Category Archives: Music

My Current Playlist

Just thought of writing here what I am listening to nowadays….

A R Rahman’s masterpieces:

    • The classic Veera Raja Veera
    • The fun piece Nana from Couples Retreat
    • The soul-stirring Dichotomy of Fame from Rockstar
    • The playful Kuru Kuru KaNgaLile from, again, Couples Retreat
    • Ponni Nadhi from Ponniyin Selvan – the same Rahman can sound playful in Kuru Kuru KangaLile and pack so much energy in this ode to Ponni Nadhi
    • The haunting, contemplative Latika’s Theme
    • The inspirational ‘Never Give Up’ from Million Dollar Arm

The trailing background music of Kuru Kuru KaNgaLile is as lovely a piece in itself, as the one in the background for ‘Jugni’ from ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’. The vocals, the humming, the chords, the melody – there are multiple layers of awesome music running all through this less than 3 minute song.

Bliss of Navarasa Kannada:

  • Ni Paadamule Gati by Sanjay
  • Vande Sada Padmanabham by Sanjay
  • Naan Oru Vilayattu by Sikkil Gurucharan & Anil Srinivasan (Album – Tarunam)

The first two bring out the joyous shade of Navarsa Kannada, while the last one brings out the other rasa of Navarsa Kannada by being all soulful! 🙂

Finally, Sanjay’s Shri Parvati in the beautiful Shri Raagam is one song that I just can never have enough of! This is such a beautiful composition, replete with some lovely chittaswarams.

What are you listening to? 🙂

Kaatru Veliyidai Revisited

I just couldn’t get myself to watch Kaatru Veliyidai again, because the very thought of watching the abusive nature of Varun (VC) was making me feel really irritated! What madness is it that makes the human mind hold on to someone despite all the abusiveness!

I finally got myself to watch a few scenes some time last year and, before I knew it, I got hooked big time to the magic of ARR & Mani Ratnam. What music and what visuals!

It is one thing to portray the initial happy days of a simple relationship, like in Alaipayuthey and OK Kanmani, where the relationship itself is yet to really begin. But it is quite a task to portray a complex relationship like that of VC and Leela’s, which is synonymous with everything but happiness.
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Kurumugil Song & Gujarat Marvels

In recent times, if there was a movie that I really wanted to watch after seeing all the initial trailers, it had to be Sita Ramam. It’s another fact that I didn’t watch until it got released on Amazon Prime!

Seeing the trailers and promos, all the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Ram apart, there was this one song that had me going back to it again and again, right from the lyric video release. The visuals, the music, the backdrop, the charming Dulquer & Mrunal – it was one of those rare songs that was very captivating, both musically and visually!

The colourful, animated butterflies flying rhythmically to the soft, opening music full of old-world charm (The role that these butterflies play in this movie, especially till the climax! Sigh!), the simple, poetic lyrics, the veena in the interludes and in the ending of many lines all through the song, the sight and sound of kids singing and dancing in chorus (do we even have such beautiful chorus in songs, nowadays?), the happy faces of Sitamahalakshmi and Ram 🙂 and, besides all these, the locations with some stunning architecture! What a beautiful setting the stepwell with all its mini-gopurams made for all the kids to run around along with the hero and the heroine!

It wasn’t until the full video of this song was released, that the magnificence of the location became fully apparent. The place fascinated me so much that Google search and much planning later, we visited the Modhera Sun Temple just to see that beautiful step well! Hearing the legend that Lord Rama and Sita once visited this place, we were wondering if that was the reason why this location was chosen to be featured in the song of our Sita Mahalakshmi and Ram. 🙂

Visiting Rani Ki Vav too along with this place, I realized that the famed stepwell featured in our Rs. 100 note is also featured in this song!

The surprise came in the form of the streets of this place called Sidhpur, which we took a detour to, on a whim, on the way to Rani Ki Vav, while googling for any other places to visit nearby. Google Maps said that there was an architecturally splendid, ruined temple named Rudra Mahalaya temple. As we were travelling on the congested market roads of Sidhpur, to our surprise, my husband spotted the Europe-like streets featured right from the opening sequences of Kurumugil till the end! Wow! We had never heard about the Bohra mansions of Sidhpur. Didn’t these mansions just add on to the old-world charm brought out by the opening music in the song? No wonder camels were a part of those scenes in the song, since that part of Gujarat had its fair share of camels and camel carts!

Since visiting these places, Kurumugil has become even more close to my heart, since it no longer just takes me back to the world of Sita Mahalakshmi and Ram, but also makes me reminisce about my epic heritage trip.

ARR’s Thumbi Thullal

This song couldn’t have come at a better time! Right now, when the world in itself is facing uncertain times like no other, here comes a song bringing along with it celebration, joy, dance, longing, love, hope and all that is synonymous with positivity.

Starting off with a soft Charukesi (?), slowly transcending to the soft percussion which doesn’t have any shades whatsoever of the ‘saraveDi’ lyrics, it builds up into one of the most beautiful, soft crescendos ever at ‘madhumaNamO’!

In comes Shreya’s voice, singing some of those lines which seem to have the classic ARR touch, with sitar joining in in the background. I love the way how the words ‘en kaLLachirippin nILam neeye’ are placed with the word ‘nILam’ spaced out so ‘nILam’.

Again ‘saraveDi’ enters unexpectedly and is followed by a very lovely flute interlude.

Shreya sings more of those longing lines.

The percussion, flute, ‘saraveDi’, Shreya’s voice and, now, guess what?! Nadaswaram! And that too the majestic Nattai ‘jagadAnandakArakA’ acting as the crowning glory!

The crescendo of the thavil has the song switching to Nakul Abhyankar’s voice. The place where he goes ‘uyurAvEn’ is so wow!

Then comes this amazing chorus having all the classic touches of ARR.

And when Shreya launches off to ‘thumbi thuLLal’ again, you’ve chorus as the background along with all the thavil, sitar, flute and more! Wow!

The finale has us drowning in the mellifluous sounds of sitar and flute, leaving us asking for more of this addictive music!

The promo visuals for this song are quite appealing and the music and visuals together call for celebration!

There are way too many intricacies, lovely instrumentals, beautiful tunes, foot-tapping beats to be relished in every single second of this song that once you start listening to it, there is no way you are not playing it on an endless repeat mode!

The Magic of Alaipayuthey – 20 Years Later

This blog of mine has always been synonymous with celebrating all things Alaipayuthey! So, it would be highly unfair if I leave this special occasion of Alaipayuthey turning 20 without at least a passing mention here. But when have I ever been able to stick to just a ‘passing mention’ of Alaipayuthey? 😉 So, here is yet another heartfelt raving about that special movie!

Sometime in the beginning of April during one of those sleepless nights, it struck me that Alaipayuthey was turning 20 this year. Since then, there have been quite a few reminiscences going on in my mind. From thinking of 20 special things to 20 special scenes to recollecting certain write-ups of mine, Alaipayuthey has yet again been giving me quite a few relaxing moments during this much-needed anxious period!

While it would be cliched to say that this movie remains as special to me today as it was 20 long years earlier, it is indeed the case. When I saw earlier in the day that Mani Ratnam was going to be appearing Live on Facebook with Suhasini, I set a reminder and watched it from the start to finish, absolutely hooked to it. And then when Madhavan made an appearance in the show, I can’t tell you how much the Alaipayuthey fan in me was rejoiced! Is there any better way to celebrate Alaipayuthey?!

As Madhavan said the famed ‘Naan onna virumbala’ dialogue in the show, the magic in these words were as fresh today as it was when we first heard it. Madhavan asked Mani Ratnam about why there was such lengthy, filmy dialogue in this, so unlike his usual style. Before I knew it, I was thinking about several of the proposal scenes in all his other films.

When Suhasini showed a mirror with a colourful backdrop, even before she started talking about it, I shouted out loud, ‘Hey this is the Alaipayuthey mirror!’ 😀 She indeed did confirm that this was a mirror which she had bought in Hauz Khas, Delhi and was used in Alaipayuthey. Knowing yet another new trivia about anything and everything related to Alaipayuthey excited me today as much as it did during my teens. 🙂 That mirror in which the thaali is hung 🙂

If watching a mere Live conversation with Mani Ratnam gets me this excited, guess how much the movie still excites me even today!

Lullabies and More

I have fallen in love with MLV’s Jo Jo Rama. A simple composition, yet how calming it is. Bombay Jayashree’s rendition of the same just doesn’t work for me. It is way too slow.

Talking about slow lullabies, my most favourite is Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan’s Omana Thingal. It is one of those perfect pieces where the voice is as soothing as the piano and I love the lyrics too.

Come to think of it, slow lullabies never worked for my children. I had to carry them, walk fast and sing song after song. Nowadays, there are no lullabys or bedtime stories. All I do is fall asleep along with them! Am catching up with all those sleep of those sleepless years I guess!

Even as I typing this, fast music is suddenly turned on at the place I am in. That kind of super-fast foot-tapping beats that will definitely induce some energy in you.

I mull over music and its various shades. Joy, melancholy, tears, smile, motivation, relaxation or pure, plain entertainment, it is only music that turns out to be THE best companion!

Jugni – Kaatru Veliyidai

There are those songs that start like a whiff of fresh air. Jugni is one such – the opening soft music as fresh as the air in the snowy Himalayas where the video of this song is shot!

Then those foot-tapping beats change the mood of the song. The constant dance-worthy beats all through and those intermittent exploding beats, the soft layers of short snatches of music in the background here and there – at times soothing, at times intense, but all through mesmerizing – stay with you long after this song gets over.
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As We Bond Over ARR’s Music

I cannot tell you how exciting it is for me when I introduce composition after composition of ARR to my children and see them too thoroughly enjoy those. With the volume on a high and the woofer on, there are those moments when there’s no room for naughtiness or tantrums and it’s just music and us. As I tap my feet and hum along softly and they both dance to the music, relaxing with Rahman’s music has almost become an everyday activity for us.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s Kutcheri

Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s Kutcheri at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha

On 25-12-2017

Duration: 2 hrs 30 minutes

Violin: S Varadarajan
Mridangam: Neyveli Venkatesh
Morsing: Bangalore Rajasekar

1. Madhirakshi (varnam) – Bhairavi – Ata
2. Varalakshmim Bhajare – Sowrashtram – Adi – Swarams
3. Ananda Sagara – Garudadhwani – Adi – Alapana, Swarams at Ananda
4. Ananda Kootthadinaar – Kalyani – Rupakam – Neraval at Ananda Kootthadinaar Ponnambalam thanile
5. Dharini Telusu – Suddha Saveri – Adi – Alapana, Swarams at Dharini
Tani Avartanam
6. ULLam Urugi – Kanakangi – Rupakam
7. RTP – Harikambhoji
Pallavi – Orumaiyudan Ninandu
Swarams in
8. Paaril Uyarndha Nilam (viruttam) – Patdeep, Ananda Bhairavi, Mohanam, Pantuvarali, Patdeep
En Taai Vaazh Enum – Patdeep – Adi
9. Mangalam

Sanjay continued this Season’s special of singing new (at least to me) varnams with Madhirakshi in Bhairavi in this kutcheri too. Varalakshmim Bhajare was next given a leisurely rendition with some slow swarams too.

An elaborate alapana of Garudadhwani had the audience guessing what the raaga was, all the while enjoying it. I don’t remember having listened to Garudadhwani and was happy to hear a new raagam. Of course, in a Sanjay’s concert, it doesn’t matter if a raaga is familiar to you or not. All raga alapanas are always engrossing when he sings it. He even incorporated the raga aarohana and avarohana in this Alapana. Varadarajan also played a brilliant alapana.

Tyagaraja’s Ananda Sagara was the composition that followed. The swarams in Garudadhwani completed the learning experience with a full picture of the raagam presented.

Like any composition on The Dancing Lord of Chidambaram, Ananda Kootthadinaar was also sung with so much feel by Sanjay with the neraval adding in more feel.

The elaborate Suddha Saveri (Dharini Telusu) had all the happiness exuded by this raaga. A part of the audience launched off on an applause at the end of the anupallavi which is usually reserved for the end of a song. Did they forget that the Charanam is still left?

The Tani Avartanam started with the usual Neyveli Venkatesh style playing. Morsing is always enjoyable and I was happy to hear the Morsing Tani. The entire Tani Avartanam was packed with delightful rhythms.

A composition with its lyrics and the raagam it is set in both so moving is Suddhananda Bharati’s uLLam Urugi in Kanakangi. Sanjay gave the feel and the apt pace that this song deserved to be sung in.

The RTP was in Harikambhoji with the pallavi line being ‘Orumaiyudan’, the classic Ramalinga AdigaL song. I wished that post the RTP Sanjay would sing the song itself in the Kapi raagam he usually sings it in.

Yet another composition of Suddhananda Bharati made its way into today’s concert with Sanjay singing ‘En Taai Vaazh Enum’ next. A very moving patriotic song, it drew a huge applause from the audience, especially at Vaazhiya Bharatame.

The concert concluded on this patriotic note with Mangalam following next.

Yet another superb concert from Sanjay and team!

Sanjay Subrahmanyan at Narada Gana Sabha

On 24-12-2017

Duration: 2 hrs 45 minutes

Varadarajan – Violin
Neyveli Venkatesh – Mridangam
K V Gopalakrishnan – Khanjira

1. Ninne Kori (varnam) – Asaveri – Ata
2. Munnavane yaanai mugatthavane (viruttam) – Hamsadhwani
VaaraNa mukhavaa – Hamsadhwani – Swarams at munnavane
3. Etula Brotuvo – Chakravaham – Alapana, Swarams at Etula
4. Kaakka Unakkirakkam – Kharaharapriya – Started at thookkatthile unadhu kaalinai maravaamal
5. Sri Subrahmanyaya – Kambhoji – Alapana, neraval and swarams at Vasavadi
Tani Avartanam
6. RTP – Danyasi – Taanam in Janaranjani, Kannada, Subhapantuvarali
Pallavi – Varada Venkata Gopala – Misra Chapu
7. ? – Khamas – 4-beat taalam (Eka taalam put in different style or something else??)
8. Japat Japat Hari Naam – Ragamalika with Maand, Sivaranjani, Behag, Sindhubhairavi – Brief Alapana of Maand – Adi
9. Theruvinil (Tiruppugazh) – Sururtti
10. Mangalam

The classic Sanjay – Varadarajan – Neyveli Venkatesh combination was back in this Narada Gana Sabha concert with K. V. Gopalakrishnan on the Khanjira. So it was a given that we were in for some classic treat today.

At two and a half hours duration, Narada Gana Sabha kutcheris are always shorter in duration compared to a majority of Sanjay’s kutcheris during the December Season. So at the end of the first 45 minutes itself, Sanjay had already completed four pieces and had started the Kambhoji alapana. But if you thought any of these pieces might have sounded rushed, it definitely didn’t. Raagams can be presented concisely too and that’s what happened.

I don’t remember having listened to the nice Asaveri varnam with which the concert started. The entire varnam was sung in a single kaalam.

A nice viruttam with all the feel early in the concert and a brief yet mind-blowing fast Hamsadhwani kalpana swarams which made one wish it would go on for some more minutes adorned VaaraNa mukha.

An elaborate Chakravaham Alapana bringing out all its nuances and the kriti Etula Brotuvo presented very well replete with kalpana swarams were very satisfying reminding me of Sanjay’s Chakravaham RTP from an old Charsur cassette.

Kaakka Unakkirakkam Illaya is one of my favourites sung by Sanjay and, as always, his rendition of it was quite moving. I only wished an alapana or a neraval had accompanied it.

At the end of 45 minutes, started alapana of the main piece of the day – Kambhoji. It is not only one of my favourite classic raagams but also one of my favourites sung by Sanjay with his renditions of songs like Tiruvadi Charanam topping the list.

A very elaborate Alapana which went on for fifteen minutes was filled with oodles of ‘aahaa’ moments! While the audience at Brahma Gana Sabha seemed to have taken Sanjay holding on to a higher octave note for a good stretch during the main Alapana, for granted, the audience here gave an applause, though not as loud as erstwhile.

The kriti, Shri Subrahmanyaya, was itself was sung so well with the moving neraval further adding on to the beauty of the composition. There was the janaranjakam aspect again when traces of the ‘Saraswati Sabatham’ song, ‘Kalviya Selvama Veerama’ made its way into the neraval.

The opening R G S phrases of the swarams, the more melodious swarams that followed and the fast swarams becoming more and more enjoyable as the climatic finish of the swarams approached were all absolutely brilliant.

When the Tani Avartanam started, Sanjay had already sung the Kambhoji for about 50 minutes with never even a second of it boring.

Neyveli Venkatesh’s tani avartanam started off with a lot of different stuff than his usual patterns and was very enjoyable with Gopalakrishnan on the Khanjira too giving an equally enjoyable experience.

Early in the Tani Avartanam, Gopalakrishnan was seen using his khanjira like a fan making one wonder if all the bright, colourful lights adorning the stage were radiating too much heat.

The filler between the main and the RTP was the classic Telisi Rama in pUrnacandrikA sung in a very fast tempo. While the composition, the chittaiswarams and, of course, the raagam in itself are so very blissful, if that bliss is to be served at its peak, it has to be during the concluding ‘rAmA’! Just for those few seconds of absolute bliss replete with all the highs and beauty of pUrnacandrikA, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this concert.

A gripping RTP in Danyasi followed with delightful taanams in Janaranjani and Kannada and a soulful taanam in Subhapantuvarali.

The pallavi comprised of the names of the day’s accompanists – Varada Venkata Gopala. A quick round of swarams concluded the RTP.

A nice song in Khamas later came a soulful composition of Swati Tirunal, Japat Japat, a ragamalika. The song had a fitting finale with the line Japat Hari Naam Manuja in all the raagams in the ragamalika.

Then came a joyous Tiruppugazh in Surutti, the words of which seeming to indicate an important day in our state being commemorated.

As the concert concluded with Mangalam, this turned out to be yet another most fulfilling concert of this Season! I am excitedly waiting for the next concert at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.