Nithyashree or Bombay Jayshree: On

Nithyashree or Bombay Jayshree:

On Saturday, Nithyashree‘s performance in Mylapore Fine Arts Club was one of the best carnatic concerts, I’ve witnessed. It never had any dull moments. From the start to finish, Nithyshree was full of energy which made the audience spell-bound.

Being the grand daughter of DK Pattammal is just one of the advantages she has. But she clearly races others with her ability to grip the audience and with the choice of her songs. She seems like a fresher from college who is with lots of high spirits and thoughts to change the world in a fashion, he/she likes. And that is what is giving her the energy to stay put throughout the 3 and half hour show.

Like Suhashini in Sindhu Bhairavi movie, she understands the importance of tamil songs to get the audience votes. Most of her songs were in tamil. A song called Ragathil Siranthathu Kalyaniya Kaambothiya was fabulous. But Nithyashree special was Muruganai Kaana Ayiram Kann Vendum. She looked like Rahul Dravid against the Aussies. Nithyashree is a performer to watch out. She has lots of time and age to accomplish what her ancestors did.

Some tidbits from Nithyashree show :

a) Someone got up in the end of a song and asked Nithyashree to reduce the speaker volume and told her that they can enjoy the music well. After the concurrence with the backseaters, she asked the speaker guy to do the same. At the same time one mama behind me whispered loudly (!!) ” This is Kattukathal (shout)”. Maybe his experience with carnatic was more for him to comment on her but many don’t understand the fact that she sings from the deep throat and hence the voice may sound like too many decibels. Also her choice of songs are very fast and racy that makes one feel that she is too fast. Slow songs alone don’t depict a melodious song.

b) She gives a suprise stare at people who leave in-between the songs. So many a time she prefers to sing with her eyes closed. Even I wanted to have a cofee when she was researching with her raga aalapanai. But I thought it was so uncooth to get up and walk in-between a show like that. Many never bothered to think that and they just walk out. I only pray that there will come a rule when people cannot go out during songs. I am sure that attending a 3 hour concert is stressful. But we also need to think that it affects the singers.

c) Many wrote the song which they wanted her to sing, in a sheet of paper and passed it to her. She finally sang one song out of that bunch. Because it is practically impossible for someone to sing all songs requested. And also every singer will have a pre-defined plan of the songs to sing. This would be a big nuisance for them. Carnatic music unlike film music cannot to be very spontaneous. Because film music is defined and is pre-writte fully. Whereas, carnatic music has to be explored on every raga and is built on that imagination. So singers who come with preparation cannot deviate from the plan. Atleast I hope. But I am sure geniuses like M.S. Subbulakshmi and Maharajapuram Santanam can do their best to any song any time.

A day before this show was the turn of Bombay Jayashree aka Jayashree Ramnath in The Music Academy. Unlike Nithyashree, Jayashree doesn’t sing loudly or too fast. But she displays a class on her own. A very patient singer whose voice is pure magic and that is a major factor for her success. Many carnatic greats have called her a very mature singer. Not much of hulla-gulla happened in her show. She just tied her audience with her magical voice so not many were roaming around. Her song Sri Maha Sankaracharyam was the highlight of the day. But she wasn’t singing tamil songs at all for most part of the show which was one of the reason why public thinks Nithyashree is much better singer than Bombay Jayashree.

The Chennai Marghazhi Arts Festival isn’t over yet. One of the shows that I am looking for Actress Shobana‘s dance programme called Sampradhaya. Will write on it if get a chance to watch it.

Kollywood 2003 – Music 2:

Kollywood 2003 – Music 2:

Top 10 Songs of 2003:

10) Ithunundu Muthathilla – Dhool (Vidyasagar)
9) Ale Ale – Boys (A R Rahman)
8) Thamkitta Theemkitta – Thirumalai (Vidyasagar)
7) Unnai Naan – Jay Jay (Bharathwaj)
6) Secret of Success – Boys (A R Rahman)
5) Enna Thavam – Parthiban Kanavu (Vidyasagar)
4) Illankaathu Vessuthey – Pithamahan (Illayaraja)
3) Uyirin Uyirey – Kakkha Kakkha (Harris Jayaraj)
2) Devathaiyai Kanden – Kadhal Konden (Yuvan Shankar Raja )
1) Ennai Konjam – Kakkha Kakkha (Harris Jayaraj)

Kollywood 2003 – Music :

Kollywood 2003 – Music :

a) Best Picturised SongEnnai Konjam from Kakkha Kakkha. Splendid camera work from R.D Rajasekhar. The new style of editing called avid editing reached the audience. A clear difference between the normal editing methods and the avid editing techniques were seen. Harris Jayaraj’s Amazing tune that gives the pace. Offlate many of my collegues have started to drive car with this song singing continously in the background. Also the romance in Jyothika’s eyes, very evident of her true life.

b) Best Picturised Solo SongDevathaiyai Kanden from Kadhal Konden and
Kadhal Vandhaal from Iyarkai. Both were pathos songs from the single male lovers. D.Kanden had amazing camera work and some freeze techniques. K.Vandhaal showed the unexplored harbour machinery and shyaam singing the song in a small boat. It also had amazing sea side visuals and nice pallavi.

c) Best Lyrics in a songVaali for Secret of Success (Boys) and Thamarai for all songs in Kakkha Kakkha, specifically Uyirin Uyirey and Thoodhu Varumma. Vaali was at his best in Boys. SoS had simple yet thoughtful lyrics. Thamarai, the female lyricist, certainly brings a new dimension to film music. Her lyrics have a feminine touch and is a relief to us who have been hearing to the stereotyped lyrics from male lyricists. Especially the songs in Kakkha Kakkha proved her nerves. Thoodhu Varumma is one such song. It went very unnoticed because of it’s bad picturisation.

c) Best Male SingerKarthik for Manase Manase(April Mathathil) and Harish Raghavendar for Devathaiyai Kanden (Kadhal Konden). Great work by these youngsters.

d) Best Female SingerSadhana Sargam for various songs. Specially for her fabulous vocals in Iniya Nadhi from Manaselaam.

e) Best Bit songKanni Saami, the ayappan song from Boys. Scored by Pravin Mani, this is one song that I keep humming from the day I heard it. Good folk tune.

f) Best Ghana – It is the Madras Ghana and not the Hindi ‘Ghana’. Manmatha Rasa falls into this category and hence the clear winner. Though it had bad lyrics like the heroine calling the hero to Enna Kanakku Pannenda, it created a wave. Good job by the ‘Kannin Mani Kannin Mani’ Dheena.

e) Best SongUyirin Uyirey from Kakkha Kakkha. Undoutedly the best song of the year. With blasting music and soul searching lyrics, this takes over it’s contender Devathaiyai Kanden by a photo-finish. But it was badly picturised however.

f) Best Movie with good musicBoys and Dhool. Both had the good variety of music in the movie. Something that all directors wish to have in their movies. Dharani was however successful to extract the best of the best from Vidhyasagar. Though Shankar’s Boys was an honest attempt, the music wasn’t the same. Secret of Success was inspired by Eminem’s Without Me and Maro Maro had the underlying beats of Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us . However, the experimental number like Dating and the electric guitar special Girlfriend were some of the best of the year. Since it was a musical , Boys also joins the list.

g) Best BGMsKadhal Konden and Kakkha Kakkha, both had fabulous BGMs. Especially the encounter bgm in Kakkha Kakkha was close Mission Impossible tune. Also the theme music of Kadhal Konden was amazing. Interestingly, both are the most used ringtones in Tamil Nadu.

h) Best Music DirectorHarris Jayaraj for Saami and Kakkha Kakkha. You know why.

i) Best of the BestIllankathu Visuthey from Pithamahan. After a long time, a song that was picturised well and had the magical maestro touch. It’s a song that can stand time. Maestro Rocks!!

Some more on Kollywood music coming up !!

Kollywood 2003 : This section

Kollywood 2003 :

This section of Kollywood 2003 will contain the best and worst of 2003 but with a slight difference. The categories will be different from the normal ones, more technical and more important ones. Leave your thoughts on the comments box. I will consolidate them later.

Though Anbe Sivam was released on pongal 2003, it is not considered as a movie released in 2002 because it recieved it’s censor in 2002 and hence not considered here too. Else it would have won most of these categories for the kind of class it had.

The Making Of Virumandi:

The Making Of Virumandi:

Now that Kamal has opened up himself about the subject of Virumandi, it is evident that Virumandi is India’s voice against sentence to death. Just like how Sean Penn made us cry in Dead Man Walking, Kamal should re-create the same moving saga in Virumandi. The issue by itself is very debatable and is still unexplored enough in the filmdom.

Dead Man Walking, is on the best films I’ve seen and here is the my blogpost on the movie. I’ve been left with tears in the corners of my eyes by the time, the film finished. Given Sean Penn’s immense talent to become the character and Susan Sarandon’s verastile acting, Dead Man Walking was nothing less than a emotional miracle. Now after I have read that screenplay, I can understand the effort in making a simple screenplay into a great movie on screen. The movie completely swept me away with the clarity and the simplicity in screenplay and some amazing Hindustani type BGMs.

Kamal is always good in customizing anything to his audience. If Virumandi is about the same war against death penalty, it would be so strongly vouched for that our tamil audience will be moved by it. Be it making Doubtfire into Avvai Shanmugi or making Bob into Thenali, he has had good amount of success. There isn’t an issue with being inspired about a hollywood movie and he is to be congratulated for his efforts to bring international issues into tamil cinema.

Virumandi music is doing wonders in the box-office, re-instates the maestro that he is still the one.

Chennai Kutchery: Chennai is very

Chennai Kutchery:

Chennai is very hot and very cold now. Especially after the cyclone deceived the chennaites and went off to Andra Pradesh just to kill 31 people, the weather has cooled down so much.

Marghazhi month (dec 15th – jan 14th of every year) is here and the roads are already filled with kolam and rangolis. The difference between a rangoli and a kolam is that rangoli is in color and a kolam is drawn in just white with the black background of the tar on the roads. That is a silly way of putting it. As always the marghazhi month is cold hence off late people have modernized the kolam technology. Instead of the classical practice of kolaming (sorry for the taminglish) in the early hours of morning, they are kolaming in the night itself. So if you were a latecomer from office, you would have tough time riding the bike without interrupting the kolaming ladies and the kolams, of course. However, because of this kolam culture, Chennai is decorated throughout the month. Gives you a good festive feeling. So as I wade through these kolams every morning on my way to office, I get this feeling of celebration and the morning mood is aptly set for the rest of the day.

Also there is so much happening in Chennai in marghazhi and that makes it HOT. If you are lover of performing arts, this is the place to be. From a range of music to dance and drama, it happens now and here. The Kutcheris have begun and people are busy buying the season tickets to these carnatic performances.

Last Sunday in Vani Mahal, for Aruna Sairam’s kutchery, the hall was a crowded and many of the nodding heads were teenagers and 20’s who were interested in carnatic. This is a very clear of sign that the carnatic music still has a long way to go. Aruna Sairam is rocking the scene just like the last couple years. With her little touch of masculine voice, she hits a boundary even with the toughest of raagas. Some other biggies who are talked about include O.S Arun, Sikkal Gurucharan, Nithyashree, Unni Krishnan and ofcourse my fav Sanjay Subramanian.

Jaya TV conducts performances in Chettinad Vidhyashram school and broadcasting in throughout the month. This morning it was the famous violinist T.N. Krishnan. His acquaintance with violin happened 68 years and he flies down from US like many others to perform in the sabhas of chennai. It was a sheer experience to listen to him in the morning. Vijay TV competing with Jaya in this played the performance of Chinmayi’s Meera Bhajans, this evening. After listening to Chinmayi’s voice in A R Rahman’s E20U18, this was very different and enchanting.

This evening when I was driving down the TTK road, I found that AVM Audios has arranged an audio mela in Sankara Hall. With 10% discount on all items, carnatic music section was crowded like hell and selling hot cakes. I picked up a couple of them by Sudha Raghunathan.

Connected to this Kutchery news, vintage tamil movies of carnatic greats are screened at P.S High Sec School, Mylapore. The schedule includes M.S.Subbulakshmi‘s 1941 hit flick Savithri on 23rd. Also Santha Sakkubai on 24th. When I was a kid, Santha Sakubai was screened once on the doordarshan. I ran out of the house because someone told me that it had more than 40 songs. Now, I am anticipating to watch the same movie, which is one the biggest musical hits of tamil. That is what time does to us.

A rule for the notice-board-sake

A rule for the notice-board-sake :

Madurai Meenakshi temple was well maintained with lots of security and ample information boards. Since the bomb-blast inside the campus of the temple, the security has increased multi-fold and surprisingly it is maintained at the same level. One of the security guards in the entrance, wanted to look at my digi cam and he started operating it casually and I was thinking he was doing a security check. Only when he enquired about the camera’s shooting modes, I realized he wasn’t just security checking it but was also inquisitive about the camera.

One of the cleanliest temples I’ve seen where maintaining is a tough task especially now when the sabarimala devotees come in huge numbers to the temple en-route to kerala. I clicked the temple gopurams (temple tower) as much as I liked them. Gopurams are a very good source of inspiration and I was spell bound by the minutest details in the engravings. Every temple in tamil nadu proves time and again that we had some of the best civil engineers, centuries back. I am still amazed and would love to know how they conceived such ideas of gopurams and calculated the measurements so accurately.

One of the notable documentaries in Discovery channel was about the building of Tanjore temple. The single stone at the top of the Tanjore temple gopuram weighs more than 80 tons and it must have been a Herculean task to set it right on the top. But the Cholas were more intelligent. They built a huge sand slide from the top of the gopuram extending 5 kms into the village. The single stone was then tied to elephants and pulled all the way to the top. I was thoroughly spell bound when they prototyped it in the documentary. Even today Tanjore temple stands as one of the mightiest creations of the south indian architecture.

Madurai Meenakshi temple has the kind of silence, despite the huge crowds, which is not present in most of other temples. Combined with the grandness and all other tourist attraction nearby madurai, it invites lots of foreigners.

I’ve noticed off late a notice board just before the entry into the main gate of many temples. It would read as this: 1) Non-Hindus not allowed. 2) Cameras prohibited after this point. Well, while video cameras are something that can be prohibited, the first of rule looks very crude to me. And this rule needs to be looked at introspectively.

Especially for a tolerant religion like Hinduism, which is much more than the rules to worship god, this rule defies the basic principles of the religion. Hinduism is a way of life and this rule seems to obstruct them and brings in the crudeness that misleads others. If Non-Hindus meant the Indian non-hindus alone, it is a much bigger treat to the national unity. Despite of the rule, if they still allow everyone into the temple, there isn’t a need to such a notice-board-sake-rule. Break the rule and let Hinduism open up more kindness and tolerance towards mankind.

I was in Virumandi's Country

I was in Virumandi‘s Country for the last few days on a personal job. Madurai, I meant. Madurai is a fabulous city with tons of historical happenings. When I had been to madurai, few years back it was still a mediocre town trying desperately to elevate to the status of a city that it is today.

Today, Madurai displays lots of growth in terms of infra-structure and population (!!). It is wonderfully lit at the night and looks dazzling. We were staying in the third floor of a 2-and-a-half-star (?) hotel, and it had plenty of dis-advantages except for the single good thing, pure water. For someone like me who has seen the dirty brownish chennai water for the most of my life in India, the deep south of tamilnadu attracts me just for its purity of water. And madurai was none less than the siruvani water in coimbatore. Though Vaigai river looks very good and dry as a barren isolated land, the water in madurai seems amazingly good. If allowed, I would have done nothing but to be immersed in that water for all of my stay.

I wanted desperately to see the Madurai Nayakkar Mahal, famously known as the Aayirankaal Mandapam (Place of Thousand Pillars). It is called as a testimony to the excellence of Dravidian architecture. I missed it because busukku neramachu. It is more famously known for the shot where Arvind Swamy pushes himself in one of pillars and does the famous jump in Kannalaney song in the film Bombay. Yeah, Kannalane song was shot in Madurai Nayakkar Mahal. And if you are one of the handful few who watched Mani Ratnam‘s Iruvar, most of the important scenes where shot there. The amazing scene when Mohanlal comes running into the mahal to see Prakashraj, who is sitting on the top of the roof and thinking of his political moves followed by near-natural conversation these two great icons of tamilnadu.

Striking a conversation with a old man who was in his late seventies, gave me lots of insight into this great city. It has been known as the Dravidian Cradle and the birth place of many political happenings. More importantly Madurai has been the most important town in MGRs life, both filmy and political. I could still see many huge banners for Rajinikanth and predictions of his political life in the heart of the city. Posters all around the place to celebrate the coming of Virumandi Music. These maduraites have a reason to celebrate that. Though shot in the sets of Campa Cola in chennai, Virumandi story is based in the villages like Thenni, Periyakulam which are in and around madurai.

You get some real good Malli poo (Malligai in tamizh or Jasmine). Thats the not the information. Malli Idli is very tasty here and it hails from madurai. Though not very hygenic, the malli idli sold in the street corners are the hot selling after the TASMAC wine shops. Most corners of the streets have a lady sitting with two baskets full of Malli Idlis and good smelling sambar. When asked her, she said, her everyday sales touched closed to a thousand. Want some Malli Idlis? . Take a trip to madurai.

Some madurai pics in my photoblog.