99 Songs of AR Rahman: From Roja to Bigil
Music, for me, has been primarily songs from films. I’m not into listening to classical/western classical music pieces. Though I usually don’t pay attention to the lyrics, I’d love to go with the rhythm of the songs and savour them.
Until I had my mobile phone in hand, Telugu film songs were the only resort that kept me entertaining and soothing to my ears. Thanks to my alma matter and friends, I started exploring a few other language songs and even listened to a few Western Classical music composers (Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, et al.).
Disclaimer: The list isn’t comprehensive. I am putting it out just to come back here after a year or two and review my musical sense and the kind of music I’ll listen to. I’ve not seen the films that I didn’t mention here. So, please don’t assume that I don’t like the ones that I didn’t mention.
I think the first of many songs of ARR I listened to were from Oke Okkadu, and songs from that film are still one of my favourites, whereas one song from Kandukondain Kandukondain recently joined my favourites. And I can’t be sure of the songs I’ll be addicted to, let’s say three years from now.
Art is subjective. Our tastes change, and we evolve. Our approach and understanding towards life changes so does the favourite songs :)
Recently, I read his biography by Krisha Trilok (review can be found here), made a playlist of his songs based on recommendations from friends, from my father (thanks to his musical taste, I seek peace and joy from his selection most of the times), and was playing them every evening during short walks on the terrace.
For making this blog an easy read, I’ll list out all the songs that I’m currently listening to, according to his filmography in the order, with exceptions at both ends.
Starting with Kun Faya Kun, suggested by Ranveer Allahbadia during his interview with ARR while promoting 99 Songs. Until then, I didn’t come across this gem. Honestly, this song helped (is helping) me every day, precisely every evening, to calm me, to push me to higher limits, including writing this blog.
The 90s: From Debut to winning consecutive Filmfare Awards
Now, coming to Roja — the feature film debut for ARR. Songs: “Chinna Chinna Asai,” “Paruvam Vaanaga,”, “Naa Cheli Rojave”.
Next up, Gentleman, debut of Shankar. Songs: “Chikku Bukku Rayile” and “Naa Inti Mundunna”
Movie: Kizhakku Cheemayile. Song: “Aathangara Marame” — this is such an energetic song!
Movie: Thiruda Thiruda. Songs: “Thee Thee” and “Raasathi”
Movie: Duet. Songs: “Anjali Anjali” and “En Kadhale” — I listened to this song after the death of legendary SPB and can’t appreciate it enough for his rendition.
Movie: Kadhalan. Songs: “O Cheliya,” “Urvasi,” and “Mukkabla”
Movie: Bombay. Songs: Entire Album (a total of 8 songs)
Movie: Indira. Song: “Lali Lali (Female version)” (my ringtone for four years now)
Movie: Love Birds. Song: “Manasuna Manasuga”
Movie: Indian. Song: “Adireti” and “Pachani Chilukalu”
Movie: Kadhal Desham (Prema Desham). Songs: “Mustafa,” “Vennela,” and “Prema Prema”
Movie: Minsara Kanavu (Merupu Kalalu). Songs: “Aparanji Madanudi” and “Vennilave”
Movie: Iruvar. Songs: “Sasivadane,” “Kallaganthalu Kattadhoi,” and “Poonagave”
Movie: Ratchagan. Songs: “Chandruni Takinadi” and “Kalava Kanne Kalava”
Movie: Jeans. Songs: “Hai Rabba” and “Poovullo Dagunna”
Movie: Dil Se. Songs: Entire album (a total of 5 songs excluding remix of Chayya Chayya)
Movie: Padayappa (Narasimha). Songs: “Meriseti Puvva,” and the theme
Movie: Kadhalar Dhinam (Premukula Roju). Songs: “Roja Roja” and “Manasu Padi”
Movie: Jodi. Song: “Nannu Preminchanu”
Movie: Mudhalvan (Oke Okkadu). Songs: “Azhagana Ratchashiyae” and “Kurukku Chiruththavale”
Apart from these fantastic compositions for film music in the 90s, ARR also collaborated with Sony Music for Vande Mataram, an album that marked Sony Music’s first collaboration with an Indian artist for an exclusive album. It was made on the occasion of India celebrating 50 years of Independence.
The 2000s: Constant experimentation to winning the Oscars
Movie: Alaipayuthey (Sakhi). Songs: Entire album (a total of 7 songs)
Movie: Kandukondain Kandukondain (Priyuralu Pilichindi). Songs: “Yemi Cheyyamanduve” and “Yemaye Naa Kavitha”
Movie: Rhythm. Song: “Nadhiye Nadhiye”
Movie: Paarthale Paravasam. Song: “Azhagae Sugama”
Movie: Kannathil Muthamittal. Song: “Vellai Pookal”
Movie: Boys. Song: “Ale Ale”
Movie: Enakku 20 Unakku 18 (Nee Manasu Naaku Telusu). Song: “Edho Edho Naalo”
Movie: Aaytha Ezhuthu (Yuva). Songs: “Hey Goodbye Nanba”
Movie: Sillunu Oru Kaadhal (Nuvvu Nenu Prema). Songs: “New York Nagaram” and “Preminche Premavaa”
Movie: Slumdog Millionaire. Songs: “Jai Ho” and “Latika’s Theme”
And then, he won two Oscars for his work in Slumdog Millionaire. In his speech, he said these lines,
“All my life, I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here. God bless.”
The 2010s: Continues to do the magic
Thank God he composed for GVM’s Ye Maaya Chesave; I listen to at least one song from the film every day. The songs brighten up your mood and are so refreshing. Continuing the list:
Movie: Ye Maaya Chesave. Songs: Entire album (a total of 7 songs)
Movie: Raavanan. Song: “Usure Pogudhey”
Movie: Puli. Song: “Namakame”
Movie: Kadal. Song: “Nenjukkule”
Movie: O Kadhal Kanmani. Songs: “Aye Sinamika” and “Mental Manadhil”
Movie: Tamasha. Songs: Entire album (excluding remix — a total of 8 songs)
Movie: Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo. Songs: Entire album (a total of 5 songs)
Movie: Kaatru Veliyidai (Cheliya). Songs: “Maimarupaa”
Movie: Mersal. Songs: “Aalaporaan Thamizhan” and “Maacho”
Movie: Bigil. Song: “Singappenney”
The final film song I’d like to mention here is the pristine and soulful Khwaja Mere Khwaja from Jodhaa Akbar. Many thanks to my friend, Gautham, who introduced me to this song while worrying about campus placements.
Apart from the film songs, ARR collaborated with Coke Studio and composed divine music to the songs like Naan Yen, Jagao Mere Desh Ko, and Aao Balma. I honestly feel that Naan Yen could be used in the films made by Mani Ratnam or Selva Raghavan. Listen to them to find out why!
Initially, I thought to add these songs and share them as a Spotify playlist, but that wouldn’t suffice. Writing a piece of content and revisiting it to update the songs I’m listening to would be a bare minimum that I can do to observe how I am evolving as a person.
If you’re into standup comedy, checkout Alexander Babu’s work, where he used his musical prowess to make content on the musical era in Tamil Cinema (watch about ARR at the end of the video):
Alex in Wonderland
Alex takes you on a trip down the memory lane, blending Tamil cinema, music, philosophy and humour in a heady mix of…
Also, please check out this YouTube channel by one of the ardent fans of ARR who is compiling the music based on various themes, demographics, etc.
And here, we are at the end of the blog. If you feel that your favourites among ARR have been missed out, please comment here or ping me. I’d love to listen to them and add them to my playlist :)