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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why did you use British Actors?

Producer of the film “Keralavarma Pazhassi Raaja" asked Ilaiyaraaja, “Why do we need a symphony orchestra to record background score of a Malayalam film?”. Ilaiyaraaja replied, “Why did you use British actors in the film?”. Ilaiyaraaja remembered this conversation in the press meet he attended after winning the National Award for Best Background Score. Ilaiyaraaja wanted to use symphony orchestra to recreate the British era. I agree, but the film is also set in Kerala.

The background score cues for the War scenes sound too Western. If a cue from one of the war scenes of the film is played to someone who has not seen the film, he/she cannot guess that this is a music cue from a film set in 18th century Kerala. I feel that Ilaiyaraaja has deliberately done this to make the score and thereby the film sound global. For a film set in Kerala and for one that has so much of action, there is very little Kerala Chenda in the film. Again, this could also be a deliberate decision of Ilaiyaraaja, who never succumbs to such written rules.

For this film, I was expecting a score in which the Timpani in the symphony orchestra is replaced by Kerala Chenda and tribal drums, like how Tan Dun replaced Timpani with Taiko drums for "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon" and “Heroes”. But, that was just my expectation. I cannot say Ilaiyaraaja about what should or should not have done.

On the other hand, listen to this piece. It is the cue played when Manoj and Padmapriya share a pleasant, private moment. The piece is true to the emotion, the romance and breeziness of the moment are perfectly captured, but there is not anything that suggests that Manoj and Padmapriya are Tribal folks. May be, it is not always necessary to stick to the roots. Emotion is the key. Melody is the key for emotions in music. The basic melodies in all background music cues are true to the roots but just that the instruments he uses and the way he orchestrates the pieces are quite western. Ilaiyaraaja himself told that in the press meet.

I am also not being cynical here. I am just having a loud thought and trying to decipher the reason. Maybe I should go back and watch the film again, entirely in one stretch. I saw the film only once on DVD and that too in two parts. First time while I was watching the film, I dozed-off in the middle of the film. I saw the remaining film a few days later.

P.S: Can some audio company do a nation-wide release of “Pazhassi Raja” background score CD with National Award winning background score tag, at least now?


Ganapathy Ram said...

I haven't seen the film as well , but heard the Bgms compiled in Dilip's BGm site

And from that i could infer he had done that for a global appeal or so

coz i felt the BGM pieces as in some English movies , it was having such a feel in that :)

Ramki said...

leave PR , what about lajja - where is a overblown orchestra for a supposedly social film, but mostly works !

yeah, the nativity does get a beating ...But sometimes the use of native instruments itself looks like a egg in thayir sadham when used with symphony orchestra ...

In case of Crouching..it is about an art form and hence the BGM SHOULD mirror the culture whereas here it is not so..

P.S. Suresh Kumar said...

Ramki - //a egg in Thayir Saadham// - If there is one composer who can pull this off, it is Ilaiyaraaja.

Anonymous said...

as you said emotion is the key...you statement is self contradictory.the war scene has western classical coz war is a generalized one and because of the number of people's emotions are running high and of course it is started by british.its enough to assume that a war is taking place.does not matter whether it takes place in kerala(whether brave heart is being questioned whther it took place in ireland or last of the mohicans is being cared about whether it is celtic) and who said pazhassi raja does not have nativity music.it has just because it sounded in a symphony orhestra it sounds a different for normal listeners(jjust like the way thiruvaasagam sounds) who are 99% ignorant about music including you. you know to write about music in flamboyant words , but you dont know music.what you feel does not matter,because you

Anonymous said...

are biased!!!!!!!how come you did not do an analysis for naan kadavul...which i think is the best film of the decade with an absolute stunner of a background score especially the self realisation theme where ruthran realises what he needs to do and that godly music on the background which tells that he is realising that indeed he is god. and eliminating the evil theme which the idiot charu nivedita said was un necessaary.little did he know that the fight is not between ruthran and thandavan but between good and evil and how it ends with rutha thandavam music(music for savakoothu)did u listen to that suresh?what about paa?virumandi?heyram?bharathi?what are you doing suresh?