"Neethaane En Ponvasantham"; Music Director: Ilayaraja; Lyricist: Na Muthukumar; Singers: Yuvan Shankar Raja, Karthik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Ramya NSK, Ilayaraja, Suraj Jagan and Bela Shende; Rating: ****
"Neethaane En Ponvasantham" is an ode to all music lovers. Touted to be Ilayaraja's grand comeback, the maestro's signature tunes leave you in awe.
Written and directed by Gautham Menon, the film stars Jiiva and Samantha. The album is a perfect rendition of melody and trance, nicely woven together to give certain distinctiveness to each song. This is Gautham's first film with Ilayaraja.
There are a total of eight songs. Three songs are sung by Karthik, two by Yuvan, and one each by Sunidhi Chauhan, Ramya NSK, Bela and Suraj Jagan. Ilayaraja lends his voice for one song as well.
The album kicks off with "Saayndhu saayndhu", a pleasant lullaby to the ears. Sung mostly by Yuvan, few lines by Ramya towards the end are satisfying. This slow, romantic number has a good combination of strings and clarinets giving an exquisite corporeal feel to the song while the orchestration syncs fittingly.
The prelude to "Kaatrai konjam" sung by Karthik is reminiscent of an era long forgotten. The ensemble of instruments such as flute, clarinet, strings and piano give such an embraceable sensation.
If you were under the impression that all songs are poignant, Ilayaraja surprises you with an anguish outburst in "Mudhal murai" sung by Sunidhi Chauhan. This is the third song in the album. Beautifully composed, it is brilliantly supported by the recurring strings and violin that goes almost unheard. Choosing Sunidhi over Shreya Ghosal seems to have worked in the favour of the song.
Next on the playlist is "Vaanam mella". Sung by Ilayaraja and Bela Shende, this slow number is a perfect example of what the maestro is capable of doing with his voice. Needless to say, Na Muthukumar's words hit the right note and sound poetically appealing.
It is followed by "Pudikale maamu", a typical college type song, sung by Suraj Jagan and Karthik. Just when you think the song is heavily inspired by western beats, it takes an iniquitous turn and transforms into a folk number towards the end. But, the transition from western to folk doesn't result in the kind of output you would've hoped for.
Next up is "Yennodu va va' by Karthik. Inspired yet again from the 1980s, this soulful number qualifies as the best song of the album. You may find it very old-fashioned, but it is pleasing at the same time. This is Karthik's third number from the album, and with each song he has set new benchmark.
"Pengal endral" by Yuvan Shankar Raja on the list, is an uninspiring track. The song expresses agony but in all fairness, it fails to evoke interest or emotionally connect with the listener.
Rounding up the album is "Sattru munbu", which has an ominous feel to it. Ramya with her graceful voice makes the song worth listening. The composition is clearly done and never does the listener feels the music and voice are overlapping.
You couldn't have asked for a better album. Pick up this album and get drenched in the musical shower.