Thursday, 15 November 2012

Energy sapping or Energy giving?

Bringing up a child is a great challenge.

Sometimes I wonder as to how people managed to bring up so many children those days. One of my oft-repeated questions to my father even now is this-‘How did your parents manage to bring up 8 children’? With FP being an unknown word those days, it is not surprising that the families were big (at least 3 times bigger than what a normal family is now).

There was also no particular pattern in terms of the gap between 2 children. The gap varied between 10 months (?) and 4years.Therefore, the age difference between the first child and the last one will be 18 plus years-almost one generation. The generation gap that we talk about between the parents and the children now must have existed between the eldest son/daughter and the youngest one!

There are a lot of questions in my mind.

There will be a lot of excitement when the first child is born. Was the level of excitement and happiness same when the last one was born?

How did the lady manage so many deliveries? Don’t we all know what labour pain is? How did she manage to stand this?

What kind of attention was given to the elder ones when they started going to the school?

Did the parents even remember the classes their children were in?

Was any quality time spent to teach them the beauties of life-for example music, books?

What happened when the children reached adolescence? Were they given proper guidance?

From the father’s point of view, how did he manage to get new clothes/toys/books, how did he manage to pay the fees, how did he even run the family?(I am saying ‘father’s point of view’, because it is a known fact that there were no working women those days).

Though I have not got satisfactory answers, all I know is that all the children grew up, studied well, got well-placed and settled down well in life. Of course, I am speaking from my observation of the big families I know.

In any case, isn’t this amazing?

Now-a-days, despite a plethora of services available to us thanks to the modern-age technology, we find it difficult to manage even two children (at times ONE child).

‘Feeding’ them food, looking for the right kind of school, making them ‘do’ the home work, trying in vain to strike a balance between their demands and our commands, answering all their questions and asking them to shut up if we ourselves do not know the answers, forcing them to do things that they may not have an inclination for…
..and ah!yes, ‘monitoring’ them.

The last mentioned-according to me- is one of the toughest to accomplish. If we do not monitor their activities, we fear that they will be misguided. If we overdo our monitoring, we will be branded as people fit to join the Scotland Yard. How do we manage this?

While monitoring during formative years needs some tact, doing the same in the early years is a tough ask. How many times have we handled cases of breaking window/car panes, breaking somebody’s head (at times even ours…or is it most of the times?), and of course breaking things in our own place itself.. Really wonder how parents during that era managed this..
The father in today’s rare gem also seems to have had the same problem. The song-‘Peththaalum Peththeada..’ from ‘Anbe Sangeeta’(1980) echoes the thoughts and sentiments of the father of a ‘under-12’.

The father (in the voice of Jayachandran) says ‘Making you do the morning activities and sending you to the school sap my energy. To top it all, you cut the nose and break the heads of other children with your kite and the cricket ball. You notorious one! How is it that the God forgot to keep a tail behind you?’

The mother defends the son in the end saying a mother understands a child better and asking the father to mind his business.

The song, beautifully tuned in the minor scale (Nata Bhairavi+Kiravani) with the prelude and the three interludes reflecting the emotions.

I have not seen the visuals of the song(thankfully), but I can easily visualise the sequence thanks to the Master’s orchestration.

The prelude is full of energy with the strings and the electric guitar making us see a sketch of the notorious boy.
The dialogue between the flute and the strings in two octaves in the first interlude shows how the boy manages to escape from his father while brushing the teeth, bathing and while going to the school even as the father keeps pleading with him and chasing him. The strings and the electric guitar towards the end reflect the travails of the father.

The organ in the second interlude shows the notorious boy in full flow while the short string pieces in the higher octave show how the boy indulges in many activities.
The humming of the mother (Shailaja) and the dainty flute that follows symbolises motherhood.

The pieces after the ‘nose-cutting’, ‘head-breaking’ and the ‘victorious’ whistle at the end after the mother’s defence show the sense of humour of the composer.

What stands out finally is the fact that bringing up children is a pleasurable pain. Do you agree?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Music Messenger..

What were the different modes of communication of love-struck folks those days?

If one digs up literature, it is amazing to see the various messengers.

Friends(mainly the lady’s) acted as a via-media.They also went a step ahead to console the Heroine whenever she felt the pangs of separation or whenever she felt cheated by her man. In fact, there are also poems in sangam literature that talk about a friend cursing and abusing the Hero who commits debauchery or is away from the Heroine out of compulsion.

There is a danger too. The friend who carries the message, herself falling in love with the Hero. One of the ‘padams’(padam is an item performed in a Bharatanatyam recital) in Tamizh-‘Unnai thoothanippinen..’ describes the woes of the Heroine , who suspects her friend because of her demeanor after she returns from her Hero(who ironically happens to be Lord Muruga), having gone there carrying a message from her. Though this can be considered as an exception and even a form of perversion, it also shows the fickle mindedness of humans (now don’t ask me if Muruga is human).

The Bhagawatam beautifully talks about how Rukmini wrote a letter to Krishna and sent it through a brahmin. In this case, the latter happened to be an ardent devotee of Krishna and so the job was easily done.

There are also lovers who trusted the other living beings and non-living beings too.One of the greatest works of Kalidasa, ‘Megadootam’ revolves around an ‘yaksha’ who is cursed to spend sometime on the Earth, using the cloud as a messenger.

Kamban brilliantly describes how a parrot was used as a messenger by a girl. I had quoted this verse in my other blog while writing about the song ‘Manmada RaagangaLe’.

But one of the most widely used birds happens to be the pigeon. People not only used it for exchanging Love letters but also for sending all kinds of messages/letters. Pigeons were considered to be the most reliable creatures and they travelled quite a distance. It is indeed amazing to know that they knew their route perfectly and could reach the destination without the help of google maps.

Pigeons and their ‘cousins’ Doves are still in existence and since the modern day has brought in many other modes of communication- the Morse code, post, telegram, telephone, courier, e mail, SMS- mankind has stopped using these creatures rendering them jobless.

However, the poets-starting from the Sangam age- have never failed to describe the beauty of these creatures. Film lyricists are no exception and I can think of many Tamizh film songs that at least have the word ‘puRa’.

Today’s gem, ‘PuRakkaLe’ from ‘Kaadal Parisu’(1987) also has a mention about the pigeons. No, it does not praise them nor does it talk about their uniqueness. The lovers address the bird and ask them ‘to wear golden garlands, to swim on the moon and greet the lovers’. This of course stops with the Pallavi. The charaNams completely ignore these beautiful birds.

But again one cannot fault the lyricist since knowing Tamizh Cinema well, there is every likelihood of his having being told that the ‘duet’ will be shot close to a pond where the birds ( I did not mean the ‘love birds’) will be present. A clear instruction to the effect that there should be no room for any literary description and that all mundane things will have to appear in the song involving a ‘top’ hero and heroine’. Luckily, such instructions can be given only to lyricists and not to music composers. At the most, it can be said that it is a Love Duet. How many directors even have the sense of music to ask what exactly they want?

Therefore, our Maestro has gone on his musical trip while composing the tune and mainly while writing the notes for the orchestra.

The percussion in the beginning-in Tisram- shows us the short jumps of the bird while the musical piece that follows in the keys makes us imagine the flapping of the wings. The chorus symbolises the ‘group song’ of the birds, with the keys depicting their movements close to the pond.. The very brief strings take us directly to the musical pond.

The first part of the first interlude that has the strings and the flute shows the flight of the birds, the middle part with the keys shows playfulness and the last part that has a very short piece of S.E.Asian music tells us that after all music and birds are universal.

The chorus, the male voice (SPB) and the flute in the second interlude make us see the Pigeon of a typical Tamizh Nadu village.

The Pallavi in the melodious voices of SPB and Chitra is powerful while the CharaNams with a dose of alien notes, traverse some unknown beautiful territories.

The musical value of the composition should not be lost sight of. It is set in Raag Pahaadi and the Pallavi has the ateeta eduppu (with the song starting before the tala cycle).
When we have his music, do we need any other messenger now?