Petta, Darbar, Master and Vikram - Musical musings

Would you believe that there is an awful lot of similarity in the music of Petta, Darbar and Master other than the music director Anirudh Ravichander? In all of the three films, we have an interesting and delicious mash-up of music from yesteryears meeting the sensibilities of the current trends in music.

In Petta, we had the delightful insertion of the theme of Rajinikanth from Annamalai the mega-blockbuster in the Marana Mass song. That was a first. So far, there had been only versions of the original theme that were used on edits of Rajinikanth from various films of his, as a tribute. There was never a point till then where a theme from a yesteryear film was used in a new film of the same star. Instead, there have been scenes where a character is mocked at or short films to hype up the protagonists. There have been remixes of songs but never had there been a film where a theme was re-imagined. I was enthralled by the masterful re-imagination. Moreover, given that Petta was a fan's tribute to Rajinikanth, the idea fit like a glove. I enjoyed watching the film and remember having goosebumps every time this re-imagined theme played in the film. Verdict - Nostalgia, gooseflesh, happiness and satisfaction.

Then came Darbar, a drab of a film survived only due to the music director's prowess. Even here, there was a great insertion of a theme from Annamalai. This time, during an action scene where Adithya Arunachalam bashes up a group of baddies with a group of transwomen encouraging him with its songs. Again, the moment was good, the music hyped-up the mood, the action was well choreographed and the final feeling was of goosebumps and happiness. Listen to the song here.

And now we have Master. Even this is an Anirudh musical. And just like the previous two outings, even here there is a tip of the hat tribute to the mass image of Vijay. There is a Kabaddi scene in the film where the mellifluous Vidyasagar is paid a tribute to with a wishful remastering of the evergreen Kabaddi theme from the star's Ghilli.

Following Master, we have the latest instalment of the "old-meets-new" phenomenon in the teaser of Vikram. In a beautifully shot teaser, that has a show of guns and books, the Anirudh touches are sprinkled throughout in the background score. But towards the end of the teaser, Kamal goes, "Thakita tha dheem tha dheem tha.." the exact set of phrases that end with a crescendo on the refrain, "Vikram! Vikram!" Kamal sounds just the same as he did in the original title song.

With these many mash-ups/tributes/remixes/rehashes (depends on the listener on how he labels it), I started to wonder, if this is going to be the way forward for all the films that have sort of a "revival" tag for the actors starring in it. I can't help but think that it is just a boring way of approach at that concept. True that some of these films did revive and have a certain nostalgia element to it. But is reviving and/or reliving the nostalgia enough? With these thoughts in mind, I wish to have the below questions asked to Anirudh.

There have been so many trolls online trying to berate you for your alleged copying of themes from foreign language albums. I have watched a lot of them. In fact, there was a lot of conversation online about the Kutty story song being very similar to a yesteryear devotional hit - Santhana Malligayil... I didn't buy that allegation, though. The point is that, despite that obvious difference, there have been similarities in the music of Anirudh found in foreign language music albums. Frankly, I don't have a problem with that. As a dabbler in music myself, I have found similarities in songs that no one has. Inspiration can come from anywhere. My question, however, is: The themes that you have remastered (so delightfully) definitely take us down the memory lane and make us relive those mass moments of these stars. But repeatedly doing that (though, one may say that both the Rajini films and Master are star-driven films to a large extent and such treatment would enhance the goosebump-moments - to which I agree - these are still originally composed by another music director), are we as consumers and you (Anirudh and others who are trying or wish to come up with something of this sort) as producers of music holding the both of us back? Surely, we relate such brilliant themes to these stars. But don't you think it is time that we get something new from you people that surpasses the previous themes and relates to the star better?

Irrespective of the answer to the above question, the thought is interesting. Is the lack of such music due to the stories like Master - the kind that is not completely star-driven and is steered by a lot of the director's sensibilities which makes it difficult to make a universal theme? Or is it that we as customers are so rigid that we can't relate to anything other than the theme music of these iconic yesteryear films? If so, are we doing justice to the new crop of talented music directors? If no, is it just plain laziness of the music directors? Or is it due to the busy schedule of these musicians that it's just not has been possible to put the required time, energy and effort to come up with such a piece of music? Only time and the musicians can answer these questions.

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