Guest Blog 7 – Anand Chandrasekharan
Oorai Vittu Veruooru Vandhaalum, unakku ullirukkum Mann Vasam
Naarai Vittu Poo Uthirndhaalum, Nalla Manama Veesum Mann Vasam
Yaarai Marandhaalum, Yenna Muyandralum, Marakka Mudiyadhu Mann Vasam
Paaraikku Naduvula Padinju Kiddakura Eeram Dhaan da Mann Vasam.
What happens when a bunch of talented people get together, and move well beyond personalities and egos to gracefully share the stage and put up a spirited show that compromises neither on quality nor on originality? The audience has a ball of a time. It’s about a week since THILLANA, the popular Bay area music band, did their annual bash (proceeds of which will be used for Vibha‘s projects in India), and also took the opportunity to bid farewell to Alex Babu, one of the guys who brought the band together (and is now moving back to India). Some thoughts:
– The play, which was a spoof on Kamal Hasan‘s Virumandi was distracting at times, but never boring and held the show together, besides making it more than just another musical event. Good job on integrating it with the music! (the villagers singing Kaadu Potta Kaadu from Karuthamma when a visiting teacher asks them to describe their village, hit the spot besides showcasing Alex’s wonderful vocals). The hard work that had gone into the backdrop design for the village setting and the Poikaal Kudurai definitely showed as well.
– The “all-girls” rendering of Acham Illai (from Indira) and how it was interwoven with the play is worth appreciating. It was also cool to see my friends Kavitha (on the drum pads…she was also the female lead in the play) and Padma (Ragavan’s wife, on the keys) do their thing. Good platform for the artistes to avoid the boredom of doing the same thing and allowing all these evidently multi-talented people to bring out their wares.
– Whenever there was slack in the music (on rare occasions), the projection TV would pick up and keep the audience engaged. Members of the audience got a chance to relive the nostalgia and cheer their favorite singers, writers, and actors as the pictures appeared when the songs were belted out. Fun Tv and its creators left a lasting impression and lifted the energy level of the event!
– Some songs deserve a mention: Ragavan‘s (a good friend of mine) rendering of Yesudas’ National award-winning Rama Katha from the Malayalam film Baratham almost brought the original alive (not to mention, his tamil rendering of some parts of the original lyrics). It also made the day of one of my Keralite friends at a Tamil concert! Same for Adho Andha Paravai (Aayirathil Oruvan), an intensely popular and nostalgic yester-years number, and Thee Kuruviyai (from KKS, original by Harini), which is not an easy song to sing live! The ability of the musicians to recapture the arrangements and the orchestration of the originals definitely lifted the quality of the show a notch. A little known fact is the RagaMan recently playbacked for Kanavu Meipada Vendum.
– One thing no one will complain about is lack of originality. Mukundan (Mux) performed a song from his upcoming music album Drive Time (the album definitely deserves a better name for it to sell!), which sounded fresh and had a good mix of Indian and western influences. Mux also was busy arranging all the songs at the event, and one wondered if that sometimes distracted him from his singing. That said, his rendering of Rakkamma from Dalapathi (backed up again by excellent instrumentation) definitely stamped his talent as a singer in his own right. Also, in what is now a Thillana tradition, the RagaMan wrote an original composition Mann Vasam dedicated to Vibha, which reminded one of lyrics from yester-year songs – simple, philosophical, evocative (the lines used above are from that composition).
– Towards the end, they seemed to cater to the crowd a little much. I honestly half-expected Jana Gana Mana and the cries of O Yuva Yuva from Aayitha Ezhuthu to end the concert, and atleast one song from Kadhal Kondein in the repertoire (in honor of the emerging Yuvan Shankar Raja). Folks who did not want to ‘shake it’ had to tune out for the last 20 minutes. Also, the rendering of the two Boys‘ songs (Dating and Boom Boom) and last year’s best song, Uyirin Uyire from Kaakka Kaakka was without the passion and intensity that defines these songs, especially when seen against what was excellent orchestration of these complex, multi-layered tunes.
All said, a full-hearted rendition of three hours plus of quality South Indian film music and all-around entertainment around it, that captured the Mann Vasam and the audience’s imagination.