Monday, May 16, 2005

Raveendran - The Composer Legend


As a follower of malayalam/tamil film music, its shame on me to tell that I didnt know about Raveendran till late 90s!!! (though i had heard many of his songs). But thats a strange fact! Then, When did i start noticing him?
'Ayal kathayezhuthukayanu' was my first encounter with Raveendran Master's music. The musical depth of the song 'Etho Nidra than' touched me very much. From there i started noticing the name 'Raveendran' and to my delight, many of the songs of te 80s, which had a strong impact one me, to quote a few - Thenum vayambum, Ithirippoove Chuvanna Poove, Sukhamo Devi, His Highness Abdulla, turned out to be Raveendran's.
To be fair, Raveendran master is much more than what we, average listeners including myself, think of. 'Pramadavanam' and 'Harimuraleeravam' are only just two instances of that creativity. If we sail back to the 80s, you may dig out many gems of this very much underrated composer. There was definitly a freshness in 'Thenum Vayambum'. But the depth of Cranatic Music as well as malayalam folk music in many of his songs such as 'Pon Pularoli Poo Vithariya', 'Raavil raaganilavil', 'Chiriyil Njan Kettu', Ezhu Swarangalum' etc etc will make you wonder about his exemplorary control over the two music forms.
Its not a mere classical stuff that Raveendran threw out - you will never feel the over-dosage of ragams in his songs. But if you can blend a ragam like 'Hamsadhwani' in 3 different ways (Manathaaril ennum, Raavil Raganilaavil, Ragangale Mohangale), along with providing all the beauty, dercorations of a film song, that means he is simply great!!!
Though he was focused on maintaining the purity of carntaic music in his songs, he gave out some trendy songs as well, still holding his stampage over them. 'Rajeevam Vidarum nin mizhikal', 'Ithiri nanam' were songs that i fell in love with, without knowing that it was Raveendran. His 'Aye Auto' was a sensation of the time.
In a career spanning nearly 25 years, Raveendran was one of the very few MDs, who showed little creative wear out. His recent releases like Nandanam, Mizhi Randilum, Ammkkilikkoodu were simply the best songs that we came to hear during the past couple of years.
Some of his songs can be considered as benchmarks for certain carnatic ragams. The highly unnoticed, unrecognized, but yet of high class, 'Parayoo Njan engane parayendoo' (movie:Chaithanyam) will introduce all the hidden beauties of the ragam 'Saramathi'. Similarly 'Pon Pularoli', 'Gopangane Athmavile' (Natta), 'Idayaraga', 'Aathmavin Pusthakathaalil' (Darbari Kanada), 'Leelathilakam Charthi', 'Gopikavasantham' (Shanmukhapriya), 'Kudajadriyil', 'Sreelathikakal' (Revathi), 'Aalilamanjalil' (abhogi).. The list is endless..
Its to be remembered that Raveendran songs were one main factor behind the commercial success of Malayalam Cassette Market. It all started with 'His Highness Abdulla'. 'Pramadavanam' was a great hit, and 'Bharatham' and 'Kamaladalam' followed. Evan 'Nandanam' was a hot seller.
There are a lot of movies, which has not seen the theaters, or became a commercial disaster, which are rememberd today for Raveendran's songs. eg: Mahassar ('Etho Kilinaadamen Karalil'), Neelakkadambu ('Kudajaadriyil), Telephonil Thodaruthu etc etc..
There released an album 'Vasanthageethangal' by Tharangini, in the first half of 80s, and it was a trend setter. The album was packed with high quality, folk-oriented as well as classical based songs. Yesudas sung all the songs in this album, tuned by Raveendran. Among them 'Maamankam Palakuri Kondaadi' became a smash hit. The orchestration, lyrics and tunes reflected sheer Kerala nativity. A lot of albums followed, and Raveendran himself came out with many 'Onam' songs very frequently. 'Arayanname Aaromale' (Vasanthageethangal), 'Paathiramayakkathil' (Ponnona Tharangini) were glimpses of high-class creativity. You hear 'Paathiramayakkathil' and will instantly catch hold of 'Saaramathi' (again!!). Hear this song in the night, in light moon-lit to get the feel of it..(Remember 'Puzhayorazhakulla Pennu').
I was a bit too late when i came to know the long forgotten songs of Raveendran Master, and my respect for him grew to a level of worship. Luckily, i got an oppurtunity to meet him just 2 weeks before his untimely death, at Kochi. Was that i was too afraid, or Raveendarn master looked too tired (reason why, we came to know when he died), i couldnt speak anything on my obsessions towards his songs. I could hardly introduce myself.
It was a real shock after two weeks, when i came to know that he has left this world.. What, and from whom, are we to expect now?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Movie approaching the climax… to add to your meloncholy, a violin pops from the depths of silence.. slowly.. very slowly… then suddenly, breaking one’s shifts into a piano, and then to guitar..and then back to violins again..
That makes certain that you are hearing nothing but Ilayaraja’s music.

Recollect the bunch of the most successful movies of the 80s and early 90s.. The Mounaragam, the Punnagai Mannan, The Geethanjali, The Apoorva Sagotharargal etc.. What strikes you the most? The caste? The plot? The Balachanders or Manirathnams? No certainly not.. But you will certainly recollect the famous Computer Theme, or the famous flash-back theme of Mounaragam.. Can you spot any other MD’s background themes becoming mobile ring tones? Surely, not of that era..

What would have been Punnagai Mannan without the famous computer theme and the scary ‘Enna Satham Intha Neram’ ? What would have been Manirathnam’s Geethanjali, if not for the symphony like Background music of Ilayaraja? Has any other music director in India, influenced to this extend, the success rate of the movies.. Probably not.. that makes Ilayaraja so special to me..

Once upon a time there was a stream called ‘Vamsy Movies’ in Telugu cinemas. When Vamsy’s second movie ‘Sithara’ was on the making, he got discouraging feedbacks from his crew. Dissappointed Vamsy aproached Ilayaraja.. Ilayaraja assured Vamsy that he has taken a very good movie indeed, and he completed the background scores for it.. The movie became a commercial success, after which it fetched the award for the best regional movie..

If anyone has seen the scary ‘Anweshana’ or the action-packed ‘Shiva’ or the fantasy ‘Jagadekaveerudu Athiloka Sundari’, would probably have noticed the final title-cards, for its mind-boogling scores.. Why Ilayaraja composed his heart out, for the most irrelevant part of the movies?? Its for sure, he is not a mere composer..

Follow the title-cards of ‘Apoorva Sagotharargal’ carefully.. After the fight scenes, the music gears up and tense everyone, and suddenly the mood changes to the maternal pains, of losing the kids – there comes Ilayaraja with his favorite theme in flute.. Can anybody else in India, even think of such kind of music pieces?

Did anyone recognize the efforts that Ilayaraja put behind composing pieces for the legendary ‘Kalapani’, or ‘Nayagan’ , or ‘Hey Ram’ or atleast a 100 other movies? Perhaps the most funniest part of the film awards should be the ignorance towards this Maestro..A composer phenomenon that happens once in a while..

If one wish to feel the depth of Ilayaraja’s background scores see ‘Johny’ (mahendran), ‘Moondram Pirai’ (balu mahendra), ‘Pallavi Anupallavi’ (kannada-manirathnam), ‘Anjali’ (manirathnam), ‘Geethanjali’ (telugu-Manirathnam) and all the above mentioned movies.. You will start enjoying movies in a different plane, and will wonder about the phenomenon called Ilayaraja…

Let TIME struggle hard, but yet, Ilayaraja’s music is beyond its reach..