Monday, February 2, 2009

Raja's spectrum of moods with violins

Raja’s use of violins in his compositions has delivered all kinds of moods. Some of his detractors have been critical of his over usage of this instrument. Though he is a guitarist by training, his understanding of WCM easily provides him with a vast scope for using violins. No one can accuse him of not delivering the entire spectrum of human moods with a solo or a string section. With violins and guitar, he has delivered more than any Indian composer not just melodies, but moods that have never been attempted before. Example, Chinna Thayaval from Dhalapathi (1991) does not fall under any of our current categorizations – entirely executed with violins. Raja has done parody with violins – example, Naan Pada varuven from Uthiri Pookal (1979).

Let’s look at his violin compositions that evoke happiness. Ananda Ragam from Panneer Pushpangal (1981) is a classic example of a song that evokes this mood. En Vaazhvile from Thambikku Endha Ooru (1984) is another great example. Kadhal Oviyam from Alaigal Oiyvathillai (1981) or Kanmani Nee Vara from Thendrale Ennai Thodu (1985) or Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu from Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979) or Malai Soodum Velai from Naan Mahaan Alla (1984) are examples of this mood. Maanadum Kodi from Mudhal Vasantham (1986) or Madai Thiranthu from Nizhalgal (1980) or the prelude of Nilaondru Kandaen from Kai Raasi Karen (1984) or Oh Vasantha Raja from Neengal Kettavai (1984) or Pagalile Oru Nilavinai from Ninaive Oru Sangeetham (1987) or Poomalaiye Thol Serava from Pagal Nilavu (1986) or Rakamma from Dhalapathy (1991) are examples from Tamil. Recent examples from Tamil include Thoorigai Inri and Yaarukku Yaarendru from Ajantha (2007). Rangulalo or Manchu Kurise from Abinandhana (Telugu - 1990) create the same mood. My top pick for this category would be Rangulalo

Let’s move to the pleasant recollection mood. With violins, the list is endless. There is only a small shade of difference between the happiness, pleasant memories and romantic moods. Agaya Vennilave from Arangetra Velai (1990) is a good example of this mood with violins. Isai Paadu Nee from Isai Paadum Thendral (1986) or Keladi Kanmani from Puthu Puthu Arthangal (1989) are some other examples. Nila Kayum Neram from Chembaruthi (1992) and Nilavu Thoongum Neram from Kunkuma Chimizh (1985) require special mention due to the sophisticated orchestration. Poonkathave from Nizhalgal (1980), Poongatru from Moondram Pirai (1982) or, Thendral Vandu Ennai from Thendrale Ennai Thodu (1985) or Yetho Mogum from Kozhi Koovuthu (1982) – all use wonderful orchestration to reflect this mood. My top pick for this section is Poonkathave...

Let’s look at the romantic mood. Raja has used violin(s) in romantic circumstances on too many tracks to list. I’ll list a few that are outstanding in my view. Ethetho Ennam from Punnagai Mannan (1986) is a great example for this mood. Ilamai Ennum from Pagalil Oru Iravu (1979) is hard to beat. Kadhal Kavidhaigal from Gopura Vasalile (1991) creates the mood aided by flutes. Kannil Enna Kaar Kaalam from Un Kannil Neer Vazhindhaal (1985) is one of the best preludes of Raja in this mood. Maalaiyil Yaaro from Kshatriyan (1992) is a wonderful piece of orchestration. Mazhai Varuthu from Raja Kaiya Vecha (1991) or Oh Butterfly from Meera (1991) are other outstanding examples in this mood. Paruvame and Uravennum from Nenjathai Killathe(1983) was Raja’s early attempt to use violins to convey this mood. Pothivachha Malligai Motu from Man vasanai (1983) or Radha Radha from Meendum Kokila (1980) are other mesmerizing examples. Samakozhi from Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu (1979) or Sundari KannaL from Dhalapathi (1990) or Enna Solli from En Mana vaanil (2002) are some other tracks from Raja’s long list of violin based romantic interludes. From Raja’s early days, Oru Naal Unnodu from Uravaadum Nenjam (1977) or Neela Kuyile from Magudi (1984) deserves mention. , Rasaleela vela from Aditya 369(1991) is of worthy mention from Telugu work of Raja. My top pick for this category would be Rasaleela vela

Let’s review some of Raja’s fast work with violins that create the party mood. Thendral Thaan from Keladi Kanmani (1990) is a fast number executed very well with violins. Vanitha Mani from Vikram (1986) is another fast number executed in a very unorthodox way. Kaala Kaalamaaga from Punnagai Mannan (1986) shows how in the right hands, even a solo violin can create the tune for a dancing number. Mella Mella from Vazhkai (1984) would be my top pick given the wonderful violin play for a party setting.

It is easy to create the pathos mood with violins and it has been the traditional use of this instrument in the solo form in Indian film music. Raja, however, is different. He creates the pathos mood with a complete string section Kanna Unai Thedukiraen from Unakkaakave Vazhkiraen (1986). Muthu Muthu from En Mana Vaanil (2002) is another example of usage of this technique by Raja. I rate the following three interludes technically similar: Nilaave Vaa from Mouna Ragam (1986), Oh Paapa Laali from Idhayathai Thirudathe (Geethanjali in Telugu - 1989), Paadu Nilaave from Udhaya Geetham (1985). The pace of all these three violin driven interludes is similar and delivers the same mood with entirely different orchestration. Some outstanding work from Malayalam include: Kottum Kuzhalvizhi from Kaalapani (1997- Malayalam) – amazing orchestration and Minaaram from Guru (1997 - Malayalam). My top pick for this section would be Kottum Kuzhalvizhi

Devotion, meditation are what I call Raja moods as it reflects the man. He has done quite a few violin based interludes with this mood and is mostly accompanied by the synth and flute. Though the film scene may not be exactly this, Raja manages to bring these moods out with his interludes. Picturization of some of Raja’s greatest interludes is at best, questionable. Therke Veesum from Kolangal (1995) is a wonderful track that sets your mind to peace. Unnaiyum Ennaiyum from Aala Piranthavan (1988) or Ennai Thodarnthathu from Maamiyaar Veedu (1993) are typical film duets but the interludes when heard separately, creates this mood. Gaanakuyile Kanurakkam from Poonjolai (1997), Intha Poovukoru Arasan and Rasati from Poovarasan (1996) create this mood beautifully with flutes and synthesizer. Mandhiram Idhu from Aavarampoo (1992) is another great track in creating this mood along with flutes. Aaraaro from Anand (1987) is another great track where the interludes are very soothing. Alai Meedu from Kadhal Kavidhai (1998) deserves mention. Some outstanding Malayalam work of Raja: Thai Maavin Thanalil and Pon Veliyile from Oru Yaatra Mozhi (1997 Malayalam), Aruna Kirana and Devasangeetham from Guru (1997) are great tracks that bring out this mood. My top pick for this category would be Aaraaro from Anand….

Traditionally, aggressiveness was expressed using trumpets. Raja loves to break the convention and use violins. Adada Ahangara from Pithamagan (2004) is a great example of conveying helplessness/dismay using violins. Manidha Manidha from Kan Sivandhaal Man Sivakkum (1983) is one of Raja’s earlier attempts in conveying this mood. Ithuvarai Naanoru from Konji Pesalam (2003) is a more recent example. I rate Eduta Neeve from Abhinandhana (1990 Telugu) to fall into this category. My top pick for this category would be Manidha Manidha ….