Monday, December 05, 2005

Maniratnam - Ilaiyaraaja....Pagal Nilavu-1

Pagal Nilavu (1985)

Pagal Nilavu is Maniratnam's third film and debut tamil film. Starcast comprised of Revathy,Murali & Sathyaraj. The story was about a Village Dictator, his henchman and a Police Officer & his sister. I read somewhere that this film was a flop but it has got couple of fantastic songs like "poomaalaye", "Vaidehi Raaman" & "Vaaraayo".

In this post, I would like to discuss the song "Poo Maalaye...Thol Seravaa", sung by Janaki & Ilaiyaraaja himself.This song is regarded as one of the best songs of Ilaiyaraaja, for the innovative ideas he has used musically.

The prelude of this song is very interesting. A section of Violins play on , which are overlapped with another section. His facsination for WCM is stamped right from word GO...This string ensemble ends with keyboards with flute which play alternatively and then together, as in a Symphony style.But they are immediately cut by Sitar notes, which are replayed by Flute. The most notable element here is Bass which takes over the background when the flute plays the final lines.The rhythm is on Jazz+Dholak kind of instrument and Janaki starts off the pallavi. When she sings the 1st line for the 2nd time, Ilaiyaraaja cuts in with a different connecting tune in background which comes into foreground as next lines of pallavi.When he sings it in base,she catches the higher scale and vice-versa.and Pallavi ends with a lenghty line as ilaiyaraaja's voice fades into background. Infact, this song catches your attention right in the first hearing because these alternative humming in lower and higher scales sounds interesting.

Another wonderful aspect of this song is the pace. There is hardly any gap between one instrument and another. The instruments take over the interlude, the very moment the pallavi ends.And Ilaiyaraaja's first preference is always String Section.The ensemble of Violins, Cellos and Bass aptly fill that class feel.The flute and guitars play a tune which has nostalgic feel after which the sitars end the interlude.

Here comes the tricky part. The rhythm shifts to a more traditional Tabla and ilaiyaraaja starts off the charanam.After singing the first line once, he repeats it again...but now, it is interspersed with Janaki singing a totally different tune but of same length. Her humming ends with a note on higher scale, which forms the starting note for his next line.This exercise is repeated one more time.The 1st time i heard this part, i was really baffled by the idea as such, given the fact that Ilaiyaraaja conceives the entire score in his mind first.And here, you can virtually see a mixing of vocals in two different tunes.How could he do it? its only a revelation that there is a mixer & sequencer in his mind. Anyways, the following lines highlight the guitars and bass work in the background and the charanam completes in the same the pallavi a complettion of a loop.the tabla piece ends and only here , u get to hear a very small pause in background..before the main rhythm takes up.

The 2nd interlude is not that behind..a guitar melody plays on, which is dominated by Key-board.This sound is very peculiar..i isindeed a peculiar sound to be used in a conventional romantic song because generally this kind of sound is used in comical situations as BGM.The string section plays a very brief piece after which the sitar plays a tune, which is a very fast descent of notes.This piece is immediately (no time gap) hummed by ilaiyaraaja as an initiation for charanam-2.this idea has been used several times by ilaiyaraaja where he signals the listener about the tune you are about to listen, by playing that bit on an instrument just before it is actually sung/hummed.

The 2nd charanam has the same Blending of tunes idea but in role-reversal. Another interesting idea is mxing the last word and first word of lines: "poo maalye thol seravaa." and connecting line is "vaasam oru Poo"..but he connects it as "poo maalaye..thol seravaa..Vaasam oru poomaalaye thol seravaa..".
i dont know if the credit should go to composer or lyricist but definitely Ilaiyaraaja has displayed his compositional skills and more so, the mixing skills by weaving very beautiful musical phrases, which made this song a memorable one, among the best of ilaiyaraaja gems.


Gandaragolaka said...

dont know much about the movie but it seems like "pagal d@#$tha".. may be thats why it flopped!

Sketchy Self said...

great commentary, aakarsh...this song is indeed fascinating! Also, i don't know whether it was about the time i was listening (9 am), practice from previous posts, or the clarity in this particular mixing, but the "selective listening" worked for me this time :D

Gandaragolaka said...

The first line of the pallavi sounds remarkably familiar... may be the theme of some movie.. geethanjali?

Surya said...

This is indeed a great song. When I first saw it on made a great impression...including the antics of Revathy & was that typical Maniratnam picturisation which we got to know more of later.

The other song in the movie...poovilae one of my all time favorites for its magical softness. Dont know if having just one interlude made the song even more precious (like the vaan megham song in Punnagai Mannan).