K Balachander has been making films about man-woman relationships for the last 30 years. Apoorva Ragangal was about love between couples of different generations. It starred Kamal Haasan and Srividya. Balachander, ever the messiah of middle class morality, goes in for a pragmatic ending which pushes the unorthodox relationship away, and the cross-generational couples have to separate.
Ek Duuje ke Liye starring Kamala Haasan and Rati Agnihotri was the usual boy meets girl, but the fence comes in in the form of language. So the Tamil-Hindi romance has to teeter towards a suicidal climax. Pudu Pudu Arthangal, starring Geeta and Raguman, was about an obsessive, jealous wife who drives her man into an unusual relationship with a runaway girl on a bus. Again, domesticity and conventional morality win, and Raguman returns home to an almost reformed Geeta. The formula is clear. Unusual relationships happen, accepts Balachander, but ultimately the world's ways prevail. And he puts his defeatist view into an attractive, populist package.
Paarthaale Paravasam is touted as Balachander's 100th film, but in an interview he accepts that it is his 100th "creation" because his television serials have also been counted to arrive at the number. This film, starring Simran, Madhavan and Sneha, is about marriage, divorce and reconciliation, familiar themes on the Balachander canvas.
Balachander had earlier worked with Rahman in the Prabhu-Ramesh Aravind starrer Duet, in which the composer worked exclusively with the saxophone player Kadri Gopalnath.
This album will be welcomed by fans thirsty for Rahman's Tamil music: they had been despairing that he has abandoned them for Hindi and Broadway.
Rahman is such a sure seller that he can well afford to expect a long rope from his listeners. Which he gets inevitably. On this album he seems to be moving further towards music that is broken and non-linear. Question: is he moving towards creative abstraction or is he distracted? Your answer will depend on whether you are a die-hard fan or a less overwhelmed observer. Being musically inclined towards coherence than towards such distraction, I would rank Rahman's latest score lower than Bombay, Dil Se and Mudhalvan.
The first track Manmatha maasam by Nithyasree and Shankar Mahadevan has some Karnatak musical phrases from D K Pattamal's granddaughter and a robust rendering from Shankar Mahadevan. The rhythm track changes unexpectedly from three-beat to four-beat. The song is repeated on side B.
Nee daan en desiya geetam by Balaram and Chitra features a very tiring rhythm section which goes on and on. Hollywood-style flourishes come and go. This is a long love song in the assertive mode that Rahman used in the Vande Mataram album. The bass suddenly comes alive, the violins smooth away the awkward tune.
The Arab touch comes in with the third track. Moondrezhuthu by Harini and Karthik is replete with bulbultara phrases (Sheikh Masuood Ahmed). Harini sings at a pitch lower than her usual, which makes her sound sadly screamy. The syncopated lines (lyrics by Valee) sound understated. The first three tracks are by Valee as is Love check.
Azhage sugama by Vairamuthu is sung by Shrinivas and Sadhna Sargam. The song is quieter and relaxed. New Age sounds can be heard -- the sort you hear on albums meant for meditation or reiki.
It uses some jazz-style phrases on the piano, and Hindustani style phrases on the solo violin and flute.
The stanzas use shorter phrases on the synth violin ensemble but the tune is dull. The relief actually comes from the subdued 7/8 rhythm track. Vairamuthu returns to his beauty and falsity predicament: "Beauty, are you doing fine, are your angers doing fine, is your garden doing fine, are your lies doing fine?" he writes. This track too is played on Side B again as Anbe sugama.
Love check is by Sriram and Sivamani, the percussion wizard who is often featured on Rahman albums. The mrudangam and thavil give it a homely effect. You will also find some Remo-style rhythmic utterances. Sivamani's contribution? You find plenty of this sort of thing in live fusion and jamming sessions.
Adisaya thirumanam (Vali) by Kalyani Menon, Sujatha, Sriram Narayan and Sriram Parthasarathy (of Three brothers and a Violin) fame is an emphatic group song. Reminded me of Ilaiyaraja's explorations in Magalir Mattam and Hey Ram. This is also in 7/8 but reversed with the stress falling on the fourth instead of the traditional third beat. The rhythm takes a lot of movement with its weaving back and forth from the 5/4 beat to the 7/8 to the 4/4 and back. The melody does not exactly glow. Seems to be another Sivamani arrangement.
Nadirdana by Rashid Ali and Thubara is full of Spanish guitar (Rashid Ali).
The title track has some rock guitar. Rehana, Ganga, Febi, Feji and Poornima sing this song by Muthukumar. The first stanza has some techno-trance sort of distancing of the voice. The interlude has a Celtic flute along with some ululations thrown in for good measure. Towards the end one of the voices sings some raga Sahana phrases. The song is rendered in a semi-rap style, breathlessly.
S Suchitra Lata
on 19 November 2001
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