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Vannam Vanam - Leon James

This evening, we played songs the composer Leon James has created. Both Vaish and I handpicked some of our favorite songs of his, so we’re hoping you’ll enjoy them too!

Leon James has a pretty limited discography as a composer with just 13 films that he worked on. However, his journey in the music industry started pretty early on, being part of a school band Zinx with Anirudh Ravichandar, and working as a keyboardist for stage shows and film albums composed by Santhosh Narayanan, Anirudh Ravichander, and Thaman. Currently, he’s part of a neo-Carnatic funk band called Project Yuj. 

இன்று நம்ப லியோன் ஜேம்ஸ் இசையமைத்த பாடல்களைக் கேட்டோம். லியோன் ஜேம்ஸ் இதுவரை 13 படங்களுக்கு மட்டுமே இசையமைத்திருந்தாலும், அனிருத் ரவிச்சந்தருடன் ஜிங்க்ஸ் என்ற பள்ளி இசைக்குழுவின் ஒரு பகுதியாக இருந்ததால், அவரது இசை பயணம் சிறுவயதிலிருந்தே தொடங்கியது.

Here's what we played today:

Dappaava Kizhichaan - LKG (2019), a political satire film [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Shruti Haasan (legend actor Kamal Haasan’s daughter)
  • Lyricist: Pa. Vijay

Our first Tamil song for today is Dappaava Kizhichaan from the 2019 political satire film LKG, starring RJ Balaji and Priya Anand in the lead roles. Every single song from this movie is so good, so it was really hard just to choose one. But both Vaish and I love this song, so I just had to include it. And for obvious reasons, because I am such a fan of Shruti Haasan’s vocals, and it’s just a fun lil funky song. 

What’s funny about this song is that the title “Dappaava Kizhichaan” literally translates to “He Ripped the Box”. But the context in which the singer is using the phrase is to refer to how the main character is so lame and uncool, un-maacho like, that he got his own box torn apart, shredded into pieces. It’s embarrassing but “Oh well”, whatcha gon do about it. You might as well relax and dance haha

Gundellona - Ori Devuda [Telugu]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Anirudh Ravichander
  • Lyricist: Kasarla Shyam

The film Ori Devuda was a remake of the 2020 Tamil film Oh My Kadavule, and it starred Vishwak Sen and Venkatesh. Gundellona is a great song, and it even went very viral.

Soru Dhaan Mukkiyam - Single Shankarum Smartphone Simranum (2023), a science fiction comedy film [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Anthony Daasan (known for his powerful voice in popular unserious, lighthearted Tamil-folk fusion songs)
  • Lyricist: Ko Sesha

Our next Tamil song is Soru Dhaan Mukkiyam from the more recent 2023 science fiction comedy film Single Shankarum Smartphone Simranum, starring Shiva, Megha Akash, and Anju Kurian in the lead roles.

The title of the song, “Soru Dhaan Mukkiyam” translates to “Rice is Most Important”, so you already have an idea of how serious this next song is going to be. The first two Tamil songs I’ve picked for today have both been more lighthearted and fun, and I say it takes skill, which Leon James definitely has, to consistently produce unserious songs that are both fun and have a level of meaning to them. So this song is just as relatable as the first, at least to me, and I’m sure most other people would agree: “Rice is life. Life is rice”.

Yevarini Yevaritho - Das Ka Dhamki [Telugu]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Haricharan
  • Lyricist: Purnachary

Das Ka Dhamki notably stars Vishwak Sen Kottha. Yevarini Yevaritho is quite nice to listen to, and I only discovered this song after researching for this show, so this can be a new listening experience for all of us really.

Seema Kaariye - Saba Nayagan (2023), a coming-of-age romantic comedy film [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Sanjith Hegde
  • Lyricist: Karthik Netha (நேத்தா)

Our next Tamil song is Seemakaariye which is also from a more recent film: the 2023 coming-of-age romantic comedy film Saba Nayagan, starring Ashok Selvan, Megha Akash (who was in the previous movie as well), Karthika Muralidharan, and Chandini Chowdary in the lead roles.

Very contrasting from the previous two Tamil songs I played, this 3rd song is very pretty and romantic with some beautiful instrumentals in the background. This just goes on to show how versatile Leon James’s works are, and how his discography, albeit short in terms of the number of works and years in the film industry, is very impressive and diverse.

O no never - Next Enti (2018) [Telugu]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singers: Ash King, M. M. Manasi
  • Lyricist: Ramajogayya Sastry

The movie Next Enti notably stars Tamannah and also Sundeep Kishan and Navadeep, and it's based on the movie When Harry Met Sally. This was actually Leon James’ debut Telugu film.

The song "O No Never!" honestly has some goofy lyrics. The lyricist was trying very hard to make it sound young and hip and cool, but to be honest that got lost in the way somewhere. But the music is catchy and nice, and it’s been stuck in my head all day so it balances out I guess.

Unna Vida Maaten - non-film (2020) [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singers: Andrea Jeremiah and Leon James
  • Lyricist: Leon James

Our next Tamil song is Unna Vida Maaten and this is actually a non-film song, which I believe is the first we’ve introduced in our show ever. Leon James both composed the song and sang the guest vocals, while Andrea Jeremiah sang and performed.

The song title “Unna Vida Maaten” translates to “I will not leave you”, and is about a powerful love, where the singer promises to love and stay with her lover always no matter what happens, no matter how much he antagonizes and irritates her, because she can’t live without him, which I don’t really know if is a good thing, but it’s definitely an impressive and powerful love, so maybe it could inspire y’all too!

Kanapadava - Paagal [Telugu]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Anand Aravindakshan
  • Lyricist: Bezawada Prasanna Kumar

The movie Kanapadava also stars Vishwak Sen. Paagal's a very short song, and the only song composed by Leon James in this movie. It's also the only sad song we've introduced in today's show, but the violin is absolutely spectacular, so it's definitely a must-listen.

Kadhal Kozhappudhey - Oh My Kadavule (2020), a romantic fantasy film [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singers: Leon James, Sanjeev T
  • Lyricist: Ko Sesha

The next Tamil song for today is Kadhal Kozhappudhey from the 2020 romantic fantasy film Oh My Kadavule, starring Ashok Selvan (who was in a prior movie as well), Ritika Singh and Vani Bhojan in the lead roles. Vijay Sethupathi also made a cameo appearance.

The song name "Kadhal Kozhappudhey" directly translates to “Love is confusing me”. Despite the title, it’s actually a very upbeat, funky song.

Avunanava - Ori Devuda [Telugu]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singer: Sid Sriram
  • Lyricist: Ramajogayya Sastry

Avunanava is another song from the film Ori Devuda, which was a remake of the 2020 Tamil film Oh My Kadavule, which we just played a song from.

Marappadhilai Nenje - Oh My Kadavule (2020), a romantic fantasy film [Tamil]

  • Composer: Leon James
  • Singers: Leon James, Sudharshan Ashok
  • Lyricist: Ko Sesha

Our next Tamil song is Marappadhilai Nenje and is also from the 2020 romantic fantasy film Oh My Kadavule like the last 2 previous songs we played.

Oh, and I don’t think we ever mentioned but Oh My Kadavule is just "Oh My God" in English and just like the title of the movie, while watching the movie you’ll think the same to yourself, so while we don’t recommend the film, we definitely recommend the soundtrack to the film.