Pachaiklli Muthucharam - Sitharal

I came out of the cinemas after watching ‘Pachaikili Muthucharam’ with a question in my mind. When Gautam Menon (one of the most overrated directors of Tamil cinema) is going to give us a completely satisfying movie? I doubt whether he really means it, when he says, ‘My inspiration in Mani Ratnam and not Martin Scorsese’. Because the kind of commercial cinema that he has been making is not a fine mix of masala as in Maniratnam films, it is irritating like a sensuous song peeping out of nowhere in a Balu Mahendra’s movie. Infact I would say in treating realism, he goes a step ahead of Maniratnam (what I felt after watching just the first half this movie) and only when he tries to fit it in into the commercial format, he goes far behind Maniratnam.

Gautam has chosen a simple story and has given it a very realistic and interesting narration until Venky remains as Venky in the movie. The movie looses all its credibility, when finally hero Sarath kumar takes over Venky. Even the twists and turns in the movie are not surprising or shocking. It just falls flat. The moment you see Jyothika in the train, you can easily guess why she is there. But inspite of this predictability in the screenplay, I think the movie would have worked and worked much better, if Gautam had started rolling the end credits when ‘Kadhal Konjam’ song starts to play.

Though I left the theatre with disappointment, I liked few things about the movie. The relationship between a couple and love angle between two strangers are handled in a very realistic way. I found the conversation of Sarath and Jyothika, interesting. The camerawork of Arvind Krishna is very different from what we have seen so far in such movies. I don’t remember watching such tight close-up shots all through the movie and also there is no much of camera movements here unlike other Gautam’s films. That definitely adds to the reality of the film and easily takes us the audience close to their world. When there are so many close-ups involved, actors have to be really experienced and a lot of help from director is required to pull it off convincingly.

In this movie, I think Gautam succeeded in getting those right expressions in actors’ faces in all those continuous close-up shots. And the same adds more difficulty for editor Antony, because the expression on actors face in the close-up shot and the next usual frame should sync and Antony has done a brilliant job in maintaining this continuity of expressions. Harris Jeyaraj yet again shamelessly copies the theme of Forrest Gump as background music for scenes involving Sarath and Andrea. I completely lost faith that I once had in his music. Sarath is very natural and so is Andrea but Jyothika overacts towards the end. Watch the movie once but if you want to like the movie leave the theatre immediately after Kadhal Konjam song is over.


Mozhi - Symphony of Emotions

Prakash Raj’s Duet Movies is one of few good things that happened to Tamil film industry in recent times. Mozhi again shows Prakash Raj’s penchant for good commercial cinema. The pre-release hype and expectations created for the movie was quite high and I was doubtful whether the movie would be really worth all this hype. But when the crappiest of movies in Tamil are publicized and marketed so well to create enough hype before the release, why not spend some money to market such a rare gem.

Mozhi is a symphony of emotions. It is a love story between a musician and a deaf and mute girl. With this one line as the main theme of the symphony, Radha Mohan adds more and more layers through other characters and their sub stories which are beautiful by themselves. When all these layers come as a counterpoint in perfect synch with the main theme of the movie, it elevates the overall beauty of this orchestration of emotions. Radha Mohan has come up with a neat and taut screenplay which is quite like a theme development in a symphony. The most fascinating aspect of the symphony is the comic layer which is there throughout the piece without disturbing the sensitivity and emotions in the main melody. This is quite a toll task to achieve.

First of all, the mere thought of love between a musician and deaf and mute girl is so poetic and novel, because their worlds are entirely different. Even the rooms of Karthik and Archana are designed with a contrasting color scheme reflecting their characters. The man who is into music all the time finds the music of his life in the silence of a deaf and mute girl. This contrast in characters paves way to lot of beautiful moments in the movie in which both the director Radha Mohan and Viji (dialogues) score high points. You have to watch the scene to believe its beauty in which Karthik makes Archana to feel his music. It is one of those best moments where the symphony of all the elements of cinema reaches its crescendo.

There is a positive aura, joy, enjoyment and little pain all through the movie which is quite infectious. Every character in the movie live their life to the fullest, there is so much optimism in every single character of the movie. Everybody has their own sad story but none of them seem to really care about it and they just go on with life and enjoy every moment of it. Kudos to Radha Mohan for sketching a deaf and mute character with so much energy and enthusiasm, she is a symbol of optimism in the movie. The sensitivity and dignity in Archana’s character is inspiring. Radha Mohan’s liking to tread a very different path is very evident in the Jyothika’s introduction scene; it is exactly opposite to love-at-first-sight scene we have seen so far in Tamil movies. We always sympathize with the handicapped character in a movie but in this movie it is the other way around. We pity the situation of Karthik who tries hard to enter the unique world of Archana to make her realize and believe his true love. It is not deaf and mute Archana who feels handicapped, instead it is Karthik who is handicapped because of his inability to understand her language and make her realize his love.

I haven’t seen Ponniyin Selvan but I could draw a lot of parallels between Azhaghiya Theeyae and Mozhi. Hero is someone who is in the film industry. In the former, he is an assistant director and here he is a film musician. The use of bulb and bell for love scenes is similar to the ‘Boom’ idea of Azhaghiya Theeyae. There are so many dialogues with pointers to many Tamil films and film making techniques. Even in some of the very important scenes, when a guy advice his friend to reveal his love soon, he says ‘Even the hero Murali who use to reveal his love in the climax, reveals it earlier’. Dialogues like these are possible only for a passionate movie buff who loves experience of watching movies as much as he likes to make it. There are so many dialogues like this in Mozhi also. The idea of imagining a voice for Archana’s silence comes straight out of the dubbing technique used in movies and infact Karthik gets that idea when he is doing background score for a scene. When Karthik expresses his reason for loving Archana he says, ‘When we do re-recording for a movie, why are we leaving some scenes without music. The silence there is beautiful and that is how I find the silence of Archana’. What a beautiful way to say it from the perspective of a musician who works every day in recording background scores for movies. More importantly like Azhaghiya Theeyae, the climax of Mozhi has no dialogues but we understand their eye-eye conversation very clearly.

The casting is perfect. Jyothika looks natural though she goes little overboard while getting angry. Prithviraj proves again that he is a director's actor. Prakash raj without his usual mannerisms is a treat to watch in this movie. His timing is perfect in comedy scenes. M.S.Bhaskar gives a dignified performance and Brahmanandham’s timely expressions add weight to comic moments. I think Swarnamalya was chosen for her smile and she too fits well in the group. Guhan’s camera has worked mostly to give a glossy look to the film and he keeps up the positive energy in the visual tone of the movie too. Vidhyasagar music is another character in the movie. No song seems out of place and it infact blends well with the screenplay. The background score of Vidhyasagar is laudable. I like to believe that Vidhyasagar wrote the symphonic piece which Karthik plays for Archana. Also there is a beautiful sad violin theme that runs throughout second half of the movie.

Radha Mohan seems to be gaining mastery in the art of making good meaningful commercial. This is not an art film. It doesn’t preach or teach anything. It simply brings before us some beautiful moments in the lives of some beautiful yet ordinary characters. For sure, there would be people to trash the movie in the name of reality blah blah. In the name of realism, they may comment that there is no such bulb in the doorsteps of Music World shop at Mayajaal as it is shown in the movie. Leave aside the comments of those so called intellectual critics. If you are not such a heartless kind who watches a movie with your mind, then the movie is as real as it can get. This is not a movie for your mind, it is for you heart to take home some tears in eyes and smile on lips together.


Pray For Me Brother - A.R.Rahman

Will 'Pray For me Brother' song do to the world what ‘Vande Mataram’ did to India? That is a difficult question to answer. We have to wait and watch. The song is very thoughtfully written by Blaaze, beautifully composed and sung by A.R.Rahman. Though the song sounds international, it still has the typical Rahman’s Indian flavour in it, not just because of the beautiful usage of Mirudangam but also the way the song is set to tunes has a desi feel. The exclusive edition which costs Rs.150/- contains an audio CD with two tracks one is the vocal version and the other the instrumental version of the same song.

The pack also contains a DVD with the video of the song which is currently being aired in all music channels and also interviews with Blaaze, Bharath Bala and Blaaze. Bharat Bala has done a great job in the picturisation of the song. The black and white pattern enhances the impact of the expressions in the faces of those poor people. It adds to the basic emotion which the song is trying to spread across.

Rahman also features in the video but we could barely see his face, most of the time, he appears in long shots and even in those few shots where he appears close, he hides his face using a big sun glass. Well, if you are a Rahman fan, this is a must buy. A part of money that we pay for this audio goes to A.R.Rahman foundation. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t just Pray, Pay for Brother.

Also listen to other unreleased materials done by Rahman for a similar cause.

Let’s Make it Better and Banyan Theme

It would have been better, if Rahman had somehow included these songs also in this album.


Marudhanayagam Trailer Music

I always have this fascination for background score for movies. Few months ago, i saw the stunning trailer of Kamal Haasan’ s could-have-been a magnum opus film ‘Marudhanayagam‘. I thought it could have been if it had music by our Maestro Illayaraja. With hungary symphony orchestra, I was sure IR would have done John Williams kind of stuff in this film. Anyway, my music for this trailer is very simplistic and just plays to the overall mood of the frames in the trailer. Hope you like it. And don’t forget to drop in your comments.

Watch it here



Mozhi soundtrack

Mozhi is a fabulous soundtrack.

Listen to my opinion here.



Thoovanam Soundtrack

When it comes to soundtracks of small budget films, most of the common people or even the serious film music buffs come to know about the songs only after the release of the movie. Did anyone heard or if heard would have predicted that the ‘Vala Meenu’ song would become such a big hit before the release of the movie. With big budget films, it is audio which gives the initial impression and makes audience to eagerly wait for the movie but with small budget movies, it is the other way around. One has to watch the movie and only then the songs get its due recognition, no matter how great the song may be. This happened even to Illayaraja’s music for Sethu.

And now we have ‘Thoovanam’, a movie made on shoe-string budget which has music by Isaac Thomas. Have heard about this composer before, but have never heard his music. The album typical of any Tamil soundtrack has a mix of peppy and melody numbers. Melodies are very unique, without any definitive structure. It takes time for us to understand the overall flow of the melody.

The title track has such a unique melody which takes time to sink in. S.P.B, as always gives his best in this song. The song has beautiful orchestration all through but the only problem with the song is the clichéd beats which makes it sound ordinary. Listen to the instrumental version of the song with Solo violin to explore the beauty of this melody more. Similarly, the melody in ‘Yethetho Maatrmadi’ is good but again the clichéd beats hamper the overall effect of the song. Parasuram has a unique voice and if used for right songs could work wonders. Interludes with solo flute, solo violin pieces and Anuradha Sriram’s humming are good. There is another version of the song sung by Anuradha Sriram and I feel happy that she is back to melodies.

I feel Isaac is more comfortable with melodies than peppy numbers. Because even in peppy number (a song that has got peppy beats) have melodious vocal parts as in the songs like ‘Idhayam’, and ‘SMSilae’. The best song of the soundtrack is Harish Raghavendra’s ‘Eureka’. The unpredictable twists and turns that the melody takes in synch with the emotions of the character is what makes this song the most interesting of the lot. Harish Raghavendra does a great job in rendering the song with right Tamil diction and expression. Adding punch and more effect is the soothing orchestration.

Big problem of this soundtrack like any other small budget movie soundtracks is its sound quality. We have to wait for the movie to see if the songs and visuals complement each other, so that the audio will also have a better appeal.


Illayaraja - The Music Messiah

‘Music Messiah’ is a another experimental effort from Illayaraja. It is the album which was to be released as ‘Moods of IR’ with popular background score pieces from Illayaraja’s movies. When you expect a compilation of some of best themes of IR, ‘Music Messiah’ shockingly treads a different path to a different world, through and where no Indian composer has taken us before. The album follows a story of its own and IR has scored for that and he has predominantly used his background pieces from the Malayalam movie ‘Guru’.

In WCM, there is one form of music called ‘Programme Music’ which I think is one of the great grandfathers for background scores in movies. The term ‘Programme Music’ was coined by a composer called Listz to describe the kind of work that was informed by a literary or narrative idea, as opposed to ‘abstract’ or ‘absolute’ music, which relies on a formal system of repeated and contrasted themes to balance and unify its structure. This kind of music doesn’t have a fast-slow-fast movement structure of a symphony. It blindly follows a narrative. Audience would be given a description of the narrative of the music piece which they can read and interpret the music in a way the composer has programmed it to be. Illayaraja does exactly the same ‘Programme Music’ with his album ‘Music Messiah’. It is similar to scoring background scores for movies with an exception that the visuals are not captured with a camera. We don’t have the visuals to support the music but just a plain narrative in text. In background scores, the story dictates the music but in this case, the music dictates the story. He kindles our imagination through his highly mood based musical cues in this album.

This album is packaged with everything an IR fan has been longing for. The good sound quality, better CD inlay details, the high quality cover, name of Purushothaman in credits as conductor of music etc.,. It is yet another experiment by IR like the title track from ‘Nothing but Wind’. It is more of music for various moods with scattered themes. Ofcourse, in its entirety the album sounds like a soundtrack for a movie. The music creates an aura, builds a new world with its sounds (of course with some help from natural sounds in addition to the sound of musical notes). As I read the story given in the booklet before listening to the album, I couldn’t interpret the music beyond it. I thought the given story had lot of connection to the music. I don’t know whether IR had this story before-hand to write the score. It would definitely be great if the story and the visual inspirations of IR are revealed so that we can appreciate the music better. I understand why there are no reviews on this album yet? It definitely will take a lot of listening to understand the entire score which runs for almost an hour. It is pure orchestral bliss. Nothing new, we have heard every style that IR showcases here is his 100’s of movies, but I would say, it is a nice compilation of all that. IR’s orchestral pieces are never tiring.

What are you waiting for? If you are an ardent fan of Illayaraja, get it now.

More about the music later…