Tuesday, 2 March 2010

ILaiyaraaja-The Distinct Musician..

It is the City of Mythila.

Seeta is unable to take her mind off Rama. Their eyes had met just the previous day and they had fallen for each other instantaneously. Rama is about to break the bow in the main palace. But Seeta -quite unaware of the happenings in the palace – is restless. Her mind is clouded by only one thing-rather only one person.

She waits..hoping against hope that the ‘handsome man’ would certainly win her hands.

Waiting is painful.

We feel it more we expect certain things to happen..
We feel it more when we know we are in no position to control what we expect..
We feel it more when we doubt what we know..

And this happens to all of us irrespective of who we are, what we are and where we are.

But beyond this pain, there is beauty.

Kamban captures this beautiful pain.

He says,

“With her ‘life’ swinging here and there, she leaves the melting flower bed, goes towards a Lotus pond and sits on the flower bed made of ‘Chandrakantha’ stone”.

ஊசலாடு உயிரினோடும், உருகுபூம்பள்ளி நீங்கிப்
பாசிழை மகளிர் சூழப்போய், ஒரு பளிங்குமாடக்
காசில்தாமரையின் பொய்கைச் சந்திர காந்தம் ஈன்ற‌
சீதநீர் தெளித்த மென்பூஞ் சேக்கையை அரிதிற்ச் சேர்ந்தாள்.

She then looks at the Lotus flowers and says,’Oh..Lotus Flowers..I know you like this girl.I see the colour of his body (green) through your leaves and his eyes in you (lotus-eyes).I am happy and my worry has disappeared..but only temporarily.You have not shown me his ‘inner colour’(mind).Therefore, you are all misers..’

'பெண்ணின் உற்ற' தென்னும் பெருமையால்,அருமையான‌
வண்ணமும் இலைகளாலே காட்டலால் வாட்டம் தீர்ந்தேன்!
தண்ணறுங் கமலங்காள்!என் தளிர்நிறம் உண்ட கண்ணன்
உண்ணிறங் காட்டி,நீர் என் உயிர்தர உலோவினீரே!

Look how beautifully Kamban describes a girl with a restless mind. It is not just the description of the girl but rather he goes deep into her mind and brings out the feelings wonderfully.

What do we do when we are restless? Change places? And don’t we not feel the heat? And don’t the things we see that time remind us of the person we are thinking about?And don’t we also praise and then curse the things we see that time?

Here, Seeta shifts places-from a Hot Bed to a Cool Bed. She looks at Lotus and is reminded instantly of Rama. But she still doubts if he too is in love with her. Therefore, she starts cursing the flowers..


But History says Sigmund Freud was born in the 19th century while Kamban was born in the 9th century.

And look how beautifully everything is described..

Maybe one could call this as ‘Poetic psychoanalysis’.

At the same time, one is also awestruck by the poetic beauty!

This is what makes Kamban a distinct poet..
Getting into the skin of the character (or is it the mind?) and describe things aesthetically.

If Kamban did this poetically, ILaiyaraaja does this musically.

He understands the situation as narrated by the Director grasps it in few seconds and composes in few minutes.
One is able to understand the character (in the movie) just by listening to his music.

Like Kamban’s poetry, we are also mesmerized by the beauty of the composition.
If Kamban is a distinct poet, ILaiyaraaja is a distinct musician!

Today, let us see yet another composition of his.

The composition is ‘PalliyaRaikkuL..’ from Bala Nagamma(1981).

The entire song is visualized by the villain.That is it is his imagination.

The Villain-a magician- takes the heroine as his captive and wants her to be his ‘wife’ while she is unrelenting.She is also protected by the Goddess of Snakes.The Villain in a kind of drunken state goes to sleep and the heroine comes in his dreams and sings.

The Maestro’s brilliance is shown (yet again) here.

The composition is erotic but at the same time we do not feel the Heroine’s passion (unlike say a song like ‘En degam’ or ‘Nila Kayudhu’).

The rather unusual and different prelude itself speaks volumes. Let us see this a little later.

The composition is based on Vakulabharanam.

Vakulabharanam is the 14th melakartha and its structure is

sa ri1 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

The meaning of Vakulabharanam is- ‘decorated with the Vakula flower’.
Vakulam is the name of a flower also called as ‘magizhampoo’ in tamizh. This flower is known for its special fragrance.

This Raga is also unique and is very fragrant.
It has an intrinsic Arabic quality and flavour.

Let us look at the composition.

As I said, the prelude is very different.

The guitar strums.The Trumpet tweets. Suddenly ,we are reeled in by the violin. Unexpected Vistas..Musical glissades!
Pure Spanish music in full flow.

The sounds coalesce and we see the grandeur of the raga.

The Pallavi starts with the succulent tone of Uma Ramanan.

The first line is luminous with the dense bass guitar following it very closely. The second and the third lines-‘Ennai Vida innoruththi yen’ and ‘Ennidaththil aththanaiyum thaen’- give delightful sketches while the ending-‘En Rassa’ and ‘Poovo Ponno Yaaro Naano’ is gripping.

The first interlude has a delectable layout.

The Bass Guitar twinges and there is a beautiful pause. The percussion continues with gusto. The Bass Guitar now cruises easily and is joined by a host of Arabic instruments. The pattern of the beats change now -with stress on the first and the third beat. It is lucid and cohesive with the Bass Flute galvanizing us.

The CharaNam brims with beauteous phrases.

The gait becomes slow as if they are under a spell (remember..the villain is a magician).
The first line is mesmerizing and is encrusted with the Arabic instrument.
The second line is fluid.

The gait changes again in the following lines as they wend and bend.

The second interlude is like an intertwined garland.

The Guitar starts with a flourish.

It is elastic.

It is profound.

We see the glowing threads.It depicts the vast spectrum of moods.

The mellifluous Arabian instruments then take over carefully guiding the guitar.

The third interlude is meticulously arranged with beguiling layers of rhythmic patterns.

The beats of the Melody-Rhythm ensemble are:

1. Ta - - Ta - - Ta - - - Ta – Ta - -
that is only the 1st, 4th, 7th,11th and the 13th beats are played.

This pattern continues 5 times with the strings in the background..

We hear only the tuned percussion in the following patterns:

2.Only the even beats are played now: - ka – ka – ka - ka

3.The next pattern is : Ta – Ta - (12 times-played twice)followed by ta ka ta ka dhi mi ta ka twice in ‘mel kaalam’ (faster mode).

The first part (ta ka) is played in ‘Usi’ that is only the odd beats (ka) are played.

This pattern is played twice.

Note that the previous pattern (2.) has only the even beats while the next one has only the odd beats.

4. The next pattern is ta ka dhi mi four times with only the ‘ta’ and ‘dhi’ played in the fourth time(twice).

5.Fourth pattern –ta ka dhi mi ta – dhi mi (4 times)

6.The last pattern-ta ka dhi mi (4 times) followed by ta - - -.

It unravels the wonders of the raga and the tala beautifully..

It captures the entire gamut of human emotions..

It takes us to an ethereal world..

Now, who is the real magician?

உன் இசை அத்தனையும் தேன்..

Your music is full of honey..