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)


Anonymous said...

Nice Information.But i Like the Janaki's Chinna Kannan Azhaikiraan than Balamurali's...
By the By Have u Trained in Classical Music?

Emjay said...

Well, I like that version too. Janaki's version of Chinna Kannan is predominantly backed with western orchestration, though.

Nope. I wish :(
Kelvi arivu, that's all :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Thats Amazing Mohan....But u have good Knowledge abt Raga's and Orchestration..