Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Survival of the fittest


The most common complaint I hear about Illayaraja is that he persisted with ONLY SPB and Janaki and lots of talented singers went unnoticed during the period 1976 – 1995. Before I proceed with my viewpoint, let us get the record straight.

It is very clear that though SPB and Janaki dominated that era, there were so many other singers (Jesudas, Mano, Jeyachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan, Deepan Chakravarthi, Chitra, Swarnalatha, Susheela, Uma Ramanan, Vani Jayaram, Jency, Sasirekha to name a few) who sang under him. (I will come up with detailed statistics a little later)

I cannot buy the theory of “persisting with SPB/Janaki” and “talented singers went unnoticed”. It is one of the allegations with no logic, whatsoever. My argument is twofold:

Firstly, opportunities are not given. It must be grabbed. A talented singer will grab an opportunity instead of having a composer notice him/her. No one person elevated A.R.Rahman. With his shear talent, he rose to the new heights when Raaja was already at his peak.

Secondly, if you were to come up with a roles & responsibilities of a music director, it would look something like this, IMO:

  • Must give apt and good music for the movie
  • Must give ALL Hit numbers (from the crew standpoint)
  • Must have re-recording that elevates the movie and carries it well
  • PERIOD

    I don’t think introducing new singers is a said responsibility of a composer. He/She might choose to do it, if needed. Composer understands the emotions needed for his/her composition better than anyone else. By now, every one of us know Raaja’s throughput. He was able to score for over 50 movies a year and if SPB and Janaki could match his throughput with the best quality, why should and why would he have to go out of the way and start looking for new singers? How many songs did SPB or Janaki mess up with, anyways?

    With the dearth of tunes, quality lyrics and innovation, new singers are the only solace to the current music directors. Anyways, in the name of introducing new singers the current crop of music directors have made a mockery of things. Singers (I hate to call them that way) who cannot even sing in proper Shruthi, who cannot pronounce the language properly end up singing several albums L All they have to do is do basic rendering with some stylish mispronunciations. Thanks to the sound engineers. Sad state of affairs! And after 5-10 albums they are thrown in the dust and they end up being models, looking for acting chances and what not! There were at least 200-250 new singers introduced in the last 10 years. How many of them have stood out the time and test? With just one or two success under their belt, they already are on the top of the world. Thanks to the hysteria in the media! What is the whole point in having plethora of singers who have sung only 2-3 songs are never used again?

    Illayaraja has a no non-sense approach to this. We all know that he is a perfectionist and a strict disciplinarian. He has a score sheet and track ready when a singer comes to the recording studio. He doesn’t like to settle for anything less than what he had envisioned. Almost every singer has acknowledged that it is a great learning experience and you must be really talented to sing under him. That isn’t a fault of him, huh!

    Thank God. The reformists have not started demanding reservation in this industry.

    Rather, I have a poser to Raaja. Why the hell (with all respect) you stopped giving chances to SPB, whose voice is only getting better as his age progresses?
  • 9 comments:

    Kavi said...

    Infact, I have heard that when Raaja became a music director, he called upon the famous female singer of that time Mrs S to sing for him.She flatly refused because she would only sing for the then most popular MDs. Janaki was not so well known at that time. Raaja made use of her and brought the best out of her. In fact Raaja can be credited for discovering the hidden talent in Janaki and bringing her to the limelight.

    My 2 cents. (from what I have heard). :)
    Kavitha

    Manaswini said...

    Nice write up..
    Speaking the facts
    Well even i too want to do this

    "Rather, I have a poser to Raaja. Why the hell (with all respect) you stopped giving chances to SPB, whose voice is only getting better as his age progresses?"

    though debatable, heard that they had a rift because of EGO clashes....Hell with their EGO's...they both are content with their EGO's ...its we who are being deprived from the pleasure we have from this combo...

    Nice article...keep writing

    Emjay said...

    Kavitha,

    That's a news to me. I think probably once he became famous she knocked his doors, later...

    "Muthu Mani Maalai" will be in my top 100 for sure...Great interludes..What a melody :)

    Emjay said...

    Welcome Manaswini to my blog :)

    I didn't know that. And in fact, I really doubt it. Many of his recent shows (SPB in Ennodu Paattu Paadungal and even live shows) he keeps showering praises ... and goes on and on and on...

    My guess is this:

    SPB has repeatedly mentioned in his live shows that these days new singers do not get proper guidance. So, I guess he and Raaja have an understanding and probably some singers are groomed.. (Vijay Jesudas, Karthik, Tippu etc..)

    This is purely my imagination. No basis, though..

    Suresh Kumar said...

    I strongly believe that there is no ego clash or anything of that sort between Raaja and Bala and there are solid evidences... SPB participated in recent dubai concert of Illayaraja, and they were both praising each other... infact after singing 'Ilamai ennum poongaatru' raaja told that SPB rendition today is better than the original recording...

    Vinith said...

    i have started reading your articles one by one... and finding each one of it really interesting... i regret for having missed your blog from the day it was started... anyways, better late than never...

    and abt this post,

    as a craziest fan of SPB and Raaja, i have been "yearning" to hear SPB's voice in raaja's composition... I have cursed Raaja sir for not giving chance for SPB. But i have heard that when they both were in peak (late 80s) there was a ego clash betw them whicm made raja give all the songs in "Idhayathai thirudathe" to Mano. Telugu version of this movie had all songs sung by SPB. When two kings work together, ego clash becomes inevitable...

    Even now SPB's voice melts me as it did before... there is no dearth for energy, soul, modulation in his voice... no new comers' voice can compete with this evegreen voice...

    Hope we'll get too hear the legend's voice in legend's composition...

    i dono how well the following lines suit the situation, but still... :-)

    "mandhaiyil irundha irandu aadugal veru veru padhayil poi vittana... meendum sandhithu paada mudiyavillaiye..."

    Emjay said...

    Thanks Vinith. I have a very strong feeling that the chemistry is very strong between the IR and SPB. Quite a lot of times in the recent times, SPB has been praising IR and his skills.

    I haven't started writing about SPB. Oh, he is a true genius.

    Vinith said...

    Hi Emjay,

    Just before a week, i started a new blog on SPB. But sadly I couldn't update the blog.

    Check it out...

    Naani said...

    extremely well written...