Friday, August 15, 2014

சுதந்திரம்

On Independence day a few years back, I heard a very ordinary song on independence. I left that place wondering why people had to take the trouble to write something new when the mahakavi had written so many beautiful songs. That also made me wonder what I would write if at all I did describing independence.

Believe me, I thought a thousand times before writing this but when an idea like this starts forming it is very difficult not to write it down .. with due apologies to the mahakavi


காற்றில் மிதக்கும் கொடியின்
அசைவில் புன்னகை புரியும்
சுதந்திரம்

கரையைத் தழுவும் கடலின்
அலையில் பொங்கும் இன்பம்
சுதந்திரம்

மலர்கள் தூவும் சோலைகள்
நிழலில் தங்கும் அமைதி
சுதந்திரம்

மழையின் முடிவில் வானில்
விளையும் வானவில் அழகில்
சுதந்திரம்

எண்ணம் யாவும் எழுத்தில்
வடிக்கும் கவிஞனின் படைப்பில்
சுதந்திரம்!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kumki


Watched Prabhu Solomon's Kumki today. It is a different and interesting setting that the director has taken for the movie. After the Devar days, I think it is ages since a movie was made around an elephant and atleast I have not seen one with a mahout as the hero.

The movie definitely has a positives:

The hero and heroine are without doubt capable actors and hold promise for the future. The locations shot are really out of the world and there are moments where you pinch yourselves to check if you are not dreaming. It is definitely a wonder how some of these shots were taken, especially the ones near the two water falls. The director does deserve credit for effectively bringing out the innocence and simplicity in the life of the tribals. Thambi Ramiah, the national award winner for Mynaa, does a good job but somehow you are left with the feeling that he is given a few more scenes than required . It could be the success in the previous encounter that led to this but one does feel the over dose.

Inspite of all the above positives, the movie though good in shades leaves you with a feeling that it could have been better, that too considering the different setting there is a lot of potential which has sadly been left untapped. It definitely doesn't create an impact like Mynaa.

The director could have worked on the characterization of the hero and brought out his relationship with his uncle better. The movie would have been really crisp if the director had focussed more on the elephant. Somehow the elephant takes a back seat after the first 30 mins or so. That the hero puts the life of all his near and dear in jeopardy suddenly on seeing a girl is a bit difficult to accept. The graphics in the climax is shoddy and is better not spoken about.

Kumki is different and does get the viewer's attention several times but fails to hold it and create impact!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Sriman Sudharsanam" by Devan


I picked up this book just out of curiosity during the last visit to the library. I did have some doubts about the relevance as the story seemed to be set in the 1950s. However after reading the book, I feel Devan's style of writing is still very relevant. The way he describes each character and paints the Madras of the 1950s and the day to day problems faced by a middle class family man, links small happenings and builds a story is remarkable. I really liked the subtle humour in Devan's portrayal.

One can easily identify with the main character Sudharsanam's want to move up in life but the inability to do so with a paltry pay, the frustrations of being exploited by a supervisor who extracts every bit of work from him but doesn't give any visibility to the management. What all this makes him do and how he ends up from a clerk to a respectable position is presented very nicely and with subtle humour by Devan. 

After reading this book, I feel that Devan is one of the greatest writers in Tamil literature, who somehow did not get the recognition he deserved. Have already picked up the next book - "Justice Jagannathan"

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sanjay Subrahmanyan at Parthasarathy Sabha


Sanjay's concert at Parthasarathy Sabha on 30/12 was a real delight. Though I have heard a lot about Sanjay, this is the first time I heard him LIVE. Sanjay definitely has a unique style and his expression and exploration of ragas really stand out.I found the selection of songs also to be really attractive. There was one song for each of the Trinity and then there were 2 Bharathiyar songs.

If "Karuna Jooda nammina" in Shri ragam was soothing, the lovely lullaby "Chetashri Balakrishnam Bhajare" in ragam Dwijavanthi was simply amazing. "Manam vaitharul Thaaye" in Sankarabharam was a fulfilling main song. While "Sollavallayo Kiliye" in Ritigowla was still resonating in your ears, "Ethanai Kodi Inbam Vaithai" another Bharathiyar song left you really speechless. The RTP which was Rendered To Perfection, was again unique. I thought I had atleast 2 different ragams, the aalapane seemed to be Hamsanandhi but the pallavi at the end was in clear AnandhaBhairavai.

Sanjay went on by himself for slightly more than 3 hours, always his cheerful self, enjoying every bit of his singing and never missing to acknowledge an improvisation by one of the accompanying artists. However the crowd was fully absorbed and not complaining even a bit.

His popularity also seems to be at its peak, for at the end of a 3 hour long concert, the hall was still almost full and for the first time they had put additional chairs in the parking area at Parthasarathy Sabha :-)

I came out still mentally repeating the lines "Ethanai Kodi inbam vaithai Iraiva" (Pardon me for the shoddy translation but this is my interpretation for people who don't know Tamil- In this world that you have created Oh Lord, I am amazed by the care you have taken to ensure so many crores of pleasures for us to enjoy!)

Sanjay is clearly the Carnatic musician of the decade if not the last two!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Abi"shake" Raghuram at Parthasarathy Sabha

It was Abishek Raghuram singing at Parthasarathy Sabha today. I googled to find out that he is a child prodigy with a good music lineage and has been rising in popularity of late.

After the opening Varnam passed, the next song went like 'Virulavu o kedha'. It took me a while to get used to Abishek. The way he was swaying between the violinst and mridangist, who by the way where atleast 5 ft apart, like he was possessed, with his convulsions and contortions, I really thought he was in serious trouble and needed a bunch of keys right away. The audience was also finding it very difficult, as half the time it looked like he was speaking to the Violinist or the Mridangist. The audio guy for his part didn't know what volume to give him. At the end of the second song, it was figured out that he needed more than one microphone and he was given the same!


The crowd was so much that the sabha guys had put additional chairs all over the place and moving out of one's seat to the rest room or the canteen was a real ordeal. Wish they had done something upfront to confine Abishek within a "comfortable" zone!


However once you get used to his idiosyncrasies, you realize that this guy is a real genius.The crowd just loved him. The third song he chose was the popular "Nee Vaadane gaana" which was dealt with in detail. The main song chosen was set in Pantuvarali and the Swara improvisations and the way they were presented, at really fast pace at places, was simply mind boggling. The Tani was  worth hearing and the accompanying artists (Akkarai Subbulakshmi on the Violin, the other 2 names skip my mind) did their part well.


Abishek is really a genius, a great entertainer and a musician to watch out for in the future.
However till he stops swaying, which hopefully he will do with age and maturity, Abishek is best listened to on CD or in an auditorium that has several microphones placed before him much like those bowls arranged in front a Jalatarangam artist :-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sikkil Gurucharan at Parthasarathy Sabha


My second concert of the day was by Sikkil Gurucharan at Parthasarathy Sabha. From a veteran in the morning to a youngster who is just 30, I was somehow seeing two ends of the spectrum on the same day. With Umayalpuram Sivaraman on mridangam, T.V.K.Ramanujacharyulu on Violin and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam, it was a high profile team accompanying Gurucharan.

After the second song, Gurucharan announced that the theme he had chosen was popular raagas but less popular krithis. Based on Dr.Sivaraman's request , he had chosen a song on Sri Thyagaraja in the raga Kalyani to start off. The song goes like "Sri Madaathi Thyagaraja guru". After a quick "Vidajaaldura", the main song was set in Thodi, "Amba nannu Brovave". The renditions of Kalyani and Thodi were really power packed. 

Dr.Sivaraman really has some magic about him. The Tani as part of the main song was exemplary, so much so that for a change, the crowd that usually leaves when the Tani starts, waited for the Tani to be over before rising with a heavy applause. There was a good contest between mridangam and ghatam and it was a rhythmic treat.

"Enna Vidham Pizhaippom" was a the first Tamil song and then there was an RTP in Sunaadha Vinodhini (as announced by Gurucharan. Hope I got it right), which was simply brilliant.

Dr. Sivaraman could not hold himself and picked up the mike to speak a few words on Gurucharan's uniqueness. "The wisdom of an old man in a young head and an amazing creativity" was what the great man had to say on Gurucharan. It was raining songs as Gururcharan went on. He ended the concert After "Kanagasabai Kanda piragor" and a thillana. The concert went on for nearly 3 hours in total and the audience was not complaining. 

Another concert for the day that ended with a standing ovation! Sikkil Gurucharan is another youngster who has taken up Carnatic music as his full time profession and he certainly holds a lot of promise!

Sabha canteen chit-chats 23/12 and 25/12


After the exquisite lunch on Friday, I had no two thoughts about where to go when I decided to have lunch outside on Sunday 23/12. When I walked into Vidhya Bharathi Kalyana Mahal, I thought I heard a very familiar voice on the speakers. I was in for a shock when I peeped in because I thought for a moment that I saw the late Maharajapuram Santhanam singing. Then I told myself it must be one of his sons at sat down. After listening to an elaborate "Bhayami Raghuramam" by Maharajapuram Ramachandran, which took me back in time, I walked straight to the canteen. 

After a few minutes I realized that I had got caught between two extremes. The guy on the left was repeating every thing and took a long time to move out of Sambar rice. The elderly gentleman on the right however was more a sanyasi who was shooing away everything. This had a real frustrating effect on the waiters and I had to put my foot down to prevent getting impacted and I did just that.

MM did not disappoint. It was another special feast with the likes of Uralai vadhakkal, Cabbage Poriyal, Paal Payasam, Kadhamba Sambar, Kariveppilai Kuzhambu, Paal Payasam. Even after 2 helpings of Kariveppilai Kuzhambu, the banana leaf was wiped clean. I stood up after having one more go at Pal Payasam, really "stuffed to the gills", if those are the right words.

On Christmas day, after the TN.Krishnan concert, I thought I should give Iyengar another chance. I walked down from the balcony and took a look at the menu board. I was glad to see traditional Iyengar items on the menu. the likes of Aviyal, More Kuzhambu. Maybe because of Vaikunta Dwadesi, there was no onion in the food. Puliyodharai would have made it a perfect combination but even with lemon rice it was good food. Aval Payasam was really special and worth a second attempt.

This time I was caught between two old couples who knew each other. The second couple came a bit late and I had started eating, otherwise I would shifted to a different seat. It is really irritating when you have to listen to people talking behind your back! If only there were an option to switch off your ears, I guess life would be a lot better. It was only the ladies who were talking. The men were busy lapping up the Iyengar fare. Unfortunately for me, these 2 ladies had been looking out for each other from day 1 of the music season both in canteens and the halls but met only today. By the time the ladies turned to their food and asked for Sambhar, the men around were having rasam after finishing More Kuzhambu. In the time that had elapsed, they had been talking non stop as they moved from concerts to lecture demo by Shriram Kumar to dance jugal bhandhis to sabhas and even the evening traffic on the way to music academy. Wonder how these old ladies go on an on. So much so for the Sabha / Canteen experience! Tomorrow is another day :-)