Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nan Kadavul

'Nan Kadavul' is Director Bala's latest effort. After a gritty 'Pithamagan', Bala again takes up an offbeat theme (which is infact a sort of extension from Pithamagan, thought-process-wise) of a man living away from the general civilized society. This time, the protagonist is an Aghori, living in Kaasi. The film, i heard, throws light on the life of Aghoris and beggar mafiadom. The success of Pithamagan, in critics circles and in commercial circles, has only cemented the relationship between Bala and Ilaiyaraaja. Ilaiyaraaja finds Bala's style of film-making to be pathbreaking while Bala swears by Ilaiyaraaja's music, for the theme and visuals conceived by him. The soundtrack of Nan Kadavul, with all the pensive hues, underlines the fact that their collaboration is unique because both appear to be taskmasters at what they want and expect from each other.


1. Maa Ganga Kaasi: Kunal Gunjawala

A hindi song in a tamil film is quite unusual. This song, which appears during the title credits, is a bhajan kind of melody, simple and humble. A typical Yaman-like composition, nicely laced with keyboard-chords which are raaja-like. The only drawback of this composition is the singer. A pop/jingle singer Kunal Gunjawala seemed inappropriate, for his voice sounds like Udit Narayan Version 2.0. A Sonu Nigam could have been a better fit.


2. Kannil Paarvai: Shreya Goshal / Oru Kaatril: Ilaiyaraaja

Right from 'Julie Ganapathy', Ilaiyaraaja has been giving gems to Shreya Ghoshal in many of the films. The genre of the songs ranged from soft haunting melodies (ennakku piditha from Julie Ganapathy) to funky (Ninni Vethiki from Anumanaspadam) to folk (Onnavida from Virumandi) to sugary stuff (Cheeni Kum, Shiva 2006).Kannil Paarvai is a melancholic melody, which is quite difficult to sing. Shreya excels under Maestro's baton. The song's rhythm is peculiar, for it has heavy drum as well a tin percussion whose beat cycle is difficult to decipher. The string section, in the interludes and counter-melodies, is a throw back at the 80s - Maestro's hallmark. The song, in Rasikapriya, transports the listener to a pensive mood, in which one can construct the images of desert and barren land. Ilaiyaraaja shines in every aspect of this composition, be it the tune or arrangements (the bass guitar, faithfully paints his signatures, all along the song). Oru Kaatril is the male version of the song, sung by Ilaiyaraaja. Although age is evident in the voice, the effort to render the gamakas perfectly, is not only visible but also pays off. This song, with all poignancy wrapped in it, is a stealer.


3. Pichaipaathram: Madhu Balakrishnan

This song is actually a rehash of one of Ilaiyaraaja's previous songs, which appeared in a devotional album composed by him. This song too is another pensive composition, reflecting the lives of beggars. Although the composition is haunting, i didn't find it appealing, to me, compared to other songs in the album. The song has Maayamaalavagowla feel to it.


4. Maatha Unkovil: Sadhana Sargam

Another devotional song of Ilaiyaraaja rehashed from this film. This song sounds more devotional because of the Sindhu Bhairavi tones in it and at the same time, the interludes reflect drama. The interludes, heavily resting on string section, have amazing pieces and it is not surprising since they come from the emperor of orchestral music. Maatha Un Kovil can be ranked alongside Kannil Paarvai, as a finest melancholic number from Ilaiyaraaja in recent times.


5. Om Sivoham: Vijay Prakash

Heavy traditional percussion instruments, chants on Lord Shiva, raw energy, gutos - all these mark this composition, in which ilaiyaraaja creates a powerful music atmosphere with strong vibrations. The rendition is wonderful, particularly in the high-pitch points. It could be difficult to count the number of percussions used, and as they dominate, one can also hear a faint strain of keyboard chords supplemented by bass-guitar, while the vocals are on. The song does have an ambience, of deep and wild surrender to the devotion it laces in and Ilaiyaraaja and Vijay Prakash pull it off with an elan.

Although i did not watch this film, the soundtrack does reflect the strong sense of visuality in the music and one can easily comprehend that Ilaiyaraaja has delivered music according to the mood and theme of the film. 'Kannil Paarvai', in my opinion, is one of his classic compositions and it has deserves its own place among the greatest pathos laden poignant compositions ever composed.

After Uliyin Osai, Ilaiyaraaja's score for this film is non-compromising, top-notch and highly intriguing. Hail the Maestro!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Continuum Fingerboard

The soundtrack of 'Delhi 6' had a track 'Rehnu Tu', in which composer A.R.Rahman used a new instrument called 'Continuum Fingerboard' in the postlude of the song. The sound of the tune played in the piece appeared very 'wind'-y indeed, but what surprised me were the meends felt in that. intriguing. A small google search revealed that the instrument was invented recently and its picture was peculiar, because the instrument did not have keys. Here is a snapshot about the instrument: Continuum Fingerboard.

While a cursory reading about the instrument paints a vague picture about it, a demonstration actually showcases what it actually is. This instrument seems to be having everything in it, to become the next most sought instrument in classical & fusion music circles of India. The wide range of possibilities that this instrument can open up is surely a shot in the arm of people who jam with traditional keyboards and synthesizers. More, it crosses the limitations of keyboards such as gamakas and meends and also offers newer explorative/experimental options in vertical movements, filtered pitch variations.

Kudos to the inventor. And pretty often, some people do argue about the global outlook of A.R.Rahman. While the subject is a matter of discussion in another post, his selection of this obscure instrument (obscure for now atleast, within the realm if Indian Film Music) for playing a medley of Carnatic raagas in the tail-end piece of a Hindi film-song ballad which has traces of 80s Enlgish pop - well, thats global outlook indeed.

For now, I am just imagining the range of possibilities this instrument offers, particularly in the hands of maverick keyboard artists. Louis Banks, Loy Mendonsa, Adnan Sami, Viji Manuel, Brian Silas etc. Are you listening?