Violin Concerto from Raaja Paarvai is a prelude to How To Name It that was going to release five years later. The visual choreography of this piece is one of the rarest of miraculous instances in Tamil Cinema where the orchestra performing on screen is at least shown (they seem to play the precise notes too to my eyes) playing same instruments as the one being heard in the musical piece playing in the background. This is a concert piece in the movie too, a shot of a newspaper advertisement of the concert in the movie shows the concert described as “Grand Music Night — East Meets West”. The template of the piece and the orchestration — classical Indian violin prelude, a substantial section with other instruments in the orchestra repeating the melody played by lead violin, the sudden switch to western guitars and pop beats, and all of these orchestral ideas moving seamlessly from one section to another are techniques we would hear used in best way possible in Ilaiyaraaja’s instrumental albums “How To Name It” and “Nothing but Wind”.Raaja Paarvai - Violin Concerto
V.Narashiman seated in the centre stage — just for this piece, started playing the violin, with spot light only on him, and the whole stage was dark, and slowly like it happened for the Punnagai Mannan theme, the lighting sequence was arranged perfectly as the spot light on each instrument turned on as and when it enters the piece and whole stage was lit on and was brightest when the piece hits the bang — the bang that was there to sync with heroine’s surprise in seeing Kamal playing the violin.
The screen on either sides of the stage switched to camera’s exactly the way the visuals in the film was edited focusing on the instrument that ought to be highlighted at any given moment in the piece. It was perfect. They even rapidly cut between Violin and Tabla Tarang player — one on each screen. I guess that is how it will look in the final edu of the concert movie.
When the chorus started clapping in sync with the rhythm of the piece — there is section in the piece with clap sound which is for the audience in the movie clapping in rhythm — some in the audience in the concert hall hesitantly started to clap, conductor quickly turned around and waved his baton signalling that the audience too are a part of the orchestra now, and the whole auditorium clapped perfectly in sync — we were part of the orchestra and precisely when clapping had to stop, every one in the auditorium stopped without any signal from the conductor. Precisely when to stop clapping in rhythm in a particular piece of music that even a non-musical layman in the audience could intuitively know - How did it happen? How does one write music like that? Or was it mere coincidence? Or was the shift in the piece too drastic and apparent.
Listening to V.Narashiman effortlessly play the piece, I sighed for how the How To Name it concert would have been if he were the one who performed instead of L.Subramaniam’s son. And when was the last time we saw a real Tanpura being played in a live concert? That was a sight and the initial solo violin with just the tanpura was a divine experience. Tanpura was properly heard, big thanks to people who were mixing the performance live.
At the end, after a brief pause, even before the audience could stop clapping, V.Narashiman remained seated in the centre stage; Accompanied by Hindustani Taal on Tabla, he started playing another similar How-T-Name-It like piece from Idhu Namma Bhoomi. These pieces are a real test for a violinist I guess. A page from study for Violin material that Ilaiyaraaja had wished to write. The momentum of the piece peaks towards the end and when it turns utterly breathless, the last note of the piece shouldn’t be gently bowed but harshly plucked and V.Narashiman did that on beat with utmost precision. Maybe it isn’t so difficult a thing to play for a violinist but the ending note was quite impactful.
The trick of composing a piece that serves two purposes at the same time, you need to project the virtuosity of the instrumentalist on screen and at the same time the music also covers the emotions of the people around, those who are watching him play - Khusboo in this case, Madhavi in Raaja Paarvai, their surprise, their fear, the whole gamut of emotions they go through while listening to the music, everything little changeover is expressed precisely in the music and yet it is a perfect live concert piece that one could listen to enjoy without the aid of any visuals.
Idhu Namma Bhoomi