Monday, September 1, 2008

Some more Raja myths...

Raja’s best was in the 80s. His music sounds from the past when you hear it today.

It is true that the 80s had some of Raja’s most prolific output. He has slowed down considerably. However, his music seems to get better with every passing day and it is hard not to notice it. The objective of this blog is to demonstrate that his creativity is still intact and his scores in 2008 are as good as his scores in the 80s. A few examples for the post 80s music – Oh butterfly from Meera (1992), Meetatha Oru Veenai from Poonthotam (1998), Nee Paartha Paarvai from Hey Ram (2000), the tracks of Konji Pesalam (2003),Ilan kaatru from Pithamagan (2004), the title track of Cheeni Kum (2007), the semi-classical tracks of Uliyin Osai (2008) and more recently the tracks of the telugu film Mallepoovu (2008). Most casual listeners somehow relate the Raja signature to his 80s output only. If one pays attention to the select tracks that I have listed, you can see the Raja signature intact and the modernization that his compositions have undergone.

Raja’s use of synthesizers makes his music sound not as melodious as his 80s music.

In my view, Raja spent a few years in the late 90s to readjust his musical style and still have his signature in the output. Some of his output from the 90s did sound out of place (to the ears used to his 80s music) as he was in transition to new techniques. Raja has used synthesizers all along in the 80s and his Punnagai Mannan (1986) score was to showcase his ability to handle new electronic sound – he is no stranger to electronics. I am sure some of the die hard Raja fans may disagree. But after 1999, he has settled down and his output now has all the modern and melodic aspects beautifully blended together – please take time to review his album of 2007 – Ajantha.

Is Raja still doing music for films? I thought he has turned things over to his sons!

He is doing very well. Yes, his son (Yuvan) seems to have taken the ‘prolific’ side of music creation, but Raja continues to produce great music in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. He has turned very selective and looks for new themes that will help him stay creative. While the big banners have deserted him, the industry is full of newcomers who grew up with Raja’s music. There are still lots of folks within the South Indian film industry who would do anything to get his acceptance to do music for their films.

All the WCM stuff was fine when Raja was running the show unchallenged. In today’s world, you need to churn out hits at very short notice.

Raja’s firm grounding on WCM, CCM and folk idioms have always stunned regular listeners and pundits alike. Armed with his modern approach, he still writes music faster than a network of Macs and pre-programmed loops. While he did accept that he uses some pre-programmed loops occasionally, he ensures that it does not interfere in his creative work. Computer based stuff must be better and faster than manually written scores, huh? Not when you compete with a genius.

Raja’s interludes are very predictable. He simply uses flute and violins only.

Let’s face it – flute and violins are important musical instruments used by all MDs. I wish everyone does interludes the way Raja does. If you observe closely Raja’s music in the last 18 years, it has gone a sea of change from his 80s style. Most of his interludes today are not just violins, base guitar and flute only – he throws a generous dosage of synthesizers, saxophones and the works. Still you find the right place for the cellos, cymbals, and instruments that Raja is famous for. He has done a jot of jazz work recently (Mumbai Xpress – 2005, Shiva – 2006, Cheeni Kum - 2007) and the arrangements are quite different from his 80s style.


Anonymous said...

Please Add Bharathi,Adadada Aahangara Kaigal from Pithamgan Terrific Prelude Violins Grand Jesudas Voice....The Main thing he need to chose the right script and director Like Bala...

AS a famous Saying Form is Temporary Class is Permanent.

Suresh S said...

I agree with you. Lots of people are saying that Raja has lost it and I have been arguing that, No, he has never lost it. Some of his synth stuff may have been tough for people but as you say, he has got the right mix now.

For some amazingly moving stuff on synth, I would refer to his Malayalam songs like, "Sharadendu Paadi", "Manjulum Rathri", "Sivamalli Poove" and "Arudi Arudi Theemari". And the songs of the Telugu film Shambu.


Suresh S said...

I felt that the recent Telugu album "Mallepoovu" was a more vintage Illayaraja album compared to something like Shambu.