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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Check Your Rahman Quotient - Answers

.:: Wish You all a Very Peaceful New Year ::.

Check Your Rahman Quotient - Answers




4.Minsara Kanavu

5.Kannathil Muthamittal - Sattena

6.Padayappa - Neelaambari Love theme

7.Jodha Akbar - Love theme

8.Jeans - Madhumitha's Ecstacy

9.Lagaan - Title Theme

10.Swades - Theme

11.Kannathil Muthamittal - Refugee theme

12.RDB - Main Theme

13.Iruvar - Anandhan Theme

14.Dilse - End Credits

15.Yuva - Cunning Theme

16.Thiruda Thiruda - Chase Theme

17.Pudhiya Mugam - Theme

18.Gentleman - Escape Theme

19.Fire - China Town

20.Slumdog Millionaire - Lathika's Theme

21.Mangal Pandey - End Credits

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nandalala - Illayaraja - Mysskin

Mysskin is one director who takes a lot of care on background score in his movies. After proving himself as a director with movies ‘Sithiram Pesudhadi’ and ‘Anjathey’, which had very good background scores by Sundar C.Babu, Mysskin gets Illayaraja for his next ‘Nandalala’. More than the fact that Illayaraja is doing background score for a Mysskin movie, what makes me happy is that Mysskin has this habit of releasing the movie’s background score in soundtrack of the movie even before the release of the movie. He did it for both ‘Sithiram Pesudhadi’ and ‘Anjathey’. With the news like Mysskin leaving 45 minutes of the film silent for Illayaraja’s music to speak, one can’t resist the expectations and I sincerely hope that Mysskin releases the complete background score of the movie in the CD before the release of the movie. And icing on the cake is this news that Mysskin is capturing the background score recording sessions on a camera to release it separately. It would be big boon for fans like me, if we get to watch Raaja’s live recording session and that too of a background scoring session.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Check Your Rahman Quotient

At this juncture, when A.R.Rahman is winning all possible American awards and nominations for his score in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, here I present a small celebration of his music in the form of a musical collage comprising some of his famous and beautiful movie themes. I want to post more on Rahman’s background scores in this blog in coming weeks, to keep the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fever alive. And ofcourse, as always you can guess the movie names of these 21 themes and check your Rahman quotient. Extended version of each of these themes will be posted separately later.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Golden Globes - Rahman

Rahman gets a Golden Globe nomination for Slumdog Millionaire Score and misseds out in the Original Song category.

And here is a nice interview of A.R.Rahman about SdM score

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rahman's First for SdM Score

A.R.Rahman wins in ‘Best Musical Score’ category in L.A Critic’s Award - his first award for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ score. It is not for the ‘Jai Ho’ song but for the complete background score. It won over Alexandre Desplat’s score for ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’.

For best musical score, the group voted for A.R. Rahman, a go-to composer for Bollywood films making his debut on a Western film in "Slumdog Millionaire," besting Alexandre Desplat for "Benjamin Button."

Also, Rahman gets nominations in the Original Song and Background Score categories in 14th Annual Critic’s Choice Award.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire Score

A.R.Rahman has always been fascinated by the rhythm sound of a train and there are not many who have used it in songs as interestingly as him. The fascination was very evident in the background score of Bombay much before the ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ thunder hit the world of music. In the movie Bombay, in the scene when Manisha after hearing the news of Arvind Swamy leaving to Bombay, runs towards a train moving on a distant bridge, we don’t hear the natural train sound, instead Rahman fills the soundtrack with a thundering rhythm that imitates that of the train as if the deafening sound of the train - carrying her beloved soul away, is tearing apart the music in Manisha’s life.

And now Rahman takes one step further and creates the thunder once again with a thumping train rhythm in the opening song ‘O Saya’ of the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ soundtrack, tearing apart the barriers and making the real cross over in his own inimitable way. The song gives me the ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ days of exhilaration. It sounds as fresh as the songs of ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ sounded, when it released and from what I read and understand even people from the other part of the world feel the same about this song. The beauty of the song is not just in its rhythm, as the Rahman’s alaap is one of the catchiest hooks I have heard in recent times. While the rhythm is all Rahman sound, the vocal melody is all Rahman music and together it spins a captive aural web on the listeners. M.I.A’s vocal portions and the cute and playful kids’ choral portions are nicely sandwiched in between. Also, the music beautifully matches with the rapid cuts and energy of the visuals where kids are shown running in the narrow streets of Bombay slums.

‘Riots’ with its sustained bass implying the prevailing tension and the turbulent rhythms adding upon a disturbing aura and with a very petrifying layer of e-sounds, brings out the intended effect quite well.

‘Mausam & Escape’ is the first piece I heard with the visuals from this movie (thanks to Youtube) and the one which I instantly liked. The initial pleasant strain of guitar beautifully underscores the sweet surprise of Lathika and Jamal as they meet each other in the railway station and before they could come closer and before guitar could take a complete thematic form, it is abruptly broken by the gang abducting Lathika, as does the freaking Sita(r)ock and running violins that abruptly ends the guitar piece and aptly captures the chaos, the struggle and the high energy chase in the visuals. After reaching its maximum energy and sound with thick layers of chorus, strings and beats, it turns mellow at the end and the tempo slowly fades and sitar theme gasps and whispers like how a person running and chasing someone would stop and gasp before he stabilizes.

Rahman gives a new meaning to the term Inspiration with the track ‘Ringa Ringa’, a beautiful rework of notorious and catchy Lakshmikant-Pyarelal’s ‘Choli ke peeche’ song. The ‘Ringa Ringa’ line in such an additive phrase of melody that I kept singing it, long after listening to the song. Even cookcookcook hook gets a twist as chikchiku. Rahman thickens the rhythm section with lot more loops of beats along with conventional Dhols and Dholaks, keeps the eroticism of the original intact by making Ila Arun and Alka Yagnik to land the ending notes of each line sensuously and infact injects more feel with additional hmms, hoons and haas of Ila Arun. He also adds a lot of beautiful sub layers like occasionally joining flute pieces and expressive humming of backing female harmony.

‘Liquid Dance’ is a cocktail solution prepared with a spoon of Sriram’s alaaps in ‘Love Check’ song from Rahman’s Tamil soundtrack ‘Parthalae Paravasam’ and a spoon of string section of the ‘Spirit of Rangeela’ from Rangeela. But it indeed is a sweet cocktail that alternates between catchy Arabic strings section and classical Indian alaaps that just nicely touches and parts with each other at various moments. Madhumitha’s voice is a surprise; Rahman indeed knows when and how to use the singers. Can’t imagine what could be the situation in the movie that this piece is scored for.

While I was getting a bit worried about lack of simplicity in Rahman’s melodies off late, here comes a bonanza in the form of ‘Lathika’s Theme’ that sounds so simple and yet a beautiful, deeply moving piece of music which also gains longevity with Suzanne’s vocals. The leisurely sitar strains playing the main theme towards the end adds a serene and divine touch to this emotional romantic melody. The ‘Dreams on Fire’ is the vocal version of the Lathika’s theme exquisitely sung by Suzanne again. With a constantly running bass, guitar strains, shakers and effective yet muted beats that thud deep under, this vocal version of Lathika’s theme is such a gripping love ballad and is one of the best English songs Rahman has written so far next only to ‘The Journey Home’ from Bombay Dreams. And the ending Flute version of the main theme is absolute bliss to listen to.

It is difficult to decipher the all-techno ‘Millionaire’ track. I don’t know if it sounds like the theme of the KBC show because the piece continuously transforms into different shapes as layers pile up one over the other and main motif keeps changing. It suggest a build up and it seems to be trying to tell a story especially the distant sounding somber cry in Madhumitha’s alaap implies something dramatic. This piece is strictly a background score material which relies heavily on the visuals to gain its completeness.

The strictly hip-hop ‘Gangsta Blues’ is a slow poison in which Blaaze and Tanvi Singh has put up a neat performance with right attitude and punch. It was tedious to listen to it initially because of its monotonous beats, slow pace and not so instantly identifiable structure of the song. But there are hooks in this one too and once you figure them out, you won’t skip this track next time.

If ‘Jai Ho’ was there in one of our Hindi film soundtracks, we would have definitely and easily rejected it out as another mediocre effort of Rahman. The song isn’t great but it isn’t bad either. Rahman gets the energy and the emotions right in the song with a clever structure that doesn’t ponder too much on the weak vocal parts in middle and instead breaks into the catchy hooks and the punchy percussions every now and then. Being quite aware of the highly emotional triumph at the end of the movie, I can understand how the overall energy and the euphoric sound of the song take over the audience. It is okay if Rahman gets nominated for Oscar for this song and wins it. Though not his best, if he wins then the world will come to listen to his far better Indian classics.

M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ is quite catchy and I liked the way gun shot sound is used in this track. And there is Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s ‘Aaj Ki Raat’ which is my favorite from Don Soundtrack.

Oscars and Other debates

I would like to insist on one thing which I have been doing quite often in this site that great background score is all about apt music and it need not always be a great music in its own (an obvious example being Psycho theme). For example, Rahman’s own ‘Warriors of Heaven and Earth’ score sounded great on audio but I was totally disappointed with the way it was used in the movie. So, there is no bigger sin than reviewing a movie soundtrack without even watching the movie.

I am not saying this to understate the goodness of the soundtrack as a stand alone audio. The soundtrack is very good, and it may even sound great once we understand how well it fits in with the visuals. The film director is the one who decides how the movie should sound, the type of music to be used, and sometimes even the instruments to be used (have seen videos in which George Lucas asks John Williams to sublime the brass and horn section of the orchestra from one of the cues while recording the score for Star Wars - directors get as specific as that in their requirements). So it is absolute stupidity to comment on a composer’s choice of genre of music for particular situation in the movie. Infact, the most people’s complaint about ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is that it is in-the-face and so loud, but if those who complain have seen or read Danny Boyle’s and Rahman’s interview, it is very clear that Danny wanted the score to be loud and they deliberately mixed it in such a way that the music should hit the audience the moment they hear it with the visuals. And even I have complaints about Rahman being generic in his background scores which doesn’t capture minute shift in emotions in the visuals and it is obvious to feel so for someone to feel so who has been drenched with innumerable masterpieces of background scores by Illayaraja. But that is not what Danny wanted; he wanted each music cue to be a separate song in itself and that which captures the overall energy and the mood of the sequence. And Rahman seems to have fulfilled Danny’s requirements.

And coming to the Oscar nomination for Best Background score debate, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they nominate and if this score actually fetches an Oscar for Rahman. As I said, there are no set rules in background score, its only aim is to effectively convey the director’s vision and the emotions in the visuals and if possible elevate it at times with the music. In that sense, if what critics from all over the world said can be believed, Rahman’s score seems to have done the job to near perfection in Slumdog Millionaire. Yes, it doesn’t have a theme or thematic development or symphonic swells like most of the scores nominated in this category use to have. I am also a big fan of Thomas Newman’s score for Wall-E, and an incredibly thematic orchestral score by Alexandre Desplat for ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ seems to be another serious contender in this category.

But the eclectic sound that Rahman and Danny puts up with Slumdog Millionaire is a refreshing change for a western crowd, that breaks rules and conventions and that sets up narrative in fire with its energy. So we can’t completely ignore the chance of Rahman winning it and if he wins we have every reason to be open heartedly proud about it. Let us not ask those stupid ‘Why should we care about Oscars’ questions. Rahman has nothing to prove to India by winning an Oscar, his music has already done it enough but an Oscar in his hand will definitely help him to go to the next level in the international arena. Here’s wishing Rahman all the best and keeping the finger crossed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 46

This piece is from Pushpak (Pesum Padam in Tamil). Composer – L.Vaidhyanathan. I always wanted to watch this movie as I knew that it is a silent film without any dialogues and so there would be a lot of scope and work for the composer to communicate the emotions in the visuals through his background score. Though I felt that overall there is too much of music being used and also didn’t like overtly cheesy synth usage in the score, there are lot of scoring moments where the score beautifully underscores like the one in which this piece is used.

Kamal meets Amala for the first time in a shop, where she is trying different ear rings to select the one that fits her taste. As she is looking into a mirror, she finds in the mirror that a stranger (Kamal) is also watching her from behind. And she notices that he is keenly watching her. The pleasant sitar piece constantly flows in the background, the flute pops up in between when Amala tries one ear ring and looks into the mirror for Kamal’s approval and as Kamal show a rejecting reaction in his face, what starts of as a pleasant piece goes off-track and cuts itself and this happens for each ear ring Amala tries and Kamal rejects but finally when Amala finds the one ear ring that Kamal likes, the relieved flute piece plays a definite melody in its entirety giving a fine finish to the scene and also to the music piece.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jai Ho - Rahman

Four High Quality Tracks from Slumdog Millionaire are here. Can’t wait to listen to the complete soundtrack…

I am happy that A.R.Rahman has impressed Western audience in his own way and not by doing symphonic orchestral pieces which is kind of becoming a cliché there, though I would want him to do more of that also.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Subramaniyapuram – Scoring Moments

‘Subramaniyapuram’ is the one of the most engaging Tamil film of this year (first one being Anjathey obviously). The songs of Subramaniyapuram are good and they already are big hits but I respect James Vasanthan more for his background score. The effort taken is instantly noticeable when the main theme of the movie starts to play in the title credits as the camera zooms into the streets of Subramaniyapuram. Though the mystery in the theme is initially puzzling, it sets up the tone of the dark drama that is going to unfold later in the movie.

Title Credits -

The initial few scenes where all the characters in the movie are introduced, doesn’t really have any background score. All we hear is the vivid sound design of A.S.Lakshminarayanan, painstakingly reproducing every ambient sound as Kasi walks into the streets of Subramaniyapuram. The first music score appears when Azhagar takes Paraman to a bus stop to prove that Thulasi sees him. The flute version of the ‘Kangal Irandal’ plays quite pleasantly and takes us into a fantasy musical world from the realistic tone maintained until that point. The hesitation of Thulasi to look straight into the eyes of Azhagar is suggested musically with pauses in between the phrases of melody.

And James suddenly stops his music for the 80’s Illayaraja to take over. Nothing else could have better conveyed the exhilaration of a budding romance than an 80’s Illayaraja song. The song is cleverly put to use as a part of the ambient sound. The scene is shot and cut according to the song but it shows up as if it all happens naturally. The prelude of the song runs mildly in the background as Azhagar and Paraman reaches the sound service shop and the ‘Siru Pon Mani’ starts perfectly in synch with that slow motion shot of Thulasi walking with her heads down hesitantly looking sideways to see if Azhagar is waiting for her in the shop. And the male vocal starts as Azhagar, who was deliberately hiding, comes out to show up before Thulasi and then the first interlude plays on as they exchange words with their eyes and smiles. Sasi cleverly mutes other ambient sounds here leaving Illayaraja to dominate and establish the innocence of the romance. Illayaraja’s music is one of the most important features among other set properties and costumes that connect the audience with the period of the movie.

Azhaghar and Tulasi -

The theme that plays in the title credits aptly appears when the first big turning point happens in the screenplay. The mysterious and flute-dominant version of the dark theme appears as Azhagar and team collect weapons, plan their first murder and execute it. That is when we realize that this is indeed the main theme of the movie. And the theme again plays aptly in the final revelation scene where it discloses the true colour of one of the most important characters of the movie. The music slowly builds up as he walks out of the place of action with nervousness, anxiety, doubt, guilt and fear - all showing up in his face. The beauty here is that the momentum in the music slowly builds up as the shocking revelation and the hard truth slowly starts to sink-in in us. And when we know for what reason he betrayed his friend, the music bursts out with a grand crescendo and it is in moments like this that inspite of being loud, music just fits in and lifts up the impact of the drama. The same theme appears on a solo trumpet as someone walks victoriously out of sight after he takes revenge on one who betrayed his friends. And a huge chorus takes over the main theme and sings a mourning hymn to the relieved soul.

First Murder -

The betrayal -

Death and the End Credits -

I immensely liked the silence in the scene where Kasi struggles for his last breath but I would have liked the same silence in the scene where Azhagar faces his fate. When the visuals itself had such a lump-in-your-throat impact on the audience, there is no need for such a dramatic score.

Azhaghar’s Fate -

Chase -

It is hard to see a film director and composer concentrating on background score, getting into details, understanding the purpose of music in a scene, and all in their very first project. Sasikumar and James Vasanthan handle the background score with much confidence in ‘Subramaniyapuram’.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 44

This piece is from the hilarious Indru Poi Naalai Vaa. Composer – Illayaraja. It is very difficult to think of that movie without this theme piece. Even whenever we discuss comedy scenes from this movie with our friends, this piece instantly plays in our mind. Such an ultra cool romantic yet comic theme it is. The main melody is indeed romantic but the zing in the guitar accompaniment, rhythm and the instrument used for playing the main melody give it a comic punch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Thisis from the much talked about score of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ composed by A.R.Rahman. A.R.Rahman with his background score and that song in the end credits seems to hit bull’s eyes with Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

It is being discussed in some forums that the score is too loud for the visuals. But we can’t speak about the score’s appropriateness without watching the whole movie. We can understand the approach of the composer and a director towards a movie’s background score and their intention for choose loud music pieces only after watching the whole movie.

From what I read, Danny Boyle seems to have asked for not so subtle score, I guess he asked for a very Bollywoodish score in a way that Hollywood can understand and relate to. Rahman has clearly chosen a middle path and gone for Sitarock in this scene, which even otherwise sounds pretty apt for the scene. The mild understated strains of Guitar for Jamal and Lathika finding each other is just right for the emotions both the characters go through after they see each other, they haven’t yet bought the joy or surprise of seeing each other. So there is no loud string section instantly taking off as their eyes meet and if it was done in that way, then that is what one can call as a loud background score. Before they could experience the complete joy and the surprise of spotting each other, few strangers storm from somewhere to abduct Lathika which is conveyed quite well by playing Sitar and loud strings with rocky percussions.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Achamundu Achamundu

Karthik Raaja's Orchestration abilities are well known. He is one of the best background score composers we have. Here is a video showing him recording the background score for the movie ‘Achamundu Achamundu’ with a live orchestra. Sounds Interesting.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Background Score - 43

Guess the Movie (Not yet released).

Answer for Background Score - 42

This piece is from Paruthiveeran. Composer - Yuvan Shankar Raja. It is the main love theme. It is so refreshing to listen Duduk instead of high pitched flute being used in a movie set in interior village and surprisingly it didn't sound alien. But I guess the melody of the this piece is heavily inspired one and an extended version of one of Illayaraaja's comic themes written for a hilarious Baghyaraj movie. Any guesses?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 41

This piece is from Karuthamma. Composer – A.R.Rahman. Though the piano theme may sound odd with the village setup of the movie, it is used for a guy who comes to village from a city, so the sound is somewhat justified, but the beautiful flute piece, the main love theme of the movie though doesn’t sound rustic, is earthy enough.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dhaam Dhoom Score

With “Dhaam Dhoom”, Harris Jeyaraj proves once again that when it comes to background score, he is the worst. It has the loudest possible score that any action movie can get. Listening to John Powell’s score for ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ might have taught few lessons to Harris on the basics of scoring tension building background music for chase and action sequences, without actually being loud.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 40

This pieces is from Indira. Composer - A.R.Rahman. It is used in the begining of the movie for the visuals showing the clash between lower class and upper class people of the village. I like the innate emotion that the solo violin piece brings into the visuals and the flute version of it sounds apt for Indira's birth.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 39

This piece is from Amaithippadai. Composer – Illayaraja. It is used for the famous halwa scene. It starts with a sensuous flute creating a mysterious feel and soon turns into a soaring string section playing a sad melody to arouse audience’s sympathy for Kasturi’s character as camera takes a closer look at what is happening.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Listening Taare Zameen Par

'Taare Zameen Par’ opens with the main Ishaan Piano theme as Ishaan’s face is introduced to us as a reflection in the muddy water. The melody continues as Ishaan is getting totally disconnected from the world around and indulges in his fishing. The melody stops abruptly and aptly as Ishaan is dragged out of his world by the school bus conductor. Sitting on the engine of the bus, Ishaan again goes into his world, and looks into those little fishes he collected in his water bottle and soon his colorful vision and imagination fills the entire screen along with the opening credits of the movie and though the music in the background starts with ‘London bridge is falling down’ melody, it soon shifts to Ishaan’s theme and finally after wandering on some funny action cues to suit the visual action, it ends with ‘Bam Bam bole’ melody and all of them orchestrated like that of a nursery rhyme. Quite surprisingly, this cute piece isn’t included in the soundtrack CD included in the recently released DVD pack of Taare Zameen Par.

The main piano theme that we hear in these initial sequences is not the complete ‘Ishaan Theme’ which was released with the songs. This is just part 1 of it. This piece is used for most of the silent moments of Ishaan in the movie, when he is at his will in his own world, when he is at peace, when he is alone and silent. Though the theme is beautiful and apt for Ishaan’s emotions, it ends up being overused throughout the movie especially in the later half. The background score is little overtly done than necessary and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy may not be the ones to be blamed, as the ‘Making of Taare Zameen Par’ reveals how precise Aamir Khan’s requirements were. In a video clip we see Aamir literally taking the position of a music conductor instructing Ehsaan, as he is instinctively playing a melody on his guitar matching with the mood of a particular scene.

Coming back to Ishaan’s theme, the part 2 of Ishaan’s theme sounds Ishaan’s anger, frustration, depressing, loneliness and sadness. In the scene where Ishaan fights with Ranjit, we get to hear the complete Ishaan theme; it starts of with a discordant guitar melody for Ishaan’s fight with Ranjit continued by running up the stairs to the terrace and once Ishaan reaches the terrace and starts crying alone, the discordance fade and a piano starts to play a sad melody and as his anger, sadness and all negative feelings fade on seeing a Kite coming his way, the pleasant Ishaan piano theme starts to play in the background, implying the shift in his mood so effectively. Part 1 of Ishaan’s theme isn’t used with such a clear purpose or thought elsewhere in the movie. Especially in the latter half after Nikumbh’s entry, Ishaan theme appears whenever Ishaan appears, no matter what mood he is in. It becomes more of a person’s theme than the theme implying his state of mind.

But the Part 2 of Ishaan’s theme is used aptly at right moments. And one such is the Ishaan’s nightmare scene and is much more effective in the scene in which Ishaan cries and runs non stop in the basket ball ground, displaying his anger to his parents for what they did to him and for which the high tempo discordant guitar melody fits to T.

Though there are more distinct theme pieces, I now understand why Aamir released only the Ishaan’s theme along with the songs, because Ishaan’s theme forms almost 70% of the background score of the movie. Other identifiable themes are Mother’s theme, Nikumbh’s theme and Harmonica theme and also for many of the scenes Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have conveniently and safely used the melodies of the songs. The melody of the title track is used umpteen times in the latter half of the movie. The soothing flute prelude of ‘Kholo Kholo’ becomes an inspiring score for Ishaan making boat plane with bits and pieces of materials he had in his collection.

Mother’s theme is nothing but the guitar piece from the first interlude of ‘Maa’ song, played in a much lower tempo. But it aptly personifies the warmth of every mother and it is put to brilliant usage throughout the movie. Ishaan’s father slaps him for fighting with Ranjit, but Ishaan’s mother kindly and patiently kneels down, looks at the scratches in Ishaan’s face and asks him to take a bath without uttering a single harsh word and this guitar melody starts playing in the background and that is when it appears for the first time. After Ishaan is put in the boarding school, Ishaan’s parents come to meet him on a weekend and as they see that Ishaan is so depressed, they decide to take him outside to the hotel room and it is there that after quite a long time, Ishaan gets a chance to be with his mother and he in her embrace, the boy who was shown to be having deep dark circles around his eyes is finally having a deep and peaceful sleep and it is such a moving scene which gets a beautiful melodramatic uplift by this Mother’s theme. We feel as relieved and peaceful as Ishaan by hearing this piece in this scene.

Nikumbh’s theme (as titled in the soundtrack CD), is a new piano melody with a sad empathetic sound in it. It isn’t actually a theme for Nikumbh’s character; it appears only after he starts contemplating about Ishaan’s condition and starts worrying about him.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy chooses Harmonica to underscore the lighter moments in the film like the one where Ishaan throws his test papers to the dog. The harmonica piece that appears as camera zooms in on yawning lazy little kids who are still trying to break out of their early morning nap, is my favorite. Only place where I thought harmonica is too cool and light for the situation is that of the Nikumbh-Ishaan montage in which Nikumbh cures Ishaan’s dyslexia in a quick simplistic way and the lighter sound added in the background further enhanced the easiness and casualness of the whole sequence.

‘Taare Zameen Par’ may not have the perfectly done background score but the soundtrack CD which includes 22 background score pieces from the movie is so soothing and pleasant to listen to, even if one don’t recollect the exact scene or situation from the movie in which the piece is being used.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 38

This piece is from Anjathey. Background Score composed by Sundar C.Babu. I was so impressed by the intriguing background score by Sundar C.Babu for Anjathey but listen this

Signs – First Crop Circles

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taare Zameen Par Background Score

The background score of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is getting released along with the DVD of the movie. The soundtrack CD contains 22 background score pieces from the movie. And the ‘Making of TZP’ CD has some exclusive video of live background score recording sessions happened at Aamir’s residence in Panchgani. Sigh! Now I have to buy the whole DVD pack, if I want to have background score CD.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sound Effects Vs Music

For past six months, I have been listening to the complete recording music CD’s of Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The attached booklet that comes with this pack, analyze each piece in connection with the scenes in which it is used. And when I was reading the booklet of the score for ‘Return of the King’, I saw the lines that you can see in the below picture.

The Palantir – The Score

The Palantir – In the movie

The electronic sound effect does emphasize on something which the score doesn’t, it is the pull of the Palantir, it is the force with which the Palantir pulls the people who looks into it, close to evil’s eyes. So, who is the winner here - Sound effects or Music? Sound design is an art in itself and though it is widely known that it is not done by the background score composers, still there is some confusion about where exactly the line is drawn between sound effect and a background music score.

Recently I stumbled upon this interview of Satyajit Ray in which he speaks elaborately on Background music in films. He says,

In general, let's just say that whether you are going to use music or sound effects depends on the mood of a scene. If a specific sound effect is crucial, I don't even think of using music in its place. And when you are trying to control time, to maintain real or chronological time, I would say the less music there is, the better, though sound effects can help a lot in this instance. When time is broken up, by contrast, music helps to preserve a linear flow.

As Satyajit Ray is both a film director and a music composer, I don’t know under which hat he uttered those words. It sounded as if the composer is the one who chooses between sound effects and music for a scene. I think he must have told that sitting on a director’s seat as the director is the one who has control over all other departments and has the final say in anything and everything in the process of making the movie.

But when I think of sound effect as background score, a scene from ‘Mozhi’ came to my mind. In ‘Mozhi’ (one of those rare scenes in Indian Cinema in which they show composers doing background score for a movie), the character Viji, the keyboardist who plays in film recordings, says to his composer that he has special tone (not produced by any real musical instrument) to use in the scene exactly when the flower falls on the beggar’s plate. So, does a background score composer add little sound effects here and there like these in place of a background score? Is that what Satyajit Ray meant by Sound effects? Is sound effect is adding a sound byte in place of a background music which may not be actually an ambient sound needed in the scene?

While I was chewing this thought, I watched few movies in past few weeks which raised more questions on this topic.

‘Music as sound design’ – That is how Jim Emerson called the background score by Carter Burwell for ‘No Country for Old Men’. I initially got puzzled by reading this phrase in this review in Jim Emerson’s scanners blog, as I hadn't seen the movie. Much later I saw the movie on DVD and that phrase was not in my mind, and fortunately I had forgotten about it. As I was watching the movie, I was spellbound by the intriguing sequences coming one after the other – I was totally engrossed into the movie and not for a micro second I became aware of the absence of a musical background score. It is only when the music started to play in the end credits of the movie, I realised that the movie had no identifiable background score. And that brings me back to Satyajit Ray’s words from the same interview, he says

My belief is that, yes, a film should be able to dispense with music. But half the time we are using music because we are not confident that certain changes of mood will be understood by the audience — so we underline these changes with mood music. I would like to do without music if such a thing was possible, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do it. I will say that I have used very little music in my contemporary films and as much natural sound as possible.

So does it mean that Coen brother’s were so confident about their script and its execution, that made them to instruct Carter Burwell to not to use any music? Do they have achieved what Satyajit Ray thought as ‘if such a thing was possible’?

Carter Burwell says that he composed 15 minutes of music for background score of the movie, and he explains further about how they decided go for such an ambient score without any real music instruments or recognizable melody, here. (I think Carter Burwell should alteast have got an Oscar nomination in ‘Background Score’ category for achieving this rare-feet of giving no-music yet effective background score for ‘No Country for Old Men’. Infact, to everyone’s amazement, Gustavo Santa Olalla had won it for ‘Brokeback Mountain’ for his 15 minute score. But it is comparatively a more solid score with moody guitar strains sprinkled throughout the movie.)

No Country for Old Men – End Credits

No Country for Old Men – Jackpot

Back to Satyajit Ray’s words

Initially, I did feel that film needed music partly because long stretches of silence tend to bore the audience: It's as simple as that. With music, the scene becomes "shorter" automatically. And in certain types of films, music is a must unless you have a very rich natural soundtrack.

“A very rich natural soundtrack” and that brings me to Majid Majidi’s ‘Children of Heaven’. In this movie, though there is no score for most part, dramatic music score has been used for some of the key moments in the movie. Just as Satyajit Ray puts, the music score does break the long stretches of silence in this movie.

One of the most unforgettable scenes in the movie is the marathon running race in the climax. Ali runs in the race to come third in the race to win a new pair of shoes, which he can give to his little sister Zahra, whose shoes Ali feels guilty of having lost.

The marathon running race starts and for first few minutes, there are various shots of hundreds of boys running and shots of Ali slowly and steadily speeding up to the front. And at one point, suddenly when Ali looks forward, there is no one running beyond him and then he slows down and lets two boys to run ahead, so that he can be in the third position, but suddenly another boy who is so close, hits him and Ali falls down.

From now on, we don’t hear any music or other ambient sounds except for the panting of Ali and that is one of the most effective background score I heard in a movie. As the shots turns to slow motion, so does his panting sound. Then slowly the music starts to develop as we see that the four boys running closely to win over each other and nearing the winning post. Even after the music starts to play, the panting sound dominates like the main melody of the score.

Children of Heaven - Race

Is this sound design or background score? Is this what Satyajit Ray calls ‘A very rich natural soundtrack’? Whom should I give the credit for using the panting of Ali as dominant sound in that scene? Is it the music composer or the sound designer or the director?

Answer for Background Score - 37

This piece is from Azhaghiya Theeyae. Composer - Ramesh Vinayagam. It is used in opening credits of the movie. I am not sure about the exact genre of this piece, but many layers of vocals and instruments come togather to create a beautiful funphony.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Listening Guru

A.R.Rahman has won all possible Bollywood awards for his background score in Guru. Other movies of 2007 which had competent background scores are Cheeni Kum (Illayaraja), No Smoking (Hitesh Sonik and Clinton Cerejo), Blue Umbrella (Vishal Bharadwaj), Johnny Gaddar (Daniel B.George), Saawariya (Monty) and Taare Zameen Par (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy). Being aware of the way these bollywood awards work, it is quite obvious and understandable why none of the other competent scores won in this category.

When accepting the Filmfare award for Best Background Score in Guru, Rahman said that background score is like an ornament which enhances the beauty of a film and he thanked Maniratnam for making such a beautiful film. And that is true in a sense that what made Guru to win over all other movies in this category is the visual material in Guru that provides ample space for the background music. Background score in Guru fills a deliberate void created by Maniratnam for Rahman to fill in wherever required. It is very evident from the very first scene of the movie, which opens with the older Gurukanth Desai talking about dreams and in which every line of his monologue is punctuated with the music of Rahman and poetry of Gulzar.

The preludes, interludes and the melody of the songs from the movie soundtrack are used in bits and pieces as a part of the background score. The coda of the song ‘mayya mayya’ is cleverly put as the background score of opening credits. The romance and union of Guru and Sujatha is aided with beautiful phrases of melody from the song ‘Ai hairathey yashiqi’ and slower version of ‘dham dhara’. A beautiful Shehnai piece that leads to this ‘dham dhara’ theme underlines the excitement of Sujatha when Guru agrees to take her along with him to Bombay. And the melody of ‘Barso re’ played so subtly with soft guitar strains, sounds so effective for the longing of Sujatha, when in the railway station, she requests Guru to take her to Bombay along with him.

The high decibel choir version of ‘Jaage hain’ is used when Guru goes to Turkey but I thought it should have been used when he returns to India, because that is when he actually starts dreaming big. Yet, cinematically, the spirited choir piece matches so well with the sudden relief, the freedom, and the liberty that young Guru feels at that moment and injects a fresh life into the visuals that makes a sudden shift from deep interior Indian village to Turkey. After the Turkey episode, ‘Jaage hain’ turns into a sort of a personal and emotional theme of Guru and aids to gain the audience’s sympathy for Guru. Jaage Hain (Flute), Jaage Hain (Piano), Jaage Hain (Kids).

Guru’s rebellious spirit, his business moves, his victories and confrontations with his enemies are enhanced by the energetic groove of ‘Gurubhai Gurubhai’ theme. The best usage of the theme is when Guru replies as ‘tha nahi, hey, aur rahegha, Gurukanth Desai’, when the contractor asks his name. The starting of the piece is precisely timed and so it immediately heightens the stature of Guru’s character in audience’s mind. Another scene where it is used in quite effectively is when Guru asks the people from justice department to come prepared for the inquiry. Lying in the bed, Guru slowly lifts his hand like saying a goodbye and the ‘Gurubhai gurubhai’ theme starts. Quite a formulaic timing but works big time in this scene.

Guru’s raise as a business tycoon has got a heroic trumpet theme. Though it appears first in the scene where Guru announces about opening a textile factory, it is played in its entirety when that shot zooms out to show Guru standing and looking at the building plan of his new factory in the middle of a vast landscape and it continues for the quick shots and photo shoots that follow to establish his enormous growth.

Meenu’s theme is cute, playful and beautiful. I am not talking about the additional song ‘Shaku hai’ here, which doesn’t work for me as Shyam and Meenu subplot itself didn’t gel quite well with the rest of the movie. By Meenu’s theme, I mean the staccato strings theme used to establish the relationship between Guru and Meenu. It appears first when Guru presents a saree to little Meenu. It is also used much later when Guru visits Meenu’s house and gets surprised by seeing Shyam in there as Meenu’s husband.
The Thapar commission inquiry scenes have synth and electronic sounds that matches with the urgency of Rajiv Menon’s camera. One thing I don’t like in Rahman’s background score is the use of Gregorian chants. It is used in the pre-interval scene where Shyam confronts and challenges Guru. While the concept and idea of starting with utmost subtlety and gradually increasing the volume level is good to underline the slowly tension between the two, the actual sound sounds alien.

Also there is one scene where Rahman misses timing, it isn’t big fault and most of us wouldn’t even notice it. It is in the scene in which the Contractor asks Guru to play golf. The funny part of the scene starts only when Guru picks the ball, walks and puts the ball in the hole, but the music starts even while Guru starts to think about how to put the ball in the hole. So it would have been much better if the music was put exactly when Guru picks the ball and starts to walk.

Though ‘Guru’ is not the best of Maniratnam-A.R.Rahman duo, Rahman has done enough justice to Maniratnam’s visual material with his background score.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 36

This piece is from Run. Vidhyasagar is the composer. It plays in the opening credits and is also the love theme of the movie.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 35

This piece is from opening credits of Singara Velan. Composed by Illayaraja. What an earthy melody on a serene flute and the unadulterated strings that followselevates the pleasant mood further. Only Raaja can create such melodies and orchestration.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Illayaraja BGM's

Here is a site where you can listen online to some of Illayaraja's background scores

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aamir - Climax Theme

The brilliant soundtrack of ‘Aamir’ (composed by Amit Trivedi) includes an instrumental piece named ‘Climax theme’. Usually it is difficult to such situational pieces before watching the movie, but it is such a beautifully layered and structured piece with a haunting theme, that slowly and gradually builds up to a climax, I enjoy listening it though I don’t know how well if fits and lifts the visuals in the movie. Though it is heavily inspired by the ‘Requiem for a dream’ theme, Marianne’s vocal part and the overall packaging do the trick to make it sound original.

Requiem for a Dream Theme

On Awards again

Madan is one critic who always talks about the background score of the movie that he takes to review in Vijay TV’s Thirai Paarvai. I am surprised that there is no category in Vijay Awards for background score, in which Madan is one of the dominant jury members. Probably I should send a mail to him asking the same.

I went through the PDF put up in pib.nic.in site for the recently announced National film Awards, where I found that they have put ‘Songs and Background Music Score’ in brackets next to BEST MUSIC. I don’t know if Anjan Biswas was also awarded along with Ismail Darbar, for his background score in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.

Answer for Background Score - 34

This piece is from Mithya again. It is used to the Title credits. Composed by Sagar Desai. Matches well with the mood of the scene in which for the whole night VK (Ranvir Shorey) keeps running on the road after witnessing a murder.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 33

This piece appears in the end credits of Mithya. Composer – Sagar Desai. Not just the movie but the background score of Mithya is the best so far in 2008 (haven’t seen Aamir yet). Highly inspired by the style of music in Nino Rita’s godfather score, the music blends beautifully with the mood of the film. I don’t know why they didn’t release the OST of Mithya, there are so many good music pieces as part of the background score in Mithya.

Initially I thought of chopping the dialogue part of the piece while posting it, but felt that the flow of the melody is getting affected and so posted it with dialogues. I was quite aware that those who have seen the movie would easily guess it from the dialogue.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Background Score - 33

Guess the Movie.

Ram Gopal Varma's Strange Reasons

Ram Gopal Varma in one of his recent blog posts, explains why background score his movies are so dramatic and loud and the reason he gives for that is quite silly and strange. And it sounds like an answer to this post. He says,

My tendency is to have very dramatic and in-the-face background score. I have two reasons for it; one reason is I find background score drives the emotion of the audience in a specified intended direction. At times I have been accused that I use it so loud almost to the point that you cannot hear the dialogue properly. Sometimes the reason for this is when I reach the mixing stage at times I am so bored of the dialogues myself by hearing it so many times I feel like listening to the music at that time. I know it sounds stupid but it can happen. So I think more or less if we know of the emotion of what they are going to talk about so why do we need so specifically for them to hear the lines.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 32

This piece is from Kaadhal – Composed by Joshua Sridhar. It is a cute love theme used when Sandhya starts liking Bharath and watches him. Joshua Sridhar seems to be fond of classically inclined pieces being played on flute, strings and violins. Joshua Sridhar’s background score for Balaji Sakthivel’s Kalloori also has lots of such interesting pieces throughout the movie.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sarkar Raj OST

RGV says that he is going to release the background score of Sarkar Raj (Composed by Amar Mohile) and it is a first time in Hindi cinema. I don’t understand why every filmmaker or composer, when releasing the background scores of the movie separately in a CD, claim it as something that happens for the first time in Indian Cinema. Krrish, Black, Black Friday, Bose: The forgotten hero, Omkara, Taj Mahal – An Eternal Love story, Veer-Zaara, Blue Umbrella were some of the movies (names that immediately come to my mind) for which the entire background score was released.

It is a well known fact that RGV gives importance to background score in his films. But I feel background score is overdone in most of his movies. Illayaraja’s background score for RGV’s Shiva is a classic. Among other RGV’s films, background score (by Sandeep Chowtha) of Satya is still my favorite. Also I like Amar Mohile’s work in Naach. Is there anyone here who feels ‘Bhoot’ had great background score? If so, can you tell me why? I agree that there were few good moments, but for the most part it was loud and irritating. In the interview RGV mentions about popularity of Govinda theme, to me Govinda theme sounds awful. Though from the teasers it is clear that Govinda theme is used again and will definitely find a place in the OST, I mm still eager to listen to the OST of Sarkar Raj.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dasavatharam Background Score

Devi Sri Prasad talks about his experience while scoring background music for Dasavatharam. And in the interview, he confirms that he did background score for the Trailer too and that clears the doubts I had.

While it is good to know that people understand the significance of background score in movies and have spent nearly 1 month to score background music for the movie, I don't understand why Devi Sri Prasad has not found few minutes in that one month to score a original piece for the first one minute of the trailer.

He also says that he has used a lot of orchestral music and choir in the second half of the movie and I hope that they aren't straight lifts from Hollywood movies.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Background Score - 32

Guess the movie.

Answer for Background Score - 31

This piece is from the movie “Sirai Chaalai” – composed by Illayaraja. It is used when Govardhan and Mugundhan finally spend some good time in the Kaala Pani. The 2 minute montage is enhanced by this one seamless orchestral piece which captures all the transformations, cuts and mood shifts in this montage so beautifully.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yaaradi Nee Mohini Score

A new version of ‘Yaaradi Nee Mohini’ soundtrack is out in the market with the some of the songs repeated in different singer’s vocals, remixes of ‘Paalakattu’ by Dharan and D.Iman and five background score pieces from the movie. The collection of background score pieces is not as exhaustive as it was in Kaadhal Konden and 7G, Rainbow Colony, where it covered almost every small music piece written for the background score of the movie.

This soundtrack has got 5 background score pieces. ‘Person is a looser’ is the song with which the movie starts, Theme 1 is used when Dhanush gets confidence to face the interview after he sees Nayanthara standing on the other side of the glass window, Theme 2 is when he works hard to solve the system crash problem, I couldn’t guess the place exactly where Theme 3 is used, Theme 4 appears in the end credits. My favorite cue from the movie is a very funny Punjabi bit written for Nayanthara’s sister, which matches so well with her actions. And the main family theme of the movie is missing. This soundtrack seems to be a half-hearted effort made primarily to cash-in on the films success.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ada - Kannathil Muthamittal

A.R.Rahman has turned background score piece from ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ into the song ‘Milo Wahan’ in Ada. This isn’t surprising, as Rahman has been doing this right from his first movie.

BGM from Kannathil Muthamittal

‘Milo Wahan’ from Ada

Background Score - 31

One of the Masterpieces. Guess the Movie.

Answer for Background Score - 30

This piece composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja is from ‘7G, Rainbow colony’. This beautiful orchestral piece adds a serene touch to the love making scene that immediately follows ‘January Matham’ song. The orchestration sounds heavily inspired by 'The Beautiful Mind' score by James Horner.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Listening Kaadhalukku Mariyaathai

My admiration for Ilaiyaraaja’s background score in Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai grew when I got a chance to watch the original Malayalam version of the film (“Aniyathi Pravu” Music Composer - Ouseppachan). We often talk about films getting elevated by Ilaiyaraaja’s background score. His score in Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai is one of the best proofs of that. It also reassures the fact that the directors do not have much of a say in the quality of background score that Ilaiyaraaja writes for the film. It is the quality of the content that dictates the quality of Ilaiyaraaja’s background score. This film is another example for how better Ilaiyaraaja understands the medium of cinema than anybody else, and sometimes his is better than even the director of the film.

Ilaiyaraaja has used almost all of the background music scoring techniques that we most admire of his, in this film. The melodies of the songs become motifs of the film's background score. A unique aural identity is given to the film, with the musical score having a coherent tonal pattern throughout the film. The omnipresent music precisely follows the shifts and cuts in the moods and actions on the visuals. The music is entwined with the film so much so that one can never say whether the background music or the film in itself have in it, all that it takes to move a viewer, as emotionally as it does.

Melody of Songs as Motif – Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai is one of those few films where the melody of a song has all that is necessary to be the main motif or love theme of the score of the film. It needs as much experience and expertise as Ilaiyaraaja to use these melodies, repeatedly, at the right moments in the film, but without any of it sounding monotonous. After having composed a beautiful melody like Ennai thalaatta Varuvaala, any composer would be tempted to use it to the maximum throughout the film. There is a difference, when Ilaiyaraaja does it. Ilaiyaraaja clearly knows that job of a score composer is not just playing lovely music in the background. Background music scoring is putting apt music. Ilaiyaraaja achieves aptness in score effortlessly with his orchestration skills. He orchestrates the same melody in varied ways to fit with the slightest of changes in the subject on which the main motif travels on throughout the film. The subject could be an emotion, a gesture, a character, a place or a recurring situation in the film. The variety in orchestration is one reason why we do not get bored of the recurring musical themes in Ilaiyaraaja’s films. Ilaiyaraaja’s romantic songs always have a melody, which could evoke both exhilaration of moments of hope and the doom of the moments of despair. One could use it for either mood, and it would aptly fit. The melody of the song Ennai Thalaatta Varuvaala is as romantic as it can get when used for romantic scenes, and is as painful as it can sound, when used to underscore the pain of separation.

Ilaiyaraaja always creates a unique pattern or palette of sound for the film with his background music. There are so many sounds that are unique in the background score of Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai. The most notable one being Ilaiyaraaja's prominent usage of synthesizers for the first time in his career. The mix of Ilaiyaraaja’s melody and Synth sounded so fresh and unique. In fact the main love theme of the film has a signature Synth layer on loop. Though Ilaiyaraaja has used a lot of Synth stuff for the first time in this film, he does not allow the vastness in the variety of sound that Synth provides, to overtake the soul of the melody. Ilaiyaraaja has tried to bring out emotions even in these Synth sounds. The sound of flute and violin used all through the film is not the typical ones that we hear in other films scored by Ilaiyaraaja. The use of Bhavatharini and Arun Mozhi’s vocals is also very different; they sound like echoes of emotions from the deep inside the mind and soul of the characters.

The most fascinating of all aspects of Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai background score is the precision with which Ilaiyaraaja punctuates the visuals with his music, and the mind-boggling details in each layer of the orchestration. With his precision and detailing, Ilaiyaraaja captures even the slightest of details in the visual narrative of the film. This precision is the biggest differentiating factor and the reason why Ilaiyaraaja’s Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai is more emotionally engaging than Ouseppachan’s Aniyathi Pravu.

To understand the monstrosity of Ilaiyaraaja’s score, one has to move beyond from the generic overall perceptions to the specifics of music and its meanings in each and every scene of the film.

The full version of this article can be read in the book "Moods of Ilaiyaraaja".

P.S:- I understand that this was quite tough. Anyway here is the answer

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Match the Following - 2

Video has 7 clips of scenes from the movie ‘Kaadhalukku Mariyaathai’ in which the 7 background score pieces given below are used. Match the video and audio clips.








Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Answer for Background Score - 29

This piece is from Azhaghan, composed by Maragathamani (alias M.M.Kreem alias Keeravani). This is the theme of Kanmani teacher character played by Geetha. I think this short theme piece beautifully matches with the characterization of Kanmani. But still I doubt on why I am feeling so. Is it because of the piece in itself having that quality or is it because of my repeated viewing of the movie?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dasavathaaram Trailer - Hans Zimmer

May be this is how Hans Zimmer would have scored the background music for Dasavathaaram Trailer.

This idea came to me when I was watching Da Vince Code in HBO last night. ‘Chevaliers De Sang real’ is one of my favorite background score pieces from the movie. This piece is used in its entirety in the climax sequence where Robert Langdon follows the rose line and finally finds the real location of the Mary Magdalene’s sarcophagus.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dasavathaaram Trailer - Devi Sri Prasad

I still wonder why Kamal chose Devi Sri Prasad to do the background score for Dasavathaaram. Like how Himesh was a producer’s choice for commercial reasons to market the movie in Hindi, I think Devi Sri Prasad (he is a star in his own right there), was chosen for marketing the movie in Telugu. The background score of the trailer sounds good and matches with the grandeur of the visuals.

But I don’t know why Devi Sri Prasad has to rip off the background score piece from Spider Man-3 for the trailer. There have been many instances before where background scores of Hollywood movies were used for Tamil movie trailers to make a bigger impact. But those are done for movies with mostly new actors, directors and producers who were desperate to get people’s attention. Why use the same cheap technique for a movie with an actor of Kamal’s stature? .

Sometimes even without the consent of the composer, the producers add such music to the trailers, but here it is evident that Devi Sri Prasad has intentionally taken the material and tweaked it a bit here and there, to make it sound original. Let us wait and watch if this music piece is going to be used in the movie too. I hope it is not.

Shire in Nepali

Srikanth Deva copies the beautiful Shire theme from Lord of the Rings – The fellowship of the ring soundtrack (composed by Howard shore) and uses it as love theme in the movie Nepali. He has just ripped off the track from the CD played it in the background.

Shire Theme -

Howard shore recorded the complete score of Lord of the rings trilogy and released 3 complete recordings one for each movie. A total of 135 pieces from all three movies includes lot of extended and unheard or unused music pieces in the movies. If you are a die-hard fan of Lord of the rings trilogy and orchestral music, your life will be incomplete if you don’t listen to these complete recordings.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Listening Iruvar

Iruvar is quite a complicated movie to write background score for. Quite a lot of discussions might have happened on how the movie should sound, whether to go for a period sound with restrictions on usage of instruments and the type of music or to go for a more contemporary sound. But unlike the songs in which Rahman did a perfect balance of period and Rahman sound, the background score is mostly contemporary. Iruvar has one of the most innovative scores by A.R.Rahman. Though it is set in different times, the contemporariness of the score doesn’t sound odd or distracting when seen and heard with the visuals in the movie. A.R.Rahman has concentrated on the moods and the emotions in various stages of the lives of the two heroes and also the uniqueness of the characters that comes and goes into the lives of these heroes, and has created the main themes for the characters. And of course, A.R.Rahman cleverly identified the silent moments, where any little sound might have distracted the beauty of the visuals. Like that initial montage where there are random moments and shots showing how Aanandhan is trying hard to become a hero. The usage of silence in these moments is very effective. And the music appears first when

Aanandhan becomes a Hero – This is one of the defining moments of the movie which cleverly and beautifully hints what Aanandhan (Mohanlal) is going to become in future, the king of masses. As Aanandhan enters into the palace set, Rahman underscores the moment with a thematic piece played on some kind of horn or trumpet which has got the right sound of period in it and when he sits on the King’s chair, chords are introduced and slowly it gets Rahmanish with percussions and surprise twist of notes played on strings as Aanandhan plays with the big Sword. It is again played at the end when Aanandhan takes pledge as he officially takes the position of the chief minister of Tamilnadu. The theme which sounds so heroic in this happiest moment of Aanandhan is used exactly as it is, in another contrasting and tragic moment where Aanandhan’s first movie under production is stopped in the middle. The beauty of the theme is that it sounds very sad in this place; without any major change in the melody or tempo.

Iruvar Theme – Aanandhan and Tamizh Selvan (Prakash Raj) are given two different themes based on their characteristics. A soft guitar piece that is played, when Aanandhan cries for doing small police constable roles could be termed as the Aanandhan’s theme. It matches well with the persona of his character and also with his mood in some of the tragic moments of his life. On the contrary, for Tamizh Selvan, a revolutionist, there is no melody but a rhythm pattern on traditional drums that sound like turbulence or agitation inside fire. This piece is the most used one through out the movie. It appears first when Aanandhan asks Tamizh Selvan about what he would do to the country if his party wins. It is also used in a much lesser tempo, almost suppressing the whirl in the theme like how slowly Aanandhan suppresses Tamizh Selvan’s ego in a scene after the death of Ayya where Aanandhan asks the ministers to submit the details of their assets to the public to prove their purity.

Aanandhan - Pushpa marriage theme is a very pleasant melody with a mallu flavour. Both the flute and strings version sounds perfect for the marriage. The marriage of Aanandhan and Tamizh Selvan and the contrast in the way it happens is well conceived in the background without using any music for Tamizh Selvan’s marriage whereas there is a pleasant melody flowing in the background for Aanandhan’s marriage.

Ramani pleads – This is the only piece in the entire movie where Rahman uses the melody of the song for the background score. It starts with a cello and a sad solo violin piece which slowly transforms to the melody of “Poongodiyin Punnagai” song. It is a beautifully orchestrated piece and gels well with the scene where Ramani asks for shelter.

Kalpana Theme is pure rock stuff with notes on electric guitar sounding very mischievous, playful, modern and vibrant like that of Kalpana. This piece is used right at introduction scene of Kalpana and is more effective in the scene where Kalpana draws a mole on her hand.

Aanandhan – Kalpana Love theme – In Maniratnam movies, A.R.Rahman surprises by adding cute little songs in the background score and in this film it is this song which is very jazzy and sexy to listen to. Harini’s husky voice matches so well with longing and passion. It appears when Aanandhan first falls for her beauty on the top of a hill while talking about the difference between Kalpana and Pushpa and when she asks, “Athey kannu, athey mooku, athey Kaadhal varala?” and is more effective in the scene after Kalpana falls from the jeep, when Aanandhan and Kalpana are alone in a forest, unable to hide their feelings for each other.

Death Theme - The major theme of the movie is this death theme. It is kind of a semi classical alaap (I think it is Sriram’s voice) which is very emotional. Ironically, this going to be a sad theme is first used for a totally different situation in the movie. It is when Tamizh Selvan makes Aanandhan to realize his power and the control he has over the masses. When camera slowly moves along with Aanandhan from the top revealing the massive crowd, this alaap slowly appears and it is one of those rare moments in cinema where everything falls in place and the symphony of which moves you to tears. The alaap slowly transforms to the Aanandhan theme, the rhythmic drums sounding the unison of the duo with their hands rising together. It is also used for Velu Thambi Ayya’s (Naaser) death. The same theme is played on strings effectively for the hospital scenes after Aanandhan is shot with a gun and also in Aanandhan’s final procession.

Growing Animosity – This is a short piece with strings playing four repetitive notes in high tempo sounding the drift between Iruvar. This appears whenever their animosity is revealed directly to us. It appears in the scene when Aanandhan asks Tamizh Selvan to give him the Health Minister Seat, in the scene when Thamarai (Tabu) argues with Tamizh Selvan about his jealousy and fear and in almost every scene where the battle intensifies between the Iruvar in the final act of the movie.

An Ode to an Old friend – The final poetry of Tamizh Selvan for Aanandhan must be the most difficult part to write the score. Because, the emotions of Tamizh Selvan slowly builds and reaches a crescendo and so is the music. Though it is not brilliant, it is good and Rahman has pulled it off quite efficiently by joining the bits and pieces from various other themes and making it like a one piece of garland for Aanandhan’s final death procession. It starts with a mild female harmony, (this bit is actually used initially when Aanandhan effectively delivers a lengthy emotional dialogue for his first movie shooting), then it moves to a synth bass piece giving a tensed sound (that was used when injured Aanandhan was carried fast into a hospital in a stretcher) and then finally the strings take over to play the death theme along with the vocals singing the alaap.

There are some more music cues which I felt not at par. In the attempt of trying something very different Rahman falters at some places. The bit with percussion beats when Aanandhan first sees Kalpana closely in person and forgets his dialogues in the shoot. It sounds so odd, weird and it doesn’t match with Aanandhan’s emotion. Also the private moments of Tamizh Selvan with his wives don’t sound to give any meaning to the visuals or even as a stand alone track. It has got some mild female humming like an opera singer singing with less wavering in her voice. The female humming when Aanandhan yells to see the face of Pushpa in front of her grave is also not so effective. But as these pieces don’t make any damage to the visuals, it’s okay.

And, the correct Matches are 1-D, 2-A, 3-B, 4-E, 5-C