It was with great eagerness I picked up a much
talked-about album and sat down to listen to it. I had heard about Sudha Raghunathan, a successful diva on the Karnatak classical stage, being keen on getting into films.
Classical vocalist Nithyashree Mahadevan's popularity, everyone knows, had soared after she did a couple of popular numbers (Kannodu kaanbadellaam based on raga Abheri in Jeans and then that long-running title song from the television serial Chitti). Bombay Jayashree hit the bull's eye with her Vaseegara in the film Minnale.
Sudha has recently sung a TV serial title song for Dhina. And Ivann, I told myself, was going to be a spectacular crossover for her into movie songs.
Parthiban, hero and director of Ivann, has worked on off beat
themes before, and with Ilaiyaraja. In Azhagi
, where he had Nandita Das debuting in Tamil, we heard some haunting lines from the maestro.
Sudha sings three numbers. Two of them, Kannane nee (in raga Bageshri, lyrics by Muthulingam) and Enna enna seiday nee (Vali), are both about love of music and love through music.
I wish Sudha had approached her numbers with some patience. Like a nerdy student out to impress the teacher, Sudha reaches breathlessly for stardom. She sings familiar, fast swaras and clever kannakku phrases. There is no space for any expression of the kind one has heard in P Susheela or, more recently, in Bombay Jayashree.
Sudha's guru, the great M L Vasanthakumari, also sang for a few films. Her songs were mostly classical dance numbers.
In classical music, we look for improvisational expertise and grace of expression. In films the lyrics and the characters demand a different set of skills from the singer. But all these factors have been ignored, for Sudha seems to be singing playback for a classical singer. So we don't discover any new facet to Sudha's singing.
The slant of the film is classical music, but there's also an item number to make up for those who are not tuned to this genre. Karthik and Sujata sing Thoolu podu thoolu, where women's lips are described as tasty pickles (words by Na Muthukumar). And then Ulagame... nee manithanai berates the world for transforming men into animals. In their male chauvinist insularity, the poets pickle women's body parts and reserve earth-shaking transformations for the men! The song is by Mu Metha.
Ulagame... nee manithanai, miragamai aakuvadenu
Amaithiye... nee irrukkavorideminri alaindu vidalaamo?
world... why do you transform man into an animal?
Oh peace... can it be that you wander
with no place to stay?
Kapilan writes a number for Karthik and Malgudi Shuba: Mutham enbadu tea kudipaddu pol (A kiss is like drinking tea).
Unnikrishnan and Mathangi sing
Pazhanibharati's Apdi paakrdunna venam, which begins promisingly with Ilaiyaraja's trademark harmonies and then dwindles into vagueness.
Ilaiyaraja has written two songs Bhajane
seyvom and Pattukku pogadingo. Bad news for his fans: he disappoints
severely. Not a single line or snatch of melody stays or
haunts. The old touch does not
surface except in very distracted, lost patches in some interludes and intros. Sad let-down from a genius.
S Suchitra Lata
Posted on 19
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