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Music,Musings et al

Month: April, 2012

Dammu (Boyapati Seenu)

Jr-NTR-Dhammu-Poster1

For all the good taste in cinema I profess to have, I am still a major fan of commercial cinema and by commercial cinema I mean epic mass movies like Indra, Aadi, Chatrapathi etc; not soft romances and quasi gangster movies . Dammu is a worthy addition to that list. It is essentially a retread of the faction movies of the past, especially Aadi and Indra, when it comes to the storyline. The major reason why movies like Dammu still get made is because a major bloodshed is always good. Revenge feels good. It is cleansing, cathartic and is the best payoff possible in movies.  

Boyapati Seenu, like Rajamouli, chooses his payoffs wisely and milks them fantastically. He knows that the best form of catharsis comes when the hero has to go to war with family pride and honour at stake. It helps if there is a history of violence and the backs are to the wall. Makes it all the more stirring. It is the reason why Gladiator is epic. It is one man taking on an empire to avenge his personal loss. It is the reason why Eden Gardens 2001 was epic. It is two me defying odds and staging an incredible comeback. Fighting for an ideal or ideology can be rousing but a fight for personal reasons almost always surpasses that. Remember Chak De India? It is not so much about the underdogs winning but about Kabir Khan’s redemption; the evisceration of past injustices.

Coming back to Dammu, Boyapati is a canny director. He knows that the first half could be filled with establishing the feud and the characters. The second half is where the action usually is and it is here that all the setup could fizzle out if it is not handled well. So what does he do? He manufactures, what I call, epic mass moments. These are usually the payoff moments where uninhibited heroism crushes down with vengeance and inevitability upon villainy. And the success of the movie is directly proportional to how many genuine epic mass moments the director manages to pack in. All of us like fights but nobody likes a meaningless fight. The stronger the justification the better the fight looks. So, just when you are thinking that the movie is meandering to the obligatory final showdown, Seenu bumps off the hero’s baava (Venu) after spending some time establishing his good natured character.

The best faction movies always horrify through an unexpected tragedy and make the loss feel personal. And then the cathartic hack-a-thon begins.

Dammu has a lot of epic mass moments. Boyapati is the next Rajamouli what with the latter dabbling with offbeat subjects off late. He has the skill to gradually build scenes and deliver the payoffs well. NTR is perfect in the role. If you are a fan of the genre and get thrills like I do from watching solid bloodshed then Dammu is for you. 

Endukante Premanta (GV Prakash Kumar)

Nee Choopule is a wonderful start to the album. Prakash weaves a simple yet spellbinding tune and fills it with lithe, gorgeous orchestration. Haricharan, as always, seems to get the best songs and deservedly so. Hemachandra and Chinmayee prop up Egire Pove whose cheery tone more than makes up for its indifferent tune. Chill Out and Kicko Gicko are snazzily but unimaginatively put together numbers. Cindrella is better and has the typical GV Prakash-Karunakaran breezily romantic flavour going for it, although the disconnect between the lyrical content and the tune is slightly jarring. The minute long extended classical finale must have been cathartic for Prakash, whose penchance for tucking away an operatic interlude or two, in the lulls of songs, finally finds full favour.

In his third album for Karunakaran, GV Prakash manages to hit the same thematic consistency witnessed in the earlier works and it works for most of the time.

Gabbar Singh (Devi Sri Prasad)

Gabbar Singh is one of those formula soundtracks that can be split right down the middle – the beat/kuthu songs and the melodies. Devi Sri does enough in Kevvu Keka to get the masses going; This is no Munni but who cares. The lyricist in Devi Sri does a better job in Pilla than the composer. His amusing lyrics along with Vaddepalli Srinivas’ spirited singing make this is a fun listen. Dekho Dekho Gabbar Singh is egregious; this is Devi Sri pushing his luck too far. Kota’s Mandu Baabulam is entertaining. Akasam Ammayaithe is a finely crafted melody with a flowing chorus and soothing backgrounds; easily the best song of the lot. Dil Se is one of those breezy and innocuous numbers that isn’t bad enough to be diss or good enough to rave about.

Gabbar Singh milks the formula for all its worth. Could have been better.      

Ishaqzaade (Amit Trivedi)

Aafaton Ke Parinde is a fine start to the album especially when Divya Kumar, who sounds like a freshly minted Sukhwinder Singh, is given free reign over the song in the interludes. Chokra Jawaan is a firecracker of a song that is propelled by the free spirited energy of Vishal and Sunidhi. In times where lead singers record their part of the song separately, the vocal chemistry between Vishal and Sunidhi is something that is true, palpable and exceptional. The soundtrack takes a melodious turn with the title track. A little predictable but pleasant nevertheless. The impish Jhallawallah takes its cues from Kajra Re and Ranaji but fuses them into a reasonably enjoyable cocktail. Pareshaan is an all round triumph of singing and composing and the piece de resistance of the soundtrack along with Chokra Jawaan. It gains immensely from Shalmali Kholgade’s dainty-gorgeous vocals (In the same league as Hamsika Iyer and Aditi Singh Sharma) and Trivedi’s orchestration that ebbs and flows thoughtfully; Thoughtful considering even a dash of heavy orchestration would have drowned out the delicate vocals of the singer. Also notice how her vocals acquire shades of Sunidhi’s tone in the higher cadences of the chorus. A singer to watch out for.

Amit Trivedi’s Ishaqzaade is a thoroughly enjoyable package. It is especially good to hear the early earthy sound of soundtracks like Dev D and Aamir again. It is more refined now but surely as kickass.       

Eega (M.M. Keeravani)

Nene Nani Ne, apart from the twisty interplay of verse, has a soothing, non intrusive tone going for it. Ga Eega Eega dark techno is punctuated by some interesting tune shifts. The remix is actually better; The impish subversion of vocals is closer to that of a fly and conveys the lyrics’ serio-comic intent in a better way. I would damned if I knew what Rajamouli is going for here! (The genre explanation, socio-fantasy, hardly helps in this case). Vijay Prakash breezes through the upbeat Konchemu Konchemu in characteristic fashion. Lava Lava, which falls somewhere between noise pop and punk rock,  sees Anuj Panchadara Gurwara and Keeravani  working outside their comfort zones and the results are mighty interesting (The hook is a true blue knock the socks off triumph).

Keeravani’s part experimental thematic score for Eega is not as refreshing as it should have been but is nevertheless an interesting assortment. The melodies are decent but seem to be wrapped in an ennui. The thematic pieces are fascinating though.

Dhammu (M.M. Keeravani)

Dhammu is the consummate Keeravani masala soundtrack – hyper catchy with traditional moorings. Ruler, in both its versions, is a force of nature. Keeravani constructs a cracker of a track right from the innocuous build up to the explosive, grandiose chorus. Outstanding! Oh Lilli is catchy gibberish. Raja Vasireddy’s pulsating bassline is great to listen to even though the lyrics on lineage can get tricky to follow. It also channels Simhadri’s Nuvvu Whistle Esthe nicely. Vaasthu Bagunde slows down the tempo a little but loses none of the percussive steam of the earlier songs. The title track rounds off this frenetic soundtrack on a high. The lyrics might be more than suggestive but Keeravani’s break of phrases conveys the meaning of Dhammu fascinatingly.

Keeravani goes dappan kuthu with a vengeance and doesn’t let up till the last note comes down with a resounding crash. It is nevertheless a convincing, if not masterful, exercise at working within the genre and exploiting it to the hilt with minor variations. Hardly memorable but the propulsive, driving percussion will give you a mind boggling high.