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Saketharaman – interesting and rare

Five years ago, I attended my first Abhishek Raghuram concert as a TMK concert at the same time, different venue, was overflowing with rasikas. Yesterday (27th Dec) the same happened as tickets sold out for AR, and thus I ended up at the concert of Saketharaman, a disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman. He was accompanied by Mysore Nagaraj on the violin, Bengaluru Praveen on the Mridangam and Guru Prasanna on the kanjira.

I don’t believe in blindly listing all the songs performed, hence I directly move to highlight the best parts of the concert. I would call Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s Arthanareeswaram the sub-main song of the concert, even though there were other songs with equal improvisation(manodharma). It is set in the raga Kumudhakriya (a child of Pantuvarali raga), and Saketharaman performed crisp neraval – swaram to the madhyama kalam.

The other best part of the concert was pulling off a weird concept as Ragam Thanam Pallavi. If someone takes two polar opposite ragas such as Vasantha and Behag and sing a Pallavi in misra (7) jathi triputa thalam, that has similar lyrics for Lord Siva in Vasantha and Lord Vishnu in Behag, that alone requires an applause.

lolanai, gana lolanai (sama / venu) gana lolanai, (haranai / hariyai) sadha ninaindhidu

That was the pallavi lyrics for you; read before the slash for the uttaranga and after the slash or the purvanga. The pallavi was also presented in ragamalika where ragas such as Sama (sama gana lolanai) and Patdheep were well chosen and handled.

What could have been different

Sharavana Bhava in Pasupathipriya (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar) was unintelligibly fast. Uyyalaluga Vaiyya’s (Thyagaraja) aalapana in Neelambari was also hurried than what you would expect as the raga’s comfort.

What I liked

The choice of songs at the start of the concert were from rare composers like Aanayya (Intha Paraka in Mayamalava Gowlaiand Pallavi Sesha Iyer (Palimparavathe in Arabhi). The korvais at the end of kalpana swarams by Saketharaman embellished the Lalgudi style. The fillers / arudhi played by Bangalore Praveen for each song was bang on.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

The Same Old Sanjay

Thalaivar mania

There is a kind of Rasika that goes to concerts whenever they find time and there are others who would not want to miss a concert of their favourite musician – this is what the article in Times about Sanjay starts with.

I wouldn’t want to be tagged to either of the categories, but I enjoy listening to Sanjay. And I avoided his concerts for 2 years due to his stardom and the maniacs that go with it. What better way to get back to a Sanjay concert than at the 74th year Isai Vizha at the Tamizh isai mandram!

The concert I am writing about happened on 30th Dec, and the accompanying artists were the usual Varadharajan and Neyveli Venkatesh.

What had changed 

For a fan listening to him for the first time after he attained the “Thalaivar” status , nothing much had changed.

  • He still is not that clear on diction
  • His style of singing and voice was just the same
  • Stuck to the concert template
  • His ever best long standing kaarvais
  • His choice of ragams at the end of RTP (we even managed to guess 2 right, beforehand)

One thing was new though – the popular song request for the one on demonetisation? Looks like it is a song about money that made waves in this season, thanks to you know who.

What was sung

I have sweet memories of having listened to an hour long Hindolam at Vani Mahal, an illuminating Rasali at Krishna Gana Sabha. What I will remember from this concert are 2 main pieces, Simmendra madhyamam (pasuram on thirukurugur followed by a song, maya vamanane) and RTP in Valaji.

The RTP lines that were Bharathi’s, brought a smile in the so-called feminist in me 🙂

“Aanum pennum nigarena kolvadhal – arivil oongi vaiyam thazhaikkum” 

Even though the conception of this RTP can be attributed to the brilliance of Sanjay, Varadharajan beat him by narrow margin in the execution with his violin. What a Valaji it was!!

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Disclaimer: Bloggers who had ACT subscription are permitted to write reviews one month (or later) after the event happened. Oh but wait, this is not a reivew 😛

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

 

Trichur Brothers

Kalpadruma Arts & Artists Annual Festival held a Carnatic vocal concert on Sunday evening at Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, by Trichur Brothers, who was accompanied on the violin by L Ramakrishnan, on the mridangam by the vocalists’ father Trichur Mohan and on the ghatam by Venkat Subramaniam.

The concert begun with a volume and bass adjustments using Kamalaptha Kula – grapevine has it that this is one of their favourite mike test songs 😉

Kamboji ata thala varnam in normal, thisram and second speeds set the pace of the concert. This was followed by Namami Vighna Vinayaka in Hamsadwani and Aadi Tisra thalam, a song by Krishnaswamy Ayya / Krishnayya. Crisp mel kala kalpana swaram ended in what I think was the song’s chittaswaram as korvai.

Then it was the Sun slokam jabakusuma sankasam in Sowrashtram followed by the Navagraha kriti of Muthuswamy Dikshitar for the Sun god, the song for the day of the week, sooryamurthe. The song was ornamented with one avarthana swarams in dhuruva thalam.

I would say that the sub main in ragam Hamsanadham, was the song of the day. A very unconventional start of aalapana and with seamless transitions and a confident dialogue of raga phrases, it seemed as though one person was singing. The raga Aalapana was very impactful that during the technical timeout (again), pinnadi irundha mama and pakathula ukkandha maami were still humming hamsanadham. A snippet of the same to listen and enjoy 🙂

Other songs performed were

Pantureethi kolu by Thyagaraja,

Om namo Narayana by Ambujam Krishna,

Krishnam Kalaya a Theerthar’s Tharangam.

The main number  was a Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi in Kaapi, “hare Rama Govinda murare mukundha sowre murahara”. When the violinist played some standard Kaapi, the duo was again as unconventional as possible. However, the pallavi was sung in various ragas viz., neelambari, kedaram, dwijavanthi and maand – each artiste took up a different raga to improvise instead of the monotony of playing the same raga in cyclic order.

What I liked: a variety of thalams, apt and new compositions brought to the table.

What could have been better: less time spent on mike adjustments, maybe.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Three Hundred

When your BFF publishes a book that you have already read, re-read and heard about during the making, that too a quadzillion times, how do you review it? No this is not a review.

Author Sir (AS): Did you read the draft I sent?

Vid Dev (VD): You know I don’t read love stories, right. Will do it over the weekend.

AS: Did you complete it? It has been more than a week already.

VD: OOPS! You know I was working late… Let me do it this weekend.

AS: Hmmm……………….


 

VD: AS! I read the first chapter… It is full of typos.

AS: Yes ma. The part I have given you is the unedited version. I have sent it to the editor, lets see.

VD: Oh okay.

AS: Ignore that version, I am sending you an epub convert. Try it out on your phone and tell me how it looks.

VD: Okay………………………

VD: AS!! Ayn Rand, Fountain Head, and that train scene. The story actually took off brilliantly!! And then ended at the same pace – duh when are you giving me the next part?

AS: Haha, you liked it? Wait… How long you took to read what I sent. Wait for now.


 

VD: Hey! This other girl who comes in your story. I have read the story somewhere. Isn’t it the “the Girl with the Tattoo” from your blog?

AS (smiling): Yes, it is.

VD: So these incidents are real? They actually happened to you? Are you that Jai?

AS: Hmmm… I wouldn’t say so. I just drew inspiration from characters I have met.

VD: Finding addresses and sending flowers – don’t you think that is nauseatingly romantic?

AS: Well Jai is blindly in love. What else can you expect?

VD: Fair point.

AS: Did you read that book I lent to you? Do you remember the seven stages of love? I am basing my novel on the same concept.

VD: Oh yes! That was new to me. So your book has 7 parts, one for each stage eh? That’s cool!!


 

AS: Did I tell you? I am changing the title to simply 300 days. How far are we with the reading now?

VD: Close to completion. I like this Chilakamma character, you know. Well portrayed. Not like this strong willed feministic make-believe women in many books. She is strong in her own way, but so real; so relatable, with all fears and indecisiveness, wanting to be nice to all, facing the hardships that life throws at her. I have even portrayed a mental image of how she looks like.

AS: I wonder how she looks like.

VD: Let me see if I can do an illustration.

AS: Speaking of illustrations, the other one you drew – the physical copy got lost in the floods. All I have is a digital version right now.

VD: Oh no 😦 But, come on, we know what all you went through during the floods. Let’s hold on to what we have.


 

AS: Congratulate me!

VD: Congrats!!! What’s the occasion?

AS: The n-th publisher rejected my novel. Way to go, right?

VD: Ohhh! AS, those publishers are not the only ones who can judge your story. Look at it this way – you want to tell the world your story; the world (universe) will conspire a way to get it done.

AS: I am worried that the book might not see the light of the day.

VD: Please don’t talk that way. Look at all that you have accomplished. All that research and effort that you have put in creating this will not go waste. We should’t let it.

AS: Hmmm…

VD: You are an amazing story teller AS. It is time everyone gets to know it.


 

AS: Vid! 300 days is available for pre-order now!!!! It will be up for sale from the 18th of this month. You know that is Anya’s birthday?

VD: You and your way of remembering dates. Yaay! I am super excited. All the best to you!

AS: Thank you 🙂

VD: I shall “keep spreading” word about the book. I am sure you will go places buddy. “Keep smiling” 😉

300 days book trailer:

A little something I drew, a couple of years ago (the branch has 300 in it and chilakamma means parrot):

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Grab your copy of the book here.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Thrika the Nosering

You might be wondering what on earth does this title mean. Well I didn’t know until I read the book Sivappu Kal Mookuthi (the Girl with the Red Nose Ring) written by Nandhini. Technically it is a graphic novel created by Nandhini and her team at Make Believe. What starts off in the story as a ghost story something in the lines of Darling and Kanchana suddenly takes off the flight to Hollywood and ends as the the aliens-space shuttle-crystal containing power (thrika)-scientists researching ET. The readers however are left back in their seats completely taken by surprise.

Along with giving my usual disclaimer that I don’t review books, and these are just my thoughts after reading a new book, I would like to say two more things. This was the first picture book I read after Chacha Choudary and Tinkle. This is also the first Tamizh book I completed after high school.

The best parts: The ghost to alien story transition was smooth. The characterization is maintained throughout the plot with subtle differences, say, an attire change for the next day. Emotions are captured beautifully on the faces of the characters, and they supplement the words for sounds like grrr, crash, aaaa and the likes.

On the flip side: Varun’s past could have been explained or eliminated. There could have been some description about the hair-like things that kills the villans.

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Oh how I wish this book is made into a Tamizh movie… or an animation film… All the very best to their future works.

Until next,
Vid 🙂

Kanthaa…

Remember the scene where Parvathy goes to meet Dulqer in the malayalam movie Charlie? Its a festival called pooram a.k.a thiru-aadi-pooram.

Pooram is a festival held at a temple in Thrissur on the day of the pooram star. This year it falls on April 17th, that is today. One of the major events in the festival is the pancha vadhya melam performed by more than 200 artists.

One of the songs sung during the festival is Kanthaa njanum varaam… Below is a link that I believe is how the original folk song is sung. (very feeble, raise volume and listen).

During an interesting conversation with a friend, who blogs at https://devadhaithozhan.wordpress.com/, I learnt the meaning of this song. It is about a person (probably a girl) pleading Kaanthan to take her to the Trissur Pooram festival. She lists out the reasons as to why she wants to make it to the festival and what she would do there. She says, she wants to see pooram; wants to be with Kaanthan in the pooram crowd; wants to listen and play the percussions of pooram; wants to see the fireworks, et al.

I just wondered why a song about a girl talking to her guy, be sung and performed by a bunch of men. Weird. If only someone could explain.

Enough wondering about the meaning, this post is about the chronological versions this folk song has evolved to; though my story started the opposite way.

There are a couple of malayalam movie references to the song, though I have not seen the song been fully used.

Then came the Masala Coffee band which was started two years ago, which did a cover for this song. The song starts off with the lead vocalist Sooraj Santhosh playing an intro in a kazoo. The entire song sounded to me like a fusion of classical and rap, there is a bit played in esraj, and the flavours brought out of the same old song are so refreshing and scintillating. (do I sound like a cook-off’s judge here :O) The folk song took a good turn at this juncture – the Masala Coffee version remains my favourite to the day.

 

This song which typically has flair of ragas Sankarabharanam and Yadhukula Kamboji, got a language variant that was released in Tamil. A movie Uriyadi, that was released earlier this year, had music composed by the very same band, and they have used one of their trademark compositions and made a tamil version out of it. The song, also starting Kanthaa, was written as a funny take on the middle class challenges. However, I wasn’t sure if the lyrics did fit into the existing composition. That being just my opinion, the tune does seem to have stuck on and created the magic. Listen to the same in the link below.

 

Wondering where would Kantha go from here?! Hopefully to somewhere nice 🙂 Kanthaa njanum varam…

Until next,

Vid 🙂

P.S: Esraj and Kazoo are musical instruments, whose name I learnt only while reading up for this post!

Acceptance from understanding

How to go about describing a book that I just haven’t read, but knew about right from the days of its inception? Well, a couple of years ago, it was merely a hypothetical story telling after a concert I went to with this author, Tee Kay.

Today the book has been completed. Waiting to be edited; and published for the whole world to be read and enjoyed. Well, I mean when I said the book is for everyone. You are familiar with the phrase “family entertainer” being used for movies, right? This book I would say, is on those lines – drama that appeals to anyone in the family.

At the outset, it is another love story, of course. But if you ask me, the myriad of emotions and relationships it portrays, makes it atypical and special. You could relate it to each character Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni, and the bond between each and everyone of them is composed brilliantly.

Beyond all this if there was one thing I understood… more say realized after reading this book, it was the caption – accepting by understanding.

As a music student myself, I have always been urged to understand the meaning of what I am singing as it would enhance the singing; bring out the right emotions. But either because I was interested more in the musicality or because remembering lyrics by heart itself has been an ordeal, understanding the writing always escaped me. Until now.

But when a song’s lyrical beauty is linked to the movement of a story narration, that is when the true nature of what it means… what it should have meant when the song was written… what it means to the listener … and how it got linked to the happenings in the story… A whole new dimension to the very same song emerged.

I should not talk only about lyrical understanding here. The book also also talks about how understanding helps in accepting a situation, however traumatic it might be. You can deal with loss, anger and pain, and come to terms with it, not by resolving it; just by comprehending what happened.

There is a lot more to say about SaRiGaMaPaDhaNi by Tee Kay, but I would probably get back with another post when it is being published. All the best and looking forward to it coming out real soon!!! And here is to all his creative efforts coming to fruition (Y) Happy Birthday 🙂

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one of my favourite part – excerpt from the book

 

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Dr. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

As said in my earlier post Guru Vandanam, this is my first post in the series.

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam, or Viji aunty as we call her, is a carnatic music performer and teacher and a Doctorate and the disciple of Rajam sir, and of course my guru! You can read more of her bio on the link above. Because here I am going to talk about my learning experiences under her.

It is said that a place that is surrounded with music all the time will have a certain vibrating effect. Though I have heard many say it, the first time I experienced this was in aunty’s house – the room where we learn. The ambience is that vibrating and musical. Even Casper, their dog would attend our classes regularly and he was always seated in the front row! I even have a recording of us singing bhairavi varnam and Casper’s howl exactly at upper Sa in the background.

I have learnt many dikshitar kritis from her to my heart’s content (I am a huge fan). Vaaya tharandhu padanum is a general advice given to music students. But she showed me how to open up and sing at the same time not sound loud. I also learnt how to put the tambura – it ain’t easy as it looks for sure.

Ksetra Sangeetham is the series of thematic concerts she does. The format is thus, each episode concentrates on a particular religious place (kshetram); there is a initial speech by a historian or a religious person on the Gods and Godesses and other specialities of the kshetram, followed by aunty’s concert of songs exclusively sung on the same place.

I had the opportunity to be a part of a few episodes such as Kanchipuram, Nagapattinam, Swamimalai, Guruvayoor and others, in helping her in primitive research and preparing presentations for the concert. This outside-classroom experience gave me a whole new outlook to the way songs might have been conceptualised, its religious and political setup.

Aunty’s way of teaching / singing a raga is more ingenious than traditional, something I had observed even as a fan of her concerts before I started training under her. Hopefully I retain and reproduce whatever I have imbibed.

Below is one such Dikshitar’s song being taught by Viji aunty in the paatu class broadcasts. Parvathi kumaram bhavaye in Naatakurinji…

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

The Red Ring

“Tan tan tana tan tan tana tan tan tada tan….” screamed my phone as the alarm rang. I just flipped it down and silenced it for another 10 minutes of sleep. “Mesha raasi neyargalukku…” I heard the tone like an echo from my house + neighbor’s TV.

Damn… Getting up to rasi palan yet again. How much ever I tried, I was never able to wake up before or much after the program is over. Somehow it is not a good idea to know how bad your day is going to be, right when you start it. Well, the days when this astrologer uncle tells is bad for me, were the ones that actually turned up pretty good. Hence the fear, you see.

Today, was a little different though. He (the astrologer uncle) went a notch up and started explaining the advantages of wearing lucky gemstones and what is the chosen color for people born under my raashi – red it seems. That afternoon my recently-turned-tech-savvy Mom was sitting online and browsing. Only when she called me to sit with her and choose, did I realize she was shopping online for red stoned jewellery.

That is how I landed up at the online website of NAC jewellers, Stylori and got reminded of the CBC contest I had enrolled in. I navigated to Jewellery -> Rings -> Gemstone. Did a filter by stone color where I chose red (as per the prediction suggestion).

Once I chose a particular ring, there were options to customise it. One in particular was in choosing the ring that fits you, that I have not noticed elsewhere. No inch tapes and all – just use your debit card! So, I clicked on find your ring size. Placed my Naturals card on computer display and resized the card image on screen accordingly. Then used an existing ring, placed it on the display in the next screen and chose the right size.

The price range setting is a little irritating though – it resets to 5k plus each time the page refreshes. I wish the webpage is modified to retain the price settings, supporting people with lesser budgets!12191449_10206698449272736_2540664704821492850_n

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Now, that the choice is done. Either I get really lucky by just the thought of buying a ring and thus win a voucher, and then use it to actually buy one……. Or I buy the ring, then get lucky and win a voucher, after which I wonder what I can buy with it! Still contemplating.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

An Expedite Exploration

Yesterday at Chennai Cultural Academy was the first time I listened to this young chap perform; and man, I should say I was completely besottled by his music. It is very true that he has a lot to prove,  and he is doing just that.

Abhishek Raghuram was accompanied by biggies like Thiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam on the mridangam,  Vaikom Gopalakrishnan on the ghatam and Mysore Srikanth on the violin – and I realized that the accompanying artistes do play a significant role in lifting up the concert to higher standards.

He started off with Saveri varnam followed by a crisp Kedaram. Infact, all the ragams he handled were crooked (read as vakram) and he did them with a very good control. In list were Dharbar and Varali followed by a rare Malavi. The last mentioned was rendered by all with such frenzy that it sounded like the pitter patter of rain drops we can hear on our terrace asbestos sheet on a rainy night.

Be it Karuna ela in Varali or the RTP in Purvikalyani (Mathurapuri nilaye manivalaye), my only qualm was there might have been more vilamba kala phrases. But Abhishek did compensate on the exploring new things front and mastering the micro sangathis to general liking.

Thanam was relatively a safe bet. Thani avarthanam made you sit on the edge of the seats, no wonder given their experience. And the entire stage seemed so happy throughout the concert 🙂 Why wouldn’t have the audience enjoyed!!

Pic courtesy - Herve Blandin
Pic courtesy – Herve Blandin

Find the artistes and sabha details here.

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

The Concert Preference

Another year has gone by and its December again. To a music enthusiast and a Chennaiite especially, this is the time of the year of concerts, Classical music, and much more! In short, it is the season!!!

So if you are new to the overdose of music that happens at this time, here are a few pointers. There is something called the concert life cycle that any singer/performer must undergo. Let us say it comprises of three main phases, though some might say five.

First is the juniors slot which might be at 12 noon or at 1.30 pm, most likely comprising of some Sabha’s competition winner or disciple of some prominent musician who is already in her/his peak. Then comes the peak slot which might be at 4 or 6 in the evenings and the most famous of the famous get a weekend or holiday invariably. Then is the retirement slot at 9 AM, which is free, but has some of the best in the field singing here. Only common thing, all of them would started greying. (Psst timings are flexible I am more concerned about the category)

So we get to choose from this repertoire of musicians to hear from. Whom all do we choose in the end? A question that has been crooning at the back of my mind time and again these days – the art or the artiste: what or whom is appreciated?

Why do you go to to a particular concert? The acoustics of the auditorium – Previous performances listened to – Patantharam (this is one of the most important things in history of Classical music) – intention to innovate.

This intention to innovate against an artiste’s choice of rendering an already popular song is another topic of discussion. Does the famous singer make a song popular? Or does the popular song make the singer famous?

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

TM Krishna @ Bharat Sangeet Utsav ’13

Here is my thoughts on the concert, or should I say that song of the concert; even better that piece that was performed in the middle of the concert, that I actually happened to listen to after my office hours.

Artistes were T.M.Krishna, Vittal Ramaurthy on the violin, Manoj Siva on the mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on the Kanjira. When I entered the hall, the vocalist (Krishna) was starting the raga aalapana of Bhairavi. This was followed by aalapana in Suruti, both of them having weird phrases; followed by thanam (only) in Varali wherein crisp 3 swara combinations were aplenty. To be noted that the violinist gave some good yet most expected traditional phrases while playing the raga to compensate the craziness.

A note to the readers: In case you listen to this concert on TV and think that the editors have cut the song, beware – there was no song, no lyrics! What actually followed the thanam was a thani avarthanam in chatusra jadhi matya thalam (2) to appease the so-long-simply-sitting percussionists. Anirudh should have got 200/200 in Maths public exam, I thought 😛 He was too good!

There was a virutham which had Kalyani – Kamboji – Vaagadheeswari and ending in the song Sogasu jooda in Kannada Gowla. It didn’t sound like Vaagadheeswari (to me atleast), though he announced thus.

If Krishna was trying to woo his audience by the surprise element on what is going to be sung next, then I was completely swept off my feet! The concert was completely patternless, and I loved every minute of it 🙂 🙂 🙂

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Ship of Theseus

It was like a concert in which 3 different pieces were performed, but in the end you realize that it was a medley all the time!!! That was how I felt even after you have watched the movie twice, the Ship of Theseus. I am not writing a movie review here, I have never done, so no name mentions and specific accolades, pardon me.

The Theseus paradox has to do with a question as to if the ship is the original one after all its parts gets replaced. Something like, do the parts of the whole comprise of the whole or the whole is a part of the parts?
This reminded me of the sloka we used to say in school that goes thus:

Om Poornamadhah Poornamidham Poornath Poornamuthashyathey
Poornasya Poornamathaya Poornamevath Vasishyathey

Meaning:

That is whole, this is whole. What is taken out of the whole is also whole. If the whole is taken out of the whole, it still remains a whole.

How the movie explains it is through a series of 3 ironical stories of people getting organs transplanted and how it affects their lives.
1 – Aaliya: a blind photographer who comes to realize that she was better fit before the eye transplant.
2 – Maitreya: a vegan who goes to court against illegal cruelty to animals in labs, but ends up getting a liver transplant and thus giving in.
3 – Navin: an uneducated stock-broker who gets a kidney transplant and tries to get justice for Shankar, whose kidney is stolen during an appendicitis operation.

Aaliya is not able to produce great work after the operation. Maitreya, inspite of going on a fast-until-death oath, gives in and accepts to get treatment and medication. He says that he is not ready to go yet! And after all the pain that Navin takes to get a donor for the poor labourer and going all the way to Stockholm, the guy settles for a steady flow of money. To quote from the movie here, it is “as good as it gets (Itna hi hota hai’)”.

You get to listen to some kickass dialogues that ranges from philosophy, sarcasm, spirituality and what not. The conversation where Aaliya fights with her boyfriend on a photo is one between two independent opinionated people who are together, arguing on silly nothings but agree to disagree in the end.

And in this scene where a centipede is saved by Maitreya, before which it is almost crushed by the passers-by, I found myself jumping at every step that was shown that might have crushed the poor creature. Following which Charvaka asks, “Now that you have saved its life.. Will you also give it a proper upbringing and a good education? What if it was the worm’s karma to just lie there and get crushed?”

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“Does reality exist when none is looking?” – Aaliya.

“You see, in his world, it’s not all humanity that’s equal, it’s all existence that’s equal.” – Maitreya.

“Monks are supposed to be celibate, then why this much intellectual masturbation in first place?” – Charvaka again.

The final scene is a screening of a cave explorer’s video that the NGO arranges to all the patients who got organs transplanted from them, and that brings together these 3 protagonists. The video shows the cave full of beautiful limestone-like crystalline rock and the darker part of the cave brings about moving silhouttes of the explorer and the whole thing is a feast to the eyes. Personally, I don’t think there is any more significance required to end the movie thus.

Respect _/\_

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Experience with Music Royalty

Yes, he is royalty… He is a Prince… He is Rama Varma from the Maharaja Swathi Tirunaal dynasty…

I had an opportunity to attend a 2-day workshop a few days ago at the Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, conducted by 2 music enthusiasts and good samaritans Ms. Jaya and Ms. Ramya (believe me, they were pro when it came to organizing). The Workshop was on Rare Kritis taken by Prince Rama Varma (aided by his disciple Amrutha Venkatesh who archived the entire process). Find below my musings and learning from the workshop.

Difference between Hindustani and Carnatic:
We push a note from the lower note in general, say a RI or a NI in Carnatic. Whereas, in Hindustani, most of the notes are pulled from the upper swara. Say NI is taken from the upper SA, and more heads will nod as it is aesthetically provided.

Wits abound:
The Prince was full of harmless funny remarks all along without much ado, and we would find ourselves smiling.
One such example was when he started the Sadasiva Brahmendral kriti, he had asked the students for the Mudhra (signature) of the said composer. Somebody said it was “Parama Hamsa” diligently. He appreciated and then asked, “So what would you call a Sadasiva Brahmendral song that is sung very very badly!?” When we were all blinking, wondering what the answer could be, he replied, “Parama Himsa… depends how you want to treat your audience now… Hamsa or Himsa!”

Importance to Detail:
Couple of examples from what I observed is all I can say. But just imagine, if we could see so much detailing in a couple of days, I wonder why I have never listened to him more till now 😦
Many syllables , GA for instance, I thought he was telling with a ‘N’ sound… like nga… For long I did not realize that it was getting aligned to the Sruti, which I sincerely believe now, that it is.
Loads of tips to hone our singing were given – from singing PA varjya raga without having PA in sruti.

A video of us learning Sarvam Brahmamayam below… (courtesy musiquebox)

On Carnatic Music and Interest:
In our Music, silence is very under-rated, he says. This reminded me of a Shashank’s concert where 2 people sitting behind me were talking thus: “The only difference between Hindustani and Carnatic is, in Carnatic they will sing very fast.” And I had to do a facepalm in my mind 😦

In the words of Prince Rama Varma –
Silence is very under-rated. The performers don’t give the importance to a long ‘kaarva’, instead think that heavy, fast brugas establish our superiority over music. The lay people who appreciate old Tamil classical songs, say that these classical concerts are drab and annoying. We in turn brand them illiterates gnana shoonyam). In reality, the gnana shoonyas are us! Incase you give a half aavarthana of silence and your accompanying artise might not follow the same, please warn him before hand in the green room!!, he said 🙂

The songs I learnt under his tutelage those 2 days were:

1. Nottuswaram by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
2. Sarvam Brahmamayam / Misra Kamas by Sadasiva Brahmendrar
3. Thillana (Kadhana Kudhugalam) by M. Balamurali Krishna
4. Aliveni Enthu Cheyvu / Kurinji by Swathi Thirunaal
5. Ekkati Maanusha Jenmam / Revagupti by Pedha Thirumalacharya (son of Annamayya)
6. Thillana (Ahiri Bhairavi) by M. Balamurali Krishna
7. Rama Krishnaru (Thilang) by Purandara Dasar
8. Kadham Chale / Desh (Hindi Bhajan) by Surdas

The only glitch in the whole workshop, was that, I had already learnt one of the songs in a different raaga, which turned out to be an unfortunate coincidence. However, it was an overall enthralling and illuminating experience. Hope to attend more in the future.

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

The Alchemist

When a book has been out there for ages (since 1987!), still being talked about, and sells a 65 million copies – it should definitely be worth the read, huh. I just did read The Alchemist.

A wise friend once said that the book is a collection of quotes. Well, if so, it is only fitting to talk in terms of them.

The prologue is an amazing story of a lake and a beautiful youth, who dies falling into the lake when admiring his beauty. The lake says, “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

True, that. We generally react only to those things that we can relate ourselves to. “The Art of Loving” called it self – love; “The Alchemist” calls it Narcissus. If you do not agree, go check your status/blog post likes and comments.

“If you want something very badly with all your heart, the whole world will conspire in getting it to you.”

The entire book is all about this very quote… On how to follow your dream. Ahem, seriously? Maybe not always… Maybe not all of them. It happens, when you can conveniently get missed in the list of order of write ups in a certain place. The universe is certainly bound to miss you!

“Its called the principle of favorability. Or beginner’s luck.”

Yes. 😦

“Everyone has his or her way of learning things.”

Yes. 🙂

“Its not what enters men’s mouth that’s evil; it is what comes out of their mouth that is.”

Oh, I so loved this line!!

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Was wondering where I had read this already… And that was written on the Dumbledore’s grave in Godric Hollow!!! 😛

“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”

Okay, noted. Just one doubt… How on earth does it happen a second time?! Would be glad if someone throws light on this.

TheAlchemist

On the whole, I think the book’s ambiguity has so much to say in how it gets interpreted and likeable. I will definitely not have understood it the way you did. And there was a lot left unsaid.

Finally, I just have one piece of advice:

If you dream of your destined-treasure-that you have to start looking for, and you have already read The Alchemist – wake up, take a shovel, and start digging right where you slept!! Easiest solution to find the treasure, I say 🙂 😉 😛

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Impressions from a TNS concert

It is not fair if  I call this a review, me being the novice. I am writing down my impressions on the concert I attended this evening, at the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha. A full bench with vocalist TN Seshagopalan, M Chandrasekar on the violin, Mannargudi Eashwaran on the mridangam, and B Purushothaman on the kanjira.

Kamas…

I was as usual late to the concert and he had finished a couple of songs by then. When I entered, he was singing swaram in raga Kamas and thalam Chatusra Jadhi Jampa. No idea what the song was. But I just felt – if God can take away one very important ability, sight, and instead bestow you the power to control the world with the music, then so be it! – on listening to Chandrasekar playing.

Aarabhi…

Aarabhi ragam started, and I was so very sure, it was going to be “Oongi Ulagalandha”, today’s Thiruppavai. It turned out to be a virutham emphasising “Kodhai Tamizh”, supposedly one of Aandal’s pasuram. Extensive phrases made me wonder, what next. That is when he takes you by surprise yet again, by singing “Oongi Ulagalandha” in Kanta Chapu thalam. Now, the tune I observed to be very similar. Maybe… maybe he modified the thalam so that there might be more space between words to do his usual gimmicks on brighas.

Link to the recording of this song… Aarabhi – Virutham + Oongi Ulagalandha :

Subapanthuvarali…

Then he sang Subapanthuvarali, ragam notes ranging almost 3 octaves – from high Da to lower Pa. The song was Sri Sathyanarayanam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. For the swara kalpana, he started with a casual vilamba kalam with combinations of “SRG SRG S… PDN PDN P… SRG SRG S…” this phrase as the basis. There was almost a sportive-competition happening between vocalist and the violinist, and they played nearly 20 minutes of 2 avarthana korappu.

And then it happened – TNS was in such a frenzied mode with ideas flowing, that Chandru simply put down his violin and let him sing uninterrupted. What a man!! The tani avarthanam was way beyond my comprehending abilities, so I give it a pass in this narration.

Varunapriya…

After the thani got over, he started singing ragam for the next piece. And I began guessing the ragam. Manirangu… no, it is Needhimathi… ah no, sounds more like Kaapi… a little wierd, probably Kaapi from yesterday’s decoction!?… hindustani/masala Kaapi… Lol 😛 TNS relieved all of us of the tension and announced the raga name as Varunapriya and gave a brief – the exact stuff I found on Wiki a couple of minutes later. Woah!!

The lyrics was customised to request rain, enhancing the raga’s qualities –

“Tharunamidhu Karunai Pozhi Varunapriya

Aazhi Mazhai-k Kanna… Nee” (repeat)

And the raga shifts were done in Amrithavarshini (more rain request), Subapantuvarali (water from eyes as well), Kaapi (he did sing the ragam finally!) and back. The piece was set in kanta jadhi thriputa thalam.

I was so engrossed in the concert, that I just did not bother to even unlock my phone and check – something we do always these days! Plus, I am so going to take my rain jacket to office the next day, just incase 😉

Glossary:

avarthana – a cycle of thalam

brigha – faster rendition of a phrase in aalap

chapu, thriputa, jampa – types of thalam

chatusra – 4 beats

full bench – all the necessary accompaniments are present (violinist, and 2 percussion instrumentalists)

kanjira – similar to tambourine

kanta – 5 beats

Kaapi, Needhimathiand Manirangu – are names of the ragas I guessed, wrongly 😉

Kamas, Aarabhi, Subapanthuvarali, Varunapriya, Amrithavarshini – are names of ragas of the songs performed

korappu – a pattern of swara singing

Swara, neraval, thanam, aalapana – various forms of showcasing the skill, improvising the raga on the spot

tani avarthanam – is the phase of the concert when the percussion instruments alone play

vilamba kalam – slow pace

virutham – format of singing a verse (/sloka) improvising, usually without thalam

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Girl in the Green Scarf’s festive ensemble

“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again. ” – from the Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Well, it is not everyday you get to shop and choose your entire attire at the same time not emptying your wallets – every girls dream. When I saw such a contest open on Indiblogger, I wanted to grab the opportunity at once 🙂

Presenting to you below, my choice of the perfect festive attire and the combination of accessories.

starting something new with Shopper's Stop
starting something new with Shopper’s Stop

Details…

  • Green Mandarin-collared poly-silk Stop Mix and Match Kurta (7254707_9463) for the tops, flaunting a trending traditional style
  • Wine-color skinny fit Cros Ladies Corduroy Pants (6991922_9667) that speaks volumes on comfort and style by itself
  • Red leather Hidesign Handbag (6548899_9607), with vintage handles; sexy and safe 😉 (I own one, and I vouch for it!!)
  • Infinity Necklace collection (6092425_9999) – Rhodium plated pewter with clear and Garnet CZ
  • Fossil Women’s Watch CH2825 (6813589_9999), having a round gunmetal dial
  • Lemon Pepper Ladies Footwear (5920801_9612) – Trendy and bold,call yourself a true fashionista

Was able to make a selection of all the above and make a collage out of it, thanks to www.shoppersstop.com. Enjoyed choosing, creating and writing for the contest, especially because all these processes were very me!

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

The Krishna Key

In the name of the book’s review I am trying to write whatever thought process went through me on reading this book “The Krishna Key”.

The book is a mystery – thriller – conspiracy work of fiction with basis in the Indian roots and plot akin to the Da Vinci Code.

Let me list out what I think is indigenous in the plot.

  • The claim that Mahabharata has been the crux of the first ancient civilazation, is definitely a first.
  • Mathematical references, be it 786 / the 108 and its variances
  • The Hindu-Muslim connection
  • The excerpts from Mahabharata, POV – Krishna. We might have heard Mahabharata a dozen times from various sources, but never like this, which is definitely a plus.

What I don’t get is this… Why would an Avataar of Vishnu, trace down and kill the descendants of the previous Avataar of himself? The reason provided for the same is pretty blur.

Also the excerpts from Mahabharata at the beginning of each chapter, though commendable, can be wider spaced between the story. It takes the reader sometime to get used to mentally travelling millenia between the times of Krishna to the reality of the story.

The antagonist(/s) of the story is(/are) worth the mention. The narrative travels from a phase where there is a mysterious villain and her accomplice… then the villain gets another Boss, in lieu of which the former becomes an accomplice… and to general wonder, this phenomena repeats. Then villain1 kills the Boss, and gains control back. Before you are clear on who is after the prized jewel, the story gets over.

The Krishna Key, whatever it was, was not as convincingly sensational as the Holy Grail. However, the attempt and the extent of the research done by Ashwin, is definitely appreciated.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Experiences of my first Indiblogger meet – (at and for) ITC Grand Chola

There is this thing we do. We blog. And that brought us together at the Indiblogger meet, courtesy indiblogger.in and ITC Grand Chola. It turned out to be the best way to spend a Saturday evening, full of fun, prizes and friends.

Kolam on marble

The Chola Entrance… We entered through the main entrance of the hotel, named Chola, which was decoratedwith the kolams Cholan style. The blogger meet was held at the Rajaraja ballroom, which when expanded, would easily accomodate around 3000 people. We registered at the hall and went about getting a hang of the place. Mind you, it is huge that you might get lost! 😛

One min to Famedom… There was signing in, getting a WiFi connection, getting introduced to new faces, and a perfect start to the meet with “hur” (that is the english version of actor Santhanam’s vetri kuri). Our table won Experience certificate worth Rs 500/- each for being the best cheering table!

We were able to get to know the fellow bloggers during the ’60 seconds of fame’, which is an indiblogger regular feature. The projector will display the details of the person speaking, clock their time, and also intimate the next speaker. I came to know that we had an awesome mix of foodies, techies, fasion designers, photographers, media people and students of all ages.

The dessert spread…

Gourmet High Tea…  As Anoop rightly announced, it was almost a lunch, not just tea. I know someone who had 3 cups of tea, a coffee, followed by 3 different juices!! The spread consisted of yummy stuff from vazhaipoo vadai and bondas  to meringues, dried-asparagus dish, and a myriad of other desserts.

In the course of eating we were planning the storyline for our team, which was to be tweeted for the contest.

Treats for tweets… We were divided into groups of 10 and given a guide and a route to visit. Our team was named the GRAND CHOLAS, and I ended up learning to tweet in order to stay up in the competition. The theme we had was – the royalty from the Chola dynasty were descending to visit a hotel that is their name sake; we ended being totally satisfied at the hotel living up to our expectations! Let me describe the tour to you…

Self-playing pianos & echo-contained lounges… We had an amazing guide, Meghna, who was very informative and patient enough with our delays and boisterous selves. There was the Lotus Lounge which has a circular seating and an area within which will echo and also contain the sound in that circle. This design was used by the Cholas to regulate the accoustics during speeches, in the absence of mordern technology.

Another special feature was the Baby Piano at the Madras Pavillion, which played by itself. All we needed to do was, sit and pose for pics 😉 All the way, there were Chozan-inspired antique cabinets, statues and carvings.

Ipad controlled suites… We visited a room that was above basic level, a tower room. Room 3301, though small, was modern with sliding doors on bathrooms, I-pad to control every possible operation in the room, except, probably the flush 😛 It had a cool security camera feature to look who is outside, and unlock the door.

From restaurants to bars… There were 2 bars – the Tranque and the Cheroot, the former planned to be a fully ladies one (would have been the first sort in Chennai is it?) but ended up a bar like anyother. We were offered free mocktails here!

The guide said there were 10 restaurants operational then, and the rest were planned to be open soon. I loved the detailing that has gone into the restaurants, right from cutting boards, to stained glass plates, to the seating arrangements (refer pics above), to the huge whisky bottles and aesthetic beer taps.

Tanjore hi tech conf room… Though there are 4 other conference rooms by name Kaveri, this was class. It had video – conferencing facilities, hanging mikes which picks the voice of the speaker, cameras from above you that captures document on your table and projects the same (saves the need to distribute copies)

Return gifts… Literally, they were coupons (gifts) that will help us ‘return’ to the hotel. I got lucky with a dinner pass for 2 at Ottima Cucina Italiana restaurant at the hotel. Be back soon, ITC!

Some more pictures from the meet below.

statue of a villager off to work…
“Chef, say cheese” 😀
scintillating view of the Grand Chola from the pool side
the Tanjore hi tech board room

Until next,

-Vid 🙂

Home Sweet Home

As you enter the building of Good Life Centre you are greeted by the warm welcome note with a hand-drawn poster of the compassion personified Mother Teresa caring for a child. And that poster was drawn by one of the in-house residents of this home for orphans and mentally challenged.

About Them

Good Life Centre as mentioned above is a home for orphans, differently-abled children, homeless women – to put it in a phrase, they care for all those who have been neglected by the society. The centre was established in the year 1996 as a rehabilitation centre. Right now, they house 135 inmates which is inclusive of 36 mentally challenged children.

The Children

The Home is rightly called so, as the people residing in it, be it the staff or children, exude such a homely ambiance. In my two visits there, the one thing that stuck me specially was that, the children were very well behaved. From a simple praying-before-eating, to greeting their visitors, each girl / boy does what is expected of her / him.

Services offered

Apart from the centre in Tambaram, they run Thai – Children’s Home that house and educate  54 children; Dr. Kalam Boy’s Village with 45 inmates in a rented premise; Blue Rose that cater to the needs of 36 mentally challenged people.

They require and accept all basic necessities, viz., clothing, medicines, furniture, books, etc., They also require a vehicle to transport the children to school / hospital in case of need.

The Bitter Truth

I asked, “How do they get these children here?” And the answer came back as a blow of reality to my face. I saw all the news article snippets they have preserved that marks the start of each kid’s life at the centre. I should add that I tried to see all the articles but flipping a few pages made me dizzy already.

“Baby girl found abandoned near Tambaram bus stand”

“Just born child with umbilical cord found abandoned in a sack, rescued”

A special mention about a lady who was molested and thus lost her memory a year ago, was nurtured back to health by the Good Life Centre and returned to their parents.

The cheerful side of the coin is that some of the children grow up and take up to servicing themselves. The mentally challenged are being specially educated and their medical needs taken care of.

When we sit in air-conditioned rooms and talk about movies releasing this weekend, let us also take a minute to think about what we have done to help those who are not as privileged as we are. Well, I think I just did my bit. Will you?

For contact:

Good Life Centre,

7B, Loganathan Street, Tambaram West, Chennai – 45.

email: goodlife1996@gmail.com

Phone: 044 2226 4151

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

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