Film: "Maranthen Mannithen"; Music Director: Illayaraja; Singers: Illayaraja, Andrea, Rahul, Sri Vardhini, Bhavatharini, Mano, Anitha, N.S. Ramya and Geethamadhuri; Lyricists: Muthulingam, Muthukumar, Pazhani Bharathi, Metha and R. Ramu; Rating: ***
"Maranthen Mannithen" is the Tamil version of Telugu film "Gundello Godari", which has music by maestro Illayaraja. Although the maestro satisfies with the soundtrack, sadly one may feel the lack of innovation in the composition as the veteran resorts to recomposing two of his old songs in the film.
The album has seven songs featuring the voices of Illayaraja, Andrea, Rahul, Sri Vardhini, Bhavatharini, Mano, Anitha, N.S. Ramya and Geethamadhuri.
"Gudhikkudhamma" by Illayaraja is the opening track of the album. Sung in the maestro's signature style, this number features powerful lyrics by Muthulingam. Written as an ode to the lives of fishermen and their community, this may very well be one of the best songs in the film. Raja keeps the music to minimum and concentrates on delivering the song with accurate dictions.
Next track in the album is called "Jikkimukki" featuring voices of Rahul and Andrea. Most part of this song is backed by digital percussions, which is rare in the maestro's composition. The tempo is built gradually with every passing second, while the chorus serves as a soothing lullaby.
"Raathiri nerathu", a rehash of an old number, may sound fresh with the voice of Sri Vardhini, but sadly this song is definitely not the best of Raja. Though the song is an eternal melody, this new version fails to impress. In essence, it sounds as a digitally mastered remix of the original song.
Bhavatharini, daughter of Illayaraja, has crooned an impressive number called "Alayodu alayaaga". Once again Raja goes digital with the song, but this time concentrates more on producing sounds that are reminiscent of a long forgotten era. The music is composed in such a way that never does it overlap with the lyrics, and yet impresses one and all musically.
"Engu irukku", a melodious duet by Mano and Anitha, has one of the best compositions of recent time. Accompanied by strong bass guitar, Raja makes this song special merely by his minimum use of instruments. The composer has given several timeless melodies composed in strings version over the years, and this definitely happens to be one of the best songs.
Ramya's "An ooru" is the kind of song that oscillates between different kinds of moods. Raja's percussions are strongly supported by the singer's shrill vocals and articulation based on the different moods of the song. One may find some familiarity in the tune of the song, but thankfully this is not one of Raja's older compositions.
"Vechaani vayasu" is yet another popular track from Raja's debut film that's being used here, featuring the voice of Geethamadhuri. It's tough to ignore this harmonious tune, but sadly the song has nothing new to give us. One may enjoy the song, but at the same time feel the dire need for innovation in its music. If Raja or the makers were thinking of cashing in on the song's widespread popularity, then I doubt if it would really make any difference.