Of passion, pixie dust and devasena

I was worried about the uber driver. Worried about me. Worried about the woman who had a cigarette stowed in her hand and driving a mini cooper next to us in 405 interstate highway. Google maps on the driver’s dashboard showed 11 more miles to the airport. Today was yet another rainy day(61% chance of rain, the weather app on my phone accurately pointed) in Seattle. This past weekend was the start of fake summer. Yes, memorial day weekend kicks off summer flicks and vacations, although summer usually arrives much later in Seattle. At least the first rose(rich yellow) bloomed in my front yard, I saw that after coming back from a trip to Port Angeles for the long weekend. Rosy digressions aside, the song on my ears was about 3 minutes and 27 seconds long. If the driver took a minute to drive a mile I could listen to the song roughly 3.3 times. That would push the total listen count past 600. Yeah, 600++ times, conservatively counting.

I was worried about the driver and the woman as they probably wouldn’t get a chance to hear this song in their lives. It was mesmerizing, slightly hypnotic, kinda psychedelic, kinda trippy and completely engrossing. I was worried about me as I was getting mad about the song. The song – Orey Oar Ooril from Baahubali 2. You, just like me, probably saw and heard it for the first time on-screen while watching the movie. And if you are still trying to recollect the song, its also called Hamsa Naava in Telugu, Veeron ke veer aa in Hindi, Ore Oru raja in Malayalam, <something> in Mandarin and Madness Me in English(nah, I’m kidding now!).

Amarendra Baahubali arrests his love interest, the princess Devasena as a token of respecting Raajamatha RamyaKrishnan’s words to take her back to Magizhmathi and the ship sets sail. The sailcloth expands into a symmetrical shape on either side, the camera closes in on Devasena who is technically a prisoner but also a prisoner in the heart of Baahubali. As she throws the pink pixie dust into the ocean, the ship transforms into a fantasy fleet. Amarendra, who is now drumming, to his part throws in some blue pixie dust that makes the ship rise above the clouds. This is where Rajamouli’s craziness starts to show up. As though a flying ship isn’t crazy enough things get pushed a bit too far and the clouds get converted into white horses that run along with the flying ship. 40 odd dancers belonging to both genders appear and the scene is all set-up for romance. A medieval flying ship, a tricky prisoner-cop situation between the protagonist to-be king and his lovely princess, cloud horses, dancer women and some mind blowing music. Here’s how the music goes at a closer look –

0:00 – 0:35 – The music starts off low-key, slowly fading in with some bells and plates clanging far away. At 0:08 the Mohana starts to slightly hint the ohhohhhoh humming and at 0:14 the rhythmic drumming starts to join in. Stop here.

At first I didn’t know why this drumming was so jiving and mesmerizing. It took me a good 10 times to understand. When I was 10, we used to go on summer vacation to Trichy. It was either through Chozhan or Malakottai express. And as the train nears Trichy, somewhere near Srirangam, it crosses the kollidam bridge. Being one of India’s longest bridge, we used to wait for the bridge crossing to come by. And when it crosses it used to make a kind of pleasant clickety-clackety sound. Pleasant because it announced the arrival of vacation for an urban dweller like me. The usual clickety-clackety of a train is amplified while crossing bridges and the sound is super cool. The drumming in OreyOarOoril reminded me of the clickety-clackety train crossing kollidam bridge. From here the drumming continues all the way to the end. That could have been the only reason why I fell in love with the song. But there’s more.

As the train noise drumming goes on, at 0:21 the nana nana nana nana nananananana of Mohana and the harmony team starts. This nana sound is key for the song as the lyrics depend on every other line ending with an ‘na’ based word. I don’t know if this sound found its place by itself or if was by design, it elevates the musical quality of the song.

                                  loopety loop of a single song. madness.

0:35 – 1:12 – The lyrics start with the pleasant Orey Oar Ooril, kind of like a fairy tale beginning (once upon a village, there lived a king). Between every phrase, you hear the fish plates sound of the train tracks as the train passes over them. So does this love ship. Now we get to know that this song belongs to Devasena. Its from her point of feelings. Every line ends with a question indirectly posed to Baahubali. Something like – this Devasena is like a struggling ferry in middle of a river, will he come to hold me up? In the next line she talks about how she is a prisoner of Baahubali (literally and figuratively).

1:12 – 1:40 – A tiny but a lovely interlude of violin or some modern string instrument comes in only for it to be taken over by the trumpets and a grand sounds of a ship fleet crossing the ocean. This is place where the sheer grandness of the song is established. You know the song is already transported to a different world.

1:41 – 2:08 – So we are right at the midpoint of the song and the first charanam of the song starts with Devasena and Baahubali both sharing the lyrics equally(Mohana for Devasena and Tippu for Baahubali). Devasena puts forth a romantic question to clarify if she is in a dream state and Baahubali responds like a true warrior prince. Metaphors starts to show-up and things gets heated up.

2:09 – 2:26 – Devasena starts a loud pitched ohhohhhoh followed by an amazing piece of poetic verse. In order to not spoil this by translating, she asks – ekantha kaalam maatrinana, thee pola en meedhu patrinana, theekolamai devasena. Your lyrical mileage may wary in various languages but in Tamil the imagery is that Devasena is now a burning hot ball of passion for Baahubali. The song reaches its brilliant peak. All the build-up is for this 15 seconds of brilliance. Vairamuthu’s son Madan Karky and Maragadamani come together along with Mohana. The tamil lyrics fit the whole scene hand-in-glove expressing the Devasena’s side of love towards BB. This culminating effect is mind-blowing when experienced in big screen.

2:27 – 3:00 – The second paragraph is a bit condensed. You get to hear the Orey Oar Ooril pallavi quickly followed by four lines of a new charanam. Devasena concludes that she is now under the spell of Baahubali, blindly following him and speechless.

3:01 – 3:27 – The clickety clackety and the nananananana continues to fade out and things wrap-up.

It’s not often that I go mad for a single song but it’s also not so uncommon. Maybe one per year is my average. First it was Vellai Pookal from Kannathil Muthamittal, then it was Oh Eesa! from Aayirathil Oruvan, Dhan te Nan from Kaminey, Manipaaya from Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya, Asku Laska from Nanban, Kanukkul Pothivaippen from Thirumanam Enum Nikkah and recently Parandhu Sella Vaa from OK Kanmani. All these songs attack you at different level of lyrics, music and singing quality.

With this particular song it is the fantasy situation of the song in an already fantasy movie. Fantasy movies are always tricky. You either believe it or don’t. The reason a fantasy movie works for you is purely based on whether you take this leap of faith or not. All the ones who took the leap in Aayirathil Oruvan thoroughly enjoyed it, same with ET or King Kong or Baahubali. You either question how a bunch of untrained soldiers catapult into the fort using the Angry Birds formula or you just don’t. I loved the movie completely. Even more so the song. 700+ and counting now…

Music as a metaphor in the Morning Raga

Reading this In Conversation, this morning in Hindu, with Mahesh Dattani, the director of Morning Raga, I started to expect the film. For it promised a intact movie on a carnatic musician, played by Shabana Azmi. Most important, it had Nasser, the cinematographer was our own Rajeev Menon and edited by Shreekar Prasad. A dream team. You and me think. Here’s a little from the talk with Mahesh Dattani.

How does a convent educated Gujarati, writing and directing English plays, choose a Carnatic musician as protagonist in an English film he calls “Morning Raga”?

I’ve grown up in Bangalore. I’m more comfortable in the south Indian Kannadiga milieu. I got acquainted with Carnatic music when I learnt Bharatanatyam. These classical arts had a deep impact on me. Not that my gurus or I had any illusions about my becoming a great dancer! But I understood in some inexplicable way that when you work not just with your body and mind, but also with your spiritual self, art becomes a transformational experience.

Then eventually when I went off to rediff, I did read the Morning Raga review. I’m throughly disappointed after that. I’m still planning to take a spin to see atleast what went wrong in this dream team knowing the dream is becoming a nightmare.

Footprints 2004 – A Runaway Success

With over 250 young aspiring film makers, television achors, news readers and all other available professions in media, the chennai version of Footprints 2004 was a roaring success, yesterday. Usually in such day-long seminars, either just one session would be the highlight or every other program is as boring as the other. But the dudes at Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication did bring in the variety at the seminar which made the whole day whiz past us in minutes.

K Balachander, who inaugrated the seminar said, did come with a written speech something our present day film makers lack. Though it was a short speech and he had to leave, he did give a good start by defining creativity and it’s spread. It would been a pleasure to listen to him, more.

Krishnan Menon from the advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather, started off the first session named Does creativity in advertising kill or build brands ? He started off with the Simon says game and did get to the crux of the issue soon. He was probably the one who stuck to the topic thoroughly. Attribute it to the industry he comes from, Krishnan, was able to get the attention of the crowds so easily. His presentation had more ads than slides which probably made it seem so lively. Who doesn’t love ads. It was with groups of such ads he distinguished between the good idea and bad idea, the strong idea and the weaker ones. Using the Hutch [Dog and The Kid] campaign, that O & M handled, he explained how a strong idea helps boost the brands. And finally, he did play a audio clip of clients abuse them in advertising through which he communicated, think before you jump. But jokes apart it was a session so gripping just like the ads.

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Vikatan Deepavali Malar 2004

vikatan deepavali malar 2004

Vikatan Deepavali Malar 2004 is already out. Unlike the declining standards of Ananda Vikatan, this special diwali issue rocks. It has some of the best writers writing short stories and articles for it. From Sujatha to Karunanidhi, Ashokamithran, Balakumaran, S. Ramakrishnan, Pa. Raghavan, Thamarai and whole lot of celebrity writers. The last year’s Vikatan special issue was also a big hit.

Vikatan stopped publishing Deepavali special issues 25 years back and it was last year they got it back to existence. I’ve heard stories of people saying that those days, Vikatan Deepavali special issue was a part of Diwali itself. It would rest among the new dress and the cracker lot and once they are done with the customs on diwali morning, there would be a huge fight to get hold of the special Vikatan issue and read it thoroughly. I don’t see that race today. However Vikatan, with the kind of neat publishing, nice laminated pages does bring in the look and feel of a special issue. And we know it’s worth the 100 bucks you pay for it.

Coming back to the recent standards of Vikatan, it isn’t just my view. Many other who are vikatan fanatics have been completely annoyed with Vikatan’s quality over the last few months/years. Just because the other contemporary magazines are hanging onto the kollywood girls and their gossips, Vikatan doesn’t have to barge into those segments. One of Vikatan’s latest column Hollywood/Bollywood is nothing but a space given to show off the glamorous peek into the film industries. Also their story on how Chandramukhi evolved from Rajini’s fort was completely speculation and didn’t seem to impress someone who loved Vikatan for years. Vikatan has a set of readers who love it’s style and so I think it has no neccesity to ‘adjust’ to other contemporary magazines and their fickle reporting styles.

Will write more on this special issue once I complete reading it.

To Madurai and back, yet again !!

Was on impromptu trip to Madurai alongwith the rain and the winds. It’s raining cats and dogs in Madurai. You could see only a sample of that here in Chennai. The deepavali hungama in Madurai is already hot. From 50% discounts to Silk Sarees to 75% off on hankies, Madurai is on a high. However, they could improve the standards of the Madurai FM Radio. The afternoons are nothing but mere how-to-make-thakkali-briyani. Too bragging at times.

Actor Rajesh [remember his classic, Antha 7 Naatkal] has a hotel down the Ulunthurpet highway. All KPN buses do lodge there for a refreshment. And so both ways, I did have a chance to smack the food there. Other than the delicious tiffin they supply, the hotel has a nice decor. With wall hangings of the tamil cinema greats, they also feature potraits of hollywod greats like Marlon Brando, Roger Moore and many others. Probably they are some of Rajesh’s personal inspirations. In the middle of that lonely highway, it was a feel good to have dinner with a cinema taste.

During my return from Madurai, on A/C bus of KPN, we were just 6 people on the bus. Surprisingly they operated the bus and landed us on time. More Surprisingly, the A/C was working. I couldn’t have dreamt of such professionalism some years back.

On the way back via Trichy, the best thing happened. Know what, Cauvery has water. On the banks of Srirangam, Cauvery which was earlier a dry barren land, has atleast water that is moving, if not gushing. The sight of Cauvery running around made my day and the glimpse of Srirangam gopuram made it better.

After all this, I personally think, if you plan a impromptu trip(is that an oxymoron?), you are going to enjoy it. Sure.

Looks like Rajini has started shooting Chandramukhi. Interestingly, not a single poster or even an adv has appeared on the dailies. Except for this Chandramukhi official website which has links to exclusive pooja pictures. If only it was Mani Ratnam film, I could comprehend why. This one makes me inquisitive.

Here’s a another bonker bonks for you. Dhanush and Rajinikanth’s daughter Aishwarya are getting married on November 18th. So whats has been a rumour for sometime now, has come true[Thanks, Dhina Thanthi]. The Kadhal Konden guy is the mapillai of Super Star. Super Star a mapillai by himself. Aren’t you getting it ?

Happy Skidding on the festival weekend

On the roads of Chennai, if you get to travel on this Aayudha Pooja festival weekend, here’s wishing you happy skidding. Many of us who commute using a two wheelers and even three wheeling auto rickshaws get a chance to slew/skid because of those pulpy pumpkins broken on the middle of the roads.

Breaking pumpkins, is believed to rush out bad omen from shops, vehicles and whatever stuff you believe to be affected by that omen. On this auspicious weekend, most of the shops break pumpkins alongwith the burning camphor in the middle of the road just opposite to their shop. Hence dudes, if you drive around Chennai and don’t notice the large white pumpkins on the road, boom. Drive safe and no skidding.

Even after repeated advice of the metropolitan management and the traffic police of Chennai, this superstition continues. And it will go on until pumpkins and bad omen co-exist. Probably every Chennaite is aware of the pitious story of a couple who died because of this pumpkin skid, some years back. Vijay, had been on Radio Mirchi and adviced in chennai slang about avoiding such incidents. Who cares.

P.S : Thanks to Praveen for these links.
This is why Mani Ratnam is a professional’s professional. Hats off !!
Sharukh Khan talks tamil, again [after Hey Ram], for the dubbing of Swades in tamil as Desam.

Kiss Kisski Kismat

Mallika Sherawat, the controversial Khwaish girl, is running around publicizing her latest film Kis Kiski Kismat. Didn’t know if it was because of the movie name or something, the trailer was just filled with Kiss Kiss and Kiss. Hero’s Kismat.

BTW, on her Rediff chat, she sensationalises the movie Myth, in which she pairs with Jackie Chan. Also last night in the Zoom channel, she was talking about her latest movie. She said a song in Kis Kiski Kismat called Talk of the Town, was an Item Number. Also added that while making it, she was too inspired by that Item number. While they played the song it looked like a scaled down version of Hello Mister Ethirkatchi of Mani Ratnam‘s Iruvar. If you get to see that number, do let me know, what’s so inspiring about it.

Questioning Sujatha on Science Fiction

A science fiction short story called Mudhivu[The End] by Writer Sujatha was published on Desikan’s blog. Interestingly, it has raised a wave of questions on how do we define science fiction.

Mudhivu was a short story which was left out in the Sujatha’s science fiction collection, Vingnana Chirukathaigal. The story by itself is a series of letter written by three different people, one being Writer Sujatha himself.

While, the format and the narrative style is typical of Sujatha’s style, the content might provoke you to ask the framework of science fiction. Sujatha doubles up and answers these questions in the story itself. Until finishing the entire story, don’t jump to conclusions, like me. I was able to see the science fiction in this normal story only when I finished it. It’s amazing.

Because of these various questions raised on science fiction’s grammar, Desikan is compiling a set of questions. So Sujatha will step into the blog scene and answer the questions related to science fiction posted by blog readers. By any chance, if you pondering on anything about science fiction, post them here by Saturday[23rd October]. This one is sure going to arouse interest around.

The long Navaratri festival

Sir Vidia Naipaul

The long Navaratri festival weekend is here and is already promising to be fun. The Nobel Prize in Literature winner, V.S.Naipaul will be here in Landmark today for a book reading session of his latest book, The Magic Seeds. His visit to Bangalore Landmark store, yesterday, seems to have awed the Bangalore book lovers.

The Magic Seeds is set to be a sequel to his previous bestseller, Half a Life. Willie Chandran (who first appeared in Half a Life) continues his quest for purpose and a place that he can claim as his own.

Having read his path-breaking short story collection, In a Free State, very recently, I was interested to check-out the session. I am still not sure if I can make it. But I am hoping to. And if anyone makes it, do share the wit and images.

7G Rainbow Colony was out last week. Seems like Selvaraghavan has done it again in the box-office. 7GRC has recieved some rave reviews already, in the media. The word is spreading and the theatres are already crowded. Thanks to the curb on video piracy too. The tickets are sky rocketing. Getting tickets over the weekend is going to be tough. But thats the disporting thing in watching tamil movies on the opening weeks. I am going to make it.

Thenmala – Angel's Shangri-la

Close to 10-12 hours of Jugalbandhi, rap singing, yapping, singing, shouting, yelling, antakshari, aimless dancing, corporate games and team building stuff got my vocal chords torn mischievously. I could hardly whisper now. Similar for most others who came alongwith to the Thenmala.

The trip to Thenmala in Kerala, was a magical experience. God’s own country was truly a god’s own country. Having small-time water falls on roadsides, Kerala boasts of more than enough water. A cribbing Chennaite like me would certainly be envious about the water running there. All I could do was to hope that I could carry a train compartment load of water back to Chennai. Some parts of Kerala are still unexplored. Completely wild and untamed. Thenmala is one such destination. One surprising thing, the chaaya you get in every other nair shop there is more or less similar. Great consistency.

The Paallaruvi falls is a nature’s miracle. The water plunging from 80 feet above falls straight on your head with all that speed it gathered on the run and runs down further to end up in the dam. A couple of hours under that could get back your senses. Any time more than that may result in vice-versa. And the steam boat ride with just hills around and water everywhere, transported us to a different world. Not to mention the romatic rain that caught us unaware in the middle of the ride. Imagine, a terrace of a steam boat, hills where clouds hang around upon their peaks, foggy weather in the evening and that rainfall. Shangri-la!.

Thousands of pictures clicked by the entire team. Some ten digital cameras. Couple of camcorders that recorded most of the travel and our silly dance programs. To share them would be difficult. So we finally decided to join all the pictures and the footage and provide a copy of the CD to everyone. Will post some of the good ones in the my photolog.

With two full days of no television, no newspapers, no internet, no blogging and no googling was a moral booster to me. Made me believe that we(especially me) could live even without these things. Something that I wasn’t ready to believe off-handedly. And today morning when I woke up lazily with a berth coffee and the dailies in Chengulpat railway station, it said, Indians had chance of winning against the Aussies. Twenty minutes from then when I landed in Tambaram, I knew we were to be blamed for getting the rain back from Kerala.