite singer after Shankar Mahadevan and Sukhwinder Singh. The brilliance of the song is that one could actually relate to the song even if the breezy western BGM is replaced by a folk tune and it will still sound equally beautiful. And that, people, is how ARR shines. 

Addendum : It would be unfair not to give the imaginative lyrics its due. Was Karky high when he wrote Adiye, because it sure does look like it. He takes the song to another level when he says that the girl made his heart into a rope and pulled him along the rainbow path from earth to heaven. When he says that the girl drew wings on a fish and made it fly by throwing it into the sky , he proves that he is his father’s son. Kudos! For a man who wrote “Google Google” this is definitely a new high. But then, even Vairamuthu wrote “Apple Penne” .

Moongil Thottam

Easily the best song of the album, Moongil Thottam is what one calls an inspired work by an inspired composer – lyricist duo. There is always this expectation as to how big the explosion is going to be when Vairamuthu and Rahman come together. No wonder Vairamuthu has won 4 of his last 5 National Awards for a Rahman song.

Moongil Thottam is another superior work from both, with Vairamuthu’s lyrics blending seamlessly with the music. In fact the best two songs – Moongil and Nenjukkuley has been penned by Vairamuthu , showing why he is at the helm of modern Tamil poetry, and also showing that one needn’t be verbose and yet infuse magic in words. It’s as if one could picturise the bamboo forest in a cold winter night, the air filled with the faint smell of the herbs, glowing under the shine of a full moon, where the two young lovers are taking a walk; one could see the birds shaking the water drops off their feathers near the river bank. I can keep talking about the lyrics, so I switch to the music.

People say ARRs songs need time to grow on you. When Raavanan released, I was massively disappointed.  It took a month, on a cool August morning, when even the sun hadn’t woken up, while I was in a near empty rusty bus occupied only by a vegetable seller, other than me, going to the market along with her large basket filled with fresh vegetables, travelling on a fly over, with a train speeding, singing loudly into oblivion below us, for me to go absolutely crazy over Kaatu Sirukki.Thankfully, I need not wait for a similar panoramic experience to happen again as far as Moongil Thottam is considered.  It instantly clicked and has been on loop ever since, even as I write this now. I consider myself unqualified to fill up my comments on the song as I will be kidding myself. Just go listen to the song and you will understand what I am talking about.

The singer Abhay Jodhpurkar is excellent. This has been a quality of male singers chosen by ARR , they are crystal clear and their voices have an out of the world yet grounded nature, be it Naresh Iyer, Karthik or Benny Dayal except may be Sukhwinder Singh who gulps certain words when he sings , very much like Mohit Chauhan in Rockstar. When I heard Harini in an interview, that she has sung a song in Raavanan album, I was mega excited since ARR brings the best out of her, only to be disappointed later to know that not only was she not included, like adding insult to my injured ears, he made Shreya Ghoshal sing one of the most average song produced by him, Kalvare Kalvare [listen to Kalvare sans BGM – Shreya’s voice is sprinkled with gold – no other explanation]. So, when Harini made an appearance in this album for Moongil I was satisfied as a fan of hers to know that she was given her due. There is always an echo that accompanies Harini’s voice. It has its own beauty, but her voice sounds better without the usual echo which follows her like a Siamese twin. Harini sounds young and refreshing, one of the main reason the song works big time.
Watch out – At 2:25 the song enters “Sahana Saral Thoovutho” mode.

Elay Keechan

The song is about fishing, fishermen and sea goddess. The last time I heard such a song about fisherman, in main stream movie, made with care, was in Chemmeen. The song Kadalinakkareis perhaps one of the most popular Malayalam songs, brilliantly composed by Salil Chowdhary, penned by the legendary Vayalar and sung by Yesudas. May be Elay Keechan represents a shift in the popular culture about the idea of music in the coastal life and that makes the song an important milestone in the history of Indian music. Of course, the main attraction is that ARR himself has done the honours by taking up the singer’s mantle. The last time, this composer sang for Mani Ratnam in Guru in 2007.
As an explanation as to why mango people love Shah Rukh Khan a lot, some say that it is the way he speaks. When he talks in a TV interview or a random show, it appears as if he is reaching out to the audience; his warmth is spread to the listeners. I don’t know how many would agree with this, but this I can say for sure about ARR’s voice. Sometimes it just feels as if he is telling us, “You want to hear me sing? Ok. I am going to sing for you. Listen.” The difference between other singers and him is that, you cannot separate the voice from the personality. You will always have that sense inside you, that this is Rahman himself singing about big fishes and sail and blessings from god and sea goddess and you would keep thinking this guy is not at all the person we have been reading about; the one we have been seeing on TV! Madan Karky has written the lyrics and ably supports the music. The Hawaiian laziness blended with African vigour makes the song distinct. The guitar tunes are likeable and the chorus has also added energy to the song. Go listen to it.
Watch OutSee if you can listen to traces of Mustafa Mustafa(Kadhal Desam)/ Maana Madura(Minsarakanavu) / Yaro Yarodi(Alaipayuthey) in the song.


Shaktishree Gopalan, the female voice in the crazy song “En Uchimandai” (Vettaikaraan), reminds me of singer Shobha who asked the margazhi flower to give her a spot in her lap to sleep. Her singing is similar to the one in Poraley Ponnuthaayi, where the singer is brilliantly guided by the almost non-existent yet ever pervasive BGM. Vairamuthu has a way with seemingly innocuous words sculpting them to give deeper meanings. Look at the way he tells us that plastic bangles cannot make sounds like the glass ones as a metaphor for the girl’s inability to express her feelings. The song has soothing, simple orchestration. One would assume the composer took the essence of the great oceans of the world and let out the stream of music from chords of waters. There is a constant repetitive rendition of violin notes, may be as an analogy for the waves which strike the coast repeatedly. The song has the never ending quality; it doesn’t seem to take a pause. There is always the calmness and the gentle procession of the instruments guiding the voice towards itself. It’s a watery song. It’s a wonderful song.
Watch outReminds you a bit of “Minnalai Pidithu” from Shah Jahan. [sorry]

Anbin Vaasale

In the book “A R Rahman – The Spirit of Music: Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir” when asked about the importance of faith he says:

Faith is far more complex than understanding things in black and white terms. There are many things we fail to understand. I don’t think we have the adequate language or words to describe it. Words themselves can cloud the power of understanding.” 

Perhaps that is why he tries to make sense of God through a far more beautiful path of music.

Anbin Vaasale is a heavy orchestra song and that is deviant from the ARR style of keeping the devotional songs simple, be it Anbendra from Minsarakkanavu or Khwajaand Manmohana from Jodha Akbar. But the heavy orchestration makes the song, stirring and electrifying. May be it is because of the innate spirituality of the composer, or may be its the singer pouring his heart out, Anbin Vaasale  is a song with substance, much more than those belonging to popular genres. Haricharan’s diction is commendable where his words pierce through the ears with such clarity. Especially when he sings the phrase Anbin Vaasale, you can’t help but get goose bumps. The orchestra is grand and gives a rush to the listeners , occasionally losing its track in between , but soon picking up its pace, that you can forgive the minor lapse.The lyrics are wonderful here, where Madan Karky attributes the colour of the flowers and life beneath the tree roots to god. May be that is what god is to man, someone to whom we can attribute things that cannot be explained.

Watch out – Feel the same rush listening to Anbey Ithu from Rhythm


Fanaa / Yaakai Thiri from Yuva / Aayutha Ezhuthu plus Thottal Poo Malarum from New plus Irumbiley from Enthiran – that is Magudi for you. The lyrics don’t make much sense, but who cares? Just dance your heart out, if you are that person. It has an interesting cameo by Chinmayi. Even when the woman talks; it sounds as if she is singing. As I said earlier, award for the best cameo in a song goes to the one and only Chinmayi.
Watch Out Chinmayi.


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Kadal

  1. Nenjukulae is not like “Minnalai Pidithu” from Shah Jahan. This I can't agree.Other than that I agree with all your comments. I am amazed that being a malayali, you grasped the meaning of Nenjukulae which is totally a folklore Romance which is penned by Mighty vairamuthu…! Better learn to Write and Read Tamil. You will enjoy more of his words. You will be great writer machi… I have no doubts in that. I will be very proud to say my next generation by presenting your book to them one day saying I ‘am’ a friend to SRK 😛

  2. Now this post made me listen to all these songs more than once, and they are indeed interesting. All of the songs and the musical instruments are typically related to western music while the lyrics and style of singing and pronunciation are so totally the local and rural version of Tamil. These are poles apart but the fusion is very interesting. The lyrics of the songs that i DID understand (i did not understand elay keechan at all)are beautifully poetic inspite of the unconventional words and their sound inflections

  3. Very detailed review sir. Loved it. Good that you talk a lot about lyrics as well, which is equally important for a film song. I liked the way you described when you fell in love with Kaattu Sirikki. Keep writing.

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