It took Harris 16 years to make 50 albums, inarguably not as prolific as his peers, Yuvan, GV Prakash and Imman, who grew professionally alongside and also have hit great peaks during this period. But Harris has always been a model of consistency –whether it is for the good or bad in a listener’s perspective. The high quality engineering of sounds in his songs, the vocal clarity of his singers and most importantly, the subtle infusion of classical notes even in funky tracks keep him apart still as a quality fusionist in Tamil Cinema. Though he has been facing the wrath of critics for his repetitive tunes and his obvious inspiration from AR Rahman’s works, it is a fact that he has churned out quite a sterling number of hits, be it soft classical melodies or the ultra-modern tracks with progressive sounds. Originality is only an illusion. Repetition is the key to a composer’s identity. A few composers thrive on adopting repetition and produce beautiful variations of the same thing. Composers who cleverly disguise are labeled versatile and original. Whatever said and done, most millennial Tamil music lovers out there find a large portion of their playlists inevitably crammed with Harris’s songs.
With Vanamagan being his latest offering, Harris completes a commendable milestone in his career.
Damn Damn: In the long list of heroine intro songs after the dawn of the millennium with singing that sound like chronic language disorder syndrome, Harris set the stage in 12B with “Sariya Thavaraa”. The track had a lot of urban swag with the peppy voice of modern girls questioning the perils of traditions and hypocrisy against women. Damn Damn is along the same lines, only with an ultra-modern sound engineering and a little more scope for swirling Step-up choreography. Still, among Harris’s tracks, I love “Arakkonathil Aarambam” from Arasatchi the most. Sunitha Sarathy ripped it through with great vibrancy. And that nonchalant string infusion in the second interlude just melts right into it.
Yemma Yea Alagamma: A great melody with lots of highs and lows, heavily inspired by his own work – Chellame Chellame from Sathyam, his 25th album. Since this is the 50th album, the song’s sweetness index just doubled. Bombay Jayashri brings back the glory of all her songs from the Harris factory of romantic melodies. My playlist of female solo songs will be crippled without her songs. Though I am not a follower of classical music and I have not heard her sing other kinds of songs, this style works for me. Let the Harris-Jayashri combo continue forever and not to mention, Haricharan pitches in here too by beautifully complementing the mood of the song.
Silu Silu: The underlying percussion loop, so prominent in the beginning, and then throughout the song is so reminiscent of Ilaiyaraja’s crusade of folk melodies in the 70s. Lyrics portray one’s affinity with nature and life’s great parallels with it. Harris uses a liberal dose of Santoor and a faux-folksy interlude as he did in the soulful Moongil Kaadukale in Samurai. Vijay Yesudas impressively carries the song with crystal clear pronunciation and a touch of lullaby-like softness.
Morada Morada: A thoroughly lively track that does well for a casual listen while driving. There is nothing special here but for the fresh lyrics by Madhan Karky on the funny perils of a tribal man caught in the concrete jungle. Benny Dayal and Krish sing well in tandem although it is difficult to distinguish their voices.
Pachai Uduthiya Kaadu: This song has that all-so-familiar beginning of “Amma Endral Anbu” from Adimai Penn (1969) sung by former TN CM Jayalalitha. But the song takes a detour quickly and turns into a soulful modern melody duet by Abhay Jodhpurkar and Harini, who get together after Moongil Thottam from Kadal. I have to say that Harini sounds a lot different from her earlier days. There is little strain in her voice during the high pitches, which was so prevalent in the 90s. It is now a little thicker, steadier yet reinforcing the same charm. It is however Abhay Jodhpurkar who steals the show. His voice is so unfaltering even when he sings a non-native language, quite the opposite feeling you get when you hear Udit Narayan sing Tamil songs.
Vanam (Theme): An instrumental version of the Silu Silu song with an infusion of faux-folksy verbiage, which is playing to the core skills of Harris Jayaraj. At one point, I could imagine watching Jim Carrey doing the Ace Ventura antics to this folk rap (Vanamaga Sembevaa). The piece reaches a beautiful high at 1:30 with a flow of gorgeous flute by Kamalakhar, an absolute bliss to hear!
Harris does an excellent milestone album. But the best is yet to come! Waiting eagerly for Dhruva Natchathiram!