The music of A.R. Rahman grows on you. For the last more than 10 years, he has created music that you might not like much on the first hearing. But listen to it a second and a third time, and the nuances of the music leave you enthralled.
So it has been with "Roja", "Bombay", "Alai Paayuthe" and even "Boys". The trend continues with "Ayutha Ezhuthu", a Mani Ratnam film.
Rahman's music combines melody with a strong rhythm that electrifies one, inducing a primal urge to move with the beat. This and the arrangement distinguish his music as much as the choice of unusual musical sounds like the clatter of a typewriter keyboard or the hammering of a large building under construction.
It is nuances like these that make Rahman's music not just a casual listener's dream but a fest for a serious listener as well.
The first track in "Ayutha Ezhuthu", "Hey Goodbye Nanba", featuring Shanker Mahadevan, Lucky Ali, Karthik and Sunitha Sarathy, is a worthy introduction to the whole album, but "Jana Gana Mana" by Rahman and Karthik is a bit of a letdown, though it has compelling rhythm and could get some young feet tapping away.
Madhushree sounds sweet in "Sandai Kozhi". This track is probably the best in "Ayutha Ezhuthu". It calls to mind folk melodies, evocative of film music of an earlier era.
However, one also gets the feeling that Rahman has plagiarised from his own earlier music in bits, notably from "Lagaan".
"Dol dol", track number four, billed as rap with lyrics by Blaaze and ethnic vocals by Shaheen Badar, is just that: rap. But the rap seems to have very little to say.
"Nenjam Illam" by Adnan Sami and Sujatha make for good listening but the second best in the album is the last one, "Yakkai Thiri" by Rahman, Sunitha Sarathy and Shalini Singh.
Rahman's music has sold not on the strength of vocalists or lyricists, but on the strength of its sound. This album continues on this tradition, and what sustains it is the Rahman sound.
But this offering is not a patch on the unforgettable tunes he had earlier created for Ratnam, be it "Roja" or "Dil Se" or for that matter, "Lagaan" or "Kandukondein Kandukondein".