Posted in Music - General, Poem

Saagaavaram – Uttama Villain

Lyrics by: Kamal Hassan

Music: M Ghibran

சாகாவரம் போல் சோகம் உண்டோ
கேளாய் மன்னா, கேளாய் மன்னா!

Is there anything as wretched as immortality?
Why won’t you listen my King, Ho..why won’t you listen?

தீரா கதையை கேட்பார் உண்டோ
கேளாய் மன்னா, கேளாய் மன்னா!

Is there anyone who would listen to never ending tales?
Why won’t you listen my King, Ho..why won’t you listen?

கணியர் கணித்த கணக்குப் படி நாம்
காணும் உலகிது
வட்டப் பந்தாம்..
வட்டப் பந்தாம்.. ஓ.. வட்டப் பந்தாம்.. ஓ..

As mathematicians (and astronomers) concluded,
This earth as we see, is a spherical ball.
Yes. It is spherical.

வட்டப் பந்தை வட்டமடிக்கும்
மற்றப் பந்தும்
போகும் மாண்டே..
போகும் மாண்டே.. ஓ.. போகும் மாண்டே.. ஓ..

And those balls that revolve
Around this spherical ball (earth)
Will cease to exist (some day). Yes. They will.

மாளா ஒளியாம் ஞாயிறும் கூட
மற்றோர் யுகத்தில் போகும்
கரிந்தே…….
கரிந்தே.. கரிந்தே..

Even Sun, the unending source of light,
Will fade away in millennia.
It will burn away. It will burn away.

கரிந்து எரிந்தும் வெடித்தப்பின்னும் உதிக்கும் குளம்பில் உயிர்கள் முளைக்கும்
முளைத்து முறிந்தும் துளிர்க்கும் வாழை தன் மரணத்துள்ளே வைத்தது விதையை
கேளாய் மன்னா.. ஓ.. கேளாய் மன்னா.. ஓ..

Lives will sprout from such expansion resulting from this burning explosion. (**reference to big bang theory**)
A fully mature plantain leaves a seed for new life inside its death. (**Plantain is a herbaceous plan**)
Why won’t you listen my King, Ho..why won’t you listen?

விதைத்திடும்  உன்னை போல் உயிரை
உயிர்த்து விளங்கும் என் கவிதை விளங்கும்..
கவிதை விளங்கும்.. ஒ..

My poem will get a life of its own and will prosper.
Just as your virility. It will live long.

விளங்கி துலங்கிடும் வம்சம் வாழ,
வாழும் நாளில் கடமை செய்ய,
செய்யுள் போல் ஒரு காதல் வேண்டும்.

For new generations to thrive,
And to fulfill (our) life’s obligation,
(We) need poetic love.

காதல் வேண்டும்.. செய்யுள் போல் ஒரு..
காதல் வேண்டும்.. செய்யுள் போல் ஒரு..

வேண்டியதெல்லாம் வாய்த்த ஒருவன்
சாவையும் வேண்டி செத்த கதைகள்
ஆயிரம் உண்டு…
கேளாய் மன்னா.. ஒ.. கேளாய் மன்னா!!

Many a lore can be found,
Of well provided for men seeking death.
Why won’t you listen my King, Ho..why won’t you listen?


I have been totally in awe of this song since I listened to it. Didn’t quite catch onto the lyrics the first time around. But the more I listen the more I get to appreciate the genius of Kamal Hassan.

“There is no sorrow as bad as the boon of longevity…”
Brilliant!!

__

More analysis:

If you read the line “வட்டப் பந்தை…” it ends with the word “மாண்டே”
And the next line starts with a variation of the word “மாளுதல்” (மாளா ஞாயிறு)
Even though the two lines should be read as two mutually independent sentences.
And read the next few lines..You will see the amazing word play.

கரிந்தே-கரிந்து
முளைக்கும்-முளைத்து
விதையை-விதைத்திடும்
உயிரை-உயிர்த்து
விளங்கும்-விளங்கி
வாழ-வாழும்
செய்ய-செய்யுள்


Note: I copied the Thamizh lyrics from this blog
https://aadhira.wordpress.com/
Thank you for letting me do so.

Posted in Music - General

The ‘English Note’

‘English Note’:

First memories of listening to this was probably when I was 7 or 8. Vaguely remember discussions in the house on what a genius composition this was by Madurai Mani Iyer and how finally Carnatic music has an ‘apparent answer’ to the western music snobbishness.

Here is the Mani Iyer version:

Thanks to the movie ‘Thillana Mohanambal’, I even had a great visual to accompany this theory (that I was being benignly subjected to) and every other thing that I had learned about ‘Note’. To say that the Note just got etched in my memory would be an understatement. The starting notes ‘Ga Ma Ga Ri Ga Pa Ri Ga Sa’ echo in my ears the moment I think of the ‘Note’.

Here is the Thillana Mohanambal clip:

A few years later, when my music teacher taught me all the notes of this ‘Note’, needless to say, I was thrilled. Felt as if my carnatic music mission was accomplished. I was 12 or 13 then.  There is something about the ‘English Note’ that always gets me excited, even today, even after exposure to newer & newer musical genres and a bit more understanding of how they all are related. Yes, I find the whole ‘apparent answer’ thingy, silly today, but I can appreciate the thought process behind such a claim back then. Perhaps it is something to do with the very basic notion of showing my remote rebel attitude, because this composition offers me the possibility of straying away from a rigid ‘Arohanam’ and ‘Avarahonam’ structure.   After listening to several great musicians play this ‘Note’, it’s safe to say that there really have not been too many real variations.

Here is a T.M. Krishna version I like:

Almost as if the carnatic musicians just didn’t want to experiment with this composition or add their own style to it, for the fear of such a thing either backfiring or the very notion that it’s beyond them.

So finally, when I listened to a new variation of this composition in the album ‘Ramanujan’ (an upcoming movie on a genius Mathematician), I was like ‘Wow’. Ramesh Vinayakam (who hasn’t got his fair share in the industry yet, IMO), delivers a version which takes the ‘English Note’ by its western horns and hits it cleanly out of the park.

Take a listen here to Ramesh Vinayakam’s version:

Do you agree with me now that Ramesh hasn’t gotten his proper due yet?

(Note: This link has the entire album. Listen to the whole album if you can. A gem.)

Posted in AR Rahman, Movies - General, Music - General

Million Dollar Arm

MDA
MDA

Been listening to this OST and have listened to all the tracks at least half a dozen times.

And then this evening, I took my baseball crazy 10 year old son to watch the movie. Couldn’t have been a more perfect evening to take him out to watch a baseball movie, because tomorrow is his first baseball league game of the season (and this is the first ever season he is playing). So imagine the excitement! He knew the movie had something to do with baseball and India, as he had seen the promos, but he was totally sucked in once he started watching the movie. That’s when I felt, as a father, how important it was for me to take him to the movie – if not for anything else, to make him connect with his roots in a way, only a movie of this kind could do.

When we walked out of the movie, he told me that this movie is similar to 42 (The Jackie Robinson story) – just that there were two Jackie Robinsons. I felt happy to hear how he drew the parallel (in the most appropriate way) without we having to explain anything to each other.

Now to the movie…

The movie is spectacularly everything you would expect in a sports movie. A struggling sports agent looking for that one success and when he takes up a challenge, all odds are stacked up against him. He overcomes them one by one, while romancing an affable, quiesce, nonchalant, next door girl, who makes him get to know his human side, which eventually helps him succeed. That’s it. The only difference and the big difference here is the ‘challenge’ itself. “Finding a pitcher from India…”

Fortunately, the Indian stereotypes were not too many in the movie and if & when they were there, they were subtly played with enough humor to present them to an American audience, who otherwise is expected to have an exotic image of India. But, we are in 2014 and not anywhere in future, so I guess, one shouldn’t be surprised with the filmmakers’ intent to continue to work around the Indian stereotypes that are of exotic nature.

Jon Hamm was a great choice for JB. He played the role to perfection. So did Lake Bell, Alan Arkin and Aasif Mandvi, although I am not sure, why Mandvi’s character had to be an Indian character. The kids – Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal and the Indian coach Pitobash were all perfect in their roles. There were a couple of cheesy sequences (prayer scene, yoga scene, etc.) – but they were not too many to actually stand out, but probably enough to draw  some attention from the critics, who are otherwise waiting to malign a movie which tries to pit multiple cultures against one another.

AR Rahman’s music actually turned out to the biggest surprise for me. His OST was almost like a constant pillar throughout the movie. Every sequence had something for Rahman to make it his and he has done it with some ease. Be it the ‘Bobbleheads’ cue used for the opening Disney logo unveiling or ‘Thirakkadha’ used during end credits, every bit of his music actually made a large impression on me while watching the movie. An impression larger than what it made while listening to them on my Digital player. I was particularly thrilled and literally was standing with some goosebumps, when I noticed that more than 75% of the audience were sitting and listening to the song, as ‘Unborn Children’ (Thirakkadha) started playing towards the end and the credits started rolling. Rarely do I see this happen.

I walked out of the theater with a crack of a smile on my face and with a fatherly sense of pride for two reasons:

1) Son said he wanted to stay through to listen to all the songs

2) He was ready to come home and get his glove & ball ready to start playing in his room (it was 9:30 PM)

Posted in Books, Movies - General, Music - General

Keeping politics aside…

The predictability of the general theme of my blog posts shouldn’t be surprising for any regulars here. But since I know that there aren’t many regulars here, I have to sort of put it out there. During the American election season, my primary venting revolves around the left and the right. What is right according to me is the left. And whatever is left for me to complain about is the right. Do you get the drift? Ok. May be not. The point is simple. In the last 5 years or so, once I sort of obtained professional liberation from the clutches of the corporate world, I have become less and less inhibitive of sharing what my real beliefs are – at least politically. Even though I am not a political junkie in the sense that I live and breathe politics, I do enjoy the election season (although not a fan of the long primary season). I kind of wonder what it would be like to be the David Axelrods or the Stephanie Cutters of the political word. It just fascinates me and I can’t help it. Yes, Politics is dirty. There is very little honesty in politics leave alone honest politicians. But then, in a democracy, you are a squanderer if you don’t respect politics for what it is. You love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it. You despise the politicians or loathe them, one of them (the politicians) is going to be responsible for many things that dictate your life. So, why not understand how dirty politics actually is and try to do something about it? To start with, VOTE. Go out there and VOTE. That will be a good start. VOTE for the person who you hate the least. VOTE for the party who you think will do the least damage to the future generations. VOTE for the party who you think will leave something of what you call this EARTH to your children. Your VOTE will make a difference. Believe me.

Well. What did I say? Oh, yes. This post was not going to be about politics. Right? See, I can’t help it.

Movies: Been a lean movie watching period. Caught up with the 4th installment of the Bourne series. My skepticism was unwarranted. Tony Gilroy had managed well to use Jeremy Renner to keep the thrill factor pretty high throughout the movie. If you don’t think of Matt Damon, the movie works. Big time.

Books: Don’t remember the last book I had read before “The Mine”. But this book is by an Indian author – Arnab Ray. The guy has been heavily influenced by several works of contemporary fiction/science fiction. But he has managed to create a uniquely Indian centric plot and props for that. Not an unputdownable kind of a thriller, but was worth a weekend to get through it.

Concert/Music: Attended my first RUSH concert – as part of their Clockwork Angels tour. Have to admit that going to a concert alone is a lame experience. Normally I like to enjoy arts (movies, music, books, etc.) alone. But concerts are a different experience all together. This was a heavy metal meets progressive rock kind of a concert and a floor seat  plus several 1000 watt sound system notwithstanding, I felt alone for the most part. The guys on stage put on a show that was perfect. Clocked almost 3 hours, they managed to put together something spectacular both visually and aurally. I like their music and it helped.

So, there. That’s exactly what I meant when I said that this post would be about everything but politics. Didn’t I keep politics aside for the sake of this post?

Posted in AR Rahman, Music - General

Crab Drumming

This is the kind of music that I hope the American audience tunes into. In many interviews, I know quite a few Western Directors/Composers have mentioned Rahman’s melodies. But I think what they have not mentioned in as many words is this man’s equal or even better control over Rhythm.

What an amazing & sometimes scary understanding of rhythm he has. Not only does he understand, he actually experiments quite freely. I am glad he decided to do this in a Hollywood movie as well. My only regret – Why such a short piece AR? I wish this piece lasts forever. Listen to the Piano, Listen to the Guitar and how things drift. Stunning. This is just a sample I have uploaded for those who don’t have access to the album as yet. (“People Like Us”). Thanks Alex Kurtzman for believing in AR.

Here you go!

https://ganpy.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/15-crab-drumming-_-finding-sam-1.mp3″
Posted in Music - General

Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathilaey (Tamil Music)

(***Before I start this post, I have a confession to make. My personal preference is to write தமிழ் in English as “T-H-A-M-A-I-Z-H”. I feel this is the most accurate way. But thanks to the British, this was one of the many Indian words that have been heavily anglicized and widely acceptable. So, in spite of my trying, every now and then, I slip and type T-A-M-I-L or I do it purposefully because of the audience or the context. ***)

In this information overload age with me constantly wired (figuratively speaking of course), I cannot recollect an experience like this in the recent past. For the first time, I was totally blown away by a music album about which I had not read anything till I actually listened to the album. I wasn’t even aware of such a movie being made (which is to say something because I follow all Tamil movie related news very closely with a mouse and a click). As is normal, I check out new music releases on Raaga periodically. I sample all the songs & if I like the album, I hang on to it till I either like it, fall in love with it or get over it. On Monday, I found this new album, which honestly in my mind registered as “Achu” at first. I was at the gym and listened to the entire album without skipping a single song , one by one till the end. When I had time again later that day, I remembered this experience from the morning and decided to listen to the album again. That’s when I learned that the movie is “Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathilaey (மாலைப் பொழுதின் மயக்கத்திலே)” and the music director is “Achu”.

The next day, I read a review of this album on milliblog. Now for starters, I follow milliblog for Kartik’s most objective reviews. Unpretentious and to the point. And also, his reviews are normally unadulterated by others’ opinions because he does his reviews as soon as an album is released (in most cases) and has always been the first one to review amongst all recognized reviewers that I am aware of. I was pleasantly surprised to read a 200 word review for this album (which per milliblog standards is the equivalent of getting 55+/100 on Ananda Vikatan movie review scale). And it was also here, where I learned that Achu, the music director of MPM had actually made his debut in a Telugu movie in 2008 (Nenu Meeku Telusa) and MPM is actually his second release.

Now, I can see you squirm in your seats waiting to ask me what exactly excited me in this album. Please be known that I am not going to do a song by song review of this album as that was not the purpose of this post. Rather I thought I would quickly share what impressed me the most.

  • All 3 versions of “En Uyirae” are simply out of the world. Of course Karthik’s version is my personal favorite.
  • “Yaen Indha” steals the show for its revolutionary and stereotype bending music. Would call it the “Aromale” of 2012. Brilliant fusion of melody and rock riffs. Rush meets Van Halen sort of rock.
  • There is absolute freshness to the album. Freshness, which I can’t describe using my keyboard.
  • I would also attribute the heavy influence of guitar that makes this album special. Guitar sounds have been used just right and they quite enhance the feel. Needless to say, Achu seems to use Piano sounds well too.
  • The overall treatment to the album, in combination with some romantic lyrics which by themselves also stand out could have added to my experience.

Well, this was one of those rare experiences… which is why I decided to write about it while I have it fresh in my mind.

Go check it out. Listen to MPM if you can. Here’s hoping Achu has a great musical future.