Archive | February, 2009

Lessons from A.R.Rahman

28 Feb

If you pick up any newspaper or see the web or watch the news, chances are that you will find an interview of  A.R.Rahman. He is all over the place after his Oscar achievement and very deservedly so! I have been seeing videos of his arrival back to India and his press conferences and what strikes me is that apart from being a path-breaking musician, Rahman is handling the Oscar accolades in the most amazing manner. Here is what makes me adore him:

  1. His Divine Connection -If you saw the Academy award and the Oscar award speeches of Rahman, you would see that Rahman thanks and praises God, conveying his gratitude to the Almighty! As Baradwaj Rangan said, its not just a superficial expression from Rahman but its a connection he has tuned into ever since his Roja days when he was establishing himself as a composer. His adversities during his younger days made him turn towards God and from that time, there was no looking back for this genius! He is a strong believer in the power of prayer and it HAS worked miracles for him indeed!
  2. His Patriotism-Though Rahman acknowledges his accomplishment, he quickly points out that this is a COLLECTIVE INDIAN VICTORY. He says, he is more happy because this is the first Oscar for an Indian work and the whole country was waiting for this with bated breath and hence he wanted to get it. He says now, all Indian artists will be looked upon with more respect as we have shown what we are capable of.
  3. His Remarkable Humility-I call it remarkable because Rahman has handled this with such maturity and selflessness that he attributes his success to others like his mother, his Indian musicians etc. He lovingly in a child-like manner acknowledges the role these people have played in his success.
  4. His Respect for his Peers-I have always seen Rahman praising his fellow composers generously. In an interview after his return, he said (answering a question), even Ilaiyaraja sir can definitely get an Oscar easily if the music is promoted well as it was done by Fox Pictures for Slumdog Millionaire. He also said, Raja sir’s music is of an international standard from the earlier days as Raja sir has composed symphonies.
  5. His Equanimity and Patience-Rahman has kept his feet firmly in the ground as he has not been swayed by his euphoric success. Also, I do not know how many interviews he has been giving after his arrival-I pity him, as he must be a tired man. But he has patiently answered the sometimes repetitive questions asked to him.
  6. His Social Interests-Rahman is a UN ambassador for the campaign fighting against poverty and he has associated himself with many social causes. Just read his thoughts here while answering this question-Are you surprised by what all you have achieved? When you look back as a nine-year-old child, and look at what you have done today?
    A R Rahman: Well, I have not achieved anything. I have not ended poverty level. I have not stopped wars happening. These are achievement. And in my opinion, I am just a very small musician who has got an award that is it.
  7. His Service to Music-Last but not the least, Rahman has done what no other music director has done for the cause of music-starting a music school, the KM MUSIC CONSERVATORY. His objective for starting this school is to make Indian musicians have a global orchestra of their own. This is such an innovative idea and Rahman is spending a lot of time, money and energy towards realizing this noble musical mission!

These are just my thoughts after seeing Rahman in the limelight for the past one week. My love and respect for him has increased manifold and I pray that he lives a long, healthy life to serve Indian music and he continues to transport us to another blissful, musical world!

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INDIA shining at the Oscars!

23 Feb

Feb 23, 2009 will be a red letter day in the annals of Indian music as the “Mozart of Madras” A.R.Rahman bagged the much-coveted Oscar and to top it all, he got two Oscars not just one! Let us not forget the other Indian who made us proud—Resul Pookutty (he gave an amazing short speech) who won the award for best sound mixing. For me, the ultimate defining moment was at the end when Slumdog Millionaire won the best motion picture award and all the crew of the movie (including the cute kids!) came onto the stage. Many of them were Indians- A.R.Rahman, Resul, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Loveleen Tandon, the child and other young actors.  Overall it was an unforgettable Oscars for India as finally our music and our movies are going global!

Seethakalyanam: An Extraordinary Soundtrack

11 Feb

I have started a new category called “Unnoticed Gems” where you can read about masterpiece OST’s (Original Soundtracks) which sank without a trace because they were not promoted well or the movie flopped or was never released. I have started this new category because these OST’s definitely deserved much more appreciation!!!

About 2 years back, a Malayalam OST  of the movie Seethakalyanam was released. It had a splendid music score by Sreenivas, the popular singer. Unfortunately, this OST was not noticed much at all because this movie has not yet been released.  Sreenivas has earlier scored a song in the Tamil movie, Hey! Nee Romba Azhagaairukke. It was again a brilliant song-Ini Naanum Naan Illai-sung by Sreenivas himself  & the bubbly Sujatha! It left me asking for more from Sreenivas.  So, when I saw that he has scored the music for Seethakalyanam I was quite excited as a music fan about hearing something different and the music exceeded my expectations.

Seethakalyanam has 7 tracks and each them are very good. Why I loved the album was that the music was very melodious and yet very lively! The 7 tracks are:

  1. Seetharaamam-A song featuring many singers Sharath, Anuradha Sriram, Madhu Balakrishnan & Karthik-A high -energy song with Sanskrit and Malayalam lyrics extolling the virtues of Lord Rama.
  2. Raagasudha-Sung by Mathangi-A lilting melody with a very soulful rendition by Mathangi, its exasperating to see such a talented singer with a silken voice getting very few chances these days.
  3. Kettille Vishesham-Sung by M.G.Sreekumar & Sujatha-A fast yet catchy song, which is not noisy unlike today’s fast songs. The percussion and backing vocals in this song are awesome.
  4. Dhoore Dhoore-Sung by Dinesh & Sujatha-Another wonderful melody. There are 2 versions of this song-one by the pair and another, a solo version by Sujatha. I liked the solo version more because Sujatha gives her characteristic touches to the song.
  5. Title Song-Sung by Timmy, Karthik & Mathangi-This is more like a theme music with backing vocals of “Seetha Kalyana Vaibhogame” sung nicely by Mathangi.
  6. Chandramadha-Sung by Chitra-This is a lullaby-like melodious song set in Neelambari raaga. As usual, Chitra does complete justice to the song. These kind of songs are tailor-made for her!
  7. Brova Baarama-Sung by Unnikrishnan-This is the Thyagaraja krithi set in a typical concert format with Mridangam. The sanctity of the original krithi is fully maintained and being his own turf, Unnikrishnan sings this very well.

Another unique aspect of the Seethakalyanam OST apart from the wonderful tunes are the backing vocals and fantastic orchestration. The OST has a fresh sound to it and even Sreenivas seemed very satisfied with his effort (as seen from his interviews). Seethakalyanam is an OST of the type which you will  “enjoy listening at night before sleep with the lights off”.

Sreenivas is composing music for another Malayalam movie called “the Ten Commandments”.  I am quite sure that it will be another soundtrack worth waiting for.  Don’t miss Seethakalyanam, you will thank me for recommending this gem of a soundtrack  🙂

INDIAN Music at the helm!!!

9 Feb

One of  India’s most eminent percussionists Ustad Zakir Hussain has won the Grammy award!!! A.R.Rahman may win the Oscar. What else can we ask for? This is a great time for Indian music. The world is taking note of us now 🙂

Raagas in Films: Hamsadhwani

8 Feb

Hamsadhwani is a very auspicious raaga, we refer to it as a “mangalakara” raagam i.e. its heralds happiness and prosperity. It is a raaga which is generally used to begin the proceedings (as in concerts, prayer meets, and even other functions).  The famous prayer to Lord Ganesha- Vakrathunda Mahaakaya is generally sung in Hamsadhwani. Hamsadhwani gives a lot of scope for music composers to experiment. There have been so many scintillating tunes in this raaga that its impossible to list all of them here. So I am listing the popular ones here, the more recent ones which I know, where the beauty of the raaga has been fully demonstrated. Read it as Song-Composer-Movie.

  1. Vaa Vaa Vaa–Ilaiyaraja-Velaikkaaran-The charanams are mindblowing with piano backings!
  2. Poo Mudithu-Ilaiyaraja-En Purushanthaan Enakku Mattumthaan
  3. Sri Ranga Ranga-Ilaiyaraja-Mahanadhi
  4. Unnodu Vaazhaatha-Bharadwaj-Amarrkalam-Wonderful tune set in westernized orchestration!
  5. Vellai Pookal-A.R.Rahman-Kannathil Muthamittaal-a serene tune.
  6. Theekuruvi-A.R.Rahman-Kangalal Kaidhu Sei-Whoa! what fusion-Hamsadhwani laced with bass guitar backgrounds and Hindustani-styled ghatkaas!
  7. Natta Nadu-Vijay Antony-A Aa E  Ee-Composed so beautifully that I could not recognize that it was Hamsadhwani, during the initial listens.