Thursday, 18 February 2010


Sports, Life, and Music –How many similarities!

Full of ups and downs..

But first congrats to Team India!

A very professional display proving yet again that the no.1 tag is not a fluke.
Today’s victory is more special because it came while playing on a very sporting track somewhat different from the usual dusty pitches where the ball hardly bounces and starts turning right from Day 1.

While it is a very happy moment for all Indians, one should not take the credit away from the South Africans for putting up a fight almost till the end-thanks to the gritty man called Hashim Amla and that handsome bowler called Morne Morkel whose defence was as solid as any known batsman in the world.

On this special day, let me dedicate a rare gem to Team India.

A song that uses the words from a traditional tamizh folk game.
People who watched the ‘Andrum Indrum endrum’ show may recall Raaja sir rendering this line while talking about tradition(though he did not mention about using these words in one of his compositions).

The game is almost like the Kabadi and one has to catch the opponents rendering these words holding the breath.

The words are ‘Naan da ungappan da ..nallamuththu devan da..’

The rare gem of the day also uses the same words but in a very different situation.
It is a fight sequence!

How often do we find a song during Fights?
Balachander used it in ‘Ninaiththale Inikkum’ and it is rather surprising that this idea was used in a pure masala Devar Films production!

The film ‘Ram Lakshman’(1981).

Of course it is not uncommon for Raaja sir to use some very innovative sounds-like Mrudangam, Ghatam or even konnakkol- in a fight sequence.

But this song is very special because it beautifully blends folk with western and makes us all jump and hit all our hidden enemies.
The major highlight of the song-apart from the music- is SPB.

Though we all know his versatility, it is amazing to see how he renders the lines in a single breath leaving all of us breathless!

The song starts with beautiful folksy beats with trumpets showing their faces now and then.

The arrangement that follows is really breathtaking with the wind instruments in full flow!

The Karate and the boxing sounds coupled with the voice of SPB make Pallavi an enjoyable one.

The CharaNams too have beautiful, aggressive sounds but what distinguishes this song from the Dappan kuththus of today is the melody element.
Look how the lines ‘Paaganillatha Yaanaiyai pola’ and how the first two lines are linked to the last two lines..

The interludes are very interesting too..

Bass guitar, Saxophones,Trumpets playfully fight with each other in the first interlude.

The second interlude has the folk drums and seamlessly change to a western pattern. Don’t miss the synthesizers!(who said synthesizer is a ‘90s instrument in Indian Cinema?)

Listen to the Pallavi after the first CharaNam and ‘NoRukki Vaippen’ in the second CharaNam.

All present-day singers! Don’t you think you people need to learn a lot from this legend?

‘NaaNda ungappan da..nallamuththu peran da..’

Team India might as well sing this to all the rival teams now..

Monday, 15 February 2010

Music of the Breeze..

P B Shrinivas is a multi- faceted personality.

We all know that he is endowed with a Honey Soaked voice.
But not many people know that he is a linguist. He knows 14 languages.

The surprise does not end here.
He can write poems in all these languages.

Now in his 80s, this gentleman can be seen in all major Sabhas of Chennai like the Music Academy , Narada Gana Sabha etc., during any good music or dance shows.

Until recently his favourite spot was a very popular restaurant in Chennai near the Gemini Fly- over(which has since been demolished) and he could be spotted there almost everyday with sheaves of papers either writing or reading..

His association with Raaja sir is very interesting.

Sometime back in the same thread, I had written about the two hindi songs of NaNdu(1981) penned by PBS.

In 1993, Raaja sir was honuored by the film fraternity for scoring the symphony and this function was attended by a galaxy of stars across India.

The great legend of Indian Cinema Naushad(another poet) spoke about Raaja sir in Urudu and PBS was the translator.

At one point, PBS stopped and gave a perplexed look. Naushad asked him to translate what he said verbatim.

After lot of hesitation, PBS translated it.

‘’ILaiyaraaja has lot of stuff. I will never hesitate to learn many things about music from this gentleman.’’.

Everyone including Raaja sir was stunned.

It is not that PBS did not like what Naushad said. But he thought perhaps Naushad was getting emotional and was being overwhelmed by the occasion.

But Naushad said it was his true feeling coming straight from the heart and that PBS could translate what he said without any hesitation.

PBS and Raaja knew each other even when Raaja sir was GK Venkatesh’s assistant.

He admired Raaja sir’s talent and his quest for innovation.

I still remember him praising the song ‘Naane Naana’(Azhage Unnai Aardhikkiren) in one of the Tamizh magazines.

He has also sang one song in Raaja sir’s music and according to me the song is a marvel.

‘Thendrale Nee Pesu’(KadavuL Amaitha Medai-1979) has the contours of a ghazal.

It is based on Sindhu Bhairavi, a Raaga with many dimensions.Maybe Raaja sir composed it in this Raaga as a fitting tribute to a legend like PBS,who is a multi faceted personality.

The composition starts with the santoor that itself sets the tone for the beauty that is to follow.

The violin orchestra and the flute towards the end of the prelude make us feel the gentle breeze.

The breeze follows us throughout the composition.

Whether it is the lovely Flute or the dulcet violins, the wonderful santoor or the amazing bass work, it is mellowness all the way.

The Sarod in the second interlude plucks the strings of our hearts.

Charanams are constructed with melody as the edifice.

The way notes jump in the last lines of each Charanam is the speciality of the Master.

And the voice of PBS makes us all close our eyes and meditate.

In tamizh, ‘Vaadai’ is the breeze from north and it depicts ‘Viraha’ or separation.
‘Thendral’ is the breeze from the south and this depicts happiness.

In this song, we feel both Vaadai and Thendral.

Yes, it is the Music of the Breeze!