People say AR Rehman's music is like 'Sex'. It grows on you with experience. It is always a little confusing and shocking the first time. But you learn to love it and slowly it becomes addictive! A better comparison would have been 'wine' but there is nothing like a shocking first line when you are writing something isnt it?. Anyways, just a couple of days back, completely bored with all the rocks, hiphops and pops in the world i turned to the master for some respite. Digging through the old archives i brought up all of rehman's classics starting from 'roja' through 'dil se' to 'Rang de'. It rocked! Thats when it really hit me - you never get tired of rehman. According to me he is 'the best' music director of indian cinema.
But there has been more than a perceptible shift in ARR's priorities over the years. It all started with ARR's music first going nation wide thanks to maniratnam and then international thanks to Andrew lloyd. In fact, some of AR Rehman's all time best would be the ones he composed for the bollywood : Dil se, Taal, Swadesh, RDB- all brilliant compositions. But if i were to draw a graph of rehaman's compositions for tamil cinema with quality as the defining parameter then we would definitely witness an exponential drop. The abyss becomes all the more apparent when you spot the huge difference in class between a 'Rang de Basanti' and a 'Godfather'. Its shocking to note that both have come from ARR's hands - one album that makes you want to dance and sing along and the other a dissapointment. The trend has been there for quite some time New,Aah Aaah,GodFather and now 'Sillunnu oru Kaadhal kadai'. I wouldnt say they are bad but they pale into comparison when compared to his brilliance in bollywood. Why this bias?
I wouldnt blame rehman. Its the fault of the tamil directors who still swear by formula compositions - one slow, one fast, one item number, one ghana. The story and songs no longer have any connection. Clearly rehman would be wasting his time here and just mixes up a few loops and throws in a few organs and bingo u have ur tam number. A frightening prospect.
But tamil music is not dying. Rehman may be the king of indian cinema but not tamil cinema anymore. Yuvan has taken the place of the number 1 music director in tamil cinema. With his own distinct style, yuvan has given some brilliant compositions in the past couple of years. In fact, within the last year and a half he has composed some songs that would find a place in my all time list of great tamil songs : Kannai vittu(pattial), Kangal kandadhu(oru kalooriyin kathai), Oru naalil vaazhkai (pudupettai). He has really blossomed under selvaraghavan and is now a complete music director. Yuvan is the flavour of the season. So tamil cinema is not entirely missing AR Rehman. But when he comes and gives a completely brilliant composition some time in the future (sivaji?), i am sure all the pretenders will pale into comparison.