Nov 2, 2006

Tamil vs Hindi Cinema: 6. Music Directors

After more than 3 months, back to this thread. Music is an integral part of Indian cinema; hardly are there movies without songs. Since this is a vast subject, I will not touch upon the old movies/music and the verdict would be solely based on the current state of quality.

Tamil film music directors(MD):
The unarguable leader is AR Rahman. His growth was phenomenal, but fortunately/coincidentally happened during the time when Ilayaraja's music started to sound less and less interesting. From 1992-2000, much of his attention was in Tamil cinema but ever since then, he first became a 'National music director' and then 'International MD'. I would still include him under 'Tamil' category.
Following closely on his footsteps are extremely talented and promising MDs like Yuvan Shankar Raja and Harris Jayaraj. One can always expect something different and exciting from these two. They are ready to take the mantle from Rahman, in case he decides to score most of his music outside Tamil. Next level includes Vidyasagar, and Bharadwaj. Others are, IMHO, good enough for a good surprise number here or there. Since most of the viewers of this blog are Tamils, I dont think I need to write more about the achievements of the aforementioned MDs.
Hindi film MDs:
Until Rahman's 'Rangeela', Hindi film music was rather mostly predictable. MDs like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji and even RD Burman (1942 A Love Story was a glorious exception) liked to use 'Violin-based music' a lot, which made most of the songs and tunes monotonous. After Rahman's entry, they realized that they need to change their music-making style in order to survive in the industry. Unlike in Tamil, music companies (such as Tips and Venus) had a much bigger say in the movie matters, so their constant pressure resulted in a forced form of Hindi music in the late 90's. Some survived to give good numbers, whereas some faded into the background. That was the time when the 'remixes' and Indi-pop albums made unwelcome entry into the mainstream music. Needless to mention, the quality of film music largely sucked then. I would touch upon some recent music directors and their prowess.
Right now, they are undoubtedly #1 in Hindi. They started off slowly with 'Mission Kashmir', 'Dil Chahta hai', and 'Armaan' as noteworthy albums in their first 3 years; but with 'Kal ho naa ho', their ascent to the present position has been very steady. They have Rahman-touch in their music, but they cleverly mix and blend Western and Indian music to give us some mesmerizing numbers. Their recent hits include 'Bunty aur Babli', 'KANK' and now, 'Don'. If famous and young directors like Farhan and Karan continue to stick to them, they are sure to sustain their position for quite sometime now.
Though they gave a super-hit 'Jo jeeta wohi Sikandar' early in their career, the turning-point in their career was 'DDLJ' and there was no looking back for them since then. Well, almost.. they were the #1 choice for big banner movies, (KKHH, Mohabbattein, etc.) but they had a rough patch in the late 90's-early 2000's, when only Rahman and remixes ruled. This duo is famous for having rendered music to some of the most melodious, soft and romantic Hindi songs. Their recent hits include 'Hum tum' and 'Fanaa', esp. the latter. I strongly recommend the music of Fanaa, for those who havent listened to it. Mind-blowing..
Anu Malik:
If I had to list the Hindi MDs for their number of albums, Anu Malik would have certainly at the top of the list, but that is his problem too. He is almost like our 'Deva'.. too many movies at a time, and sometimes all of their music suck. He has had a successful collaboration with the masala directors Abbas-Mastan, but a decline in the quality of their movies of late affected his fortunes too. After memorable music in late 90's like Virasat, Border, Ishq, Kareeb and Soldier in the late 90's, he was sort of pushed back later by others. Like 'Deva', he was also labelled 'copycat' for so obvious and shameless 'inspirations' from outside Hindi. His recent hit albums that I liked were 'Murder' and, to some extent, 'Mein hoo na'.
They were once very exciting and promising duo, after the success of 'Aashiqui' in early 90's.. Their music became a rage, with a string of hits like 'Dil hai ki maanta nahin', and 'Hum hai rahi pyar ke'. Later, they were riding very high with the success of music of 'Barsaat', 'Raja Hindustani', and 'Pardes' when tragedy struck. Nadeem was accused in the murder of Gulshan Kumar and he had to live in UK for a few years. So, the frequency of their movies decreased but still they managed to give hits like 'Dhadkan', 'Raaz', and 'Andaaz'. 'Pari pari' from 'Hungama' is a sweet number. Things might have been very different for them if not for that major glitch during a crucial time.
There are others like Uttam Singh (Dil to Pagal Hai, Gadar), Himesh Reshammiya (MD of Kamal's 'Dasaavataram'; his Hindi memorables are Tere naam and Aashiq banaya apne; I dont like him as a singer and with that cap..), and Ismail Darbar (Hum dil de chuke sanam, Devdas, Kisna) who give some hit numbers once a while. But, if you do a head-to-head comparison, in terms of the versatility, creativity, novelty and quality, Tamil music directors edge past their Hindi counterparts.
So, the lead for Tamil is 3-1.
Previous posts in this thread:


Nag said...

good post!!
I am sure this kind of comparision is not possible in few days, you might have spend quite lot of time.

Anonymous said...

Wow Raju,

Am amazed with your comparison. Kudos!

G3 said...

Aaha.. Kalakaareenga.. Overa analyse pannuveengalo. Naanlaan paatu ketta paatu nalla irukkunu sollitu marubadiyum kekkaradhoda seri.. yaaru paadina yaar music pottanellam nondradhey illa :)

Nitin said...

umm good list Raju, although i think more than shankar,ehsaan,and loy. himesh reshammiya, and vishal-shekhar are the most sort out MDs now. in tamil,i still think illayaraja is in a league of his own, and rahman comes second. even now, raja's music, and backgrounds give goosebumps. in recent times, rahman's music seems to be getting less and less interesting, like in sok. there is not much new coming from him, whereas yuvan shankar raja is providing with some good tunes, although a lot of rap is used,and he is a bad singer. vidyasagar definitely beats harris in my book, harris is well known for recycling his old tunes, or copying tunes from rahman. vidyasagar in recent times has been giving music with different flavors. check out sivapathigaram, its different but sounds good.

KK said...

Nice analysis... I agree with most of your points.. will read your other analysis' soon :)

Raju said...

Nag,thanks.. it took all of lil over 2 hours to write this post... believe it or not..
Anon, thanks to u too. :)
G3, amam.. niraiya think pannurennu ellarum solluvanga. Even my close friends who read this post wondered how I know this much about latest Hindi music. What to do.. my eyes would always look for the names of MDs and directors in the posters and titles.
I like ur 'nondrathey illa' thing.. enakku indha vishayathai ellam nonda romba pidikkum.. ;)
Nitin, Vishal-Shekhar? mmm.. They are like 'one hit after 10 flops' MDs, rite? Bluffmaster was one which made me take notice of them.. and my friends used to say that Kaante's music rocked.. Couple of songs were OK.. but they soon gained the unwanted reputation of copy-cats.. They are yet to establish themselves...

Raja can never ever be forgotten. I grew up listening to his music, so it is dissolved in my blood.. but, of late, one has to agree that his best days are gone. right?

About Rahman, even in 'SOK' that you mentioned, there were couple of gr8 numbers 'Munbe vaa' and 'New York', which are among my favorites now.

U r right about Yuvan using lot of rap.. even in the latest 'Loosu penne'.. I would call it 'Indianized rap'.. sariya?

IMHO, Harris, though sounding repetitive at times, has the magic of coming up with albums like KK, Ghajini and VV, which would be strong competitors for #1 music of the year.. in that sense, Vidyasagar lags behind.

I will check out Sivapadhigaram.. I am infact looking forward to that movie. The heroine looks damn cute.. ;)
KK, OK.. thanks.

Me too said...

These days I hardly listen to any hindi songs. So, onnum solrathukku ille. Aamir padam-nna mattum kettuduven(but I was very disappointed with "Fanaa"). I love old hindi songs.

Anonymous said...

Vishal-Shekar copycats? I don't think so. They have a really really clean record at the moment, on par with SEL and ARR. The only time I remembered they copied something was when the lifted "My Dil goes Mmmmm..."(SN) from a BGM piece ARR did for Swades.

And they have given a number of very good albums.....Taxi, SN, Dus, Shabd, Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, etc.

Ram.C said...

Agree with you... Hope there would be fierce competition in tamil in future, with likes of GV.Prakash, Joshua, Vijay Antony.... etc.,

Raju said...

Aparna,Disappointed with Fanaa? How many times did you listen to it? In fact, even I didnt get so impressed with it the first time, but with second/third listenings onwards, I am totally hooked to it. I listen to all the songs atleast twice a day nowadays. Chand sifarish, Mere haath mein, Hawa kuch, and even the Vande mataram song are all gr8.. And the 'Theme music' is also very nice. Just give a shot for a few days.
Anon, SN's music was hummable, I agree. During a discussion, someone mentioned to me that V-S do copy a lot from English/Arabian music. Even 'Jaane ka' from Kaante was copied, I was told. Let me check it out. When you talk of gr8 music, u cant add Taxi, Dus, etc. in that category, can u?
Ram, among the ones you mentioned, I have high hopes on Joshua Sridhar. Totally impressed by him in 'Kaadhal'.. he didnt live up to expectations in 'Uyir' and 'Aran', but hopefully that was due to problems in his personal life. I wish he comes back with another album of the quality of 'Kaadhal' soon.

tt_giant said...

Nice analysis Raju!

Like you, raasa is an integral part of my music life. But I am not very picky - just good music.

Check this out:

Not very often have I heard a good remix. This one is brilliant.

tt_giant said...

Sorry Raju! konjam busy aa irundhutten!

mitr_bayarea said...


Good analysis and looks like you put in a lot of research to write about the Hindi music directors. For me, this was a lesson 101 in Learning more about the Hindi music directors, although the name Himesh Reshammiya seems to be getting around with Dasavatharam. As for Tamil music direcots, you were right on dot in stating that they edge past their Hindi counterparts, cos Illayaraja, Harris Jayaraj, Rehman, etc. are all elagues onto themselves.

Nitin said...

I too have a lot of hope for Joshua sridhar, I liked both Kaadhal & Uyir, Aran was alright. Although, it seems his attitude and tumultous personal life is not making a good impression among the directors. I agree, Vishalshekhar give good songs with lot of techno in it, which is what youngsters like these days, other than that I dont find them great. heh. himmesh reshammiya has become popular overnight, although i have not heard a single song of his.

Raju said...

Deepak, yeah.. the 80's Music of Raja is unforgettable.. The pace at which he delivered those songs was simply breathtaking.. It was good as long as it lasted.

Thanks for that link.. it was awesome.. I totally enjoyed it. Then I confirmed with a friend that it was Malay Tamils who created that remix.. I am sure Raja would have no complaint about this remix.. :)

About ur being busy, it is totally understandable. Sorry ellam solla thevaiye ille..
Mitr, mmm.. not a lot of research.. As I replied to Nag, it only took a couple of hours to write it.. it was more a case of clicking the right buttons in the brain and getting the info.. I am listening to Hindi music since late 80's, since the days of Tezaab and QSQT.

Himesh Reshammiya is inseparable from Hindi music nowadays.. He composes, sings and even performs for his own songs. He comes up with his exclusive albums, does concerts abroad on them. His voice is actually funny, but people seem to like him.. I am sure you would have seen his posters in Bay area as well. Chubby, bearded guy who always dresses in black and wears a cap even indoors. :)
Nitin, I hope Joshua doesnt fade away as a 'One film wonder'. A lot of guys make techno music nowadays.. even those who do the re-mixes... so I am not that a big fan of that. IMHO, a MD must be versatile. How he scores for a romantic song and makes it a classic would speak a lot about his talent. Listen to Fanaa.. for pretty simple lyrics, the musical treatment is gr8.

And, to listen to Himesh, all you need to do is to visit any of ur Northie friends home, turn the TV on and just browse through B4U music/Zee music/MTV Desi.. it is highly unlikely that he doesnt appear onscreen for 15 minutes. He is there EVERYWHERE nowadays..

mavaerick said...

I like your analysis , however I am not sure if you heard the OST of Omkara by Vishal Bharadwaj and would have hoped a mention in ur column .

Rahman has admitted that he is a big fan of the music from Omkara in one of the awards recently.

For some reason I think the music quality from the south is more rich. The directors from the North seem to target the masses who care for a common beat/ sound ( especially the movies with the Dholak beat ) . No offence to the Dholak but the sounds are too monotonic. If its not Dholak , the MD's revert to the hip disco/bhnagra beats, which is yet another sad story in itself.

Having said that MD's from the south and luring directors from the south for better sounds .

Finally a question
Who composed the music for Jaane Man --> GV Prakash or Anu Malik ?

Anonymous said...

strange how a bunch of self proclaimed superior tamilians have taken it to pass verdict on the musical state of hindi cinema. well even in the newer ones u missed out "vishal-shekhar"(And no they arent 1 hit and 10 flops, u'd know if u were in north, they are more like 10/10. Bachna ae haseeno, dostana, tashan are some of their latest hits and pyaar mein kabhi kahbi, jhankaar beats, karam are their earlier ones...
vishal bhardwaj(Omkara, maachis etc)
Salim suleiman (DOr)

sandesh dhandilya(Chameli,piya basanti etc)
amit trivedi (Aamir)
and well countless others... just becoz u havent heard good hindi music does not mean it doesnt exist. by the way remixes arent the only way indi pop survived... try rabbi shergill, lucky ali etc.

JAtin lalit in their heydays made some really good music ( remeber this film called khamoshi... well u cud try "Jo jeeta", "yes boss", "jab pyaar kisi se... ", "ddlj", "kkhh" etc.. I know all are the similar sounding romantic stuff,,, but heck they are good... and after all each music director has his own style)

ARR and SEL have given some unforgettable albums... try Meenaxi, The legend of bhagat singh, Zubeida, Taal, lagaan, jodha akbar, kal ho na ho, lakshya, Bunty aur babli, etc...

And then there were RD Burman, SD Burman, naushad,

Anonymous said...

And by the way, Just becoz u guyz have no knowledge of music beside ur tamil music, doesnt mean the sources from where Harris takes inspiration does not exist ;)

Online Hindi Music said...

Thanks for your experience.because never easy to these kind of comparison in between Tamil and Hindi Cinema Music Directors.