Roja (soundtrack)

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Album roja cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by A. R. Rahman
Released 1992
Recorded Panchathan Record Inn
Chennai, India
Genre Soundtrack
Length 25:33
Label Lahari Music
A. R. Rahman chronology

Roja is the debut soundtrack album of music composer A. R. Rahman, featuring lyrics by Vairamuthu. It is the soundtrack to the 1992 Tamil film of the same name, directed by Mani Ratnam, and starring Aravind Swamy and Madhoo. Released on Lahari Music, it was also listed in Time magazine's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time.[1] It also fetched the National Film Award for Best Music Direction for A. R. Rahman and the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for Vairamuthu.

The Tamil and Hindi versions of the album sold 3 million units in India, with the Tamil version selling 200,000 units[2] and the Hindi version selling 2.8 million units.[3] The Hindi version of the album earned 7.5 crore (equivalent to 41 crore or US$6.1 million in 2017).[4]


Mani Ratnam after his long relationship with Ilaiyaraaja, decided to collaborate with a newcomer. He happened to listen to some ad jingles, composed by Rahman, in an awards function, where Rahman received the award for Best Jingle Composer.[5][6] Impressed with Rahman's works, Ratnam visited his studio and listened to a tune that Rahman had composed long back on the Kaveri River water dispute (later revealed to be "Tamizha Tamizha" from the soundtrack).[7] Ratnam signed him immediately for his next project, Roja, which was the first one in his terrorism trilogy. Rahman, in spite of his reluctance to seriously take up work in films, accepted the offer since Ratnam had the reputation of a director with a good taste for music.[5] Rahman would later say: "I wasn't sure myself why I accepted Roja. I was offered Rs 25,000 for it, a sum that I could make in three days composing ad jingles. I think it was the prospect of working with Mani that enticed me".[5] In an August 2016 interview with Filmfare, Rahman recalled that he chose not to pursue education at Berklee College of Music because he got to work on Roja.[8]


Rahman used instruments and grand arrangements to generate an expansive sound. Songs such as "Rukkumani" had a loud thumping feel and became ingrained in pop culture. The score was performed at the Panchathan Record Inn in Chennai. The song "Thamizha Thamizha" is a poem written by Subramanya Bharathi. "Chinna Chinna Aasai" was the first song Rahman had composed for the film.[9][10] For the lyrics of song, Vairamuthu revealed that the song took two and half hours to write and he wrote 120 desires in the song but later shortened it into 16 and also revealed that he used the lines of a song which was originally composed for Doordarshan.[11][9] The song "Kadhal Rojave" is set in the Kapi raga.[12]

Regarding the music Mani Ratnam says, "I was trying to do a film, I wanted good music and I was searching for somebody who would and I heard a demonstration tape of his which he had sent across. I thought that in the first note of the piece that he had sent me was really brilliant, really outstanding piece. So I went across to his studio and he played me some more, lots of things which he had done for jingles and a few other musical pieces he has done for somebody else. They were quite amazing and I had no doubts that he would be right for my film. How much he would grow, I was not looking at. I was looking at predominately my film at that point of time. He was ready to break a lot of conventions that were there in terms of music at that point of time, in terms of recording at that point in time. So I was very lucky to find someone who was willing to break away and do something different."[13] For the Hindi version of the soundtrack, Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu were offered to sing the songs, but both declined as they did not know about Rahman at that time.[14]

Release history[edit]

The soundtrack album was originally released in Tamil by Lahari Music in 1992. The soundtrack was later released in Malayalam in 1993 and in Hindi and Marathi in 1994 by Magnasound. The instrumental special version featuring five songs was released in Tamil and Telugu by Lahari Music in 1993 and in Hindi by Magnasound in 1994.

Reception and influence[edit]

A. R. Rahman receiving a Platinum sales disc at the MagnaSound Awards for Roja

Rahman introduced orchestral melodies in Indian film soundtracks, which till then was based on a few traditional Indian instruments.[15] Time magazine's noted film critic, Richard Corliss stated in 2005 that the "astonishing debut work parades Rahman's gift for alchemizing outside influences until they are totally Tamil, totally Rahman," naming it one of the magazine's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time.[1][16][17] Recalling the massive success of his first film, Rahman says, "I was lucky to set a sound in the first film. And I had the right people like Mani Ratnam guiding me to achieve it also and by the grace of god it set and the people know from the moment the song is heard that this is Rahman's."

Through Roja several singers got their breakthrough in the Tamil music scene as well. Sujatha Mohan, Unni Menon and Minmini, who is only known as the singer of "Chinna Chinna Aasai", probably her best known song in her entire career,[18] were noticed following their performances in Roja,[19] while noted ghazal singer Hariharan made his Tamil debut through this album.[20] Rahman even had musically untrained elderly women sing.[21]


A. R. Rahman won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, the first time ever by a debutant.[22] Rahman also earned Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director and Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil) for his work.[22] Vairamuthu won the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for "Chinna Chinna Aasai", while Minmini won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for the same song.

Track listing[edit]

Tamil (Original soundtrack)[edit]

All lyrics written by Vairamuthu; all music composed by A.R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Chinna Chinna Aasai" Minmini & A.R. Rahman 4:55
2. "Rukkumani Rukkumani" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K.S. Chithra & Chorus 6:02
3. "Kaadhal Rojave" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & Sujatha Mohan 5:03
4. "Chinna Chinna Aasai (Bit)" Minmini 1:05
5. "Pudhu Vellai Mazhai" Unni Menon & Sujatha Mohan 5:16
6. "Thamizha Thamizha" Hariharan 3:07
7. "Kaadhal Rojave (M)" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam 5:03


All lyrics written by Rajashri; all music composed by A.R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Chinni Chinni Aasa" Minmini & A.R. Rahman 4:57
2. "Nagamanee Nagamanee" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K.S. Chithra & Chorus 6:00
3. "Naa Cheli Rojave" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & Sujatha Mohan 5:04
4. "Paravum Vanagaa" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & Sujatha Mohan 5:18
5. "Vinaraa Vinaraa" Mano & Chorus 3:07
6. "Chinna Chinna Aasa (Bit)" Minmini 1:07


All lyrics written by Mankombu Gopalakrishnan; all music composed by A.R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Oru Mandhasmitham" Unni Menon & Sujatha Mohan 5:18
2. "Chella Chella Asha" K.S. Chithra & A.R. Rahman 4:57
3. "Omal Poonkuyile" Biju Narayanan & K.S. Chithra 5:04
4. "Thankamani Thankamani" Unni Menon, Sujatha Mohan & Chorus 6:02
5. "Bharatham Ente" G. Venugopal & Chorus 3:05
6. "Chella Chella Asha (Bit)" K.S. Chithra 1:07


Initially Melody Queen Alka Yagnik was offered the song "Choti si Asha". But due to date problem Alka Yagnik didnt go to Madras for recording. Hence this song went to Minmini

All lyrics written by P.K. Mishra; all music composed by A.R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Chhoti Si Asha" Minmini & A.R. Rahman 4:58
2. "Rukmani Rukmani" Baba Sehgal, Shweta Shetty & Chorus 6:05
3. "Roja Jaaneman I" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & Sujatha Mohan 5:07
4. "Yeh Haseen Waadiyaan" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & K.S. Chithra 5:21
5. "Roja Jaaneman II" Hariharan & Sujatha Mohan 5:07
6. "Chhoti Si Asha (Bit)" Minmini 1:07
7. "Bharat Hum Ko Jaan Se Pyaara Hain" Hariharan & Chorus 3:05


All lyrics written by Jagadish Khebudkar; all music composed by A.R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Bhole Mana Maajhe" Uttara Kelkar & A.R. Rahman 4:57
2. "Rukmini Rukmini" Sudesh Bhonsle, Shweta Shetty & Chorus 6:02
3. "Roja Priyatam" Suresh Wadkar & Sujatha Mohan 5:04
4. "Dhund Varshav Haa" Anupama Deshpande & Suresh Wadkar 5:18
5. "Bhole Mana Maajhe (Bit)" Uttara Kelkar 1:07
6. "Bharat Maajha Praanavisaava" Ravindra Sathe & Chorus 3:05

Instrumental adaptation[edit]

An instrumental adaptation album was also released. The album was released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.


  1. ^ a b Corliss, Richard (12 February 2005). "Best Soundtracks - ALL TIME 100 MOVIES - TIME". Time. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "A.R. Rahman makes history with record breaking audio cassette sales of his debut film Roja". India Today. 15 January 1994. 
  3. ^ "Music Hits 1990-1999 (Figures in Units)". Box Office India. 2 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "India Today". India Today. Aroon Purie for Living Media India Limited. 19: iv. 1994. 
  5. ^ a b c N. Ravikumar. "Golden Grammy boy". The Tribune. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  6. ^ Mathai 2009, pp. 65–66.
  7. ^ Thiru. "Artist of the Month: AR Rahman". TFM Magazine. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Mathai 2009, p. 71.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The Complete Biography of A.R.Rahman". Gopalhome.tripod. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  14. ^ "Tracking Rahman". The Hindu. 2015-10-17. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-08-08. 
  15. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor (2 April 2010). "A new level of recognition, legitimacy: Rahman". Chennai, India: The Hinduaccessdate=2010-4-10. 
  16. ^ Corliss, Richard (2 June 2005). "That Old Feeling - Secrets of the All-Time 100 - TIME". Time. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  17. ^ ""All-TIME" 100 Movies". Time. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  18. ^ "It happened one day..." The Hindu. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  19. ^ "We get our due in stage shows". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  20. ^ "Life at 50". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 April 2005. 
  21. ^ Jai Ho Rahman (Interview). CNN IBN. 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "A.R.Rahman's Profile". SS Music. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]