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?