Sunday 20th August 2017
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Endhiran – Music Review

The initial impression that the soundtrack of Superstar Rajnikanth’s upcoming blockbuster "Endhiran – The Robot" gives, is that of being transported back a couple of decades, when techno was one of the most predominant genres of music around. This techno-based, autotune-heavy music is consistent throughout most of the tracks, but bearing in mind the fact that the film itself has a robotic/futuristic theme, it is clear the A.R. Rahman has once again worked his magic to create a soundtrack that will merge seamlessly with the picturisation of this sure-fire hit.

Puthiya Manidha features vocals from S.P. Balasubramaniam and newcomer Khatija, and A. R. Rahman himself features in the track with robotic chanting. Khatija has a lot to live up to, being the eldest daughter of the legendary A. R. Rahman, but she makes a splendid debut, with excellent diction as well as a sweet voice. S. P. Balasubramaniam’s vocals are, as usual, a joy to listen to. There seems to be a slight lack of emotion compared to his previous pieces, but perhaps this was intended to emulate the robotic nature of the song and film as a whole.

Kadal Anukal is the next song on the album, with the beautiful vocals of Vijay Prakash and Shreya Ghoshal. This song is not as techno-heavy, and features beautiful insturmentals – it even has a section that seems to be inspired by Irish jig music, with accordians, harmonica! The opening few bars consist of simple guitar strumming that, though simple, is beautiful to listen to. This one seems reminiscent of Rahman’s style in films such as "Jeans" – peppy, with sweet lyrics. Both Vijay Prakash and Shreya Ghoshal have sung soulfully on this track, and have really brought the song alive.

Singapore’s up and coming duo Lady Kash and Krissy feature on the next song – Irumbile Oru Idhayam. Rahman’s provides the majority of the vocals on this track – again with heavy autotuning, but this time the emotions seem more tangible. In comparison to Kadal Anukal, this one doesn’t have any real instrumentation – it is all techno. The lyrics are highly amusing, and the style of the song overall reminds me a great deal of the song "Style" from Superstar’s previous smash hit film – "Sivaji – The Boss". Lady Kash and Krissy have done an excellent job in rapping and singing respectively- can’t wait to hear them featured on more and more soundtracks!

Chitti Dance Showcase begins with a few bars that seem to be inspired slightly by Chris Brown’s hit "Transform Ya". This is a fast-paced song, with lots of chop and change between genres. Though primarily techno, there are also classical and rock interludes, along with numerous Bharatanatyam style Sollu-kattus (Jathis). The string arrangment in one of the interludes of this song are divine to listen to, especially in comparsion to the rest of the song that runs along at an incredibly high speed.

Arima Arima opens with grandiose fanfares, and just when you start expecting it to sound like a typical hero-introduction type of song, the beat drops and you’re suddenly hearing electric guitars and a military style of drumming. Hariharan, like SPB in Puthiya Manidha, seems to be singing with an absence of the emotion for which he is known, but once again, this must be to show the static, robotic nature of the character in the film. Sadhana Sargam is a pleasure to listen to, and the vocals of Benny Dayal and Naresh Iyer further augment the forceful nature of this track. This song is strangely catchy, and the power with which is starts, never wanes from start to finish.

Kilimanjaro is another very catchy song, mainly due to the varying tempos throughout. It sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the songs in the album, without any techno influences of autotune, with lyrics that are sensual, and with no mention of robots, silicon, electrons or neutrons. Rahman has gone with a tribal theme for this song, and both Javed Ali and Chinmayi have perfected a tribal, raw tone in their vocals for this piece. This is my personal favourite, along with Kadal Anukal.

The final song on this soundtrack is Boom Boom Robo Da; another speedy, techno number with rap by Yogi B, and vocals by Keerthi Sagathia, Swetha Mohan and Tanvi Shah. Despite being another techno number, this track is milder to listen to and the sweet melody is maintained well by the three female vocalists. The lyrics of this song talk about how the robot is a gateway to new possibilities in the future.

Rahman has done a good job of producing an album that is both futuristic and catchy. It is, however, a totally new sound to reach Tamil audiences, and this probably explains the mixed reviews that this soundtrack has been receiving.

A number of people have been saying that they aren’t fans of these songs as they don’t reflect Rahman’s true potential. Though this is a fair point, it is important to bear in mind the following: this is a soundtrack for a film whose theme is something that is new to Tamil cinema – robots and the future. To produce a soundtrack filled with melodious songs from perspectives that have already been looked at before would have been far from prudent – it would never complement the picturisation! And that is, after all, the point of a soundtrack; to supplement and elevate the already effective pictures we see before our eyes.

Words by Kavya Rajagopalan (c) Thamarai.com