Sunday, November 20, 2005

Flawless Harmony in his Music.

I came across a nice article on Salil Chaudhary, in today's HINDU newspaper. and thought of sharing it with you. But when we are talking about him, why not remember a nice song as well.

I choose a relatively not-so-famous composition from the Film "Honeymoon". This fantastic song by Mukesh, once again dismisses the myth that mukesh was good only in sad songs. Infact, Salilda was one of the few composers who tapped the other-side of Mukesh.Remember, even in Madhumati, he gave a lilting melody "dil tadap tadap" to mukesh and a SAD song "Toote hue khwaabo ne" to Mohd.Rafi (not to forget, to the same rafi,he gave a comic song "jungle mein mor nacha" the same film..), instead of Mukesh, who already made a mark in singing sad songs.
The song "Mere Khwaabo mein " from this "Honeymoon" has a really peculiar tune. Salilda was famous for composing strange tunes like these, which would baffle the instrumentalists. i mean, if you plot a graph for the tune of this song, it would be an unusual curve, with many uthar-chadaos. The Salilda song we discussed last time ," aansoo samajh ke" from Chaaya, also has similar property. At the first earing, you cannot understand where he is starting and where he is heading to. The very prelude displays his fascination for WCM. And he restricted Lata only to a brief humming during interludes.
My favourite part lies in the 2nd line of the Pallavi (the tune of which repeats in the endings of charanams as well). the line " ek din meet mere...meri gali aap chale aayenge" is the crux, according to me. the words "ek din meet mere" is sung in base while "mere gali " is given a lift and the words "chale aayenge" have an unconventional end-up tune. if..suddenly he switched over to a black-key, after many white-keys..on a key-board. I am not knowledgeable to explain what he did..but i can feel the change he brings out during those last two is quite unusual and only Salil-da could walk away with such different strokes. and Mukesh too did 100% justice to that composition. i have tried singing it and myself felt "what an odd composition"!
anyways, let me not write too much that you guys forget reading that article. Just play on and Read on, remembering the Genius of Salil Chaudhary.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Main Dil hoon ek armaan bharaa...


This film belongs to 50s era. One of my most favourite songs of composer Roshan, is in this film. The song,"Main Dil Hoon ek Armaan Bharaa" , has been a favourite of mine since i was a kid. I dont know how my Dad got this lesser-known song but all i remember is that sony tape..which had a vinyl record version of this song.

Roshan was, perhaps, one genius of composer who was overshadowed by icons like Naushad,S.D.Burman,O.P.Nayyar,Salil Chaudhary etc.,. though his compositions were very popular, his name was never considered among the likes of these Dhiggajaas. One reason could be that there was never a Roshan-Style. Though he created marvelous gems, they were all different and didnt follow any particular trait of the composer. For some, it is versatality while for others, its lack of signature...whatever! its all perception. For me, he was one of the most fantastic composers of yester-years. This song by Silkvoiced Talat Mahmood underlines his genius.

main dil hoon ek armaan bharaa..
tu aake mujhe pehchaan zaraa..

khud maine husn ke haathon mein..
shaukheen kaa chalakataa jaam diyaa..
gaalon ko gulaabon kaa ruthbaa..
kaliyon ko labon kaa naam diyaaaa..
khon ko diyaa saagar gaharaa..
tu aake mujhe pehchaan zaraa..

ye sach hain teri mehfil mein..
mere afsaane kuchh bhi nahee..
par dil ki daulat ke aage..
duniyaa ke khazaane kuchh bhi nahee..
yun mujhse nigaahon ko naa churaa..
tu aake mujhe pehchaan zaraa..
Main dil hoon ek armaan bharaa..

Nice lyrics there, by an unknown Satyendra.

Roshan comes up with wonderful piano-work aptly backing a heart-touching Tune which forms the melody of the song. the entire song is carried only on the piano primarily.beautiful notes.Not to forget the most appropriate rendition by the fitting singer Talat. Tunes like these have left the world of indian film music long ago. Now and then, when i dig out some or rewind(and thereby remind) back to listen to them, apart from nostalgia, i feel the loss of such fine melody in today's music. and ofcourse,the dearth..or infact the absence of composers like Roshan too...
If only they and those times come back...thats what i wish..."main dil hoon ek Armaan bharaa".

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pallavi-Anupallavi Part-3

No Discussion about Ilaiyaraaja's music is complete without talking about his Bass-work. And there is no composer who can write tricky Bass notes like the way he does. If you follow the bass-work in his songs, it will take you to a different world, as Ravi mentioned in the previous post.And needless to say that Bach keeps popping up now and then.

The third/last song from Pallavi Anupallavi, "Nagu Enthidhey" needs as much discussion as the previous songs did. i can use only one word to describe this song. It is "Stylish", in genre.i mean, its not down-to-earth kind...but has quite sophisticated feel to it, be it the tune of pallavi or that of charanams.somehow, i am led to believe that this is Raag "Nata-Bhairavi"(for it sounds similar and also, IR composed 2-3 Natabhairavi's which sound similarly styish). but experts, plzz clarify.

But, first, take my observation: All the songs(taken for discussion) of this film have lengthy and wonderful Preludes. I may not be wrong to say that they themselves are enough to give a glimpse of what this man is capable of. this song ,"Nagu Enthidhey" does just that.

Prelude: it starts with key-board Santoor-ish sound coupled with Bass on a higher scale. we have, basically 2 lines...which repeated again...making it four, before the rhythm is introduced. and the end of first line & third line here is highlighted by a single note of Flute, which joins the bass. and for that last note, the santoor-ish sound is missing. then, when the rhythm is introduced, only Flute & Bass take over. Do listen to the bass-work carefully, it is more split while the flute flows(Its Bach again). When the flute piece ends, string section takes two sections infact. One which scales from low notes to higher ones and the other which takes the exactly opposite direction. and even when the string section concludes the prelude, the bass work does its part by drawing your attention towards it.This idea has been used many times, in many songs. Now you know why actor Kamal Haasan said, " people call him Isai-Gnani(scholar of music) while i think he should be called "Isai-Vignani(scientist of music)".

Janaki sings the first line. quite alright. Now, she repeats it..and violin counter-melody fills in the background. he doesnt believe in unidimensional compositions i think. and then, as if thats not enough, just as that line ends, the bass-volume if its saying ,"even i am here.."..which continues as the 2nd line progresses..after which it completes its loop. Observe the bass structure.Amazing & Unconventional. also, when she starts singing, some electronic sound constantly plays in the background..which comes to the forefront (along with bass) only after that 2nd line. How can he write all these things in one-go?

The first interlude: i like the way it starts..two sections...the 2nd following the first one. the bass work, till the string section finishes its part is again captivating ( IR<=>Bach).the oboe kind of sound, having a dialogue with guitar is probably to suit the picturisation. one interesting combination of instruments follow here...Flute has a dialogue with violin section (now this is fusion), while bass and Ek-taara(how weird to use it here) complement in the background. totally diverse instruments..but playing together to create a wonderful effect. thats Raaja.

Charanam: i love the timing where he starts the percussion(exactly after 1st two words). the extra-ordinary guitar work in the background supports main melody very well, (the 1st two lines of charanam have that stylish feel..even in rendition too..). and from the 3rd lines, the same violin counter-melody starts off in the background (salil chaudhary here..). The charanam ends with his usual trade-mark loop-ends..on jazz kit and bass/electronica.

2nd interlude: this has a brief aalaap, which tends to take pathos-feel at the end(raaga change)..after which violins play over to teh scale given by Bell-like sound.. i think this song is more situatonal, which IR must have depicted through these sudden changes.

the 2nd charanam is similar to first one. but the counter-melody of violins which start half-way trhough the 2nd charanam seamlessly continue into the pallavi repetition till the end of the song.

Maniratnam, as i said before, has struck great chord(s) with IR right in the first film, which made him repeat him in all the subsequent films. But i still wonder why the music of all other films have gained much more recognition than Pallavi-Anupallavi, which is equally phenomenal.

Anyways, we now give in for some other posts, after which , the next film "pagal Nilavu" would be discussed. Ideally, the next film should be "Onaru" but the soundtrack of this film is rare and unavailable. I heard that it has only 2 songs which are extremely good but...could never get them.So, shall skip it and write about "Pagal Nilavu" sometime soon.Meanwhile Digest this one.

If one (fantastic)song of IR can take so much to write, then what would it take to cover all his fantastic compositions, given the fact that his work is highly prolific.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


IR worships Thyagaraja. Idolizes Bach. Is enslaved by the compositions of Mozart and Beethoven. Let me dispel any doubts that you may have regarding IR's inspirations through "Naguva Nayana" from Pallavi Anupallavi. This one showing the connection between IR and Bach. (If we are lucky we'll get to his other inspirations soon)

Listen (and very keenly so) to the beginning of the song. Janaki (pronounced Jana'gee' ;)) hums the tune to chords played on the guitar. After a successful digestion of that tune, remember J.S. Bach's "Bourree" (everyone knows this piece - one only has to hear it to remember). I believe Bourree (go to the link and search for the name) has inspired IR so much that I find traces of it in almost all my fav songs of his. Compare the lines of main voice with those of bass in the beginning lines of "Aakasam enatidho" from Nireekshana; "Ennulle Ennulle" from Valli - to illustrate, the main voice's notes are played in the reverse order for the bass--ah! the genius of Bach. The beginning notes are all the same as that for Bourree but the time values are different.
Then SPB sings/hums the second part of the tune. Then a small silence- a rest (read 'arrest'). A full blown orchestra follows. To understand the Bach connection one has to listen to the bass lines (remember this mantra!). Each instrument's notes in this beginning orchestral piece can be separated and played as a distinct musical piece in itself. Not a big deal right? Wrong. To be able to conceive four distinct tunes (and in this case with different timing) and mesh them together in the mind is nothing short of mindblowing. The only connection between them is they are all harmonic siblings. A trait J.S. Bach nurtured to its pinnacle which IR embraced and preserved. The leading violins are complemented by a second set of violins (requires some selective hearing). There is a bass following in it's own time scheme (like 1234-1234-12345678). And you will have no doubt that each of them can be a main voice in itself. OK that's just the stuff even before the song has actually started (atleast for most people).

SPB starts the part that Janaki hummed and Janaki sings the part that SPB hummed in the prelude. This is the acid test for Bach's influence on IR. In Bach's canons - instruments change their roles from main voices to supporting ones. Tunes complement each other. It's so symmetric that if you write down the notes and code it into a different alien language and give it to an intelligent decoder, he might not be able to come up with Bach's canon- but he would have definitely decoded a beautiful theorem on symmetry. In fact, Bach's Crab Canon is the nth orbital state a musical piece can achieve in symmetry and beauty. The simple switching of voices by IR is an illustration that the seeds of his musical thoughts were planted by Bach (for an unbelievable discussion on symmetry in Bach's music read Douglas Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher, Bach - The eternal golden braid").

In the interlude that follows, IR takes you from Germany to Mohana with such flair that one might wonder how a geographical location could end up in a raga? The charanams are similar in format. Mohana ending with a touch of kalyani. This song has such an evolution in its development and concept! He starts with harmony and ends up in melody. He starts with a few notes well placed with respect to other notes, and goes to touching a classical raga (if you have to name five most important ragas in carnatic I bet Kalyani will be one of them in the list).

A final note on the ending. The humming of SPB is hemmed by a faster one by Janaki. This is another of Bach's ideas. The main voice complemented by bass or other voice lines are used in recursively evolving ways. One of such ways is to separate the main voice lines and the complementing voice lines by a specific time gap. And second, using the secondary lines in a faster pace, both of which are employed to finish the song. Does one need to say more?

I hope we can get to Thyagaraja very soon. The next post will about "Nagu enthithe" (hopefully by Aakarsh).

- Ravi Chandra (randomwalker)

And to add my part :

This tune is being used as the theme music(or Logo-music) for the brand "Tata-Idea cellular". i am not sure if they have paid any royalty to IR but i learnt that the CEO of "LOWE", (one of the top ad-agencies in the country), Balakrishnan or "Balki' -as he is famously known, uses/used many IR tunes for his Jingles. When enquired, he confessed to be a very big die-hard fan of IR.( see this page) So, next time if u see a IR tune in a jingle, remember, its by Balki.


Ilaiyaraaja-Maniratnam : Pallavi Anupallavi-1

Pallavi Anupallavi

About the film:

Maniratnam set the ball (or his reel) rolling with Kannada film Pallavi Anupallavi, in the year 1983. Anil Kapoor played the lead role. With great difficulty, maniratnam managed to persuade the already established film-maker,Balu Mahendra, to handle the camera-work. BM was apprehensive about working with a newbie(with no prior tryst with Cinema), that too,a management graduate from the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Inst of Management studies, Mumbai. But, Maniratnam's zeal & screenplay compelled him to shoot the film. Maniratnam recollects in reference to his business school background,"When I started `Pallavi Anupallavi,' I had flow charts, budgets and cash flows all written up, One week later, I tore it all apart".
The story is interesting too. Lakshmi's husband,an estate manager, deserts her, unable to face her, when she finds him with another woman.that forms the pallavi i suppose. Anupallavi is when Anil kapoor, a young man, visits a neighbouring estate, for work, and meets her. a friendship is born between them, which is mistaken by people, including his girl friend. I heard that the focus of the story is more on the relationship between the young man and the middle-aged lady. whatever! this film was dubbed into telugu & tamil also, the soundtracks of which are not available anywhere. i watched the songs on E-Tv, which have typical Maniratnam picturisation.

Maniratnam got Ilaiyaraaja,who was already a phenomenon, to score the music. And together, they just nailed it right! mani couldnt ask for more, for ilaiyaraaja came up with fantastic numbers, though, the score didnt become very popular in tamil/telugu circles. Many believe that mani-IR combo began to excel from mounaraagam, which i completely disagree. In my opinion, every film had a different touch and the first film is no exception. The album has 4 songs, of which, i will be writing about 3 songs(the 4th one is ignorable).

I wish start my discussion with the song, "hrudhaya Rangoli".
Situation: picturised on anil kapoor's girl friend, after she mistakes him & lakshmi.

The song begins with heavy violins, in two sets..the 2nd one starts after 1st is reaching lower note. they end with piano backed by violins again..with cello work. The flute followed by violins... this brief prelude itself is very ilaiyaraaja-ish.very majestic entry.S.P.Sailaja starts off in a sad mood. the tune is closer to hindhusthani style, including the rhythm part on tabla. its classy no doubt, but what i like is the piano keys when she sings the word "manadhale"..he starts a piano loop exactly at the end of that word, the loop continues till "nauvondhu thanthu" and the last note of piano ends exactly after the last syllable of "thanthu" has been sung. i mean, the over-all placing of those set of piano-notes...i was floored when i heard for the 1st time.

The 1st interlude opens with flute and guitar strumming, giving way for violins..which play along with flute..but in different tune, reaching a high note. the electronic passage in between, connecting to charanam is his signature ofcourse. Charanam starts with same rhythm again, on tabla, which is S.D.Burmansque..i like the violin counter-melody which takes off when she sings the words "valumeyanu meetidhey" and "kanasugala thumbidhey"..and then..the violins play as counterpart to her rendition, while she scales to higher notes. here, somehow i am led to believe that S.D.Burman's high-pitched"chupke chupke" hovered in some corner of IR's mind.

The 2nd interlude is very heavy and tedious. Major part is played on sitar & veena with repetitive notes, thus testing the skill of the player (btw, do u know: Veena Gayathri used to play for IR). after touching high notes, exploring the raaga, the tune comes down and IR weaves his piano chords. same notes..played again and again..overlapped by a melody on string section. 2nd charanam has same ideas, same counter-melody..which acts like counterpoint..till she reaches high note of the song.

By all counts, the composition is very mature and difficult to perform kind. should we clap for maniratnam,for extracting such a song from IR or for IR,for dishing out such a wonderfully orchestrated song,which, unfortunately didnt get the applause it deserved.

Other songs of pallavi anupallavi : to be continued...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fantastic Combinations : Ilaiyaraaja-Maniratnam - A Intro...

I have been planning a series of write-ups on various terrific combinations, which produced phenomenal music scores in Indian cinema. And my eye was on the composers/film-makers/lyricists/singers of Yester-era, like “Naushad-Mehboob Khan” or “Naushad-Shakheel Badayuni” or “Madan Mohan-Rajinder Kishen” or “O.P.Nayyar-Asha Bhonsle” etc.,. but the output of such combinations was so prolific that it will take ages for me to track down the gems and write about them. However, I haven’t discarded the idea yet. I just need more time to probe more & collect interesting snippets, which is a continuous process ofcourse.
Even down south, there are such wonderful combinations, like “Ghantasala-Vijaya Productions”, “Rajeswara Rao-Pendyala”, or even Ilaiyaraaja’s films with Balu mahendra, Mahendran(tamil director), K.Balachander etc.,.

Only yesterday, it occurred to me that a comprehensive set of posts, as in a thread, could be posted about the fantastic combination “Maniratnam-Ilaiyaraaja”. This is one combination, in south-indian films, which gave some fantastic songs, in each and every film they collaborated.
When I shared this idea with Ravi, he green-signalled to come up with combined-write-ups ie.,. both of us would be adding our part to each post. Also, each post can be about a complete film or could be restricted to a single song alone. This is because the output of this combination is a phenomenal one and there are many songs, which deserve a detailed write-up individually. We hope to take up discussions on Background scores too, for Ilaiyaraaja is a king when it comes to background score. However, it wouldn’t take ages to complete this series as myself and ravi are geared-up, to make this blog more active, by writing more frequently.

So, before we shoot the first post, let me trace back the filmography of this brilliant combination. There are ten films which Ilaiyaraaja did with Maniratnam.

1.Pallavi Anu Pallavi(*ing: Anil kapoor,lakshmi)
2.Onaru(*ing: Mohanlal)
3.Pagal Nilavu(*ing: Revathy,Murali)
4.Idhaya Kovil(*ing: Mohan)
5.Mouna Raagam(*ing: Mohan, Revathy,Karthik)
6.Naayakan(*ing: Kamal Haasan)
7.Agni Nakshthram(*ing: Prabhu,Karthik,Amala)
8.Geethanjali(*ing: Nagarjuna,Girija)
9.Anjali(*ing: Raghuvaran,Revathy,kids)
10.Thalapathi(*ing: Rajnikanth,Mammootty,Shobana,Arvind Swamy,Bhanupriya)

The next post, on the music of “pallavi anu-pallavi”, will be up shortly. Do peep in.