Thursday, July 27, 2006

D h a r m a v a t h i,,,.Synonym for COMPASSION !

The not so popular and one of the run-of the mill genre ofRajnikanth's movies in Hindi was Gangua (Malayoor Mambatiyan in Tamil),where an old woman waters the thirsty lips of an exhausted and fainted Shabana Azmi.
Ilayaraja undoubtedly merits the highest order, when itcomes to background score, and, here, he chooses to play the softDharmavati for the sequence.
If Chakravaham embodied empathy and valaji fancied fantasy,Dharmavathi, true to its name, symbolises "karunyam" (I wonder whetherthere is an equivalent in English, the word 'compassion' comes close).
Known by the name Madhuvanti in HCM, Dharmavati is 59th Mela in CCMand is suited for evening riyaaz.
Arokan: N S g m P N S
Avr : S N D P M g R S
The key notes are g, m and P to realize the essential beauty of thisraga.
Pity, film songs have not been able to bring about the intrinsicquality of this raga, though churned out well.
The one I remember in Hindi is "Roop suhana lagta hai" by ARR inGentleman.
A very popular number with a foot taping rhythm, it fails to justify the spirit of the raga, although never deviating from theestablished sur track. The raga was lost in the visual splendour andlabarithines of rhythm.
In Tamil, MSV adopted Dharmavati in many a romantic songs like "Kadhalkadhal endur pesa" (Utharavindri ulle vaa), "Nandha en nila", "hello mydear wrong number" (Manmadha leelai).
In a Mammooty starrer "Azhagan"we listened to this "thathitom".
One filmy song, which did justice to the raga, atleast to some extentwas "En ullil engo" in Roasapoo Ravikkakkari.
If you remember the musictrack between the charanams, played on a Hindustan flute (Bansuri):-PPPPPP (g m PP S N PP)^2NNNNN (P D NN R S NN)^2you would marvel "if there were true Dharmavati in film music,
it is here, it is here!"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Y a m u n a K a l y a n i ..Krishna Nee Begane Baro..

An angel in bridal clothes, decked with flowers and jewels, brimmingwith expectations, bristling with desires and blushing shy, broughtslowly by the teasing maids on either side to the decorated dais, thatis how this raga develops and progresses.

"Krisna nee begane baro" (or Krishna nee vegamai vaarai in Tamil)
would at once bring to your mind the picture we are trying to visualise.

Though invoking Krsna to reach faster, the pace of the kriti is farfrom being faster - the slow pace that sets the rhythm of thebridegroom approaching the dais. So romantic, colourful, the entireatmosphere charged with love and aesthetics.

A janya raga of Meecha Kalyani (Kalyani in HCM),
Yamuna Kalyani is avakra raga.

Arokan: S R g P m d S
Avarohan : S d P m P g R S

A raga most popularly adopted in many Hindi films, LP had it in twosongs in their very first film - Parasmani - "Woh Jab yaad aaye" and"Roshan tumhi se duniya".

Dev Anand pleaded with Sadhana not to leaveso early "yeh dil abhi bhara nahin" in Hum Dono. Bharat Bhushan couldnever "boolenge wo barsaat ki raat".Kamal Amrohi made Meena Kumari wonder "Mausam hai Ashiqana". She alsohad some shikayat against "inhi longon ne".Amitabh, on one of the occasions when he was less angry, brooded on thethought that comes to his mind "kabhie kabhi"Recently, you had the melody "ghar se nikhalte hi" in Papa kahete hain.Yamnuna Kalyani's slow and royal pace is revealed in all these song,even in a sad song like "Ehasaan tera hoga mujhpar" (Junglee).

On the Tamil front, we have number of songs based on Yamuna Kalyani. Avery beautiful number by TMS-PS, "Vennila Vaanil Varum" (Kannipenn-MSV).is an excellent example. Follow the humming of P.Suseela in thecharanam, almost akin to the charanam of Krsna kriti, it would enableyou realize the essence of the raga in all its splendour. "Nila Kaygirathu" (Indira - ARR), "Varaha nadhi" (Sangamam - ARR)"Yamunai Aatrile" (Dhalapathi - Ilayaraja) are a few others.

The most unforgettable and melodious song after this raga, to date,however, remains the song by the forlorn princess, a lullaby for herchild in the midst of the jungle, a child who should otherwise havebeen enjoying all the royal luxuries- "Anbil malarndha nal roja"(Kanavane kann kanda Deivam),

The aphrodisiac beauty of Anjali Devi,the lyric, the raga vied with one another in retaining the song as anevergreen favorite of film music buffs.

Monday, July 24, 2006

V a l a j i

A fantastic view of the galaxies inside the Milky way taken by NASA observatory....Courtesy NASA

Fantasy ! Is thy name Valaji ?

That is how we want to describe the emotions generated by this raga in us.

You do not even have to perform a detailed alaap.
Meresounds of the surs transport you to an etheristic world, colourful,keleidoscopic, analgesic, mesmerizing - words prove inadequate todescribe the raga.

Otherwise, why would the Sitar Maestro Ravi Shankarchoose it for the rarest of the rare filmy music he composed?
For a Balraj Sahani starrer by name - Anuradha.
The song was "Haire who din kyon aaye".

If you had seen the movie, you could never forget the picturisation,with Nazir in rapt attention of Leela Naidu's singing and the greatthespian, Balraj Sahni, in a dilemma as to whether feel proud of hiswife's talent or ashamed of his own negligence of her and her art. Whenyou hear the song any time, it emotes the same feelings in you as itdid in Nazir. Call it divine or by any other name, sure, it isunearthly.
A pentatonic raga with S G P D n S (in the same order in arokan and avarokan), Valaji is called Kalavati in HCM.
Another sequence of a girl visited by the prospective groom and hisfamily falters in the alaap of valaji. Her father, a great pundit,forgetful of the surroundings, chides his daughter. Yes, the remake ofSankarabaranam in Hindi bearing the name Sursangam hosted the scene,with Girish Karnad casting the role of unenviable patriarch. The powerof Valaji is so much, you cannot forgive any "milavat" therein. Theanniya sur, the other N, brings him back down to the earth and shatterswhat is almost a spiritual experience for him.

The song was "Maika piya bulaye". Valaji used in more sobre sequences like the quwali number"Hai agar dushman" in Hum Kissise Kam Nahin or "Koi sagar se dil bahalata nahi" in Dil Diya Dard Liya. But, the emotiion kindly by the superb exploitation of the raga in the first two sequences is unmatchable.
It is a wonder why most of Tamil MDs have not taken to valaji.

I remember only two. MSV attempts it in the first two or three charanams of "Athisaya raagam" in Apoorva Ragangal.

Long back the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Tamil poet and writer, "Kalaignar", penned a lyric for his home production "Marakka Mudiyuma" (can we forget).
The song is unforgettable even today, after around four decades for both its music (MSV) and lyric.
A very beautiful rendering in Valaji, it starts of like

"Vasantha kaalam varumo - nilai marumo
Vaigai perugi varumo - Kurai theerumo"

(Would spring bounce back and change our lives Would Vaigai flow and end our miseries)

MSV could have known Ravi Shankar's composition in Anuradha. Still it
is amazing how both of them zeroed in on the fantasy raga for a lyricwhich conveyed almost the same spirit.
You are at a loss whom to praise more the lyricist or the composer- for


Sunday, July 23, 2006


The song
that raised the pedestal of a jingle master to a globalcomposer,
the song
which transcended linguistic barriers,
the song
which captured the imagination of hundreds and thousands of film buffsand music lovers,

we are referring to A.R.Rahman's "Roja janeman"(kadal rojave in Tamil Original).
That song was on Des
A very fitting raga for a starter who went to create history with his
"vande mataram",
especially if you remember, the conventional vande mataram (DD) and the more complex Hemant Kumar's Vande Mataram (Anand Math) are also on this Des.
A.R.Rahman again declared love for Des
"ab hamari dil meinhai' ("sarfaroshi ki tamanna" in Baghat Singh),
a song whichalmost equaled Hemant's Anand Math song in its presentation andcomposition.
True to its patriotic name, Des is Des in both CCM and HCM and is forriyaaz from late evening to midnight
.Aorkan : S R m P N S
Avro : R n D P m
Follow the surs,D N S R n D Pn S R P m G Rthat gives you the gist of Des.
Suraiya and Talat Mahmood were at a loss to understand
"Dil yeh naadantujhe hua kya hai" (Mirza Ghalib).
Later Rafi lovingly surrendered tohis love
"Jahan Jaayiyega, hame paayiyega."(Arzoo),
while he, onanother occasion, found himself entangled by
"takdeer ka fasaana"(Sehra).
A girl fallen in love finds everything brighter and newer.
"Kyon Naye Lagra hain yeh darti yeh chaman"
wondered Manisha in1942 - A Love Story - the last movie of Pancham.
Which raga would have suited the love feeling or the love outflowingthe physical self or the wonderous rapturous feeling of the new foundlove - other than our Des, a raga, at once melodious and brimmingwith life, joy, wonder.When sorrow strikes, the girl desires Des be sung.
"thunbam nergayilyaazheduthu e inbam serka maataya".
MGR remembers his joyous lovewhich is still green in his memory
""Androru naal idhe nilavil"(Nadodi).
Earlier P.Bhanumathi pined for the same MGR in her nasalchords
"Avarkum Enakkum uravu kaati" (Madurai Veeran).
Even the notso conventional or not so sweet voice of Varalaxmi was so touching andfull of affection in
"Singara kanne" (Veerapandiya Kattabomman).
Who says today's composers have least regard for classical?
Justlisten to
"Kanave kalayadhe",
a very beautiful composition in Des,which brings out the quientessence of the raga.
Kudos to the composer.
Again follow the sursD N S R n D P n S R P m G RThough named Des,
the surs liberate you from all the physical boundaries and take you on an everlasting and ever enjoyable travel to the world mysterious and yet mesmerizing, unknown and yet allencompassing, flushed with joy and yet with a deep dent of sadness
Des is Universal.
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Chakravaham - Throbs from one's heart

Focus Your eye on the
epicentre of any of the circle.
See what happens !
Is it the colours melt down ? ! ! !
So is Chakravaham. When you sing Chakravaham, empathy
fills your soul in a way that you forget your own sorrows.


In an earlier posting we discussed that while Kamal sings of Sreevidya
"indira logathu chakravaham
(Adhisaya raagam in Aboorva Ragangal)
the raga portrayed there is not Chakravaham but valaji.
Chakravaham would have, nervertheless, not suited the particular
occasion of the song. We will know why, when we understand the
qualities of the raga and what it symbolises.
Chakravaham, known by the name Ahir Bhairav in HCM, belongs to the
Bhairva thaat and is suited for pre dawn riyaaz.

Arokan: S r G m P D n S
Avr. : S n D P m G r S

Upto P it follows the route of Mayamalav Gowla whereafter it takes on
Karaharapriya. This combination the surs provides the raga with an
innate energy and also epitomizes the melody.
Listen to the song
"Mera bina tum bhi na roye" (Dekh Karbhira roya).
Follow it up with the second line of the pallavi
"Sajana, Sajana ,
where Lata does the sancharam on almost the entire sur track of
the raga. It at once brings forth the pangs of the singer, her heart
throbbing with longing, a sense of helplessness, a vague feeling of
self pity and what not!
A recent "Albela Sajan Aayore" in Hum Dil Dechhuke Sanam utilises the
raga very beautifully. The various alaaps and chitaswaras cropping up
throughout the song, very naturally and yet so forcefully, are a feast
to both the ears and mind of an enlightened listener.

That the raga can metamorphosise a very mundane and medicocre sequence
is very well demonstrated in the title song of Ram teri Ganga maili ho
gayee. If there was something worthwhile in the movie (which was
otherwise an act of exhibitionism or voyeristic on the part of the
viewer) it was the saving grace of Ravindra Jain's music, particulary
the title song.
The seperation of love is again brought out very beautifully in
Baras ki bali umar ko salaam" in Ek Duje ke liye,
the film that
propelled Kamal Hasan to a shortlived superstardom in Hindi filmdom.The
contribution of LP's music to the stupundous sucess of the movie cannot
be undermined.
Down south in Tamil films, a methodic song from a lesser known film
"Sandhega kodu athu sandhoshak kedu" and "vidukathaya" from Muthu
(A.R.Rahman) pertain to this raga. A lighter song
"Nee padhi nann padhi
kanne" is
another example
The epitome, however, is to be seen in the immortal mythological film,
Karnan, music by the duo Vis and Ram.

Visualise the epic climatic scene in the movie, the thespian, Shivaji
Ganesan, panting for breath pierced with arrows all over the body, with
only Dharam protecting him and NTR (Krsna) assuming the role of a
brahmin to beg for even that Dharam. NTR leaves the usual mischievous
skin akin to the character of the Lord and dons on a mystified empathy
which flows through his eyes. He is guilty he has to make way for the
death of the Great Soul but it is in the overall scheme of things and
has to happen and is helpless, despite being Lord.

The empathy woven
throughout the lyric and music is unforgettable for ages.

The final charanam which goes

"Mannavar Pani serka Kannanum Pani Seidu
Unnadi panivanada, avanai Mannithu arul seyyada"

is very memorable for
the content and expression. Play the particular charanam on an
instrument or sing it over, you would realise immediately the qualities
springing from a mere short alaap of this divine raga.

Empathy is the
other name of Chakaravaham.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


The Son on the Cross cried out at the last to his Father, "My Lord, myLord why has Thou forsaken me?."
Not out of anger or frustration but more as a pleading, arising not so much out of helplessness but an awareness that only He can help you.
The highly emotive raga, Bageshri, kindles the same feeling in you.
Bageshri bears the same name both in CCM and HCM.

While it is 10thThaat in HCM it is presented as 22nd mela in CCM
Arokan : S R g m D n S
Avr : S n D m G R SA
a very melodious raga, it suits more classical and semi classical format.
Unlike Hamsanadham or Sindhu Bhairavi, it is possibly quitedifficult to fit it into folk/ western formats. May be that is why thisis not so much utilized by the various MDs for filmy geet.The beauty of the song is best brought out in the prayog of ' D n S'(either in the lower or upper octave).
Bagheshri is best portrayed in a few Hindi songs like "Jaag Dard IshqJaag" (Anarkali), sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata. The shrill, and to anextent the feminine voice of Hemant Kumar perhaps was the best choicefor C.Ramachandra to suit this raga. Interestingly, Hemant Kumar hassung a few more songs in Bageshri, "Nain so nain" (Janak Janak PayalBaje) and "Khogaya Jane kahan".(To a person not quite initiated in relating various songs to aparticular raga, let me give an example. Try to sing the second linefrom the Anarkali song - dil to bekaraar kar". You would immediatelyrealize it is almost the same as the opening line of "Khogaya JaaneKahan", both of them using the same pattern of D n S in the same way)
Can you forget a drunken Dev Anand confessing to a slightly sobre DevAnand he has to cry on anything? "Kabhi khud pe" brings out at once thevery essence of the raga. When Rafi sings, "Kisliye jeete hain, humkiskeliye jeete hain", it right away appeals to the Dev Anand in you torespond the same way, "kisiliye jeete hain hum."Another memorable semi classical number on the raga is from TalatMehmood "Hamse aaya na gaya" in Dekh Kabira roya.On the Tamil front, the best presentation to this date on this ragaremains, "Nilave ennidam nerungathe" (Ramu). AM Raja, another sweetvoiced singer gave us "
Kalaiye en vaazhkayin" (Meenda Sorgam) and"Mayakkum maalai pozhudhe" (Gulebagavali).
Incidentally, do you knowthat the title of this MGR starrer is actually an Urudu expression(gul-e-bagavali meaning Flower of Bagavali!). Like Hemant Kumar, bothAM Raja and PBS could scale a high pitch without disturbing theunderlying melody, a quality which is very essential for Bageshri).