Thursday, 30 July 2009

Pearl(s) in an oyster!

Kannadasan, according to me is the greatest lyricist in Tamizh Cinema.

There are a lot of similarities between Raaja sir Kannadasan.

Both are spontaneous and can compose in a jiffy.

Both are from rustic background.

Both do not have formal education (school drop outs!).

Both are very frank and do not hesitate to speak their minds (and earned enemies/detractors because of this).

And yes, spiritually inclined..

Kannadasan had a special liking for Raaja sir though his favourite was MSV sir who was like a younger brother.

In fact, Panchu Arunachalam who introduced Raaja sir in Films is Kannadasan’s nephew.

Raaja sir also had(and has) the highest regard for Kannadasan.

Before leaving for the US in the year 1981, Kannadasan wrote two songs for Raaja and it seems told his assistant ‘Raaja is very lucky because I probably wrote my last song in movies.After returning from the US, I wish to focus fully on spiritualism and don’t intend to write anymore for films.’

How prophetic it turned out to be!

Kannadasan died in the US and would never write again..

And the last songs were written for ‘Moondram Pirai’.

Though there are lot of gems in the Raja-Kannadasan combination (‘Engengo Sellum’, ‘Devathai oru Devathai’, ‘Kovil Mani Osai’-just to name a few!), I am taking up a very rare song which cannot be seen anywhere..

Cannot be seen anywhere?

Yes, because though it was composed for a movie, it was not present in the final cut.

It is ‘Aazhak Kadalil Thediya Muthu’ from ‘Sattam en Kaiyil’(1978).

The whole song follows the ‘wavy’ pattern and is as soft as any lullaby could be.

The song starts with a whistle like sound followed by the flute in lower octave, Santoor and the violins.

The interludes are simple but great. The sudden surge of the strings in the first interlude looks like a huge wave raising and kissing our feet.

The ‘Heyyy..’ in the second interlude takes us straight to the catamaran on the sea.

The third interlude makes us close our eyes and enjoy the sea breeze.

In the third Charanam the mother and father sing to the child.

The mother says,’Your father gave the pearl.’
Father says’Your mother is a golden oyster’.
Both of them say ‘We swam and had a dip to bring you out’.

‘Chippikkule Muthu vaichu unnai thantha appa kanne..
Chippiyilum Thanga Chippi Unnai Pethha Amma Kanne
Neendhinom muzhginom unnai edukka’

Very subtle (sounds more subtle in the original ..)

I wish Lyricists of today who tend to take a dip and dunk in vulgarity took a leaf or two from the Master Lyricist..

Aazha Kadalil Thediya MuthukkaL-ILaiyaraaja and Kannadasan!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Musical march of the flowers..

One of the many beautiful things in this world is the flower.

Flowers give us fragrance.
Flowers give us happiness.
Flowers make us soft.
Flowers make us mellow.
Flowers give us strength.
Flowers give us a new meaning in life.

Coming to think of it, that great thing in the world called as Music also gives us all these..

Our Literature is also replete with references to Flowers.

Music, Literature and Flowers..
Lot of similarities!!

What happens when flowers take out a march accompanied by Music and lyrics?

Is it not a triple treat?

‘Azhagiya MalargaLin Pudhu Vidha Orrvalame..’ from Ullasa ParavaigaL(1980) gives us this treat.

We see the buds swaying their heads in the first part of the prelude and these begin to dance to the beats in the middle part.

These buds now begin to smile as the western flute is played and …start blooming to the background of violins.

What a great sight it is!

Has anyone ever watched the buds turn as flowers..

His Music makes us see this marvel!

The first interlude is sheer magic as the flowers nod their heads to the pure western classical tune..

We see the Lily, We see the Daisy.
We see the Daffodil, We see the Ambrosia.
We see the Carnation, We see the Lavender.
We see the Marigold, We see the Sunflower.

It is the Painter’s Palette!

The second interlude is a riot of colours as all these flowers march ahead acknowledging the music of the Great Composer…

The voice of Janaki flows like the honey from each of these flowers..

The phrase ‘Vannam Vannam Kannil Minna.. nana.. nana..’ makes the decoration even more beautiful.

Yes..It is the Musical March of the Flowers!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Music is Universal..

Music is Universal!

The more I think of music or the more I listen to all forms of music, this phrase keeps coming in my mind and I cannot help it!

Maybe that is the power of Music itself.

Though Raaja sir has melded all major forms of music in many of his compositions, I would like to take up one of the songs today as an example.

It is ‘Eriyile Elantha maram’ from ‘Karai Ellam Shenbagappoo’(1981).

The story was by Sujata and it came as a serial(sorry!not a TV serial) in the Tamizh magazine Ananda Vikatan between 1978 and ’79.

A very interesting fact about this story was that Sujata wrote this after Raaja sir asked him to write something about the folk songs of Tamizh Nadu.

The hero visits a village to research on the folk music.The story takes an interesting twist and becomes a murder mystery.

Sujata in his inimitable style had woven the story interestingly giving a special colour to each colour.

If the case of‘NaNdu’(Sivasankari-Mahendran) was one extreme where the story was changed (rather abridged), ‘Karai Ellam Shenbagappoo’ was another extreme.The Director G N Rangarajan stuck to the story religiously. But he failed to bring out the flavour of each character.

Therefore, it was like a replica but without any life.

For example, Sujatha touched upon the platonic love between the hero and Valli, the village girl in a very subtle poetic way. This was absent in the movie.

Subtle and Poetic?

Are we not expecting too much from Tamizh Cinema Directors?

But, yes, we are fully justified if we expect this from a Genius whose other name is ILaiyaraaja.

And he has never disappointed us.

Though all songs in ‘Karai Ellam Shenbagappoo’ are great, my pick is ‘Eriyile..’
Not without a reason..

The song gives us Carnatic, Western classical, Folk within a matter of seconds.

The notes of this raga form the Major scale in Western music.

The prelude starts with the bass guitar and the chorus voice sings ‘sa ri ga ma pa dha ni Sa’ followed by ‘Thanthana naadeenam Thanthananna’.

Any other proof needed for the universality of music?

And in the hands of the master, the universal music takes a wonderful shape.

The Pallavi gives us all shades of the scale in different octaves.

What does one say about the versatile Janaki amma?

Look at the way she sings like a 12 year old boy..

The interludes are great-as usual -starting with the flute in western style, chorus( in harmony), and the folk instruments in the first interlude, a mini percussion ensemble- called as ‘Tani avarthanam’ in Carnatic Music parlance-in the second interlude show the Emperor of Universal music in full flow.

Eriyilum Karaiilum Shenbagappoo, Isai poo..

(Musical flowers on the Lake and on the banks!)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Midair romance!

When we listen to great music, we say it is out of the world..

We feel as if we are floating in the air..

We feel as if we are flying..

What happens if the song itself is sung in mid air?

Yes, the Hero and Heroine fly in different aircrafts and sing..

Absurd? Well.. maybe .But do movies follow any logic?

In a way it is good because we would not have got some gems.
As long as we get great music, I do not think we should complain.

In Guru(1980), Kamal is a modern day Robinhood and the Villain tries to ‘sell’ military secrets of India to another country. This he does by hiring a small private aircraft. He is accompanied by-no prizes for guessing-the Heroine, Sridevi who has no inkling of what the villain is doing(pl. read the line again!). And thinks the Hero is the Villain.

Of course role reversals do take place everywhere..right?

The Hero-in another private aircraft- follows the Villain to thwart his attempts. Not just this..

He follows the Heroine as well and expresses his love..

How does he express his love?

Any other Music Director would have used ‘I Love You’..

But not the Maestro.

As soon as the situation was explained to Raaja sir by the Director I V Sasi, he devised an ingenious way.. musical way..

He used the aircraft signal (somewhat similar to morse code).
The song starts with the beep sound which when translated means ‘I Love You’!

This beep sound forms the theme music of the entire song.

That is why I keep saying he is the eighth wonder…

He creates the atmosphere of aircrafts just with the Bass Guitar the wind instruments, and the violins..

The beautiful Flute in the second interlude makes us see a bird’s eye view of …not just the village/town/city/country but also the entire World. The Music World of the wonder called ILaiyaraaja!

Whenever I fly (normal aircraft of course!), I too say ‘Paranthaalum vida matten’-meaning I will not leave you even when I fly..

Yes….. I will not leave his music even when I am in midair..