Earworm: A.R. Rahman’s ‘Azhagiye’
A minute-long video of the song Azhagiye that appeared on YouTube on 1 February got 4,534,640 views
Twenty-five years after Roja, Mani Ratnam continues to bring out the best in A.R. Rahman. Few director-composer partnerships can compare —apart from Roja, it has given us Thiruda Thiruda, Bombay, Dil Se... and Alaipayuthey. Their last two films together, Kadal and O Kadhal Kanmani, have yielded some of Rahman’s strongest, most eclectic music in recent years. Their latest, Kaatru Veliyidai, a love story starring Aditi Rao Hydari and Karthi, releases in March.
The film’s single, Azhagiye, has certainly caught on: A minute-long video of the song that appeared on YouTube on 1 February got 4,534,640 views. At first listen, Azhagiye sounds like a standard, if expertly done, love song. It begins like an a cappella number—warm harmonies, voice percussion, claps—with acoustic strumming thrown into the mix. It’s a charming pop confection, even if the lyrics, by Karky, are a little sugary (the chorus is: “Azhagiye (beautiful)/marry me, marry me/ flirt with me/get high with me").
As with any Rahman composition, the more you listen to it, the more wonders are revealed. There’s the sheer density of the backing vocals: singing, trilling, scatting, harmonizing. And there’s the shift from Tamil to folk-ish Punjabi vocals in the middle—completely unexpected, flawlessly executed. It’s a reminder that there’s no such thing as a throwaway Rahman track.