Siddhu Warrier, May 27 Fri, 27 May 2005
He was once an assistant to music director A.R. Rahman. Harris Jayaraj then grew wings of his own and enthralled listeners around Tamil Nadu with his compositions.
Jayaraj went on to be called a worthy successor to Rahman - some of his compositions for "Kaakha Kaakha" and "Chellamey" are good enough to be placed alongside Rahman's best.
Jayaraj is back, heralding the return of one of Tamil cinema's brightest stars - Vikram - with his compositions for "Anniyan".
Hype often results in unrealistic expectations. But, here, Jayaraj is likely to be confronted with expectations that he would meet.
As the first track begins to play, the music director doesn't seem too off-the-mark with his oracular predictions.
Shankar Mahadevan proves yet again with "Oh...Sukumari" that he is one of India's most versatile singers. It's a folk melody that brings to mind a wizened old man belting out the song at a village square.
This is followed by what is without doubt the best track in the album, "Kaadhal Yaanai". It's fast paced and the beats in the background are the kind one will not get to hear in discotheques.
What sets it apart is the inspired vocal delivery by Nakul, Nelwyn and G.V. Prakash. However, the lyrics could have done with a little more sense - comparing the woman of one's dreams to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (as is done in this song) is a little more insane than what one is used to.
"Kannum Kannum Nokkia" is along the same lines as "Kaadhal Yaanai" but lacks the touch of Rahman-like brilliance. Also, the lyrics get even more inane here, with Leslie Lewis listing out consumer electronics brands with élan.
The "Stranger in Black" (Theme) starts just like "Thoodhu Varuma" (Jayaraj's super-hit composition for "Kaakha Kaakha"). The rest of the track is mercifully different.
The song that follows, "Iyengaaru Veetu Azhagu", has a strong Carnatic influence - a welcome change. Hariharan, as always, is brilliant and sets one's nerve endings tingling with his singing. The same cannot be said of Harini, whose voice sounds a little too hoarse.
The last track is the kind that harks back to verdant green fields in rural India. If you are the type who likes continuity of genre between tracks, be prepared for a bit of rude shock. The track is enjoyable, nonetheless.
There is no question about this album - go get it!