Thursday, 25 December 2008

A Thought Runs in My Mind..forever!

The husband takes his wife out. There is nothing new in this. But if the husband takes her out cunningly with the idea of pushing her down the hill??


Well, we could say one of the many weird imaginations of Tamizh cinema...

And they go atop the Hill singing a duet.
At the end of the song, there is a twist..

This sequence appeared in the 1949 movie ‘Mandiri Kumari’.

The song ‘Vaarai Nee Vaarai’ rendered by the inimitable Trichy Loganathan and Jikki became an instant hit.

This song based on Raag Bhimplaas was composed by the great G Ramanathan.

An almost similar sequence appeared in a 1981 tamizh film ‘Vidiyum Varai Kaathiru’.

With K. Bhagyaraj and Sathyakala in the lead, the song is yet another gem from the Maestro.

The first thing that strikes us is the tune itself.

The Master chose to use Kalyani ragam for the song.

Strange? Weird?

But I find it to be amazing…

Just goes to show how things can look different in the hands of the magician.

The next thing is the orchestration (of course!).

The prelude is just one note from guitar.

The Flute and the strings in the pallavi in the gap between the male and female voices carry lot of meanings. The Flute represents the innocent loyal wife while the strings represent the cunning criminal husband.

Throughout the composition one can see the juxtaposition of contrasting elements.

Take the first interlude where the flute plays a big role.One almost hears a plaintive cry when the notes are repeated and before we realise that the violin orchestra starts in western style(with Indian flavour!).

The second interlude is another beauty and we can easily visualize the husband’s futile attempts to murder his wife with her wife being totally oblivious to it.
The Bass Guitar says it all…

Added attraction - Malaysia Vasudevan and Janaki.

Further attraction-The Lyrics(Vaali) that depict the character of the two.

Yes, there is always a thought running in my mind.

I wish to keep listening to music-Maestro’s music in particular-forever...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Musical Snowfall..

It is indeed amazing to note how Raaja creates a particular mood, and transports us to another place with just a simple combination of notes..

Not just the notes but also the pattern..

Not just the notes, the pattern but also the instruments..

Not just the notes, pattern, instruments but also the construction of the pallavi and the chranams..

Examples galore and I can quote N number of songs.

The song I am taking up today takes us all to the snow capped mountains.
We see the snowfall.

We feel the snowfall.

We get drenched in the snowfall, a musical snowfall.

It is ‘Pani Mazhai Vizhum’ from ‘Enakkaga Kaaththiru’(1980).

Raaja has always been fascinated with the Mohana Ragam.So fascinated that he also takes lot of liberties with the Raga. When he mixes the alien notes(mianly the 'dha' making it sound like Vaasanti), it only adds to the beauty.

‘Pani Mazhai Vizhum’ starts with a beautiful tribal instrument. We see the sherpas moving with glee but with military precision.

The interludes are illuminated by brilliant flashes- at times rollicking, at times reposeful. The Shehanai and the Flute are sedate while a different instrument and the Bass Guitar move quickly like a stream on the mountain. The stream becomes a water fall .A Musical Water Fall..

The Question and Answer session between the Shehanai and the Flute is an aural treat.

The Pallavi is designed cohesively while the Charanam moves decorously.

The instruments echo the voice in the first two lines in the charanam while the following two lines throb vibrantly.

The voices of Deepan Chakravarthy and Shailaja are intoxicating..

The Snow Capped Mountain is dizzyingly beautiful…like his Music!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Music and Poetry-Spark or Fire?

Once I had written that poets and music have a lot of things in common.
When we read a great poetic work, we say it is musical.
When we listen to great music, we say it is poetically beautiful.

Are all musicians poets?
Or are all poets musicians?

Not really!

There are exceptions though..

It is a well-known fact that the gentleman who is the raison d’etre of this community is not only a great musician but a good poet as well.

But not many know that one of the greatest poets in tamizh-whose 126th birthday is being celebrated today-was a good musician too.

Yes..I am referring to Subramaniya Bharathiyar!

Subbiah alias Subramanian was born in a place called Ettayapuram in Titunelveli district.

He learnt music at a very young age and was invited to the court of the King of Ettayapuram when he was just around 11.

Scholars ‘tested’ him in the courtand he was able to compose poems and music spontaneously.

Amazed at the talent of the young boy, the court conferred him the title ‘Bharati’(meaning Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge).
This name would remain forever and we all now know only Bharati and not Subramanian or Subbiah!

The turning point in his life was his meeting with Sister Nivedita-spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekananda- at VaraNaasi in the year 1905.

The meeting transformed him as a person.

Bharati was a multi dimensional person and a poet.

He sang on Nationalism, Tamizh language, Philosophy, Bhakti, Emancipation of women..

He took lot of liberty with Kannan and ‘made’ him his servant,master,disciple,teacher,lover(in masculine form as feminine form-the feminine form of Kannan being Kannamma).

He also authored three major texts in poetic form-Kuyil Paattu, Paanchaali Sabatham, and Suya Sarithai(autobiography).

In 'Paanchaali Sabatham', he symbolised Paanchali(draupathi) as Bharat Mata herself and her vow was to extricate herself from the clutches of British Raj(Dharmaththin Vaazvuthanai Soodhu Kavvum, Dharmam maRupadi Vellum)!

Of course, there are lot of similarities between Bharatiyar and Raaja sir and I had also compared the two in some of the posts in the ‘Ragaranjani' blog.

Let us now move on to today’s Rare Gem.

Talking about Bharati’s philosophical works, there is one poem of his that is often quoted by many.

What makes this poem unique and beautiful?

It is short, sounds very simple, follows a rhythmic pattern and most importantly conveys a lot of meanings.

He also coined a new word-Aggini Kunju(very difficult to translate this into English.Maybe one could say ‘fiery fledgling’).

He says,’I found a fiery fledgling and placed it in a forest hollow. The Forest was burnt (and cooled down).Is age a factor in valour or fieriness?’
(a very loose translation as it is very difficult to depict the feel of this poem in any other language).

It can be interpreted in many ways.

Positive- A small spark will destroy all bad, unwanted thoughts.Discover that spark!
Negative-Any misdeed(small or big) can destroy us!
There is also a school of thought that says that he meant Abhimanyu,the son of Arjuna since he says ‘is age a factor in valour or fieriness?’

I welcome members of this community to give their own interpretations.

This poem is also one of my most favourite Bharati’s poems.

While reciting this poem, I had often wondered as to how it would sound if it was set to music.

I had also thought that it would spoil the essence of the poem.

This was until the year 2000.

When I listened to the song from the tamizh movie Bharati, I was stunned.
A very simple tune, a very soft voice, a very great composer..

Poetically Musical..Musically Poetic..

Two great legends..Two Geniuses..

Spark in their thoughts, Spark in their action, Spark in their eyes..

And that is Agginikkunju!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Lullaby of the Breeze!

Tamizh Cinema Music has seen very different male voices.

Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Chinnappa,Dandapani Desigar,Gantasala,Trichy Loganathan,T M Soundararajan, Seergazhi Govindarajan,S P Balasubramaniam,Yesudass,Jeyachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan....It is a huge list.

One of the most unique voices was that of Chidambaram S.Jayaraman's. Not only was the voice very deep and resonant but also that it was melodious.It also has the rare distinction of Sivaji Ganesan's 'First Voice' in films.

A little known fact is that C.S.Jayaraman was a very close relative of the present Chief Minister of Tamizh Nadu.

Now let us look at a very contrasting voice. This voice was not 'pure' in the classical sense and had its own weaknesses. But the best part was that the singer knew his strengths and his weaknesses and added beauty to the compositions of Raja right from the beginning until the mid '80s.

An interesting fact is that his voice was found suitable for Sivaji later on and he lent his voice for some of the super hits in the Sivaji-Raja combination.

'Muthal Mariyathai' is a classic example.

Yes..I am referring to Malaysia Vasudevan.

Now why am I comparing the two?

It is because Malaysia Vasu has rendered a wonderful song imitating C S Jayaraman.

This song is one of my personal favourites.

It is 'Aananda Thaen Kaatru Thaalaatuthe..' from 'Manipur Maamiyaar'(1980).

‘Manipur Maamiyaar?’ Yes..Don’t know if it had to do anything with the N.E. issues now because this film was never released.

In fact the comedy song ‘Samayal Paadame’(the original of ‘Enna Samayalo’) is also from the same movie.

‘Aananda Thaen Kaatru’ is based on Hindolam and starts with a lovely humming of Shailaja. The Violin Orchestra takes over and the Flute bits at the end are enchanting.

Guitar, Flute and the Violins are in full form in the first interlude but my most favourite bit here is the end(is it piano?)..

The variations of Tisram beats sound wonderful in the Charanams.

Listen to the Bass notes in the second interlude and the modulation towards the end where the Raga changes.

Truly Amazing!

Yes, it is the lullaby of the Breeze!!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Hindi in Tamizh!

Tamizh novelist Sivasankari can be called as the Arthur Hailey of Tamizh Nadu.
Before writing on any topic, she would spend months studying the subject.

She covered a wide range of topics which included alcoholism and drug addiction .,

While the former was filmed, the latter came out as a weekly serial(not a mega)on Doordarshan in late '80s.

In mid '70s she wrote a novel on cancer- aptly named as 'Nandu'.How this dreadful disease affects a peaceful family was the theme of the story.

A South Indian girl from a conservative family falls in love with a North Indian and they get married after the usual protests from both the families.

The couple manage to fight this cancer but not the one that attacked them.
First it is the husband who falls the victim.

Then it is the turn of the wife who fights it out bravely.. A gripping story indeed!

This story was adapted by the 'Uthirippookal' fame Mahendran.
One had great expectations..But can Tamizh cinema ever change?

The Ladies' sentiment played a big role and the movie ended with the death of the husband and the wife kicking herself and shedding tears (so much that the teardrops fromed a riverr.In fact the tears were also 'brilliantly' used to wipe her 'Sindoor' off.Wow! Ladies' sentiment at its best!).

Whatever be the quality of the movie, it gave us some excellent music.Two pure Hindi songs and two Tamizh songs.

We shall see the Hindi Songs today.

In fact, two songs were recorded by Raja but Mahendran was not too happy with the songs.

It was fresh composing again.

The linguist who also has a very sweet voice Shri.P B Shrinivas wrote the songs.

The duet was sung by the ghazal singer Bhoopender- himself a fan of Raja- and Janaki.

'Kaise Kahoon' is a wonderful melody with lovely beats.One cannot miss the meloncholy touch in this duet.

'Hum hai akhele' is a Qawali type song rendered by Janaki.Takes us to the old hindi songs era.

Listen to these and enjoy:

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Beautiful Sketch-Young,Melodious and Novel!

Experiment is a very interesting word.

Yes, I have been a science student and have had lab sessions in my school and college. What I achieved there is a question only my old teachers and Professors can answer..

But I am not talking about Experiment in that context. Coming to thing of it, this is a word used ad nauseam by many without really understanding the true import. Many feel if they do anything new(or assume it is new), then it is ‘Experimental’.

We have Experimental Theatre, Experimental Cinema, Experimental Dance, Experimental Music.. But I generally observe that nothing happens after this ‘Experimental phase’.

Maybe they involve themselves in new experiments happily..

In Tamizh Cinema, lot of ‘experiments’ have taken place.

One such experiment was having five Music Directors for a single movie. Thankfully, it is not the story of ‘Five Blind men and the elephant’ because each composer was asked to score music for one song individually.

The movie was ‘Kannil Theriyum KathaigaL’(1979) and the Director(s) Devaraj-Mohan.

The Music Directors were KV Mahadevan, G K Venkatesh, T R Paappa, Shankar-Ganesh and ILaiyaraaja.

Going by the songs, I think it was a Triangular Love Story(why don’t we have a Square or a Rectangular Love Stories? Point to ponder..).

Now let us see the song scored by Raaja sir in this movie.

Based on his most favourite Raga Mohanam, the song is yet another gem in his crown.

The opening itself is beautiful..

We see the ‘Laya Raja’ as the instruments follow a particular rhythmic pattern(I am not getting into too much of technical details here and I shall do the analysis in my other blog Ragaranjani when I discuss this song!).

The voices of SPB, Suseela, and Janaki add to the sweetness.

The first interlude sparkles with Veena, Flute, Jalatharangam and a very differently sounding instrument.

The Violin orchestra and the chorus voices in the second interlude make us to meditate.

The seamless transition to Kalyani in ‘Thana Thirana..’in the third interlude is the masterstroke.

The words ‘Ilamai, Inimai , Puthumai’(Youthful, Melodious, Novel)are rendered repeatedly in the song..

Does it not sum up the music of the Maestro?