We have heard this many times: ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’.
But is it possible to define ‘beauty’?
Don’t we also know that ‘it lies in the eyes of the beholder’?
While this may be true, it is beautiful to see some people see beauty in things that are considered otherwise. They also see and enjoy the contrasts in nature and life. These people not only think differently but also express themselves beautifully.
Pei aazhwar, one of the 12 vaishnavite saints looks at Narayana in the supine posture and this is enough for him to go on a beauty trip.
He says, ‘He lies on the salty sea black in colour, with Lakshmi whose lips are as red as the Ruby , and with the colourful garlands adorning his chest. He is the same inside and outside.I worship him endlessly’
அவர்க்கு அடிமைப்பட்டேன்;அகத்தான், புறத்தான்,
உவர்க்கும் கருங்கடல் நீர் உள்ளான்-துவர்க்கும்
பவள வாய்ப் பூ மகளும்,பல்மணிப் பூண் ஆரம்
திகழும் திருமார்வன் தான்.
The dark colour of the sea and the complexion of the Lord match while the red colour and the white garlands contrast this. There is salt and there is sweetness. The poet with the sense of beauty appreciates this spectacle. But he does not stop there .He says though this is a contrast-and in a way contradictory- the Lord remains the same both inside and outside.
Most importantly, he describes the Lord as the one lying on the salty black sea.Things that are perceived to be negative appeal to his senses and he uses them intelligently.
Let us turn our attention to the song of the day where our Maestro has intelligently used a raga considered to be the Mother of pathos in a romantic duet.
The raga is Subhapantuvarali and the song ‘Porapattu’ from the Telugu film ‘Ladies’ Tailor’(1985).
Subhapantuvarali is the 45th melakarta and evokes a very unique melancholic feeling.But just like Peyaazhwaar, who saw beauty in Black and Salt, ILaiyaraaja sees romance in Subhapantuvarali. As far as I know, no musician has ever made this ragam sound happy and romantic.
Let me remind you that he has also done the reverse-that of making a happy raga like Mohanam sound sad’(Oru KaNam Oru Yugamaga-Nadodi Thendral and ‘Oru Ragam Paadalodu’-Ananda Ragam)..
The structure of Subhapantuvarali is- sa ri1 ga2 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga2 ri1 sa.
What is striking about the song-apart from the raga usage- is the absence of a prelude.
The Pallavi has a meditative tenor and one sees the soft contours of the raga.A catholic exposition in the mellifluent voices of SPB and Janaki.
It is then a spontaneous rhythmic flourish as we hear the syllable ‘Ta’ repeated 8 times-completing one Adi tala cycle.It is a wholesome rhythmic landscape with the pulsating percussion followed by the funny humorous and yet enjoyable syllables.
Not a single melodic instrument used in the interlude.
The visualisation and the actualisation of the composer are stunning indeed!
The meditative phrasing continues in the CharaNam.It is interwoven with imaginative twists too with syllables like ‘Ta ki ta jam’ and ‘Ta ri ki ta jam’ and of course the funny syllables that jump with joy.
The first two lines move with élan while the next two lines are congruous complement in response.The last line is suffused with passion.
The entire Pallavi is then rendered lucidly.
The second interlude intensely elegant.The electric guitar is virulent while the long flute spins fine and delicate sangatis.The guitars and the other strings gallop and the long flute gives short wavy phrases.
We then see the golden hue of the raga as the short flute sings melodically.The violin plays in pure western style showing us the quiet magical glimmer.
The second charanam is as joyful as ever. The Raga glides, swirls,and spirals.
It is a torrential downpour!
Aesthetics at its best!!
Porapatu leni Sangeetam..(Music without any mistake..).