Sylvianism
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Projekt Ilaiyaraaja Season III — 364/365 — Raagas in Background Score

Over the past one year, you would seen me posting songs specifying the raagas. Sometimes even explaining why Ilaiyaraaja might have used the raaga. It’s all because of Vid Dev, who is a trained carnatic singer and the carnatic expert for the series. You can follow her work on her YouTube channel and Medium blog.

One of the things we always talk about is trying to find the usage of Raagas in the background score of the movies. And, Ilaiyaraaja has done wonders in this area. I also want to start a series of Ilaiyaraaja BGM Score quiz specifically highlighting the interesting themes that he has created in many movies. But, those things can happen later.

As a precursor, here is a sample of 5 different themes from 5 different movies for 5 different situations.

Clip 1:

Movie: Kavikkuyil
Director: Devaraj — Mohan

The heroine (played by Sridevi) challenges the hero (played by Sivakumar) who is a flute player to identify the raaga (or melody) she is thinking in her head. The hero plays this piece in Pahadi which she likes but not the melody she is thinking. Later, it ends up being Reethigowla and we get the Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiran song. The starting of the flute piece might remind you of another song that came much later.

Clip 2:

Movie: Kadhal Oviyam
Director: Bharathiraaja

Kadhal Oviyam actually starts from the heroine. She is shown as a person who responds to jathi and thalam as a chid. So the entire title score is sung by a male singer (SPB) and only the legs of the heroine is shown with dance movements signposting the entire movie for us — the relationship between a visually impaired singer and dancer. The music is in Kalyani but it might sound like the extension of the song Nadhiyil Aadum (which is in Yaman Kalyani) — probably a rejected interlude?

Clip 3:

Movie: Sindhu Bhairavi
Director: K Balachander

Sindhu (played by Suhasini) leaves JKB (played by Sivakumar) under the insistence of Bhairavi (played by Sulochana) but JKB falls into the trap of alcoholism. Bhairavi requests Sindhu to come back in JKB’s life and help him to recover from alcoholism. In a way, it’s a re-entry of Sindhu into the story, and Ilaiyaraaja welcomes us with a short piece of Revathi. It changes to Natakapriya when they together help him to get back on his feet.

Clip 4:

Movie: Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
Director: K Balachander

Surprisingly, according to my knowledge, Ilaiyaraaja has not done a song in Sahana. But, in this clip in Unnal Mudiyum Thambi, when Udhayamoorthi (played by Kamal Hassan) wants to leave the house, his older brother (played by Prasad Babu) encourages him to leave and find his path. As an older brother, he tries to give money as a blessing but Udhayamoorthi takes only a rupee and asks him to play a song instead as a blessing. His brother obliges and we get this wonderful piece in Sahana.

Clip 5:

Movie: Mogamul
Director: Gnanarajasekaran

This is a clincher. I think Ilaiyaraaja gets really enthusiastic when there is a film about Carnatic music and singers. We hear this theme for Yamuna’s character in the film for the first time. Yamuna (played by Archana Joglekar) is being forced by the societal norms to get married but as she is a mistress’ daughter, most of her suitors reject her. This scene shows another such instance, but it also shows Yamuna’s family friend Babu’s (played by Abhishek) platonic attraction towards her. It’s a quite complex scene to score and Ilaiyaraaja uses a rare raga for this situation — Madhyamaravali and Vid Dev says that this is a perfect rendition of the raga.

Some parts of the video might not be working in some countries. so I have provided a IGTV link too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNFNi-Qn3dDWcqUr9rCWjkyMelWZPOEfzUdNSc0/

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