Saturday, 3 November 2012
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 http://rajamanjari.blogspot.in/2011/11/ilaiyaraaja-immaculate-musician.html 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?