Last night, someone asked me about my views on the Chandramukhi sound track. I responded to this question with a "sort of" along with an "I liked it" and closed it with the rejoinder that "I have to listen to it more" (to form a firm opinion). He responded with a comment that I "will say this for any song" and that I look at it "from the point of a superstar crazy fan". That particularly offended me, because that comment is particularly typical of those people who seem to get great satisfaction from baiting people like me. So this post is for you all.
Having started out on the listening part, I have to begin this post with a note. Post 1994, the only Rajini starrer that could be termed a musical treat is Muthu (1995). Even Muthu pales in comparison to Veera (1994) which was the last movie that IR composed for Rajini. Though I am part of the legion of ARR fans, Veera will always be close to my heart. SPB and Mano sang their hearts out and went head to head with Konji Konji and Malai Kovil Vasalil. To this day I can't decide which song is better. And btw, (is it just me?) I thought I saw huge similarities between IR's orchestration in Konji Konji and Snoop Dog's latest Drop it like its hot.
But on its own, Muthu is a landmark, because it established what will forever be a benchmark for the classic Rajini intro scene. IMHO, in close second place comes Deva's "Hey...Hey...Hey" bit that accompanies the pre-credits frame in every Rajini movie after Annamalai (1992), that has been recently aped by that chimp in human garb, Silambarasan. SPB's Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali has opened every single one of ARR's concerts (apart from mebbe Kolkata a couple of years ago, for obvious reasons). Hariharan's rendition of Vidukadhaiya brings a lump to my throat almost every time and is probably the most lyrically rich number in a Rajinikanth movie in recent times.
Anyways, I am digressing. Coming back to Chandramukhi, I am going into this sound track with the firm idea that the average Rajini starrer is an all round entertainer, with no single element hogging all attention. Of course there are have been exceptions, with all the uncertainties in the past regarding his political ambitions, but if you look at it from a neutral point of view, which I am doing right now, I cannot pinpoint any single reason for the success or failure of anything related to a Rajini starrer, apart from Rajini himself. The fact is that he is probably the only actor who gets to veto every single scene or song. My room-mate, V, is of the opinion that Rajini does a lot of analysis before making a movie, with inputs regarding what will work and what will not. Again Baba (2002) was an exception in it being an experiment to see how his own self beliefs would run with the mainstream. So Rajini's analysis (going by the trend in recent years) is that a visual experience would work better with audiences and that an average soundtrack would do as well as one that is musically rich.
So any music for Chandramukhi has been decided with the picturization in mind. A "Rajini paatu" is not an aural treat. It has stopped (with all intentions) being that since Veera. Now it is more or less a visual spectacle. So, the question that we need to ask is not whether it is "good to hear", but whether it meshes well with the picturizations that are usually decided with Rajini in mind. A "Rajini padam" is class-less with the bunch in the balconies enjoying it as much as the front benchers. And whether or not the person watching is a Rajini fan is irrelevant because I am sure everyone who saw Padaiyappa would have spent their cash well on a good couple hours (plus more) of entertainment. And any amount of positive comments from "a superstar crazy fan" would not make you like the soundtrack unless you see picturization. The trend of liking a Rajini pattu after listening to the song, is retro by at least a decade.
That is why I am not going to tell you that SPB has an awesome job with Devuda (which seems to be the quintessential Rajini intro song) and Athithom. Kay Kay Menon seems to be a strange choice for a Rajini paatu, but Annanoda Paatu will easily pass muster among Thalaivar's fans. Vidyasaagar keeps up with his reputation and does what he does best with a classical bit in Ra Ra (that seems to be the Bharathanatyam song). In addition you have people like Manicka Vinayagam and Tippu, who have recently been featured more in Vikram starrers. In fact I would have mistaken Kokku Para Para for a song from a Vikram starrer if not for the line ithu pattaya kalapara pattam Superstar pattam, nam pattam.
Oh well, in saying I wont, I did say those things. But hey, I think when you perceive me as "a superstar crazy fan", I think I can be counted on to make such statements. I hate to disappoint you people. But you have your opinions and I have mine. However I do think my opinions are more balanced than yours.
Footnote: This blogger is one of Rajinikanth's most ardent fans (mebbe not ardent enough to go to this length (Adobe PDF file), but nevertheless) and has possessed an email addy with a Thalaivar connection for at least seven years now, not to mention the fact this blog's URL has the same connection. But he can be counted on to give a neutral opinion once in a while, however slanted it might seem to all you Rajini haters. He tends to analyze from Thalaivar's POV without frivolously glorifying him or attacking him. That way, he sees himself being much more astute than the average Rajini rasigan. He is in some ways a living example disproving the popular thought that “You either love Rajini or you hate him”.