Vikram to this day maintains that the song ‘Moongil Kadugale’ in his film Samurai is the closest to his heart. That was set to tune by Harris Jayaraj. Saamy, among Vikram’s movies, has had the best of numbers. Again that was the handiwork of Harris. But when these two films arrived there weren’t any great expectation. But when the audio of Bheemaa, once more in the combination of Vikram-Harris, the scenario is slightly altered. The anticipation is high because of the track record that the duo in-tandem enjoys.
Bheemaa has been in the making for quite a while and, almost uncannily, most delayed films’ music has a touch of melancholy in it (or is it our imagination?). In some respects, Bheemaa resolves this quandary, and underscores that the idea of sadness is mostly a creation of the mind. Bheemaa’s songs ----- reflecting the kind of mix that we have come to expect from Harris ---- are energy-filled without ever degenerating to the level all-out mass madness. Tamil film songs of recent vintage have been guilty erring on the side of stridency, and the rhythms are dominating and drowning (others).
Bheemaa doesn’t go for the jugular as the attempt is not to satisfy music fans. The idea here seems to have been to provide good music, which anyway the aficionados are bound to like. The music is unmistakably Harris’ (some might accuse him of being slightly repetitive here) as his method and mix is more than par.
Harris has also experimented, or at least seems to have, with his orchestration as the alignment is more holistic. It is not often that you get to hear the soothing strains of dilruba, sarangi, santoor, sitaar in every-day film music (especially of the mass genre). But Harris has with an insidious impishness has managed to wove it in.
There are six numbers in the album (running to 32.7 minutes).
Krish and Naresh Iyer voices represent the gem next of Tamil film music. Both these youngsters croon out a heavy-rhythmed (slightly predictable) belter. It is difficult to identify who is singing at a given point, but the overall impression is adequate and acceptable. It is not clear why the music director needed two voices. The lyrics, by Pa Vijay, talks evocatively of the valor of the hero. Perhaps the introduction song or some kind of background lilts to the hero’s heroism. The slightly stylized number is on the whole passes muster.
The song typically starts with Harris’ fond humming with gibberish phrases. Almost all his films have a number with this kind of start. It is nice to hear Hariaharan at his best with lilting inflexions and voice feints in place. Mahathi, in company, handles the heavy challenge with relish. The number has a hazy slowness and Na Muthukumar’s sweet words deserve this breather. The interludes are interesting as Harris has fiddled around with multi instruments. There is also the name of R Prasanna in the credits. Except for the initial and intermittent humming there doesn’t seem to be third voice. And that too seems to be a lady’s. So that begs the question: Is Prasanna a woman?
The first two words confirm the genre. The start, with strong woody rhythms, heightens the anticipation. It is then when Vijay Yesudas, the most unlikely of choice for such a number, breaks into a Bachchanesque heavy-throated rendering. Vijay Yesudas’ participation is however minimal, but he acquits himself handsomely. The bulk of the crooning is left to Kailash Kher, and his earthy vocals (with a wisp of sorrow hidden somewhere) are very good. For a man who has made a name for himself with rustic and folksy Hindi songs, Rangu Rangamma is a good challenge. And he is up top it. Swarnalatha of course is veteran of this genre and she is full pep and poise. A foot-stomping energy runs through the number that Pa Vijay has written with kid-like enthusiasm.
Hariharan and Madhushree, in a sense, represent the sweetest of throats in film singing today. And it is just the kind of number they will relish as Harris has chosen an easy-flowing tune with pregnant pauses and the tempo is more gondola than speed boat. The violin and quaint beats add a bizarre but beautiful patch. The mixing is Rahmanesque, especially in places when Hari’s voice is made to hum in the background. There is decidedly a touch of Sadhana Sargam in Madhushree’s voice. Yugabharathi’s words whip up the sentiments of cozying up lovers with élan.
Karthik begins with his typical verve. Harris has made him sound bolder than he is usually. The result is interesting, and worthy of the attempt. Harini, back after some time, is as full of frothy excitement. The combination mostly works in this every-day tune, which doesn’t hold any surprise. Thamarai, a Harris favorite, pens a thoughtful love ballad that is suffused with emotion. The music does justice to that.
The real pick. With three female voices ---- Chinmayi, Sadhana Sargam, Sowmya Raoh (it is difficult to pick out them in the number) — and one male voice (the Airtel Super Singer Nikhil Mathew), it is a combination that is pregnant with possibilities. Harris uses them all and has strummed a very different moody number. The inherent passion is well brought out by (I think) Chinmayi right at the start. Nikhil Mathew (perhaps his debut number) gets the emotions right in his voice. What he lacks in resonance is compensated by his expression to Yugabharathi’s powerful words. The tune lingers like mist on a cold morning at a hill side resort.