appreciation for his vocal skills has always been
a bit forgotten because of his other magnificent deeds.
So, after he has turned 57, we look at the best that
Kamal Haasan has delivered as singer. Take a look.
And, there is still the lyricist in him that has gone
underappreciated. Perhaps that is for another day!
Sigappu Rojakkal – Ninaivo Oru Paravai (1978)
This song is still consistently played out on music
channels that is more than 30 years after it released.
That is not a great feat; there are many other songs
from the 1970s and 80s that are still favourites with
people. But, the longevity of this song’s popularity
is proof of the fact that songs sung by Kamal Haasan
don’t become hits just because of the curiosity
factor of an actor singing them; they have genuine
quality to resonate over decades as evergreen melodies.
Nayakan – Thenpaandi Cheemayile (1987)
One of the most emotionally heavy songs in the history
of Tamil cinema; also one of the best remembered and
most recalled songs ever! Can you count the number
of times this song or recreated versions of it have
been used in various points in other films? That sums
up the sheer impact of this song which underlines
the unequalled genius of two wizards, Ilayaraja and
Kamal Haasan. Anyone who has heard this song cannot
miss the magnetic quality of Kamal’s voice.
It is almost like an emotional vortex which will suck
you in. No wonder then that it is an indelible mark
on the mind of anyone who follows Tamil cinema.
Apoorva Sahodarargal – Raja Kaiya Vacha
Well, for all those who thought that Kamal Haasan
was all about melody and emotions, here is this, a
dance number that has lived for two decades. Even
now, try turning on this song at a party or event
and you are sure to get an enthusiastic response.
Kamal’s voice leaves the terrain of the sweet
and melodious and enters the infectious mode. You
really can’t help tapping you feet to this one.
Michael Madana Kama Rajan – Sundari
Two decades after it first sounded in cinema halls,
this song still remains one of the choicest romantic
numbers; it is safe to call it an evergreen romantic
melody. It is a song that highlighted two facets;
that Kamal Haasan’s voice can be infinitely
sweet and his versatility with languages. The song
has a heavy Malayalam flavour to it and Kamal gets
the perfect dialect. And, also remember the fact that
singing along with him in this song was none other
than S. Janaki. But, listening to it, you never felt
that a non-professional singer was trying to match
up to a singing legend. Those were the days of fairly
lesser technological aids in recording. That Kamal
managed to hold his own alongside Janaki is proof
of the fact that music comes naturally to him.
Devar Magan – Inji Iduppazhagi (1992)
This is one of the most distinctive romantic songs
ever in Tamil cinema. Again, the genius of Ilayaraja
comes to the fore as he builds a song that relies
on nothing but the voices of two singers and a couple
of instruments at the most. Only an accomplished singer
can carry off such a composition with such élan
that Kamal Haasan did. The rustic feel and simplicity
of this song is simply amazing.
Avvai Shanmugi – Rukku Rukku (1996)
This one is an example of Kamal’s wizardry with
his voice, singing like a woman past middle age. That
Kamal gave his voice to Shanmugi is known to all,
but we are so used to such feats of genius from this
man that we sometimes fail to appreciate certain things
which would have elicited huge gasps of wonder had
they come from someone else. The best thing about
this song is that Kamal has struck the right balance!
Producing a middle aged woman’s voice can be
reduced to a funny, almost farcical exercise, if it
is not done by someone who has amazing control over
his voice. Listen to the song once again to relive
Hey Ram – Ram Ram (2000)
You have to listen to this song exclusively for the
opening rendition of the lines ‘Raghupathi Raghava
Raja Ram’. These lines have been used umpteen
number of times in various media, but they have all
been mellow and calm renditions. Here, Kamal gives
it a new dimension, bringing the turbulence of the
protagonist’s mind into the equation. The high
pitch that he hits has to be heard to be believed.
Of course, the rest of the song too is as powerful.
And, you also hear the voice of Shruthi Haasan!
Aala Vandhaan – Kadavul Padhi (2001)
This song has Kamal’s voice at its menacing
best! If ever there was a song that summed up all
the qualities and anxieties of a lead antagonist,
it is this one. This one song in Kamal’s voice
is aural portrait of Nandhakumar. The genius is evident
in the way he stresses on the syllables that underline
the character being described. The other song which
comes to mind that effectively portrays an antagonist’s
character is Arima Arima from Endhiran.
Anbe Sivam – Yaar Yaar Sivam (2003)
You cannot help but be influenced by this song. The
depth, both in the meaning of the lines and in Kamal’s
voice, will grip you tight. You wonder whether a ‘part
time’ singer, who picks and chooses the songs
that he wants to sing, can so effortlessly handle
such high pitched compositions. And, with Kamal, there
is something special; his voice always draws attention
to the lyrics. Think for yourself and you will find
that the lyrics of songs rendered by Kamal are much
easier to recall than any other singers’. Is
it a mystical quality of Kamal Haasan or is it that
he chooses only those songs whose lyrics deserve that
Virumaandi – Unna Vida (2004)
This one kind of reminds one of Inji Idduppazhagi
from Devar Magan. The feel is the same, rustic and
simple, the tune is not complicated or fast, neither
does it have too many ups and downs. It is almost
like a conversation between two lovers. The clinching
aspect of this one is certainly the feel that is achieved
by the two singers. It is slow, lazy, relaxed and
romantic at the same time.
Vasool Raja – Kalakka Povadhu Yaaru
This is one song that Kamal fans can never forget,
an absolute celebration of everything that makes him
the phenomenon that he is. The lyrics are a perfect
reflection of everything that Kamal embodies; the
way he swims against the tide, the way he avoids tried
and tested methods of success. And the rendition by
Kamal was the icing on the cake. An open and gregarious
voice taking all the listeners on a thoroughly enjoyable
ride! This definitely ranks right up there as one
of the favourites amongst Kamal Haasan’s renditions.
Pudhupettai – Neruppu Vaayinil (2006)
This is remembered because of its rare nature, Kamal
Haasan singing in a film that does not feature himself.
That itself proves that the industry considers him
good enough to be a singer in his own right. This
song is perhaps one of the strongest renditions by
Kamal, bringing out the fears and concerns of a thug’s
mind in a way that does not betray his fear. Many
are unfamiliar with this song and the fact that Kamal
has sung it, but it definitely is a must for all those
who love to listen to Kamal sing.
Dasavatharam – Mukunda Mukunda (2008)
Yes, this song does belong to Sadhana Sargam, but
Kamal stole the thunder with an unbelievable two lines
right at the end, lending his voice to Krishnaveni
Paatti. The hoarse cracking voice of a woman who had
seen at least 80 years was brought about by Kamal
with a degree of perfection that would have put professional
mimicry artistes to shame. The excellence lies in
the fact that it never felt like mimicry. One never
believed that the voice belonged to Kamal Haasan until
seeing it in the official credits. And, of course,
he dubbed for the character of Krishnaveni Paatti
in the movie. In times when it is hard to find heroines
who dub for themselves, Kamal Haasan underlines his
greatness with such small statements.
Unnaipol Oruvan – Allah Jaane (2009)
You must listen to the opening moments of this song
to understand the versatility of Kamal Haasan, the
singer. There are very few playback singers in India
who can render the ‘Allah’ chant with
so much authenticity. We have heard Rahman do it with
utmost devotion and perfection in songs like ‘Khwaja
ji’ and ‘Maula mere maula’. Here
Kamal delivers something that would have troubled
even very experienced singers.
Manmadhan Ambu – Neela Vaanam (2010)
The song puts you in a thrall! There are very few
voices which can be strong, soft and sweet at the
same time, you realize that Kamal’s voice belongs
in that rarefied category after listening to this
one. The amazing ability of Kamal Haasan to emote
through his vocal chords is seen at its best here.
Anyone unfamiliar with Tamil cinema will not believe
that this song has been sung by a person who doesn’t
like to call himself a professional singer. The song
in fact had such an effect that it prompted a popular
awards ceremony to include a special awards category:
‘Best Actor as Singer’, simply because
the perfection with which this song had been rendered
could not be overlooked.