Composer Talk – 2, Lyrics

The lyric personifies the soul in the song. The composition gets the complete shape from the lyrics. A good lyric has the capacity to inspire composers to create outstanding melody lines. There are many examples we can quote in film song.

But often composers don’t see lyrics eye to an eye. This is not a big sin. The reason being they tend to concentrate more on their musical composition. After all the music in the composition is the frame work that is going drive everything, hence in general these days lyrics are treated number 2 in a composition. Let me discuss on the tune for lyrics or lyrics for a tune issue.

Melody First: In my opinion a writer is asked to restrict himself by this approach. He has a preset boundary for his thoughts. He is forced to fit the words as per the melody lines, there might be better words for him to work with, but he is denied the opportunity to use them. What is the difference between a jigsaw puzzle and a painting? , a writer is treated as a person who assembles a jig saw puzzle; fit the word for a given template. A person just needs an aptitude to complete a jigsaw, there is nothing called creativity when you assemble a jig saw. Having said this, there are talented writers who are very much capable of writing wonderful lyrics to a preset melody line. However, the bottom line for them is they are governed by a boundary; their thoughts are kept within this boundary.

Lyrics First: In my opinion, a music composer’s has a wider palette than a lyric writer; the composer’s palette is more flexible, meaning a composer in general has more choices of melody phrases than a writer. A natural composer will have the ability to create tunes for any kind of lyric. His or her melody will complement the emotion generated by the lyrics much better in this approach.
The lyric writer is not bound by the melody and meter boundaries. They get to choose different words and express their ideas more clearly. I would recommend for new composers to try hands on prewritten lyrics. It is a good exercise, at times a challenging job to get a good tune.

Most of my songs in my website were written by Udhaya . In the past, he was working only with my melodies. The reason being I have tons of composition in my shelf so I decided to use them all. However, of late, I have started to work with prewritten composition. The latest one “gramiya kadalan” was composed for pre written words. My best method would be to work together with the lyric writer, both of them need to sit and do it together. Composer can get melodies for various lines from writer on the spot. However time and social constraints will work against this.

Here is an interesing observation, Last weekend Sridhar and I were in a composing session and Sridhar told me THAT there is relationship between “ponal pogatum poda” and ”nandavathil oru andi” [my previous release.] lyrics. The pallavi for the song “ponal pogatum poda“ has been phrased out first using the words from “nandavathil oru andi”. Yes, I played and checked it and found this.

nadavanathil oru andi, avan!
[ponal pogatum poda, intha ]

nalaru mathamai.. kuyavanai vendi...
[bhoomiyil nilaiyai vaazhandhavan yarada ]

kondu vanthan oru thondi
[ponal pogatum poda]


The Late Review, Concludes.

I remember reading Mr. Muktha Srinivasan’s book on History of Tamil film industry. In this he mentions that Tamil movie production lost its way during 70s. Most producers and directors were confused and totally misguided. There was huge dip in production quality. This movie proves this to be 100% true. Celluloid was taken over by Hindi movies.
I really don't want justifiy by saying Hindi movies were worse than this, so what, we were also a stinker.

What is difference between a stage drama and a movie? Movies like “Thirusulam” did not seem to distinguish the difference. This was an over acted stage drama shot on a 35mm. After all, movie making on the celluloid is an art of story telling where the director uses his creativity to screen play the story line using powerful visuals and emotions.

If you watch this movie, except for song that was shot outdoors, most of the shots were taken from a camera that was nailed to the floor. Artists come in front of the camera rather than camera covering them. Camera, the powerful visual tool was treated similar to a microphone on a stage drama. Out door! concept never considered, and camera angles and shots were totally academic. A dolly shot, tracking shot, moving shot, boom shot, crane shot, pan shot, tilt shot were all misused to the core. They were filled with one or two or three shorts [close up of persons], a stationary or a fixed short with a very tight close-ups. The most irritating one was the close-ups reaction shots; these kind of cheap shots were abundant in Thirusulam.

Yes, I do agree 100% to the fact Sivaji Ganeshan was the great actor of our times, he had the capacity for doing an entire shot in a master take, But he was misguided the directors of 1970s who clearly misused every artist’s potential. It was greatest period of depression in Tamil movies.

I was really surprised when few of my friends supported “Thirusulam” and concluded it was a great movie for its time, and my trashing was overboard. Woof! I don’t get it, how does the time factor play a roll here. Were people dumb during 70s? No I don’t think so, didnt' we all enjoy English movies of 70s ? How was West able to churn out top classics during that period? Let me name few from west! during that time Jaws , Star wars, Super man, The Exorcist, The Godfather, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Taxi Driver, Halloween, Saturday Night Fever, Silver Streak and many more.

To conclude, Thirusulam the movie had a thin story line with a “thick” cast. How can we be fooled by 45-50 year olds to be in their 20s? Adding to the agony they go dancing around trees and park bridges [aka varavathi dance].

To me it was a movie with “WIG” crazy casting, a great Wig exhibition, a poorly staged drama on a 35mm. mere waste of resources. However for many this was a silver jubilee movie, I don’t know how this was possible. May be this is what is called as the “generation gap”? No I don’t think so, I was born before 1970. Duh!. I still feel this movie was a joke.

Thanks for reading!....


The Late Review, Continues...

K.R.Vijay, who was seen crying for the hell 10 minutes ago with Father Sivaji now talks in a motherly tone to the son Sivaji. I think during the shooting Vijaya must have locked herself in a room and laughed out loud. It seems son Sivaji was 25 years old, frankly on the screen the total was about 110 years, shared by both the stars. Young Sivaji scolds his father as a worth less guy and Vijaya whines that he will come back one day.

Meanwhile, Our “Jadamudi” Sivaji now in Kashmir, narrates his story to his niece [actually he was telling us the story] sends her to Delhi with his paintings; he sells paintings for livelihood. After showing the Delhi Airport sign, the lady goes in an ambassador car, she stops on the road to get a drink, “coconut water”, getting coconut water in New-Delhi, I was amazed, and to me this place looked more like “Thrisulam” near pallavaram, Chennai.

She is attacked by local “Tamil speaking” [note it] rowdies, they try to play mischief with her. But suddenly a Sivaji shows up [with a young looking wig] on his 70’s “Lambrata” scooter He fights, flying around like a bee kicks them all and makes them run. He then introduces himself to the girl, and buys her paintings.
In case you are confused by now, this is the same Sivaji, son of K.R.Vijaya few scenes ago.

Next scene, Major Sunderrajan, a criminal lawyer in his office; a person in a Red robe and giant size mustache [the wig on the head is now moved below nose] and a big knife shows up at his gate, it seems he is a bad guy, He utters some crazy sounds to expose his anger, I really don’t know how an actor of Sivaji’s status can do such act. He was as irritating as the hormone imbalanced (uncle) guy in “Kolangal” Tamil serial.

This comedy sequence between Sivaji and Major must have been the major factor for both of them to fail badly in politics. Everyone would have remembered this part and decided not to vote for them ever in their life, a pathetic display of overacting by renowned actors of TamilNadu. Wait , there is one more shocker, it seems the overly dressed Sivaji is the son of Major, he in a disguise and playing a prank on him. “Ada rama” , once again he is also 25 years old., I have never seen a son who looks much older than his dad, mom and his grandfather.
All this to show that this Sivaji is fun loving guy, a prankster with a young thin wig that has curved hair lock in his fore head, a rare occasion where you find Dennis Rodman handsome.

So till now 3 Sivaji are shown, Vijaya is fine with one and another one is growing up with Major, how he got there, you need to wait for climax.

A photographer who is also a smuggler and friend of “Jadamudi” Sivaji is introduced some where in the 4th reel, with help of local dacoits he steals a necklace from temple ; with all my logics right temple should be in Delhi. Son Sivaji number one tries to fight them out, how he came where he came from, please dont ask such questions, director wants him there he was there. But the photographer escapes with the booty. A group of Police goes after him,and vanishes in thin air. He goes to the guest house where the “Niece girl” was staying. He hides the necklace in painting, plans to take it later.

Meanwhile Son Sivaji [who is with K.R.Vijaya] meets this girl and they go in to kind of pseudo romance. After a song, the son gets a job in Kashmir and wants to go there. He is asked to carry the painting back to Kashmir on his girl friends request; she gives him a letter to her dad. Remember the painting that contains the necklace also goes with him. She requests him to join his dad as his manager. I really don’t know what the elder Sivaji is doing to have a manager.

The photographer guy is actually a mercenary for MN Nambi & Ga. He goes to get the painting, but he finds that son Sivaji has taken it. He goes after him to the airport and meets him. The airport looked like Shanthi theater ticket counter to me. The painting, Sivaji and the villain fly to Kashmir. After landing, Sivaji meets “Thenga” Srinivasan , a funny guy and a local guide. I think everyone carried same kind of box in the 70's Yes!..Box gets exchanged. Tenga takes the box that contains the necklace.

Next reel, Sripriya shows up in her so called modern dress. She starts to talk with her cat strangling voice to her grand father, played by Royal Grand father [asthAna thAthA] of Kodambakkam, V.K.Ramaswamy, who eventually owns the copy right for the word “MooDevi”. Sripriya does not want to marry anyone, but VKR wants her to get married, if not, he threatens her to write off his assets to charity. He gets an heart attack while talking to her, a doctor shows up, same doctor who helped K.R.Vijaya!. Beep Beep, My screen play GPS monitor was slowly trying to establish a link.

[might continue or I might stop it right here...


The Late Review

For last 2 weeks I have the pleasure of KTV in my house. To get KTV we need to install the super dish, I went ahead and got it. KTV plays 2 movies a day with rest of the time filled with old and new Tamil songs or film based program. Saturday afternoon I happen to watch an old Tamil movie called “Trisulam”, Sivaji Ganeshan in triple role while K.R.Vijaya , Sripriya and one more female co-star whom I did not have a clue about.
This movie is said to have grossed about 400 days and copy rights were sold to all the south Indian language. The Kannada version is said to have grossed more than Tamil. So it should be good movie right! read further.

The movie opens with Sivaji and K.R.Vijaya singing a family song, a typical start for movies of the 70’s. The eldest Sivaji gets in nexus with 3 villains; M.N.Nambiyar, Ramdoss and one more person.

I think one of the Co-producer for the movie or his wife or his close relation should have had a wig manufacturing unit with lots of wigs unsold. Every character in the movie had a crazy wig. The director establishes the difference of age by placing these wigs on the character's head. Sivaji goes spell bound in triple role. Once again the only way we could distinguish three Sivaji’s is the Wig. Please remember that Wigs plays a vital role in the movie. M.N. Nambiyar comes with a reddish brown Wig while his associates decorate themselves with various colors and sizes of wigs. For some reason bad guys in Tamil movies always wear colorful wigs. I think instead of “Tirusulam” they could have named it “ThiruTopa”. [Toupee]

Senior Sivaji kills one of partner and escapes with his wife Vijaya, who is pregnant , while Nambi & Ga [gang] goes to the police. Meanwhile Sivaji and Vijaya board a train [Grand trunk express] to Delhi, the train matched the purple and red color of GT. As expected, Sivaji gets out of the train to get some water, suddenly the train starts to move away, Sivaji comes running to the train but stops as the platform is surrounded by police. Sivaji hides behind a telephone booth, while a police force of about 100 stands in front of every compartment.

I really don’t know how they can miss someone like Sivaji of 70s, that too with bright black giant size Toupee on his head, he was standing about 5 yards behind the police line. The train picks speed suddenly K.R.Vijaya screams, “enaaaaaaanngaaaaaa” and tries to jump out of the train, at this point I did not know where the police force went, they were standing right in the front just a minute ago. They could catch her and Sivaji red handed at that time. But the train rolls out while Sivaji cries, his body shakes, measuring a magnitude of about 7.1 on the Richter scale. He cries as though the train is gone forever to the Mars or Jupiter. Simple logic, next station is Basin Bridge Junction, [ps: in 70’s any train that leaves madras will stop in Basin Bridge]. Sivaji can always go there or may be Vijaya could have pulled the chain instead of crying. Or Police could have stopped the train and searched it fully. But, it is the 70s’s, no place for logic. The pregnant Vijaya is helped by a co-passenger, who happens to be a lady doctor.

After this emotional break away, Vijay gives birth in Delhi, she tries to walk away from the hospital with some “self pity” dialogues, The doctor gives her place to stay.

Time roles by, how do I know this?, I just assumed so, because Sivaji shown on the screen had a grey colored long size wig on his head. A “JadAmudi” with white side burns, meaning he is the father guy who has a niece, I don’t know how or from where he got the niece. She calls him "mama", so he should be his sister’s daughter. Or may be the stage is setup for Younger Sivaji to marry her.

[To be continued]