Saturday, 23 January 2010


Today is a special day for me since I met the Maestro exactly one year back on this day.

On this special day, let us see a special song..

Spontaneity has its own charm.

Anything that is spontaneous has no pretensions. Most importantly, it comes straight from the heart.

Given a chance to choose between the head and the heart, I would choose the heart. If the heart is pure, the entire system is healthy.

When an artiste realizes the beauty, internalizes the feelings and expresses himself/herself without any pretensions shedding all the pedagogic stuff, the performance reaches great heights. On the other hand, if the artiste indulges in gimmickry and tries to show off whatever he/she knows (or doesn’t know), it looks like a circus. The main objective of such artistes is to get applause. Yes, one can appreciate the ‘knowledge’ of the artiste but finally is that an art all about?

Our traditional folk music is great because it is without any pretensions. People who composed the music and the lyrics are illiterates. They do not perform in front of any audience (folk forms are performed on stage as well now-a-days but most of these artistes do not perform just to please the audience).

They sing to themselves.
They sing when they are happy.
They sing when they are sad.
They sing when they fall in love.
They sing when they long for their beloved.
They sing when a child is born.
They sing when somebody dies.

Singing here is only a form of expression for them.

But surprisingly enough, most of the songs fall under a scale/raga.

It is said that classical music originated from folk music and traditions.

I do not want to get into this debate now.

All I know is that Ragams like Sankarabharanam, Harikamboji, Mohanam, Sudhha Dhanyasi, Karaharapriya, Nata Bhairavi, Mayamalawagowla, Naadanamakriya, Punnagavaraali, Mukhari…are found in folk songs.

The song we are going to see today also follows the Mayamalawagowla.

It is ‘Enna Paattu Paada’ from ‘Sakkalaththi’(1979).

Here is a driver. No..he does not drive a motor car..nor does he drive a bike.

He is driving the Bullocks sitting on a cart.

He is enjoying his trip and wants to express it. Wants to sing but does not know what to sing..Suddenly, he listens to the chime of the bells tied to the neck of the bullocks.

He decides this will be the rhythm.
The song itself starts with the sound of the bells.

The voice innocently asks ‘What shall I sing?’

The beauty is after asking (literally) this thrice, he sings in tune.

The entire song then follows the rhythmic pattern of the Bullock carts.

We join this gentleman in his journey. We see the road-not a highway- a path full of stones and mud. A path that is dusty. But we also see the green fields. We also see the birds on the trees.We feel the joy of the ‘driver’ and it is infectious.

We see all these in the first interlude that has the flute, and other folk instruments.

The Guitar, the Shehnai, and the Flute show the betrayal, the hypocrisy, the hatred, and the arrogance of the mankind in the second interlude.

The voice of the Master adds to the beauty..

It is spontaneous!
Yes, it is without any pretensions!!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Breeze from the coconut tree..

I have often been awestruck by the beauty of Coconut trees.

Always standing in a slanting position, the tree is a treat to watch.The coconuts are hidden behind the pinnate leaves and smile at us rather cheekily when the leaves sway.
The swaying of the pinnate leaves is another beauty.As we look up, they tend to nod their heads and somehow I am reminded of the elephant trunk!
The trunk of the tree is also very smooth.

The breeze from a coconut tree is special and in tamizh, it is called as ‘Tennankaatru’.
It touches us, embraces us and envelops us very gently.
Just like the song ‘Tennamaraththula Thendral Adikkuthu’ from ‘Lakshmi’(1979).

What strikes one first is the way the prelude and the pallavi have been composed.The flute, the bass guitar and the strings move so fast before we beat an eyelid.The different rhythmic patterns in Tisram within a space of few seconds are amazing.

The young voice of the master is as fresh and sweet as the coconut water.The very short flute piece adds to the taste.

A brief interlude and we hear Suseela. Honey mixed in coconut water.
The way the swaras are ‘packed’in the first two lines in the charanam , the way they move up and down and the way the last line is rendered in two octaves make it an aural treat.

The second interlude is dominated by the flute but let us not miss the other instruments that play different notes.

The clarinet greets us in the third interlude as the other folk instruments join the Village Party!

I remember reading the review in Vikatan that criticised the picturisation of this song.Thankfully, I have not seen the movie nor have I seen this song in motion.

That is why, this song still remains in me….just like the breeze from the coconut tree in my school and in my cricket ground those days!

Naan thinanthorum rasichaalum thigattathu pasikkathu ..