A fan’s tale

Part I: Who?

Around 1992 I was a senior software engineer at PC India, Chennai. The work environment was vibrant. I was already a part time musician then, my keyboard playing abilities and of course my decent handsome looks, [ok! Ok settle down] attracted attention.

During lunch break, “Maria” our receptionist and few others mentioned about a song from the new movie “Roja” on TV, and were going gaga over it. I had no idea about this movie. It seems director Mani Rathnam was breaking away from his old acquaintances was introducing a new music composer.

On my way back home I got the audio cassette for Rs35.00 from an audio shop in fountain plaza. I had an Akai sound system, the songs did sound fresh and unique, and I recognized the song “china china asai” I was really surprised to hear “reggae”, just few months ago I heard the same words in a different format. I do not know how many know the history of “China China Asai”. Poet Viramuthu wrote this song for a special program on Doordharshan and music was composed by the genius composer MSV, sung by T.K. Kala [If I remember right]. Though MSV’s composition was the usual TV type, the words were fantastic. The same song was now presented in a different sound. Moreover, each and every song in the album surprised me. Kadal Rojave [in middle on side A &B], Pudhu Vellai mazai [Side B 1st song] and Tamiza Tamiza [Side B last song] had some something in them; this was later termed as “freshness”. I was also surprised by the new set of singers 1) Minmini, 2) Unni Menon 3)Sujatha, 4) HariHaran who are they? Where did they come from?

Somasundram grounds T.Nagar was the face book of our times, sitting on the "wall" we discussed Gavasker , Rajainee to Kamal et everything. Our main point of discussion was Roja. We were wondering why did Mani Rathnam (KB -Kavithalaiya ) take a big risk on their big movie, a new unknown composer with new set of singers? I checked with my friends in the music industry and there was already a buzz about this new composer, “Dileep” was popular among some of my friends and my cousin who worked in the advertisement industry.

There were many rumors and stories floating around. The famous one was “Being at the Right Place at the Right Time”. Those days there were no cell-phones. It seems Mani Rathnam often walks out to a private office to take phone calls. He gets calls every few minutes hence it would be very hard to get his attention. But when Rahman came for the discussion, it seems there was no single phone call for 30 or 40 minutes. Rahman was able to play all this tracks without any external disturbances.

How true the story was , who cared! it was a perfect juicy story for guys sitting on the wall to discuss.

Like every other Tamil public I did not know that this brand new music composer is destined to create history for India.

What did I find new in Roja songs? Next Thursday in detail!


krishna said...


Shankar said...

It's great to hear about your experiences of discovering Rahman...I'm sure most of us went through the same feelings.

I just wanted to add couple of facts to your post...I'm not sure many people are aware of it.



Shankar said...

Also, i think the album that bowled me over completely was "Thiruda Thiruda". I remember waiting to buy that Magnasound cassette and being very excited once I bought it. Each song was unique and the sound was mind blowing. "Veerapandi Kottayile", IMO, is a mini symphony. Along with the visuals in the movie, they were a real treat.

I also distinctly remember the BGM for the movie to this day. The theme music and the BGM for the train sequences, the thieves running away etc are still etched in my mind. I always felt that was a superlative BGM score by ARR.

Sriks, you should also do an analysis of "Thiruda Thiruda"...it is still one of my favorite albums.