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At a press meet, after this album was released, Ilaiyaraja refused to answer most questions, and when he did speak, he mumbled contradictory things like "I know nothing about music" and "I am music". The papers wrote
that they couldn't figure out if he was eccentric or arrogant!
Quick links:

S L Bhyrappa's novel on celluloid: Review of the Mathadana album 

Songs from the Kannada coast: review of the Munnudi

Usire is produced by Rockline Venkatesh, who is fond of blockbusters







The words be jammed! 

Rs 45

The words on this Ilaiyaraja album seem strangely jammed, and the stress consistently falls on the wrong place


Usire was an eagerly awaited film, not so much for what story it would tell as for its music. This Ravichandran-starrer has music by Ilaiyaraja, and the publicists had said Hamsalekha would be writing the words. Ravichandran and Hamsalekha, the actor's once favourite lyricist-composer, are no longer on good terms, and their reported coming together for this film had aroused some curiosity. 

Usire is a remake of a Tamil film, but Ilaiyaraja's tunes are original. Instead of Hamsalekha, K Kalyan has finally written the words. He's the man who wrote the words in Amritavarshni as well, and won an award for his music score in Chandramukhi Pranasakhi. 

At least some songs in Usire bring back the Ilaiyaraja we all know -- the chords, the syncopation, the violin movements and the orchestral colour are all recognisable. Something I noticed on this tape: the words seem syncopated in an unthinking sort of way, making the stress fall on the wrong places, and making it difficult for even careful listeners to follow the meaning of the words. Don't know if this is Kalyan's fault or Ilaiyaraja's.

The problem shows up very conspicuously in the second song, Chilipiliyalu chilipilage edearalisi olavali. I strained my ears to catch the words, made them out with difficulty, and again heard several strangely stressed words. In the line Aparoopagala anubandhadali nanna manasina katheyide, for instance, aparoopa becomes a hurried apa-ru-pa, in anubandha all syllables are clipped, and nanna becomes nana). This is no stylisation, it sounds like too many words fitted into too small a space. In another song, Brahmanige chinte illa becomes Brahmanige chinte ila.

Majunu alida marubhoomi seeks to express the anguish of unrequited love, and naturally uses the images of Majnu and the desert. Again the words seems stilted (shrutiya bittu becomes shrutiya bitu). Musically, it has all the heightened melodrama you would expect from a song like this. The orchestra is quite nicely done, and S P Balasubramanyam sings in a high-pitched style.

Chandri nee chenda chenda is a pleasant tune, and Yesudas is better than in some other recent songs, but he is definitely off-colour at many points. It's a song where the hero describes the beauty of the girl, and Kalyan comes up with utterly ridiculous alliterations like Chakkuli chandrana chochchalu varavidu. I liked parts of the orchestra though.

Muthu helo maathidu has a folksy beat, and choppy guitar chords. It's where Muthu, the hero, sermonises, presumably to the heroine.   

Preetisuve preetisubaa is a duet between the hero and the heroine, a low-caste man and a high-caste girl. Bhavatharani, who has just won the national award for best female playback singer for a song in Bharati, sings this number with Yesudas. A total mismatch if there was one, with Bhavatharani unable to express the words. The tune itself isn't too bad though.

Janapada annodu namma jeeva is again folksy in its approach, and is backed up by a chorus that sings occasional snatches to add texture. This one is sung by S P Balasubramanya and Chithra.

Usire (O breath!) may run well at the box office. That still won't make amends for the bad poetry, or for tunes that ride roughshod over the words.

At a press conference in Bangalore when this album was released (first week of April), Ilaiyaraja refused to answer reporters' questions, and when he did speak, he mumbled contradictory things like "I know nothing about music" and "I am music". The papers reported that they couldn't figure out if he was being eccentric or arrogant!

Amritamati S 

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