The fee received by
S L Bhyrappa for the filming rights of his novel has taken
"When the lake is full, they call it the Ganga;
when it dries up, they pierce its stomach," sings Ashwath in his
Big writers on
a neat album
Mathadana has music by C
Ashwath and V Manohar, and boasts the poetry of literary icons
Gopalakrishna Adiga and
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
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
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
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
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
doniyali doora teera yana...
baalu nodu ida tilidenendaru tilida dheeranilla
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.
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