Isayil Thodangudhamma

Yes, it all starts with music. I grew up with music around me, all the time. I wanted to make sure my son would get the same treatment. I was willing to be flexible with the kind of music he wanted to hear- and let the gene pool do the rest. Thankfully, the boy does have a ear for good music.

We experimented with all kinds of music to see what worked for him- ranging from “Maitreem” by M.S.S to “Bhogindra Sayinam” by T.M.K and from “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” by Ilayaraja to “Tarif Karoon Kya Uski” by Mohd. Rafi. And the toddler boy has lapped up most of the music he has been offered- quickly with some and taking his time with others. But here was the interesting part- contrary to my preconceived notion of kids taking to fast paced and beats oriented music, the boy took more to Mohd.Rafi and Kishore Kumar. And this fills my heart with a sense of joy, hitherto unknown. 

Why is this important, you may ask?. I grew up listening to the voice of Rafi saab, Kishoreda, Lata and Asha. When we weren’t doing that, it was MDR, SSI, DKJ and MSS. The music still echoes in my ears. I continue to listen to them almost everyday. And this is why it matters that my son appreciates similar music. It makes for a bonding experience over music that reminds of my own childhood with my parents and subsequently with my brother. The ties of music bind a family wonderfully well. And if the music interests are alike, it makes for some wonderful drives and pleasant listening sessions at home. 

Are we having such long hours of musical bliss together- not yet. But we are able to appreciate songs together for 20-30 minutes at a stretch and that is a start- one that fills me with a lot of hope for the coming years.

And to the doyens of music who have been instrumental in this- thank you. 

P.S. The title of the post refers to an excellent song in Hey Ram, composed by the inimitable Ilayaraja. See and listen to the song here. It is worth your time.

The train song

My 3 yr old loves trains. It started with Thomas the Tank Engine and has morphed into an obsession with all things trains. I had shown him “Chaiyya Chaiyya” a long time ago and he remember itso well that it has become his new go to song. For the last three months, we have listened to the song in the car, again and again and again. In the quest to expand his playlist and make the car drive more pleasant for us, I took it upon myself to introduce new songs that have a train theme to it.

Here is what I came up with. Maybe some of you can help me add more to this list and thus save us!

1. Chaiyya Chaiyya – Composer: A.R.Rahman, Movie: Dil Se – best train song, period.

2. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani – Composer: S.D.Burman, Movie: Aradhana – I grew up loving this evergreen classic.

3. Chikku bukku Raile – Composer: A.R.Rahman, Movie: Gentleman – This was a rage when it came out. Continues to be a fun listen.

4. Main hoon jhumroo– Composer: Kishore Kumar, Movie: Jhumroo – Kishoreda weaves magic with his own composition. The yodeling in this song is pure gold.

5. Hum dono do premi– Composer: R.D.Burman, Movie: Ajnabee – A R.D hit piece with Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman frolicking on top of the train. This is one of those songs where the innocence of the kid kinda helps if you know what I mean 🙂

6. Hoga Tumse Pyaara Kaun– Composer: R.D.Burman, Movie: Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai. Pamchamda gives this youthful movie some bubbly music. This song on top of a train (canned in the studio of course) is a favorite. Of course, there is a different song that earns bigger raves in this movie.

7. Hai Apna Dil To Awara– Composer: S.D.Burman , Movie: Solva Saal. A debonair Dev Anand and a gorgeous Waheeda Rehman elevate an awesome Hemant’da song to an even higher level. What a wonderful piece.

8. Jiya o jiya– Composer: Shankar-Jaikishan , Movie: Jab Pyaar Kisi se hota hai. Another Dev Anand classic. This time with Asha Parekh. Rafi shines like a star in this one.

Thanks to a google search, I found some interesting and wonderful Hindi songs from the golden era to pad up my list (songs 4-8)[link1][link2].

I introduced the full set a week ago and the the little guy fell hook line and sinker. Isn’t music wonderful?. Now we have lots more music to listen to in the car and introduce the voices of Hemant’da, Kishore Kumar and Mohd.Rafi to a whole new generation.

Dil Se- perfection is rare

If I gave anyone the impression that this blog was only about carnatic classical music, this post should dispel it. As I stated in the first post, I love music of all sorts. And Indian film music is an integral piece of the enjoyment diaspora. 

I was in school when A.R.Rahman burst onto the scene and Indian film music has never been the same again. ARR introduced new elements hitherto rare in Indian film music- electronica unlike any other, new voices by the dozen and a penchant to marry esoteric elements in a cohesive manner. And no other director made (or continues to make) better use of his skills than Manirathnam. At the peak of their collaboration came Dil Se. I could write a whole post about the movie but that would be digression from the topic. Suffice to say, it was the coming together of some of the best talents in the country at that time- Mani, ARR, Gulzar and SRK. And there were tremendous expectations from the music. And did ARR meet expectations or what.

Dil Se is probably one of the greatest soundtracks to grace Indian cinema. It offered flavors that were perfectly wedded to the theme of the movie and Gulzar elevated the entire experience with his words. There are arguments as to which is the best song in the movie as each and every piece was a classic. There was the title song, Dil Se Re, which had ARR at his raw and untethered best. Jiya Jale, showcasing Kerala at its virgin best to go with Lata crooning for a smoldering Preity Zinta was a big hit. And so was Satrangi Re, a melange of exotic instruments, brilliant poetry and mind-blowing visuals. Satrangi Re, in its lyrical form boasts poetry of the kind that is almost unrepeatable. Ae Ajnabi was a behind the scenes piece that feels so much real in just audio. And finally, there is Chaiyya Chaiyya. A song that is about as perfect as it gets. And one that I have listened to over a thousand times, the last five hundred courtesy my three year old who is obsessed with it.

Chaiyya Chaiyya is a brilliant piece that boasts a foot tapping tune that is at once Indian and universal. The lyrics talk of a love briefly seen and still warm in the heart. And then there is the picturization that elevates it to a whole different level. A svelte Malaika Arora and SRK cavort to Saroj Khan’s steps atop a running train. It can be argued that Chaiyya Chaiyya is the best shot song in Indian film history (Satrangi Re will be worthy competition). With the tune, lyrics and spectacular picturization, it makes it a perfect song. One that is a rarity, even for a combination as solid as Mani, ARR and Gulzar.

What makes it a greater feat is that the tamil version of the movie, Uyire boasts excellent lyrics by Vairamuthu that almost provides apt competition to Gulzar’s words. A great feat indeed.

As my son insists on me playing the Chaiyya Chaiyya (and its shorter sibling Thaiyya Thaiyya) over and over again, I remember fondly to when the soundtrack came out. It kept the entire nation glued to every time Chitrahaar (or Oliyum Oliyum for tamil movie viewers) played it. There will be many more hits that ARR, Mani and Gulzar will churn in the coming years but Dil Se will stand its test of time as an album that was just perfect. 

Spotify is Godsend

I had been hearing incessantly about Spotify ever since it launched in Europe in October 2008. People kept raving about how awesome it was and how we in the US were missing such an awesome thing. I dismissed it as typical web hype. 

Spotify landed on US shores a month or so ago and I signed up for a beta invite just to see what the hype was all about. It was an invite only service, kind of like Google’s launches. That made it exclusive enough that people were scrounging for an invite. Once I got it, it was sitting on my downloads folder waiting to be installed. Install happened and then the magic kicked in.

Spotify, in my opinion is the real game changer in online music streaming. It is far cooler than iTunes which was itself a revolution when it launched. Spotify is just so darn easy to use, even a caveman can do it. And it picks up the iTunes library in the PC/Mac so you dont have to open iTunes to get to locally stored music. 

The best part of course is the vast library Spotify offers. In addition to help discover eclectic and popular tracks from the Western world, it is diverse in its collection of Indian music. I was thrilled to find everything from “Ulavum Thendral”, a tamil film piece from the movie Mandirikumari to the latest tamil movie soundtracks. There is a fantastic collection of Hindi music, old and new. I have spent hours listening to Rafi, Hemantda and Kishoreda. And the carnatic collection is their crown jewel. MDR is available and so is SSI. D.K.Jayaraman’s brilliant rendition of Papanasam Sivan’s “Nambi kettavar” is there as is Hari Tum Haro and Katrinile by M.S.

I could go on and on but I’ll stop here. Music like this needs to be experienced. And Spotify has gotten me close to some of the music I grew up with. Thank you Spotify. You just made my day, month and possibly year.

Music, pure and simple.

I came to this world listening to the strains of Carnatic music coming from my late grandmother. Until I moved out of the house, Carnatic music was the last thing I heard every night before I drifted off. Middle and high school afternoons was spent listening to A.R.Rahman over and over again. I rediscovered Ilayaraja during college and have been a member of his Raajangam ever since. Late nights at the grad lab were possible thanks to Kishore Kumar and Mohd. Rafi. Years passed. My son happened and his night lullabies were in Neelambhari. A month ago, I got an invite to Spotify and it has been musical heaven ever since.

I write about a lot of things [1][2][3][4]. Something dedicated to music seems like the most logical decision to me.

This blog will feature artists and songs that appeal to the music lover in me. Feel free to share your thoughts on music here.