Friday, 27 November 2009

Garden of Music..

It is a garden of flowers.We see the trees, plants, and creepers.We hear the song of the birds..

Is it just the birds?

Hey, wait! We feel the trees are singing; the plants and creepers providing the orchestra; the birds and animals dancing.

It is a garden of Swaras.. A Musical Garden!

‘Nadhiyai Thedi Vantha Kadal’(1979) was yet another novel adapted for movies.Written by the tamizh writer Maharishi, the novel revolved around one middle aged woman.

This was the last film of Jayalalitha who played the middle- aged woman.

But let us focus our attention on the musical garden.

The composition starts with the simple but beautiful humming of Shailajaa.

The birds welcome us ..and…the floodgates open.

It is a dazzling canopy as one hears the flute and we jump and run with joy.We chase the birds as the strings and the violins play.

We get to see the jumping rabbits, romantic deers, majestic lions, astonishingly beautiful monkeys, and sweet parrots in the first interlude.

In the second interlude dominated by the violin (and how wonderfully conceived!), we see the multi hued butterflies flapping their wings and playing with the flowers.We see the luscious fruits.We see the covey of birds.

A grand spectacle!

It is palpable blithe in the third interlude as the violins follow the strings.

Harmony all around.

Yes, harmony of nature.Harmony of his music.

Garden of flowers-Garden of Swaras-Garden of the Emperor of Film Music!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Musical River

Rivers are Very Musical.

Saint Thyagaraja lived in the village Thiruvaiyaaru-meaning the confluence of Five Rivers.

The River Danube flows in Vienna considered to be the Temple of Western Classical Music.

One can give more and more examples..

Apart from these facts about the composers and rivers, we also know how musical the river sounds when it flows.

It is said that in the olden days, Carnatic Musicians used to do Saadhakam(practice) standing neck deep in the river.

The River gave their voice a special charm and Shruti unison.I have a feeling that it also gave them the Laya Gnaanaa(sense of rhythm)!

The Emperor of Film Music also grew up in a place very close to where the Vaigai River flows rhythmically.. And I am sure this has had a great impact on him.

There is an old composition of his where the river Cauvery has been dealt with romantically.

The song is ‘Cauviriye..’ from ‘Archchanai PookkaL’(1980).

River and Romance..

Is there any surprise then that he chose the Mohanam Raga for this?

With just the sound of the strings, we are transported to the banks of Cauvery.

We see the white water birds welcoming us.

The Bass Guitar and the strings play and river smiles as we place our feet somewhat stealthily on the water.

The golden voice of SPB hums blissfully with the repartee from the flute and there..we jump into the river ready to taste the beauty of the music.

Janaki joins with her sweet voice and we begin to swim.

We see the sinuous waves as the violins play and we go with the stream.We see the playful fish under the water as the Flute throbs.

As the Charanam is sung, we look up at the golden sky and are mesmerized by the sight. As the alien note is used now, we take a turn and watch a grand spectacle.

We see the celadon green fields as the river speaks to the plants and trees.

The raindrops now fall on us and now it is the romance between the river and the rain.
It is the vibrant Flute again.

The River now passes through craggy surface and is slightly obstreperous as it gushes out spraying water all around.

It is in perfect synchrony as it continues to flow nonchalantly .We get out of the river and step on the banks reluctantly…. only to take a plunge again!

What an enchanting experience!

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Shruti and Laya..

Status of women in the society- a pet topic of many. A topic that will be discussed/debated/argued but finally end up doing nothing. The way society (society includes women too..) contradicts itself baffles us.

At one extreme, women are glorified as Gods(or is it goddesses?).At the other extreme, they are considered as glamourous creatures meant for providing fun and entertainment.In between are the various roles that they are expected to perform without fail.

Why should they be deified in the first place and then pushed to a corner?

Let us look at films. Of course, a majority of the films is ‘hero-oriented’ and the heroine speaks like a doll, dances like a doll, runs like a doll, cries like a doll, laughs like a doll.. But what about the ‘Heroine-oriented’-or rather ‘Women-oriented’ subjects ? Here, the lady invariably sheds tears, does a lot of ‘sacrifices’, brings up her children/brothers(or even husband!) but reveres her ‘mangalasutram’ and finally dies on her husband’s lap.

One of the very few exceptions was a film called ‘Thyaga Bhoomi’(1939)-story by tamizh writer Kalki-where the main protagonist fights for her rights till the end.This movie was a box-office hit and was later banned by the British Govt. for its pro-Freedom movement ‘propaganda’.More about this later in some other thread(maybe Vintage thread).

Though Rudraiah made an effort in ‘AvaL Appadiththaan’(1978), the film failed to make a real impact because of the weak screenplay.

It is rather unfortunate that exceptions have always been exceptions and no film maker dared to make a movie to show the woman as woman.

The film songs too echo the same sentiments.

The Lady Love will be addressed as ‘Maane Thenae’(Oh..Deer/honey) and will be mainly described as one who fulfils the wishes of her lover.

However, today’s Rare gem is an exception. Here too, the male sings ‘women are like deer’ with the female countering him. But the end is very interesting.

The song is ‘PaavaiyargaL Maanpole’ from ‘Ore Muththam’(1980).

The song starts with a beautiful harmonium piece- that lasts for at least half a minute- giving a Qawaali flavour.

The Pallavi-rendered by SPB- says ‘Women are like deer; like the Cauvery river.If only they lead their lives properly, they are more than angels. Why be modern?’

The Qawaali flavour continues in the first interlude with the Shehnai, harmonium and the claps..

The first charanam talks about the looks of an ideal woman-well-braided hair bedecked with flowers..It also asks the woman to read tamizh(does the poet mean tamizh culture or tamizh language?)

The second interlude changes beautifully.The Qawaali now becomes jazz with the trumpets, electric guitar and a host of other western instruments.

The tempo too changes in the charanam as Janaki renders ‘A virtuouswoman can be found in a forest or even in a ‘Daasi’s house(I am sure no translation is required for this word!).I know what I am and I don’t need anybody to preach me’.

The next tempo change is very interesting and intelligent too..The 4-beat Chatusram changes to the 3-beat Tisram.The orchestration is jazzy again and makes us tap our feet.

The male now sings ‘The heavens protect you when you wear a saree(silk!!).God comes to you when you are with your sindoor and flower(wow!what a way to suppress woman by glorifying her beauty!)’

Repartee by the female: ’Even if the God comes now, he will be by my side since times are changing.Please put things in the proper perspective.If you can’t ask me’.

The next interlude has the Shehnai bit alone indicating how the momentum has picked up.
The tempo changes yet again and the male now sings’ Women those days would only look at the ground while walking (so scared of the silly men folk!) but the present day woman smiles directly looking at our faces(maybe so handsome!).If a woman laughs it is doomsday’.

One more jazzy interlude followed by my favourite charanam.

The female says ‘If I make a mistake, you are welcome to tell me and similarly, if I find a problem in you, I shall point out.After all, Men and Women are equal.’

Now both sing, ‘Good and bad exist in everything. Let us discover the world.Let us unite!’.

Yes.. let us learn this.

Men and Women differ physically.. biologically...maybe emotionally..
But both have equal rights. One cannot exist if the other ceases to exist.

Like the Sruti and the Laya..

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