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A R Rahman turns 55: Take a look at the composer's five under-appreciated gems

Here are some of Rahman's works in Tamil and Telugu films that deserve a lookback

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 02.46 PM, Jan 06, 2022

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Happy Birthday AR Rahman

An undeniable issue with most Indian films is the ripple effect that its commercial success or failure can have on the music albums. Even someone like AR Rahman or his work is not beyond this. Although we keep hearing things like that the music emerged a winner, but the film didn't, the box office response does have a clear say in the number of eyeballs that the music draws. 

It takes some time for audiences to move beyond this fact and look at music objectively minus any labels or tags like hit/flop. As the Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman turns a year older, we take you through some of his fantastic albums which probably didn't get their due owing to the film's fate at the ticket window. 

1
Ratchagan
6.4
A lot of music lovers don't give as much importance for AR Rahman's music for quintessential commercial films as his contribution for other story-driven outings or romances, epic dramas. Chandiranai Thottathu Yaar might be the first favourite for many in this album, but only when you get to songs like Sonia Sonia, Love Attack and Lucky Lucky, you see the amount of fun that Rahman has with his numbers - listening to the songs feel like a child playing mischevously with a bunch of toys. From a pathos song like Nenje Nenje to the full-blown romance in Kanava Illai Kaatra, Ratchagan is as complete an album you get from the legend.
2
Naani
5.5
The first mention of Naani or its Tamil version New will have people discussing the ever-so-popular mother-sentiment song Pedave Palikina Matallone/Kalaiyil Dinamum. There's no denying its credibility but make time also for Naani Vayase, a fantastic rock number where the lyrics imaginatively scroll past several films of yesteryear star Krishna with Karthik's sweet voice shining through even in a supposedly fast-paced number. Chakkera Yekkada Nakkina gives a delightful mass, folk twist to the album, with tracks like Vastha Nee Venuka, Naaku Nuvvu and Spiderman serving as a perfect showcase of AR Rahman's versatility.
3
Kochadaiiyaan
6.7
Only if Kochadaiiyaan wasn't this tacky animated folklore film, the popularity of this album would've soared to great heights. And what a surprise Latha Rajinikanth turns out to be with her singing debut, Manappenin Sathiyam! Her voice is so comforting to the senses and leaves behind a spell-binding impact that not even established singers always manage to create. If SPB beaming through Engey Pogutho Vaanam can lift your spirits, Medhuvaagathaan can work as a balm to your soul and the melancholy in Idhayam will haunt you long after it's over. Such an unmissable album this!
4
Kaaviya Thalaivan
7.9
As a composer, Kaaviya Thalaivan was a dream opportunity for AR Rahman - the scope to dig into the 1900s, glimpse through the theatrical traditions in Tamil Nadu and explore the drama surrounding an epic love triangle in a different era. No wonder that it brought out AR Rahman's best as a musician in many years! Look at the playful quality that he brings to Sandi Kuthurai or a Aye Mr. Minor in the tender romance between the leads, the grandeur and the rootedness of Vaanga Makka Vanga, the nostalgia of Vani Jairam reciting the Thiruppugazh and the solace one gets through Yarumilla. This only ages better with time!
5
Sarvam Thaala Mayam
7.4
The most recent release from this list is no less a gem from Rahman's repertoire. Yet again, this is an album that offers a chance for ARR to bring through many layers in the story - the hopelessness of casteism, the complex guru-shishya equation in the classical fraternity, the self-discovery of a musician and a budding romance between him and a nurse. The breeziness of Maaya Maaya and the upbeat title track aside, the heart of the film lies in two numbers - Varalaama, where a youngster patiently waits for his guru to accept him as a pupil, and Dingu Dongu, discussing caste with the energy in a mass number. Peter Beatu Yeathu is more the quintessential introductory song for a mainstream film but here it's a hook to get you invested in the story of the protagonist.


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