Friday, September 4, 2009

Raaja's Chennai Concert in Netflix

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Azhagaay Pookkuthey

My latest crush:

Fell for it from the first hearing. Though the pallavi reminds me of a Raaja's song, overall the song is well composed and a wonderful melody! Can someone guess, which song I am referring to?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Long Pallavis

Some songs that I recollect with long pallavi...

Gundumalli Gundumalli (Solla Marantha Kathai)
Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu (6 to 60 varai)
Oru Raagam Paadalodu (Aanandha Raagam)
ABC Nee Vaasi So Easy Un Raasi Vaa Rosi (Oru Kaithiyin Dairy)
Poovil Vandu Koodum Kangal .. (Kaadhal Oviyam)

The coincidence in all of the songs is that they are all set in Mohanam raagam.

Can you think of other ones?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Math and Music - Part IV

"Axis of Symmetry" is a line that divides the figure into two halves, with either side is a mirror image of the other. In the world of music, with all the figures formed with 7 Swaras, Shadjamam and Panchamam have a special significance. If the frequency associated with Shadjamam is X decibels Hz, and the Shadjamam at the next octave is 2X decibels Hz, then, the Panchamam stands in the middle of it as an axis of symmetry - at 1.5X decibels Hz.

In short, Shadjamam and Panchamam notes are special because they act as epicenters, around which other swaras dwell. In this post, I would like to bring some interesting aspect, what I call "Sa Pa Symmetry". Play a sequence/pattern of notes with your Sa as the home key and try to play the same sequence/pattern of notes with lower/upper Panchamam as the home key. There you go!

Keeravani and Mayamalavagowli raaga offered this symmetry naturally. Raaja has used this pattern in many many songs. To highlight with a classic example, "Poovama Oorvolam" song from Chinna Thambi. Listen to the verses -
"Aranmana Annakili Tharayile Nadapadhu Nadakkuma Adukkuma
Paniyilum Vetta Veli Veyilum Ulla Sogam Aranmana Kudukkuma"

If the first line of the above stanza is centered around upper Shadjamam, the second one follows with lower Panchamam. Another example in "Poova Eduthu Oru Maala" from "Amman Kovil Kizhakkale". Listen to the verses -
"Kannadi Vala
Munnadi Vizha"

Other evident usages that comes to my mind immediately are - "Om Namaha" from Idhayathai Thirudadhe; "Poo Poo Poo Pootha Solai" and many more..

This might be one of the reason why Keeravani and Mayamalavagowli are very popular in light music and especially Raaja has used to its full potential in film songs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Math and Music - Part III

"Octave Equivalence" is an interesting concept that I have discussed in my earlier post -

You can observe that in a keyboard, the keys goes like this: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni .... and it repeats with Sa, Ri, Ga, .... and so on.. The frequency of Sa in the lower octave is half of the frequency in its adjacent higher octave and so on. When the frequency doubles, it sounds similar and hence its called "Octave Equivalence". (i.e.) Sa in lower octave sounds similar to Sa in higher octave except for the fact that the frequency is higher.

You cannot imagine how music would sound in the absence of this "Octave Equivalence". As many composers, Raaja has used this "Octave Equivalence" in several hundreds of his songs. The usage of this concept automatically brings a beauty to the piece of music inadvertantly.

Let me illustrate with an example -
"Vaanile Thenila Aaduthe Paaduthe" song from Kakki Chattai movie.

The notes for "Vaanile Thenila Aaduthe Paaduthe" goes like -
P D1 P P D1 P P D1 P P D1 P

In the Charanam, the last phrase goes like this - "Maivizhi Paingodi Mannavan Poongodi"
The notes for the above phrase is EXACTLY same as pallavi -
P D1 P P D1 P P D1 P P D1 P
but, in the higher octave.

Another example -

The swaras in "Aasai Nooru Vagai Vaazhvil Nooru Suvai Va" - Pallavi is identical to the swaras used in later part of the Charanam.

"sorkam maNNil varum sondham kaNNil varum vaa"

In other words, the tune for the two parts is identical except for the fact that one is in lower octave and the other in higher. Raaja has employed this technique especially with repeating the Pallavi's tune in Charanam (in higher octave) in many songs.

You can observe the same pattern even in the recent "Kangal Irundaal" song by James Vasanthan. (Kangal Irandaal (Pallavi) - S G R G M; Unai Indri Verum Enadhillai (Charanam) S G R G)

Meet you next time with a different pattern.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Math and Music - Part II

Hello All !

In my previous posts, I had emphasised the importance of mathematical patterns, predictable sequencesand symmetry in music. It would not be fair to say that applying these forumula in music alone will make a musical hit. However, it plays a big role and I wish to talk about one such formula today, that I call "Break the sequence".

Here is an interesting sequence -
131 131 131 421
The interesting part here is the sequence "1 3 1" is repeated over and over again and the sequence is deliberately broken in the last by "4 2 1". The repetition of sequence and breaking it gives birth to melody. Illayaraja has used this pattern in 100s of his songs and I want to highlight some famous ones:

"ABC Nee Vaasi So Easy Un Raasi Vaa Rosi" song from Oru Kaidhiyin Dairy. If you assign Sa = 1, Ri = 2, Ga = 3 and so on, the swara sequence goes like this:

312 312 312 312 521

"Vaanile Thenila Aaduthe Paaduthe Vaanampadi" song from "Kaakki Chattai"
The sequence goes like this:
121 121 121 121 1442

"Vizhiyil Vizhundhu Idhayam Nuzhaidhu Uyiril Kalandha Urave"
The sequence goes like this:
888 777 555 444 111 001

Wow!!! Mere avarohanam played in a sequence of "Sudha Dhanyasi" scale. Oh God! I can't believe, he created a magical with such a simplicity. The beauty and melody lies when the sequence breaks at "Urave".

The super famous "Thakida Thathimi" has a sequence:
123 123 123 123 1 2 3

This is a different way of breaking the sequence. Not in swaras, but in the time signature. If the first 4 sets has a quarter note signature, the last part broke the sequence by a half note!

Another variation of the sequence in "Solai Poovil Maalai Thendral Paadum Neram" from "Vellai Roja":
88 88 88 88 7 6 7 8
We can go on and on by illustrating several sequences Raaja has employed in his hundreds of songs. Some of the others include:

Siriya Paravai Siragai Virithu Thudikiradhe
Naan Enbadhu Nee Allavo Deva Devi
Raathiriyil Poothirukkum Thaamarai Thaan Penno
Oru Kanam Oru Yugam Aaga
Kaalam Kaalam Aaaga Vaazhugindra Kaadhalukku Nangal Arpanam
Vidiya Vidya Nadanam Sandhosham
Arumba Arumba Saram Thodutha
Poovil Vandu Koodum Kangal Moodum Vandhu Odum
Iru Vizhiyin Vazhiye Nee Dhaan Ingu ponadhu
Innum Ennai Enna Seyya Poogirai
Iravum Pagalum Ulagai Rasikka Ninaithathu
Aalapol Velapol
Onnu Rendu Moonu Naalu

I will meet you all in my next post with different patterns that Raaja has used.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Math and Music - Part I

Mathematics and music are so interrelated and homogenous that ordinary ears can hardly see it as two separate entities. In general, the likeability of music or any piece of artwork by an ordinary person firstly depends on how easily he/she can comprehend and predict.

Though may not be true in all the cases, I believe it is true in a majority of cases. Once a person is able to comprehend and predict the piece of artwork, he is able to associate it with other pieces of artwork stored in the form of millions of nuerons. Now, at his will, he is able to retrieve the piece of artwork from his data bank. There stays your piece of artwork in his mind!

If you are still not with me, here is a real life example. You like a person who is compatible to you. (i.e.) who you can understand, comprehend and predict what he/she will do on an occassion.

So, one of the aspect to make an impression of an artwork in the minds of viewer is making it easy to comprehend and add a secret formula of predictability. Before you jump into any conclusion of what I am going to talk about, have a look at the two pictures:

By law of nature, most of us will be able to capture and reproduce the first picture better than the second. The reason is because, the first picture is "Symmetric". Our brain is able to comprehend, process and register the symmetric picture easily over the other. For ages, symmetry played a significant role in the artwork. You can notice in several artwork that symmetry were employed that added aesthetic feel.

Symmetry didn't stay just with painting and artwork, but also plays a major role in music. The role might not be evident to our naked ears, but, it adds that spice of "predictability" to the music.

It is not only "symmetry", but also a predictable pattern/sequence that interests people. For example, recently I got a new Palm Pre and it is simply superb. My only complain is I was not able to retain my old phone number that was very easy to remember - 734-26-26-226! Wow!! It's a nice pattern/sequence!

Music is no different from our real life. If you want to make a piece of music interesting, try employing a pattern sequence or symmetry on a scale and see the results yourself.

Well, coming to Raaja's fortress, he has exploited this aspect to its fullest extent. I will meet you all in the next post with more details.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

Sivakami Ninapinile (Kili Pechu Kekkava) - Melody Personified.
Kai Veenaiyai Endhum (Vietnam Colony) - Nalladhor Veenai Puzhuthiyil Erivadhundo!
Megam Kottatum - Rocks
Nee Pournami (Oruvar Vaazhum) - You should stop hearing any other song after this.
Oh Paapa Laali - Raaja should have waited for SPB!
Bhavatharini - You lucky ;)
Madhushree - When will you start singing in Tamil?
P.B.Srinivas - I don't think your voice can even cut through the butter?
Krish - Do you get any time to sing after all the jury duty?
Tamil Film BGM - You got a new meaning with Raaja.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Illayaraja during Valmiki Audio Release

Illayaraja, who is usually hard to see in the audio release functions, was unusually present during the audio release of the movie "Valmiki". Most of the audio release functions that I have watched makes me feel that the actual hero of the function (music director & lyricist) seems out of place and the function ends up flattering the hero of the movie and director.

Nevertheless, Raaja being outspoken ends up in one or other controversy. Here is Raaja's speech during audio release function of the movie "Valmiki".

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Vairamuthu on Illayaraja

Thanks to my friend Thirugnanam for pointing me out about Variamuthu's book "Indha kulathil Kal Erindhavargal", where Vairamuthu briefs about various personalities he has come across.

Neither I am proficient in Tamil nor interested in kavithais. Mere fact that VM has spoken about Illayaraja drove me to every book store I could think of, during my trip to India and finally managed to grab one!!
For IR lovers, here you go:

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Definitely not in hibernation!

Working very actively on a tool that I hope will be loved by every music lover. More the data goes in and more features that is added, enhanced the tool will look.

Please do send you suggestions/feedback to

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Making of Thiruvasakam

A rare clip from "Making of Thiruvasakam".

A musical treat

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Illayaraja Interview (1989) - Frontline

FRONTLINE : Why do you avoid journalists and critics?

Ilaiyaraaja : Why should I meet journalists and critics? First if the critics assume that they know music, they can straight evaluate my music and write about it, no one is going to prevent it. If they don't know music, I have nothing to talk to them about. I am not avoiding out of any fear of controversy or anything of that sort. All these critics approach me with a hell of preconceived notions. They literally use me as a mouthpiece to voice their notions about music. Why should I give room for this?

: What is your view about music?

Ilaiyaraaja : To me, music is nothing but fraud. The moment you play all the seven notes, music is completed. Then going on repeating it - in different permutations and combinations - is nothing short of cheating. The person who successfully cheats a large audience for an extended period is called the "big" composer. Genuine music, to me,is the one which has no purpose. It should be as natural and as purposeless as the flow of the river. I have a purpose in creating my music. The purpose is business. Saint Thyagaraja sang songs to attain God. So even he had a purpose for his music. At least, he never sold his music. But take a farmer for instance. While ploughing, he spurts into a crescendo of music with no purpose. That is true music.

FRONTLINE : Will the vidwans and musicologists agree with your view about music?

Ilaiyaraaja : Please tell me, who are the vidwans and musicologists? Saint Thyagaraaja, who spent his whole life as a wandering singer, sang his heart and soul out. The people who learn 15 krithis of that saint and practise them for their lifetime call themselves vidwans and musicologists. I have listened to all these living vidwans. There is always a tone of arrogance mightiness ringing in their voice and style of singing. I am very sure that Thyagaraja swamigal wouldn't have sung in this manner. His approach must have been the most simple, the most lucid and the most spontaneous. That is missing in the concerts. (Ilaiyaraaja sings a krithi to explain his contention). Therefore, there is no need for me to convince them.

FRONTLINE : Then how do you define music?

Ilaiyaraaja : Music is nothing but sound. There is music in the bark of the dog. There is music in the walk of every human being. Music is not a subject to be discussed. It has to be experienced. The universe is one which has its own rhythm pattern, and it goes on in a cyclic fashion without losing its equilibrium. Similarly, sound is ultimately a solitary note. It is not ascending. It is not descending. It is not vertical. Nor is it sinusoidal. It is dynamic. Yet this dynamism defies our general perception. We human beings have lots of limitations. We are able to perceive only the sounds within the audible frequency. There are notes above and below that. We forget them. Man has fragmented this solitary note into seven notes of the octave. Listen to the howl of the dog. Doesn't it have a swara prashta. Sa Re Ga.( Ilaiyaraaja sings and shows the similarity) There is no difference between the howl of the dog and the songs of vidwans. Actually, I have written a script in which I have recorded in what raga a dog barks on various occasions. This proves my theory - music is nothing but sound.

FRONTLINE : There are various systems in music - like Carnatic, Hindustani,Western, tribal and folk. And
every system has its own schools. Which system do you think is the most well developed one?

Ilaiyaraaja : I do not like to make these types of value judgements. The person who assumes the role of a judge should be extremely well versed in the various systems of music which he com pares. A person who compares and rates Carnatic music higher than light music should know both the systems. But people who dismiss light music here do not know both the systems. Saying Hindustani is superior is superior to Carnatic, and even in Hindustani, Drupad is superior to Thumri or Kayal, opera is superior to symphony, sounds utter nonsense. No one knows all the systems of music thoroughly and hence no one is qualified to be a judge. But every one of passes value judgements about one music or the other. Further, to me, at a different level, all these systems and schools appear imaginary. But before going into the value judgements of other musical systems, let us have a look at the attitude of our own vidwans to wards our own classical music. If a musician sings a particular number very well, with excellent sangathis in the right places and right punctuations, we don't praise him. On the other hand, our vidwans will say : " Seventeen years ago at the Music Academy, I rendered this number in a much better manner. " For me, the past is past ; I am more concerned about what you are going to do. Talking about ancient glory never makes me happy. Now I am sure that a Thyagaraja Swamigal or a Dhikshitar is not going to be reborn, for obvious reasons. They just can't live with this generation of musicians who torture music. (laughs).

FRONTLINE : Your notion about music is reflected in your work. The list is endless. Do the producers and directors immediately accept your experimentations?

Ilaiyaraaja : Now I am a saleable commodity. Above that, I have a reputation on which the producers and directors have faith. My commercial viability, coupled with my reputation, gives me enough freedom to assert my right as a composer. They have confidence that if I do something, it would somehow reach the wider public. But I have the responsibility of proper films for experimentation. I cannot just throw away my labour in a gutter. So selecting producers and directors is my own prerogative.

FRONTLINE : After your entry, we find that for almost all songs, the tune is first set and then the lyric is
written. Don't you think that you are curtailing the freedom of the lyricist?

Ilaiyaraaja : No. it is not like that. This type of question never arises when one understands the nature of the work. It is team work, where the director decides the situation for which I, as the music director, create music accordingly. The function of the lyricist is to write lyrics for that music. That is the demand of the work. If he is notable to write for the tune, it is his weakness. There is no point in finding fault with me. I am prepared to set the tune for any poetry. I am sure that i will be able to create a tune, because I know what my job is. As days progress, composing seems to become a simple and effortless job, a sort of daily routine. I don't expect others to praise my daily habit, composing.

FRONTLINE : There is a void in the field of lyric writing. Do you feel it? If so, what are the steps you have
taken to fill it?

Ilaiyaraaja : Yes, I do accept that we don't have a good lyricist after Kavignar Kannadasan. But what can I do about it?

FRONTLINE : What is your approach to spotting talent in singing?

Ilaiyaraaja : I am convinced that if someone has talent, he will somehow move into limelight. But one cannot go and search and discover any talent. They have to emerge naturally. Take the example of Chitra. After listening to her once, I made her sing. Earlier, another girl called Jency came for the voice test. I felt that she was talented and I started giving her a chance right from the next day. But I cannot pressure others by saying : " Write well ; avoid repetition of words; be spontaneous. " It has to come naturally. Suddenly one good lyricist will emerge. Till then we must wait. What choice do we have?

FRONTLINE : Are the singers able to cope with you in your experimentation?

Ilaiyaraaja : With some amount of hard work and struggle, I am able to get what I want from the singers. We
have to compromise at some levels, otherwise the work will never progress. I should be prepared to forgo certain things and the singers should also be prepared to do the same. Since this spirit is there, I am able to pull on without much of a problem. We also have enough talented singers.

FRONTLINE : Are the other musicians in your orchestra able to rise to the occasion in playing difficult

Ilaiyaraaja : No, there are limitations. I think I have done a lot in film music. And my difficult and experimental numbers have been received very well. The limitation of instrumentalists is obvious in many respects. But that is not a problem for film music. Really, we don't need extremely talented musicians for everyday recording. However, when you attempt some work for study purposes and other musical experiments, the limitation is glaring. We really need more talented musicians for these works. Most of the musicians who play for recording learn music only for their livelihood. The moment something stoops to the level of merely earning, you cannot expect much from it.

FRONTLINE : Some producers and directors who reaped the maximum benefit from your music have deserted you because of your busy schedule. Some people would consider this as an act of betrayal. How do you look at it?

Ilaiyaraaja : Is there any place in the world where there is no betrayal? Even our so-called close friends ditch
us in life. What can I say about this? Today I am a profitable commodity. People mob me. Some who benefited from me are going to praise me and the rest, for whom I was not accessible, are going to slander me. How can I expect them to praise me? I have nothing against any one. I go to Prasad ( studio ) at 7 in the morning and work till 10 in the night. Today is the second Saturday and the whole industry takes rest, but I am at my work. Despite all these things, I cannot give dates to all of them simultaneously. It is humanly not possible. To be frank, I am not at all bothered about the people who have left me. I am not going to gain any thing nor lose anything. Who are the losers? Who knows?

FRONTLINE : You have thus far scored music for more than 400 films. After all, our films are the same. Are
you planning to avoid film assignments to concentrate on recorded musical ventures like, 'How to name it '?

Ilaiyaraaja : Recorded music is still not a popular concept in our country. Film is the only medium through
which one can reach a wider public. At present, it is very difficult to avoid films completely. But I have an idea on these lines. Just now I have completed my new album, " Nothing but wind'. They will materialise as time progresses.

FRONTLINE : The term 'rerecording ' has become popular even among the village folks, thanks to you. (
Film background music is referred to as rerecording in industry circles). What special care do you take to make your background score so different?

Ilaiyaraaja : All the musicians who visit my recording theatre appreciate the speed in which I am able to work and the quality I am able to produce. But I don't find any reason to it. The ideas come automatically to me according to the mood of the film. If i don't get any idea, then the film is like that. I have a screening of the film the day previous to the recording. The next day, when I am sitting with 60 musicians in the theatre, the reel is screened again. As I view the film, I start eliminating the ideas which others in the profession would adopt for the particular situation. I don't even use the instruments which others will use for a particular sequence. Therefore, I have to think fresh. A man settled in life with a secure job approaches life in a casual manner. But a man for whom most of the chances are closed approaches life with all-out courage and from a new view point, which enables him to achieve a lot more than the former. I am like the latter. That is the reason for the freshness and novelty in my background score.

FRONTLINE : Are you prepared to support new directors who want to make experimental films?

Ilaiyaraaja : Definitely, yes. But before that, what is experiment? I don't understand. Most of the experiments never take people into consideration. There cannot be an experiment without people. It is indulgence. I don't subscribe to it. People who have listened to my music and studied it will notice that I have popularised the various elements of Indian and Western classical music by slightly dilut ing them. A rich harmony is taken to a rickshaw-puller by adding a folk element to it. 'Marimari Ninne' and 'Maha Ganapathim' are popular among the villagers not because of any vidwans. They are popular because I have used them in a proper manner. To me, experiment means taking things on a high pedestal to the masses in such a way that they will accept them. Other than this, all experiments are a process of fooling oneself and the general public.

FRONTLINE : Who is the composer you like most?

Ilaiyaraaja : Bach. The reason is that he composed music in the formative days of Western classical music.
There are three different types of counterpoint among which writing invertible counterpoints is the most difficult one. His compositions are so complete with every note falling in the right place with amazing mathematical precision. That is his greatness.

FRONTLINE : Do you think you have the right recognition? Are you happy with your two national awards?

Ilaiyaraaja : I have not been recognised by this Government to which I pay my tax happily. The national
awards don't mean much. It made no difference to me. The only recognition I have is that South Indians throughout the world listen to my music. But this doesn't help me even buy a train ticket on the emergency quota! I don't have any good quality instruments to record my music. I cannot even get the basic requirements to function as a musician. This is the recognition I get in my own country. source:

The Frontline (1989)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sangathil Paadatha Kavithai

Another excellent song butchered while picturizing :(

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grave Crime

A grave crime happened years back. Yes.

A "ratchasan" did an extraordinary composition and arrangement very ordinarily. And the singer gave her whole life into it.

So, where is the crime? How did this escape the eyes ears of "National Award" committee?


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Raaga Corner

Right from the days when I had no idea of what a Raaga meant, I was somehow interested in knowing the similarities between the songs and that led me to know more about Raaga. I visit ilayaragam site at least twice in a week as a ready reckoner for knowing Raagas for my favorite numbers.

I salute the work that went behind that webpage, a wealth of information :)

But, I have always wanted to enhance and develop a more easy way to query this data and as a first step, I have developed a simple graphical user interface to select a scale from the keyboard and query for a raaga and know the songs in the particular raaga. This is just a first step and I intend to improve the database as days go by.

I hope this will be useful for all music lovers, at some point :)

Your feedback to improve and enhance is very much appreciated :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dr. Balamurali Krishna on IR

With request from Naani, I have tried to translate some portions of the interview of Dr. Balamurali Krsihna about our great maestro, Illayaraja.

"It is heartening to note that A.R.Rahman has won the Oscar award. At the same time, it is ignorance to downplay other artist's achievement. If a great artist like Illayaraja was not born, Tamil Cinema music would have gone unnoticed. Many such artists have won the award itself and are above the award. Please do not compare these artists with anyone."

"Many have asked with me about Rahman's Oscar achievement and I have made my views already. But, the disturbing aspect is that some people have started comparingRahman with Illayaraja and immatured articles floating around. Rahman is a young genius. It is a pride for everyone that he won the Oscar award. But, it is not fair to put other geniuses down and if someone does it, it is not the work of a true music lover."

"No one is the authority in music. But, Illayaraja has been achieving without breaking the grammer of music. He is a great artist who is beyond awards. Honestly speaking,the greatest awards for music across the world should come to Illayaraja now."

"I have understood music across several parts of the world. Have sung in several languages. With that experience, I can say confidently that there is no match to Indian Classical music. And in that form of music, Illayaraja has explored and mastered."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pithamagan BGM - A clip

A small clip of Raaja's work during Pithamagan's re-recording.

What a BGM treatment Raaja gave to that movie!
I hope and pray Bala and Raaja work many more movies in the future...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post where Ram Gopal Verma narrates his experience with A.R.Rahman.!5187B91811914FB4!9226.entry

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Well said

I was listening to Sakkarakatti - Marudhaani song and recollected what my wife once remarked to me -

"Even in the melodious numbers of Rahman, you can find an underlying foot tapping rhythm..
And even in the fast foot tapping number of Raaja, you can find an underlying melody.."

I can't agree more.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Request

Despite my several requests, the comments section in the other post "Illayaraja vs A.R.Rahman" took ugly turn with personal bashing and with heavy heart, I had to delete ALL comments without any judgement on the merit of each comment.

I apologize and make a sincere request again to engage in constructive thoughts, as you have always done in the past 1 year!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Illayaraja vs A.R.Rahman

Yes, Déjà vu.

One of the blog that I read regularly and I respect the views - Yours Musically! I can always expect an unbiased and balanced viewpoint. And a recent post of his drew a lot of attention and I am forced to reopen this topic in 7Swara that we discussed quite a while back!

What pained Suresh so much to write that post was the following comment made by Srikanth.
Dear Vicky,

Long time ago, I used to play the flute in light music troupes in chennai, though I have been fully focussed on practising carnatic music lately. I wanted to listen to the music of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" today to see why it's being talked about so much. I searched and listened to it online. It left me with a bad aftertaste.

I just felt like cleansing my ears, body and soul by listening to some Raaja music and landed in your blog. Thanks for the wonderful analysis, sound clips. You (and Raaja) made my day.

with love,

The whole point here is, why do you have to put somebody down if you want to praise the other? If A.R.Rahman is nominated for Oscars, why is there a heartburn for the "so-called" Illayaraja fans? Literally, in Tamil, this is called "வயத்தெரிச்சல்". I have seen several A.R.Rahman fans who hear enjoy "Mandram Vantha Thendralukku" as much as "Taxi Taxi". I have heard many many of A.R.R. fans who claim that they like any good music - not just A.R.R., though they love A.R.R. the most.

So, in a set theory, looks like A.R.R. fans are a subset of "music lovers". "Haris Jeyaraj" fans are a subset of "music lovers" and "music lovers" is a big set who loves every genre of music. And there is a "DISJOINT" set - "Hardcore IR fans" who like only Illayaraja's music! They are often pulled up for making disgracing comments about ARR.

For sure, I belong to the 3rd group and I take all the pride to declare that openly. Did I bad mouth ARR? Did I pass disgracing comments about ARR? Do I have "வயத்தெரிச்சல்" that A.R.R's Vande Mataram gets all the publicity and IR's Thiruvasagam doesn't? Do I have "வயத்தெரிச்சல்" that A.R.R. is nominated for Oscars and the first asian to have composed Symphony is appreciated in a meeting with only Nassers, Partheebans and Vaalis?

The answer is "Yes" and "No". In my school & college days, I used to fight ARR vs IR without understanding the essence of music. Nowadays, I hardly get into these discussions and I live in my own Rassaiya's world! But, gone are the days, when we ask why someone drinks alcohol? Today, if someone doesn't drink, he is asked, why he doesn't!

My experience is that I am questioned why I am out-dated and don't open up my ears to other's music! So, I am forced to make my opinion public. And my opinion is MY opinion. Now one can not take offence on my opinion. And my opinion is that Raaja has filled my ears and heart with His music, has invaded my system and he wouldn't let anyone else in. And it is not ME who wouldn't open up, but, it is He who is doing this to me! And I like Him for doing that to Me. So, we have got into a groove and this entire life time is not enough for me to comprehend His achievements and enjoy His divine music!

Knowing some of the other hard core IR fans, I would like to speak on their behalf that hard core IR fans like to speak to other hard core IR fans, they like to live in Rassaiya's world and don't have anything to complain on anyone, unless they are provoked.

The other interesting part is "Recognition". Is it A.R.Rahman's mistake that he will will Oscars before Illayaraja? Should A.R.Rahman be polite enough to turn down the award and make a statement that Illayaraja deserves more than him? Is that what hard core IR fans are wanting?

A big NO. The right answer is: 'ஆதங்கம்" and the often misunderstood expression is: "பொறாமை". Nobody is expecting Raaja to be nominated to Oscars for Nan Kadavul. But, the point is about what recognition has our system and Government has given to Him? What about Bharat Ratna, Padma Shris?

But, wait a minute! Do I want my Rassaiya to stand in dias, first asian to have composed a Symphony, to receive a Padma Shri award after A.R.Rahman, Hema Malini, Vivek, Thotta Tharini, Mani Ratnam, Aamir Khans and 1000s in this league, who received for their contribution in arts?

NO. Didn't you hear what I said?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Good Enough Is Not Enough

If I start to run a software shop and do not command proficiency in what I do, obviously, I end up trusting and taking my sub-ordinate's points at its face value. When I don't command proficiency and if I am not confident of what I want to get done, I tend to leave it to the team. I wouldn't be able to complain much because I didn't have a clear vision as to what I wanted anyways!

With no exceptions, every singer who has sung for Illayaraja have repeatedly made one point clear. Raaja has clearly something in his mind and he wouldn't let you go until he gets what he wants. Some even go to an extent to say that it is difficult to satisfy him. Some who can't get along with him even say that he doesn't take your ideas/improvisations!

Here is my take:

Illayaraja is a natural, prolific, gifted composer who can complete the entire re-recording for a movie with 1.5 days! It's no joke. As much Illayaraja is known for his unparallelled BGM, his speed is unmatched as well. This is only possible because when he watches the movie without any background score, musc pours into him, no labor here, and rest is the mere formality to execute.

So, the bowl is already full with musical feast! He isn't starting with a blank slate. As he watches the movie, slate is full. So, he isn't looking for inspiration.. he isn't looking for ideas.. At this point, all he is indeed looking for is artists, who can just bring what he has already conceived note by note with time signature.

I have no problems with that. No offence meant to any artist. Raaja has told in one interview that he makes compromises because he isn't able to get what he wants in the limited time he has. Because, the movie has to move on..

Look at the specifics and details that Raaja pays attention to.

I retire with just one observation.

I wasn't fond of my math teacher in my schooldays, because, she wouldn't settle for anything less than perfection. My opinion is not the same today! So, only time will tell.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It is BGM

I was watching the movie ''Vaaranam Aayiram" yesterday and remarked to my wife in a complaining note - "BGM sucks!". I don't know how many of you would agree with me on this!

It is no secret that Raaja exercises his mastery in the re-recording of every movie. From a low-budget movie like Kutty to a high profile movie like Hey Ram, from a masala movie to a movie with a in-depth storyline, it gets only one treatment and the same treatment - Raaja's.
Some of the otherwise ordinary looking scenes were elevated several 100 times with his sheer Re-Recording works. It's a well known fact to everyone.

Still, often when I complain about the poor BGM of the new music directors, my friends don't seem to agree with me. They don't think they pay attention to BGM separately. And it doesn't make a big difference to them!

Hmm.... Illustration is the best way, isn't it?

I have taken randomly two instances of Kamal Hassan's movies-

Wow!! Kamal has shown brilliantly with the graphics the dilemma he faces between his wife and his mission. But, the visual cues can only get so far! To touch your heart and bring out the right emotions, Raaja gave what was needed. A contrasting, alternating music pieces!!

Honestly, when I looked at this scene, I could only laugh. It didn't reach/touch my heart. In what otherwise must have been a high impact scene, no amount of graphics and set-spending could bring out the right feel. Simple, it's BGM!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oru Karpanai - III

பாரதிராஜா (பிர): பல ஆண்டுகளுக்கு பின் எப்படி ஒரு நிகழ்வில் என் இனிய நண்பர்களுடன் இணைந்து இருப்பது மிக்க மகிழ்ச்சி ...

வைரமுத்து: ஆம் நண்பா .. அன்த நாள் என்றும் மறந்த தில்லை இந்த நாள் போல் என்றும் இருந்த தில்லை ஆண்டு பல ஆனாலும் நட்பை நான் மறந்த தில்லை முத்திரை போல் பதித்து கொள் என் சொல்லை

இளையராஜா(இர): படாத பத்தி பேசலாமா .. ? Story Hero மேல போகுதா இல்ல .. Heroine மேல போகுதா?

BR: (A bit embarrassed..) மனோஜ்'எ சுத்தி தான் போகுது.... எவ்வளவோ try பண்ணிட்டேன் .... ஒன்னும் work out ஆகல ...எப்படியாவது எந்த பயல Hero'va கொண்டு வரணும் நு பர்கரேன் ...முடியல .. உன் உதவி வேணும் da....

IR: எவன் எவனுக்கோ பாட்டு போட்டு விட்டேன்...... நம்ம மனோஜ்க்கா போட மாட்டேன் ....? மனோஜ்க்கு என் ஆசீர்வாதம் எப்பவும் உண்டு ..கதைய சொல்லு ...

VM: Mmmm.....எனக்கு "ஆசிர்வாதத்தில்" நம்பிக்கை இல்லை.. ஆனால் வாழ்த்துகிறேன் ..

BR: "16 Vayathinile" படத்தை ரீமேக் பண்ண போறேன் ... ஸ்ரீதேவி க்கு பதில் "ஐஸ்வர்யா ராய்"

கங்கை அமரன் (gasps for breath): இந்த விஷயம் "ஐஸ்வர்யா ராய்" க்கு தெரியுமா?

BR: பொறு ... ஸ்ரீதேவி க்கு பதில் "ஐஸ்வர்யா ராய்" போட்டா நல்ல இருக்கும் ன்னு மனோஜ் பீல் பண்ணறான் ".ன்னு சொல்ல வந்தேன்

GA: அது சேரி ...இந்த விஷயம் அவங்களுக்கு தெரிஞ்சா, அவங்க ரொம்ப பீல் பண்ணுவாங்க

VM: அந்த Taj Mahal இடம் நான் பேசி கொள்கிறேன்... 50 kg Taj Mahal என்று என்றைக்கு எழுதினேனோ அன்றை முதல் அவர்களுக்கு என் மேல் ஒரு தனி மரியாதை .

IR: ரீமேக் ன்னு சொல்லிட .. அப்ப பேசாம மியூசிக் யுவன பண்ண வெச்சுடலாம் இந்த ரீமேக் ரீமிக்ஸ் எல்லாம் அவனுக்கு தான் சேரி பட்டு வரும்

YS: Hi Guys... funda'mentally'...

BR: Illa ப்பா ... Hero "mental" கிடையாது ....கொஞ்சம் ..

YS: I know ... I know....

BR: அட ... "Mental" இல்லை ன்னு சொல்லறேன் நீ என்ன "நோ" "நோ" ன்னு சொல்லற ?

YS: Ok....Uncle.. Composition இங்கே எல்லாம் சேரி பட்டு வராது ...."தாய்" போகணும் ...

BR: Correct.. ஆனா யார் "தாய" பார்க்கணும்?

VM: "Prasad Studio" வில் வாழ்கையை முடித்து விடான் இவன் (looking at Raaja) கம்போசிங் க்கு "தாய்லாந்து" போக வேண்டும் என்கிறான் யுவன்

BR: அடி ஆதி .. இது வரைக்கும் பொள்ளாச்சி தாண்டி பொய் ஷூட்டிங் எடுத்த தில்லை ... ஏல ... நல்ல வெளையாட்டு பிள்ளை பா நீ

YS: "Output" நல்ல இருக்கணும் ந அதுக்கு SPEND பண்ணனும் அங்கிள்

BR: Hmm... என்னவோ பா சேரி .. ஆனா ஒன்னு .. "தமிழ்" க்கு ரொம்ப முக்கியத்துவம் குடுக்குறவன் நான் ...தெரியும்ல ...

VM: தெரியும் நண்பா . உனக்காக ஒரு ஸ்பெஷல் title song எழுதிருக்கிறேன் ...
"மக்களே மக்களே ... என் இனிய தமிழ் மக்களே ... பல இதயம் தொட்டது இந்த சொற்களே "

YS: Song le nativity கண்டிப்பா இருக்கணும் ..So, வித்யாசமா Rap'la பண்ணிடலாம் ...

BR: Hmm... செறிய புரியல நீ சொல்றது ...

YS: 'Udit' Sir தான் இந்த song'க்கு justice பண்ண முடியும்..ஒரு புது dimension குடுக்கணும் இந்த song ல...

GA: சுத்தம் ! அவர் romba busy இந்த whole month!

YS: Oh.. .. "Pulli Raaja" படத்துல பாடின அன்த new singer கூப்பிடலாம் ..

GA: அவரும் பிஸி !

YS: What???? One Song தான் பாடிருக்காரு so far.. அதுக்குள்ள பிஸி ?

GA: அமாம் ... "Coffee with Anu" க்கு போய்ட்டாரு !

Sunday, January 25, 2009

End with a Bang

Shooting the climax in a movie is as critical as rest of the whole film, because it leaves a mark of the whole film as a synopsis in the mind of audience and hence, It poses a great challenge for any director.

As far as Tamil movies are concerned, there was a long period when songs were mainly used as a filler in the first half of the movie for the most part. Illayaraja has displayed his power and strength to have the entire climax with just a song, many times. It is special because, dialogue has been such an important tool for a director and in the event of ending a movie without any dialogue and with just a song is a challenge for both the director and music composer.

Some of the remarkable and evergreen songs employed in climax that I can think of:
  • Vedam Anuvilum Oru Naadham (Salangai Oli)
  • Sangeetha Jaathi Mullai (Kaadhal Oviyam)
  • Thangachi Thangachi (Kutty)
  • Vaarthai Thavari Vittai (Sethu)
  • Nallathor Veenai Seithaen (Bharathi)
The above mentioned are special because, I can't even think of any dialogue after these songs. However, in many other movies as well, Raaja has used songs in climax like:
  • Kalaivaaniye Unai Thaane (Sindhu Bhairavi)
  • Mariyamma Mariyamma (Karagattakaran)
  • Yaar paadum paadal endraalum (Paatukku Naan Adimai)
  • Adada Ahangaara Adakka (Pithamagan)
  • Idhayam Oru Kovil (Idhaya Kovil)
  • Mani Osai Kettu (Payanangal Mudivathillai)
  • and many more....

Coming to think of the songs that have been and are merely used as a filler, these songs definitely stand out, because they are special and had a purpose!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rise of Rahman - II

As much as the media pulls one to the limelight, it equally puts one into trouble and controversies. Given the kind of success and fame Rahman enjoys today, how often we have seen A.R.Rahman in a controversy? Humbleness, magnanimity and humility has been the mantra of this, IMO. I am just amazed at the humility this gentleman displays for the glare and limelight he enjoys.

On a sidenote, these young children ask more sensible questions than some of the other well known journalists!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Naan Kadavul Music - My Experience

Either we build temple for Dhoni or greet the team with shoes and slippers in the airport. Can't we ever take a balanced view? The media has made so much hype about "Bala" and his direction that I wonder if I belong to another planet. Make no mistake. He has directed movies that were very different from other run-of-the-mill kinds and he stood out. I like Bala's movies as much as I like Cheran's. But, the kind of hype and hysteria that media generates for the movie that has been in production for over 3 years might do little to actually help the movie, I think.

Further, everyone at the music album release function talked about all the nonsense in the world than the topic of the function - the music (With one or two exceptions). No wonder, why Raaja doesn't attend these music album functions.

My first experiences/reaction of "Naan Kadavul" album that was released a few days back:

Two decades back, when S.Janaki was singing in the recording studio, suddenly all the violinists stopped playing the notes for a moment and were speechless and stunned. Apparently, Illayaraja came out of the recording room to find out what happened and he noticed that the artists were stunned by the crystal clear divine rendering of "Maadha Un Kovilil" by S.Janaki that featured in the film "Achaani". If you have heard "Maadha Un Kovilil" rendered by S.Janaki in the movie Achaani, you would be better off to skip "Amma Un Pillai" song in Naan Kadavul. If you haven't heard S.Janaki's version and you have heard "Amma Un Pillai" already, then, you should be fine. I don't have words to describe this song, truly. Vintage Raaja!

"Kannil Oru Paarvai" and "Oru Kaatril" are two songs in the same tune, sung by Shreya and Illayaraja. This man has mastered the art of piercing your heart with his music leaving a mark that conveys the mood and emotion that he intended too. This song precisely does that. Leaves a feel that cannot be explained and you wouldn't mind to put this song on a loop to be in the same state of mind like a drug addict!!

"Bikshai Pathiram" song from "Ramanamaalai" album has been reused with a difference of Madhu Balakrishnan's voice in place of Illayaraja. Very happy to see Illayaraja and Vidyasagar using Madhu Balakrishnan in their songs in a place where diction of words have become a mockery. I am sure, Bala must have picturized this song aptly to suit the theme of the movie.

Finally, last but not the least - "Om Sivoham". A music director for a movie has an important responsibility of giving what is needed for the movie and if you are directing "Sakalakalavallavan", you get "Nethu Raathiri Yamma" and if you are making a subject like "Naan Kadavul", you get "Om Sivoham".

The orchestration, usage of authentic instruments, lyrics and rendering by Vijay Prakash added up so well and I am sure Bala must be pleased to have got what he deserved from Raaja and so am I.

Only "kurai" - I wish we could have got 2 more gems in place of the "reused" gems, as I have those "reused" gems already in my locker :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Illayaraja felicitates Kavignar Vaali

Though a bit old clip, I don't want any Raaja fan to miss this...