Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Laya Raaja - 4

This question crops up to me time and again.

What makes somebody a genius?

Is it their ability to do something very complex- so complex that you and I scratch the heads to simplify that and unravel the mystery?’

Why should somebody do something so complex? To show off their intellectual prowess? To announce to the world that ‘See, I have done this. I am capable of more too. Can you even try doing this?’

If this is true, then is there not a shade of arrogance in their act itself?

Like many questions in this world, these are tough to answer. Looking at it in a positive way, it could just be that they want to show the finer elements and beauties in life.

Look at the following poem in tamizh:

தத்தித்தா தூதுதி தாதூதித் தத்துதி
துத்தித் துதைதி துதைதத்தா தாதுதி
தித்தித்த தித்தித்த தாதெது தித்தித்த
தெத்தாதோ தித்தித்த தாது?

‘Thathithaa thoothuthi thaathoothi thaththuthi

Thuththi thuthaithi thuthaithaththaa thaathuthi

Thiththiththa thithiththa thaathethu thithiththa

Theththaatho thiththiththa thaathu?’

Does it make any sense?

Now, let us try splitting the words. 

தத்தித் தாது ஊதுதி தாது ஊதித் தத்துதி

துத்தித் துதைதி துதைது அத்தா ஊதி

தித்தித்த தித்தித்த தாது எது

எத்தாதோ தித்தித்த தாது? 

Does it look better now?

‘Oh  Bee! You blow off the pollens and drink the honey hidden inside the pollen. You jump and fly again and go to yet another flower humming making a beautiful sound in the process. You drink the honey from that flower too. Which flower was sweeter? Honey from which flower was sweeter? Which petal was more beautiful? Will you please tell me?’

This poem was written by Kavi KaaLamegam who lived in the 15th Century and was known for composing poems with more than one meaning. In this poem too, the word  thaadhu’ (தாது) has been used to denote the honey, the flower and the petals.

The poet does magic using just the single letter  tha’(தா) and its variants. It sounds musical while reciting, it kindles our curiosity, and it is very meaningful too raising some interesting questions.

Does this poem reflect the arrogance of the poet?

Far from it.

I feel it is a tribute to the language called Tamizh and shows us how beautiful the language can be if it is in the proper hands and if it is used the way it has to be used.

The song of the day falls in the same category. When one listens to it superficially, it sounds melodically beautiful, which of course is true even when one gets into an analytical mode. The mode is because a trained ear senses something hidden in terms of the taaLa structure and the raga usage. But if one dwells deeper, it leads to untying so many knots making one discover more and more hidden beauties. This leaves one wondering ‘what is his brain made of and how is it wired’.

Sollaadha raagangaL ennenna pollaadha taaLangaL ennanna’ from Mahanadi(1994), must be rated as one of the most complex compositions in film music. I am dividing the post into two parts now- Laya, and Raaga for easier understanding and appreciation.


As mentioned in my previous post on ‘Maanjolai kiLaithaano’, the foundation for a structure of the song is the TaaLa and more minutely the syllables.

Sollaadha’ has a rather unusual start with words first being rendered in a free flowing way albeit with different variations by SPB and Janaki.

The Pallavi starts and it is clear that it follows the 4-beat chatushra eka taaLam.

The first line- Sollaadha raagangaL ennenna is in one aavartanam and the 4 beats are subdivided into 16 maatraas- 4 (Sollaadha), 4(RaagangaL), 8(Ennenna).

The following lines follow the same pattern-

4(Pollaadha) 4(TaaLangaL) 8(Ennenna)

4(ThuNindhu) 4(Sonnaal) 8 (Enna….)

The percussion plays the next aavartanam which is again 16- with stress on 1, 3, 6, 9, 11, the last 4 being left as blank.

The three lines are repeated by Janaki.

SPB’s lines ‘Nillaadha eNNangaL munsella’ ‘ThaLLaadha en nenjam pinsella’, ‘Thodarndhu vandhaal enna’ follow the same pattern..

 ‘Ezhunda sandham ondru’( 4, 4, 8) and ‘Kalandha sondham indRu(4, 4, 8) have one aavartanam each.

But what follows is the ‘crowning glory’.

INaindha Santharppam’  is 10,  and ‘iZhandha pon sorgam is 10.

Thirumbumo pudhuyugam arumbumo….. is divided as 6, 6, 6, 2, 4, 4 - the last ‘4’ being the drums.

From ‘Ezhunda’, we have 5 aavartanams-a total of 20 counts which is subdivided as 80 maatraas!

In the first interlude, the drums alternate between the chorus in the first part playing    1 2 3 4 / 1 - 3 - / 1 - 3  - / 1 - 3 - /

The lines in the CharaNam follow the 4, 4, 8 pattern until the last line (INaindha santharppam) which follows 10, 10, 6, 6, 2, 4, 4.

The drums draw different patterns of Chatushram in the second interlude leaving gaps now and then.


The free-flowing part in the beginning has the Harikambhoji swaras.

The Pallavi has almost the same swaras except that those are used differently to give us Pahaadi.

The chorus continues in Harikambhoji until the strings take over. The ‘ma’ of Harikambhoji is taken as the base (graha bedam) and the raga changes to ShankarabharaNam. It goes back to Harikambhoji in the chorus part.

In the CharaNam, the ‘ma1’ is substituted with the ‘ma2’ and the raga becomes Vaachaspati. At the end of the second line, the ‘ri2’ of Vaachaspati becomes the base ‘sa’ and we get Charukesi- from the line ‘KooNdil’. The violins in the background too continue in Charukesi.

It is back to Vaachaspati in ‘Jeevan’ while the last phrase ‘INanidha’ is in Pahaadi.

Here is yet another twist. The CharaNam ends with ‘ma1’ and the next interlude starts with the joyful flute taking this as the base. Graha bedam again and it is Kalyani now. Does it end here?

No.. The strings and then the flute play Hamir Kalyani, a janya raga of Kalyani!!

Seamless change of ragas-with and without Graha bedam.

Very differently structured Pallavi/CharaNams with divisions and sub divisions of TaaLa.

Untold mysteries…

What makes somebody a genius’?

It is for you all to say now…


Krubhakaran said...

When ever I listen to THis Mumbai Express Theme It Reminds me the Song "Sollatha Raagangal" Sir.


Raj said...

Maybe it is because of the piano and the strings :)

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