Saturday, 5 January 2008

A 'Moz'ical j'ARR'ney 1

The opening credits are electric as the title suggests and serve as a prelude to the entertainment to follow. The comical scream is reminiscient of another AR Rahman (ARR) and Prabhudeva (PD) hit Urvashi Urvashi where PD dances in/on a glass bus. The virtually (save for the deep bass) a capella, repetitive, folk-like first half of the intro reminds me of Flower by Moby used in the opening credits for Gone in 60 Seconds. The later part of the intro is the percussion and accordion part of the song Ooo La-la Laa, perhaps giving us a taster of the mischievious madhalam and general malarkey to follow.

1. Poo pookum osai (The sound of flowers blooming)
This sweet melody is matched by the delectable lyrics by Vairamuthu (VR) with the rhyming scheme, making it literally (double pun?) delicious when articulating his poetry. Metaphors, similes, alliterations, onomatopoeias and the entire staple of a high school literature class can be found in his verses. What sets him apart are the ideas he describes, this time the music in nature. Poo pookum osai, athu kelkkathan asai. "Flowers blooming, I desire to hear that".

It also draws comparisons with another of ARR's hit Chinna Chinna Asai again penned by Vairamuthu, also describing nature's whimsy set in Tirunelvelli[1]. Both asais (as they will be henceforth referred to) are set in a majestic D major. The syncopated rhythms skim on this idyllic lake-like harmony: in Roja with a guitar whereas an electric organ is used in Poo pookum. These calypso-esque offbeats chords are developed in the latter with a greater percussive effect as the bass drums play against them. I wonder what it would have sounded like if Minmini were to lend her voice to this track?

In both instances, the music has been created in the context of the story the director wants to tell his audience. They say a picture says a thousand words; here the music tells us about a lifetime, painting a vivid impression of Roja’s and Priya’s lives. ARR uses his palette to paint Priya from a different perspective in another song, which we shall see later on. In Chinna aasai, the life of a young girl, carefree and energetic are one with the abundant beauty of her oore (homeland), a village nestled in the bosom of nature herself. Santosh Sivan puts the spectator in the shoes of Roja who is enamoured by beauty of her home and contrasts with the alien ways of urban life she faces later. In Poo asai, Priya shares the carefree nature of Roja, however she has been brought up in the city.

As I refererred to earlier, the music is subservient to the premise of the story. The harmonic Hey-hey shouts of the college girls as they dance in the hostel and the “Hillthore” music of the mountain folk during girls’ excursion in Minsaarakanavu, or the gypsy fiddle music and the musical chants of farmers in Roja, both serve to recreate the scenic beauty and a glimpse into the respective heroines’ lives as we hit play on our mp3 player 7 days later or 7 years later.

I wonder whether ARR was thinking of C-asai when he composed the other, because both are very similar. Perhaps the similarities reflects his notion of the carefree and appreciatitive nature of girls’ minds. Or maybe he’s discovered that the female heart sings in D major.

(To be continued...)
[1] It has the largest population of buffalos in the state.

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