1997 – I arrived in India from the middle east. I underwent a huge change of attitudes and preferences. I was stepping into my adoloscence. And I needed new notes and new music. ARR too stepped up – my final school years were filled with the songs of Jeans, Dil Se, Mudhalvan, Sangamam and Taal. "Theendai…." and "Sill allava…." fed my ever increasing youthful thirst. Then came the completely different "Oh Mariya…." and "Roja Roja….". "Varaaga nadhi karai oram…." and "Chayya chayya…." were cult classics. "Uppu karuvaadu…." and "Azhagaana Rakshasiye…." were the stuff of culturals. "Chotta Chotta Neneyudhu Taj Mahal…." found a place in my heart too. Vande Mataram was released in 1999 and it was from our school – The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Indira Nagar, that he chose Chinmayee and Madhumitha to sing in it. They performed it at the countdown to the millenium year 2000.
2000 – I entered the peak of my youth – my college life aka kalloori vaazhkai. Again there was a sea change in outlook. As though in celebration, he dished out Alaipayuthey and Kandukonden Kandukonden. "Pachay Nirame…." and "Sandha thendrale…." started my college years followed by "Athini Sithini…." and "Nadhiye Nadhiye….". As we moved on to our specialities in college, ARR moved on to more soul filling music. The internet was taking over and we were modifying our thoughts to suit a global audience. ARR produced Kannathil Muthamittal and Lagaan. Chinamayee arrived with the soul filling "Nenjil dil dil….". I told anyone who would listen that she was my school junior. With Lagaan being nominated to the oscars, ARR went international. "Minsara Kanna…." of Padayappa raised goose pimples on my hand. To the youth of the early 2000s he gave the album Boys. "Girlfriends…." was a youth anthem. Karthik arrived with "Sakthi Kodu…." and hasn’t looked back ever since. E20U18 was again youthful and Udaya came up as well.
2004 – the final years of college were filled with the zesty "Fanaa…." and "Yaakai Thiri….". ARR participated in the Remix scene with "Thotaal poo malarum…." and produced the evergreen "Ye jo des hai…." with Ustad Bismilla Khan. By now, he had also started singing regularly in his albums and I would wait for that tinny voice and his everlasting feel.
I graduated from college with distinction. I was no longer a teenager, I was an adult – supposedly more mature and responsible. Between the transition from adolescence to adulthood, I managed to retain that love for ARR music. Also, I happened to acquire a sense of appareciation and ability to distinguish what was churned out from Kodambakkam. I started working for Infosys. My music tastes had changed. The ipod arrived and mp3s had replaced the cassettes. Guru happened. "Jaage Hain…." was something I would listen to everyday and feel good. "Mayilirage….", "New York nagaram….", "Paatshaala…." and other tracks of Rang De Basanti came just around the same time frame. The silky voice of Naresh Iyer ran through us.
India was changing. The era of ringtones and hellotunes had come. All of a sudden, it was called the digital era. ARR composed the jingle for Airtel – back to basics. He produced "Sahana…." and the more digitized "Style…." from Sivaji. I was increasingly becoming more professional and my ideas more and more refined. "Ella Pughazhum oruvan oruvanukke…." reflected my ideas of God. ARR came up with "Khwajaa Jee….", "Man Mohana…." and "Taxi taxi….". I went abroad to UK in 2008 and that year the music of Slumdog Millionaire won laurels. ARR won 2 oscars and was humility personified on the academy stage. Jai Ho! When someone you like and someone who deserves gets a huge award, the heart does a dance of joy.
When I came back from London, the superb tracks of Delhi 6 welcomed me. "Masakkali…." occupied everyone’s mind. I came to the US in 2010 January and the release of VTV happened the following month. The music was different and nice at the same time. "Hosana…." and "Mannipaayaa…." filled my normal workday. Now, it is "Kaatu Chirukki…." and "Keda Keda…." from Raavanan that grace my ipod speakers.
To me as I believe it would have been for ARR also, it has been a journey of growth, maturity, a struggle for recognition and acceptance. It has brought with it a sense of expectation and a desire to scale higher peaks. ARR is ready to release Endhiran, I am gearing up to embrace the next stage of my life, trying to find the right life partner. As we surge ahead, I am only hoping that the travel forward will be just as eventful and more joyful.