Enn Swaasa Kaatrey

Music:     A.R.Rahman
Direction:     K.S.Ravi
Lyrics:     Vairamuthu
Released:     February 1, 1999

This album has 6 tracks
Reviewed by lighter sense and Vijandran Ramaswamy

Thumbs Up rating Lighter Sense's Thumbs Up Rating

This one from ARR comes after a rather atrociously long gap. I am ready to wait in future too, if the products continue to be excellent like this one.

Jumbalakka raises your eyebrow on the first listen itself. It is mix of Srilankan/Spanish tune sung by Rafi with a lot of enthu. The repeated use of Arabic tunes and that voice, ayyaaayyao, could have been avoided. This song is a guaranteed hit. ChillaaLLavaa, kaadhal Niagara by Harini, Anupama, baring the word Viagra, is quite catchy. The Rasputin shades in the start of the song is soon offset by the take over of 'Kalyani' raagam in the mainstream.  The high pitch rendition by the male singer is a disaster. Harini caught in chorus!!

Arvind Swamy and Isha Gopikar in "En Swaasa Kaatrae"Theendaai starts with a strange cry and is a flawless 'Sree Ragam' based song by veterans SPB and Chitra. Vazhakkamaana SPB konjals idhilum undu. Pretty decent song. Thirakaadha kaatukulley sung by Unnikrishnan and Chitra is a fabulous number set in 'Neelaambari' Raagam in the lines of En veetu thottathil (Gentleman) and Poovae sempoovae (Solla Thudikkudhu Manasu). The lyrics by Vairamuthu is 'aahaa' in this song. What a treatment by ARR for this song! Another potential chart topper.

En Swaasa Kaatrae sung by M. G. Sreekumar has 'Neelambari' shades again in the interludes for whatever reason not known to me. It is a slow tranquilizing song. At the point, mudhal mudhal vandha kaadhal mayakkam, moochu kuzhalgalin vaasal adaikum, kaigal theendumaa, the rendition by Sreekumar is just superb. He has tried hard to avoid the mallu accent in the two songs he has sung in this album. ThuLi thuLi- chakkaravaagamo is just adequate IMO.

{Addendum: Just want to add on to my review which I had submitted a couple of days ago. I had mentioned Chinna chinna mazhai thuLigal as an average song. It grows on me like anything now that I will rate this song next to Thirakkaadha. Lyrics are lovely and the song, despite its mallu tinge, is very very melodious.}

This one is a Masala mix with fast numbers, slow ones, pleasing duets, well adapted carnatic tunes, delivered with typical ARR stamp.  ESK is a real treat for everyone.

lighter sense

Thumbs Up rating Vijandran Ramaswamy's Thumbs Down Rating

AR Rahman's first release of 1999 could well be one of his weakest efforts to date. The lateness of the release of this soundtrack (promotions began when "Jeans" was released in March 1998) might as well been an absence. The music in this soundtrack is not as satisfying as the multi-layered Dil Se. The 6 songs here are recycled works of music. You might as well as heard the likes of Jumbalakka and Niagara before but from other music directors.

The album starts with Jumbalakka sung by Rafee. This song feels as if it is written by a young Tamil pop group and the rhythm programming was below average and Spanish samples added the misery and by the way Karthik Raja's version of a Spanish song in Ullasam was executed much better than this weak effort. Harini is wasted in Niagara. Another annoying and weak song. Why is it that music directors have to use Carnatic vocal in an obviously modern track? I hope that ARR doesn't use Vaali as a lyricist in the future. References to the Viagra pill really made me shiver. Vaali likes to write his songs with whatever words that rhyme together (Niagara and Viagra- what a combination...NOT!)

The best song in this album is Thirakatha Kootukkulle sung by Unnikrishnan and Chitra. The song is a typical Rahmanic song but the execution is good with great vocal modulation from Unnikrishnan. It is melodious in parts but that is the brilliance of Rahman - taking our attention with melody and then detouring into rhythm. The theme song for the movie ESK is sung by M. G. Sreekumar and it is a slow ballad but it lacked emotion and had weak lyrics.  Usually, when ARR's music is not up to mark, Vairamuthu's lyrics will save the day as in the case of Jeans but sad to say both music and lyrics disappoint this time. M.G. Sreekumar vocals sounds a bit like S. P. Balasubrahmanyam.

The beat and rhythm in Oru Thulai sung by M. G. Sreekumar was familiar and many music directors have used it before and most recently by Vidyasaagar in Thayin Manikodi in the song Yahaan Ladki Hai. The last song is Theendai sung by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Chitra.  A romantic ballad that is ordinary with decent lyrics and music. Again the drum beat in this song is familiar (take a listen to O Baby from Kadhalukku Mariyadhai).

Overall, I'm disappointed with this album- it lacks rhythm, direction and doesn't have any melody at all except for one song. I dare say that Kaadhal Kavithai from Ilaiyaraja is definitely a better soundtrack. In perspective, we can still look forward to better releases from ARR this year (Taj Mahal, Padaiyapaa, Taal etc.) and remember the fact that the worst of ARR is 100% better than the worst of Ilaiyaraja, Deva,Vidyasaagar,etc if that is any consolation.

Vijandran Ramasamy

Original Photograph (Enn Swaasa Kaatrey): Anandha Vikatan
Photograph scanned and reworked by: Sandya