Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Break the rules - I

'Nayakan' was a milestone for in Tamil film industry for several reasons. It changed the perception of people who believed in the commercial formula for a success of the movie. From the music standpoint, it was a feast for music lovers and 'Thenpandi Seemayile' will be remembered forever as an icon and symbol of grief and sorrow.

I read from multiple sources that originally Illayaraja had played the tune of "Nila Adhu Vaanathu Mele" for the situation of "Thenpaandi Seemayile". Though Mani Ratnam liked the tune, he asked Raaja to use the tune for a "item number" dance by Kuyili and extracted another gem of the tune "Thenpaandi Seemayile"! No doubt, Mani Ratnam has good ears for music.

Still, I have a different perspective here. No doubt, a Raaga and the underlying melody and tune brings the mood to forefront. But, Illayaraja has sometimes overpowered this characterstics of Raaga/tune with his weapon - orchestration.

To give you an example - take the Melakartha Raaga - 'Bhavapriya'. It is considered as a Raaga that brings the sorrowness to forefront. (The scale goes like this - S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N2 S (i.e.) C C# D# F# A# B#) Did you notice what is interesting about this raaga? You have ALL black keys (sharp variations) - of course except Sa and Pa as they don't have variations. Is this the reason why the Raaga brings out the color of sorrowness? I don't know !! Perhaps, an expert can explain.

Anyways, Raaja used 'Bhavapriya' raaga to come up with a song for a comical situation in the movie 'Guru Shishyan'. The song is "Kandupudichaen Kandupudichaen". He did succeed in overpowering the challenge that the raaga posed!

So, my argument here is even if Raaja had chosen "Nila Adhu Vaanathu Mele" tune for "Thenpaandi Seemayile" he would have succeeded with his sheer brilliance in orchestration, because he is always Raaja :-) There is one more person who comes to my mind who can change the texture and color of the song and that is SPB with his brilliance in his voice and modulation. Only he could make, even a "Dabba" song a hit!!

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