Tag Archives: a.r.rahman

My Journey with Ilaiyaraja and A.R.Rahman-I

6 Jun

Tamil music (especially) and Indian music is extremely blessed that these two genius composers have been the pillars of their music. Both these maestros have diametrically opposite styles of working/composing but they have been equally effective. They do not have a fan following but only fanatics! People swear by their music and consider it as a part of their everyday life.

In my teens, quite strangely, I was first introduced to ARR rather than IR though I used to listen and enjoy IR songs much before on radio without bothering about the composer. Just as all music-loving Indians, I was instantly fascinated by the new sound that ARR created for Roja. I remember seeing Roja in a theatre in Coimbatore and I strongly believe the movie was a success also because of its path-breaking music. After that Pudhiya Mugam audio cassette was released and it was definitely as good as Roja, ARR was clearly the pioneer in introducing a refreshing, melodious, techno sound in Indian music.

I had to move to Jamshedpur and I lost touch with Tamil music for a few years. In those days, the only way to listen to music was to buy the original cassette or to get a cassette recorded from the original (which was done only by cassette shops having Tamil music). The advent of ARR popularized Tamil music so much that one or two shops in JSR started stocking pirated cassettes of new Tamil music! The recording quality was tolerable and as a fan I was desperate to listen to the songs irrespective of the mediocre quality.

Just about the same time, we started getting a few Tamil channels in our cable television and it was as if the skies opened up after years of drought. I was so ecstatic and used to wait for all Tamil movie trailers to see who the composer was and if it was ARR, I used to rush to the town centre to get the pirated cassette as I could not afford the original cassette (which was around Rs 45-50, while the pirated one was just Rs 25-30). One more relief was if someone used to come to my place from South, I used to ask them to get all the latest songs recorded and enjoyed listening to them in original quality. I listened to the songs of Thiruda Thiruda, Gentleman, Aasai (Deva) etc. I remember vividly when my sister came from Chennai, she was having the original AVM audio Minsara Kanavu cassette and I loved the songs so much that I asked her to leave it for me. I listened to the songs so many times that the cassette became blank.

Finally, I had a reunion with all songs on a real-time basis when I moved back to South for my college studies. So, my relationship with ARR’s music strangely preceded that of my relationship with IR’s music though I was not new to IR’s music. The most-listened song by me from ARR’s list is Ennavale, I must have listened to it at least 500 times, it was like daily medicine. This was the story of my initiation into ARR’s music and I also admire ARR as a person for his remarkable humility and for starting the KM Conservatory so that many others get the privilege of learning music.



To Dear A.R.Rahman

5 Aug

Dear Rahman,

First things first, I am one of yours & Ilaiyaraja sir’s biggest fans’! My childhood was spent in listening to your awesome music when I used to rush to buy your new film cassettes (Tamil & Hindi) in an obscure city in North India. I have literally grown with yours & Raja Sir’s music, which has shaped my musical tastes strongly and forever.

I was elated and over-the-moon watching you get the Oscar award, when a zillion fans in India waited with bated breath to know whether their demi-God would bring back the coveted trophy and you made us proud Indians and put India in the global music map. I am aware that you have come up in life and music after so many sacrifices, trials and tribulations and you deserve every bit of this global popularity and more. Your life story is awe-inspiring, musical, melancholic and yet magical. I cannot forget how you gratefully thanked your Mother, while accepting the Oscars.

But, at the same time, I have mixed thoughts now as I am delighted that you have become a global phenomenon but I also feel (strictly personal opinion) that your music is missing its magic off late. This is with reference to songs in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya & the recent Endhiran. In Puli, I did see the flashes of brilliance in songs like Amma Thale/Power Star/Namakame. This is because:

  1. The music is overpowering the human voice e.g. Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya songs
  2. The tunes don’t seem to stand on their own legs but the orchestration seems to prop-up the tune e.g. Most Endhiran songs
  3. To put it simply, I am not able to simply “hum” your tunes as they are increasingly sounding over-experimental and complex to me
  4. Your music is not appealing to me in the first/second instance but maybe after multiple listenings only

I am afraid that I will lose my Rahman to the West. But, amidst all these thoughts I am also aware that every composer/artist goes through these peaks & troughs where even the greats are not spared. So I hope and pray that this is only a passing phase for you and you will be the same Rahman whose songs were like medicine to me.

I also feel, maybe it is me who is feeling this but I have heard it from many of my friends’ too and I believe we as fans have that possessive right to express our frank opinion about our Idols’ because only those who love will chide/criticise.

As a fan, my expectations are very simple, I don’t expect a Roja in every album but I just want your music to touch my heart and lose myself to it!

Legend of Bhagat Singh:Great movie with marvellous music

29 Sep

Legend of Bhagat Singh is a movie directed by Rajkumar Santhoshi which released in 2002. It starred Ajay Devgan as Bhagat Singh and he ultimately won the National Award for the best actor for living the role of the historic character. The beauty of the movie was that the facts were shown as they happened, sans any other unnecessary distorted deviations. This is because the script of the movie was validated by none other than Kultar Singh-the younger brother of Bhagat Singh. I remember we saw the movie in the open-air theatre of our hostel and after the emotional climax everybody had tears in their eyes. Even the other supporting actors playing the roles of Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajguru, Sukhdev etc did a fantastic job of it. It may have been providence that the movie was able to have some of the finest performances thereby paying a fitting tribute to the great martyr who sacrificed his life for the country.

Special mention must be of the eye-catching and appropriate sets used in the movie to depict the British Raj times (the cars, tongas, buildings) by art director Nitin Desai. The cinematography was also wonderful by K.V.Anand. One of the major factors for the success of many movies is the music-especially the background score and the Mozart of Madras-A.R.Rahman gave a masterful music score for this movie winning a National Award for the best background score. The songs of this movie too were splendid especially Desh Mere, Mera Rang De, Mahive, Jogiya and Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna (sung by Hariharan and Sonu Nigam!). All-in-all Legend of Bhagat Singh was an all-round good movie excelling in all the departments.

Collaborations with Professional Orchestras

28 Aug

The real test for any music composer is the ability to work with a full-fledged orchestra and create music by collaborating with them. Its a challenge because, any of these professional orchestras will have at least about 75 players playing instruments like violins, violas, cellos, flutes etc. There are very few composers in India have collaborated with orchestras abroad—Ilaiyaraja, A.R.Rahman, Yuvan and Sonu Nigam recently collaborated with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for the Rafi Resurrected album.

Ilaiyaraja has collaborated with the Budapest Symphony orchestra of Hungary twice—once for composing for Guru (Malayalam movie) and the second time for Thiruvasagam in Symphony and I believe he is working with them again for Pazhassi Raja, a Malayalam film. A.R.Rahman has worked with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra of Czechoslovakia for Subhash Chandra Bose (fantastic songs with awesome orchestration). Yuvan worked with the Budapest orchestra for Pudhupettai. When we hear the songs of all these movies, you will find a totally different sound which is grand and all-encompassing. It is because the orchestras play the music live and this live recording is mixed with the singer’s voice later or sometimes it is done together. It’s a good change from the normal electronic sound we get to hear these days. Now, I am eagerly waiting with bated breath for the music of the magnum opus—Pazhassi Raja, starring Mammooty where Ilaiyaraja has again used the Budapest orchestra, am sure it will be worth the wait!

Bose:Grand music by A.R.Rahman

3 May

Bose-The Forgotten Hero was a movie directed by veteran director Shyam Benegal. During that time, Rahman was composing music for most of the period-based movies like Legend of Bhagat Singh, Mangal Pandey etc. Rahman gave a scintillating music score for Bose but sadly the movie did not do as expected and the music too sank along with it! Rahman expressed his disappointment in many interviews conceding that the music was not promoted well by the producers. One of the unique aspects about the music of Bose was that Rahman collaborated with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra of Czechoslovakia and that made the songs an aural treat. The OST of Bose had 7 tracks and 13 instrumental pieces and all of them were good. But the outstanding songs of the movie were these:

  1. Desh Ki Mitti-If you listen to this song, you will fell proud to be an Indian. Such is the tune, the lyrics and the singing by Sonu Nigam. The icing on the cake are the symphonic interludes which transport you to another world.
  2. Ekla Chalo-It is difficult to say whether the former song is better or this one. It has the same characteristics as the previous song and its a double treat by Rahman.
  3. Aazaadi-This is an anthemic song about the freedom struggle and it cannot get better than this. Its sung by Rahman himself.
  4. Instrumental Pieces-Almost all the instrumental pieces showcase the beauty of the symphonic arrangements.

Found a TREASURE: I am elated!!!

2 Apr

I had been to Landmark this evening for browsing books and music (my monthly ritual of visiting major music shops-my temples!). When I was crossing the Tamil music section, I just saw 2 A.R.Rahman MP3 CD’s released by Aditya Music. I thought they must be Telugu songs of ARR but I was wrong! To my pleasant surprise, the CD’s contained most of the Tamil albums of ARR, especially the older ones whose original CD’s are difficult to buy today. Without second thought I bought them and when I listened at home, they were of superb quality.

The reason I am elated is that I did not have the original CD’s of many of these old albums of ARR as I could not find them. Aditya Music has bought the rights of all these movie albums from Pyramid Music-the original audio company which used to release these cassettes!

When I was listening to the songs I remembered my childhood, when I used to rush to the music shop to buy the cassettes of these films and play them so much that they almost got erased. Now I have the wonderful, ORIGINAL QUALITY MP3 LEGAL CD, which I can hopefully savour for the rest of my life! Thanks to God for giving me this treasure. The curious thing about this is that I searched and searched but found only 1 copy of these 2 CD’s Volumes 1 & 2. I was searching if there is a Volume 3 of these CD’s but could not find them. The tried the Aditya Music site but it is a static website 😦 I will visit other music shops to see if there are more volumes.

It was almost I was destined to buy these today. This has happened to me innumerable times, where an album I am searching for years, suddenly falls into my lap! Each of the CD’s cost only Rs 75. Here are the details of the film albums on the CD’s.

Volume 1

  1. Padayappa
  2. Indian
  3. Bombay
  4. Karuthamma
  5. May Madham
  6. Kizhakku Cheemaiyile
  7. Love Birds
  8. Pavithra
  9. Rangeela (Tamil-I prefer the original Hindi)

Volume 2

  1. Muthu
  2. En Swaasa Katrae
  3. Duet
  4. Mr.Romeo
  5. Gentleman
  6. Sangamam
  7. Iruvar
  8. Uzhavan

This is A.R.Rahman’s vintage collection at its best. I already have Roja/Kadhalan & Pudhiya Mugam/Thiruda Thiruda original audio CD’s.  The only old albums left to have in original are:

  1. Indira
  2. Minsaara Kanavu

A million thanks to Aditya Music for bringing out these old gems of ARR again. I am going back to listen to these melodies………..

A.R.Rahman Felicitation: A Splendid Show

9 Mar

I consider myself blessed to have watched the A.R.Rahman felicitation function yesterday on T.V. I thought it must be like any other function where they celebrate a film’s success and I wanted to see it only because the legends MSV, Ilaiyaraja and Rahman were sharing the same stage (as you can see from the photos in the previous post below). The most striking feature of the function was that almost all the composers, singers, musicians from the Tamil music industry attended the function to congratulate and celebrate the achievement of their own son A.R.Rahman. This was the underlying spirit of the whole function and that is what made it so memorable. The function avoided all the trappings of a formal function and it was in fact very informal as it was a  family get-together. The compering by S.A. Rajkumar was top notch and his introduction of all the speakers was highly eloquent. All the speeches were from the heart (especially MSV Sir’s loving speech) and were brief except for Ilaiyaraja’s speech which was for about 10 mins (still short considering the other discourses we hear!). But Ilaiyaraja had me asking for more as his speech was simply spellbinding! The genuine affection that the music composers, singers showed for each other touched my heart. Many composers shed a few tears hearing the outpourings of love towards each other and towards music as music united all of them. Even Rahman did shed a few tears when S.Janaki spoke about Rahman’s father R.K.Shekhar sir. The defining moment for me was when MSV and Ilaiyaraja draped a shawl around Rahman just before his speech. The 3 trendsetters of Tamil music were seen together which will be one of the rarest moments in the chapters of Indian music. Towards the end, the ever-humble A.R.Rahman beautifully reciprocated the same feelings as he declared that the love that people have for composers (referring to Ilaiyaraja’s and MSV’s  huge fan following) is even more valuable than awards like Oscars. He signed off by saying that nobody should abuse other’s works and he said you can abuse me but not them as they are MY people!! I am not sure if we will see such a fantastic programme again but what we saw will remain etched in our hearts for many years to come! To get a taste of the feelings during the programme see Ilaiyaraja’s wonderful speech below, there is no better way to end this post.