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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Moods of Ilaiyaraaja Book Review

Hi Suresh,

I had read your "Moods of Ilayaraja" recently. And since you asked for an honest feedback on the book , here we go:

What works for me:

To begin with, to dedicate a book for background scores alone, in India, is a huge gamble and I am so glad you took it. Brilliant conception.

If conception is brilliant, the execution is just as good.

The book follows a beautiful structure...to start the introduction with Sholay as a lead up to a book on Ilayaraja is a masterstroke. especially if this is intended for a wider audience than just ppl from South India.

I loved the way you took each portion of Sholay and explained the idea behind each of the background scores. I could literally relive the experience of watching the movie through your words.

And then you get even better...To start Raaja's background scores with the film titles is another fabulous idea...what better film than Mouna Ragam to start with! And the choice of films which followed was what I thoroughly enjoyed. without taking anything away from the background scores of MR, it's become mainstream enough. almost every score in the movie has found its way into the public consciousness. It was a joy to read the rest of your choices...now I am tempted to go back and watch all those films again to see if I can appreciate it even better.

Writing about Kadhalukka Mariyadhai for you must be almost as comfortable and natural as breathing, I guess. Wonderful. Loved every word of it. especially the line where you say...Mini and Jeeva were speechless and so was Raaja! wow. The rest of the choices were also spot on, though I haven't seen Nandhalala yet.

Overall, you have a very analytical style of writing rather than celebratory, which is accessible to laymen as well. Not that celebratory is bad. But for a topic like this, you writing style works perfectly well.

What didn't work for me:
The book badly needs another round of editing, too many words missed, that the reader has to logically fill up. And the overuse of "put" was slightly cringe worthy. put music, put brakes etc., it's a very South Indian style of speaking/writing...you seem to have used in at least 25 places in the book :)

Punctuation left a little to be desired too - please don't mistake me to be nitpicking. I don't stress on the elegance of the language so much as the effectiveness. some of the sentences I had to reread a couple of times to get its intended meaning.

And I would have loved this to be a lot more comprehensive work - it's not a criticism but a wish!

That's about it from me. Looking forward to your book on ARR!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ilaiyaraaja Background Score Kweezzz

For those who missed it, re-posting the Ilaiyaraaja Background Score Kweezzz I conducted few days ago on Twitter. For answers, click here

Quiz 1

This clip has Background Score Cues from Five movies. Name them in the order in which they are heard in the clip.

Quiz 2

Which of the following statements are false?

1. The instrumental track released in the Audio cassette of Sathileelavathi is used in that Climax, in the film.

2. This piece is not composed by Ilaiyaraaja.

3. This leitmotif, is used, also in the opening credits of the film.

4. Both Cue1 and Cue 2 are from Aaditya 369.

5. Ilaiyaraaja won an award for Heyram Background Score.

Quiz 3

Guess the films.






Quiz 4

BGM Set 1 and BGM Set 2, each has one cue from same set of 3 films. Match the cues from the same films and name the 3 films. The answer shall be in the format 1A-filmname, 2B-filmname, 3C-filmname

BGM Set 1




BGM Set 2




Quiz 5

BGM Set 1 and BGM Set 2, each has one cue from same set of 5 films (with one extra in set 2). Match the cues from the same films and name the 3 films. The answer shall be in the format 1A-filmname, 2B-filmname, etc.

BGM Set 1






BGM Set 2







Quiz 6

This clip has Background Score Cues from Five movies. Name them in the order in which they are heard in the clip.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Moods of Ilaiyaraaja

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A reader's Review of the book

laiyaraaja is the first composer to win a National Film Award in the newly instituted ‘Best Background Score’ category. The Award was given, not just because Ilaiyaraaja's score for the Malayalam film “Keralavarma Pazhassi Raaja” was the best of that year, but also because, in 35 year long career as a film score composer, every year, one of his films' score was always the best of the year. The book “Moods of Ilaiyaraaja” is a brief introduction, I repeat, just a “brief Introdution” to the genius of the film score composer Ilaiyaraaja. With an extensive analysis of background scores of few of Ilaiyaraaja’s films, the book elaborates why Ilaiyaraaja is and ever will be the best film background score composer in India. The book also traces the evolution and background of film scores in Indian films, in general.


1. Waking Up

2. Background of Scores

The Unsung
Making of a Film Score (Sholay)
Melody of a Song as Motif
Distinct Leitmotifs
Stock Music
The New Wave

3. Ilaiyaraaja's Incredits

4. Ilaiyaraaja and Ilaiyaraaja Only

5. With the Grand Music of

6. An Ilaiyaraaja Musical

7. National Award

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Next for A.R.Rahman?

A.R.Rahman is the only music composer to have cut through all linguistic, social and cultural barriers within Indian and now even outside. A.R.Rahman, who gave hit songs in every single film he composed music for, adequately proved that he is an equally adept film score composer. He has won Grammys, Globes and Oscars. Rahman is already on his way to become a regular composer in Hollywood. He is composing music for an animation film next under DreamWorks Animation studios.

As a film score composer, A.R.Rahman has done it all. Hasn’t he? Or, Has he? Is there anything more one would want him to do? How about winning a Grammy in “Best Instrumental Composition” category? A customary view at the list of film score composers and their works that won Grammys in this category would explain what I want Rahman to do next.

Rahman’s orchestral pieces are melodic and sweet, no second thoughts about it. However, there is not enough chaos created in the orchestration, for the listeners to immerse themselves deep into and come up with a comforting musical clarity. In Rahman’s orchestral pieces, there will always be a dominant melody and all other sections of the orchestra play in support of the main melody. They do not make counter statements to the main melody. The motifs do not go through a process of development within the cue; they do not travel from Point A to B within the piece. Rahman’s orchestral arrangements do not build structures, the kind in which even if a strand or two of the instrumental layers are removed the whole would crumble. Rahman layers his orchestral pieces like the way he layers his songs. The additional layers in his orchestral bits do not always become the inseparable part of the overall composition.

It is not mandatory for an orchestral piece that supports a film to be complex in its arrangements. He can still choose to be what he is and compose music for 10 to 13 pieces film scores like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Rebelliousness is admirable, but it should not become an excuse to do something that is convenient. The biggest strength of A.R.Rahman is that he knows what he knows and what he does not know. When asked about “Conference of Birds” symphony in an interview, he openly admitted that it is a challenging task, and he is not spiritually ready for it yet. He will be. He can. If he cannot, no one can.

I am happy that his next in Hollywood is an animation film. Animation is a genre of film, in which the score is of prime importance. The score plays a vital in bringing the colourful, animated objects to life. The score helps to make their emotions believable and human. I hope, in this film, Rahman finds the Mozart in himself and become the name he earned much earlier than he became one to be called so – The Mozart of Madras.