AR Rahman’s latest album, Maamannan, showcases his incredible talent once again with a collection of full-length songs. The album features seven tracks, each averaging around five minutes in duration, making it a refreshing departure from the current trend of shorter songs.
One of the standout tracks is “Nenjame Nenjame,” a romantic melody that offers a soothing balm to the listener after the heaviness of the rest of the soundtrack. Rahman adorns the gentle melody with a tender arrangement, with percussion being a notable highlight. The use of percussion varies throughout the song, disappearing during the interludes and reemerging with a new set of instruments in each stanza. Vijay Yesudas and Shakthisree Gopalan deliver exceptional vocals, and the addition of a ladies’ chorus in the closing segment adds a lovely touch. The melody even has an Ilaiyaraja-esque feel to it, particularly in the opening phrase.
Another noteworthy track is “Kodi Parakura Kaalam,” an assertive and empowering song exhorting women to rise up. The track is divided into three distinctive segments, starting with a helpless lament beautifully delivered by Kalpana Raghavendar, accompanied by fine clarinet work that gives the segment a retro feel. The song then transitions to a punchy main section featuring Rakshita Suresh, Deepthi Suresh, and Aparna Harikumar, who deliver powerful vocals accompanied by great folk percussion and guitars. The energetic percussion-led coda brings the song to an intense close. Yugabharathi’s writing is superb, adding to the anthemic nature of the song.
The album also includes an all-female track titled “Utchanthala,” which creates a somber and ominous atmosphere reminiscent of the soundtrack of “Iravin Nizhal.” Deepthi Suresh, Sireesha Bhagavatula, and Pavithra Chari effectively deliver haunting vocals. The inclusion of a solo violin towards the end adds a beautiful touch, later closing the song with a short violin and flute coda, reminiscent of “Promontory” from “The Last of the Mohicans.”
A R Ameen’s fervent rendition of “Veerane” showcases his impressive singing skills. The song has a general vigor, but it comes across as the weaker track of the album. On a positive note, Arivu and Rahman’s collaboration in “Manna Maamanna” is a perfect fit for the movie’s theme. Arivu’s incisive writing and trademark delivery bring the attitude, while Rahman’s arrangements complement it perfectly. The song has a heroic feel, with the titular phrase appearing towards the end like a grand entrance of a hero.
While Maamannan is a great album overall, one aspect that stands out is the raw intensity seen in previous Mari Selvaraj movie soundtracks with Santhosh Narayanan. However, it is likely that the setting of the movie itself is different, leading to this shift in sound. Nevertheless, the album does provide glimpses of that intensity in tracks like “Raasa Kannu.” Rahman keeps the orchestration minimal in this track, creating a mesmerizing effect with a four-note string refrain accompanied by Vadivelu’s powerful vocals and booming thavil phrases. The choice of Vadivelu as a vocalist is a masterstroke, as he delivers Yugabharathi’s scorching lyrics with the soulfulness they deserve.
In conclusion, A R Rahman continues his incredible run of form with Maamannan, a diverse and captivating album. From romantic melodies to anthemic tracks, this album has something for every listener. With its full-length songs and impressive musicianship, Maamannan is a definite winner.