Sunday, March 30, 2008

A guided tour down a memory lane

Mom and I visited Mrs Sulochana Pattabhiraman's residence this evening. She belongs to the list of people who should always be alive. I remember meeting her when I was probably 7-8 years old. Sulochana ji got to know Mom because of common grounds on music appreciation, which grew over the years. She used to take mom directly from the Music Academy to her residence for long sessions of intellectual discussions. Once the December season was over, there would be an intermission until the next season and they would start from where they left off sometimes not realizing that an entire year has gone by.

Mom did a project called Alaap for the Aurobindo Society, which is on sale now in major music stores, and if I remember right it is being sold for some 4000/- INR. Alaap is a glossary/encyclopedia on Indian music on which mom worked extensively in 1993. It took quite a while for it to see the light of day, and when I saw the name T PADMASANI in the credits, my joy knew no bounds. Sulochana Pattabhiraman, Calcutta K S Krishnamurthy (from scholars' viewpoint) and Sudha Raghunathan (from a singer's viewpoint) certified Alaap; some of Mom's entries in the glossary brought a new perspective and a deeper understanding. They found Alaap to be at once illuminating and extraordinarily User Friendly, to scholar or layman alike.
Sulochana ji passed on about a month ago in Chennai and at that time neither mom nor I were able to pay our last respects no-thanks to being out of town. By the time we even got to know we were more than a week late. We dropped in at their residence today and met Pattabhiraman mama.
I remember walking into that house ages ago and watching a Malayalam movie which was playing on Television. If I remember right, it was about a woman who transformed into a tree or something like that. And I took precisely one class in Bharatnatyam from her daughter-in-law. Just on a whim, that very same day. And never went back. I guess Odissi was what was written in my destiny.
Thereafter I would have met her a few times over the years, she saw me grow up.
As we entered the house, Pattabhiraman mama recognised Mom instantly and he asked me what I was upto. Explained to him that I am a singer and I go about doing this and that. He then asked me to sing for him and I chose to sing Kesariya Balam. One of my favorites.
Higher up on the walls of their living room, I saw the pictures of a younger Mama and mami and came to know that they were married when Mami was 15. Her eyes were limpid pools of innocence. Truly Sulochana. Mama then went on to say how they had had a happily married life and how they were made for each other. For an instant he forgot that Mami was no longer there and told us "My wife will give you some hot idlis if you like". That is when his daughter reminded him, "amma illa, appa.." There was only a quiet "Oho.." in response. He also went on to add how there had been no disagreements and when they did not see eye-to-eye on certain aspects, he would apologise or her style of apologising was to give him a hot cup of coffee. Mama was absolutely handsome in his younger days and Mami a damsel. How their beauty within and without evolved over time is there for all to see.
Mami had started singing with AIR as a child, and he explained how they would send a van to pick up the children and drop them back. Mama was in the family business, dealing with timber and he said that almost every house in Chettinad was built with timber supplied by their firm in those times. Mama was also a print model for a couple of Ad agencies at that time. There were a lot of such interesting things that I heard from him.
I was also given to understand that Sulochana ji was considered the best ever reviewers. She used to review concerts and she was unbiased and tactful at the same time. She wrote about the plus points and politely and unhurtingly pointed out the things that could have been better. Her reviews were looked up to and cherished.
I noticed a certain fondness, respect and admiration everything put together, when Mama mentioned his wife. Even when my thatha referred to Paati saying "My wife ..." there was a certain tone, a certain air (I just can't put a word to the sound of that word and the emotion attached with it), that seems to have died with that generation. I wonder why that did not get passed on. I guess quietly without all these counseling and self help books, and shows and magazines, news, meditation and all that, most of our parents and our grandparents have/had a mutual respect for each other, gave each other the space.
How did it go with the wind? The beauty in marriages then, I am even to scared of dreaming or visualizing of one. In the things we can talk of in the eras gone by, this would be the topper. The dignified relationships people had with one another and the love to respect another, and to give another the space.
Also I find immaculate language, vanity and chilvalry in Mama (I remember instances like that with my thatha also) which I have almost never seen in people closer my age. He refused to be seated when I wanted to do namaskaram to him, stating "it is not right" and rose up and blessed with words I felt came from the bottom of his heart.
There was also another thing that I have heard Mom say about Sulochana ji. That every cell in her being would honestly and wholeheartedly praise and wish well for anyone. I knew what wholehearted was, rather I heard and felt what a whole hearted wish was today. I am sure I would have heard wholehearted wishes before (this is with respect to people other than my mom and grandparents). But like most of us, I take things for granted too, and I believe even to relish and respect some simple things in life, you need a certain amount of growth. Or maybe its just time.
And Hey, To you, who are reading this, I wish for you one thing, rather a few things, that you have ....times and moments that you can cherish and savour, that you will meet people like whom you would love to have a life like, or would like to model your life like (I think inspite of the amount of achievements and developments in the world right now - and let me state again, that this is what I feel at this point in time - we are in need of role models, complete people whom we can really look up to, a complete personality who seems perfect to us in every way, I say seems here, because perception is quite the dicey thing), and that you come across and have true blue encounters with people who are 70+, and more than anything else, that you are blessed by them and have the happiness and a certain perfection that the generation gone by has had.
I could not take a picture of the photograph that had Mama and Mami in their younger days. But here are a couple of pictures of Mama now and a collage made my Mami's students. And I wish, sincerely, that I had been able to meet her in person.

Blogebrities in Deccan Chronicle

Ramayan on SUN TV (NDTV Imagine)

That Ramayan is being telecast on NDTV Imagine (not the old one, but in a new avatar) is not news anymore. The thing is, it is being dubbed into Tamil and is being telecast on Sun TV

The epic stories have a lot of small songs in every episode. And I have sung them so far, and I would like to believe that I shall continue to do so. Srinivas sir is the male singer. So far I had had more than a couple of chances to sing along with the man who was instrumental in putting me on the path of becoming a playback singer. I am glad there was another opportunity thanks to Ramayan.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

To those of you who have been confused as to which anonymous commenter my angry replies are directed to, this particular person's comments have not been published. Or at least mostly.
To get a sample, please refer to the comments on my previous post on the title song.

This character has been spending a lot of his time composing unparliamentary and explicit comments which should definitely not be seen in print. As of now this Mr Anonymous makes my life interesting. After battling with some ennui in Singapore this person provides the necessary spice I must say. He has been commenting for months together that I sometimes wonder whether he is paid to do it. Anyway this post is not about Mr Whoever.

This is for the other anonymous commenters, to just give them the message that my angry response is only to this particular anonymous, whose comments are never published and I just feel like responding to them sometimes. Just for the heck of it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oru Nadhi

Thanks to Maha, I have now received the title song of the serial called 'Sharadha' which came in SUN TV a couple of years ago.
Composed by Sri Rajesh Vaidya and written by Vali Avgl, the serial was under the direction of Sripriya ji. You can find the song in my audio blog.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yaar Andha Star 2008

Thats why I came to Singapore. Mediacorps' production. This was a talent hunt for youngsters between 13-17 in Singapore. They called me in to host the final episode which is why we landed here. Tipu and Harini came in as special judges as well.
I was told that this was the first ever time that they called in someone from India to host a show on Singapore television. This contest has been going on for the past ten weeks and was hosted by Ilamaran, one of the leading singers in Singapore. I was his co-host. The point about this show was that it was Live. It was a live telecast from the Mediacorp studios.
Ilamaran and I had a sort of a rehearsal yesterday to go through the script (for the first time in my life, I was given a script to host a television show and it came in even before we left to Singapore). Under the guidance of Thaamarai, producer of Yaar Andha Star, she is one very exacting person and very meticulous, everything went according to plan today, when we actually started rolling. Ilamaran was extremely affable and we hit off pretty well. Once we kinda went through the script, I went to give an interview and only had enough time to catch some zzzzz.This morning we went to the studios by 10 AM and I started writing points on my cue cards. Which was also a first. I actually got the opportunity to take down the names of the contestants, because I would actually see them and hear them perform live for the first time.
The show was for 90 minutes. Around 3 pm Ilamaran and I went to the floors for a dry run. Right from the opening walk-in to all the performances and the final bye we went through every line of the script. It was good to have a script to know what was coming when, and especially the names and what they were going to sing. It was also good to know how long we would take and whether we were running late. The dry-run clocked 93 minutes. We overshot by almost 3 minutes.
We went on the floors again at 6:20 PM and we were on stand-by. An interview with P C Sreeram was going on just before ours.
The best thing about this event was I was not nervous at all, which was weird, because I expected to be. Maybe I was OK this time because there was preparation and I actually knew what was going to happen when.
90 minutes flew past and it was a breeze because Ilamaran was great support. And when we said "Bye Bye see you next time" we clocked precisely 90 minutes. Yaar Andha Star was won by a boy called Koushik who was very good today. I must also say all the 9 singers today were very good. We heard that the talent level would only be "mediocre"", but when we did hear he performances, (most of them were totally untrained) they were very good. Also they do not have the kind of exposure to the wide range of music that Indians living in India have. Koushik was trained and it showed.
We attended a reception and dinner thereafter and I got to speak to a lot of people and there were a lot of photo-ops as well.
Today would be the best day of the trip. And I am totally waiting to come back home. Time and again its getting reaffirmed that I will not be happy anywhere except India. Nowhere but India. Nowhere but Chennai.

Friday, March 21, 2008

From Singapore

Flew down here today after we almost forgot to get the visa ..yep I know.. its one of the essentials, but with so many things going on and when someone else is organizing things for you, we tend to get complacent and believe things are taken care of. But then sometimes, luck favours you and things work out, and we got the visa in less than 24 hours.
I am here for a very interesting show. As usual I am superstitious about talking about what I am about to do. Rather comfortable reporting that I have done something.
I will be here for the weekend. Only that since today is Good Friday there is not much that I can do, not much looking around or shopping (not that I like it..) but then .. well..
5 years back when mom and I flew to New Delhi for a show, we happened to fly Indian Airlines. At that point in time, I had just started out as a playback singer but Kannathil Muthamittaal and some other songs had already released. A gentleman, probably in his 40-s working with IC recognised me, and when I got off the flight, he gave me a bar of chocolate and wished me all the best. And I met him again today inflight, and we both remembered the incident. Situations were almost the same. The last time the business class area was empty except for mom and me and IC employees. Likewise this time. Its weird how time seems to present some people and incidents that you least expect at you, and some of them are totally deja vu, or rather deja-happening. This meeting was one such and a happy one. Also happened to watch 'Enchanted' inflight and I am soooo happy that I didn't waste bucks watching it at at a theatre. Thank Gawd!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happened to see posters/ad campaigns/ hoardings of Simran Thirai, all over the city. On a closer dekho I noticed that they had mentioned my name along side Ramesh Vinayagam sir's. Couldn't help breaking into a smile. This is definitely a first for me and honestly it gave me this warm fuzzy feeling :)
My name has only been mentioned in cassette covers so far and maybe in the publicity campaigns of the concerts that I have been part of.
But to be mentioned in Simran Thirai's poster felt super nice. And *giggle* head is still on shoulders. Mom makes sure of that!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Press Meet of K M Conservatory

Happened this morning at Chetpet at the Venkata Subba Rao auditorium. I had the fortune of being able to compere the Press Meet and and I was supremely jelly kneed through out. When we go to work at Rahman sir's place talking is at minimum. The best mode to be in especially at his studio is the silent mode. How else would one be able to learn if one does not keep silent?
Something that I learnt from Mom. She usually says, that God has given us one tongue, and two ears, two eyes. Assimilation of information should always be 4 fold. And talking should be kept to the minimum or nil at most times. Especially when in exalted company.

Talking in front of Rahman sir especially on stage is something I have never done, and in addition there were some of the biggest names in the Industry present there, who are mostly on the advisory board of K M Conservatory. Was I nervous? You bet. But thereafter I got used to it.

Obviously I do not have any pictures but those that I have found on the internet. And I am now off to get some shut eye. Has been in very short supply lately.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Simran Thirai on Jaya TV - Curtain Raiser tonight at 7 PM IST

Simran Thirai, a tele series featuring Simran is a pretty unique attempt. The next 12 months, as I know, will feature Simran in 12 different stories, one new story each month.
Why am I blogging about it? I have sung the title song in this series, a Ramesh Vinayagam composition.
I still remember the time when I met him first, when he called me to sing for his movie University. I couldn't sing on that day as I had lost my voice, but mom told me to go to the studio, meet him in person and express my inability to sing. He asked me why I had to go all the way to the studio, when I was unwell. At that time we lived in Thiruvanmiyur, and the studio was about 17 kilometers from my then house. Thereafter the song I sang next was in Nala Damayanti. One of my most favourite songs and I was extremely happy that I got to sing this one. And the recording sessions were hilarious. Ramesh anna made me sing this song on different days, as somewhere in between I made my trip to Sri Lanka for a concert. One of the chief issues then was that I had "love" feel missing in my singing. He kept tripping on me. Around that time I had done a three hour call-in programme on Raj TV, where they asked me what my dream guy was like.. I said I would love a Punjabi, who was tall, a veggie, a teetotaler, non smoker and all that.. I had a fascination for them because a lot of my friends at that time were Punjabis. I love the way they live their lives, the Mehmaan Nawaazi, the food, their love for music and dance, the respect towards elders, love for their language and people in general, and their hearts. Generally the way they live life to the fullest.
Ramesh anna seemed to have seen that interview and another session happened at Rajeev Menon's office. He said there are a lot of Punjabi guy's pictures coming in, so he said he ll bring some to the studio so that I could see them and get some "feel" happening.. Or I could choose to fall in love with the recording engineer, Lawrence, who he claimed was half Punjabi and half Iyengar. That was complete blah of course. But at that time both Lawrence and I were embarrassed to no end.

Thereafter I sang a couple of songs for Ramesh anna for Bharathiyaar vizha, a couple of his compositions for Bharatiyaar's poetry.

And now Simran Thirai

He asked me to try and sound different than usual, I tried my best. The song is mindblowing, and I am glad I got to sing for Simran again. I think after Kannathil Muthamittaal and New this would be the third song I am singing for her. The video is shot super well, I happened to see it when the Pyramid Saimira team, the producers, came home to shoot a video byte on what I thought about the song and etc.

Simran Thirai will be telecast starting tomorrow, 03-03-2008, On Jaya TV 8:30 PM IST, and the curtain raiser is at 7 PM tonight on Jaya TV. I ll try to catch some bytes form the TV and post it here. Until then watch this space.. :)