Saturday, May 31, 2008

Unsung Queen

Several unsung queens were lost in the melodious tides of P.Susheela and S.Janaki. One such unsung queen was one of my favorite singer Vani Jayaram. If you were to call P.Susheela's voice as honey, I would be at loss of words to qualify Vani Jayaram's voice. Extremely sweet voice and a very talented singer. Perhaps, destiny determines your destiny.

Having sung some major hit numbers under the belt of KV Mahadevan and MS Viswanathan, she was already a talent to reckon with. One of the evergreen melody was under the music direction of Shankar Ganesh, "Meghame Meghame". All the credit to Vani Jayaram to have given such a wonderful number. And thanks to Shankar Ganesh for bringing a wonderful Ghazal to south.

See below the original ghazal:

Unfortunately, she could sing only a very few numbers under Raaja's baton. Have you ever gone in one of those roller coasters that has all the sharp bends, twists but lands very safely. Yes, that's the analogy I would want to give to the song "Kavithai Kelungal" from Punnagai Mannan. For a long time, I never had a liking to the song mainly due to the shruti changes. Coming to think of it now, what an amazing composition! The Shruti Bedham in the midst of the song reflecting the emotions of the Revathi and a true roller coaster ride experience with Vani Jayaram's voice is a treat to any music lover.

Enjoy the musical treat:

For most of the music lovers, Vani Jayaram will live close to our heart.

Raajadhi Raaja

Film industry has seen several successful music directors. But, how many of them enjoyed the fame and privilege that Illayaraja enjoyed spanning 3 decades is a big question. During the Annakkili film celebration, one of the die-hard fan (already?) went up to the mike and yelled: "Where is the Music Director of this movie?"

People used to watch hopeless movies solely for the songs. During the 250 days celebration of Payanangal Mudivathillai, a landmark movie in Tamil, cut outs of a music director (Raaja) were raised for the first time in the history. In 1989, M.Karunanidhi the then CM christened Illayaraja as "Isaignani" Illayaraja. Often people quip about his public relation skills that if and only if he had a PR machine he would have been the No.1 even today, in terms of market.

Some of the obvious references to Illayaraja in the lyrics that were tuned by Maestro himself:

Vaa Raja Vaa (Kannadasan penned this song keeping Raaja in mind)

Orampo Orampo Rukkumani (A clear tribute to Illayaraja and Gangai Amaran, causing a furore in TN)
Pudhu Raagam Padaipadhaale Naanum Iraivane (Madai Thiranthu from Nizhalgal)
Indha Kaalath Ilaignarukku Illayaraja Endhan Paatt erukku (How confident to proclaim!!)
Raaja Raajadhi Raajan Indha Raaja (He was simply at his peak this time)
Raajadhi Raaja Un Thandhirangal
Raaja Kaiya Vecha Adhu Wronga Ponadhilla (Vaali mentioned in an interview)
Raasave.... Unnai Vida Maataen (Several directors and producers used to be at his mercy, once)
Chinnathaayaval Thantha Raajaavae (Reference to his mother)
Enna Pethu Rasaiya nnu (Naan Yaaru Enakkedhum Theriyalaye)

Paattale Budhi Sonnaar (Karagattakaran)
Adharkaaga thaan Isai Avathaarama Naan Porandhaennu (Avathaaram)
Muthirai Eppodhum Kuthida Thappadha Raaja (Yes, very few songs miss his signature)

Did he have a foresight of what he was going to achieve when he did all this. Indeed he established a kingdom that he proclaimed in:

"Isaikena Isaikindra Rasigargal Rajjiyam
Padaipaen Naaaaaaaannn"

Did any other Music Director in the whole of India ever enjoy this kind of privilege or fame? My little brain box says a resounding NO.

Friday, May 30, 2008

(Thiyaga) RAAJA (r)

I wanted to talk about the transition from "Gramathu" Raaja to (Thiyaga)Raaja(r).
Though several composers prior to Raaja have done several hit folk tunes, "Machana Paarthingala" took Raaja to the new heights. Why was Annakkili so well received by fans that Raaja became an overnight hero.

As Raaja often says, he doesn't believe in serving fast food. He was able to bring out the nativity (Mannin Manam) very easily. He was born, brought up and raised in the village backdrop. Thalattu, Oppari, Nathu Nadum Paattu, Nell Kuthal Paattu etc. was nothing new to him. So, it was natural that he was so fluent in folk music.

Immediately after Annakkili, he signed up several films and most (read all) of them had folkish tunes. Neither he had formal training or education in music nor was he financially sound to afford one. He started giving several folk hits and people started calling him "Gramathu" Raaja. No suprise, natural. Isn't it?

Some of the (so called) pundits and the media tried to write him off by branding him a "dappanguthu" man. The most famous singer of that time (didn't I make it obvious?) made open public comments against Raaja and his background. I would like to refrain from making the comments public. That was enough to kindle the ego and a new Raaja was awaiting to be born.

There came the movie "Kavikkuyil" and Raaja wanted to prove a point. How else other than scoring a pure 24 caret classical masterpiece? He invited none other than the then busiest and popular genius Dr.Balamurali Krishna to sing a song for him. He must have done enough homework, didn't he?

He could have chosen the vanilla raaga - Kalyani or Mohanam or any other popular raaga. Raaja chose a raaga that posed a major challenge to the film music composers. Reethagowli. Till Raaja chose to tune a song in Reethagowli, no other music director had dared to use it in film music. Not because the Raaga was not known to others, but for the reason that by traversing through the swaras and giving gamakams you will start making it sound like a mini Kutcheri. Film music wasn't that receptive to it.

The main strength of Raaja was to take the classical form of raaga and present in a light way without diluting the essence of the raaga itself. Later, he started experimenting with western orchestration for ICM.

A mind blowing flute opening and here he comes up with "Chinna Kannan Azhaikiran". A masterpiece of Raaja and this was enough to silence his critics and he never turned back.

Meet you next time with a different topic.

A digression: Rahman scored a beautiful song in Reethagowli - Azhagana Ratchasiye
(One of those Vairamuthu's Pethal)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bach in Chennai

Those were the days when I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to associate music director and director with movies. Year 1991 - I must have been in my 8th grade, then. One day, our neighbor “Maami” asked us if we have heard the rocking and the song that created the rage – “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu”.

The movie got just released and she was nice enough to give us her cassette to listen. My brother and I immediately took our “dabba” Philips 2-in-1 set and went inside the kitchen and played it.

Played it, played it and played it countless. The tune was so catchy that I wanted to sing immediately in front of my classmates the next day to show off. I never got to hear other songs that day. I didn’t have any taste then to analyze or appreciate the song technically.

Later I learnt that the whole song orchestration was taken in a single shot!! What a prolific composer this man must be. The vivid violin movements, rich counterpoints, blending WCM with ICM are some of the features to point out in this song. Raaja had used “Abheri” raaga so beautifully and blended with a rich and thunderous western orchestration. And without compromising on the melody.

Whenever I hear the first interlude, I feel like Raaja was tied to a knot till then and he is set free to exercise his sheer brilliance. Yes, indeed once the interlude takes off, you can get a feel of a 747 taking off! Close your eyes and hear this piece once.

And without any problems Raaja lands for charanam to flow.

Manirathnam had once told in an interview that he finds it difficult to place a song in a movie as it interrupts his screenplay. In that context, Raaja did give a bonus.

Not only he gave a hit song through “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu”, he also characterized the personalities of both Rajini (as a freak) and Shobana (as a calm, traditional) in the movie through just this song.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


With gas price shooting to $4 per gallon, driving from Michigan to Niagara Falls, NY through 3 states doesn't sound like a good plan. But, I didn't have an idea of this souring gas price, in first place. Anyways, heading to Niagara this long weekend and would seldom have time in another 3 days. So, thought of sharing something for my readers to chew and digest till I come back:

A forum where a gentleman has given us so many moments of Kannadasan to us and presented the story behind many songs the great legend has penned.

Thanks to Mahendra Raj for giving us so much information and I am sure you all would enjoy reading this.

Very few people have the courage and will to confess their other side and Kannadasan is next to Gandhi, IMHO.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Neyveli Santhanagopalan - What a genius must he be!
Let me confess. I have not watched too many concerts/programmes of this genius. However, this "Kazhudhai" could also smell some camphor!

Here is the Kaa va va Kandha va va va.... sung by Neyveli Santhanagoplan

Any paamaran can be melted with his rendering.

Let me come to the point. This song was given as the base to Raaja by Kamal for the film Guna. The song was already dealt earlier in this blog - "Paartha Vizhi Paartha Padi". Raaja got his inspiration from this song and look at what we got in Paartha Vizhi Paartha Padi.

This is called Inspiration.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I had the privilege to hear Dasavatharam album yesterday. Less talked, better it is.
However, being Kamal's movie, planning to just drop 2 lines here.

Inspiration has always been there from the years of KM, MSV, Raaja and ARR. It is well understood and acknowledged.
However, a blatant and shameless lift does require some answering.

Original (God knows !!) :

Modified and presented in Dasavatharam :

'Mukunda Mukunda' - A lame melody and pathetic rendering. Even an amateur could compose better.

Only consolation is the lyrics by Kavignar Vaali, at his best.

Notable lyrics:

Raajalakshmi Naayakan Srinivasan Dhaan
Srinivasan Sei Intha Vishnu Daasan Naan

Apparently, Raajalakshmi and Srinivasan are Kamal's real life parents.

Inspiration and lifting are different, Himesh. I will come back with a inspiration number in my next post.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unsung SPB

Despite singing over 35,000 songs spanning more than 3 decades, this man's thirst for singing the unsung numbers doesn't end!

'Poongaatru Thirumbuma' is a signature Raaja's folk song and it is also very famous for Vairamuthu's lyrics, especially - "Methai Vaanginaen Thookkatha Vaangala". This song is originally sung by Malasia Vasudevan and S.Janaki. Flute has been used brilliantly to give the feel. Enjoy the same song sung by SPB in one of the events/concert.

"Thaalaatta" is rendered by SPB as "Thaaa aaaaa laaa aaa ttaeee" as a 'Thaalattu' by itself. Crystal clear rendering. After hearing SPB's version, I feel more and more immersed into this version of the song. Is it just my prejudice? May be.

Please enjoy the both the versions of song now.

Original Version:

SPB Version:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Raaja Durbar

If one has to list down the key milestones in Tamil Film Music, Sindhu Bhairavi cannot be missed in the list. It marked a strong presence in all spheres of film making. Not to leave out excellent acting and direction from ‘Iyakkunar Sigaram’ – K.Balachandar. Sivakumar lived the role of JKB and his body language throughout was simply superb. An actor is only as good as the scope given.

Its swara time now. JKB loses his No.1 spot in the industry after he resorts to alcohol in an effort to forget his association with Suhasini. He has no ‘Kutcheri’ in hand and one night he stops by the Sabha, where he used to scintillate. He notices a ‘Dabba’ Baghavathar performing a concert and the audience with little choice nodding their heads. This situation must have been like eating ‘Thirunelveli Halwa’ for our Raaja and Jesudas. Can you imagine the Raaga that Raaja chose to use? Durbar.

The song is very short, but doesn’t miss the punch. KB would have only wanted one thing here. A musical piece for JKB to assert that he hasn’t lost his supremacy. JKB interrupts the Baghavathar and starts singing:

Ri Ri Ri…Ri Sa Ri Pa Ma Ga Ga Ri Sa Ri Ri Ri

Rest all follows like a 250 mph bullet train from Mr. Jesudas. The breath control, rendering power and the short nature of the song gives all that KB would have wanted for the situation.

Situation Songs – Raaja Rocks!!

Click here to listen to songs from Sindhu Bhairavi

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Year 1991 was filled with great hits of Raaja like ‘Dhalapathi’, ‘Chinna Koundar’, ‘Captain Prabhakaran’, ‘Chinna Koundar’, ‘Eeramaana Rojave’ etc. All the more, year 1991 and 1992 had more than 45 movies scored by Illayaraja. Who in the earth would have imagined, a 26 year old chap would make millions of people turn towards him with a single score?

A digression: Most of my favorites of Raaja’s songs are from 1990-94, though most of Raaja’s fans list his 80s. How can one forget his songs for Yejaman, Chinna Koundar that just brought out the ‘Mannin Vaasanai’. He is such an expert in bringing the nativity out with an ease. Undoubtedly, he is a genius when it comes to touching the soul and invoking your feelings.

Alright, I wanted to talk something else here, but it is very difficult for me to talk about music without talking about Raaja.

‘Chinna Chinna Aasai’ rocked the whole of Tamil Nadu and I remember very well Ceylon Radio channel used to play this song several times a day. Fresh sounds, new patterns and everything was so fresh and refreshing to our ears. Minmini became a star overnight. She was introduced in Tamil by Raaja and had sung in ‘Devar Magan’, ‘Meera’, ‘Aranmanai Kili’ etc.

I always wondered what happened to that sweet voice after Roja? Her voice was so refreshing and had a feel of innocence. Recently, I came across an interview from Minmini narrating the unfortunate happenings in her life.

Sometimes, Mother Nature is cruel!! And hats off to Rahman to have given her a second chance in ‘Karuthamma’, without disappointing her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Absolute Bliss

Born and brought up in a lower-end brothel, he had been dreaming a lot about a fictious character Abhirami. He believes that once he meets Abhirami and marries on a full moon day, he will be absolved and be let free of all his miseries. Kamal played the role to its perfection and till day madmen are often referred as ‘Guna’. That symbolizes his performance.

I was supposed to be talking music. Isn’t it? Here is a man who can come up with mind blowing tunes even if there is no situation for a song in a movie. Remember the songs he gave to Ramaraajan for run-of-the-mill movies. And now you give him such a situation: “Guna gets to meet Abhirami finally”. I can imagine what Kamal must have told Raja: “Feel of Bliss. That’s what I am looking for”.

Yes, that’s precisely what he gave with “Paartha Vizhi Paartha Padi”. A devotional, free-flowing, sense of bliss and goose bumps!! Interestingly, the song’s prelude with the sounds from ‘Sangu’ – An instrument used usually to communicate war messages or death messages.

And see, what kind of lyrics he chose to tune to. He used 'Abhirami Andhadhi' brilliantly to suit the situation showing the sense of obsession and surrender. Even if you haven’t watched the movie, you can clearly list the adjectives of the tune. It brings out ecstasy to the forefront and leaves us speechless. Raaja has the knack of presenting an epic like ‘Thiruvasagam’ or ‘Thevaaram’ for consumption to public who are neither the pundits of literature nor Carnatic music. I could have never ever dreamt of knowing ‘Sivapuranam’ by-heart, but for Thiruvaasagam.

And the rendering was done by none other than a great legend, Jesudas. He made the rendering look so simple, but, takes one several attempts to reach the notes he did with ease.

No wonder, this is one of the Kamal’s favorite song.
And mine too :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mere coincidence?

I have always wondered about the Pallavi’s for Rahman’s songs. They had repeating words in MOST of his hit songs. Is it purely a coincidence or something to do with his style of composing pattern?

Here are some that came on top of my mind:

1. Chinna Chinna Aasai
2. Chikkubukku Chikkubukku
3. Jumbalakka Jumbalakka
4. Chaiyya Chaiyya
5. Nenjinile Nenjinile
6. Azhagina Azhagi
7. Margazhipoove Margazhipoove
8. Narumugaye Narumugaye
9. Malargale Malargale
10. Urvasi Urvasi
11. Hai Re Hai Re
12. Anbe Anbe Kolladhe
13. Anbe Anbe Enai
14. Kaadhal yogi Kaadhal yogi
15. Mukkaala Mukkabala
16. Ennavale Adi Ennavale
17. Thendrale Thendrale Mella Nee pesu
18. Thoda Thoda Malarndhadhenna
19. Anjali Anjali Pushpanjali
20. Sonia Sonia Sokkavaikkum
21. Vennilave Vennilave
22. Theendai Ennai Theendai
23. Nenjil Jil Jil Jil Jil
24. Mudhalvane Vane Vane Mudhalvane
25. Kannum Kannum Kollai
26. Udhaya Udhaya
27. Snehithane Snehithane
28. PachaiNirame Pachainirame
29. Chotta Chotta Ninayudhu
30. Chinna Chinna Mazhaithuligal
31. Kandukondaen Kandukondaen
32. Uyire Uyire Vandhu
33. Vaaji Vaaji Vaaji Sivaji
34. Pennalla Pennalla
35. Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalaali
36. Dippu Dippu Dippu Dippu
37. Thillana Thillaana
38. Sowkiyama Kanne Sowkiyama
39. Suthi Suthi Vandheega
40. Injirengo Injirengo
41. Rasika Rasika Rasika Rasika
42. Thamizha Thamizha
43. Thee Thee Thithikkum Thee
44. Maaro Maaro Chakka Maaro
45. Humma Humma Humma Humma
46. September Maadham September Maadham
47. Thaniye Thannan Thanniye
48. Nadiye Nadiye Kaadhal Nadiye
49. Aiyyo Pathikichu Pathikichu Pathikichu
50. Nenje Nenje Marandhuvidu
51. Maaya Maaya Maaya Ellam Maaya
52. Rukkumani Rukkumani
53. Nagida Nagida Nagida Oh ho
54. Rithu Aaa Gayi Re Rithu Cha Gayi Re
55. Ghanan Ghanan
56. Dilse Re Dilse Re
57. Ya Ye Re Ya Ye Re
58. Tanha Tanha
59. Piya Haji Ali Piya Haji Ali
60. Dheeme Dheeme
61. Kariye Kariye
62. Kuchi Kuchu Rakamma
63. Anbe Vaa En Anbe Vaa
64. Swaasame Swasame
65. Konjam Nilavu Konjam Neruppu
66. Ballelakka Ballelakka
67. Ada Ada Ada Asathudhu

68. No Problem No Problem
69. Paarkaathe Paarkaathe
70. Thee Thee Thee Jagajothi
71. Roja Roja Roja Roja

72. Nannare Nannare Nannare
73. Mustafa Mustafa
74. Velli Malare Velli Malare
75. Sillallava Sillallava Kaadhal Nayakara
76. Mazhai Thuli Mazhai Thuli
77. Kuliruthu Kuliruthu
78. Shakalaka Baby Shakalaka Baby
79. Samba Samba
80. En Kaadhale En Kaadhale
81. Columbus Columbus
82. Smiyayi Smiyayi
83. Oh Maria Oh Maria
84. Kuliruthu Kuliruthu
85. Boom Boom Shakalaka Shakalaka
86. Acham Acham Illai

Friday, May 9, 2008

Violence in Romance?

Let me start this blog with the most famous and super hit song from Mudhalvan. Song has been picturised with Manisha and Arjun dancing to the tune of A.R.Rahman with enchanting rhythm.

No wonder why ARR songs become super hit. He focuses on foot tapping basic rhythm and builds the song on top of it. "Kurukku Siruthavale" is one such song where the rhythm is really foot tapping. And the lyrics are written by none other than Kavi Perarasar – Vairamuthu.

Let us first dissect the pallavi and understand what the heck is "Kurukku Siruthavale". I did Google on it and damn it, couldn't find a meaning for it.

Nope. Google never fails. I finally got some lead to a forum where one gentleman enlightened my Tamil ignorance with the meaning of it. "Kurukku" means Breadth, in general. "Siruthavale" means 'One who has the least'. In this context, VM (Vairamuthu) describes the heroine as 'One who has the least breadth'.Yes, his waist is so least in breadth!!

Eureka!! I got to know some Tamil Literature. Thanks to VM.

I only want to highlight how this man brings violence, death etc. in a romantic duet !! Look at the following lyrics that comes in the song..

Kannukkula Nozhanju Uruthuriyae
Uyir Moocha Niruthu Kanmaniye
Un Mudhuga Tholachu Veli Yera
Udambu Mannil Pudhaigira Varayil Udan Vara Koodumo
Kolla Vandha Maranam Kooda Kozhambum Ayya
Unnala Sila Murai Irakkavum Sila Murai Pirakkavum

You enter through my eyes and irritate
Give me a tight hug and stop my bloody breath
I will pierce your back and come out, pain? what the heck?
Be with me until the body buried into the soil
Death that may kill you will get confused
I die sometimes because of you

Mind boggling? Hold your breath.

This man has lots and lots to offer like this. Watch this space.

Thanks Vairamuthu !!

The thought of blogging about music and lyrics rushed into my mind after I heard a song today, from a Tamil movie “Rakshagan”.

Before I head on, let me confess that I am an ardent die-hard fan of Maestro Illayaraja and his genre of music. Isn’t His music a genre by itself? It will not be unfair to say that I am obsessed and the music in my veins is his. I will reserve lots and lots of the coming blogs for my IR (as I call Illayaraja).

But, this blog is all about the song – “Kanava Illai Kaatra” that features in the Tamil movie – “Rakshagan” composed by A.R.Rahman. The song starts with a very mild prelude and the rhythm is maintained throughout the song, superbly sung by Srinivas.

I haven’t watched this movie/song, however, I was told by my wife that apparently the song situation is like this: Nagarjun carries the heroine (Sushmita?) and climbs the stairs. The lyrics in the song really amaze me. The song goes like this:

Kanava illai Kaatra

Kaiyil Midhakkum Kaanava nee
Kai Kaal Mulaitha Kaatra nee
Kaiyil Yaendhiyum Ganakka villai Ye

(Are you) Dream or Air
(Are you) Dream floating in my hand
(Are you) Air with hands/legs
How the heck you are damn light-weighted??

What an imagination by our man, Vairamuthu. Further he goes:

Nurai aal Seidha Silayaaa Nee
Kaiyil Midhakkum Kaanava nee

(Are you) a statue made of bubbles?
(Are you) Dream floating in my hand

Wow!! Our man is known for blending violence in romance in his pen. Can he think so mild and light? Hmm… Watch out for my coming blogs where I want to throw some light about how he brings violence into his lyrics in a romantic situation.

ARR has clearly given enough room for lyrics by playing down in background score. No interludes. He has just maintained the tempo of the song with simple strokes – Guitar?

Eppadi Unnai Yendhi Konde
Indira Logam Poi Vidava
Idaiyil Konjam Vali Eduthaalum

Chandhira Tharayil Paai Idava

Shall I carry you like this
Till we reach ‘Indira’s World’
Even if it pains slightly
And we will land in Moon and have fun ;)

I know. His imagination is beyond the heights. But, this is the same man who talked about "Indira Thottathu Mundhiri". Where the heck he got that from? Now, our man goes science! Yes, he talks about gravity.

Nilavil Porulgal Idai Ezhakkum
Neerilum Porul Idai Ezhakkum
Kaadhalil kooda Idai Ezhakkum
Indru Kandaenadi, Adhai Kandu Kondaenadi

Objects lose weight in moon (0 gravity)?
Objects lose weight in water (buoyancy)?
I feel the same here
You have lost weight in our love.

I agree, beauty of the poem lies in lies. He proves it here. And, these are Vairamuthu’s Vaira (diamond) Varigal (lines).

Kaadhal Thaimai Irandu Mattum
Baaram Enbadhai Ariyaadhu
Un Palingu Mugathai Paarthu Kondal
Pasiyo Valiyo Theriyaadhu

Both love and motherhood
Never feel the pain of heaviness
I can survive without food and pain
If I see your beautiful face forever

Let me admit here. I am not a great fan of Vairamuthu. But, his lines are extremely touching and very powerful here.

Thanks to Vairamuthu and ARR for bringing up such a wonderful song that made me to start my first blog!

Stay tuned more to follow.