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Monday, 6 April 2015
Recently during the World Cup match between West Indies and Zimbabwe, a question popped up on the screen. It was the usual kind of question where 4 options were given and the viewers were asked to cast their votes. I am sure most of you remember that it was a match in which a batsman by name Chris Gayle got a double hundred, the first in any WC
The question was- Which is the best ever World Cup Innings by a West Indies batsman and the options were 1.Clive Lloyd 1975, 2.Viv Richards 1979 3.Brian Lara 1996 4.Chris Gayle 2015.
A majority voted for Chris Gayle. This was not surprising since people were still in the euphoria of having watched the innings just a few hours before. But what was disappointing to me was the percentage of votes for Clive Lloyd- an abysmal 2%.
Why was it disappointing to me? Am I a Lloyd fan? Or was it because I recalled that innings and the radio commentary on BBC (please remember that the Indian viewers saw a WC match for the first time on the 25th June 1983 and until then one had to depend on the radio commentary on BBC) and that the West Indies recovered from an early loss of quick wickets solely due to this innings and his partnership with Rohan Kanhai? Or the mental vision of the ball flying from his bat when ODIs were in a nascent stage was so enthralling to a school boy who until then had known only test match cricket(again through the radio) and Ranji Trophy?
The reason for my disappointment is a combination of all these. But there was something else too. And that was- This generation does not seem to respect History and things which are not familiar to them.
Ask any Indian born after 1980 about the most memorable moment of World Cups in the previous century and the reply would be Kapil Dev holding the Cup at Lord’s on the 25th June 1983. While there is nothing wrong in basking in the glory of an Indian cricket team’s first ever success in a major tournament, I feel people must also make an effort to know about happenings before that.
Yes without a trace of doubt, that day was a very significant day not just in terms of pride but also in terms of inspiring youngsters across the country. But does that mean that one should be totally ignorant of History?
Now consider this. ODIs were played in all whites with the red cherry and without any fielding restrictions. Bats were not heavy and boundaries were not short. Analysing the opposition teams in terms of SWOT and using videos(what is that?) were all unheard of. Despite all these unfavourable factors, a batsman scored his hundred in 85 deliveries with 12 boundaries and 2 sixes? If this is not an achievement, what else is?
No, I am not the one who believes in living in the past and criticise the present crop saying ‘You know those days..’ Nor am I a cynic who believes that the ‘present’ is nothing and has zero talent while the ‘past’ is everything and nothing can match the talent. But at the same time, it pains me that hardly a few are even aware of the inaugural World Cup and one of the most remarkable innings played with limited resources.
I find a lot of similarities between this and the way ILaiyaraaja’s music is being perceived. A majority of his fans (and this includes the so called ‘die-hard fans’) does not know much about his songs from his early years. Between May 1976 and Nov 1980, he scored music for 100 films. At the most, people can list out about 20 movies and some 50-60 songs. The impression in many- ‘70s songs are not great, his magic started only in the ‘80s’. This impression has more to do with the mindset which in turn is due to ignorance. It is a fact that some of his greatest compositions happened during this time and if ILaiyaraaja has to be seen as whole, his ‘70s songs must be listened to and cherished.
The Rare Gem of the day has some interesting stories behind it. The first story which is rather simple- though not known to many- is that this was singer Sujatha’s first ever Tamizh song(a fact not known to even her daughter Swetha, who in one of the TV shows mentioned that ‘Oru Iniya manadhu’ was her first). This song was released a full 3 years before ‘Oru Iniya Manadhu’.But if one goes to you tube looking for the visuals, they can never find it.
Yes, the song was released as part of the EP record, but the song was unceremoniously ‘chopped off’. This in fact is the most interesting and intriguing story.
If at all in his early years Raaja sir was very upset with something, it was the film ‘Kavikkuyil’ and the reasons were many.
One- For the first time, his album had 7 songs.
Two- For a person being accused of having little knowledge in Carnatic Music, he composed two songs in pure Carnatic ragas and made a great Carnatic legend sing those two. To top it all, the raga of one of these songs was never used by any film music composer until then and the ragas of the other song were specifically from a particular chakram in the mela karta system. Almost all are familiar with the former which is in a raga called Ritigowlai while many are still not familiar with the latter, a song which I took as a special song in Geetanjali -2012.
Three- He did some beautiful experiments with a particular song but this song was not ‘liked’(no, not again!) by the distributors who insisted that the song be taken out from the movie so that the movie will appeal better to the masses.
Four- Despite his best efforts, the movie bombed.
Let us now focus on the third one and see if it appeals to you and me.
The song starts with a very simple humming of Sujatha and this happens to be the prelude.
The Pallavi is simple too-or that is what it seems to be.
However, there are some hidden intricacies. First, we have the ‘podi sangatis’ in ‘Oviyam’ and also a sudden jump from ‘pa’ to the upper ‘Sa’. ‘KaNden’ ‘Kanavo’ ‘Ninaivo’ also have some beautiful sangatis with the last mentioned going in lower octave as ‘dha. pa.sa’. The last line is interesting as well with prayogas like ‘ga ma dha ni pa dha ma pa ga ma’.
The composition essentially has the swaras of Harikambhoji with the last line in the CharaNam mixing the other ‘ni’. However, the unmistakable Hindustani flavour forces me to classify this under ‘Mishra Khamaj’. In any case, nomenclature doesn’t matter as long as one is able to enjoy the song.
The CharaNams too are beautifully structured with some pleasing sangatis(note the one after ‘maalai pozhudhinile’ in the first CharaNam which extends for 12 cycles of Tisram) and higher octave swaras predominantly in the second and the third lines.
The Tabla is the only percussion which goes in the ‘mel kaala tisram’ from the second line in the CharaNam(s).Apart from this, of course there is that subtle bass guitar which backs the vocals.
Now, for those interludes.
The norm those days was three CharaNams and Raaja sir consistently gave three different interludes.
The Violins which start innocuously in the beginning of the first interlude effortlessly touch the higher octave. The subtle Santoor and the Bass Guitar are not to be missed. The Chorus suddenly appears from nowhere and sing in perfect harmony as the Strings and the Bass Guitar back it with elegance. The Strings take over and play in Indian Classical Style with gamakam , while yet another set of Strings responding briefly and gracefully. The Santoor follows and adds a different touch totally. One hears traces of Raag Mishra MaaNd here.
The second interlude is dominated by the Veena (played with finesse by E.Gayathri) with the humming of the Chorus super imposed and the Santoor nodding its head now and then. It is two sets of the Strings again involved in a brief ‘call and response’.
It is the third interlude which is my most favourite. In fact, it never fails to give me goose bumps even when I think of it.
A single Violin first plays very briefly as if to give a cue and the set of Strings play a melody. The Tabla alternates between ‘ta ka dhi mi ta ka’ and a gap for the same number of beats. After two rounds of this dialogue between the single and the group, a couple of more Violins join the first one and sketch a melody with the other set of Strings playing their original melody. The Bass Guitar plucks a String and then starts the magic. The Chorus hums with exactitude with the Bass Guitar caressing the humming with some beautiful patterns. The VeeNa joins and plays its own melody. Now, this is heavenly indeed! It seems as if Tyagaraja and Bach meet in the heavens with the angels showering the flowers. Finally, the Strings enter and the VeeNa responds to them with an unmatched majesticity!
Is it possible to evaluate the purity of this Gold?
I don’t think so. How about you?
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