Thursday, 25 December 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part III

This world is beautiful.

If we take time off from our busy schedule and start looking at things around us, we discover many new things (and old things). Some of these are amazing.

The stars, the moon, the clouds, the sky, the rain, the flowers..

Each and every time we look at these, we feel different; our experience is different; our thinking is different.

Finally it depends on how one perceives things/incidents.

The beauty of life is such that even little things play very big roles.

Take apple for example. What is there in apple? It is just a fruit, a very healthy and tasty fruit at that.

But when this apple fell from a tree, one gentleman thought differently. He started wondering as to why that apple had to fall..

He thought and thought and finally this led to something that formed the basis of Classical Mechanics and modern engineering.

Needless to say that the gentleman being referred to is Issac Newton and that he discovered the Universal Gravitational and the three Laws of Motion.

All of us know the story of the King of Scotland -who while sitting in a hut after being battered, bruised and driven out by King Edward I of England -saw a very tiny creature successfully spin a web after failing seven times. Inspired by this, he gathered his men and despite being badly outnumbered was able to drive out the enemies because of sheer determination.

Robert Bruce and Spider-are the names not synonymous?

Examples galore.

But what these incidents tell us is that life shows us lot of things and it is up to us to observe and learn.

Apple and Spider.. two small things. Look how they have influenced science and history.

That is the beauty of life.

We find that in literature too, small things have played major roles.

A small gemstone influenced an entire epic.

‘Silappathikaaaram’(Story of the jeweled anklets) is considered to be one of the greatest epics in the world of Literature.In the words of the Czech Professor Dr.Kamil Zvelebil,

‘‘The epical poem of Silapathikaaram which by its baroque splendour and by the charm and magic of its lyrical parts belongs to the epic masterpieces of the world and should be admired and beloved by all in the same was as Poems of Homer, the Dramas of Shakespeare, the Pictures of Rembrandt, the Cathedrals of France and Sculptures of Greece’’.

What is this Silappathikaaram all about?

Kovalan and Kannagi lead a happy married life until Kovalan falls for a great dancer Madhavi and begins to live with her.Unable to bear the adoration and appreciation Madhavi was getting from others, he becomes jealous and deserts her.

He is penniless now and returns to Kannagi who offers to sell her anklet- filled with rubies-to get some money. They go to Madurai where Kovalan while trying to sell one of the anklets is caught by the guards of the Pandya King.The Queen’s anklets-which were filled with pearls- had just then been stolen and assuming that Kovalan was the culprit, the King orders his guards to kill Kovalan.

Kannagi throngs the King’s court and proves that her anklets were filled with rubies and not pearls. Realising his folly, the King dies instantaneously. Kannagai goes on to burn the city of Madurai.

Though there lot of great things about the way Ilango AdigaL has presented this simple but complex story, what attracts a connoisseur is the way he has structured the grammar of Music and Dance.

In the previous two posts, we saw the history of classical dance in Tamizh society.

Continuing with this, let us see how ‘Silappathikaaram ‘ has dealt with classical dance.

Ilango adigaL must have been a perfectionist.

He deals with each and every aspect of dance starting from the vocalist, the lyricist, the percussionist, the instrumentalists.

What amazes one is the way he has defined the structure of the stage. Not only has he given the dimensions of a stage but also that he has mentioned about the lighting, and the way the stage has to be decorated.

If the verse

எழுகோல் அகலத்து எண்கோல் நீளத்து
ஒருகோல் உயரத்து உறுப்பினது ஆகி
உத்தரப் பலகையொடு அரங்கின் பலகை
வைத்த இடை நிலம் நாற்கோல் ஆக
ஏற்ற வாயில் இரண்டும் பொலியத்
தோற்றிய அரங்கினில் தொழுதனர்
gives the desired dimensions of a stage,

தூண் நிழல் புறப்பட மாண் விளக்கு எடுத்து ஆங்கு
ஒருமுக எழினியும் பொருமுக எழினியும்
கரந்து வரல் எழினியும் புரிந்துடன் வகுத்து

talks about the lighting.

He then goes on to describe the ‘Pancha Sandhi’ Kavuththuvum-an item that is performed in the beginning to ward off evil forces-and then the 11 different dances called as ‘Pathinoru aadal’..

We shall look at the other descriptions about dance and Music in Silappathikaaram and in other Tamizh texts in the forthcoming posts.

Let us now look at today’s composition from ULiyin Osai.

It is ‘Kallil Uyir Kaattidalaam’.

As usual, there are lot of special things about this composition and we shall see them as we go along..

The sun paints the sky red. Flowers smile. Leaves nod their heads. Waves from the sea welcome us. It is a new day.. It is a new beginning..

The song flowers with a flourish..

The first few lines rendered without percussion(called as ‘viruththam’)is based on the Ragam Bowli.

This Ragam is generally sung in the mornings and is believed to bring freshness.

As the lines ‘Kallil Uyir Kaattidalaam’ start, we see the beautiful Kalyani in the heartfelt rendition by Sriram Parthasarathy.In fact, one sees shades of his Guru’s Guru(Shri.Seshagopalan) in his style of rendering this song.

The line ‘Vadikkindra SilaigaLil’ is wonderfully structured to give a very different effect.
The way the percussion is played just towards the end accentuates the effect.

The violins then breeze in with the Flute shining resplendently. The Veena and Flute combine and this invokes a unique ambience.

In the first Charanam, the Flags of the three major Tamizh Kings-Chozha, Chera and the Pandiya-kings are described. Tiger is Flag of Chozha and the sangathis flow to depict the tiger with the flutes playing welcome notes without any fear.

The Bow now bows in appreciation as the Raga beautifully changes to Dharmavathy. Appreciation here is not just for the Raga change but also for the thoughtfulness.

Let me explain.

Kalyani is the 65th Melakartha and Dharmavathy, the 59th.Every sixth Raga in the Melakratha scale have the same variants of ‘dha’ and ‘ ni ‘and therefore the ‘pa dha ni Sa’ segment(called as Uttaraanga) remains the same.The difference is only in the ‘ri’ ‘ga’ part. Now if the variant of ‘ga’ in Kalyani is changed(from ‘ga3’ to ‘ga2’), it becomes Dharmavathy.. And this is what the master has done.

After the Chera’s Bow, it is the Pandiya’s Fish.

After the Eyebrows, it is the Eyes.

Flute and the Veena act as the eyes and the eyebrows and establish an emotional connection.

The Pallavi again in Kalyani.

The Veena now eddies around Kalyani with the ghatam giving glistening strands of laya.

The meshing of Raga and Laya is gripping and gives us an esoteric feeling.

The intricate setting continues in the next Charanam with a kind of a teaser.

The Raga now changes to Hamsanandi and again there is a pattern.The Variant of ‘ri’in Kalyani is changed and logically it should be Gamanashrama-the 53rd Melakartha(59-6 or 65-12).But the magician now makes the ‘pa’ disappear and it becomes Hamsanandi, another beautiful Raga with the following structure

sa ri1 ga3 ma2 dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.

The Raga moves very expressively until it meets a beautiful woman called Vasantha.

Yes, the Genius at work again.

In the line ‘Aananda Soundaryam..’ he changes the ‘ma’ and drops ‘ri’ in the ascent.
Sa ma1 ga3 ma1 dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

This Ragam is Vasantha.

The composition is multifarious with varied motifs. At the same time, there is a pattern and purpose.

It is an exhilarating experience.

It etches tranquility.

It is the language of subtlety.

Yes, juggling of notes is very subtle. The difference between one ‘ga’ and the other ‘ga’ is minute.. as minute as the difference between one ‘ri’ and the other ‘ri’.

Little things.. But don’t they play a big role?

And doesn’t he give life even to a stone with his music?

கல்லிற்கும் உயிர் கொடுப்பதல்லவா அவரது இசை?

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