Scribbles on Kirukkalagal

Recently i read "Kirukkalgal" again. It is very good entertainer unlike most of Parthiban's movies. Here is a review on the book i wrote sometime beack

Scribbled What?
Though in general the book can be called as a compilation of poems of him, it is not actually poems or prose or anything. It is of kind that we have never read before. He has his own grammar for his poetry and he has stuck to it all through the book. The book includes bits and pieces of poems or hyku’s that he had written at various moments of his life along with the reasons for writing and it is also dated. It also includes unique answers that he had given for various questions in media and press interviews. More importantly there are some autobio kind of stuffs like articles about his struggle and success in life, his love story with an unknown girl before he fell in love with the then popular Tamil actress “Sita” and many other works.

As usual Different
Parthiban, as I said, shows some difference in anything he does and he does that in this book too. The way the book looks, it’s bounding cover, the way the contents are printed, size of the book are all extremely different from the conventional format of such books. Usually, the poems are printed in plain paper with some relevant pictures at the side and the title at the top in such books but Parthiban being a screenplay writer gives a visual treatment to all his scribbles. Similar to screenplay of movie, in which dialogues alone cannot convey the meaning of a scene, in this book also mere words in poems alone don’t convey the meaning and full meaning is derived when we associate the words with the art works printed in the background of the poem on a glossy paper. Don’t forget to watch the corners of each and every page or any little space on the page for that matter because he has something to convey in those places too with an art or a symbol or few words or even an empty space conveys something when you associate it properly with other contents on the page.

Like a commercial masala movie the book has got all elements in it like family sentiments, love, action, comedy, glamour, social message etc., the big plus of the book is that it is not written in complex Tamil words which this generation youngsters will struggle to read through. It is very simple, straightly reaches the mind and soul with the usage of simple words. Parthiban is very serious and witty at the same time while conveying some strong message through his poems which makes the book entertaining to read through. Believe me you will not keep this book aside after reading it only once and that is because of author’s sense of humor sprinkled all through the book.

Social Issues
He has got his own opinions on every other social issue. He has written quite a lot about women’s freedom, society and politics in general, poverty, terrorism, national integrity etc., at some places one could realize his utmost anger on society for certain issues. A long poem

“Anbudan” is a note worthy one which is a bit philosophical but has encouraging words for youngsters who are struggling to succeed in life. A poem on a lady beggar begging with her kids is excellent and strikes with the embarrassing reality. “Manushi” is an innovative recursive poem about normal woman. Selected few lines of dialogues from his movies “Pudhiya Padhai” and “House Full” are really thought provoking. The short poem “Madhya Pradesam” is an excellent take on poverty, famine and unity. “Ooi” is a very innovative long poem among the lot written with only one word in each line about humanity.

As like any Indian movie, love occupies the major portion of the book. A lot of interesting hyku’s on love is there. But a long poem about his first love and his practical approach to it is really intense and rise deep emotions in us by the way he has penned it. Also a poem called “Maiyal” about love and its true meaning has a unique thought and a repeated reading value.

Mini Biography
I am always interested in reading autobiography of people who succeeded in life after much struggle. Such a story of Mahatma Gandhi and my train co passenger means the same to me. Everyone’s life is a lesson and a wiser is one who learns from others experience. On this context, I enjoyed reading the story of struggle and success of Parthiban in film industry.

Other note worthy works are “Piditha 10”, “Aathi Pudhiya choodi”, “Bharathayanam”, a letter to Kamal Haasan on “Hey Ram” etc.,

Writing Poem
While reading this book, you will realize that a poem is not far away from our mind. It is simply a thought inspired by a real life incident that sows the seed for a poem. If all these thoughts are penned down with apt words with pleasing sound, it becomes a poem and further if the thought itself is unique then anyone can compile a book like this. But what matters is the right choice of words. One has to mature in word play and Parthiban has done a great job in playing with words in all his poems.

The book is not for
Hard core Tamil literature fans stay away from this book. The book needs readers with an open mind and without any prejudice about do’s and don’t of writing poems to read, enjoy and accept this rule breaking book.

The only problem that I find with the book it is too narcissistic. But we have no rights to complaint. As a critic we can say a writer or a creator only how he should have done it and not what he should do. And some of the poems aren't good enough and different like many others and lacks Parthiban’s touch in it.

So what do you feel about this book. Heard that Parthiban is planning to release a sequel for this book. Waiting to read that too.


Talking With Maestro

Last Sunday I got a chance to watch this program titled “Talking with Maestro” in SS Music at 12.00 noon. But I was the one who is equally blessed and cursed by the God on that day. I was cursed because I was unable to watch the first half of it due to some surprise visitors (relatives) but was blessed to catch on the second half of the program as I managed to drive them out of home in 30 minutes. It was really a great show with Maestro himself speaking about music in general and Thiruvasakam accompanied by the interviews with some of IR’s co workers. The program’s lead music, graphics, conception and direction were good.

They also showed the Budapest Orchestra playing the symphony and the choir singing the verses unplugged that backs the ending “Namachivayaya Vazhaga” part of “Polla Vinayaen”. It was a great experience watching the most electrifying part of that song. I think this part is also included in “Making of Thiruvasakam (DVD)”. Viji Manuel spoke about IR and his compositions in general and went gaga over “Thiuvasakam” by saying “I don’t think any other composer in the world can do what IR has done in Thiruvasakam album”. Also his co-musicians spoke about his background score writing abilities. One guitar player said, “IR writes a score even without using a Harmonium to play the tune, he composes in his mind and writes on the paper straight away and when we play the score with the orchestra, it will fit to T with the scene in the movie”.

The best part of the show is that they captured IR writing the score for Thiruvasakam directly on a paper without any aiding instruments. The speed with which he was writing the notes was unimaginable. I think it will also feature in Making of TIS. IR has always been a man of few words while participating in interviews. But this time, he was bold and spoke straight from the heart. He gave his usual answer for a usual question “What do you think about Today’s music?”. He elaborated a lot while answering this question and told about how he keeps loops to a minimum and gives importance to the feel and emotions in his songs. Then at the end he thanked many people whose names were not mentioned in the release function. In this part, he thanked his fans who were watching the release function from outside the auditorium. He added that he has no words to express his regards to these fans. Also he said that his music will heal the pain of all his fans, those who have been waiting for all 5 hours to watch the function. It was really touching to hear these words straight out of IR’s mouth as I was also one of them who stood outside and watched the whole function.

Another important person was the designer of Thiruvasakam CD. It was only after his explanation, I came to know about the meaning of the design. It is like the western classical music (100 musicians in the symphony orchestra in the background of the cover) reaches a commoner in Pannayapuram (a banyan tree in Pannayapuram which is placed at the left end of the front cover) through a mediator (according to Fr. Jegath Gasper) Illayaraja.

Another interesting part is IR explaining about writing a symphony with the original Thiruvasakam score sheet. He told what the stave lines are and how each and every note has to be written for various instruments in parallel. Again he took “Namachivaaya” line for explaining this.

Father (as usual) praised IR a lot and said, “If there in one man in the world who can mediate and transform carnatic keerthanas to the west, it is Illayaraja”. He compared IR to Beethoven and a many other western classical composers.

I am eagerly waiting to catch this show again to watch the first half of it. Can anybody tell me what featured in the first half?


Da Vinci Code - My First Thriller

At last I read one of the most talked about book in last decade “The Da Vinci Code” and understood why it received such a warm acceptance from the book readers from all over the world. Dan brown has written a highly intelligent thriller with loads and loads of twists and turns in it, that will keep the reader hooked to the book and run through the pages as fast as one can. The way he has blended the fact and fiction is unimaginably brilliant. This book being my first suspense thriller, I was just bowled over by the experience that I had while reading this book and those two days when I was literally reading, reading and reading just this book without even doing my day to day activities.

The book has made a damn lazy reader like me to complete it in one and half days. I haven’t read any of Brown’s books before but I have to admit that he has mastered the genre of suspense thriller and set a bench mark which will be very hard to reach by any other author. Thriller writing just looks like a simple technique which I was able to figure out from reading the novel i.e, a consequence of an incident will precede the actual incident in the narration. Using this technique, every chapter leaves a lot of question which make us to proceed further, and also we feel more than satisfied when we get a surprising, convincing and an intelligent answer for the questions we had in previous chapters. But beauty of this book is that each and every answer which comes very soon in following chapters leads to another big question.

After reading first 200 pages, I thought so many things have been revealed already and what Brown has in store in another 400 pages to follow. But my god even after that, the knot grows more and more complex without any loose end. Each and every puzzle, riddle, anagrams and the clues are brilliantly interwoven with the symbols in the paintings and the structures of monuments.

One concept that I was shocked and surprised to know was the PHI concept and the vital role that is plays in every God’s creation. However, to me the real identity of Teacher (is suspected Captain Fache) is far more surprising that the truth of Holy Grail. The author was able to completely draw the reader into the book and to the illusionary world where the story actually happens, by his vivid description of places, structures, shapes, symbols and paintings.

One good example of his lively narration is the use of time freeze technique at a most crucial point of the narration. We could visualize a camera rotating 360 degrees around the object falling down which has all the secrets on which the whole story revolves around. My heart beat was racing fast as Langdon and Sophie are about to open the Holy Grail and involuntarily I sat down on the bed (in which I was lying down before and reading the book) in that moment out of tension, thrill and curiosity.

The story travels in three parallel paths initially which were told in alternate chapters, I felt such jumping between tracks as a speed brake for the main story but when all the parallel paths converges to a single path all those slightly boring parallel tracks gets meaning. Everything is perfect in this book. Only one thing that itches me is what Fache and Collet and other guards were doing when Langdon and Sophie were searching for their next clue in “Oh, Lame Saint” room in a very relaxed pace. It would definitely not take so much time for the police to return to Louvre from US embassy as it is said that it is very close of Louvre.

Some may get disappointed on the vague ending of the novel but for me the thrilling journey was for more important than where it actually ends and so it didn’t bother me much. On the whole, the book has become an all time classic of its genre and my appreciation doesn’t count anymore. So right now waiting for the Hollywood version of Da Vinci code and also for the sequel of the book on which Dan Brown is working on.


Aa Aah Music Review

It was almost one year since an A.R.Rahman’s direct Tamil album hit the audio market. After “New”, A.R.Rahman hits bull’s eyes with “Aa Aah” music. Though A.R.Rahman and S.J.Suryah combination gave a hit album with “New”, it was a very average effort considering the standards of Rahman but this album has lot of new sounds and new experiments and sure will reach the masses and become a blockbuster. Further knowing the song picturisation skills of SJS, songs will be liked even more after watching the visuals. Kavignar Vaali has penned the lyrics for all six numbers.

Aa Aah song is going to rock Tamilnadu in following days to come. The song’s lyrics sound like it is a hero introduction song and also it fits to A.R.Rahman and his fans as he is returning to Tamil after a long gap. The beats are extremely catchy and addictive. You will not move to the second track without repeating this song. The song is full of techno beats, electronic sounds and synth exceptionally programmed with which the tempo, energy and the rhythm is sustained till the end and makes your hearts jump as one of the lines in the song itself says “Viterrindha Pandhai polae ullam thullum”. A.R.Rahman’s voice is apt for the song and the Kids chorus part sprinkled all through the track adds to the peppy mood of the song.

Mayiliragae is a nice melody. After “Sakkarai” song’s success, Rahman repeats the magic of blending Nadhaswaram, Thavil with techno and electronic sounds in this song too but in a completely different way. I don’t think the instrument used is real Nadhaswaram though it sounds like. The song is high on melody as it proceeds to charanam with predominantly Tabla in the background. Somehow, the song sounds like yesteryear melodies of MSV. I still don’t know why on the hell Rahman goes to Madhusree again and again in spite of her pathetic Tamil pronunciation. I accept she has a good voice but her diction is a irritant to the melody and even after multiple listening, I could not find out what she actually sings. On contrary, Naresh Iyer is a great find. He is good in diction, expression and rendition while singing.

Varugirai is the most unconventional pathos melody I have heard in the recent past. You won’t accept what I am said about this song, when you listen to it for the first time. The pathos and melody is only in the vocals but the rhythm and techno beats in the background all like that of a hip-hop number and yet both gels well. And Rahman safely and aptly goes to Hariharan and Chitra for expressive vocals, as the song’s melody and meaning mainly depend on the vocals. The string piece that starts the song is quite good. The string section that accompanies in the BG with Chitra at the end is excellent. With this number, Rahman breaks another convention of pathos songs.

Thigu Thigu is again an instantly addictive sensuous melody. For those who have heard “Dacoit duel” from Warriors of Heaven and Earth, the sound of Taiko drums and Chinese strings that start this song will not be new but its blend with Tabla and Indian strings sounds quite new to ears. It sounds almost like a light Tamil Mujhra number with a classical touch in the tune in the charanam. This song also sounds like a soothing MSV’s composition except for the arrangements and electronic sounds. I think S.J.Suryah must be a great fan of MSV and he wants the same kind of melody in Rahman style. Sadhana Sargam has improved a lot in Tamil pronunciation and does a fine job in singing with right expressions.

Thaluvuthu is highly unconventional and one will definitely get irritated on listening for the first time. In spite of its odd format, the song works mainly because of expressive vocals of lead singers, continuously changing background rhythm with various percussions instruments. Shreya Ghosal is unbelievably perfect in Tamil pronunciation and expression, the songs adds to the versatility of her. What can I say about this legend SPB? He simply dominates the track with his charismatic voice and energy, just listen the way he sings “Thadumari Thavi Thavikiradhu”. Rahman brings back one of his unique styles of using voices i.e, the same voice will sing in extreme pitches in parallel in two different tracks. If you didn’t like this song even after many listening, just wait for the visuals.

Marankothiyae is the only average number in the album. Though it has got foot tapping beats and catchy interludes, somehow didn’t appeal much as like other songs in the album. All the voices in the song are computerized. Even the rap part of Blaaze is not at par. Anyway I feel even this song will sound good with the visuals.

So at last, the album is worth the wait and definitely a good (though not great) effort from A.R Rahman. He can definitely add this album to the list of his commercially successful albums. As always the album will disappoint big time on first listening. Stay cool and play the tracks again and as you start to unlace every layer of the sounds in the songs, you will jump with joy.


Flash Fiction - 1

Highly inspired by Ammani and BBthots, here is my first Quite Tale / Flash Fiction. Do leave your valuable comments on it.


The X moves slowly and carefully in a room void of any lights except for the light coming from the radium element in the watch that the person sleeping in the bed is wearing. He takes a knife and suddenly pierces the knife in the stomach of the person sleeping in the bed to kill him. Suddenly someone screams. Ram who is sleeping in the bed wakes up with his heart beats racing fast. He feels his body trembling and still he is not out of his dream in which he was killing someone. Turning to the right, he looks Siva, his friend who actually screamed. Ram asked why he screamed. Siva said that someone was trying to kill him with a knife in his dream. Even in the darkness, Ram is able to see the silhouette of the body of Siva trembling, under the light emitted by the radium in the watch that Siva is wearing in his hand. Is Ram the X?


Beethoven - Music from Absolute Silence

Two weeks before, when I was penning my thoughts on Polla Vinayaen song, I wrote about Music beyond audible frequency. I was reading Madan’s (a famous movie critic, cartoonist, dialogue writer of “Anbe Sivam” and a person who can literally speak about anything in the world) page in Kumudam this week and was shocked to know it is actually true in reality. It is not only that we can hear music beyond audible frequency but also can compose it. Madan has written about the famous western classical composer Beethoven and his eccentric characteristics. In which he mentioned that Beethoven became deaf in between and his Symphonies No.4 to No.9 were written by him in spite of being deaf. It was heart wrenching to read that Beethoven wept for not being able to listen to his own music. For sure, a great composer Beethoven is.

Here is what I wrote two weeks back about Polla Vinayean,

Beyond the Audible Frequency

For the first time in my life, a song treated and healed my soul piercing my body and ears and made me realize that there is music beyond audible range (20 to 20k Hz). In this frequency, you will not play the CD, you will not hum the tune, you will not hear it anywhere around but yet you can feel the music and your soul will be vibrating to the rhythm of that music. Try to listen to this song in that frequency and you can feel the same. This song has completely occupied my soul and every second I am (not hearing, not humming, not singing) but ????ing this music.

Also Coincidentally

As of now my favorite music piece that I enjoy playing with my keyboard is “Ode to Joy” composed by Beethoven. I am beginner of Western classical piano and I always wish to play this piece first when I sit in front of the keyboard. It is a very simple yet beautiful composition.

Have you ever felt a song in your mind even without listening to it?


Mangal Pandey: The Rising Music Review

Mangal Pandey: The Rising” comes four years after the historic Lagaan in which A.R.Rahman – Javed Akthar – Aamir Khan join hands to create a masterpiece of music. Obviously the expectations are very high and comparisons with Lagaan are inevitable. First of all, let me declare that “Rising” is not another Lagaan but that doesn’t mean the album is bad, it is pretty good effort from A.R.Rahman. Though Lagaan and Rising belong to same era, the sound of “Rising” is extremely different from that of “Lagaan” and there lies the brilliance and versatility of the composer.

What makes ARR’s composition to stand out is that within all given constraints he has always been able to deliver music that appeal to all kind of listeners. Here the constraints being the period and the need of songs to fit in situation rather. ARR mastered this technique of making catchy situational tracks in Lagaan and does it once again in this album. He is not the one who blame on the situation in the movie for the song not being catchy. Rahman does what M.M.kreem failed to do in “Paheli”.

As always this album carries a unique sound of its own. It is because of the choice of singers, catchy Indian rhythms, multi layered sound of various Indian percussions and an element of pulling bass in all the songs that makes it catchier. Also I should admit that ARR fails to register the sound of the era in some of the song by using techno sounds and synth stuff. But it sounds great if you don’t care about the song fitting with the period of the plot.

The album really works mainly because of ARR’s ability to pull various rhythm patterns that are folksy, classical, foot tapping and also that fits well with the situation in the movie. Each and every song has domination of percussions. The album has totally 8 tracks.

The title song which is famous even before the release of the movie through promos Mangal Mangal has got the catchiest rhythm which sounds like a street drama player narrating the story of Mangal Pandey. One will instantly like this song. While I was just wondering the beauty of the rhythm of this song, the second version Agni comes with more additional percussion in it and is more appealing. The third version Aatma is highly situational that starts in a slow tempo with banging percussion strokes. It registers the mood of the death scene and finally shifts to the folk rhythm again. The lyrics flow seamlessly and fit to T with the tune irrespective of the tempo with which the song is sung. What I liked most is that there is no unnecessary stretchings or ghamukkas. The notes are very simple, down to earth and instantly appealing. Kailash Kher gives a splendid performance in this song with his unique voice. He is for sure a great find by ARR.

Main Vari Vari has complex tabla mukdas and Indian percussions which sounds so familiar yet so refreshing. It can be said as the most captivating qawwali number and the reason lies in the tempo of the rhythm and also the way the clapping sounds are interwoven with it. Kavitha Krishnamurthy excels with ease in this classical number. Reena has got very few lines and her innocent voice adds pep to the song. As always Rahman uses heavy bass in the background of this classical number which pulls your heart and feet as you listen to it thereby making it appeal to listeners of all age groups.

Holi Re surprisingly starts with familiar “Daud” beats and dandhiya beats but soon turns to a unique rhythm of its own that keeps up the energy, the pace and the celebrative mood of the song. Udit and Madhusree dominate the track leaving us to search for Srinivas and Chinmayee’s voice but I was able to catch Chinmayee in a sweet humming in the second interlude. Amir Khan speaks alias sings few dialogues/poem in the start and the middle and does it to perfection and also this part should have been the difficult part to compose, but ARR excels in bringing a definite rhythm to the dialogues and also with Shehnai playing in the background, it creates a typical Holi feel in our place.

Raisya is a very different number and it is only song that can be called a melody in this album. This is the song which has got some techno stuff in it. It sounds like ARR has used some ethnic percussion but I am not sure. The rhythm of this song reminds me many other songs like “Nimma Samaj Gaye”, “Dhuan Dhuan” but anyway this is my favorite song of the album as of now as it has got an extremely catchy chorus part and humming. A tune played with guitar or similar string that is looped in the background all through the song is excellent. The layering of strings, mild percussions and vocal in the start is another highlight of the song. Richa Sharma and Bonnie Chakraborthy’s singing gives an unconventional sound to the song.

Takey Takey is a fun folk number which according to me is not at par with other songs in the album. Though Takey Takey part is catchy, it somehow slips off in the middle and also the rhythm is pretty ordinary. Sukhwinder singh’s voice lacks energy in this song or was it because of final mixing in the sound.

Al Maddath Maula is yet another beautiful Islamic devotional number like “Zikr”. It has got some thundering percussion arrangements and complex tabla rhythms at the end as the gradually raising tempo reaches its extreme at the end. The string section in the background throughout the song creating some serious sound adds to the mood of the song. This time Kailash joins with Murtaza and Kadir Khans and renders an excellent devotional number with ARR rendering the “Maula” alap with perfect pitch and divine feel in his voice.

Having said enough, please don’t judge the album on first or even the second listening. It is a kind of album that will definitely grow on you on more listening. Listen to it with an open mind and without any comparisons, the album is really worth for what it is and I am enjoying listening to it again and again.


"Autograph" bags 3 National Awards

52nd National Film Awards

Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay and Best Editing - Page 3
Best Popular Film Award - Autograph (Tamil) and Veer-Zaara(Hindi)
Best Actor - Saif Ali Khan for "Hum Tum" (and jury says it has been awareded for his sheer ease and subtelty in playing a complex role. )
Best Actress - Thank god it is not Aish. Tara for "Haseena" (Kannada) - NDTv report wrongly mentions this as a Tamil Movie.
Best Film in Hindi - Raincoat
Best Cinematography - Mahesh Aney (Swades)
Best Art Director - Samir Chandra (Bose)
Best Costumes - for Haseena (Kannada movie)
Best Lyricist (As predicted by me) - Pa. Vijay (Ovvoru Pookalumae)
Best Female Singer - Chitra (Ovvoru Pookalumae)

"Ovvoru Pookalumae" was one of my Top Ten songs of 2004 see here

Best Male Playback - Udit Narayan again for "Yeh Tara Woh Tara" from "Swades"

Best Music Director - Vidhyasagar (as Predicted by me) for "Swarabhisekam(Telugu)"

My review on Swarabhisekam Album


Anyway, atlast a tamil film is able to bag the "Best Popular Film" award. But look the two movies which share this award, they are two extremely oppsite genre of films. One (Autograph)takes a realistic path and the other is a candyfloss love story with all masala ingredients but the point where both the ends meet is that both the films are successful (commercially). I haven't seen Veer-Zaara and cannot comment much on it but "Autograph" truly deserves the award. It is the most successful tamil movie of the year 2004. Made in a shoe string budget it did wonders in the box office and really made profits. "Autograph" also has the honour of being screened in Montreal Film festival and one among the very few movies which was screened repeatedly four times in the festival. I think this is Cheran's fourth national award after "Bharathi Kannama", "Porkalam" and "Vetri Kodikattu". But those were in some regional categories but this award is on National Level.

My review on Autograph

Some Probabales

Kadhal, Autograph, Virumandi are Strong contenders for "Best Regional film" in Tamil

There were ofcourse some innovative screenplays in Tamil films which may bag "Best Screenplay Award" in national level. But again it is doubtful because all these screenplays though innovative has got its own flaws. They are Kudaikkul Mazhai, Ayutha Ezuthu and Virumandi.

I don't think there is any great music in Tamil last year to bag the coveted "Best Music Director" award. But we have A.R.Rahman as a strong contender not for a tamil movie but for a hindi film "Swades". Also if they give some importance for classical music, even Vidhyasagar may win the award for his music in the telugu movie "Swarabhisekam" directed by K.Vishwanath. I would say that this album is Vidhyasagar's best effort of the last decade. Actually Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is also there in my list with "Lakshya" which has far far better music than KHNH. Debojyoti Mishra music for "Raincoat" is another noteworthy piece of work. I can't say much about Malayalam music as i am not fully into it. Let the jury, not disappoint us by giving the award to "Late Madan Mohan" for Veer-Zaara. Still there may be extraordinary work in music which i haven't come across. Anyway, let us wait and watch.

There is definitely no chance of "Best Lyricist Award" for any tamil lyrics but yet I feel "Ovvoru Pookalumae" by Pa. Vijay is a good one with encouraging lines. But i think this time this award will go to for some Hindi Lyricist. Let us see whether Javed Akthar will equal the record set by Vairamuthu by winning the Fifth national award this year.

Best Cinematography - Santosh Sivan (Meenaxi), Christopher Pop (Lakshya), Rajiv Menon (Morning Raga), Ravi K.Chandran (Yuva).

"Phir Milenge" may bag some award in "Best film that brings social awareness" or something like that.

Okay, that is all for now... let us wait for the announcement

52nd National Film Awards

From here I came to know that 52nd National Film Awards is going to be announced today July 13. While googling, I got a copy of the application form to be filled and sent to Information and Broadcasting ministry to nominate the film for national awards. It is quite interesting to have a read through it and know what goes behind choosing the winners of these awards.

Here are some of my thoughts as I read through the application

One of the bulletins from the form

1) If the same film qualifies for more than one award from among the categories referred to at (i) to (ix), (xxviii) & (xxix) of Schedule I, the producer and/or the director of the film will receive only the higher award, determined on the basis of the cash component. However, this will not debar the producer and/or the director from winning one of these awards for other films.

Is the movie that wins the “Best Feature Film Award” is also the “Best Regional Film” of the region to which it belongs or can it be a different movie?

(i)– Best Feature Film (xxvii) – Best Regional Language Film

2) In the case of award for Best Children’s Film only such films shall be eligible as
have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification as Children’s films.

Is there any rating as “Children’s film” in Central Board of Film Certification or do they mean a clean “U” certificate?

A film produced by a film institute running diploma/degree courses run by it which are recognized by the Government of India shall be eligible even without certification by the Central Board of Film Certification, provided a specific certificate from the Head of the organization to the effect that the film has been produced within the eligibility period, is sent along with the entry form.

Now I understood how the film institute students bag national awards for the films which make as their final year projects.

Why they need all these?

3) For a feature film the following shall also be furnished along with the entry form:-
(a) Two copies of the detailed synopsis in English or Hindi covering a maximum of 2 pages on standard A-4 size bond paper.
(b) Two copies of English/Hindi translation of dialogue/commentary of films produced in a non-scheduled language or dialect”.
(c) Short biographical sketches of producer, director, screenplay writer, leading and supporting artists, cameraman, audiographer, editor, art director, costume designer, choreographer, special effects creator, lyricist, music director and playback singer along with two photographs of each one of them;

Even we can understand the need of the first two but why they need the third i.e., biography, photographs etc., I think this is how some of the talented people who haven’t been recognized for long time get their recognition for some of their not the best effort.

4) The Chairpersons of the Juries may seek advice of experts in specialized areas, whenever necessary.

Does it mean that they seek help from technical persons to decide the awards for categories like Audiographer, Special Effects, Editing etc.,

5) The juries shall have the discretion to recommend that an award in any particular category may not be given if they are of the opinion that the entries in that category are not of the required standard.

Oh! That is why there was no film selected as “Best Regional Film” in Telugu for the year 2002. Thankfully there are some good contenders in Telugu this year to bag this award among which “Anand” being the front runner.

6) Best Music Direction Rajat Kamal and a cash prize of Rs.10,000/- to the
Music Director (Songs and Background Music Score)

I feel there can be separate categories for Songs and Background Score. Still the board has not understood the prominence and importance of background score in movies. So, the composers doing background score for movies which songs will not be considered for this award. I was really frustrated to know that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bagged the award for “Kal Ho Na Ho”. Though it was good, it wasn’t great enough to be claimed as the best of Indian music in 2003. I think with L.Subramaniam in the jury, the award will go to the most deserving composer this year.

7) In the list of details about the crew of the movie, there is one single field for Male Playback singer and Female Playback Singer. These days, at least 10 singers are credited for the songs in the movie. So which singer will the producer mention in the form. Or is it that producer himself nominates one among the singers. Which ever the way it is, the process of selecting best singer remains a mystery always. Though Chitra is a great singer, Anuradha Sriram did a great job in the devotional number “Andendra Mazhaiyilae” song from “Minsara Kanavu” but Chitra bagged the award for a joyful number “Ooh la la la” from the same movie.

Flash News

While I was typing the draft of this post, I came to know that Saif and Aishwarya bag best Actor and Actress award for “Hum Tum” and “Raincoar” respectively.
Saif!!!!!!!!!! For Hum Tum!!!!!!!!

Page 3 - Best Feature Film
Buddhadeb Dasgupta - Best Director (Bengali Film "Swapner Din")

More to Come...


Polla Vinayaen - A Spriritual Experience

Why So Much hype

And now I am going to elaborate my experience in listening to the Song “Polla Vinayaen”. Before the release of the album, everyone who have heard the preview of this track were full of praises and went gaga over it and created a lot of hype and I was quite against this creating hype on a single track from an album that too an album of this kind which has six numbers in it, which may even be like indirectly degrading other songs. But after listening to this track many times, I now understand why everyone was talking about this one song in particular. Even I am doing the same now. I am writing about this song is particular leaving the other 5 songs but that doesn’t mean other five songs are not great, they are equally great but this song is somewhat special and the composition and the complexity is beyond anyone’s imagination.

Beyond the Audible Frequency

For the first time in my life, a song treated and healed my soul piercing my body and ears and made me realize that there is music beyond audible range (20 to 20k Hz). In this frequency, you will not play the CD, you will not hum the tune, you will not hear it anywhere around but yet you can feel the music and your soul will be vibrating to the rhythm of that music. Try to listen to this song in that frequency and you can feel the same. This song has completely occupied my soul and every second I am (not hearing, not humming, not singing) but ????ing this music.

And here follows my experience of hearing the song nth time

This time I was alone in my room, nobody is around to disturb me. As I have heard it a couple of times before, I decided to have the lyrics notes with me this time and follow the verses along with the song. I switched on the player and a divine voice started “Polla Vinayaen”, I was reading the lyrics from the book in my hand and slowly as IR continues and when the English verses slips in “I am just a man”, I closed the book and closed my eyes. And as the song proceeded I was able to see a lot of crystal structures throwing millions of colours in my eyes with each one emerging out of the other which is something like lot of thoughts that crosses our mind while we start meditating. Then when each line in the English verses ends with “Polla Vinayaen” along with the backing symphony shifting to Indian and western notes seamlessly and leading to a big banging western choir along with symphony, all the colours that appeared in my eyes blurred and I was know able to converge my concentration at one void point. Then starts the brilliant lines “So many forms I must wear” which Ray Harcourt sings in high pitch will all necessary emotion, I joined him in singing and I shouted as much as I could along with him and the again the counter “Polla Vinayaen” here is a master punch.

Now Manickavasagar’s verses “Pullagi Poovagi” synonymous with “So many forms, So many lives” follow for which IR has given an out of the world tune which starts in a low range while mentioning the non-living things (Agrinai) and reaching high while listing living things (Uyirthinai ) especially the range at which “Munivarai, Thevarai” sung along with a western and Indian choir backing is the scintillating episode of this part. As I was hearing this, I was able to realize that I was slowly losing contact with the materialistic world around me, I lost the touch of the clothes on my body and when I was raising high along with him, IR brought everything down and I was starting to melt by the way he rendered lines “Thavara Sangamathul Ella Pirappum Piranthilaithaen” along with a solo violin backing. And again the tempo goes high by which a flash appears and passes my soul as the line “Ongaramai nindra Meyyae” reaches high with a bang and choir ending this part with “Om”.

A hymn starts slowly which is the tune of “Namachivaya Vazhga” line and some miracle happened in body like some electric shock passing from the head to the toes, the result of which brought tears out of my eyes. And my tears tasted sweet as it reached my lips while hearing another melting melody in the line “Yegan, Anegan” – a stunning melody to end this part with. I was waving my head along with the chorus singing “Namachivaya” and again there is spellbinding counter point is heard with Western choir aptly appending “Hail Hail” with Tamil chorus. Now I have reached a point where nothing is in my mind expect this song and its music. Then the song proceeded and by the time the song reached the line “My five senses made no sense” I was in a state of void buy yet complete and my five senses made no sense, I reached the supreme spiritual energy of the Universe.

Then the song took a terrific shift to a high tempo rendition of the verses “Vaetru Viagara” along with great choir and the ending is just out of the world with three banging percussion strokes for the word “Udaipanyan”. Again the time for a sweet tear the banging end breaks to “Namachivaya Vazha” capaella. I have never heard Illayaraja in the pitch in which he has sung the line “Aakkam, Alavu, Iruthi illa” and that truly shows how passionate IR is on Thiruvasakam and his brain cells have really melted to write this composition.

The next part is foot tapping prayer kind of “Masatra Sonae”, the flow of notes is so spontaneous and we feel there can’t any better way to sing these lines. I was again shaking my head and the line “Eerthennai Atkonda enthai Perumanae” holds good if I sing it for Illayaraja too. He has attracted and completely occupied me through his music in the way Manickavasagar was attracted towards Lord Siva. “Deep in my soul” starts next set of verses which end with another aptly suitable line which defines my state after hearing it that is “Beginning to be free”. Yes, I came out of my body and felt free in the world of spiritual energy and danced in trance. And perfectly suiting my state, the tempo of the verse “Eesan Adi Potri” and the accompanied chord, rhythm, and “Hail” choir further increased my enthusiasm. Finally my spirit reached it maximum limit when the final crescendo started and I was literally crying like anything for the final “Namachivaya Vazhgha” choir. What more I can add

Initially I was under shock and surprise and didn’t realize much of intricacies in the song but know as I know what comes next I am able to enjoy the song like anything. My advice is hear it alone and let you emotions to flow freely as you may restrict yourself from emotionally enjoying the song while listening along with your friends. If you feel like shaking you heads do it, feel like singing with IR do it, feel like shout “So many lives I must bear” along with the English singer do it, feel like crying do it, feel like shaking your hands and your body and going mad please do it and see for yourselves that finally you would have lost in trance and you would have gone to a place where you have never been before.

Still more to come….


Thiruvasakam in Symphonic Oratorio - My Thoughts

Thiruvasakam in Symphonic Oratorio

This Indian music project brought together more than 200 musicians from India and Hungary, including Budapest Symphony Orchestra conducted by Laszlo Kovacs, Oscar winning lyricist Mr. Stephen Schwartz and Grammy award winning sound engineer Richard King and our Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. They all joined hands to bring Thiruvasakam, the great Indian sacred text written by Saint Manickavasagar in praise of Lord Siva, into a western classical music form called Oratorio to create a musical masterpiece. The album has totally 6 tracks and the total running time is 68 minutes.

Now about Music

I am just a man
Imperfect Lowly
How can I write about
Something Holy (This Album)

It is not that I am in loss of words to describe this music; instead my mind is overflowing with parallel and distinct thoughts and emotions emerging out like 100 instruments playing in parallel in a Symphony Orchestra. But I will try my best to un-layer each and every word from the symphony of thoughts in my mind. This album is the first of its kind in world music which you all will come to know when you listen to it. I got the album on my hand yesterday (the day on which it is released) and heard it deeply twice. People call it fusion, east meets west, classical cross over etc., but after listening to the album I realized that it is not all that was said instead it is a pure sample of oneness of music or even everything in the Universe. This is a music where not the east meets west but a common man meets a supreme spiritual energy in the Universe which we call as God. The Indian music just takes the form of Western Oratorio and Symphony. It is something like Mozart/Bach’s interpretation of a Thyagaraja Keethana. Just imagine how it would sound if our Carnatic Katcheris are backed by a Symphony instead of Mirudangam, Tanpura, Violin and Ganjira, this album is one such experiment.

Now what I am going to write is just free flowing thoughts and emotions that I got while hearing the album for the first time. For anyone to give a full justified review on the album, it require many more listening and understanding as there is lot of music to be analyzed if we dive deep into it. I felt ashamed for not knowing Thiruvasakam as it would be more delightful to listen to this album if you had known Thiruvasakam, but anyway it is for this purpose that is to bring awareness among the youth that Illayaraja has done this project. Don’t consider this as just another devotional album, all the songs are completely different from each other in its own way and you will be surprised by the shift in the mood. I think Illayaraja intends to say something by this variety which again we will understand only when we have good knowledge in Thiruvasakam.

Except for “Polla Vinayaen” all other songs have a definite format. Each song starts with a short symphony in the prelude and then Illayaraja starts to render the verses and after each set of verses gets over, it breaks into either an out and out western classical Symphony or Choir either playing/singing the main theme of the song or a new theme all together which sounds a perfect lead to the verse to be rendered by the vocal to follow. I feel no one else could have done at par with Illayaraja in singing the verses. He knows how to emote, pronunciate and add the necessary feel to each and every word in the verse and does that to perfection, his unique strain less divine voice adds to the spiritual energy of the songs.

“Poovar Senni Mannan” song has been lingering in mind ever since I saw the video of a press conference of Illayaraja in which he sung this song. Almost for past four months, I have been humming this tune in my mind. I never thought that this tune could make it for such a grand Choir piece with which this song starts. Excellent is the word. The choirs with percussion bangs in regular intervals and with Illayaraja rendering the verses seamlessly, you are taken through a grand spiritual journey. I liked lot of brief symphonic pieces that peeps in here and there which is an elaboration of the main theme.

Next comes “Polla Vinayaen”, the most talked about 20 minute piece in the album. It is truly an out of the world composition, the most complex song that I have ever heard in my life. The song takes diverse paths and there are lot of surprising, shocking sudden twists and turns as Illayaraja moves from one set of verses to the other. The way Illayaraja has combined Tamil verses, Tamil Choir with English choir and Stephen Schwatz English translations as a counter point is beyond anyone’s imagination. You just have to hear the track to believe its beauty and complexity. As the song proceeds your ambience gets filled with a spiritual energy completely and you will be lost in a trance. Go deep into the music of this track, as deep as you can, you will be freed and after a point you will realize that you are melting for this music for which the tears that your eyes will shed without your consciousness is the proof. Believe me, I literally cried when “Namachivayam Vazhgha” part starts with a choir subtly starting with a clue of its tune and when Illayaraja starts to sing it. From then on whenever it appears I will break into tears. So deep is the composition.

“Poerukorun Purantharanum” is more like a romantic ballad. By the way, the love and romance is also a dimension of Spirituality. For this song, Bhavatharini joins with Illayaraja and she is flawless. It is indeed a very pleasant composition with lot of flute and String section taking the lead in the Orchestra. But I take the liberty to compare this song to “Sempoovae” song from “Sirai Salai”. The orchestration and the main tune are almost similar may be both the songs are in same meter. Just listen the way the song ends with “Kothumbi” note, it is almost like “Vazhiyundo” ending in that song. Anyway the interludes are great and grand.

“UmbarKatkarasay” is the slowest song of all, to get the best out of the song, have the lyrics notes with you and follow it along with Illayaraja singing. You will bowl over by the way he had notated the words in the verses and also by his soulful rendition. Don’t worry you won’t miss anything by reading the verse along with the song, there is enough musical pieces in between the verses to cherish.

“Muthu Natramam” is a very joyful number with a rich malayali flavor. This is the only song without Illayaraja’s voice. The song is mostly sung by Chorus with singers Madhu, Unni Krishnan, Manjari and others occasionally rendering few lines. The song unlike others proceeds in a fast pace with a foot tapping rhythm and indian percussions are also used. Often the song breaks into a pure western classical stuff layered with another set of strings playing Indian notes.

“Puttrilla Aravum” is again a surprise musical piece with Illayaraja speaking and wondering the beauty of symphony when it plays a very simple tune. Here Illayaraja replicates a layman wondering the beauty of Symphony. The main tune of the song is so simple, so Indian but yet fits to T in the western classical format. And with this song, the album and the spiritual journey ends peacefully.

I would like to write more and more on this but right now, Go and get the album immediately to get transported to a different world.


A.R.Rahman's "Roja" in Time's All time Best Soundtracks

After "Nayakan" being listed in 100 all time best movies by Time Magazine now again another Maniratnam's movie gets the honour in the list of Ten best Soundtracks of all time. "Roja" is listed in the Ten best soundtracks. It is not an exaggeration if i say A.R.Rahman's music in "Roja" has revolutionised the indian film music. It is the first movie which had music crossing all lingual barriers and for which A.R.Rahman got a national recognition and also the National Award for Best Music director, the first ever in indian film histroy to be won by a debutanate. Actually it is the list of five chosen by Richard Corliss who is well known to have a good knowledge about indian cinema and also we know that he showered praises on A.R.Rahman in an article titled "That Old Feeling: Isn't it Rahmantic?".

Here is what Richard Corliss says about "Roja" music

Though he is renowed as the prominent composer of modern bollywood, A.R. Rahman was born and still works in Madras, 1,000 miles south of Bombay. His Tamil compatriot, the writer-director Mani Ratnam, yanked him out of jingle-writing to compose his first full score for Roja (The Rose) the tale of a woman whose lover is kidnapped by terrorists. Through this grim political parable, Rahman laced some spectacular melodies that not only serve the drama, they create their own[EM]as in the duet ballads "Yeh Haseen Vadiyan" and "Roja Jaaneman," which first are grounded in recitative, then suddenly ascend into celestial melody. This astonishing debut work parades Rahman's gift for alchemizing outside influences until they are totally Tamil, totally Rahman. He plays with reggae and jungle rhythms, fiddles with Broadway-style orchestrations, runs cool variations on Morricone's scores for Italian westerns.

Web link of the List

Though there are many other masterpieces in Indian, I feel this album truly deserves the recognition simply for the reason that it is the first album in India to be liked by one and all breaking all barriers and bridging the gaps between north and south music. What you say?


Lsitening and Want to Listen to

I am on a blogging spree. I have no work in my office today as my Boss is on leave and when I was thinking what to post next this idea struck my mind suddenly. Now I am gonna list the new music albums that i bought and listening everyday and also some of the most anticipated music albums which are gonna release shortly.

Want to Listen to

"Revenge of the Sith" OST album

The last of the Star Wars series by George Lucas is completed and going to be released shortly. More than the movie i am expecting the audio Cd because the score seems to be a fusion of best of the scores from all the previous movies of the series. John Williams fans are in a great treat for sure. The OST is expected to release on May 2005. Though this review on the OST is slightly disappointing i would go for it.

"War of the worlds" OST album

What A.R.Rahman and Maniratnam combo is to Indian cinema is what John williams and Steven Speilberg's combo to Hollywood. John williams gives his best to Speilberg. I am sure OST will be great as usual. The OST is expected to release on June 2005.

"1857: The Rising" album

Amir Khan and A.R.Rahman join hands after Lagaan and that is a enough reason for the expectations on this album. A.R.Rahman is turning out to be the most reliable composer for patriotic period dramas and his recent release "Bose:The forgotten Hero" reassures it. Further the praises that the music gets from the unconventional singers (Kailash Kher, Daler Mehndi, Richa Sharma) who have sung in the album increases the curiosity. The album is expected to release at the end of June as the movie is gonna be released in August.

"A..Aaa" and "God Father" album

As A.R.Rahman is too busy with bollywood and international projects, he did very less album is tamil but now ARR is back again to rule tamil music world. Though the music of these two albums would not be classy with less space for melodies, it will sure be chart busters as the directors of the movie S.J.Suryah (A..Aaa) and K.S.Ravikumar were known to extract best fast and peppy numbers from ARR.

"Thiruvasakam in Symphony"

It is a very ambitious project of Maestro Illayaraja which is funded by his fans from all over the world. With big names like Stephen Schwartz, Richard King, Budapest Symphony Orchestra collabarating with Illayaraja, and also being a unique fusion of indian classical and western classical music this album is sure to exhibit the beauty of Tamil literature and music to the west. I am dying dying hard to listen to this music which is slated for release in Mid May. To know more about this project click here

Listening to

"Bose: The Forgotten Hero" by A.R.Rahman
"Taj Mahal" by Naushad
"Bunty Aur Babli" by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
"Raam" by Yuvan Shankar Raja
"Anand (Telugu") by K.M.Radhakrishna

Wish to know your "Listening and Want to Listen to"

Atlast I am Blogging

Hi all,

I have been a regular reader of blogs for past one year and even i have started few blogs but as i was not able to reach many people through my blogs, i stopped blogging long before. But i didn't stop writing ( I am writing in a site called
Mouthshut.com). Thoguh i dropped my blogs several times, i always wanted to blog. I could hear you saying,"then what made you to blog now?". It is this article published in the Business Week Magazine which made to start this blog. So from now on i am going to write mostly on music but ocassionally i may write on movies and books too. I like listening to John Williams, Yanni, Mozart, Beethoven, Illayaraja, A.R.Rahman and anyone who can grab my attention with his musical notes.