Music Review: A R Rahman’s OK Kanmani

Where does Rahman find these voices?
He introduced Ghazal singer Hariharan into Tamil playback singing in his very first album, Roja. Rest is history.

Carnatic Singer Unni Krishnan got his break into playback singing, courtesy Rahman. Rest is history.

<Now add a list of a few dozen other singers who got introduced by Rahman>

And then he discovered Shashaa Tirupati of “Aye Mr. Minor” fame from “Kaaviya Thalaivan”.

“OK Kanmani” is an album Shashaa is not going to forget for the rest of her life.

OK Kanmani: Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo is back!

OK Kanmani: Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo is back!

Shashaa’s voice would make it to my list of “Top 3 things that stand out in OK Kanmani” list. “Naanae Varugiren” is out of this world. Dot. Darbaari Kaanada is a soul-stirring raaga and one of my favorite raagas too. There are a lot of cult Tamil songs in Darbaari Kaanada. Have shared links to few of my favorites songs in this raaga, below:

1. Kaatre en vaasal (Rhytm, Rahman)

2. Malare Mounama (Karna, Vidyasagar)

3. Nee kaatru, naan maram (Nilaave va, Vidyasagar)

4. Aagaya vennilave (Arangetra velai, Ilayaraja)

“Naane varugiraen” would make it to this list now.

Shashaa doesn’t stop with this song. She weaves magic along with Karthik and Rahman in “Parandhu sella vaa”.

“Kaara Aattakkaara” struck a chord with Rahmaniacs right from the time the teasers for OK Kanmani got released a few weeks back. The song has an enlivening feel to it, with gentle acoustic strums to back the vocals. The transition from song to rap and back is seamless, as always, from Rahman.

“Mental Manadhil” is the new “New York nagaram”. It’s fresh and it’s stylish. Rahman’s pronunciations stand out in this song. For example, the way he says “taka taka taka”, among others. The female version is equally catchy.

Karthik sure does know a thing or two about rendering awesome solos, irrespective of the genre. With “Sakthi kodu”, “Girlfriend”, “Usurey pogudhu”, “Vinnai thaandi varuvaaya” and now “Hey Sinamika”, we’ve come to realize that the ARR-Karthik solo combo can never disappoint.

And when was the last time we heard Rahman “sing” semi-classical? “Malargal kaettaen” was a complete surprise when I heard Rahman singing classical at the lowest of scales his vocal chords could afford, as opposed to the high-pitch tracks he generally sets aside for his own voice.

Kutty Thala A. R. Ameen makes a cute entry into playback singing with “Maula Wa Sallim”. Just one word to describe the song. Cute.

“Theera Ulaa” just grows into you. Like any Rahman song, the number of layers in this track is higher than the number of orders that Flipkart gets on a monthly basis. Listen to “Theera Ulaa” with earphones plugged deep into your ears and discover the phenomenon that is Rahman.

All said and done, is “OK Kanmani” the best of Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo? Nowhere close to.

Does it join the league of Rockstar, Roja, Alaipayuthey, VTV and the likes? Nope.

Is it better than Kadal? Not yet.

Better than Kaaviya Thalaivan? May be.

Better than Lingaa? Hell, yes.

Better than “I”? Hell, yes.

Best of Rahman in recent times? Hell, yes.

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3 responses to “Music Review: A R Rahman’s OK Kanmani

  1. Nice review! I did a review of this too but did not take to Naane Varugiren that much at that time but maybe I did need to. I thought it was a good song but didn’t fit in with the rest of the album. Theera Ulaa is a phenomenal song, but too bad all the limelight is going to Mental Manadhil which is okay but no where as close!

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