Tuesday, 10 February 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Colossus!

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs..”

says Cassius to Brutus about Julius Caesar in William Shakespeare’s immortal classic.


It is not an ordinary word.
It denotes a person or a thing that is extremely important or large in size.

Why did Shakespeare choose to use this word?

Julius Caesar transformed the Roman Republic to Roman Empire.He seized Rome when he was just 19.He conquered Gaul and extended the Roman world beyond the North Sea.He then became the Master of the Roman Empire.

Historians place the generalship of Caesar as one of the greatest military strategists and tacticians who ever lived.
He was also an excellent communicator and a great Orator.

Colossus..yes the apt word used by the World’s preeminent Dramatist.
Shakespeare dominates the English-speaking literary world. Indeed, Shakespeare is the gold standard. It is a fact that English language owes a lot to Shakespeare.

I would say Shakespeare himself was a Colossus..

Tamizh language has also seen some of the world’s greatest poets.
Kamban is one of them.

The regular followers of this thread know why he is great since I have quoted his verses time and again here.

Rama goes around the town of Mythila before his betrothal.

The ladies of the town rush to see him and fall for him instantly.
Kamban says, ‘Tired of shooting the Arrows bedecked with flowers continuously, Manmadan- now takes his Sword out’.

வைய்யம் பற்றிய மங்கையர் எண்ணிலார்;
அய்யன் பொற்புக்கு அளவிலை;ஆதலால்
எய்யும் பொற்சிலை மாரனும் என்செய்வான்?
கையம்பு அற்று உடை வாளினும் கைவத்தான்!

What is so special about this verse?

Manmada is considered to be the god of Love as per Hindu mythology. It is believed that his ‘flowery arrows’ cause people to fall in Love (or even the other way around!).

Now, the ladies of Mythila look at Rama and the beauty is too much for them to bear. It is too much to bear for Manmada as well since he is too busy aiming the arrows and beyond a point pulls out his sword!

Kamban-the Colossus describing Rama-the Colossus!!

Shakespeare and Kamban-two of the greatest poets.

We all should consider ourselves to be lucky for living in the era of a musical genius.

Film music took a new Avatar with his entry.

His usage of Ragas, Scales and Talas showed us all a new dimension in music.

Not only is he spontaneous, but also that he is innovative.

He is an artiste, and a scientist.

Music is in his heart and in his head.

He is a Colossus!

Today, we are going to see an old composition of his in a very classical and special raga.

First the Raga.

It is Keeravani,the 21st melakarta.

It is special not just because it is a very classical ragam. In Western Music, it is called as Harmonic Minor Scale.

This Raga is very deep and has a unique melodic quotient.

The structure is sa ri2 ga2 ma1 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga2 ri2 sa.

Raaja sir has composed many songs in Keeravani.

This was one of his first Keeravanis.

The song is ‘MalargaLile..Aaraadanai’ from Karumbu Vil(1979).

The beginning of the song is very interesting.

The violins sound like the bee and the strings show the blooming of the flower. We are welcomed with a flowery smile. The chorus greets us with effervescence and the violins follow suit. The flute wafts through the air and we see the nature’s pulchritude.

With gentle breeze kissing the flowers, the bees get ready to drink the honey, the Tabla plays the Chatusram beats.The flowers nod their heads in appreciation.

We see the Raga merging with the nature with the sangatis of the chorus.

The Pallavi starts with the inimitable Janaki’s voice taking us to the garden of Keeravani that is adorned with pure swaras and beautiful sangatis.

The swaras take joyous flights with the veena and the violins and start dancing gracefully with the chorus voice. Keervani draped in silk saree!

The silk saree suddenly changes to a silk gown as we see the western contours of the Raga.The flute is unable to control its joy and plays with glee!Looking at this marvel, the Veena decides to join and starts dancing.

Malaysia Vasudevan sings like a trained classical musician in the Charanam that is beautifully etched.

The first two lines ooze with classicism, the third line has the vigour and vitality and the last line shines with luster.

The second interlude is dotted with very fine phrases.It is a Musical Revue in the beautiful Raga called Keeravani.

It starts with the chorus rendering ‘ta na na na..’with gusto.The Veena plays with high splendour and this is repeated by the chorus as ‘Dhi ra na dheem dheem ta tam ta na na na na na’.

It reaches the high points of the Raga with the silky glides when we get to see the western contours again seamlessly.


The composition is appended with a wonderful sangati in the end when the lines of the pallavi are repeated.

We feel the unobtrusive energy imbued with authority.

We see the emotive facets of the Raga in this composition.

It is piercing and at the same time gives us ineffable peace.

We see the slew of swift prayogas that shows us the underlying tenor of the raga.

We see the pure Indian Classical form melding with the Western Classical form proving yet again the universality of Music.

ஸ்வரங்களால் இசைக்கு ஆராதனை !

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