Finally, the most-awaited Sivaji album has been released. The film Sivaji -- The Boss has the biggest Tamil cinema stalwarts lined up under highly reputed AVM banner -- director Shankar; composer A R Rahman; lyricists Valee, Vairamuthu, Pa Vijay, Muthukumar; cinematographer K V Anand; dialogue writer Sujatha; art director Thotta Tharani; choreographers Prabhudeva, Raju Sundaram, Lawrence and Brinda; and, over and above all, superstar Rajnikanth in the title role.
Shriya Reddy plays the female lead. Incidentally, Sivaji is director Shankar's ninth film, and Rajni's ninth with AVM. The title of the film resonates with Rajnikanth's real name, Shivaji Rao Gaekwad.
Previously director Shankar always managed to keep movie details close to his chest till the release. But Sivaji became an exception with first the storyline becoming common knowledge, and then three music tracks leaked on the Internet. Shankar's films always deal with malpractices in various sectors of society. Likewise, Sivaji also is supposed to be the story of an NRI crusading against the capitation fee syndrome, the bane of our educational system.
A R Rahman's compositions are in tune with the crusader image of the film's protagonist. The lyricists have milked Rajnikanth's screen image to the fullest, making the line dividing the actor and the character very thin. They are really on an overkill trip.
The album kicks off with the foot tapping number Balleilakka aggressively rendered by S P Balasubramaniam, Rehanah Benny and an effective chorus. The opening line has a faint echo of Rahman's Veerapandi kottayilae from his own Thiruda Thiruda. Lyricist Na Muthukumar eulogises Tamil Nadu and the Tamilian's supportive camaraderie with his neighbours. He also paints a larger than life picture of the hero comparing him to the sun, moon and even Shiva the destroyer, with lines like 'he can even turn Tamil Nadu into America.' SPB's rendition is vibrant and the fast pace towards the end makes him sound breathless. The number has aggressive percussion and faint melodious nuances in between.
The racy track Oru koodal sunlight follows with obvious reference to the superstar's sobriquet 'Stylemannan.' It is a scrappy number with Pa Vijay's lyrics, a medley of bits and pieces of phrases. He even coins new appellations for the hero like 'heerathihero!' Rags, Tanvi, Suresh Peters and Blaze belt out this peppy piece. Fast beats and Tanvi's whispery rendition give it a sensuous touch.
Sahana saral thoovutho is a melodious piece with western instrumentation. This is the only track (along with the Vaji vaji number later) with significant lyrics. Vairamuthu's lyrics have an appealing freshness and originality. This track, a love duet rendered by Udit Narayan and the dulcet-voiced Chinmayi, has been embellished with a sprightly chorus. The only jarring note is Narayan's stilted Tamil diction.
A second version of Sahana, much better than the first, soulfully rendered by Vijay Jesudas, comes later. Gomathi Sri replaces Chinmayi in this version full of pain and pathos. It is a pity this second version is not included in the cassette, but only on the CD. Gomathi Sri's voice, though a bit babyish, has an identity of its own.
Vaji Vaji is the title track, with all the potential to become a chartbuster -- pleasing rhythm and a powerful rendition by Hariharan and Madhusree, good instrumentation, fast beats, lively chorus, and a good melody. Vairamuthu's lyrics exude passion, but thankfully not excessively.
Up next is the theme song Vata vata by Blaze, Naresh Iyer and Raqueeb Alam. Beginning in hip-hop style with a few English words thrown in, the track soon slides into rap. As in earlier numbers, the lyrics (Na Muthukumar with Blaze) picturise a superhero 'who can gobble up even a lion like a jalebi!'
Rahman the composer as singer comes into his element with concluding track Athiradi. Another chartbuster in the making, it is incendiary stuff with power-packed percussion. The solo guitar and Rahman's singing -- with a manic vibrancy in his soaring voice -- really adds to its impact. This will be a hot favourite on the dance floors. The lyrics are more or less irrelevant in these kind of songs, and Valee's lyrics -- with titles of some Rajni films and a spatter of English words -- fall in line.
Rajni fans will have a field day listening to this album because the lyrics are more synonymous with his film persona than his character in the film..
Rahman's music is such that it takes repeated listens, and time to grow on you. Only Athiradi captures your sensibility instantly. The other numbers are worth a listen, but feature nothing extraordinary. They make you yearn for the old Rahman of Gentleman and Roja.
An album in tune with the pulse of the current generation.