Category Archives: Chitra

Listening to: Roja (1992)

Roja

This film is proof that a decent film can be made with a simple concept. In essence, Roja is a love story painted on a background of terrorism. The first part describes the arranged marriage which brings the protagonists together and the small hiccups before the pair settle down. Then the movie moves on to the young man being abducted while on an assignment in Kashmir and the trauma that both people go through in quite different ways. It ends happily for those who, like me, prefer happy endings.

There are deeper questions which are addressed superficially – individual well-being vs collective interest, nationalism vs zealotry, terrorism and its cost, the ethics of prisoner exchange, child soldiers, collateral damage in war etc. All these are only touched upon with not much commentary; the director keeps his eyes focused on the protagonists. 

The leads Arvind Swamy and Madhoo give good performances. The director, Mani Ratnam, retains a reasonable pace and holds our interest throughout. But for me, the films stands out for two exceptional factors, the cinematography and the music.

One cannot see the film without noticing the extraordinary camera work. The lighting is so perfect! Each shot seems to be lovingly composed. Be it the lovely lush village of the South or the snow peaked wilderness of the North, the camera has captured the beauty of all it has surveyed. I paused often, looking at a frame like I would look at a painting in a museum. Santosh Sivan is not without reason the most awarded Director of Photography in India. He is an artist extraordinaire. I am a fan.

Musically, this film is very important because it is the debut movie score of wunderkind A.R.Rahman. With two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, four National Awards and fifteen Filmfare Awards, to name a few, his career has been exemplary. I fell in love with the music of Roja when I first heard it in 1992; nearly 20 years later I still listen to this album with great pleasure. In fact, I believe I like this early phase of Rahman’s music more than his later work.  This score was included in the Time Magazine Top-10 Soundtracks of all time in 2005. Vairamuthu’s lyrics are a good match for the beauty of Rahman’s music. A collector’s album. Note: The songs were translated into Hindi as well but as I listen only to the Tamil version, I cannot comment on them.

  • Chinna Chinna Asai – Minmini. A lovely list of wishes, this song reminds me of the sweetness of ‘favourite things’ from Sound of Music.

    சின்ன சின்ன ஆசை சிறகடிக்கும் ஆசை
    முத்து முத்து ஆசை முடிந்து வைத்த ஆசை
    வெண்ணிலவு தொட்டு முத்தமிட ஆசை
    என்னை இந்த பூமி சுற்றிவர ஆசை
    மல்லிகை பூவாய் மாறிவிட ஆசை
    தென்றலை கண்டு மாலை இட ஆசை
    மேகங்களை எல்லாம் தொட்டுவிட ஆசை
    சோகங்களை எல்லாம் விட்டுவிட ஆசை
    Little wishes, winged wishes,
    Pearl like wishes, secreted wishes,
    A wish to touch the moon and kiss it,
    A wish that the world circle around me,
    A wish to change into a Jasmine flower,
    A wish to garland a spring breeze,
    A wish to touch all the clouds,
    A wish to leave all sadness.
    Open-mouthed smile Red heart

  •  Rukmani – S.P.Balasubramaniam, Chitra. The lyrics make me uncomfortable as they are explicit, on the edge of vulgar, but the melody is very appealing. The rhythm section of Rahman’s ensemble conduct a veritable masterclass! A.R.Rahman’s magic is woven throughout. The choreography is excellent, this song is both worth listening to and worth watching. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Pudhu Vellai Mazhai – Sujatha, Unni Menon. A slow and gentle song beautifully sung by Sujatha and Unni Menon. I love the instrumental interludes. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kadal Rojave – Sujatha, S.P.Balasubramaniam. Simply perfect! Lovely melody and equally beautiful interludes. How romantic are the lyrics! கண்ணுக்குள் நீதான் கண்ணீரில் நீதான் கண்மூடிப் பார்த்தால் நெஞ்சுக்குள் நீதான். ‘Only you in my eyes, only you in my tears, and if I close my eyes and see, only you in my heart.’ Well said! Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Tamizha Tamizha – Hariharan.  A nationalistic song, it starts quietly but rises to this wonderful exuberant crescendo which brings on goosebumps! Great music. Open-mouthed smile

You can listen to the album here.

I have selected two songs for you. Kadal Rojave is my favourite from this album.

And you must watch Rukmani for the dancing and the rhythms :

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Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Chitra, S.P.Balasubramaniam

Listening to: Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)

KK

Successful Tamil films often get re-made into Hindi films. I am not sure why this wasn’t, for this was a superbly made film. But in a way, I am happy as remakes often spoil the flavour of the original. And this flavour should not be spoilt. I would encourage newcomers to the Tamil film world to borrow/buy a copy with subtitles and watch this vastly entertaining film. Based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, it has been ‘indianised’ to a degree that it doesn’t feel alien at all. Well done S.Rangarajan – ‘Sujatha’ for the story and Rajiv Menon for the screenplay.

There are many good reviews online for those who are interested. As usual, I’ll just remark on whatever caught my attention..

  • Tabu is both beautiful and talented – for me this film showcased her to perfection!
  • I have seen Srividya as a leading lady many years ago; she impressed me then with her expressive face and she does so again as an older but still beautiful woman
  • I am not a great Aishwarya fan but her beauty is spellbinding in this film. The role suits her well.
  • Mamootty has more presence in the nail of his little finger than many ‘heroes’ one is forced to see…what a personality!! I need to get all his older films and give myself a treat..
  • Ajith is charming and very good in this film.  I was introduced to him at a restaurant by our host 4-5 years back; he is even better looking in person!
  • I took a dislike to Abbas even before the role made him out to be a weakling..wonder why..

But I am here to talk about the music and it is truly wonderful!! This is A.R.Rehman in his melodious years; an album to fall in love with, an album to listen to again and again. The lyrics by Vairamuthu are excellent.

  • Konjum Mainakkale – Sadhana Sargam. A very imaginative picturisation with a lovely dance by Aishwarya. I enjoy seeing it. I also love all the instrumental interludes. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kannamoochi – Chitra. I can’t see this without remembering my niece who bought the exact same pavadai-thavani, jewellery et al and who looked as pretty as Aishwarya does in it ! Great Bharatanatyam moves integrated into the dance routine, very well choreographed. Open-mouthed smile
  • Enna Solla Pogirai – Shankar Mahadevan காதலின் கேள்விக்கு கண்களின் பதில் என்ன மௌனமா ? says the lyricist, how apt! Is the answer to the question posed by my love only silence? And later, the song goes on to say ‘ it takes only a second to say No, but it would take me a another lifetime to bear that’.. A beautifully written and sung song. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  •  Enge Enathu Kavithai – Chitra, Sreenivas. I have always loved Chitra’s voice and she sounds divine in a song which seems written for her! A.R.Rehman’s stamp is there with beautiful background chorus and instrumentals. A song which touches one’s heart. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Smiyai – Clinton Devan, Dominique Cerejo. A good dance number with great beats. Some sixties sound incorporated into a 90’s sound… Smile
  • Suttum Vizhi – Hariharan. An absolutely brilliant rendition of Bharathiyar’s classic poetry, I was addicted to this song for a time. My dislike of Abbas is what keeps me from seeing on youtube all the time! Thank you AR Rehman, the classic sounds beautiful in your hands! Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Kandukondain – Hariharan, Mahalaxmi Iyer. Shot in Scotland, the settings are beautiful yet I do not like the picturisation at all! That said, the song is still lovely. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

With three songs I love, and two other colourful dances which will make great viewing, I have to admit I am stumped as to what to present in this blog! I recommend again that you see this film, if only for the music. Well, ok, I’ve made my choices – it is Enna Solla Pogirai for the beauty of the song and Tabbu’s loveliness.

And Kannamoochi for the dancing :

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Filed under Bollywood 00's Music, Chitra, Shankar Mahadevan, Tamil Film Music