Madras Music Festival – Sudha as mellifluous as ever!

December 25, 2007

Returning to the blogsphere after a rather long break. Sometimes you have these weeks where you remember all the things that need to be done that never got done and set out to do those things. I’ve had a couple of such boring weeks. Anyway, moving on.

My first “season” kutcheri of this year was Sudha Ragunathan at Music Academy. This past Sunday, I got a chance to listen to her live after almost 5 years and I must say she was as mellifluous as ever. This time she sang in the 4:15 pm slot which I think is a great time to listen to music on a Sunday. The best part is, it lasts for just over two hours, so you get quality time with the added benefit of being able to get out at a decent time (7-ish pm).

Sudha started with a interest-inducing Pantuvarali varam and moved on to a well-rendered Saranu Janakana in Bilhari. A lustrous yet brief alap in Lalitha preceeded the Syama Sastri composition Nannu Brovu Lalitha replete with neraval and kalpana swara. The Mukhari that followed was another well rendered song. For me, the best piece of the day was the Kalyani one featuring Navavarna kriti Kamalambam Bhajare. I found it rather striking that Sudha’s rendition of this song was marked different from the MLV style, but that didn’t take away anything from the song or the piece; just that it was different yet poignant. A fast paced song preceded the Ragam Thanam Pallavi in raga Sri Ranjani (Kadai kan partharul sri ranjani), which disappointed me both in terms of choice of raga and time allotted to it. The only thing in this piece that stood out was the neraval and the ragamalika swara passages in Poorvi Kalyani, Priyadarshini and Nalinakanthi. Sudha finished up with Purandaradas kriti Yadava raya and a thillana. The percussionists, Mannargudi Easwaran was vintage and Raman provided good support, but the violin disappointed. All in all, it was time well spent for me.


Reactions to “Paadum Office” on Star Vijay

December 8, 2007

Amid my channel surfing to catch highlights of Yuvraj Singh’s sensational Test century today, I stumbled upon “Paadum Office”, a music contest for folks from the Chennai IT sector on Star Vijay. Incidentally, I had watched the earlier round last week and was surprised to find new snottier judges on today’s program. As I watched on, I had a strong reaction to a few things about this programme:

1. What exactly is the point in having a contest for IT professionals? To me it seems like entertainment for the sake of it, without any end to the means.

2. The snottiness and arrogance of the judges, esp, the Music College Principal appalled me. I understand that some contestants aren’t exactly nightingales, but to eliminate them even before singing one full line seems more like a witch hunt aimed to embarrass the contestants. A rebuttal to this concern of mine would be to say that one can tell a talented singer from a less-endowed one within seconds. Agreed, but, we must remember that these contestants aren’t professional singers, are bound to have some initial nervousness and need a few minutes for scale/shruthi alignment. What was completely “over-the-top” for me was one of the judge’s criticism of a contestant who chose to sing the shruthi-alignment phrase “Sa-Pa-Sa”. If neither of these arguments seems convincing enough, I will accept even that, but why broadcast the embarrassing bits? There is something called editing right?

I leave this with a note to Star Vijay and perhaps more precisely to the judges: treat the reality show contestants on this program with the respect that they deserve. These are responsible people who have a life, a job, and are trying to quench their thirst for exhibiting their music (which might have been their childhood passion, or something acquired in adolescence or later) by participating in the show. Treat them like human beings, nothing more!

Om Shanti Om Soundtrack rocks!

November 2, 2007

It has been almost a month since I first heard the soundtrack from Om Shanti Om and I’m still listening to it. The soundtrack has kept me company mostly while unit testing my code or writing those mundane DAO classes at work, so I feel obliged to write (or should I say croon) about it here. Interestingly, I unwittingly chose to write about OSO today, it being Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday. Happy Birthday Shah Rukh!

Alright, about the music, I think it a good mix a soft-sweet songs and racy item number. Of the 12 songs, 4 are remixed (faster pace with disco-ish feel), and one is the instrumental theme. In the version I received, Ajab Si is the first song, a very sweet, pleasantly haunting number rendered by KK. It is the kind of song you can listen to with your eyes closed and feel at peace. One refreshing thing about this song that I feel obliged to comment on is that there isn’t much of that distracting electronic music. I will guarantee you that listening to this once will have you humming it endlessly. Another tidbit I can’t resist holding back, it was this song that featured in the Headlines Today segment (speculating about the MS Dhoni and Deepika Padukone link) that I wrote about earlier.

In total contrast to Ajab Si is Dard-e-disco, a racy one by Sukwinder Singh; after the title song in Chak de India, he makes magic again with this song. I loved this one and its remix. Dewangi is a happy number full of energy and has woken me up from a good number of naps at my desk in the afternoons :); here again the ‘original’ and the remix don’t fail to please. Mein Agar Kahoon and Jag Soona Soona (the next two songs) are more of the wistful-sounding ones; my only issue with the latter is with the beginning where the female lead seems to drill through your ears; the rest of the song is worthy of listening a good number of times. What follows is another happy number Dhoom Taana. Here again the blaring instrumentals that are used at the beginning seem to ruin the rest of a good number. Song number 7 Daastan-e Om Shanti Om, is a moderately paced darkish song by Shaan is also done very well. My guess is that this features when the Om played by Shah Rukh from the 70s gives way to the one from the 90s. The remix numbers of Dard-e-disco, Dewangi, and Daasthan all impressed considerably in that order with Daasthan-remix being a distant third. The mother-of-all-remixes appears under the name of ‘Om Shanti Om Medley‘. This is basically a mix of all the songs (except Ajab Si) with a disco-ish feel to it. The concluding piece is the ‘Om Shanti Om theme’ which is an instrumental version of the medley mix with a few variations thrown in.

In summary, a very good soundtrack album, in fact the best I’ve heard since Dhoom 2; having said that, I must add that I think this one is way better than Dhoom 2 with the balance and variety it offers. I will give it a whopping 95 out of 100. If you haven’t heard it, you’re missing out!