Under the sun

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Rape Of Genres

The purists slammed Aandavar and Sagara Sangamam because, in their view, they had committed sacrilege by "diluting" the art form of classical Indian dance. Ilaiyaraaja and Das annan faced the same music for Sindhu Bhairavi. Aandavar and Ilaiyaraaja were unapolegetic, rightly in my view, saying that they are not obliged to pay obeisance to the purists or operate within the confines of strict rules. Cinema, as an art form is big enough to encompass dance, music and other art forms as long as the inherent qualities are not lost or spoilt.

Cut to the scene in the late 90s. Ilaiyaraaja and A.R Rahman had created waves in blending different musical forms, without compromising on the essence of each form (f)used. If Ilaiyaan gave us the brilliant "Ninnukkori Varnam", "Kaadhal Kasakkudhayya", "Roja poo adivandhadhe" , "Ilamai Idho Idho" and "Rambambam Aarambam", ARR gave us "Kannalane", "Kannum Kannum Kollai Adithaal" and "Petta Rap" [to this day, being one of the "proper" Indian rap songs]. If ARR was ahead of his [peer's and audience's] time, Ilaiyaan was beyond time. We also had Tier-2 MDs like Vidhyasagar give numbers like "Malare Mounama" from time to time and Deva pioneering the concept of "Gaana paattu", in between his fulltime hobby of copy-pasting music. Sometime during that period the trend was to belt out "western" pop numbers [when MTV entered Indian Telivision]. Ace of Base, Dr.Alban, Apache Indian et all. This was followed by a period of degradation when lesser mortals like Deva, Sirpi etc tried their hand at doing an ARR and failed miserably. In fact, Deva then became a victim of his own obsession with gaana and sound-alikes fell by the wayside like nobody's business, dragging down TFM along with them. The less said about S.A Rajkumar, the better. I once spotted him in the Adithya Hotel bar with a Johny Walker bottle clutched under his arm pit and staggering across the room, a pitiful but immensely entertaining sight :) His music is NOT entertainment.

In the recent past, a self-stoking vicious cycle of musical rape was set in motion when a kuthu paattu became a hit. Who the composer was, what song it was and how good it was - all these are besides the point. What matters is that it set a trend which is as monotonous as the ticking of a clock and as musically enriching as the drone of a driller. The only upside to this was an enormous increase in the sales of Anacin and Avomin. In fact, i used to carry a paper bag used in Airplanes as puke-containers to the movies. Everytime a kuthu paatu came, which was mandatory in every film [well, almost] i had the choice of going out for a dum, or in theatres where smoking was banned, i put the paper bag to good effect. Thamizh folk music has a great tradition and it was part of the lifestyle in rural TN. Even if the year is 2003, the period of synthesizers, you can get unadulterated pure folk - Virumaandi was testimony to that. The confidence, conviction and the security the film-maker and the MD had was amazing.
My TV remote is now not functioning due to the number of times it has been thrown in exasperation after seeing yet another HOUSEWIFE request "Kumbida pona deivam" from Thirupachi in Sun Meesic.

I met an old friend of my old grandfather recently. He plays carnatic music on his keyboard. He proudly made us listen to one of his compositions - Vathapi on his Roland, with beats [totally off-synch with the song] set on "demo". This exactly is what is happening in M.Kumaran, Karka Kasadara and the likes.

Ilaiyaan, ARR TFM needs you! And you Tier-2 MDs, please keep off from regurgitated puke music. Never mind the trash mongering MDs.


  • Wonderful post. A bit off-track, if alone aandavar and ilaiyaan had bowed we wouldnt have got 'thagida thathimi thagida thadhimi thandhaana' song from salangai oli. what a song, and what a dance?
    In the same movie have you seen this song 'vaanam pole vandhaai maaya gopaalane'. Sigh!

    And YSR is good for selective directors. But I sincerely he wish he keeps away from Das tunes.

    And ARR has become busy with his non-tamil assignments. But Jillendru oru kaadhal should quench the thirst for all of us :-)

    By Anonymous F e r r a r i, at Fri Jan 20, 08:45:00 PM  

  • anna ! something interesting found !! check it out..

    By Blogger keerthi, at Sat Jan 21, 07:45:00 AM  

  • Bala,
    Sorry I saw your email only now. Thank you for your suggestion.

    By Blogger The Talkative Man, at Sun Jan 22, 06:50:00 AM  

  • Ferrari,
    Danks. Yeah, grt songs from a grt movie...
    "But I sincerely he wish he keeps away from Das tunes."
    Das had music by YSR????
    Even if ARR does one film, he'll have us hooked for sure!

    Kalakkiteenga ponga :)

    Danks! You write so well that it's unfair for readers not to be able to leave comments.

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Jan 23, 03:15:00 PM  

  • arumai post

    karumathur kaatukulley in virumandi was my favorite.
    not many liked it but i loved it

    By Blogger Prabu Karthik, at Wed Jan 25, 11:14:00 PM  

  • "karumathur kaatukulley in virumandi was my favorite"
    Pabhu!!!!!! kalakkiteenga....
    It was my favorite too..... 100% unadulterated folk in its best form...

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Thu Jan 26, 08:53:00 PM  

  • awesome post... i loved kombula poova suthi in Virumandi... fantastic folk music... and onna vida was jus a class apart..

    By Blogger Nithya Swaminathan, at Mon Feb 06, 02:59:00 PM  

  • nithya,
    nandri hai...
    yeah, "kombula poova suthi" opening is fantastic.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Feb 06, 08:27:00 PM  

  • I seriously question the way gaana paatu is potrayed in Films.
    ...Actual Gaana paatu s really nice to hear; feel good; party song....
    Once, at night I went to terrace to catch the cool breeze when 3 guys (20s only) from the "less privileged area"(Euphemism) brought Kudam (ofcourse thanni kudam thaan)and a melam and saapaadu thatu to one of their friend's kadai. On the spot they made a music out of it framing their own lyrics(I disagree with anyone saying their music is a copied one). They played music to express and not to impress.

    My god.. I was dumbstuck.. Ho.. these guys r real gaurdians of our music.. With this experience I can say that.. Film Gaanaa is corrupting the whole concept of gaana paatu and bringing bad name to this art form itself.

    Ilaiyaraaja thru virumandi time and again proves that its only those songs which are rooted in tradition will be sung forever. Still senthoorapoove, oru kiLi uruguthu, thaalaatuthae vaanam, etc rule.

    His soft rock/jazz Madram vantha thendral/kannan vanthu paaduhiraan rule.

    His progressive rock... Mannan mannanae, raajathiraaja un thandirangal .. list are endless

    Hey bala.. Hav u listened to Gustavo Santaolalla's music in Motorcycle Diaries?? Simple yet awesome blend of Spanish, american Indian and distortion guitar music man....mmmGreat


    By Blogger xperienceblog, at Thu Feb 09, 02:28:00 PM  

  • Alwarpettai aandava,
    naan itha venmaiya kendikiraen...
    Kuthu paatu illangaati 1/4 vuttu epdi thaan kummanguthu kuthurathaam...
    Iliyaraasa podaatha kuttha intha rendaam nembar aalungo pottango. 'Ye aatha Aathorama vaariya' 'singari sarakku' 'Otta chattiya vechikittu' 'Adiyae manam nilluna''gana karunguyilae' 'aaya vudu' 'machi mannaru' pola pala kutthu paata meesic potta 'kutthu paatu' thalai raasa madhiri podalaenalum engalukaava ithu medhiri onnu rendu kutthu paatu podra aalunga kendippa vonum...
    ingo...tha ella padathilum kendippa oru kuthu paatu vonumnu sattamae poda solli korukkupettai 'geja' 'Saidai mari' Puliyanthoppu 'kabali' matrum kutthu paatu rasigar mandra thalaivar 'tinker kumar' saarba vendikol vechikiraen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 13, 11:10:00 PM  

  • Vicky,
    Yes gaana, like any other music form has its place...

    I've watched The Motorcycle Dairies but i don't recollect the score. Will watch it again to find out what u've mentioned...

    LOL :-))
    Raasa annan podadha kuthu paattu illa, aanaal ippo irukkaravanga ellam aracha mavaye araikarainga.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Wed Feb 15, 02:45:00 PM  

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