With several hits and an award, Yuvan Shankar Raja has evolved as the hottest music director of Tamil cinema. Tamil film music has changed drastically as a new breed of music directors and singers has taken over. This has also completely altered the way music is composed these days. Although the story, presentation and the actors may have changed in Tamil films, songs still remain an essential part of commercial cinema. Remember that a decade ago six or seven singers held sway along with great music directors. Today nearly 130 singers and 45 music directors have come and gone in the last two years! Today, it is not a question of who gives soulful music but who can turn out chart busters.
Says Selvaraghavan, Kollywood's new-age director: "Our films are not taken seriously by the Western audience as there are far too many songs in the narrative. But I can't imagine making a film without [them], which is what attracts the audience initially to any Indian film."
Music for the youth
Yuvan Shankar Raja has evolved as the hottest music director of Kollywood who has the eyes and ears of Generation Next. A large chunk of music listeners (nearly 85 per cent according to audio industry estimates) comprises the under-25 crowd, which listens to music on IPod, FM radio, television, at pubs and parties. This crowd likes new sounds and is ready for something innovative.
A popular countdown show on an FM channel recently featured at Number 3 the song "Taj Mahal... " from `Kalvanin Kadhali', "Poga..Poga... " from `Pattiyal' at Number 2 and at the top position was "Enga Yeriya... " from `Puthupettai.' All three numbers have music by Yuvan Shankar Raja.
Last week was even more memorable for Yuvan as he was adjudged best music director at the Cyprus International Film Festival for his score in `Raam.' Says a beaming Yuvan, "I felt elated and happy as it is an international award. It is a gift from God as the `Raam' album has my mother's favourite song `Aarariraro... ' sung by Jesudas uncle and my personal favourite `Boom Boom... ' the hip-hop number."
When asked how he has become the youth icon of Tamil film music, Yuvan shrugs and says, "When I started out nearly 10 years ago, the music scene was very different. I wanted to do something different from the run-of-the-mill variety. So I evolved a style of my own and preferred to cater to only the youth. My growth has been gradual and not overnight which also helped me to stabilise and believe in my kind of music."
Yuvan (26) made it big only in the last two years and has made rapid strides with films like `Kadhal Kondein,' `7-G Rainbow Colony,' `Manmathan' and `Arindhum Ariyaamalum' among others. He attributes a large part of his success to the new breed of film directors with whom he shares a great rapport. "They are all below 30, and are more like friends and we also think alike. Our wave-lengths are same and I definitely love working with only people my age group who vibe well with me. They understand the importance of music in today's commercial cinema and song placement," says Yuvan.
Directors like Selvaraghavan, Vishnuvardhan and Silamabarasan have been able to get good music from him.
Yuvan says that he has created the hip-hop style in Tamil music.
Hip-hop is a sort of a rap music made up of two components rapping and D jing (audio mixing) initiated by black Americans and Latinos in New York City in 1970s. Today hip-hop style of music is universal and in Tamil, Yuvan says that songs like "Thee Pidikka..," "Namma Kaattile... " and almost all the songs in `Pudhupettai' have become chartbusters.
There has also been criticism that a lot of English lyrics mostly written by Yuvan and his team are being incorporated in his songs. Yuvan defends himself by saying: "I am just trying to be different with different beats, some local lyrics mixed with English that goes down well with the audience. Today lifestyles have changed and people like to try out something new just like they change their mobiles frequently!"
Purists have also been bitter about the new trend of remixes that Yuvan is famous for. Adds Yuvan, "I know that a lot of people including my brother Karthik Raja are against the remix trend. However I think they are popular as there is a blend of modern and nostalgia and this appeals to a wider section of listeners."
Yuvan's favourite instruments are the piano and the guitar, which he uses more for his compositions along with a lot of software options available on the computer and various gizmos. Adds Yuvan, "Today technology helps you a great deal which has its own advantage like producing a number [that is] really fast."
Meanwhile Yuvan is all excited about his new project, an exclusive album with a mix of Tamil and English pop songs. He has already immersed himself in the creation with international artists featuring on it.
The album has been planned for a Summer 2007 release. Concludes the young master: "Music is the most powerful tool of human emotions. It is my greatest passion and connects me with people."