‘Madras Cafe’ opens with Papon’s ‘Sun Le Re,’ a wistful invocation to composer Shantanu Moitra’s laid back, moody grooves. The reprise has a quicker tempo, guitar plugged in, more zing. Papon has a full throat, ‘trimmed with a coating of raw’ voice that lends beautifully to the sound.
Zeb, of Haniya, from Pakistan sings ‘Ajnabee’ in an idyllic sound scape. The haunting, absolutely devastating use of clarinet and accordion to fashion the simplest set of tunes heard all of this year, this has got to be the most melancholic sound in the world. Sigh, this ajnabee is the cupid’s arrow.
The layering of violins in a Carnatic style on ‘Khud Se’ again sung by Papon, over a pianissimo is dreamy. A rising flourish towards the end is the kind that spells anthem as anathema but the song does a volte-face when it reaches tipping point, settling for a quiet, mellow base finish.
Of the four instrumental pieces, the ‘Title Theme’ is poignant. ‘Entry To Jaffna’ has a slippery serpentine grace. ‘Conspiracy’ and ‘Madras Cafe Theme’ intrigue. After the terribly amiss soundtrack of ‘Inkaar’ earlier this year, this is the Shantanu Moitra we want to hear. On repeat mode.