The highly anticipated soundtrack of Azhagiya Thamizhmagan (ATM) was released today. Any Vijay movie raises expectations, but this is a double whammy because it is AR Rahman who is the music director. Of course, Shriya and Namitha are also around, so that's another double whammy. Here are my reactions after a couple of rounds of listening to the songs. 1. Ellaa pugazhum (AR Rahman): This should be the movie's title song. It had me laughing all along when I first listened to it. Let me confess I found this absolutely funny. Honestly I/we would classify this song as "setu-veettu kalyanam" types. It has none of the elements of an intro song that will set the audience's pulses racing. Uninspiring at best. It made me wonder, "Hey, where is Shankar Mahadevan?" He would have added pep to even a mediocre song. Even Naveen had done a super job with "Pokkiri Pongal". This is probably one of the worst intro songs Vijay has had in recent years. 2. Ponmagal Vandhaal (Aslam, Ember Rap): The problem with remixes is that there are only two types - the very good ones, and the utterly poor ones. Sorry, this belongs to the latter variety. Skip. Alright, enough of the negatives. The better ones are coming... 3. Nee Marilyn Monroe (Ujjaini, Benny Dayal): Now that you've endured almost 9 disappointing minutes, the best, most stylish song of the album jumps right out. The female humming that appears at the beginning and again between the two charanams is excellent - now that's something Rahman-wannabes can only dream of. The song has a good rhythm to it, that makes foot-tapping irresistible. Both singers, especially Benny, have done a fantastic job. Repeat. 4. Valayapatti thavilE (Naresh Iyer, Madhumitha, Ujjaini): Oh, did I jump myself when I said the previous was the best! Okay, maybe that was the best, but this is quite good. Naresh Iyer looks like a fabulous choice for the male lead. The song is based on folk beats, but as it progresses, it transforms into a fusion of various styles, which is refreshing. The lyrics are such that the lyricist is just a couple of steps away from "algorithmic lyric writing". Still, an enjoyable song. Repeat. 5. Kelaamal kaiyile (Sriram Parthasarathy, Saindhavi): This one is for the melody rasigars. Rahman fans would scoff when I suggest that the song has a Harris Jayaraj feel to it - the way a melodious song has a constant beat in the background. An instant favourite. I liked the lines "koondhal ennum ENi Eri muththam ida aasai undu... netri mookku udhadu endru, irangi vara padigalum undu". Again, good choice of singers does the trick. If you want to sample just one song from this album, this is the one. 6. Maduraikku Pogathadee (Benny Dayal, Archith, Dharshana): So where was the all-out folk number? Here it is. And to begin with, it sounds like "en kitte modhaadhe, naan raajadhi raajan adaa!" But it shifts soon enough. Benny Dayal impresses again. The song would probably grow on listeners after a few iterations. Overall, Azhagiya Tamilmagan's soundtrack is impressive. It is better than Pokkiri, which should please Vijay's fans. And I would rate it a few hundred times better than Sivaji. If you forgive the opening song (how many Vijay fans will?) and the remix of "Ponmagal Vandhaal", AR Rahman has come out trumps. And to those who suggest that ARR's recent efforts confirm the unfortunate yet unmistakeable trend that he is going down, ATM's soundtrack should push back your pronouncements by some time. You can listen to the songs online at Hummaa.com Update: Just noticed that Madhushree hasn't been given even one song. That's great news. Else this album should have been named "Aluhiya Thamill Mahan".