“It was not pressure, it was pleasure,” says Arunraja Kamaraj, who is Rajinikanth’s voice in his latest movie Kabali. The song, Neruppu Da, picturised on Rajinikanth and rocking the charts since its soft launch last week, has been written and sung by Kamaraj.
Used to working with veteran directors like KS Ravikumar, Shankar and P Vasu, Kabali like Neruppu Da, which means fire, is going to be a trial by fire for Rajinikanth who has stepped out of his comfort zone, teaming up with Pa Ranjith, one among the young crop of directors in Kollywood.
Kabali, which releases in July, marks a departure from past for Rajnikanth in more ways than one. Santhosh Narayanan has scored the music instead of time-tested AR Rahman. And SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB), who has sung the title-tracks for many Rajni films, makes way for Kamaraj.
The only blast from the legendary actor’s past is the producer S Thanu, who has a long history with Rajni. It was Thanu who christened Rajinikanth the ‘Superstar’ in 1978, when he was the distributor for the actor’s solo debut film Bairavi.
Thanu believes that the music complements Kabali’s storyline. “The seed that was sown when Rajini sir and I heard the story from Ranjith has grown into a huge tree today,” says Thanu.
Rajini’s fans have lapped up the music and the track is trending on social media. Thirumal, a student in Chennai, says, “Yes, SPB not singing a song takes away the grandeur that you associate with a Rahman score for Rajinikanth but there are many firsts. If you hear the Rajini intro song Ulagam Oruvanukka sung by Santhosh, Ananthu and Gana Bala, it is a rap number -- alternating between Tamil, English and even Spanish. That kind of thing has not been done for Thalaivar before.”
But it is Neruppu Da that was heard first in the teaser and has clocked more than a million views, so far. Kamaraj, who was two years junior to music director Santhosh Narayanan at the JJ College of Engineering in Trichy, has been part of hit movies such as Theri, Jigarthanda and Demonte Colony. But, with Kabali, he has hit the jackpot.
It was two months ago that Santhosh asked Kamaraj to write Neruppu Da. “I was excited the moment he told me it was for Kabali. I wrote it in 20 minutes and then it was sent for approval to director Pa Ranjith,” says the 31-year-old music writer and singer.
The following week was tense, as Ranjith was reportedly not sure of Kamaraj’s ability to pull off writing and singing a Rajini number. But when the song finally came back to Santhosh, without any changes, the duo was ecstatic. “Being Rajini’s voice is the best gift I could have ever received,” says Kamaraj.
What makes the gangster song Neruppu Da even more special is Thalaivar delivering lines as the song goes on. And the line, Na vandutenu solu! Thirumba Vandutennu sollu (I have returned), is just what the fans ordered.