Saree Ke Fall Se


This song that has been humming in my head for past 1 week.

First watch the making of the song video (from the movie R..Rajkumar, music by Pritam) and then the song video itself (it has almost 58 million views todate and counting!!). A classic Prabhu Deva dance moves (if you remember the weird but funny moves from his earlier Tamil movies) and great acting from the loveable and a spot-on chemistry by Shahid Kapoor & Sonakshi Sinha.

P.s. This song made the desert to be so colorful and beautiful and I like the instances of bass guitar streaming on the second part of the chorus. Simply superb!

The making of:-

The final copy (ignore Salman Khan’s ad at the start):-

With that, wishing all a great weekend ahead and Gong Xi Fatt Choy & happy holidays for all those are celebrating Chinese New Year. Please always use your indicators when you want to change lanes and look out for traffic before switching lanes – especially with rainy days these days.

M.S. Viswanathan: 1928 – 2015


MS Viswanathan at Kaviyarasu Kannadasan Vizha 2014

(Before AR Rahman and Illayaraja, there was only one great musician and that was MSV. Image source)

CHENNAI: Legendary music composer and singer M S Viswanathan, who had been critically ill for the past few days, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai in the early hours of Tuesday. He was 87.

The music maestro was admitted to the intensive care unit of Fortis Malar Hospitals on June 27 with breathing difficulty and his condition had been worsening ever since.

Hospital sources said he had been suffering from age-related ailments and had lost his memory. Though the hospital said in a statement last Monday that he was on the road to recovery, his situation took a turn for the worse a couple of days ago.

“He passed away at 4.15am,” said hospital sources.

M S Viswanathan (fondly called MSV) composed songs for more than 1,200 films in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. In Tamil, he composed songs for films like Billa, Nalai Namathe, Urmai Kural and Sirithu Vazha Vendum.

(Source)

Soft Spot for Old Songs


(One of many great songs from movies starring the legendary MGR. One that stands out is this lyric – “Milk is white, so is the toddy but the truth is only know once I had drink it. Women is the same and I am feeling drunken from her”)

(Kannadasan is brilliant as usual – only a poet like him can think of these words – “the cupid got cheated, thinking all girls are like flowers” which nails the situation in the movie)

No matter where you are right now, no matter how old you are, I am sure you always have your favorite songs that you don’t mind humming the whole day long.

Same goes for me. Despite “starting off” with the music of Illayaraja and later discovering the new age music of A R Rahman and then Yuvan Shankar Raja, Harris and all the new music directors, I always had soft spot for the music from the 1960s and 1970s in particular songs composed by MS Viswanathan – Ramamoorthy and penned by the great poet Kannadasan (I also liked songs composed by KV Mahadevan and AM Raja).

I like old songs for 3 reasons:-

1. It brings back memories from my childhood time. Songs from MGR and Sivaji movies composed by MS Viswanathan were still played as the mainstream songs when I am still an infant. The same songs played during weddings and family functions and it is something that triggers good memories whenever I hear the same songs.

2. The songs itself. Back those days and before the digital age, it is not easy to compose and record the songs and the songs must meet the high expectations of a very demanding directors, producers and audience.

No high tech gadgets to tune the music and composition and the only way to go would be to do things old school – proper orchestrate (instead of music software) and the singers getting the words and tunes just right. MS Viswanathan once told he once worked with a famous director who will drop by the recording studio just to make sure that the singers get the pronunciation of words just right.

3. The lyrics. In those days, every words has a beautiful meaning and it is something to look out for. Who can forget lyrics like “don’t sharpen your knife but sharpen your mind” or “From the neck of Lord Shiva, the snake asked the garuda if it is feeling good and the garuda who will fight & kill snakes replied that if everyone stays at their right place, all will end in an good ending”?

Very deep meaning indeed. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like the new songs has very bad lyrics – quite a number of the songs do have the same beautiful lyrics that one had heard back in the 1960s but sometimes some of it simply get lost within the music.

They say old is gold and the same goes to old songs. It is also ageless too. I just wish someone will compile again all the old songs and re-record them so that tunes that is lost by old technology and analog dust in the past is preserved in pristine condition and made available for the next generation of music lovers.

Kamal’s Ponmaanai Theduthey


Kamal-Haasan-Movies-711113

(The many faces of the great man in multiple roles all these years and he still making headlines even now. Image source: http://www.bollywoodlife.com)

In terms of acting, after the great Sivaji Ganesan, we were lucky to have Kamal Haasan taking up the lead when it comes to powerful acting. And over the years, he has not let us down with powerful storyline and acting (still remember this?).

Kamal Haasan is also a good singer when he wants to be and he takes the lead (again) with being the first actor (an “A” star actor that is) to sing for another actor (Mogan – another well name from the 1980s). This was back in the 1980s – after his hit “Sakalakalaa Vallavan” and for this, maestro Illayaraja gave Kamal one of the best compositions as well (rest assured it is in my collection). The fast & easy going tune has been in my mind for the past 2 weeks and it does not seem to be getting any boring even if I am humming the tune whilst I am doing up this post.

Enjoy…

Original Tune (I could not find the original movie song scene)

And there is a remix version too (it sounds good too)

P.s. there is no clear sign of the next generation of actors who can produce, write, act and sing (an all rounder) as well as Kamal Haasan but let me tell you this upfront, Vijay is not one of those in the lead. He is a good actor but not in the same class as Kamal Haasan.

Project “Then, Now & Forever”


Western classical music is perspective – look at the number of people involved in a symphony! Our traditional music is lonely – Ilaiyaraja

Ilayaraja-Wallpaper

(My collection cover image – the image of Maestro Ilaiyaraja. Image source: http://www.tamilkey.com)

As long I could remember, I have been listening to Ilaiyaraja music since I was still young and started to have an appreciation of his style of music – all the way from the 1970s (you are aware that Annakili was not his first movie and that he had to impress the producer Panchu Arunachalam by singing a song that his mother sang and using the table as an music instrument?) to his latest flick in “Neethane En Ponvasantham” – thanks to my Dad who was big fan of Ilaiyaraja (Ilaiyaraja means the “younger” Raja – that is because the Tamil music industry already had another music director named Raja – the famed A.M. Raja).

Back in the 1980s-1990s, I still remember following my Dad to the music store to get Ilaiyaraja latest songs (still remember Alai Osai brand back then?) and the number of cassettes at home started to pile up. Sometimes when he comes back home late and tired, he would ask us to check his pocket and we would find a cassette size package neatly wrapped and immediately we know it would be an Ilaiyaraja cassette. Me and my brother would be key testers – we would play the cassette as my Dad goes off to take his shower (he usually buys it without hearing the content of the soundtrack). After dinner, he would then sit down and listen to the songs without any disturbance and we would be hearing it again for the 2nd round. Now my son is picking up his interest on Ilaiyaraja music as well (as a baby, he often need his Ilaiyaraja music to go to sleep) and he can sing some of the songs really well.

And over the years, Ilaiyaraja has made a good impression on me with his music (especially when I had my Walk-man on and I was doing my revisions) and I have my personal favorites. But out of the many, I went rather crazy on the soundtrack of “Keladi Kanmani” and in particular on SP Bala’s “Mannil Intha”. And I was rather stuck to the same track over and over again for days when I went down with chicken pox and had to be confined to the bedroom. Somehow I felt my recovery was improved by the good music from the great Maestro. At the turn of the new millennium, Ilaiyaraja somehow took a back seat as most of us (including me) started to listen to the emerging new style music coming from South of India – in the form of AR Rahman (but not my Dad – he could not understand AR Rahman to this day). Ilaiyaraja’s style of putting a “break” before the chorus was somewhat tolerable until AR Rahman showed that the music was even better without the break in the middle. The use of CDs instead of cassettes and quality of music recording favored AR Rahman style of composing and thus it becomes the obvious choice when we are at the music store. But in the end Ilaiyaraja had the last laugh when he hit back with a bang in 2012 with Neethane En Ponvasantham and some people could not believe that it is from the same man.

But even with other new music directors (Deva, AR Rahman, Vidyasagar, Vijay Anthony, Harris Jayaraj, Ilaiyaraja’s Yuvan Shankar Raja, etc) dominating the Tamil music scene in the new millennium, we still had space for Ilaiyaraja music (he was humbled enough to join forces with the great MSV to compose for two movies) . Somehow there are situations in a day when an old school tabla sounds better than a loud modern drum. It sounds peaceful too. And of course, some of the older hits are gems – no matter when and where you hear then, it is still a good music to listen especially if you are on a long journey somewhere (it still do even now).

When I started to work after finishing school and had some money to spare, I often head to music store at Lebuh Ampang (which was on the way from work place to the bus station) on the weekends and my target would be old Ilaiyaraja collections – preferably his great works from the 1970s and 1980s. But unfortunately the music store has a dirty trick up their sleeve – they put a couple of good songs at the front but leaving the balance filled up with not-so-good songs (the cassette jacket lists the songs but unless you have heard of it and well aware of the quality, the list would not make any much difference). The idea was to sell more cassettes. As one would say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I will pick one and ask the shop assistant to “test” the cassette. In other words, I wanted him to play the cassette before I buy it, just to be sure. So when one is “testing” the cassette, you will only hear the good ones and you will think the rest would as good as the first song. You will know that it is not the case after you have paid for the cassette and listen to the complete cassette at home. What to do, I was young and easily trusted people. Number of cassettes mounted at home (some years later, I threw away 2 boxes of cassettes). There was a blessing in disguise though – I managed to consolidate a proper list (from all these cassettes) and got them recorded on a high quality TDK cassette (at the same music store).

(SP Bala in the movie Keladi Kanmani singing off lyrics “found on his food wrapper” without pausing to breath during the chorus – a feat he said he did not do in the actual recording at the studio but managed to do when singing the same song in front of a large crowd during one of Ilaiyaraja ’s concert. The man is simply great!)

At the advent of songs being played on MP3s (and I have a MP3 player in the car and I no longer use CDs), it was time to relook into my collections of songs and in particular one from Ilaiyaraja. I had several collections of Ilaiyaraja – some with overlapping songs and taking up valuable storage space in my HDD (some converted from audio CD into mp3 format for ease of storage). And sometimes I get to listen on the radio some of his better hits but one which is not in my collection. So, I started project “Ilaiyaraja” with 2 objectives.

One: To consolidate all the various collections in my HDD and my old dusty CDs into one proper collection titled “Ilaiyaraja – Then, Now & Forever” (inspired by MSV’s TV show title) with the complete movie name, the song title and the year of movie (couple that with a proper track cover image). For this, I used the mp3 tag editor, mp3tag (freeware) which does the trick rather beautifully. It took some time to do the “research” to get some of the movie names for some of the songs in my collection (some was previously titled as 00001.mp3 which does not give any clue on the details). Obviously there were plenty of duplicates – those had to be taken care, so it was time to delete those and keep only the better sounded ones in the main collection.

Two: To add new and missed songs into the collection. Ilaiyaraja composed almost 4,500 songs and I am sure that I have not heard whole of them especially from those movies that we have not heard of (one was this – Magudam where I found one of the best 1990s song – Chinna Kanna Punnagai Manna). Whenever I head to the music stores to check if they have come up with a proper Ilaiyaraja ‘evergreen’ collection, I was quite disappointed. Most “re-use” the usual famous songs (like Mouna Ragam’s Nilave Vaa). I already had them in my collections years ago. Some of the music store had the next best thing – CDs packed with hundreds MP3 files. This made searching more comprehensive without the need burn a big hole in the pocket. But at the end of the day, it was the Internet that made things easier to do “research” (especially at the various forums) on Ilaiyaraja ’s best songs and the background story behind the said song and then watch the songs on Youtube or listen & download the songs at the various Tamil entertainment websites. This would be an on-going process as I discover more songs that should be in everyone’s collection but one that does not get the right air-time on the radio or TV.

As I am updating my main collection and take the opportunity to listen all of the songs in my old collections (some I have not heard in years) and selecting them to be in the main collection, I realized one thing – Ilaiyaraja’s best songs did not come from the 1970s or 1980s. His best songs actually came in the 1990s and it was not because the older composition itself was bad. It was not – the problem was more on the quality of studio recording. 1970s & 1980s was the age of the analogs – cassettes and vinyl records and it was the same at the recording studios where it was done using magnetic tapes.

The sound quality degenerates even lower as the recording is done and then copied for the masses. One good example was the song Janani Janani from the movie Thai Mookaambigai in 1982. If you listen to the original track, it was bad (you can hardly hear the tabla & venna in the background) and you would discard it after a few seconds listening to them. But the same song was sung by the Maestro at the start of his comeback concerts in 2012, the song simply “melted” me away. It was a beautiful and with the clear sound of venna in the middle (I even thought it was an electric venna), it worth listening to it over and over again. His 2012 concert was also the event that made me to stop and take note that even his 1970s compositions once replayed with the latest instruments sounded better.

But fast forward to the 1990s when most things are done digitally – the quality of recording and to the masses did not see the same level of degeneration. Sounds of the tablas were clearer, vennas were crispier, the playback singers’ voice was soother and you can even hear the “silent” violins in the back. And that has been the focus of my collection of Ilaiyaraja’s songs – well composed songs and one that has been recorded digitally to be my permanent choice for my car on long journeys. His compositions on Neethane En Ponvasantham in 2012 (all done with help from a full orchestra from Budapest) were simply technically brilliant but here’s what I think the Maestro should do as his next big thing. Ilaiyaraja, whilst he still have the energy and the drive (he is 70 years now), should go back to the studio, pick a load-ful of his older 1970s and 1980s songs (all short-listed by his fans, of course) and re-record them in digital with special care given on the individual instruments (as how it was done on Neethane En Ponvasantham and perhaps roping in his famed music director son Yuvan Shankar Raja as his technical consultant). Once done, he should release them as his best works spanning over almost 4 decades. After all, there is no shortage of Ilaiyaraja die-hard fans out there.

Happy holidays and take some time off to enjoy the music during the long break…

Crazy on Luka Chuppi


One for the weekend…

(This song was sung by Kuhoo Gupta and Pradip Somasundaran who did a fine job rendering the song from the original singers, Lata Mangeshkar and A R Rahman)

Damn, it is the song that I have been listening all day long for past one week and I can’t shake it off.

I saw the movie Rang De Basanti starring Amir and the duo from the 3 Idiots sometime ago, liked this song (especially the fast guitarist music in the  background which later transcend to a haunting tabla music) and this song has been one of the must song that I listen at least once in the morning especially when I am starting on my journey.

A R Rahman is simply brilliant with his composition (the other compositions – Tu Bin Bataye and Roobaroo are brilliant as well) but equally brilliant is the lyrics (I don’t understand Hindi – it is not necessary though, music is an universal language – you can just sense the meaning without you realising it).

It makes the song more touching with the beautiful lyrics is the scene from the movie – where a mother loses her loving son and his friends losing a good friend and they know that he will not be back.

The award winning lyrists, Prasoon Joshin who wrote the lyrics for this song said that the lyrics was developed while discussing with Rahman the scene about a mother losing her son. Joshi wrote the lyrics about the mother and son playing hide-and-seek with the sad reality of the son being hidden forever. He confessed to have been in tears while Mangeshkar was singing the song. The soundtrack won the Filmfare Best Music Director Award, and had two of its tracks, Khalbali and Luka Chuppi, considered for an Academy Award for Best Original Song nomination (Source: Wikipedia)

The translated lyrics, from Music & Lyrics blog:-

[Mother]
Luka Chuppi bahut huyi saamne aa ja naa
Enough of hide and seek, come before me.
Kahan kahan dhoondha tujhe
I searched for you everywhere.
Thak gayi hai ab teri maa
Your mother is now tired.
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar
Its evening and I’m worried about you
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aa ja na
Hazy is what my sight is, come to me

[Son]
Kya bataoon maa kahan hoon main.
What do I tell you about the place where I am, maa?
Yahan udney ko mere khula aasmaan hai
There is freedom and independence like the vast sky here.
Tere kisson jaisa bhola salona
Like your stories it is innocent and beautiful here
Jahan hain yahan sapno vala
Its like a dreamland here.
Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa
My kite (I am) is flying without any worries maa.
Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na
Nobody to steal or cut my kite’s string.

[Mother]
Teri raah takey aankhiyaan
My eyes are waiting for your arrival.
Jaane kaisa kaisa hoye jiyaa
My heart is going through various emotions.
Dhire dhire aangan uthre andhera, mera deep kahan
Slowly darkness in creeping in the courtyard, where is my lamp(son)
Dhalke suraj kare ishara chanda tu hai kahan
The sun is setting and gesturing to the moon, where are you?
Mere chanda tu hai kahan
Where are you my moon (son)?

[Son]
Kaise tujhko dikhaun yahaan hai kya
How do I show you what is here?
Maine jharne se paani maa, tod ke piya hai
I’ve drunk water from the fountain maa
Guchcha guchcha kayee khwabon ka uchal ke chuwa hai
I’ve touched several clusters of my dreams
Chaaya liye bhali dhoop yahaan hai
The sunlight along with the shade is here
Naya naya sa hai roop yahan
The atmosphere is so different and new
Yahaan sab kuch hai maa phir bhi
All that I want is here maa… but still…
Lage bin tere mujhko akela
Loneliness is what I feel here without you

Have a nice weekend!

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Childhood Memories Part 16


Read the series here

(Image source: http://mediaimages.boxedart.com)

I don’t why but I recall of the good old 80’s as I sat in front of the laptop doing work and listening to A-Ha’s “Take on me”. That song and other songs in my collection bring back a sense of déjà-vu.

Things were more fun back then in 1980s especially at school. The 1980’s was the time I started my primary schooling and had one of the best times of my schooling life, full of memorable events and teachers and school mates.

If there is one piece of evidence that the 1980s was indeed a good era, I guess one need to look from one main aspect – music. This has to stand out at the very front – both in the western world (English songs) and in India namely in Tamil Nadu (Tamil songs). The 1980s may have been one of the best eras for music with some of the more memorable song was composed.

Tamil Songs

In Tamil Nadu, a great music director by the name of Illayaraja was holding the crown in the 1980’s when it comes to music and accompanying movies. After all, all great Tamil movies in the 1980’s have great songs composed by Illayaraja (before AR Rahman came into the picture in 1990s).

The ultimate combination would be Illayaraja composing, SP Bala singing and Mohan acting. One example would be the movie, Mouna Ragam and the song Nilave Vaa (the other movies that had memorable SP Bala 1980’s hits was Mella Thiranthathu Kathavu, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal and Punnagai Mannan).

When I was still young, there only way for us to enjoy those songs was when we are watching Tamil movies on the TV (usually on the Saturday afternoon) or listening to Tamil song cassettes in someone else’s house. Later in life, when we had enough money to buy audio cassettes, we go to the audio shop in Leboh Ampang and get them to specially record our most liked songs (the price was almost the same with normal “commercial” cassettes on display).

Either that or we get buy empty audio cassettes and borrow cassettes from friends or other family members and record them (it was a good thing that my Dad had bought a cassette player which had separate compartments for 2 cassettes).

When I started working and had time to buy my own CDs, what I normally do is to list out all those movies where there was Illayaraja-SP Bala-Mohan collaboration and presto, I would get a good selection of 1980s songs. Of course, for now, with the advent of internet and large capacity storage, I have been gathering best of 1980s Tamil songs from various sources (as at todate 131 songs and counting). Cream of the list is usually burned into audio CDs, stacked away for the long drive on Malaysian highways.

English Songs

The eightiesclub reports:-

The 1980s was a decade of revolutionary changes on the music scene. The two major developments were the advent of MTV and the compact disc

MTV was born on August 1981 giving rise to music videos – one of the first “music videos” that we got addicted was Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”.

On the western front, we have plenty of names – both single singers and group singers, from the both side of the Atlantic and Australia. The list is almost limitless but to name few of well known groups, there is A-Ha, Mr. Mister, The Police, Modern Talking, The Bangles, Duran Duran, Starship, Kool & the Gang, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins, U2, Culture Club, Bananaraman, Wham, Toto, Eurythmics and many more.

On the singles, still remember Sheena Easton, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Irene Cara, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, David Bowie, Phil Collins, Billy Ocean, Bruce Springsteen, Amy Grant, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Robert Palmer and Tracy Chapman? There is more but the names would be almost limitless.

Some came with just one hit and then disappeared forever from the music arena for forever. Some like Michael Jackson went on to be one of the biggest names all time.

I recall of the evenings when we had just finished school and rush back to get onto our school bus. My school bus had a very young guy as the driver’s assistant and he has a collection of cassettes with good and popular English songs (and also one with Alan Tam’s songs – “Friends of Mine” being my favourite and which still gives me the goosebumps when hearing it on quiet nights). I would go inside the bus, find a good place to sit and just lay back to enjoy the music.

It did not matter if those songs were repeated on a daily basis – I just could not get enough of it.

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1980s in Music