The Kabali Fever
Rajini fans worldwide have been looking forward to the release of the much awaited Kabali. After having worked with MS Viswanathan, Illayaraja, Deva and AR Rahman for the past 40 years, Superstar has chosen to work with a guy whose is as young as his own daughter. Rajinikanth's success is partially attributed to his Music Directors as most of his films have atleast 2-3 hit songs which remain etched in memory. After working for over 25 years with Illayaraja, Rajini gave an opportunity to a young lad in 1994 for his Muthu. The lad was just 5 films old then and was recommended to Rajini by one of his favourite directors Mani Ratnam whom Rajini holds in high respect. That lad, who later won the first ever Oscar for India went to create music for the next 15 years for Rajini (except Chandramukhi which was by Vidyasagar). AR Rahman and Rajini have a deep bonding. ARR likes to create mass tunes which are a class apart that suits Rajinikanth's image. Especially over the past 10-12 years, almost all songs of ARR for Rajini films have been a hit. So, when Thalaivar decided to work with Santhosh Narayanan, who has limited experience but stupendous success in a short time, many critics suspected if this was the right move. But Rajini had given a free hand to Director Ranjith to choose his own team and that he would not interfere in any area. So, the film, whose music is going to be a much deiciding factor for the success of the film was much awaited eagerly by many.
After a long Saturday, I had just retired home. It was around 8.30pm. I has just reached home and was relaxing in my couch. Enthiran was playing on Tv and Chitti was seen rescuing people from a fire incident. Was remembering the flashback circa 2009 when I watched this film over 6 times across various multiplexes in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. Meanwhile, I was casually browsing the Raaga App on my iPod and I was in for a shocking surprise - Kabali playlist was out and all the songs were listed. I couldn't believe my eyes. First took a pic from my phone and played the song, while posting my joy and excitement on Twitter. Incidentally, I was the first to listen to the songs of Kabali in the world and my timelines on Twitter are proof to that extent. Quickly shared some interesting snippets about the album on Twitter which had by then gone berserk with the unplanned release of the album.
Ulagam Oruvanukka is a stylish group song eulogising the hero Kabali. Seems to be set in the 80s, if I understand the screenplay well from this song. For the first time, no mass entry song for Thalaivar which has been a trademark for the past 20 years. The song is very refreshing and stays in mind although the lyrics are tricky to understand in the first attempt. The stylish whistle swag is apparently going to be part of the screenplay, just like the mouth organ clip played in Padayappa. Sung by Ananthu, Gaana Bala & Santhosh Narayanan, the song is a nice refreshing number with new ensembles.
The second song Maya Nadhi is an extremely scintillating number. A romantic melody, once again sung by Ananthu, Pradeep Kumar and Shwetha Mohan. The lyrics "Thooya Naraiyilum Kadal Malarude" indicate that it is sung by the ageing Don Kabali with his lover / wife / heart throb. Rajni songs do not ever sound over board with lyrics, especially molodies but this song is an exceptional number.
Make way for the people's Champion - is a rap number which goes by the name Veera Thurandara. Sung by Gaana Bala, Lawrence R & Pradeep Kumar. Even in our wildest dreams, Gaana Bala, Me and Millions of Rajini fans wouldn't have thought that one day he would croon for Thalaivar. With Kabali, Gaana Bala gets to do it twice and I am pretty sure there are many other instances in the film where he croons as part of the BGM. Extremely powerful rap lyrics in this song.
Vaanam Parthen sung by Pradeep Kumar is one of the slowest songs ever played for a Rajini song. It reminds me a bit of Sundari (Dalapathy), Nilave Mugam Kaatu (Ejaman), Oru Pen Pura (Annamalai) to name a few. The violin symphony in the background is out of the world. Pradeep seems to have a very touchy voice which hits the right chord. This is one of those songs which will remind people of their own love lives than just the screenplay of the film.
The last song Neruppu Da, which is playing now as I write this is a terrific number. No resemblance to any of Rajinis portrayal as the mass hero. The Mission Impossible sort of tune in the beginning of the song is difficult to pass on without ignoring, but needless to say, the song has its own inherent strengths. Terrific lyrics with a siren of a police vehicle in the background. The whistle swag is once again heard in this song. Rajini also utters a few dialogues such as Bayama, Magizhchi and also announces that he is back, clearly indicating that this is the comeback song in the film when Kabali returns to Malaysia after 25 years and is facing the Villain head on. This song reminds me of the hugely popular number "Baasha Paaru Baasha Paru" from the 1995 hit film Baasha.
Going by the lyrics, the music direction and portrayal of Rajini in the film, it seems that those who handled these areas in the film individually and as a team are Rajni fanatics. In tamil, as they say - Naadi, Narambu, Sadai, Budhi ellathileyum Rajini oori poyirukku" which when translated goes as "one whose breath, nerves, skin, brain everything is filled with Rajinism". True That.
There was however some confusion. Think Music and Thanu, producer of the film had announced that the Songs and a 35 sec teaser would be released on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 11.06 am. But all plans went crazy because of the untimely release by Raaga. There is no official confirmation if it was an error by Raaga and if any action would be taken against them. By midnight, Kabali Music was officially available on Apple Music & Apple iTunes and all over the internet. However, much damage was done by then. The songs were widely circulated on the internet and also on Whatsapp!!!
Being a huge Rajini fan, I received the song from various people as well as several groups I am part of on Whatsapp.
On Sunday, 12 June 2016, the Audio CDs were available at Music Stores. I went to a store close home and bought a CD - something which I have always done for a Rajini film. Although most of my music consumption these days is on my iPod, CD still gives the best audio clarity especially while played in a Hi-Fi Audio System at home or in the Car.
As of Sunday noon, Kabali was the top album on Apple iTunes and Neruppu Da was the most popular song. The album and all its songs have seemed to have found a deep bonding with music lovers and Rajini lovers all over the world.
Meanwhile, there was a frenzy at Woodlands Theatre from Sunday noon onwards. Since there was no official function for the Audio Release, the fans preferred to take it on to themselves. They gathered at the theatre, which played the 2007 super hit film Sivaji and also played the Kabali Teaser half a dozen times, much to the excitement of fans. Those who gathered there said it was almost like the film release day. All this for just a music release! That's the powerful fandom of Rajinikanth.
Music Director Santhosh Narayanan tweeted on Sunday thanking all his fans for the love showered on him. He also apologised for leaking the surprise over a song.
Overall, The Kabali Audio fever has peaked within the first 24 hours of its launch. Hardcore fans have heard the album multiple times and are going Gaga over the songs on social media. On Twitter, several hashtags such as #Kabali #KabaliAudio #Superstar #Rajinikanth and many more were trending all day on Sunday giving much needed hype to the film.
So what next? Fans have to wait until the new release date of 15th July to watch their Matinee Idol in screen after a year. Superstar's previous outing Linga had a limited success, with the film mired in controversies over various issues such as the choice of a Kannada Producer, shooting all through in Karnataka (thereby depriving tamil film industry people of jobs), a complaint over a stolen script of the film and that the theatre distributors alleging that the film was hyped and sold while they had to face severe losses. Rajini ultimately involved himself and resolved the issue after a few months but the controversy is still in the minds of people.
Kabali is expected to release across 5,000 screens all over the world and for the first time will have a Thai and Malay version. There are also talks that Kabali would be the first film to release in China on the same release date worldwide, thanks to improving Indo-China relations led by Narendra Modi.
I have listened to the album twice even while writing and editing this column, and the iPod will keep playing on and on. Enjoy the frenzy and share your feedback, and get ready to watch the film in screens soon.