Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is right with Anirudh Ravichander? | The Times of India

Article on Anirudh's music can read online at http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31807&dt=20160203 on page 8

The manuscript version :


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What is right with Anirudh Ravichander?

M.D.Muthukumaraswamy

The guilty pleasures of listening to the compositions of Anirudh Ravichander are many. The overarching musical humour and subversion that envelope emotions of heterosexual love, dejection, frustration, and male bonding expressed in the lyrics of spoken dialectal Tamil and quirky Tanglish (a portmanteau word for mixture of Tamil and English) in Anirudh’s compositions embarrass you first and then lead you to an inward complex pleasure. From his debutante blockbuster of a song Why This Kolaveri Di  in 3 to his funniest, best Nee Takkunnu Paaththa Thikkunnu Aakum  in Thangamagan if Anirudh has a range of wacky songs to his credit, there is another set of songs from Kannazhaga in 3 to Oh Penne Penne in Vanakkam Chennai that excel in melodic charm while retaining the outlandish mixture of crossover sounds.

Musically, Anirudh is so promiscuous that the location of music is shifted in his compositions from rendition to the dizzying display of mixing of sounds. In his debutant film 3 the theme music is a haunting symphony of violins evoking the western classical masters whereas the song Come on Girls in the same film quizzically uses Carnatic alaps and nadaswaram  haphazardly. Even Why This Kolaveri Di uses a Tamil folk rhythm; its instrumentation displays a mix of nadaswaramshehnai, saxophone, urumee, thavilacoustic guitar, and keyboards mixed with electronic synths and scratches. The result is that makes one believe the thing about music is all banalities are suddenly invested with not profound meanings but with fun, laughter, and playfulness.

Although Anirudh is not the only film composer who uses Chennai Gana paattu, its dialect, and nonsensical words for the oblique comic effects his singular quality is to infest such songs with a youthfulness not known before. Aaluma Douluma song in the film Vedalam, for example, has sudden speed breakdowns in the rhythm which interrupts the cheer and builds the anarchic trance it aims for. This speed break is rather a ‘base drop’ as it is known in the Punjabi Bhangra stage music performances and Anirudh effectively uses it in his unique way in Aaluma Doluma song. Such speed breakers in rhythm, mocking second lines of the classical rendering of the first line, instantaneous or daring rise to trance, electronic traversing of ping-pong hip-hop sounds throughout the songs, and unusual mixtures of sounds are the unique features of Anirudh’s music.

Again, it must be noted that the same quirky elements we hear in his hip-hop variety of songs assume a different order of lyrical pathos in songs like Uyir Nadhi Kalangudhe where the song features a distortion of guitars on the first interlude with the background of veena, and that is very unusual.

We notice Anirudh’s infectious anarchic energy when he sings. While the song Dandanakka under the composition of D.Imam exhibits Anirudh’s abundant vocal energy, the song Shoot the Kuruvi in the film Jil Jung Juk  (under the composition of Vishal Chandrashekar) shows how contained and ironical Anirudh’s energy can be.

Anirudh introduced rappers Yo Yo Honey Singh, Adhi of Hiphop Tamizha and British Indian rapper Hard Kaur to Tamil film music. Ranging from husky Shruti Hasan to folk singer Paravai Muniammal Anirudh merges with effortless ease. Anirudh recorded with Assamese rock star Angaraag Mahanta popularly known as Papon.


Form his first film 3 in 2102 to the latest Thangamagan in 2015 Anirudh has scored some fifteen films or less but his impact on the youth culture of Tamilnadu is immense. From the grand melodic lyricism of Ilayaraja variety Tamil film music seems to have moved towards a less sentimental and more youthful rebellious music with the advent and rise of Anirudh. His mockery is less in scale in comparison with the film compositions of Santosh Narayanan but Anirudh’s openness to embrace and accommodate old world charm and sound cultures of different worlds makes him an endearing Chennai kid. More than anything else Anirudh is one of the film composers who has brought spoken Tamil close to music. By bringing the qualities of Chennai street into film music Anirudh has moved music, like many other film music composers before him, to a less godly place where the biting reality of everyday relationships finds an expression that is subversive and liberating at the same time. No wonder Anirudh is the darling of the youngsters in Tamilnadu. He is one among them; he sings and composes for them. For those who cannot come out of the old world charms and appreciate Anirudh’s music the Kali Yuga has advanced. By the way, who said there is no fun and anarchy in Tamilnadu?
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