Discernment. Online

The fee received by S L Bhyrappa for the filming rights of his novel has taken Kannada 
 breath away
"When the lake is full, they call it the Ganga; when it dries up, they pierce its stomach," sings Ashwath in his trademark style


In Association with Amazon.com



ReviewHemanth and Tara in 'Mathadana'

Big writers on
a neat album

Mathadana has music by C Ashwath and V Manohar, and boasts the poetry of literary icons like Gopalakrishna Adiga and Siddalingaiah     

Rs 38 


S L Bhyrappa, the bestselling Kannada author, taught philosophy for many years, and the conflict of tradition and modernity is a recurring theme in his novels. No one disputes his admirers' argument that his novels are very readably crafted, but many writers, including fellow-Mysorean U R Anantha Murthy, have often accused him of upholding decadent, brahminical values. In his autobiography, Bhyrappa accused Anantha Murthy (without naming him, but by dropping enough hints about his identity) of getting his house stoned! Their relationship would probably be counted among the grand rivalries of Kannada literature. For this piece, let's just say that Bhyrappa holds an unparalleled sway on the Kannada literary market, and  his works command a loyal readership in languages like Marathi as well.

Bhyrappa's Mathadana has now been filmed by T N Seetharam, director of the popular television serial Mayamruga. Stories are making the rounds of how Bhyrappa had to be persuaded hard before he agreed to give Seetharam the filming rights. Mathadana is produced by Aniketana Chitra, the same production house that made Kuvempu's Kanooru Heggaditi (directed by Girish Karnad). 

The fee Bhyrappa got for the rights, and Poornachandra Tejaswi got for his Jugari Cross, have been discussed in the newspapers. The two writers have taken the industry's breath away by demanding, and getting, a fee somewhere between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh a story. Why this should scandalise the film industry is of course a question outsiders may ask, especially when third-rate actors get many times as much.

Coming back to Mathadana, it stars Anant Nag, Devaraj and Tara.  Hemanth, who came to light in Seetharam's Mayamruga, also plays a major role.

The music is by C Ashwath and V Manohar. Ashwath is better known as a composer and singer of sugama sangeeta. For some years, he worked both independently and with L Vaidyanathan and made music for about 20 films. After that stint, he moved away for almost a decade, but returned again and has composed, in recent years, for six films, of which my favourite is Nagamandala. Manohar works both as music composer and lyricist, and is a popular choice in the Kannada film industry, second only to Hamsalekha.

Mathadana features eight tracks. Idu modalane haadu hego eno ariye is a cheerful love song, based on the Kirvani scale. I simply soaked up the silken violins that back up the singing. Long time since I had heard such unobtrusive, neat acoustic violins. The interludes are not
as striking: they progress predictably, if you're familiar with Ashwath's bhavageete cassettes and the way interludes are usually done there. The poem, by V Manohar, muses about the soft uncertainies of love, like the question, "Am I saying the right thing?" It is sung by a thin-voiced Nandita and Rajesh Krishnan, who seems very strongly influenced by S P Balasubramanyam's style.

Ranga kunidu rangu eri is a folksy number, and moves from cheerful to  sad when Aswhath comes in. Seems inspired by the success of the Janumada Jodi number Golumande jangama, but it is a new tune altogher, sung by a chorus of Yuvaraj, Janardhan, K S Surekha, M D Pallavi. Ashwath comes in towards the end of the song.

Aluva kadalolu is a poem by Gopalakrishna Adiga, one of the most accalimed practitioners of Indian modernist poetry. His Kananda poetry has been translated into many languages, including English, and he is considered an Eliotian voice, documenting with his metaphors the wastelands of modern life. P Kalinga Rao, master and pioneer of the sugama sangeeta genre, had sung this poem decades ago, and Mathadana's tune, sung by Rajesh Krishnan and B R Chaya, is altogether brisker, stressing nageyahaayi doni ("the boat of laughter") rather than the aluva kadalu ("the sea of sorrow").

Adiga writes:

Asheyemba tala-odeda doniyali doora teera yana...

idu baalu nodu ida tilidenendaru tilida dheeranilla
halavutanada maimaresuvaatavidu nijavu toradalla

(The journey is long, and the boat is leaky...
Look, this is life, and no brave man has found what it's all about
It shows you many things, it's a game that makes you forget yourself,
but the truth it won't show).

Olavali haadide hamsa /naguta nee needide manasa is a soft number by Rajesh Krishnan and Nandita. It has a guitar playing spaced-out notes in the background, and soft unison violins again, recalling the film orchestra of 20 years ago.

Nayi talemyalina butti uses the dialect of northern Karnataka, and ruminates about the world's ways, its ingratitude, its opportunism. "When the lake is full, they call it the Ganga; when it dries up, they dig it up and pierce its stomach," Aswath sings this poem by H S Venkatesha Murthy in his trademark style. A dramatic song which begins with an anguished sarangi passage (is it by Faiyaz Khan, the talented Dharwad musician who has been in Bangalore lately?)

Side B opens with Aidu varushakkomme baruva, a poem by the famous Dalit poet Siddalingaiah, and its tune is in the style of agit-propaganda songs. Sung by Rajesh Krishnan, it celebrates the power of the vote to fill even the poorest man with pride. It doesn't forget to mention that elections bring illusions just as they bring dreams.

The credit for the music is given to Ashwath and Manohar. This is probably their first collaborative effort. No song on this album sounds particularly inspired, or qualifies for the 'great' tag, but this is still a reasonably good album, and you won't regret adding it to your collection.

Amritamati S 

Write to the author

Post your view instantly on the message board


Top  | Home

Press Ctrl D to bookmark The Music Magazine

Media praise for your favourite e-zine from India:

*For fans of Indian music, there is no better resource on the Web -- CNet
*Well researched -- India Today
*Fantastic site -- Hitbox
*Web's best -- Britannica
*Superb coverage... worth tuning in to -- Rediff
*Classy -- Deccan Herald