Today is the Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman’s 52nd birthday and what better way to show love for our beloved composer than by taking a nostalgic trip to the 90s – a time when Rahman was at his creative best.
After his National Award-winning debut with Roja, Rahman went on to deliver back-to-back hits and it marked an era of music in Kollywood that is cherished till today.
Compiling a favourite list of songs from Rahman’s discography is no mean task as the composer has made sure he catered to all kinds of music-lovers and experimented with all kinds of music. But here’s a list of 5 songs from the 90s that needs to be on everyone’s playlist.
1) Pudhu Vellai Mazhai – Roja
This song is a classic for a reason. “Pudhu Vellai Mazhai” works on every level as a soft, romantic song, be it the visuals or the harmony between the composition and the lyrics. Singers Kavitha Krishnamoorthy and Unni Menon compliment each other perfectly as they give life to Vairmuthu’s brilliant lyrics depicting and comparing the essence of the lead pair’s firsts – their first time in the snow and their first time with each other. But understanding the lyrics is only an added bonus because the melody is simply enough to transcend all language barriers.
2) Urvasi Urvasi – Kadhalan
Everybody in the 90s made sure they had a cassette of Kadhalan in their walkmans because the whole album is amazing. With hits like “Muqabala Muqabala” and “Petta Rap”, the album will always go down in history as one of Rahman’s best works. But there is something about the eclectic and mega-fun “Urvasi Urvasi” that stands out. So much so that it inspired popstar Will.I.Am to do a version of his own.
3) Veerapandi Kottaiyile – Thiruda Thiruda
The genius of Rahman shines through in this song. “Veerapandi Kottaiyie” is an example of how a song, if treated right, can be majestic on its own. It takes a highly perceptive musician to make the enormous arrangement of instruments and the energetic vocals of Mano, Chithra and Unni Menon work together.
4) Thanga Thamarai Magale – Minsara Kanavu
Another great album where it is impossible to choose a favourite. Rahman won a National Award for his music direction and rightfully so. Although “Venillave Venillave” and “Hoo La La La” are the more popular songs in this album, one simply cannot ignore “Thanga Thamarai Magale”. SPB’s sultry voice and his take on the song sets the mood just right for this dream sequence.
5) Nila Kaigirathu – Indira
Showing us that Rahman is truly the master of soulful music, is this song from the movie Indira. There are two renditions in the movie, by Hariharan and Harini respectively. Although I am partial towards Hariharan’s version, it is impossible to simply ignore them both and their beautiful contribution to this song. Vairamuthu’s lyrics goes on to make it a masterpiece.