Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Kaakha Kaakha - The Police

Note: Reposting an old email to a 'friend'
I liked the 'look' of the movie. Creating a movie and then getting a 'look'/'style from it is one thing, deciding on looks/moods/feel the movie should create and planning accordingly is done by very few people. Notice the colors in this movie. It generally has that dusty grey feel to it. If you reduce the contrast in your TV to a very low number you will get, what this movie trieds to create. There is less contrast between colors and care has been taken has avoided almost all bright colors.

if people say the movie is less cinematic and more real life its because of the mood created by the choice of colors and locations. the close-to-reality resemblence of Anbuselvans office, real locations has been chosen instead of make-do sets( is this correct or has the art director done magic), etc is there too... but it adds to the mood thats been created already.

The movie starts with that "lock stock & 2 smokin barrels technique" of speedily covering lot of events in the screenplay by showing snap shots of events ( the officers are introduced to a menon and then the scene zooms to various snapshots of discussions/narrations that happen between them in playgrounds, pizza shop etc) that way a lot of events are told and less screen time is occupied. this technique is quite rare and is now gaining popularity ( saw bits and pieces of it in mudhalvan)

I also think Gautham is a big fan of David Fincher ( director of 'seven', 'fight club', 'panic room', 'the game'). I am not basing this opinion on the fact that some parts of the climax ( like the severed head in that cardboard box) heavily resembles the movie 'seven' (a classic movie by all means). But the use of voice-over-narration by surya through out the movie adds a sort of coolness to the movie, which
david fincher uses amazingly well in 'the fight club'. Showing the scene right at the begining , where surya falls out into the lake, the viewers do not know the seriousness of the situation then. But when he narrates the events of the past the viewers realize the horror of the situation and they realize a lot cud have happened in the time elapsed since the narration began. This is a subconcious twist in the movie and it has worked very well.

I have not heard of D.R.Rajasekhar ( cinematographer) before. But he has done an exceedingly good job. Apart from the use of colors that I mentioned, the zoom-in zoom-outs the fast forwards/slowing downs have been handled very well. The bullet time rotation that happens in the scene where the 4 officers go to meet Pandya (head in card box scene) is very good. I think this guy delivered what Gautham expected out of him.

Coming to Surya.. man has he evolved. everyone noticed his newly-built-body. But no one noticed his mannerisms. He was thinking/eating/talking anbuselvan the police officer. Look at the scene in the provision store where he asks Jyothika , where she lives, and she snubs him. look at his foot movement. the boots move like a police officer and it looks so natural. The subtelity there is unquestionable. special mention needs to be made in the first fight he has with pandya in that contruction place. Pandya is talking to Surya while fighting and he kicks him... Surya falls a few feet away and gets up and sits with one foot kneeling, looking down at the knife. Thats style. There is someone with aesthetic sense here. Thats what this movie delivers. style all the way.

Having said all that and given 9/10 to this movie.. the climax cud have been more slow paced. it sort of rushes through a lot of events and the pace here is different that the first 90% of the movie. The head inside the cardboard box should have led to climax immdly there and then. Prolonging it to the beach-front could have been avoided ( people were asking " how did anbuselvan know they were goin to catch a boat" ). I also thought the hospital scene where wounded surya plucks and throws
the tubes/wires atached to his body cud have been avoided ( it happens in too many movies) it didnt merge with this movie.

But these are minor points. Amazing movie. It shows police officers in good light.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Real Idiots!! Please Stand Up!!

Lets say the goverment wants to draw the attention of all the idiots who are located in Bangalore. They can't send a personal letter to all idiots and instruct them to assemble in a particular place. They need to discover these idiots first. Then they need to i.d them. The goverment can tag all idiots by asking them to wear a T-Shirt which says "Idiot". But doing all the above is not easy. Not because the idiots will refuse to wear the T-Shirts. They will. But idiots by definition are too dumb to show up at the right place at the right time. Luckily the automobile companies in India decided to help the goverment "bell the idiot". This is probably a result of a wonderful innovation by some smart dude whose name is yet unknown.

This smart dude created a contraption which can be fixed to the brakes of any vehicle. So when the vehicles brakes are pressed this contraption makes noise ( in the name of music). Now who would buy this so called toy and put it in their vehicle. You got it right - The Idiots!!! In a single master stroke all the idiots in Bangalore assembled in a place bought this stupid contraption and now are roaming on the roads proudly announcing themselves to the world The goverment cant believe its luck. It was known for a long time that our country was filled with its fair share of idiots. But then to account for all of them in a single shot requires a genius. So to the man who invented this "brake musical instrument".. I salute you. From now-onwards any small kid who asks his daddy "daddy! whats an idiot". The father can just ask the son to look out of the window and point at a person on any bike which squeals like a pig when the brakes are pressed.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Airtel SUXXX!!

This is another favorite topic of mine. In these sort of cell phones frequent flyer miles and other sort of "deal" things. It is my destiny that i should get screwed out in any possible deal. Even if some advantage is comin my way I'll go the otherway.

So it is with airtel. The fools wanted me to go to some arbit uninhabitated island
to change my pre-paid to postpaid card. All dealers wud say you have to go to the *only* center where they do these sort of changes. And that center is located gzillion miles away. In the bangalore traffic terms its light years away. so idecide to change my number and go for a new post paid connection and the srewing begins.

There are 2 rates

1) 175/mo (Rs0.40 for airtel-airtel, Rs1.99/min for local/STD Rs 2 for National SMS)
2) 400/mo (600 mins airtel-airtel free, Rs1.99/min for local/STD Rs 2 for National SMS)

Rs 400 for intialisation charges. After giving 400 and going home.. one guy calls me up next day to say Rs 500 more is required as caution deposit. If I want to waive it I should show my BSNL phone bill (in mycurrent adress).

I give the phone bill (along with DL original required for security purposes). The next day I get a call from the dealer saying, he also needs the "payment receipt" from BSNL for proof that I paid the BSNL bill. I still don’t know how that receipt accounts for address proof. Since I don’t have the receipt, I cough up 500.

The phone gets activated monday morning, but there is no STD facility. I found out just now that I need to pay another 1000Rs for getting that activated seems. The irony is that my call plan involves Rs1.99/min for local/STD Rs 2 for National SMS. But I have no STD

now I find out my company has a corporate account which does all airtel post paid connections free of charge. Okay ya.. i cud have done that 2 weeks ago but then where would the excitement be. So i meet this french beard crazy talkin dude who rubs it in by saying he cud have done for no money at all.

Anyway he wants a photocopy of my bank checks to process my corporate acount and he'll be able to get back my 500 bucks only after 6 months.

I am caught in a web.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bloggin Real Time Live

After a spate of posting old stuff. now i see some hope for real time blogging. not that things at work have queitened down. its still a blood bath at work.

the only thing that i have to show for as bank balance is a folder full of documents which are ass wipe at best. no bloody thing is workin. some assole who wanted to do my work and didnt get it comes and says to me "they have high xpectations of you and you didnt do stuff". I feel like puking on his face but i just maintain to no-response "i think you are crap" face.

shit happens and mostly shit happens at work.

traffic aint helping either. bangalore traffic is cars and 2 wheelers being vomitted out into the road. the cars just keep pouring onto the road adding to the obscenity thats already present. shouted "idiot" to someone who just pretended my car didnt exist on the road and tried to move his car ontop of my car...oops i am being interrupted...

wel.. that was just the same collegue of mine in a different shade now.. wanting to help me with my work. working in india (or maybe everywehere else) you just dont have to solve problems relating to work, you also have to solve problems relating to people at work. there is politics, games dynamics, vibes and all the other crap crud i hate so dearly. yet have to put up with this shit.

yeah.. its just morning .. it already looks a long day.

Why ?

People ask "Why do you blog? whats the benefit involved ?"

I'll say " so that you can live your life vicariously through mine"

you may say " but er... you don't have a life. bharath! "

you may be right.

But I beg to differ. There is a vicarious pleasure involved in finding out what other people do everyday. Among all people who have done nothing so far in thier lives, i have done the most nothing. It is this vast expanses of emptiness that beckons the average person to be sucked into my everyday life's sordid stories.

This blog is the dreamland where i encourage people to walk around and say "dude.. u gotta be kiddin me"


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

of villages and cities

I hate Bombay. I strongly feel people from bombay boast a lot. Some little trivia about bombay is bloated up and presented as a crappy historical fact. Whenever I happened to get holed up in bombay I found it to be a crappy place. More sultry than delhi, chennai and a dozen places in AP.

If people in bombay boast too much about something then there is something horribly wrong with it. Trains often are source of pride for people who have lived in this god forsaken place. The trains are pretty bad in bombay. I have heard people talk about bombay train travelling as if its some sort of a cosmic experience, with james kirk at the command deck. It sux! It actually a pathetic life going by train to work daily. The set up in trains is the human beings who are standing have faces thrust on to the next persons armpits. Thats cologne one rarely gets to smell. The people who are sitting have to stare directly into the crocth areas of other passengers who happen to be standing in between opposite seats.

There are people everywhere, its is a surprise why people dont walk on another persons head to move around. Its another big surprise how these sweaty dirty people get to have enough oxygen to breathe. Traffic jams are so bad that it takes three green signals to finally clear a signal intersection. Overall man.. you gotta be a complete loser to call such a pathetic life great. Maybe the boasting has to do with some psycological brainwashing. People have brainwashed themselves to believe that mumbai is actually some sort of paradise and cant stop trumpeting this sordid story to anybody they meet.

The migrants to bombay seem to catch this boast-cold sooner than anybody else. You should listen to a collegue of mine who had the misfortune to spend 4 years in bombay. Not even a person who'd been born and brought up there wud have had so much to say about bombay.

"It's a real city man" always has me in splits. The one about "real" cities and alleged "pretenders" is always comic relief. It reveals a very interested psycology that one posseses.

One is, by some weird emotion, attached to the place he lived most of his life. "City" a term initially coined to represent the administrative capital for a county or a district is now tagged with peculiar embellishments. The train timings of 6:37 and 7:27 , which
is prevalant in major metropolis and also smaller places, now allegedly has more meaning in cities.

If you take a train in, lets say, thendiruperi, a local village in south india, every day at 7:30. It is because that time suits you to go to work on-time. But somehow the fact that there are million other trains coming and leaving, in another place, say
mumbai, around the same time, gives you a feeling that mumbai is the real "city". When you are in mumbai you dont take all the trains just the one that suits you. But the feeling, created by the fact, that there are unplanned people, who start a trifle late and try to reach their destination on time, travel along with you, makes you think that the place is busy. It makes you happy and makes you think u are living in a "happening" place . good for you! everyone fills them up with illusions to give meaning to life. "its a busy place man they say" and some people misunderstand as if people in bombay have more work to do in less time. Dont be fooled. It takes 2 hours to go from anyplace to anyother place. Thats 4 hours of braindead time. That coupled with 9 hours of regular work doesnt make bombay a busy place but but a damn inconvenient place to live in.

This fetish with "bombay" and "NewYork" both names, highly irrelevant to your life, a life, which is simply, moving from a living place, to a work place, represents the height of attachment to impalpable things.

Nobody gave birth to bombay or newyork. the attachment is a pure result of circumstances, this patriotism is more like our appendix. If your parents had lived in "ambasamudram" then that wud have been your best place in life.

About Introduction et all

In a yahoogroup mailing list I am a member of. We were having each-one-mail-about-theselves discussion where each one tells if he/she is satisfied with their careers and how much of the career is their own choice. And what have their experiences been in
a quarter century of life. This mail is more to a point of starting a debate of some issues and moving on from the self introduction spree. I was having a philosophical debate on this process.

//"I differ from rest in that I never consider
anything impossible unless I attempt and fail. "//

was one such introduction which moved me because it was not the conventional way people introduced themselves.

The strange thing about self introductory mails..is it betrays the way you see yourself.

this person from a totally different angle brought in the above sentence on why he considers himself as different from other people. And, he for the first time in the list of self introductory mails, actually said some thing about him that was truly himself... something besides a degree or a hobby, but he truly said something about himself.

Which brings us to the point,as to why is it so rare? What is it with us people? whats the obsession that we have about education job qualification? Have we gone so far that we could not say a single word about why we are different from another living
being. Is it a shameful acceptance by most of mankind that "we are not different from our fellow beings and so we choose to ignore discussing why"

There are a lot of things that are considered as qualification by the general public. My whole objective wud then be to attempt it do it and then call it crap. Thats my whole philosophy. Sort of a scrap collector.

Lets take education for instance, I have in my nomadic school life,spanning 14 schools , probably 1 school every year, sometimes 2 schools in 1 year. I have seen so many specimens of people, that I have developed and cultivated a form of sincere amusement and
cynicsm to our way of life.

After a long time i am living in an apartment filled with school kids and so i get to hear the same old conversations again and again.

The best thing is the constant come-uppance with who's son is first in class. My son is first in class. My son is a "rashtrabasha" pass out. My daughter scored 2500 out of 20 in her hindi exam. And and and the next best thing is the rebuttal psycology.. "my son scored 99/100" says one and the other "but thats state board ...my son is UXBSCB syallabus... only 3 students among 45000 get more than 4.5/100 my daughetr got 4.51% and so thats better"?

Frankly , such things have never happened in my instance( and most of you all might also be unfamiliar to such things :) ), which is the primary reason why i began to notice this human attribute among my friends and classmates.

It gets better as days progress. "my daughter is in BITS doing mettalurgical engineering". The response being "my son actual broke his little finger during exams ..but he is doing electronics is mughambighe college..btw did your daughter get in through sports quota ...anyway no money in mettalurgy". So its not anymore important if what you do is good..but its equally important that the other person is doing worse.

No one realises that its been passed on to the next generation. I met someone about 2 years before. we were both interviewing for the same company. The guy was from some "ayyanarpettai" state university & community college of Philadelphia or something equally obnoxious.

More worried, he was, about knowing , where evryone else had studied, that he kept asking questions to anyone who was unfortunate to lend a kind ear.

"My university is ranked #42 in the USNEWS " he said. I vaguely replied somethng like "my university had 3 restrooms in a single floor". But he persisted saying "my professors have 32 patents and we've funding from NASA". He drove me to a corner where my only responses were burps and belches in different frequencies.

I met him 2 days before. He is still persisting with "i am scientist in sun microsystems.. i dunno about HP.. how did you get hired..close friend workin there eh..". I was frankly amused. Here was a classic sample of a guy who was so insecure to the point of having to reconfirm to himself , not to anyone else but himself,
that he is somehow doing better in life. I told him I worked as a coffee break attendant and mixed coffee for engineers. "you are always joking machaan.. you just wanto hide samthing he he" was the predictable response followed by " i saw your article in hindu da.. where di you copy it from copy ". I barely had to contain my laughter as I walked away from him.

Why did he have to talk about qualifications. Whats so important about a job? Why did he have to know what I was doing? and why did he have to ask such unimportant questions..We could have talked about so many other things. Is it because no one has anything else
to make up for a polite conversation.

In conclusion,

I have to a reasonable extent found why people critisize . 8 times out of 10 its to feel good about themselves. The specific points in the critisism are not too show discrepancies in another person but another way of saying " hey! i have it and you dont". 1 time out of 10 the critisism is unfounded and is to basically put down someone.
The other 1 instance would be mostly from your parents or spouse.

The second thing i have found out is most people dont have an objective in life. Life is like being given the stirrer after 5 spoons of salt is already in the vessel. All you can do is mix more water and get it to a managable level. Discussing about objectives
is considered as "waste of time" or "somthing not applicable to self"

Thats it ..these are the only 2 important things I have discovered so far.

I think Science, BE, MS/MBA/PhD are all crap. They make up for the most boring conversations.. We need to to get a LIFE.

Reason

There are times when you ask people something and they reply. But you forget it later. Then there are times when you want to say something but suddenly cant remember. Then there are even times when you say something and completely forget.. I think about this in hitchhikers guide.

---------

"Do you know," said Prak, "the story of the Reason?" Arthur said that he didn't, and Prak said that he knew that he didn't. He told it. One night, he said, a spaceship appeared in the sky of a planet which had never seen one before. The planet was Dalforsas, the ship was this one. It appeared as a brilliant new star moving silently across the heavens.

Primitive tribesmen who were sitting huddled on the Cold Hillsides looked up from their steaming night-drinks and pointed with trembling fingers, swearing that they had seen a sign, a sign from their gods which meant that they must now arise at last and go and slay the evil Princes of the Plains.

In the high turrets of their palaces, the Princes of the Plains looked up and saw the shining star, and received it unmistakably as a sign from their gods that they must now go and set about the accursed Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides.

And between them, the Dwellers in the Forest looked up into the sky and saw the sigh of the new star, and saw it with fear and apprehension, for though they had never seen anything like it before, they too knew precisely what it foreshadowed, and they bowed their heads in despair.

They knew that when the rains came, it was a sign. When the rains departed, it was a sign. When the winds rose, it was a sign. When the winds fell, it was a sign. When in the land there was born at midnight of a full moon a goat with three heads, that was a sign.

When in the land there was born at some time in the afternoon a perfectly normal cat or pig with no birth complications at all, or even just a child with a retrousse nose, that too would often be taken as a sign.

So there was no doubt at all that a new star in the sky was a sign of a particularly spectacular order.

And each new sign signified the same thing - that the Princes of the Plains and the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides were about to beat the hell out of each other again.

This in itself wouldn't be so bad, except that the Princes of the Plains and the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides always elected to beat the hell out of each other in the Forest, and it was always the Dwellers in the Forest who came off worst in these exchanges, though as far as they could see it never had anything to do with them.

And sometimes, after some of the worst of these outrages, the Dwellers in the Forest would send a messenger to either the leader of the Princes of the Plains or the leader of the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides and demand to know the reason for this intolerable
behaviour.

And the leader, whichever one it was, would take the messenger aside and explain the Reason to him, slowly and carefully and with great attention to the considerable detail involved.

And the terrible thing was, it was a very good one. It was very clear, very rational, and tough. The messenger would hang his head and feel sad and foolish that he had not realized what a tough and complex place the real world was, and what difficulties and paradoxes had to be embraced if one was to live in it.

"Now do you understand?" the leader would say. The messenger would nod dumbly. "And you see these battles have to take place?" Another dumb nod."And why they have to take place in the forest, and why it is in everybody's best interest, the Forest Dwellers included, that they should?"

"Er ..." "In the long run." "Er, yes." And the messenger did understand the Reason, and he returned to his people in the Forest. But as he approached them, as he walked through the Forest and amongst the trees, he found that all he could remember of the Reason
was how terribly clear the argument had seemed. What it actually was he couldn't remember at all.

And this, of course, was a great comfort when next the Tribesmen and the Princes came hacking and burning their way through the Forest, killing every Forest Dweller in their way.

Yuva Vs AE

Saw yuva in mayajaal. i think this is the 3rd (or 4th) hindi movie in theater for me since 1990. missed the first 5 minutes again. i found the hindi version better. I was surprised because I didnt expect the Hindi version to be better. Partly because mani is not an experienced Hindi film maker.

That the film is set in kolkata adds a sheen to the movie. its away from the conventional and oft repeated mumbai setting.

the best aspect of yuva was the acting by abishek and vivek, plus the clarity in the screenplay. the flow of story was better in hindi, more cogent and was not confusing in the places Ayitha ezhuthu was.

the slight change made in michael mukherjee's storyline. he saves a village political candidate who is thrown into a well. Surya in the tamil version joins up with agroup of people and throws stones on a water lorry allegedly doing some bad thing, which was very confusing.

the places where AE dragged, yuva did not. it appeared to be a slightly faster movie. i was kind of looking around in the theater when trisha comes back from sivakasi to have that looooong talk with siddarth. but didnt do so when kanpuria kareena came back to vivek.

there was a smal joy when vivek as arjun balakrishnan was a tamil speaking boy. given the way tamilians have been mocked and ridiculed from agnipath to every other movie this is refreshing, a tamilian character shown as a normal person who can speak hindi normally.

Tamil's weakest link is siddarth who really is a poor actor and unimpressive. vivek oberoi is a much better actor and really comes up with agood role in yuva. i had seen him before in "company" and he had done well in that movie too. looks like a pretty good actor.

Yuva's weakest link is Ajay devagan with his fat stomach and old look ( man his teeth seem to be falling down anytime). Ajay Devagan is a poor actor only fit for intense roles where he doesnt have to show facial movement at all. he sucks in any scene involving romance with Esha deol. but he is okay in the intense scenes. Again the only other devagan movie i have seen is "company" and with that as a a reference point he has done poorly. Surya scores in tamil much better than Ajay. Surya is young much more handsome. The scenes where his smirks and subtle facial expressions evoke a mild smile from the audience , is not there in Ajay. Ajay doesnt charm you the way Surya does.

Abishek and Maddy come out as equals. hindi being a more challenging language for dialog delivery, because it cannot be spoken as fast as tamil can be , abhishek doesnt get as many dialogues as maddy got in tamil. Many scenes where I was expecting abhshek to say something, there was only silence. which was also really good. They both have adopted the casual open legged walking style with loose shoulders and hung face like that of a dog. the way a lot of autodrivers and lorry drivers walk. typical rowdy postures.

the biggest chalenge mani must have faced is the way he had to integrate hindi dialogs to his style of dialog delivery. its difficult to ask the actors to place stress on certain words when you don’t know the language that well. also you need to know the language colloquially to find out how its talked among lorry'walas and college students. I gave a small cry when om puri said "kinthu". i wud have jumped & clapped if he had said "paranthu".. but he didnt say that. long time ago that bheeshma dude in the TV series mahabharat used to say "kinthu" just about whenever he felt like.. "paranthu"'s were also littered around to send me to raptures of joy.. well manirathanam maybe wanted to use the word badly, so he forced om puri to say it :-)

anway, given all these difficulties mani and the actors have done a comendable job.

the movie could have avoided 3 endings like "wizard of the OZ" or "LOTR: return of the king". in the last 20 minutes you take the audience to a high and end the movie on a high.. that has lasting impact. but this movie takes to a high in the howrah bridge fight scene and then one more high when ajay devagan wins the election, by the time these 4 dudes walk into the asssembly the audience are thinking " is it the credits next or will there be a speaker election"

"company" after the crappy rangeela was superb for me. yuva after company is not a bad follow up. if "mai hoon naa" is as bad as i hear it is.. yuva should be a welcome relief.

Ayitha Ezhuthu Review

The Prelude


3:10 PM, T.Nagar, Madras: My friend from Madras Talkies calls and tells me he's got a ticket for me for the 3:15 show. He asks me if I can make it to sathyam in 5 minutes.

3:22 Sathyam Theatre, Madras: I make it to sathyam alive. I probably would have broken a dozen traffic rules in the last 12 minutes. I get the ticket and rush into Santham by mistake and see the first scene of the hindi version, Yuva. I am thinking "oh! My gawd wrong ticket" and check my ticket. Thankfully I am just in the wrong theatre.

3:30 Sathyam theatre, Madras: I am in sathyam. the guy next to me tells me I have missed 2-3 minutes of the movie. I may have done a crime thats punishable in atleast 10 states.

Is It for the chics

Okay! chics wont like this movie. its a dude flick. you dont see any girl saying "kill bill" or "pulp fiction" was tender and made her heart swell! do you? chics should stay at home or watch some dumb dead crap like "hum tum". AE and Yuva is for the dudes.

The Flow of Narration:

Imagine a virtuoso artist, a painter sprinkling paint all over the canvas randomly and you are thinking, "is this another mess in the name of modern art". But slowly the pieces fall into place and as the full picture becomes visible and you think " Boy! never judge a painter until he is finished".

The full arc of his argument is not visible until 70% of the movie is over and once it becomes visible we are simply swallowed by the sheer delight of living through the experience of watching this movie. Not all directors have the guts to draft up such a script in their drawing boards. And a very few make it to the point where they
decide to tell the story the way Manirathnam has told it in Ayitha Ezhuthu. Here is a virtuoso filmmaker at the peak of his powers thrilling the public with his sheer genius.

The style of narration and the way events unfold is radically different from the way indian cinema usually works. The movie unfolds from Inba's (played by Madhavan) perspective and runs headlong to meet all the other characters. This is where the movie
scores the most; introduction of every character. The other 2 protagonists, Michael vasanth ( played by surya) and Arjun ( played by Siddarth) do appear when the story is told from Madhavan's perspective, but they are like a distant blur almost part of the
background. Exactly at the point, and lets call this point Point A, when Surya's character is required in the narration, he zooms into focus and his character suddenly comes alive.

The movie takes off to another dimension when it pauses at the point where Surya comes into focus . Here the narration perspective shifts and rolls back in time a few months to tell the story from Surya's point of view . A small glimpse of this technique was shown in "Run Lola Run" but since the German movie's scope was rather limited, it
did not allow this narrative technique to be fully explored the way manirathnam has done in this movie.

Surya's story then unfolds and moves forward in time until the point, that is point A, where Surya was first brought into focus . This is where Manirathnam's interpretation of kurosawa's narrative technique in the movie "Roshamun" is in full display. I was
impressed by Kamal Hassan's take on the same technique in Virumandi, but Maniratham shows how its really done. The events that were shown as almost incidental events during the narration of the story from Madhavan's perspective assume larger & different proportions when show again from Surya's perspective.

I dont think anybody could have dealt with this concept and implemented it with so much clarity the way manirathnam has done in this movie. As I write the review trying to explain the concept, I realize how many times the draft of this script would have been
refined to tell this story with such clarity.

The Movie:

Manirathnam always has this knack of giving a specific look and feel to his movies. It is almsot as if he decides this aspect first before penning down a serious scrit. This look and feel he brings about by the choice of colors, the camera angles, thee pace of
narration and some other intangibles. He instantly creates a magical
parallel Chennai city where Lallan, Arjun and Michael live and breathe. The Movie seems to give a hep look while simulatneously maintaining its seriousness. Make no mistake this movie is not a rib tickler. Manirathnam's movies always have serious undercurrents with
comedy strewn around here and there. This movie decides to dispense off with the strewing and just shows the serious stuff.

The movie has a whole needs to be appreciated for what it aims for. I will not go into the details of the story and the eventual fate of the characters. The lofty ambition that every educated individual should realise his duty to the nation and contribute to the
development of the society has been brought out in such a wonderful manner. It almost parrallels the ambition that the movie going public should really raise their level to encourage movies like Ayitha Ezhuthu, instead of merely complaining about the low of
quality of Indian movies. Siddarth infact tells something to this extent in a conversatin with Trisha in Napier bridge.

The Three Dots:

The movie is really about how the three dots of Ayitha Ezhuthu need to be oriented towards each other to make sense. This symbolic parallelism is brought out in the movie very well.

This movie is really Madhavan vs Surya. Siddarth does not have a big role to play. Madhavan's negative character seems to give him the edge as the character itself has so much depth and is so well framed that the scope of earning applause is high. Not many would be prepared to accept Madhavan in such a role. But he really looks and acts like a violent person and does reasonable justice to the role.

Surya is the star of the movie in my opinion. He presents Manirathnam's point of view and really is the director's voice in this movie. One can really identify with Surya's character because he is the person we all want to be , but unfortunately arent because
we have defaulted to be a character like that of Siddarth. Surya has done the role with such convinction and authority that one has to concede that he has really arrived as an actor and a star. Surya seems to be able to carry the movie on his own and doesn't require much help at all. He plays the intelligent but angry rebel character
with ease.

The Surprise Packet:

It may be true that a negative villain character is a shortcut to a standing ovation but Bharathiraja's character really steals the show. One can only fanthom how one ace director can visualised this role for another ace director but Bharathiraja's character simply steals the thunder.

The Cinematographer:

It is really not possible to expect anything less than brilliant from the Ravi.K.Chandran & Manirathnam combination. They deliver as expected and the visual treat is simply stunning. Ravi.K.Chandran transcends many unknown boundaries with the usage of different hues and angles. There is no single theme or color contrast, the camerawork restricts itself to and it seems to change the mood of the audience as it shifts focus to different characters.

Songs come to mind when talking about cinematography and "Hey goodbye nanba" comes out on top as the best picturized song. Though I feel Mani should'nt have had songs in the movie at all. The simple and elegant technqiue of using just 2 artists in the beach
and let the camera do the talking works the same way as it worked in Kannathil Muthamittal.

The Director:
Manirathnam comes out on top again not only for the innovative approach he has shown towards story telling but for the level he has aimed in this movie. One almost feels if he trusts the movie going audience too much by creating a work of art of such high quality. But that is where Manirathnams greatness lies and he really goes
where no indian contemporary directory has gone before.

How the Movie will Fare:


Any Manirathnam movie will have a huge opening. Surya's and Madhavan's presence should bring in their quota of fans to the theatre. But how it will sustain in the long run will depend on its ability draw people who are not movie fanatics but who would simply like to watch a quality movie. This movie is all about quality and depth if not anything else.

June & The Threat Of Schools

Its 9:00 AM in the morning, I am still in bed, enjoying the semi-conscious last hour of sleep. The last part of sleep, where I wallow in self-induced dreams, of being a test cricketer, Oscar award winner, 8 time Wimbledon champion all rolled into one, is the best part of sleep. Basking languidly in the vast expanses of nothingness, my state of stupor is rudely interrupted when my eyes wander around the room and rest on the calendar. It’s the last week of May, which means June is not far away.

The thought of June fills the stomach with uneasiness. It is the harbinger of school. School has a nasty way of breaking the sweet monotony of indolence and unnecessarily introducing a purpose to waking up everyday, consequently advancing the wake-up time by 3 hours. The inevitability of June strikes me as unfortunate and unfair. Of all things comprising reality, June after May would have been considered an acceptable omission by the student community. I have even heard one of my friends mutter to himself; “there really ought to be a law against June”. If there was a proper forum where I could represent to someone, even God, regarding this injustice then I wouldn’t have hesitated to send in a petition.

Come June! and the sun sets on my 2 month long grand summer vacation. Gone are the afternoons aimlessly watching T.V. The evening cricket, which starts at 4:00 PM and goes on until you generously allow the much younger kids to bowl to you, after serious cricket is over, evaporates once schools start.

The first week of school is always intense. There is always the initial excitement in finding out the teachers assigned for each subject. Some students ‘match-fix’ these assignments cosmically by visiting temples and posing threats to God that specific teachers should not get assigned to their class. Such students, whose prayers have been answered, give a knowing smile when the teacher assignments are announced. The school principal is unfortunately unaware of students going above his head and directly presenting their case to a higher power. So he disappoints some part of the student community by assigning very strict teachers to their classes. This aggrieved section of the student community wait for a year before taking up the issue with their respective cosmic representatives by aggressively increasing they number of pradhakshnas in the temple.

Sometimes there is chaos and confusion in finding out which section one belongs to. Usually sections are based on second language and so the same set of students remain together year after year. But there are times where one finds himself abruptly removed from the comfort zone and put into a different section, which surprisingly has the same second language. Such students are extremely confused as different classes have completely different culture, lingo, orientation, ethic and other intangibles. It appears as if the class is part of some other school in a parallel universe.

School in June is more interesting for students who are new to the school. A myriad of thoughts fill my mind when I join a school as a new student. The first few weeks of school are always nervous. There are a lot of things a veteran in the same school will know, which a new student will take months or even years to find out. Finding out characteristics of different teachers is usually the most daunting of tasks. There are the friendly ones and there is always the stricter variety.

I always wondered if teachers were actually manufactured in some factory. And whether the strength, ductility and temperature of the materials that goes into making a teacher actually decides their strictness factor. Some teachers have the air about them that instantly puts the student on alert. They have a way of putting everybody in their place and instantly declaring their authority. I imagine that, all the strict teachers are part of an association; whose members are obligated to declare to the students first up that “it’s the cane! If all of you don’t fall in line”. Most teacher adhere to this rule and tell the class that they brook no nonsense, but some teachers cheat and don’t follow the rules. The students usually aren’t sure what to make out of such teachers and have to wait for the storm that blows when a scapegoat student misbehaves or fails to finish his homework. Watching the scapegoat been torn to shred caught in the vortex of the storm, confirms wide-spread fear that the teacher belongs to the stricter variety.

Apart from the lack of inside scoop on teachers, as a new student, I was also handicapped by many other factors. Each school has it own working model, in some places home works are submitted in a piece of paper, some schools insist on the students maintaining a separate home work book. This escapes notice until the first homework needs to be submitted. Even if I had completed the home work as per the norm, there was always the awkward moment or two in class when I didn’t know how to go about submitting it. Only when a veteran student keeps the book on the teacher’s desk a few moments before the teacher arrives is the submitting process revealed.

There was one school where students wrote in their class work with blue ink and homework with green ink. I found this very strange because I came from a school where only the principal signed in green ink. The school morning assembly is another place that has much scope of culture shock, some schools start with a Sanskrit or Tamil prayer song before moving on to the oath and the national anthem. There are schools which only do the national anthem on Monday or Wednesday depending on the day, when students wear a white dress. In some schools the principal always gets to say something everyday and I’ve always wondered how principals managed to have something to talk about everyday

Everybody treats new classmates with caution. On the first day, all the vital statistics like father’s employment, previous school name, rank in that school, place of residence was extracted from me. Once, I was even asked to write a sample paragraph just so that the other students could see how my handwriting looked like. No matter what one’s rank in the previous school was, it is impossible to predict how one will fare in the new school. When the ranks come out immediately after the first mid-term, the new student’s capabilities become evident and he or she is allocated to the respective strata.

The worst thing about school reopening is the bulk of new books. Some schools distribute all the books on the opening day itself. The poor students have to lug it around in buses and auto rickshaws. Every time I was forced to do this exercise it invariably rained or there was a bus breakdown of some sort to make my life more difficult.

School life improves dramatically for a new student as soon as friends are made. My strategy was to talk to a classmate who sat next to me in the same row or bench. That’s how the first contact is usually made. I usually contemplate and mentally rehearse my first few words carefully before talking. I had the morbid fear that the person would scream and run away from the class if I spoke something wrong. Destiny has a fine way of shaping things up in school life, many a time the person whom you first speak to ends up being your best friend. I had the good fortune of speaking to such a person who till date is my best friend.

As a new student, I was always nervous the first day, as I had no clue whether Monday was the school uniform day or an all white day. Once I dressed up in a Navy blue uniform on my first day to school only to find everybody else in white. The consequent embarrassment is too huge for words. I would have been thankful if the earth opened up and swallowed me inside. When I went back home, I unsuccessfully promised never to visit the school again. These were the times which makes me think how the idiosyncrasies of every school come into being. Does it correspond to that of the people who build the school or is it a consequence of some random thought process or changes in management of a school over time? Most of the times there is no real underlying logic as to why uniforms need to be of a certain color. There are no clear explanations as to why even in rainy days students need to show up in all white uniforms. Certain school traditions need introspection and it relevance to the modern world reevaluated.

I have come to realize School is not an easy place to be for the light hearted ones. It is definitely a character building process. Especially if you are a new student, one feels like a solitary soldier who is up against a big army. Once school begins, the frenetic pace does not stop until the annual exams are over. Weekends, quarterly and half early vacations are but an oasis in the mad rush towards finishing syllabus and preparing for the annual exams. The next summer vacation seems to be far, far away in a distant universe. Everyday morning as students wake up to get ready for school, they’d certainly feel Robert Frost wasn’t far off the mark when he said “and miles to go before I sleep”.


Boston trip

The july 4th long weekend extended by involuntary 3-day vacation left me with a 9 day gap. This was a good opportunity to meet up with Vasu Anna & fmly , Arvindh, Anu and possibly Rishi. Rishi raised all hopes of a trip but then unfortunately cudnt make it.

So I took the 11-J route from Mandavali bus stand and after Adammbakkam, 3rd stop in sholinganallur is Boston. Boston very much resembles Ambasamudram, except Ambasamudram has 3 more skyscrapers, 4 more cows and definitely 3 more "pannaiyars".

My cousin Anu changed her carefully planned travel plans(it seems she booked this ticket when the brontosauras was in vogue) to go via Boston. She shrugged off jet-lag for another exiting trip along with Vasu and Arvindh to the airport to recv me. She now likes the INS more than ever :-)

1 week in Boston was simply an amazing relaxed nothing-to-do-in-life week. Made even more amazing with splendid pampering by my Aunt. both in terms of visiting places and "grub". I am sure she must have understood that among all the people who do nothing, I did nothing the most and in the process, ate twice as much as a person, who might have only done, half as nothing, as I did, in a weeks stay.

The busiest part of a day would be a trip to imax theatre with my aunt, srinivas & kaushik or a trip to MIT ( Madipakkam Institute of Tailoring) and Harvard with Vasu and kids. Resisted the temptation to wash and hang my dress in Charles river :-)

The 2 kids Srinivas and "like mike" Kaushik (who beat me in chess with embarassing consistency) are lovely young kids. However it was unfortunate when they didnt believe me when I said "Danny Denzongappa" was a baseball player and that he played
for "Aramudhu XI". They simply refused to belive that Ted Williams actually played in "Thanjavoor" league ( where Thanjavoor is an east coast city). And Sivaji Ganesan was a baseball player with an average of .560 (623 career home runs) who tutored keith hernandez.

I was more shocked when they showed irreverence to Goundamani, even after I told them that he was the founding fathers of the "theory of relativity" and he is to India what einstein was to the west.

Quote of the trip
Vasu: "kaushik what did you do from morning"
Kaushik : " Kazhuthai ottals (help donkeys graze) and then more kazhuthai ottals and then even more of kazhuthai ottals" (kazhuthai in mazhalai tamizh)

We had a good trip to Niagara Falls. The falls was quite breathtaking. Having seen Niagra in so many movies (superman II comes to mind) and in so many National Geographic programs one wonders if the naked eye will be as good as those hi-fi cameras. Anuradha joined us in the traditional "maid of the mist" boat ride. One thing the Niagara has, more than Thiruvallikeni is the number of iyengar pattis in "madisaar". A lot of young women in triplicane have a lot of quick growing up to do if they wanna compete.

Coming back to Dallas richer by a big box of "pulikaichal", it was big drag carrying myself to office on monday. As I woke up tday, Robert Frost did say "only 6 miles to go before I sleep(again)".

Oregon

Posting an earlier write up of my trip to Oregon.

Continuing my kshethradam of visits to torment hapless cousins . This time it was the turn of Vijay & Radha to be forced to play hosts.

A visit Vijay's house doesn't need an explicit invitation, a 24 hour prior notice
in the form of a threatening email is enough. In my case it was a 1 month prior email warning him of impending danger.

A trip here was bound to be different from most other trips you I have taken. Vijay has 2 things working in his favor

1)He has a trusted driver from Andhra Pradesh called Subba Rao subaru) to take you places.

2) He has a cell phone which is also a grinder, washing machine, mini car tool kit, fish tank, air pump, kitchen sink and a GPS. It sometimes even reads horoscopes.

In the short span of 2.5 days we went to camping in 'aruvidai nachiyaar' state beach park and an amazing ride in sand dunes.

Camping is defnitely a very unique experience for those people who have not done it. When I heard about it on phone, I thought "yuck ..hard work! sweat, toil in the sun.. hard work .. hard work". But I was wrong as radha & vijay insisted. The camp tent is so sophisticated that it can be pitched in less than 2 hours. Ofcourse there were 2 strong grown up males(ahem! me and vijay) to set up the tent which should make the work even more easy. But the two strong grown males had some other qualities to them. They were lazy and completely useless.

So, there we were, vijay and myself taking care of Ananya, while Radha set up the tent in double quick time. Since Ananya was also helping Radha to set up the tent, myself and vijay didnt have anyone to take care of so... oh well.. we simply sat there and
watched.

The camping site itself was picturisque with tall trees in the form of a slope. This reminded me of the trees and campgrounds in Marlinspike hall of Tintin comics. The total calmness and the sunlight between the trees was simply out of the world.

We lit camp fire and also cooked "cholam" in that fire. There are air inflatable beds and other gadgets which makes life comfortable inside the tent. Unless ofcourse Vijay anna's cell phone morphes itself into a bed cum heater device.

The other best part of the trip was the ride in sand dunes. Myself and Vijay were given a vehicle each and you can drive in the sand dunes as fast as you can. We got stuck in the sand more often than not and spent most of our alloted time extrciating the vehicle from the mud. But its definetely worth the experience.

For people who just want to spend a relaxed time, Vijay & Radha vacation home association, has a wonderful house facing big, big empty grasslands. In the evening you can sit on the easy chair and look the vast empty fields and spend time consuming industrial quantities of delicious dosai and bisi bela bath conjured up by
Radha. There is also the pear tree and various other trees, from which the house gardener who looks exactly like vijay will pluck fruits and give you some.

I got to spend time with Ananya. Ananya is the sort of child who is decidedly cute in everything she does. Her smile is cute as per the state law of oregon. She sometimes wondered, why I kept calling her "pullai" "sengamalam" & "vadivukarasi" and she kept insisting that it werent her names. Most of her photos with a smiling face is like a sensitive potrait of a wonderful flower. I wish her advance birthday greetings.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Ilayaraja 15 ( Dharmavati, Genesis, Shanmugapriya, Lathaangi, Vijayanagari, Sivaranjini & Conceit)

By Lakshminarayanan

Dharmavathi is the 59th melakartha ragam. Sa Ri2 Ga2 Ma2 Pa Da2 Ni3 Sa as arohanam and the converse as avarohanam. It is the prathimadhyamam of Gowrimanohari (23rd melam). About couple of years ago Rahman tuned a superb Dharmavathi song in vandicholai chinnarasu. The song is sugam sugam vendum. I think the singer of the song is Vani Jayaram. It is one of the best songs that Rahman has tuned in his short career so far. It is a very sexy song. He starts the tune in the madhyama sthayi like Sa Ga Sa Ga, with a very very prominent chord sequences in the background. While another song from the same movie became a good hit (senthamizh naatu thamizhacheeyae sung by the late Shahul Ameed), this lovely song based on a pure classical ragam did not become a hit. Earlier, Rahman has tuned one more Dharmavathi in the movie gentleman. The song is ottagathai kattikko, which came as an unbelievable melody in that movie with a fantastic rhythm played in the pukka south indian instrument "thavil".

Of course, Rahman had exhibited the usual (predictable) "cinema musician's tendency" of deviating from the ragam by using some foreign swaras in both the above songs. Even though there is predominant use of Da2 in sugam sugam, in the charanam he uses Da3 Ni3 prayogam like Neethimathi ragam (60th melam). In ottagathai kattikko, he very liberally uses both Ni2 and Ni3, making it difficult to bring it under either Hemavathi (58th melam) or Dharmavathi. For our purposes to discuss Dharmavathi, I called ottagathai kattiko as Dharmavathi in this essay.

Rahman said in one of his early interviews that he avoided listening to contemporary music as did not want to get influenced by that music. He wants his music to be original and new! Alright bro, make music without the influence of your forefathers! Let us see, if you can!

This is an ever changing world. People are born constantly and people are dead similarly. We all have come into the world not like Mr. Jesus Christ without a father. We have our roots strongly based on our immediate previous generation, and less significantly on the innumerable generations in-between from the ages of origin of man to now. Newtonian concept of gravity was put to disuse by the "nascent" Einsteinian concept in the 20th century. The important thing to remember and appreciate is that Newton did prominent work on gravity before, and his ideas pre-existed the period of Einstein. If it were not for Newton to intrigue Einstein, the latter would not have become such a great scientist. If it were not for the stimulus of advaitha of Sankara, neither would have Ramanujam come up with his visisht advaitha, nor Madvacharya with his dvaitha philosophy. Nature requires a pre-existent state to progress to the next state. It sends Nagesh first in the time window to do his comedy and then Vadivelu. It sends Chatruhan Sinha first and then later Rajnikanth. We are all a small part of the continuously self-propagating enormous force that originated in the big bang. Nobody can molt the profound ancestral influence to become a "new" creator (in absolute terms).

Ilaiyaraaja too, has tuned wonderful Dharmavathi's. His first was probably in the movie vikram. The song is meendum meendum vaa. S.P.Balasubramaniam and S.Janaki! He starts his song in madhya sthayi like Sa Sa Sa Sa (meendum meendum) and then all of a sudden jumps one octave to the thara sthayi Sa (vaa). He has used Mridhangam as a wonderful rhythm support in that song. In the charanam the tune is just excellent. Pa Pa Pa Ma2 Da2 (thekku marathil) Pa Pa Pa Ma2 Da2 (sedhukki vaitha) Pa Pa Ma2 Pa Ga2 Ma2 Pa (dhegam idhu thaana). Even in the charanam he frequently jumps from madhyama sthayi Sa to thara sthayi Sa. To me, it seems like Rahman got the idea to tune his sugam sugam from meendum meendum vaa. Both are very sexy, romantic playboy channel duets! Both of them are great in their own aspects.

Ilaiyaraaja's possibly second Dharmavathi is illam cholai poothadha in the movie unakkagavae vazhgiraen. This was not a big hit like kanna unai thedu giraen vaa in the same movie. However, illam cholai is one of the mile stones in his career. I would say that it is one of his top bests. It has been sung by S.P.B. He starts like Ma2 Pa Sa (illam cholai) Sa Ri2 Sa Ni3 (poothadhaa). He prolongs the kaakali nishadham and beautifully gives a gamakam and then travels down to panchamam. Initially he uses tabla for accompaniment and then in the charanam there is wonderful mridhangam, the usage of which is very typical of him. Listening to this song is one of the best musical experience that I have had in my life! In varusham padhinaaru his "aeh, ayyasaami" is a kind of Dharmavathi with lot of mixture of Ma1. In veera, his konjikonji is quite a pure Dharmavathi. Maragadhamani has given a very pure Dharmavathi in thaththithom in azhagan. He has excellently used keyboard with fantastic gamakams in that song.

Dharmavathi has two very melodious janya ragas. One is Ranjani. Sa Ri2 Ga2 Ma2 Da2 Ni3 Sa; Sa Ni3 Da2 Ma2 Ga2 Sa. The best song in Ranjani in cinema is muthupandhalil rathina oonjalil sung by T.N.Seshagopalan in the movie thodi raagam. Kunnakudi has tuned it in an unparalleled manner. MSV has used Ranjani in few of his cinema raga-malikas (aezhuswarangalukkul has a bit of Ranjani in aboorva ragangal, and also "ranjaniyai azhaithaen" in the movie mrudhanga chakravarthi). The other popular janyam of Dharmavathi is Madhuvanthi. There is a subtle Ma1 usage in this ragam. In the movie nandha en nila, obscure music director V.Dhakshinamurthy has tuned one excellent Madhuvanthi song. The song also starts like "nandha en nila". My Houston room-mate Karthik used to repeatedly listen to this song again and again for hours. If you listened to this song, you will know the addictive potential of this song. Like "heroin addict", "ganja addict", we can proudly call ourselves as "nandha en nila addict"! It is one of the best ever recorded Thamizh cinema song!

The 10th chakram (in other words, the 4th chakram of the prathimadhyama melaragas) has probably the more popular ragas among the prathimadhyama melams. The 55th is Shatvidhamargini, 56th - Shanmukhapriya, 57th - Simhendra Madhyamam, 58th - Hemavathi, 59th - Dharmavathi, 60th - Neethimathi.

Ilaiyaraaja has given a lot of Shanmukhapriya songs. Thamthanathamthana thalam was his first Shanmukhapriya (in Bharathiraja's pudhiya vaarpukkal). One of his very early classical ventures that proved to the Thamizh cinema world what kind he was! It is a very fast song sung by Jency. In his earlier days he seems to have really liked tuning fast songs (like mazhai varuvadhu in rishi moolam)! In thamthana song, the thabla rhythm, veenai and flute interlude are mesmerising. His other Shanmukhapriya songs are kaadhal kasakkudhaiyaa (aan paavam), thakita thadhimi (salangai oli), ooru vittu ooru vandhu (karagaattakaaran), sollaayo vaai thirandhu (moga mull). We have to remind ourselves of the earlier music directors contribution in this ragam that includes pazham nee appa (thiruvilayadal), muththaitharu (arunagiri naadhar), kurangilirundhu (thookuthooki), maraindhirundhu (thillana mohanaambal). Devendran has tuned kannukkul nooru nilava in vedham pudhidhu. One interesting thing to note is that even Thyagarajaswami has given only one krithi in this important ragam, while cinema fellows have been handling it quite often, the maximum number being by Ilaiyaraaja!

Shanmukhapriya uses Ri2, Ga2, Ma2, Da1 and Ni2. If we change the Ni2 to Ni3 we get Simhendra Madhyamam. Probably, his first number in this ragam came in panneer pushpangal. The song is aanandha raagam. This song has got one of the most abnormal starts! It starts in thaara sthayi Ga! It goes likes this: Ga2 Ri2 Sa (aanandha) Sa Ri2 Ri2 Sa (raagam). A beautiful start and a wonderful job by Uma Ramanan! His second song in this ragam came in Mukta Sundar's debut film kodai mazhai. The song is kaatrodu kuzhalin naadhamae. The song has been sung by Chitra. A highly classical song. The heroine gives a dance performance on stage for this song. This song also starts in a very high pitched Ga2 of thara sthayi! I first listened to this song while watching the movie in the theatre, and the song was just gripping! His next Simhendra Madhyamam came in oruvar vaazhum aalayam. The song is nee pournami. He starts this song in middle octave Ri2! The song goes like this: Ri2 Ga2 Ri2 Ga2 Sa (nee..) Ga2 Ma2 Pa Ma2 Pa (pournami). The swara structuring of this song is just marvellous. He uses groups of swaras up and down like a thrilling roller-coaster ride, and later in the end of the song he starts presenting alternating swaram-sahityam sequences that are just wonderful! His last Simhendra Madhyamam song is thaaj mahal thevai illai in gopura vaasalilae.

We have discussed Hemavathi ragam in our earlier essays. Nobody has tuned Shatvidhamargini or Neethimathi in cinema! These are extremely rare ragas even in classical sadas. If we just change the Ga2 to Ga3 in the ragas discussed above, we get all the important ragas of the next (11th) chakram. 63rd - Lathangi, 64th - Vachaspathi, 65th - Mesakalyani (commonly, called as Kalyani). We know that Ilaiyaraaja was the most prolific music director in tuning Kalyani in cinema. Did anybody think that he would use the other important ragams from this chakram in the nineties?!

Once upon a time there was a director called as "P.Vasu"! He used to shoot whatever perversion that came to his mind during the most uninhibited of his dreams as films! He had the extreme fortune of getting "Ilaiyaraaja's kadaaksham" in most of his movies, and the films would be jam-packed with superb songs! Just because of Ilaiyaraaja, those films would "runno runnunu run" tirelessly in the theatres, with money "fallo fallunu falling" down the roofu! Mmmmm...... Did P.Vasu know that he got one of the two great Lathaangi songs ever tuned in one of his junk movies? The first popular Lathaangi is aadadha manamum undo in mannadhi mannan. The song has been sung by T.M.S and M.L.Vasanthakumari. Great song!

The other popular Lathangi came from the harmonium of Ilaiyaraaja! The movie is walter vetrivel. The song is raasavae chitterumbu. He has presented an incredibly pure Lathangi in a "tappaanguthu kind of format" in this song. It was a mega-hit song reverbrating throughout the Thamizhnadu, from the slums to the elite! Prabhu Deva and Sukhanya dance for this song. It is one of the songs, which, when a common laymen rasika listens, he just feels it as a "great" tune, while a knowledgeable rasika immediately recognizes the intelligent use of a hardcore classical ragam and becomes wonder-struck! Ilaiyaraaja has tuned another Lathangi in eeramaana rojavae (adho andha vaanilae). But, that song was not a big hit. He also gave a Vachaspathi in one of his songs, nikkatumaa pogattumaa neelakarunguyilae (?movie). A beautiful song. But, it was not a big hit. I don't think anybody else has tuned Vachaspathi in cinema.

Vijayanagari is a janyam of Hemavathi. Actually, this ragam was "discovered" by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar in this century. He just omitted Nishadham in Hemavathi and called it as Vijayanagari. There is a famous M.K.T song soppanavazhvil magizhndhu in this ragam. Ilaiyaraaja tuned one Vijayanagari in paadaadha thaeneekkal. The song is vanna nilavae vaigai nadhiyae. He has beautifully used the Ma2 of this ragam. But, from puritans point of view, he has done a mistake. He has also used Ga3 to give a very sad appeal to the song. That is not permissible.

Vijayanagari is very closely related to Sivaranjani. While Sivaranjani is a janyam of the 22nd melam (Karaharapriya), Vijayanagari is a janyam of the 58th (the prathimadhyamam of the 22nd). Sivaranjani is also a very "soga" ragam. Kadalai urundai is called the poor man's meat, as it has reasonably all the essential amino acids as meat, but at a lesser cost! Like that, we could call Sivaranjani as the "cinema rasika's Mukhari or Bhairavi" as it has the same dose of "sadness", but, in a lighter form. Sivaranjani's arohanam and avarohanam are: Sa Ri2 Ga2 Pa Da2 Sa; Sa Da2 Pa Ga2 Ri2 Sa. Nowadays musicians liberally use Ga3 to add beauty to this ragam.

To list all the Sivaranjani songs of Ilaiyaraaja is impossible. To list a few that comes to the mind immediately: adi aathaadi (kadalora kavidhaigal), unnai thaanae (nallavanukku nallavan), poovannam pola nenjam (azhiyaadha kolangal), solai pushpangalae (?movie), kaathirundhu (vaidehi kaathirundhal), pon manae (oru kaidhiyin dairy), vaa vaa anbae (agni nakshatiram), valli valli aena (deiva vaaku), adhikaalai nera kanavu (?movie), kuyil paatu (en raasavin manasilae) etc. Also, Sivaranjani is one of the unique ragas in the sense that, it is probably the only ragam that has been handled by every Tom, Dick and Harry calling himself as a music director. Manoj-Kiyan tuned tholvi nilayaena (oomai vizhigal), S.A.Rajkumar tuned paatu onnu naan paadatuma (pudhu vasantham), Shankar Ganesh tuned aval oru menagai (nakshathiram), lately Rahman has tuned kannum kannum (thiruda thiruda), thannerai kaadhalikkum (Mr.Romeo). In karuthamma, Rahman has scored a fantastic song (poraalae ponnuthayee). It is also Sivaranjani based, with weightage given to Ga3 (like Mohanam) in the happy version, and to Ga2 in the sad version. This song unquestionably proves that Rahman is one among the most remarkable music directors in Thamizh cinema now.

The present continuous success in the Indian filmdom might make Rahman feel as though he has gone to the top of the globe. The total ouster of Ilaiyaraaja from the #1 position might give a feeling of superiority than other creators now. Perhaps, that is the reason why he said that he avoided listening to contemporary music! Ilaiyaraaja had the same status once upon a time. He behaved like a narcist then! He quarrelled with everybody in the cinema field because of his superioritic complex. He spoke ill of Vairamuthu on air when both he and Vairamuthu had been selected for national award! This behavior pattern is not unique to Ilaiyaraaja! Almost everybody who comes to the limelight for some reason seems to become gripped by the evil "conceit"! Jayalalitha performed the marriage of her step son in such a grand manner only because of "conceit"! The mind seems to constantly work with the central thought "I", "ME", "MINE"! Nothing else matters to the mind!

Pigs like Jayalalitha and Sasikala, Maestro's like Ilaiyaraaja, Rahman, superhuman beings like Mother Teresa, billionaires like Bill Gates, and all of us would be dead and sleeping in our graves in just another millennium from now! We will all be forgotten and even our own progeny would not know us! When that be the likely practical eventuality, then why conceit? 65 million years ago, in the Jurassic age, the dinosaurs ruled the earth! Where are they now? 65 million years from now, the homo-sapiens species might be extinct, and even Ilaiyaraaja's microgram worth of dust might not be found in that world! Then, why conceit? In the inconceivably large space-time co-ordinates of Mother Nature, the infinitesimally small human being fails to realize his mortality during his life time. He dances proudly for "HIS" achievement, fails to acknowledge other's talents, yells at his competitor with contempt and conceit! Oh, the director of all such conceited activity - THE MIND! You are a conundrum!

Ilayaraja 14 ( Sex, Reethigowlai, Chaalanattai, Nattai, Gambheerai Nattai, Vakram)

By LakshmiNarayanan

The invincible AIDS virus is fast spreading in India. That is news! (Accidentally turned) bigamist Thamizh writer Balakumaran once stated in an interview that women are like masturbating bowl to men in India. Yeah, lorry drivers acknowledge that statement candidly! They will take the "sarakku" from Chennai to Thirunelvelli by their overnight lorry-borne express. In the gloomily lit bus-stations in-between, they will stop not only for "barota kuruma", but also looking for their in-expensive bowls of masturbation! There... will come the familiar figure of the betel-nut chewing red-mouthed sexy queen! Our driver's mouth will twist into a lusty leer! The indomitable Freudian force will drive the male instrument to do its procreative job in few minutes. There... will go our night queen, having earned few bucks to support her indigent family of innumerable malnourished children. In the above encounter between the two beings, not only the rapturous joy of sex, and money will have transacted, but possibly, the seemingly indolent "HIV" fellow too!

Ilaiyaraaja writes in his "nila adhu vaanathu maelae" song, "pasikkudhu pasikkudhu dhinam dhinam thaan, pusicha pasiyadhu theerndhiduma?" Good question, boss! The hypothalamus in the brain is a "dhammathoondu" structure! You can place it on your nail top and squeeze it, like your grandmother used to squeeze the helpless lice from her hair! But, it is this "thammathoondu" structure that orchestrates the various vital functions of the body. When you have not eaten for a while, and when your blood sugar concentration falls, it is your hypothalamus that feels your hunger and instructs you to eat! When you've not drunk water for a while, and when your blood sodium rises (dehydration), it is this hypothalamus that senses it and drives you crazy to drink! But, Ilaiyaraaja tries to equate "hunger for food" to "hunger for sex and pleasure"! It is true that TTC bus driver gets free food at those unhygienic hotels in Thindivanam for bringing lots of customers and business for the hotel. Maybe, that is the reason why he eats three days worth of meal when he stops for those 20 minutes during your trip from Chennai to Srirangam! That is an unusual case. Most of us eat because our hypothalamus commands us to eat after sensing our low blood sugar concentrations! But, why does the lorry driver seek courtship in the shady towns of India during his long distance operation? Nothing decreases in his blood, making the hypothalamus "hungry for sex". The hypothalamus simply feels like having sex!

Ilaiyaraaja showed an abnormal choice of ragam (Reethigowlai) when he tuned "thalayai kuniyum" in Sridhar's oru odai nadhiyagiradhu. He had done that earlier in choosing the same ragam for his "chinnakannan azhaikiraan" in kavikkuyil, and then in tuning "raamanin kadhai kaelungal" in chippikkul muthu. It is a very easily identifiable, very classical janya ragam that was relished by composers like Thyagaraja. But, none in the cinema arena seems to have used it in the pre-Ilaiyaraaja period. In mid seventies, here comes the uneducated music director from Madhurai jilla....! He tunes a couple of "tappanguthu" that marks his initial success! Within 2 to 3 years after his debut, he calls one of the most memorable geniuses of Carnatic music, Shri Balamurali Krishna to sing one cinema song for him. "Alright thambi" says Balamurali, and goes to the recording theatre.....

Was Balamurali surprised initially when Ilaiyaraaja played the tune for him in his harmonium? If I were him, I would have been! First of all, out of the blue, why Reethigowlai? Why not the hackneyed Hindholam or Mohanam? This absolutely classical raga selection shows his desire to venture into pure, traditional ragas! It is like A.R.Rahman springing a surprise by tuning purely classical Yadhukula Kamboji interludes in kuluvaliyae (muthu)!

Reethigowlai is the janyam of Karaharapriya (22nd melam). It is a vakra ragam and hence with a convoluted arohanam and avarohanam. Sa Ga2 Ri2 Ga2 Ma1 Ni2 Da2 Ma1 Ni2 Ni2 Sa; Sa Ni2 Da2 Ma1 Ga2 Ma1 Pa Ma1 Ga2 Ri2 Sa. Its raga lakshanam is so unique that it gets imprinted in our mind easily. Beginners in carnatic music identify Reethigowlai rather facilely and this gives great encouragement to venture into learning other ragas. The jubilance of identifying a raga by ourselves initially is unparalled and even a triple 800 score in GRE Pre-Test wouldn't make you that happy! Oh man, what a joy! In that aspect, Reethgowlai could be compared to a steroid shot to Ben Johnson! In all his three Reethigowlai songs Ilaiyaraaja presents the ragalakshanam excellently in a very concise 4 minute form.

He starts his kavikkuyil song as Sa Ga Ri Ga (chinnakannanan) Ma Ni Ni Sa (azhaikiraan). He has just used the arohanam of Reethigowlai without any extraneous manipulation of the ragam. In his chippikul muthu song he goes like Sa Ga Ri Ga (raamanin) Ma Ma (kadhai) Ni Ni Sa (kaelungal). A very small variation to chinnakannan song. He made lakhs of rupees for the former and lakhs for the latter! That is why he often says in interviews "there are only seven notes in music. Musicians have made infinite number of songs only with those seven notes by cheating!". He is in a way right and in a way wrong. The above two songs are cheating of the first order. He has cheated less in thalayai kuniyum thamarayae where the pallavi goes like Da Ni Sa (thalayai) Ni Da Ma (kuniyum) Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa (thaamarayae).

Music is not just the melodious manipulation of different discrete frequencies of the continuum of "energy" commonly called as the sound. It is much more than that. There is another important variable in good music. That is the TIME! If I sing Sa today and sing Ga tomorrow, and Ri day after tomorrow and so forth sing one by one note of Ilaiyaraaja's chinnakannan azhaikiraan in whatever period it takes to complete the song, will it still be good music? This tells us the importance of MIND in music! There is NO music out there in the physical world! It is all in our MIND! When different swaras are sung, it is the MIND that intelligently concatenates the swaras and sees it as music. It sees a musical quality that is in actuality non- existent in the frequencies of sound, and derives pleasure by listening to it! Following the same concept, the MIND derives "sexual pleasure" from the physical intercourse of two bodies, or "eating pleasure" from eating buttered pecan ice cream, when it is set for those appropriate moods. Behaviourly, the MIND seems to be a big pleasure seeker. Philosophically it seems to be the greatest fool in the world, constantly seeking the ephemeral, mundane pleasures that are never-the-less, virtual!

Reethigowlai is in no way related to Gowlai, Mayamalavagowlai, Kedaragowlai or Narayanagowlai. It is indeed closely related to Ananda Bhairavi about which we have discussed in our earlier essays.

Other ragas that beginners start recognizing very easily in their journey through the vast empire of carnatic music are Sahana, Kanada, Atana, Natai, Gowlai, Anandha Bhairavi etc. All the above are vakra ragas. We have two popular songs in Sahana that had a tremendous impact on the common rasika. Parthaen sirithaen (mahakavi kaalidaas) and indha veenaiku in rayil sneham. The former tuned by K.V.Mahadevan and latter by V.S.Narasimhan. I hear that there is a song "rukku rukku" in Sahana in ovvai shanmukhi. BTW, Sahana is a janyam of Harikaambojhi (28th melam) with Sa Ri2 Ga3 Ma1 Pa Ma1 Da2 Ni2 Sa and Sa Ni2 Da2 Pa Ma1 Ga3 Ma1 Ri2 Ga3 Ri2 Sa. Strangely Ilaiyaraaja does not have any Sahana product from his industry! Atana is a janyam of Sankarabharanam (29th melam) with a complex swara sequence. It is a bhashanga ragam as it has a double Nishadham. K.V.Mahadevan gave a superb Atana in yaar tharuvaar indha ariyasanam (?veera abhimanyu). In salangai oli Ilaiyaraaja used balakanakamaya (Thaayagaiyer's Atana composition) in the scene when Manjubarghavi dances on the stage and Kamalahasan starts dancing in the kitchen (unable to control his inherent dance flow). Atana is a very brisk and "gambeeramaana ragam"!

Chalanaatai is the last (36th) melam in the suddha madhyama ragas and hence using 3rd Ri, Ga, Da, and Ni. Ilaiyaraaja is the only one who ever chose to use this rare ragam in cinema. The song is un paarvai oru varam in the movie ninaivellam nithiya. Sridhar directed that movie. Oh boy, Sridhar- Ilaiyaraaja combination has given several marvellous songs to Thamizh music! Vairamuthu's lyrics reached wonderful heights in that song. Ilaiyaraaja's use of this vivadhi ragam is very intelligent and guarded, avoiding any un melodious use of the vivadhi swaras. This song proved to be a terrific hit when compared to his use of the last (72nd) melam in the prathimadhyama ragas, which is Rasikapriya. He used that ragam to tune sangeethamae in kovil pura. He starts his Chalanatai like Ga3 Ma1 Pa (unpaarvai) Ma1 Pa Ma1 Ri3 Sa (oru varam). Then he goes Ga3 Ga3 Ga3 Ga3 Ri3 Ri3 Ri3 Ri3 (inivarum munivarum) Sa Sa Ri3 Ri3 Sa Sa Sa Sa (thadumaarum kanimaram). A beautiful interplay of immediately adjacent vavadhi swaras with an unanticipated melody that is much more than you could bargain from using such ragas. In the charanam he starts using Da3 and Ni3. He starts the charanam like Sa Ni Sa Sa Pa (chelai moodum) Da Da Da Pa (illam cholai) Sa Ni Sa Sa (maalai choodum) Ri Ri Ri Sa (malar maalai). The tune development is just excellent!

I was in Srirangam when this movie was released (in early eighties). In the Vadakku uthirai veedhi sandhu, there was a guy called as "paaku cheeni". He was so crazy with this song that the cassette would be playing all the time in his house. While playing kabadi or cricket in the streets I used to get the benefit of listening to this lilting song for free, not knowing what a rare ragam it was! Look what Vairamuthu writes in that song:

Just being seen by you is a great boon;
even an ascetic to come in future would
loose his hold on celibacy on seeing you;
you are a tree bearing beautiful fruits (breasts)
You are a garden that wears sari
you are a flower that is worn by flowers
twenty moons would shine in your finger nails;
youthful dreams would bud in our eye corners
as our fingers play on each other,
as the distance between us decreases,
the glowing light would dim and our
eyes would close (in the ecstasy of love)
Oh man, what a language he has written! An unbelievable choice of words and thought in describing the beauty of a women. In a recent song (telephone manipol in Indhian), look how the poet describes the beauty of a women in modern terms incorporating the latest technological advances in his poetry!

Is she the one who laughs like a telephone bell
is she the one who is like a Melbourne flower
did lord Brahma use a computer to sketch her figure
has her voice been made up of digital signals
is she the latest cellular phone
A wonderful movie by Shankar with great songs by A.R.Rahman. I think the above song is by Vairamuthu. It is amazing how these poets get such novel ideas to describe a simple thing. Grandiosity seems to be an essential quality of a poet's mind.

Naatai is a janyam of Chalanaatai. The arohanam and avarohanam of Naatai are Sa Ri3 Ga3 Ma1 Pa Ni3 Sa and Sa Ni3 Pa Ma1 Ga3 Ma1 Ri3 Sa. Notice the vakram Ga3 Ma1 Ri3 Sa. Often singers sing Natai like Chalanaatai using all the swaras. Ilaiyaraaja used Muthuswamy Dikshidhar's Naatai krithi "maha ganapathim" in the movie sindhubhairavi. Apart from that he has tuned one Natai (peigalai nambadhae - a jolly song in mahanadhi). Only Kamal can make such daring pictures about paedophiles and sexual abuse of children. In the early part of the movie, "peigalai" song has been used to show what a happy family Kamal leads. It has become a common feature in India for the government to crumble to dust once in two years costing crores of tax-payer's rupees for re-election! People have gone immune to all these and they just seem to mind their own business (like finishing B Sc and then studying a crash course in C language programming at NIIT to become a "consultant" to come to the USA). Who cares if the government survives or falls! But, a "mahanadhi" viewer is left with tears rolling down the cheek and extreme sympathy for Kamal at the horrendous turn of events in his life (even though it is just a movie). Kudos, to Kamal!

Ilaiyaraaja's use of Naatai for that song is quite a surprise. He has presented a pure Naatai in that song. Ga Ma Pa (peigalai) Pa Pa Pa (namba dhae) Pa Ni Sa Ni (pinjilae) Pa Pa Pa (vembadhae). The song ends with S.Varalakshmi singing the tail piece. Gambeera Naatai is a pentatonic ragam where there is no vivadhi swaram. So, it is distinctly different from Chalanatai and Naatai. The aarohanam and avarohanam of Gambeera Naatai is Sa Ga3 Ma1 Pa Ni3 Sa and Sa Ni3 Pa Ma1 Ga3 Sa. You could call it as a janyam of Sankarabharanam or Chalanaatai. Ilaiyaraaja's innum ennai enna seyya pogiraai in singaravelan has been tuned in Gambeera Naatai. He has used the raagam remarkably. S.P.B and Janaki have done wonders in the charanam where most of the tune is set in thara sthayi! Earlier T.Rajendar scored one song in the same ragam (kaadhal oorvalam ingae in pookkalai parikkadheergal). That is also an excellent song.

If we change the 3rd Ni in the avarohanam of Gambeera Naatai to kaisiki Nishadham (2nd Ni) we get Thillang. Ilaiyaraaja has given few Thillangs so far. probably the first one was kothamallee poovae in kallukkul eeram. His other Thillang song is manadhil urudhi vendum in sindhu bhairavi (a fantastic Bharathiyar poem). Look what Bharathiyaar says in that poem: PERIYA Kadavul kaaththal vendum!! Webster's English dictionary gives the meaning for God as "the one supreme being, the creator and ruler of the universe". If so, how can we have a "Periya" Kadavul (big God)? I guess Bharathiyaar compares God to human beings and says "Periya Kadavul". In kaiveesamma kaiveesu there is one Thillang (anbae thaan thai aanadhu). MSV has given a great Thillang "nalladhor veenai seidhae". That is in K.Bala chandar directed varumayin niram sivappu. Kamal is a big Bharathiyaar fan in that movie. Nalladhor is also a Bharathiyaar song. Ilaiyaraaja has used a ragam that is closely related to Thillang in kavarimaan (Thyaagaiyer's Brovabaarama in Bahudhari ragam).

Because of the unique "vakra" phrases, many of the above mentioned vakra ragas are very easily identifiable. Vakra ragas are a boon to beginners as they help to get a start in carnatic music. If there is a vakram in a ragam, and if that is what gives the important ragalakshanam to the ragam, then that is how it has to be sung! You cannot go like Sa Ri2 Ga2 Ma1 in Reethigowlai or sing like Ma1 Ga3 Ri2 Sa in Sahana. These are absolutely not permissible. Why these strict strictures?

I read in a book recently that there was a Chinese sage called as Li Ling. He would usually be naked in his house. When somebody asked about it to him, he said "I consider the whole world as my house and my house as my cloth. So, why the hell are you entering my trousers?"!! Nature made men to intercourse with women to procreate and sustain life on earth. That is a rule. If man tries to enter into another man's trouser ignoring the ordinance of Nature, AIDS awaits him inside the other man's trouser! If the lorry driver in India defies the present day societal norms and seek polygamous pleasure, then AIDS awaits him at the gates of pleasure! Regulations and rules make our life go smooth. Rules enriched carnatic music and gave rise to an excellent variety of ragas. Till Nature gives her treatment of gradual evolution to things, what be now, let be in future!

Ilayaraja-13 (Copying, Shruthi, Suddha Saveri, Hindolam, Aandholika, Madhyamaavathi, Bowli, Sriraagam)

By Lakshminarayanan

A.R.Rahman is the number one copier in the world. My friend is very much convinced on this matter. He called A.R.Rahman as a mammoth recycling bin that takes its own previously tuned songs and polishes it and presents it in a different form. How dare he copy the great "kowsalya supraja" tune and use it as the interlude music in "margazhi poovae" (may maadham). My friend boils with anger. How dare the freshmen music director of the movie meendum savithri (Ravi Devendran) copy the interlude of margazhi poovae (which is itself a copied bit from kowsalya supraja) and present it in his song. A chain of copying! My friend has lost his peace and is now a terri- bly agitated individual. His head is hot with anger!

Is it correct to call the flute interlude in "margazhi poovae" as a copy of kausalya supraja? A.R. Rahman has tuned his margazhi poovae in the ragam Hindholam. Subbulakshmi's Kausalya supraja is in the ragam Sudha Saveri. If Rahman indeed copied willfully, how could he present a Sudha Saveri tune in a Hindholam song?

The concept of Sruthi is very illusory. We know that if we sounded a note with any frequency (X) and another note twice its frequency (2X), then there is an entire octave between these two notes. Be X = 1 hertz, and 2X = 2 hertz, or be X = 100,000 hertz and 2X = 200,000 Hz, there is one and only one octave inbetween these two respective sets of notes. Thus we will have an entire Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa between these notes. So, you can take any frequency (Sa) and play the 2X frequency of that fundamental frequency (upper Sa) and make a shruthi. Additionally if you played X x 2 * 7/12 (read this as X times 2 to the power 7/12) with X and 2X, then, you are adding the panchamam to the two Sa's and you get panchama shruthi. Instead, if you played X x 2 * 5/12 (X times 2 to the power 5/12), you are adding madhyamam to the two Sa's and it is called as the madhyama shruthi.

Shruthi forms the territorial boundaries in music. Any swara derives its identity only with reference to the shruthi. A single note when played alone is probably meaningless in classical music without the Shruthi. Shruthi by itself is pleasant music. In katcheris you may often see somebody sitting on the stage and playing the thambura. The thambura just gives the Sa Pa Sa notes to the Katcheri. That is the SHRUTHI!! Ilaiyaraaja has many times just used the Sa Pa Sa shruthi as the background score in cinemas and lilted the audience by the magical effect of the SHRUTHI! Rahman also has used the drone of the Shruthi conspicously in many of his songs and added great melody to the songs (eg: the panthuvarali song in Rangeela sung by Swarana Latha and Udit Narayan. What a classical piece!!)

The swaras of Sudha Saveri are: Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Da2 Sa; Sa Da2 Pa Ma1 Ri2 Sa. If we played Kausalya Supraja the tune goes like this: Sa Ri Ri (kausalya) Sa Ri Ri (supraja), Sa Ri Sa Ri (Rama poorva), Sa Ri Sa Ri Sa Sa (Sandhya pravarthadhae). The above swaras have meanings only within their respective Shruthi. If you viewed these notes from within the boundaries of a different musical territory, then it might have a different meaning. What if you viewed these notes from the reference shruthi of "Ri2-Da2-Ri2"?! The ragam might change totally. It is like Pandiyarajan and S.V.Sekhar travelling overnight and going to Kerala in Kadhanayakan!! Though Thamizhnadu and Kerala are adjacent states, words might have totally opposite meanings there! If a Thamizh doctor prescribed a sleeping pill to a Malayalee and told him "ee guligai ravilae kazhicho!", he will be in trouble. Because, "ravilae" means night in Thamizh and morning in Malayalam! See how different the meanings are?!

What A.R.Rahman has done is, he has skillfully "copied" the Sudha Saveri swaras and transliterated it into Hindholam as Ga2 Ma1 Ma1, Ga2 Ma1 Ga2 Ma1 and so on. We don't know if he purported to copy or if it was a strange co-incidence. But, the fact is that a Coke can got recycled and came back to us as a Pepsi can! Sometimes, Coke cans can get a new sticker on its face (with no shruthi change and stuff!) and can be sold as Goli soda locally. That has happened in the background rhythm guitar score in "kuluvaliyae" (Muthu) song. The same piece comes in Sister Act. Ilaiyaraaja too has got incriminated many times for such blatant similarity of his songs to other popular songs ("en purushan thaan enaku mattum thaan" in Gopurangal Saivadhillai was called as a copy of "dham maerae dham").

Aandholika is a pleasant janyam of Harikaambodi ragam. Its arohanam and avarohanam are Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa; Sa Ni2 Da2 Ma1 Ri2 Sa. Thyagaraja swamy has got a terrific krithi in this ragam, which is mostly sung as a thukkada in Katcheris. The krithi is "raga sudha rasa". I have heard a story long ago. That Padma Subramaniam had a song tuned for her dance performance in this Ragam. At that time Ilaiyaraaja was in someway conected with Padma's troup to earn his daily bread (probably as a "mike" boy or something!). Then, later he became picked up by "Ms. Luck" after he made his debut in Panchu Arunachalam's film "Annakili". He had lot of chances flowing in his way then. Mullum malarum is a terrific movie. It must be within first 50 films of Ilaiyaraaja. He gave a great musical support to the director, Mahendran, tuning few totally unheard kinds of lilting tunes then. But, he also got his name spoiled in that movie because of "copying" Padma's Aandolika ragam tune.

The song is "raaman aandalum raavanan aandalum". That is a very crucial song in the movie. Rajni looses one of his arms in the climax of the song in an accident. The song is actually a tappanguthu. But, in the interlude of the song the chorus sings a bit which goes like "samiyai kumbitta namaku nalladhu thaan varumae". The tune is supposed to be in pure Aandholika (the same tune that Padma used in her Dance performance earlier). Reportedly she complained in some interview about how Ilaiyaraaja had "copied" her tune. We know that music directors like Ilaiyaraaja and Rahman have got very fertile mind and they have proved it by generation of wonderful tunes. The judgement that these eminant people copied other people's work cannot be passed so easily. It is in the innermost conscience of these personalities that the secret dwells if they are felon or not. Perhaps, it can never be known to the outside world unless they frankly admit like Anand Milind ("yes, we are fans of Ilaiyaraaja, we do use his tunes in our songs")!

Madhyamaavathi is a grand janya ragam of Karaharapriya. Perhaps it is the greatest of the pentatonic ragas (oudhuva oudhuva ragam). Its arohanam and avarohanam are: Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa; Sa Ni2 Pa Ma1 Ri2 Sa. Ilaiyaraaja liked this ragam so much that he has atleast tuned 40 to 50 songs in this great ragam. Madhyamavathi is distinct among other pentatonic ragas. It is a very much gamaka oriented ragam. It is like the Thodi of janya ragas. You can just play the notes of the 45 melam (subhapanthuvarali) in the harmonium and make the ragam evident. Similarly you can just play Sa Ri2 Ma2 Pa Ni3 Sa in the harmonium and make Hamsanadham ragam evident, but, you cannot get Madhyamavathi by just playing the notes in a plain "bland" way. You have to make the notes spicy! Gently make the Rishabham and Nishadham oscillate above their baseline frequency, there comes the unparalled beauty, Ms. Madhyamaavathi!!

Ilaiyaraaja has tuned a great Madhyamavathi in Mullum malarum ("adipaennae"). I think the singer is Jency. Each time I listen to this song it creates an inexplicable feeling in my mind. The song is so romantic, so sexy, so well sung that it directly stimulates some unknown erogenous zones in the psyche. Ilaiyaraaja has reasonably used the gamakas well. This was probably his second Madhyamavathi, the first one being "solaikuyilae" in Ponnu ooruku pudhusu. Solaikuyilae starts like Pa Pa Ri Sa Ri.... A lofty jump from madhyama sthayi Pa to tharasthayi Rishabam. Maalaikadhirae goes like Sa Sa Ni Sa Ni.....Pa, such a prolonged nishadham. Most of the melody of this ragam resides with the Ri and Ni. The gamakam is absolutely important, period! Look at the beauty of Papanasam Sivan's opening in Madhyamavathi in "karpagamae kadai kann paarai" - Sa Ri Sa Ri.... Actually the gamakam of Ri encompasses the sadharana gandharam too. It is like RiGa, RiGa...! Ilaiyaraaja's use of impeccable gamaka adorned Rishabam at the very opening of the song is too classic. It is like Krishnamachari Srikanth sending the first opening ball to the boundary!

Ilaiyaraaja has given few more Madhyamavathi's in quite pure form. En kalyana vaibhogam in the movie "azhagae unnai aradhikkiraen" is one early number. Sridhar's first venture with Ilaiyaraaja. Vani Jayaram has sung this song. Then, aagaya gangai in Dharma Uddham, nee thaanae endhan ponvasantham in Ninaivellam Nithiya, thulli thulli nee padamma (Chirpikul muthu), thalattu pillai ena thaalaatu (?Achchani), thazham poovae vaasam veesu (Kai kodukum kai), kuyilae kuyilae poonguyilae (Aan paavam), anandam then sindhum (Man vasanai), azhagiya thirumaganae (Rajarishi), eeramaana rojaavae (Illamai Kaalangal), kavidhai paadu kuyilae (Thendralae Ennai Thodu), malargalil aadum illamai (kalayaraman), nee kaeta naan mataen (?movie) etc. A.R. Rahman has used small bits of Madhyamavathi in the interlude of his song "then then thithikkum then" (Thiruda thiruda). Some singer called Jadhiraja has sung some fast swaras with pungent electric guitar sending shocks of Madhyamavathi vibrations with his voice! (I heard that Mr.Jadhiraja is none other than Rahman himself!) Madhyamaavathi by earlier music directors include Ponnondru kandaen, Muthukkalo kangal, aagaya pandhalilae, etc. Can we forget the great presentation of Devarajan in Swamy Iyyapan "hariharatmajam viswamasrayae" sung by Jesudoss. It is a divine feast to listen to this slow song.

Madhyamavathi is supposed to be a Mangalakaramaana ragam. Tradionally when we end the katcheri, it is customary to end the katcheri in one of the three ragas: Madhyamavathi, Suruti, or Sowrashtram. Ilaiyaraaja used Madhyamavathi to end the song in one of his ragamaalika songs! enna samayalo in "Unnal Mudiyum Thambi". The song starts with mohanam and ends with Madhyamaavathi. When SPB sings "illayai podadi", Madhyamavathi starts. Ofcourse, each of the raga change in that ragamalikai is made by the accompanying nadhaswaram.

If we change the kaisiki nishadham (Ni2) of madhyamavathi in the arohanam to kaakali nishadham (Ni3) then the raga form changes drastically. It is Brindhavana Saranga. It is a bhashangam because of double Nishadham. Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni3 Sa; Sa Ni2 Pa Ma1 Ri2 Sa. Some of Ilaiyaraaja's song in this ragam are fantastic. Poongatrae poongatrae (kunkumachimizh), kannukullae anbin eeram enna (unakaaga vazhgiraen) are both enthralling songs. I cannot forget how I used to tune to Coimbatore radio station between 10 to 11, Trichi - 1 to 2 PM, Madras - 4 to 5 in the mid 1980's to listen to these great songs. These Brindhavana Saranga's are as captivating as Subulakshmi's "Sriranga Pura Vihara" or Balamurali's "kamalaptakula". The later songs that he tuned in this raga are Penn onru thai aanadhu (Pudhiya Ragam) and indha jilla muzhuka nalla theriyum (Priyanka). Brindhavana Saranga by earlier music directors are Kattithanga rajavukku (?movie), thottilil thodangidum (nilavae malarae). In the latter song MSV has used double Nishadham in the arohanam itself (like Pa Ni2 Ni3 Sa)! It is one of the best songs that he has ever tuned, sung by Vani Jayaram.

Mullum Malarum has another fantastic song. Senthazham poovil is a kinda try in Bowli ragam (with lot of foreign notes in the interlude). Bowli is one of the early morning ragas. Other early morning ragas are Boopaalam, Revagupti, Malayamaarudham etc. When your cousin is getting married, you are very tired during the night of Janavaasam because you went out with your other cousins and had a "thanni" party and came back to the Kalyana chathiram only at 4 AM to sleep. You have hardly slept for 30 mts, and you hear the irritating Nadhaswaram vidhwan playing "pee pee" to wake up everybody. He is playing one of the above ragams! Boopalam is Thodi janyam: Sa Ri1 Ga2 Pa Da1 Sa; Sa Da1 Pa Ga2 Ri1 Sa. Bowli is Mayamalava Gowlai Janyam with Ga3 instead of Ga2 in Boopalam. I have heard of one good Bowli in the movie called as Kuzhandhai Yesu (kannae vaa, kanmaniyae vaa). I don't know who is the music director. Recently I heard Ilaiyaraaja's another (probable) Bowli: Kozhikoovum naerathulae... (?Movie). I don't remember the tune very well. But, the best Bowli came from T.Rajender. Salangai ittaal (Maidhili Ennai Kaadhali) was a tremendous success at that time. It is unfortunate that Rajender, a guy with full potency to challenge big time music directors, got lost in the political imbroglio, loosing his place in the cinema. He gave such a wonderful Kaapi ragam in his very first movie (idhu kuzhandhai paadum thaalaatu in Oru thalai Ragam), superb Gambeera Naatai in Pookalai Parikaadheergal (kaadhal oorvalam ingae). Those are unforgettable tunes.

Madhyamaavathi is closely related Sriragam (Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa; Sa Ni2 Pa Ma1 Ri2 Ga2 Ri2 Sa) and Manirangu (Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa; Sa Ni2 Pa Ma1 Ga2 Ri2 Sa). There is one film song in Sriragam. Thoda thoda vaa mella has been tuned by Malayalam music director Ravindran. I think the movie is Rasikan oru rasikai. Two years ago, I heard another Sriragam song (andhi maalai) that has been exactly tuned in the tune of Thyagraja krithi Entharo mahaanu bavulu. That song was in a music album. I don't know who realised it. But do know that it was someway connected with Rahman. As far as I know, there is only one Manirangu song in cinema. Music director: Ilaiyaraaja! "Isai rajanae un illam veenai naanae" comes in Kanni Rasi (first film directed by Pandiyarajan). Malaysia Vasudevan has sung in two voices (his normal voice for Prabhu, and Chidambaram Jayaraman's voice for Janakaraj), accompanied by VaniJayaram. The fact that Ilaiyaraaja used such rare ragas during his carreer is a standing testimony to his classical interests.

Now, coming to the original discussion about shruthi, look what happens to our Madhyamavathi when you start viewing it from different angles. Increase the reference shruthi by two notes, ie., Ri2-Da2-Ri2, then the raga changes to Hindholam. Increase by 5 notes, ie., Ma1-Sa-Ma1, then the raga changes to Sudha Saveri, by 7 notes, ie., Pa-Ri2-Pa, the raga changes to Sudha Dhanyasi, by 10 notes, ie., Ni2-Ma1-Ni2, then you get Mohanam from the same swaras!! Is it not wonderful! It is like the same man being a son, brother, father, and as uncle to different people by virtue of different relationship.

Mohanam is a nice, melodious ragam. Ilaiyaraaja is a real Mohanapriyan. No other music director in India would have given so many Mohanam as him. Among his hundreds of Mohanam hits we have kannan oru kai kuzhandhai (Bhadrakali), geetham sangeetham (Kokkarako), malarae paesu (Geethanjali) vaan polae vannam (Salangai oli), kanmaniyae kaadhal enbadhu (aaril irundhu arubadhu varai), poovil vandu (Kadhal oviyam), meenkodi theril (Karumbuvil), naan oru ponnoviyam kandaen (?movie), abc nee vaasi (Oru kaidiyin dairy), naan undhan thaayaga vendum (Ullasa paravaigal), oru ragam paadalodu (?Ananda ragam), nilavu thoongum naeram (Kunkumachimizh), aathodu kaathaada (Murattu kaalai), oru thanga radhathil (Dharmayudham), kasthoori manae (Pudhumai penn), ninnukori varnam (Agninakshathiram), kaathirundhaen thaniyae (?Rasamagan), idhayam oru kovil (idhayakovil), kukku koo koovum (Valli) etc. Some of the recent music directors seem to be handling Mohanam very well. Manamae thotta chinungi in Thotta chinnungi is a great piece of Mohanam. Oh God! what a terrific rendition by Hariharan! He is an asset to Thamizh music industry. In kaadhal kottai, Deva has given two amazing Mohanams (vellarikka pinju vellarikka, I forgot the other one).

In katcheris, the shruthi is constantly vibrated either by the thamboora artist or the electronic shruthi. This reminds us the reference shruthi for that concert and we can identify a ragam with respect to that shruthi. But, in film music, where there is no background reminder of the shruthi, how can we identify the ragam correctly? As discussed above, it could be Madhyamavathi, Mohanam, Sudha Saveri, Hindholam, or Sudha Dhanyasi for the same swaras. And now comes the "nuances" or "ragalakshanam" issue! We can still identify by figuring out the kind of treatment that has been given to the swaras.

While you are singing in one particular shruthi, if you suddenly assume a different shruthi and sing the same swaras implying a different ragam, then it is called as shruthi-bedham. It is a highly scientific game that some muscians like T.N.Seshagopalan relish playing on the dais. He could sing Thodi and do a 1/2 kattai shruthi-bedham and make it sound like Kalyani. The Maestro has ingeniously tuned a song recently in which he suddenly assumes a different shruthi in the middle of the song. This is in vandhaal vandhal rajakumaari (Oru ooril oru rajaumaari). In the Piano prelude he clearly indicates the shruthi initially . He starts the song like Ga3 Ma1 Pa, Pa Pa, Pa Da2 Pa, Pa Da2 Pa, Pa Da2 Pa Da2 Pa Ma1 Ga3 Ri2 Ga3 Ma1 Ga3 Ri.....If you were to call this pallavi as a ragam you can call it as Sankarabharanam. It is pukka! In the interlude he follows the same opening shruthi. But, when the charanam starts, he suddenly raises the shruthi by 4 notes and assumes the previous Ga3 as the Pa and develops a wonderful Charukesi from there on. It is ectastic to listen to this song again and again. Charukesi is the 26th melam with Sa Ri2 Ga3 Ma1 Pa Da1 Ni2 Sa. His other Charukesi are: amma nee sumandha (annai oru aalayam), siriya paravai (Andha oru nimidam), aadal kalayae (Raghavendrar), thoodhu selvadhaaradi (Singaravelan), chakkarakattiku chakkarakattiku (Ullae Veliyae), poovaagi kaayagi (?movie), and manamaalayum manjalum (Vathiyaar veetu pillai).