Saturday, 20 November 2010

My Quest..

The word 'Rare' is generally used when we come across something unusual.

But we all know that Raaja's music itself is unusual and therefore is rare.

In this blog, I have been trying to analyse his unknown compositions. Unknown to many in the present generation.

The danger in any analysis is that it tends to get subjective.

For example, for people who grew up with his music right from AnnakkiLi, not many songs can be called as rare.

Therefore, let us take an objective view.

Moreover, a song cannot be classified as rare just because it is old.

While 'Machanai paartheengaLa' and 'AnnakkiLi Unnai Theduthe'(Janaki version) are not rare despite being 32 years old, the TMS version of 'AnnakkiLi Unnai..' can be classified as rare.

Just ask these simple questions:

1.Is this song being aired by any Radio/TV channels at least once in a while?

2.Are many people aware of this song?

If the answer to both the questions is 'yes', then it is not rare irrespective of the year of release.

If it is 'no', then it obviously deserves a place in this Blog.

I started this Blog 2 years back and have been on a journey since then..

And what a journey it has been!

A journey that took me back to the days I listened to these songs for the first time as boy.. to the days where my transistor radio would be playing the songs with me doing my home work.. to days where I would be all alone on the terrace gazing at the stars with my ‘lover’ very close to my ears(now, don’t jump to any conclusions.. people who know me well know what I call as my first ‘love’).

Almost all the songs discussed by me belong to the period mentioned in the previous paragraph.

And most of the songs have been inside me all this while waiting for an opportunity to jump out and show their smiling faces to the world.

They come out depending on the place, time and most importantly my mood. For example, when I was travelling in Tanjore in Feb 2009 , my i –pod was playing ‘MaharaNi unai thedi’(Aayiram Vaasal Idhayam) when the bus was plying close the Palace.The result?

A post on the 28th of Feb!

At times there would be some unexplained reasons too.

But what I am going to narrate now is something unique.

One day my friend Govindarajan called me up and asked me the name of a movie of a particular song that goes like ‘Kanna..Vaa’.He said it was sung by Janaki and Jayachandran. My brain immediately thought of ‘Kanna Vaa Kavithai solla va’.But it is a Janaki solo and as far as I knew there was no Jayachandran in that. I asked him to send the song but he found it very difficult to trace it in his I pod since all files were jumbled and the nomenclature given as per the whims and fancies of the people who uploaded (in the site).

After about a week on a busy Friday morning, he called me again and played the song from his phone. Though it was not clear, it did ring a bell.. I asked him to mail the song which he did the following day. The moment I heard it, I knew that I know the song. But frankly speaking I could not place the name of the movie. After racking my brain(that already has only a little stuff), I finally remembered that it is from a movie called ‘MalargaL NanaiginRana’(1983) and that it used to be played by AIR those days.

I wondered how it got missed out from my little brain all these years.

I have had the experience of people requesting me to write about a song they like.

I have had the experience of people asking me the name of the movie of a familiar song (that is familiar to me).

I have had the experience of people saying they were listening to the song(s) for the first time when I play the song(s) or write about the song(s).(as i write this, I get a call from one of my friends who has fallen in love with 'Engengo Sellum',the song which was sent by me about 2 weeks back and says he is addicted to it!)

But this was the first time that a person-that too a close friend of mine- made me rediscover a gem.

That is the Power of ILaiyaraaja!

Now, let us look at the song.

Raaja’s Mohanams are always special. Right from ‘Kannan oru kaikuzhanthai’, he has been giving special treatment to his Mohanams. He has fondled it like a child, has romanced with it like a lover, has been very strict with it like a father and has friendly banters with it like a friend.

‘Kanna Vaa’ is no exception.Even when he mixes the other ‘ga’ and makes it sound like Shivaranajani, Mohanam looks as beautiful as ever.

The prelude itself is very interesting.

We hear the santoor followed by the shrill flute and this is enough to give us an image of flowers nodding their heads and swaying in happiness.

The weighty and the sprightly violins that follow hold our hands and take us inside the musical garden. The shrill flute and the exotic santoor play with each other in pure Mohanam showing us the cuckoo and other birds perched on the trees.

Does the prelude (especially the violins section) remind you of the prelude of ‘KaNmaNi nee vara Kaathirunthaen’?

‘KanmaNi..’ is based on Malayamarutam while ‘Kanna..’ is based on Mohanam-ragas that have no direct relation.

However, the variants of ‘ga’ ‘pa’ and ‘dha’ are common for both and the Meastro brilliantly uses these swaras to make Malayamarutam sound like Mohanam (and vice versa)!

Incredible Innovation!

The Pallavi in the voice of Janaki is reposeful. The alien note in the third line gives a kind of poignancy and pulls the strings of our hearts.

The violins in the beginning of the first interlude are as tender as the breeze. The flute and the santoor ride on romance.

The CharaNams are steeped in melody.

The structure is interesting too with the first charaNam rendered by Jayachandran, the second charaNam rendered by Janaki while the third charaNam alternates between the two.

The second interlude has the violins wending their way through. It is sheer magic after that with the Shivaranjani peeping in as the flute and santoor crisscross each other.It is lie a musical rainbow!

The third interlude unfurls another beauty.

It begins with the chorus that gives an aural imagery.
The Horns and violins now enter with a flourish soaking us briefly in Western Classical Music.
The lilting violins now play in folk style sustaining the glory and evoking sweet memories.

It was Horace Walpole who coined the word ‘serendipity’ in his work ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’ and it means making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which one is not in quest of..

I would term this discovery of the song is somewhat serendipitous..
But my quest continues..

Monday, 1 November 2010

Dedicated to..

Recently, in the much touted, much publicized and much hyped World Tamizh meet(செம்மொழி மாநாடு ), a lady ‘poet’ (poetess sounds chauvinistic to me) while reading out her ‘poem’ said tamil(தமில்) for Tamizh (தமிழ்), aval(அவல்) for avaL (அவள்), panam(பனம்) for paNam (பணம்).To top it all, the gentleman who was the Head of the gathering- who calls himself as ‘Kavi perarasar’- while introducing her said 'தமிழ் இவரது பாட்டன் வீட்டு சொத்து (Tamizh is her grandfather’s wealth) referring to her lineage.

Can there be a greater insult to the language?

But this is not an isolated case. Tune in to any satellite channel. Listen to the anchors. Watch any new tamizh movie. Listen how the actors pronounce the words. Listen to the present day songs.Forget even the North Indian singers. Look how the ‘so called Tamizh singers pronounce the words .Cold blooded murder!

At times, one feels a law has to be enacted and the offenders punished very strictly. They must be put behind the bars and an intense training on pronunciation must be given. Their release date will purely depend on their ability to grasp what is taught and their seriousness in implementing it. But there is a serious problem here. As things stand, I feel at least 70%-80% of the Tamizh population does not pronounce the letters properly. This being the case, will there be enough space in the prisons? And even if there is space, do we have enough people to teach the huge crowd?

Point to ponder!!

Today’s rare gem is a very interesting song. Nearly 3 decades back, Raaja sir had envisaged this situation and composed a song as a parody. Malysia Vasudevan, known for his clear diction sang it admirably well. I know how difficult it is for a person who is attached to the language religiously to murder that language.

The song also takes a dig at self-styled moralists who banned songs at their will. The second charanam makes specific reference to the 2 songs that were banned.

Another speciality of the song is the Thyagraja Bhagawathar style of orchestration.

Without any further delay, let me tell you that the song is ‘Vaalvinil un ninaivaal’ from Pattanam pogalam vaa(1981).

We hear the ripples of melody from the jalatharangam followed by the energetic violins. The saxophone follows in the ‘old’ style rather sarcastically. The Raga Charukesi looks at us with glee.

Malaysia Vasudevan starts the ‘murder’ with pin point accuracy. The pause for almost one cycle gives an opportunity for the mridangam to dance with joy.

The first interlude follows the Bhagawathar pattern.But what is admirable is the fact that though it has that old flavour, one can also easily make out the ‘Raaja style’.Isn’t this one of his many strengths?

The CharNams are designed very interestingly. If one forgets the funny voice and the pronunciation, it can easily be called as a pure classical song!

The second interlude gathers momentum with the violins and the Tabla Tarang giving a swirl of patterns. It is graceful and at the same time is very sharp. The tender saxophone and the captivating flute exude brilliance.

As already mentioned, the second charaNam is full of sarcasm. The niraval swarams at ‘Oram po..’ give us loads of laughter. If only the ‘authorities’ who banned the songs were to listen to this, they would squirm in their seats with their conscience constantly pricking them all over.

The ‘kolluthe’ line typifies the present day Tamizh.

This song is dedicated to all the murderers of Tamizh language with a fervent plea to learn the language properly!

Otherwise Tamizh would turn back to them and say ‘Vaazhvinil un ninaivaal azhugindren..’(I am crying!!).