maestro's world

Maestro Ilaiyaraaja is the greatest composer and musical genius I have ever seen. He is the only gifted musician who breathes music as his life. He is one of the biggest influence in my life. This blog is to focus on my memories and experience with his timeless music.

Sri Rama Rajyam – Valmiki Clears Sita’s Doubt (Part 2) May 22, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 9:04 pm

Till now there are no dialogues, but now let’s see what Rama thinks of Sita as Sita hides herself.  Bapu inserts this scene to confirm and attest that without Sita there is no Rama. Maestro pauses the music as Rama arrives (4:00-4:08). Just when he utters the word ‘Sita’ and ‘PraanEshwari’ Maestro starts playing a stream of violins accentuated by cellos as the melody picks up with oboe (what a beauty!). You can also hear another set of wind instruments feebly in your right ear (from 4:21-4:40) as a counter-melody to the main oboe melody. The main melody of oboe stands as a symbol of Rama’s emotions, and the feeble flute is for Sita (as Sita is standing little far) as Rama is pouring out his guilt. I can definitely say no one could have added that second layer of feeble oboe and symbolically address that Sita is listening but she is little far away. If you closely hear the melody of the the main oboe and the feeble one, we can hear that it was played in a question-answer mode as Sita silently accepts his situation. This is what we call narrative integrity and finest attention to details. This melody if extrapolated will blossom into a beautiful new song. No one has such a calibre of Maestro when it comes to score like this. He has scored all this knowing 100% that no one will even hear these details, they why? I will leave it to you to answer, if we are really doing any justice to this living legend and genius.

Melody takes different route from 4:44-5:14 as Rama pours his heart out to Sita that even though he abandoned her, she never left him (now in the form of statue). Maestro plunges himself in western classical music ocean but brings out the indian classical idioms as pearls out in the form of a serene melody starting with sarangi backed up by violins (4:44). After he says ‘neevE’ (I always remember you and you are the only one I see all the time) hear the amount of layering starting with sarangi followed by violins, oboe, flute all join together to give a symphony, but the melody and the heart is purely Indian. Maestro creates a bright melody (4:59-5:07) to support Rama’s bright eyes and his true love towards Sita. When Rama describes her beauty and the aroma (5:08-5:13), he underlines with a solo violin, one reason to show Rama’s loneliness without her, second reason is this is purely personal which is know only to them which Maestro symbolically describes using a solo violin.

Just when Rama kindly recalls her beauty and aroma, he also immediately feels that exact smell of her and was so surprised by that smell (5:14). Sita was there a moment ago which Rama didn’t know. Maestro uses a tremolo of violins to indicate his suspicion. You can also hear pizzicato strings and bell sounds along with violins to increase the tension and anxiety in Rama to see Sita. He questions himself if Sita had really come there and takes a closer look at the statue and sees the ‘chandravanka’ (moon dot on her forehead which only he used to decorate her). His suspicion grew large as he sees ‘chandravanka’. Since that decoration is a symbol of auspiciousness Maestro punches in a divine veena (5:26-5:41) with a fresh melody. Rama questions himself and confirms that none other than Sita knows about this and he was almost sure that Sita was here and starts searching her, but he could not believe if it’s true. Maestro again brings back the violin tremolo (5:42) to substantiate his suspicion and gradually adds groups of violins and cellos as the camera pans down and Rama goes all over the room searching for her and Sita hides from him. What started as a simple violin tremolo expands into a symphony and peaks up into a WCM string orchestra and finally finishes up in a crescendo and falls down(5:14-6:18) as Rama breaks down this time. One minute of breath-taking music. Oh my God I could not believe what I heard just now, did you? I am completely lost with words on how to describe the awe-inspiring stuff like this. The last 2 1/2 minutes was a breath-taking musical shower bestowed upon us by Maestro, but how many of us were lucky to drench in that?

It’s not over yet. Hear the music from 6:22-7:30. Third melody of the night. As Rama falls down, Sita comes to solace him by gently caressing his forehead (6:22). Maestro starts a tremolo for the third time, but we can hear the difference in the tone compared to the earlier tremolos. Tremolo denotes Rama having a ‘butterfly-in-stomach’ effect as Rama is now completely feels at home by Sita’s pleasant touch. I also hear female choir, but is it that violins sound like female choir? So beautiful to hear. Even when Rama is unable to regain full consciousness, he dreams that Sita is still with him and she is pleasantly caressing his forehead. He again starts describing her touch and the aroma. Maestro develops the melody by keeping the tremolo as the base and adds flute, oboe and even guitar chords as we are treated by some celestial melody. Long flute passes followed by short flute phrases in staccato with cellos giving the chords all form chamber music in the palace of Ayodhya. What a harmony of instruments and how it expands beautifully one after another, one over another, just like an endless music. I could even feel the holy angels playing the melody under the direction of musical God, as Rama soar and sore. We are into a musical world where there is no limit and there is no comeback.

As Rama tries to hold her hand Sita gasps away. Rama again searches her  and thinks (really) that he is being teased by Sita deservingly and asks her to forgive him for all his mistakes.Just when Rama asks Sita to forgive him (@7:22), Maestro soars high with some exquisite violins which easily melts our hearts, like Sita’s.  All the doubts of Sita are cleared now. Music slowly fades (diminuendo) and we again hear a whirlwind sound (7:31-755) as Sita’s soul goes back to her ashram with the help of Valmiki to regain her bodily consciousness. What a beautiful scene and music we have witnessed! Only once in a lifetime such music is gifted to hear. Please go back once more to 4:09 and try to play the scene again by muting the music (in your head) and feel the difference without the music, correct music that is.

For next 1 and a 1/2 minutes there is no music (7:56-9:18), except we hear the sounds of water fall and waves of the ocean at the background. We can feel the silence after the musical storm. Maestro intends to keep silence because both for the scene and the audience  there is nothing to underline or project, as both are clear now. This is when Vaalmiki starts by asking Sita if all her doubts were cleared for which Sita acknowledges. Valmiki narrates another incident in Lanka after the war was over. Rama was sitting on the shore and realized that someone is approaching him. Having realized it as a woman he lifts his legs so that her shadow does not fall on him. Vaalmiki explains him that he is that pure. It was Mandodhari who was approaching Rama to see who conquered her husband who was a staunch Shiva devotee. After seeing that Rama does not want other woman’s shadow to fall on him, she was thoroughly impressed and praises Rama that her husband has been defeated by a deserving person and a human.

After hearing this, Sita felt more guilty as she was suspicious about her own husband Rama who is well known for truth and purity. That’s when Maestro again starts playing a meloncholy using sarangi (9:19-10:28) as Sita expresses her guilt to Vaalmiki. The melody will drive you to deep tears. Vaalmiki consoles her that since she realized her fault, there is nothing to worry and recommends her to perform a Lalitha Sahasranaamam as a token of relief (parigaaram).

For this epic 10:30 minute scene Maestro would have scanned it only once to note the details and intricacies and would have wrote the score in a flash. Writing is not a big thing, writing correctly is the biggest thing. He never rewrites or corrects his score like Rama’s arrow; it does not come back, once it flies out of the bow it reaches its target. For this kind of film on Rama, who else other than Maestro can be called to score and who else could have done the justice the first time, every time. Maestro’s music what we hear is scored only once straight from his brain directly to our hearts, which is synonymous with Rama’s characteristic as below.

With this I conclude this epic episode of two parts with this powerful one-liner which denotes the characteristic of Lord Rama.

okE maata okE baanam okE pathni ithE sri rama vEdham

*All timings are accurate to the audio clip posted yesterday


Sri Rama Rajyam – Valmiki Clears Sita’s Doubt (Part 1) May 20, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 4:00 am

Before we talk about today’s score, we need to talk about the director, Bapu gaaru. I don’t think any other director would have got into this much detail when handling such historical topics. The more I talk about Maestro, indirectly I talk about Bapu also. Without him Maestro would not have exhibited his skills perfectly. See how he starts the scene.  When Sita approaches hermits to have their views about how a yaagam could be performed without their wife, Bapu creates a whirlwind atmosphere (sound) outside to denote what’s going on inside Sita’s mind. Director of Excellence. You can clearly hear the sound of vortex at the background (0:00-00:17) then a rolling drum to enhance the eeriness inside her and us. Then again the whirlwind continues as she approaches an old lady to confirm again. Just when she says ‘asambhavam’ we can again hear the rolling drums, but fading out beautifully. Maestro plays wind instrument (clarinet/bassoon) from 1:09-1:35 along with strings when the old lady confirms that yaagam is not possible unless his wife is present with him or he re-marries. What started as a doubt within Sita now has changed to a whirlwind which only a wind instrument can reflect. If you observe he plays it in lower octaves exactly like how the vortex sounds. Along with this we also hear the actual sound of whirlwind too, the amalgamation of two bass octave sounds results in a high octane atmosphere (as played by violins/cellos/double-bass) as Sita rushes back to her hut only to collapse.

Before collapsing, when Sita thinks and questions (indirectly) Rama if he really re-married, we can hear mild flurry of bell sounds (from a vibraphone?) from 1:36-1:42 along with bassoon. The bell sounds symbolizes as if Rama got re-married and the bassoon symbolizes her disappointment over that. How brilliant of a thought from Maestro. Just at her thought, we hear a mild ‘hammer hitting sound’ (@1:43) that’s when she collapses (1:44-1:48). The scene now takes a different direction as Sage Vaalmiki arrives to her hut having heard about her. We can hear sober violins and cellos at the background as he studies the situation (1:51-2:10). As Vaalmiki meditates to take Sita’s soul over to Ayodhya to clear her doubts, we can hear thumpura gradually taking over the sober violins. The beauty here is we hear the first chord of thampura @2:06 when the violins are still playing. Thumpura then play little frequently as violins slowly die down and thumpura starts playing continuously and in-turn takes over completely.  No one would done this so efficiently and effectively. See how Maestro wipes out the sober mood out of the hut into a divine one as Valmiki enters and blesses Sita. We will never know when Maestro switches from violins to thampura. I am thoroughly mesmerized by this transformation. Are you?

From 2:11 we can hear thumpura has completely taken over the violins as Vaalmiki goes on deep meditation to get a soul-soul communication with Sita to wake her soul and transport to Ayodhya. Till 2:33 we can hear the music of transformation from Maestro. I don’t know how he captured that sound of wind, but that’s mind boggling. As Sita lands at Rama’s palace (@2:34) we can hear grand strings to denote the grandeur of the palace. The monotonic strings blossom into a beautiful melody from 2:41-3:59. Let me try to split this melody into parts and explain its intricacies, so that we can get a grasp what Maestro is trying to achieve. More we step inside these melodic phrases, the more we tend to lose ourselves, and completely surrender to his music, of-course with our hearts weeping.

The melody from 2:41 till 2:57 is a new melody. This melody starts exactly when Sita looks at the golden statue (of herself) with anxiety and races towards it to clear her doubt. Same way Maestro structures the melody to be of brisk speed with constant wavy violins. Again exactly @2:57 when Sita opens the curtains of the statue, Maestro switches to another melody which takes back Sita to the wedding day. Maestro plays the flute (2:57-3:05) of this line; aajaanu baahuni jathakoodi avanijaatha (she wedded a brave man). That was a line from devuLLe mechinde song. All her doubts are cleared and she believes now that she married a brave and honest man. The reason why Maestro picked up flute instead of other instrument here is because that is the only instrument which can console you and make you calm. In addition to making a right selection of instrument he also chose to play right melody which clears her doubt, no other lines would have captured the essence of the scene. Now comes the biggest twist which no one would have ever imagined.

Immediately after playing the above line, he again goes off in tangent to play another melody (3:04-3:20) with flute, as violins/cellos play a different melody at the background making a perfect counter-point melody. The flute melody is kind of teasing as we hear closely. The flute plays, pauses and plays again in a discontinuous fashion as the violins play continuously. If you hear the flute melody closely it serves as a precursor of a known melody which is going to come soon. Maestro just teases us by playing discontinuously, but not without a purpose. There are so many things happening during this phrase, a counter-point melody of violins and flute, discontinuous flute melody which hints what’s going to come next. Let me try to decrypt it from whatever I understood.

Sita takes a close look at her statue as the discontinuous melody plays. Her mind fluctuates whether to unite with Rama immediately or not, as she sees his love through that statue. Discontinuous flute denotes her fluctuating mind. The underlying continuous violin/cellos melody denotes her anxiety state as Rama would come here soon and she has to leave anytime. Maestro has captured both the emotions so perfectly with right orchestration. Just when she is about to leave, she thinks that she missed something and realizes that she forgot to put ‘chandravanka’ (moon symbol of decoration in forehead) for her statue. Just when she realizes, Maestro plays the flute melody of this line; nee needaga saaguninka jaanaki ani (Jaanaki would move with Raama like a shadow). This was the melody we were hearing discontinuously a moment ago. Again why Maestro is playing this line is emphasized by the fact that now Sita is relieved that she will be moving along with Rama like a shadow in the form of her statue till she returns to him permanently. How beautiful and intricately weaved by Maestro!

After playing the above line, Maestro skips the next line of the song (seetha nosage janakudu sree raama moorthike) and directly jumps to aa sparsha ki aalapinche amrutha raagame without distorting the melody and the scene, that’s Maestro for you. The reason he skips that line is because it says “Janaka gives Seetha’s hand to Rama thereby proclaiming Seetha is for him”, which is irrelevant at this point of time to invoke Janaka here, so he directly jumps to next line as it says “at this auspicious moment, sweet melody fills the air” which definitely is as Sita forgets herself and fondly remembers Rama on how he used to decorate her forehead with ‘chandravanka’. Even before we observe Maestro has already switched the instrument from flute to violins when playing ‘aa sparsha ki aalapinche amrutha raagame, raamaankithamai hrudayam kaliki seethake’ and then to veena when playing ‘sreekaram manoharam idi veedani priya bandhamani’. Monster magician!.  The divine melody continues playing these lines of devuLLe mechinde till Rama arrives and the music slowly fades away. Please don’t forget to hear the double-bass melody when these above lines are played.

One thing if you noticed, Maestro freely shuffles the original lines of the song (devuLLe mechinde). He starts with ‘aajaanu baahuni jathakoodi avanijaatha’ and then goes back to ‘nee needaga saaguninka jaanaki ani’, skips ‘seetha nosage janakudu sree raama moorthike’ and continues with ‘aa sparsha ki aalapinche amrutha raagame’ without distorting the melody and the mood of the scene. This again shows how he would have thoughtfully constructed the melodies in first place (but all in a flash), so that he can freely use these as themes. His melodies are so flexible yet it conveys the meaning wherever applicable appropriately. I don’t think anyone can even attempt to think of a score like this keeping in mind it is for visuals and visuals only, as timing is so important. Everything falls in place as if it is their destiny. Will continue the next part of this episode tomorrow, as this has already become big. Meanwhile savor the music and soul of Maestro and dissolve your (salty) tears in his musical ocean.


Sri Rama Rajyam – Invitation from Ayodhya May 17, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 2:54 am

We have almost come to the most important phase of Uttara Ramayanam. Ashwamedha Yaagam. Before even going there you might recall my earlier post about this when Sage Vashishta recommends Ashwamedha yaagam for the prosperity of Rama and his kingdom and cleared Rama’s doubt and the ways to perform a yaagam without Sita beside him. In the same context, dignitaries and soldiers from Ayodhya come to Vaalmiki’s ashram to invite him to the yaagam. Vaalmiki was shocked and surprised to hear Rama performing yaagam at this juncture without Sita beside him. As per the rules and tradition yaagam cannot be performed by a husband without his wife. The dignitaries reiterate that the yaagam was blessed to be performed by the great Sage Vashishta and Rishyashringa. After hearing this, Vaalmiki convinces himself that they would have well thought about it before recommending such yaagam. So he wishes the yaagam to be successful and adds that he will be present at the appropriate day and time.

Trumpets and marching drums go from front to back as the Ayodhya soldiers and dignitaries arrive at the ashram as Sita watches them. When Vaalamiki questions “yaagamaa?”, we can hear the same question musically raised by Maestro through tender strings. As the conversation progresses, the strings and harp progress mildly at the background without disturbing the scene. As the dignitaries leave, we can hear and smell the beautiful waterfall sound along with fading strings. Sita who was hearing their conversation from behind could not believe this. Immediately it struck her that there is something wrong. She now has the same doubt what Vaalmiki had before. How Rama is performing a yaagam without her? Maestro gives a surge of cellos/double-bass @1:27 which extends till 1:33 to indicate her shock and disappointment. A subdued flute and sarangi follows as having some grief and solace arguments with each other as Sita is having an helpless argument with her mind and Rama (indirectly). As my eyes run out of water watching the visuals, the music slowly takes my breath away.

Will conclude this episode by giving a precursor of tomorrow’s special episode. We have by now come to the famous ‘statue theme’ which everyone talked and written about quite lavishly. This piece of music is the landmark and milestone not only for Maestro, it is for the film. Without this scene and theme, Sri Rama Rajyam is not complete. Please save all your tears for this intensely emotional and poignant battle Sita and Rama is battling out and how Maestro arrests and captivates us through his immortal music. I can assure you can never savor such a music in your lifetime. You might have listened to this statue theme all over the net, but it contains a 2-3 minute score which does not give a complete picture about the score. The score which we are going to witness is around 10 minutes which should give you a complete picture on how Maestro superimposes the visuals with his music, making them well integrated for the maximum experience possible. See you tomorrow.


Sri Rama Rajyam – Sita’s Anger April 27, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 4:21 am

nee needaga saaguninka jaanaki ani (jaanaki would move with Raama like a shadow)

seetha nosage janakudu sree raama moorthike (Janaka gives Seetha’s hand to Rama thereby proclaiming Seetha is for him)

aa sparsha ki aalapinche amrutha raagame (at this auspicious moment, sweet melody fills the air)

raamaankithamai hrudayam kaliki seethake (she filled Rama into her heart)

sreekaram manoharam idi veedani priya bandhamani (this blessed couple are never to be separated)

aajaanu baahuni jathakoodi avanijaatha (she wedded a brave man)

aanandha raagame thaanaaye gruhini seethe (and felt very happy)

The above portion comes at the end in dEvuLLe mechchinde song, the most fascinating composition by Maestro and at the same time it brings out subtle emotions of Seetha. Any stone heart will melt hearing this piece. I cry as I listen and write. Please hear below.

I can guarantee this to be a shorter episode, but the music is not. Lava-Kusa return to their home having suffered a big upset in Ayodhya. Seetha greets them, but they don’t reciprocate. Seetha thinks that they must be tired and offers them water and asks about Rama’s wellness. Just when she is about to ask about Rama, her face changes with lot of expectations. Even before she utters any word, Maestro starts to score having understood the situation thoroughly from her face. Maestro brings the above lines live from the song dEvuLLe mechchinde; ‘nee needaga saaguninka jaanaki ani, seethe nosage janakudu sere ram moorthike’ here in the form of orchestration. The reason Maestro plays this particular line is because Seetha recalled her wedding when this actual song was earlier sung by her sons (please try to see the video of this song). These lines are simple, yet powerful and conveys the real meaning of her life. That time she was hearing about Rama and Seetha through her sons and now she wanted to hear again from them, as they came back from Ayodhya having met Rama (please read previous episode if you haven’t for continuity).

Maestro could have played any other theme when both Rama and Seetha were together, but Maestro picks up this theme because this line depicts the time they got married and Seetha proclaiming that she would follow Rama like shadow. Since she could not hold to her promise (with no fault on her) and away from his shadow for quite long, she faces guilt and wanted to know that without her (Rama’s shadow) if Rama is fine. Maestro picks up just the first two lines above and plays a subtle flute to convey her mind to the audience. Only a true music doctor can find a true heart and its feelings and able to convey effectively. One of the most subtle piece of score in this film.  Hear it from 0:37-0:55.

All her expectations goes down as Lava-Kusa express their unhappiness and frustration about Rama, since they heard from Rama’s mother that he abandoned pregnant Seetha at the forest for the benefit of the kingdom. They even started cursing Rama which Seetha could not digest further. She expresses her anger towards them as they didn’t understand who is Rama and how is his heart. She asks them not to utter any further bad remark about Rama and they didn’t even have any right to even call his name and sends them away. Maestro plays heavy strings to denote the tension (01:20-02:00) and (02:13-02:52). As we can see Maestro did not score continuously, he gives a break between 2:00-2:12 as Lava-Kusa express their frustration, no need to enhance that scene. When Seetha expresses her anger and also highlight Rama’s discipline, his heart, how every Rishi and Sage worship Rama, Maestro underlines the scene effectively with the strings. No other instrument can replace violins and cellos for this type of situation. With this let me conclude this episode and we’ll meet soon in the next episode.


Sri Rama Rajyam – Lava-Kusa meet Rama, their wish and disappointment April 10, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 1:45 pm

‘sri rama rama sidhananda thaaamaa

sudha poorna naama mahaa bhanda nOdhanda dhOrdhanda bheemaa

kOthanda raama shathanekha bhakthaaLi paripoorna kaamaa

dharaajaatha sowmitri premaabhi raamaa

sooryanayaambhodhi sOmaa

sri janaki ramaa

namaste namaste namaste namahaa’

We are into one of the most important phase of the Uttara Ramayanam and Sri Rama Rajyam. Lava-Kusa meeting their father for the first time. Musically too this is one of the best, if not the best. All the superlatives are not enough to describe the score.

Let’s see how it happens. Lava-Kusa reach Ayodhya and sing Vaalmiki Ramayanam (Ramayanamu Sri Ramayanamu song) in front of the people. One of Ayodhya’s maid who was engrossed by their singing convey this news to Kausalya in the palace. Kausalya then invites Lava-Kusa and asks them to sing (Seetharama Charitham song). This song is about the difficult times of Sita in the forest when Ravanan abducts her till she completes the agni paritchai. When everyone in the palace were so moved by their singing, that’s when Rama appears in front of them.

This episode starts with Lava-Kusa having the first glimpse of Rama. Lava-Kusa’s eyes brighten and they utter the above slokam in praise of him. Hear the music of Maestro (till 0:50). We can feel all the colors. We can feel the butterfly effect in our stomach. Maestro has used a kind of chromaticism and tremolo to its fullest effect using vibraphone, bell sounds and piano. The sound which we might not have heard before. This is to denote Lava-Kusa has not seen Rama before. Once they regain their senses, they sing a beautiful slokam in praise of Rama. Since this is not in the original soundtrack, I have added this for listening pleasure.

I could have stopped with the above 50 seconds giving the audio clip. Then get the next set of score and give a title to it and move on. That will never give an idea what music we are listening to and how it narrates the scene. We will not get the essence of the whole scene. Definitely Maestro does not want us to appreciate him blindly, just because he is a Maestro and that’s not how we want to understand Maestro’s background score skills. When we start appreciating the score, we also need to appreciate when it starts and when it ends and why? That’s the main reason, I don’t just stop when the music stops. There is much more than meets the ears. To understand and appreciate, we need to see and hear the whole scene, not just in bits and pieces. Please see the visuals below.

Having said that, for the next 1 1/4 (till 2:03) minutes there is no music. This is when Rama and Lava-Kusa start talking to each other for the first time. There is nothing to enhance or nothing to convey which is hidden in the scene. Rama was so impressed by them hugs and blesses them. He asks about their whereabouts and also asks them to stay in Ayodhya and spread Valmiki Ramayanam to the people daily. Lava-Kusa refuses to stay citing that their mother cannot live without them and they visited Ayodhya only to see Rama, they cannot stay any longer. Kausalya and Rama’s sister acknowledges their stand. She adds that all pleasures are fruitless if the children are not with their mother. That’s when Maestro starts the music (@2:04).

This whole score from 2:04 – 5:40 is one of highlights of Sri Rama Rajyam. Maestro has not used any cues from the songs. There is no discontinuity in the music as he musically narrates the conversation between Lava-Kusa, Rama and Kausalya. If you want to meditate, just close your eyes, listen to this score and try to focus on the music alone (leaving the dialogues). Observe how the score travels all along. You can feel the complete silence in these 2 1/2 minutes. We can feel the music flows right from our head to face to body and to our feet. WCM+ICM gets its next birth from the worthy hands of Maestro. One of the greatest score ever written. One of the greatest score I have ever listened, if not the greatest ever. First of all, it is extremely difficult to visualize the music for this scene and write notes for it. When writing it is highly impossible to blend two contrasting style; WCM with ICM. Again Maestro does this all in a flash. He never plays these notes before writing. It flows out of him naturally. Please listen to the score honestly and tell me how dishonest and sin we are to doing by comparing this genius with ordinary mortals and their mediocre musical outputs.

Maestro plays a single note as long as possible which acts as a base and slowly adds flute with slight variation as Rama opens his heart for the first time in years. Maestro then adds bassoon/oboe to mimic the flute (from 2:04-2:33). Very serene musical phrase. This is when Rama expresses that he is in a state of ecstasy seeing them and he does not have heart to leave them. The reason for mimicing oboe with flute is to denote Kausalya acknowledging Rama’s state. Exactly at 2:27 you can hear Kausalya crying as she knows Rama would also have a kid of same age if Sita was here. Thinking of Rama, she cries.

From 2:34 the flute takes a beautiful diversion (with piano at the background) as Rama asks them to accept gifts for which they refuse again citing that the people who live in forest didn’t need any material happiness. Also they recall that their mother warned them not to receive any gifts. Rama was so impressed by their nature. Lava-Kusa then slowly ask Rama that they have one more wish. Rama on hearing this was so happy that at-least he could fulfill their next wish, if not for gifts. From 2:55-3:08 Maestro changes course with streaming violins as he knows where their question will lead to. He is preparing for the event to happen with violins with the lead violins.

Lava-Kusa add that they want to see Seetha. So far they had only half  ‘darshan’ and without Sita their wish will not be fulfilled. From 3:09 Maestro starts the crescendo slowly as the conversation gets little heated, as they continuously beg for seeing Sita. On hearing this, Rama was shocked and embarrassed as he could not fulfill their only wish and walks away hurriedly. @3:39 and @3:44, Maestro adds a brisk double bass to reflect the shock in Rama.  Superb piece of work!

Since Lava-Kusa didn’t know the reason for Rama’s anger, they think they have faulted in asking such a question. They express their apology and asks Kausalya if they have faulted which caused Rama’s anger (3:55-4:29).

Now the climax. Kausalya briefs them that there was no fault with them, all fault with Rama and the kingdom Ayodhya. She adss that Seetha is not with them and she is in the forest and adds they left pregnant Seetha in the forest on a suspicion from the people to save the kingdom. Please hear the sarangi from 4:30-5:13 as Kausalya breaks down explaining the embarrassing situation. Crafty piece of work. I can proudly say this is next to impossible for any composer/music directors other than Maestro to conceive such a music which is so Indian in its heart and blends with the ongoing WCM format with no hiccups. Hear the melody of the sarangi. He has not just fused a bland melody, a melody which we die to hear in our life time. I tend to break-down hearing this piece. On hearing this, Lava-Kusa were shattered. They immediately put down the image of Lord Rama and thereby abandon Ayodhya and leave. Wonderful culmination with violins, cellos and wind instruments with a huge tap on the marching drums to denote the anger and disappointment of Lava-Kusa.

I can sense that this scene alone is a film by itself and this music itself is an encyclopedia of emotions. For once, please try to mute the dialogues in your head and try to just feel the music. We can feel each and every dialogue was presented by Maestro through his music. With Maestro, more than just underlining/enhancing the scene with his score, it also serves as a pure visual medium when we close our eyes and listen to it. All the emotions are brought out in front of us even if visuals are shut-off. Such is the unlimited power of Maestro’s score. I can challenge any composer if they can come at-least 1% closer to what Maestro has composed. It is unfortunate that in India there is no tradition to market background score like this marvel for people to really know what they are missing and what needs to be truly appreciated. Maestro’s scores are true reflections of creative art. Without his works, art is handicapped.


Sri Rama Rajyam – Lava-Kusa leaves for Ayodhya March 29, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 5:40 am

We are back after almost a month gap. Sorry for the delay. Previous episode talked about people of Ayodhya repenting to Rama for their sins and Rama forgiving them. That’s where the director takes a sharp turn to focus on what is happening in the ashram. When things are turning out positive in Ayodhya, Lava-Kusa express their willingness to visit Ayodhya to sing praises of Rama and Sita and also to get a glimpse of them (They are not yet aware that Sita is their mother). Sage Vaalmiki accepts their wish and decides to send Rishi Bharadhwaj along with them. Vaalmiki also seeks Sita’s wishes if they can be allowed to visit Ayodhya for which Sita concurs. As Lava and Kusa run towards Sita and she hugs them, she also dreams that one day Rama will also accept them. Suddenly she breaks down thinking of Rama and her sons. Hanuman cries thinking of their ill-fate that Rama’s sons are going to meet him as singers. Meanwhile, she wishes them well with ‘aarathi’ and sends them off. The best part here is she asks them to look Rama on her behalf. Kudos to the director!

Let’s listen to the clip. Before we go to the score, we have to notice another subtlety from the director and sound engineer. Even when there is no music we can hear the sound of waterfall and the feeble chants by Rishis throughout the clip. Superbly done! I feel so fresh to hear the waterfall sound and feel so divine to hear the chant. It gives immense pleasure of visualize the beauty of the morning amidst the forest. Now let’s deep dive. As usual Maestro does not rush to fill the scene with his background score. He patiently waits for his turn. When Vaalmiki asks Sita’s permission to send Lava-Kusa to Ayodhya, Maestro starts off with mild harps and piano (@0:51). This is when she concurs with Sage Vaalmiki to send her sons to Ayodhya. The next 16 seconds (from 0:57-1:13) is a sheer beauty as I described above. Lava-Kusa run towards Sita but she dreams that they are running towards Rama and he is hugging them. I think Maestro plays a hint of slow DEvuLLE Mechchindi during this time with piano and strings. A happy melody. What a crescendo and finish!

The next second (@1:14) he turns a happy mood into a melancholy. How could he do so fast? From 1:14-1:26 Maestro takes us to a rare journey inside Sita’s heart where we can literally see her sufferings and struggle during these years, yet keeping everything inside and smiling outside. We can hear Sita asking Rama ‘yEmayya ramayya yEmaipOvaalayyaa’. Maestro aptly plays the chords (not the whole melody) of yEmayya ramayya yEmaipOvaalayyaa portion (of Raamaayanamu Sri Raamaayanamu song) using an oboe. The stunning highlight is he is not even playing the chords fully. When you hear the melody of yEmaipOvaalayyaa in the song and how it is played here, it is totally different, as he takes the cue to somewhere else. So basically he is playing the chords only for the words yEmayya ramayya and takes a diversion to give a lead to Hanuman. Stupendous!

Flute comes in for the first time when Hanuman’s heart expresses his sorrow over Sita and her children. He blames fate and hopes everything will be settled correctly. As we speak the flute seamlessly transform to violins (1:26-1:40). We can also hear birds chirping and the sound of harps during this transformation phase.  Maestro takes this time to gradually change the mood from sorrow to auspicious. From 1:40-2:00 he plays auspicious veena when Sita blesses them with an aarthi. If you hear the melody of veena, it starts off an independent melody, but gradually it enters into a melody which we are aware of. That is exactly @1:51 when Sita asks them to meet Sri Rama and get his blessings, Maestro plays the melody of the lines of ‘Sri Rama PattaabhishEkam’ (of Raamaayanamu Sri Raamaayanamu song). Applause! This was the moment Sita was eyeing for all these years; handing over her sons to Rama and adorn them as Ayodhya’s next king(s). It is not over yet. Let’s hear both the clips. First one is the portion of Sri Rama PattaabhishEkam. Second clip is the portion of the current topic where I have highlighted just the veena portion.

Veena starts off as an independent melody, then plays ‘sri rama pattaabhishEkam dasharathudu chEsEy adhEsham’ (for 5 seconds). Then again it concludes as an independent melody. It is unbelievable how Maestro stitched this melody in between and yet sounded as if it belonged to another musical phrase. Brilliant as ever! The way veena concludes after playing this line (sri rama pattaabhishEkam dasarathudu chEsEy adhEsham) is something we’d have never heard. It concludes in an amicable manner providing a solution too. If you hear closely, you can hear veena saying (not playing), everything will be alright and end in a best possible manner. Genius unparalled!

There is one more important piece before we conclude, which I’d say I am completely floored by Maestro’s score here. From 2:00-2:18, Maestro switches from veena to oboe and flute. Oboe and flute are symbolic links to Lava and Kusa. Flute almost mimics oboe here, like Lava-Kusa. Sita when blessing them with ‘chandan/kumkum’, she also fondly asks them to look at Rama on her behalf. What a dialogue that is! Bapu gaaru, I am at your feet. Just when she expresses this thought, Maestro pitches the oboe high as Sita is in ecstasy for the first time in years and her face dazzles when she expresses that as she already felt the satisfaction of seeing Rama again. Maestro providing the uplifting score here. I am in tears hearing this piece. Master of moods. Did you look at the details? This is why Maestro is unconquerable and stays everlasting emperor in music!


Sri Rama Raajyam – People Repents to Rama March 2, 2013

Filed under: Sri Rama Rajyam — maestroworld @ 7:04 pm

Sudden turn of events happens in Ayodhya. People of Ayodhya keep flooding the palace and repent for their sin and ask Rama to forgive their sins. Rama replies that they didn’t do any sin and if at all there is any fault, all blame to himself. People express that they lost their happiness, their lives have been destroyed, after their ‘mother’ Sita left Ayodhya and they got severely punished for their inhuman act. They also heard that Rama was going to perform Ashwamedha by creating an gold idol of Sita. As a token of cleaning their sins, they request Rama to accept their gold ornaments to make Sita’s idol and not to use gold from king’s treasury. Rama was moved by his people and their gesture. Sage Vashishta, his mothers all bless Rama at this auspicious moment. Meanwhile the dhobi (who was the source of all this problem) also falls at Rama’s feet, surrenders his wealth and requests Rama to forgive him. Rama forgives and blesses them.

The point I want to make is, there was just a talk about Ashwamedha yaagam and the results as astounding. They didn’t even perform the yaagam till now, but Rama and the kingdom already started seeing the results. That’s the power of Ashwamedham. Rama’s face suddenly brightens as after a long time, he gets a confidence in himself that he is going to meet his Sita very soon. Tha’ts another strength of just thinking about Ashwamedham. Let’s now start music!

Music is of much shorter duration this time. This piece of music has a plateau, an ascent, a descent and an ascent in terms of mood. Actually there are five different moods associated with this scene, but I skipped the first scene with respect to the audio clip attached. So there are fluctuations. During the first phase (not in the audio clip), when people throng the palace to admit their sins, Maestro did not score (for almost 1:30 minutes), as people’s voice is heard all over, there is no sense to score there. Each one of them were pouring their hearts out and surrendering to Rama asking him to forgive them. Since their voice had to be heard clearly, Maestro did not interfere with his music. The music was inside Rama, his heart pounds seeing the amount of love shown by his people towards him and Sita. This is the moment Rama has been waiting for. So there is an ascent in music (his heart beats) within Rama. If the audience wants to witness the music inside Rama, there has to be silence, that’s why Maestro maintained silence there. How is that?

Just when Rama realizes their humungous love for him and Sita and when he sees the ornaments surrendered to him, he was so moved, which is when Maestro starts the music. Through music, Maestro consoles Rama (from 0:00 – 0:17) with strings and harps. Vashishta and Rama’s elders wishes him well. This is the plateau. Can we recognize this melody? Rama has almost come to normal, but not quite there, as there is still one thing which irks him. The dhobi who spoke ill of Sita. Rama is still thinking if that dhobi has realized, because that’s where the problem started. Sita is still far away to Rama unless dhobi has completely realized his mistake, as Rama values each citizen as his own. He is the one who has to give Rama the green signal. Did he do that?

Before going into the details let us first listen to this clip. This part is from the song, Ramayanamu Sri Ramayanamu, just before the charanam starts. Maestro used strings, shehnai and table to compose this. Sindhubhairvai raagam gets a new lease of life through Maestro. Absolutely cracking piece of music. Please note the pace. This song comes when Lava-Kusa comes to Ayodhya (which happens in our next episode) and sing praises of Lord Rama. This music comes when they  are about to sing how Rama is about be sworn as a king (Pattabishekam). A divine song, not just because of Rama, but the way Maestro composed it.

Now let us listen the clip of today (partial) below. Same melody, but a total change in the tonal quality and the mood. The pace has come down drastically. Maestro primarily used oboe/bassoon instead of shehnai here. Within seconds into the same melody he moves onto a different direction, but keeping the same faint melody intact. He even adds flute (0:16-0:19). During the last 7 seconds the melody is completely different as it pans higher and higher with some scintillating strings. Hear how the same melody changed its color from denoting an auspicious moment to gloominess. I can’t imagine how he achieved it. That’s why he is a genius.

Now we have to reason why he has used that clip from Ramayanamu Sri Ramayanamu song. Even though that clip denotes the starting of Rama’s Pattabhishekam, we knew it didn’t happen, as KaikEyi sent them to forest. So even though that piece of music starts off happily, it never ended happily. There is an interruption. Same way, if you observe the visuals here (breath-taking visuals!), you can see Maestro has used this melody when dhobi is approaching Rama. Maestro is musically denoting that dhobi was the cause of interruption of a smooth life of Rama and Sita and his kingdom like how KaikEyi was the interruption of Rama’s Pattabishekam earlier. What a brilliant thought from Maestro! This is one way to look at it.

Second, by slowing the melody and making it sober, we feel the gloominess, but where? In dhobi’s mind. He could not forgive himself for his sin. He completely realized his sin now. He knows his sin cannot be cleaned, unless Rama forgives him. By toning down, Maestro musically conveys to Rama (as a messenger), that dhobi is not the same person whom you heard before. Another brilliant move by Maestro!

As I mentioned three paragraphs above, Maestro adds flute  (0:16-0:19)  when Rama sees dhobi is approaching him and surrendering at this feet. The reason for using flute is because, Rama is completely overwhelmed by this gesture and he is in a state of ecstasy. Those three second flute conveys it clearly. First time after years, he becomes normal. The next 7 seconds is very interesting. Maestro uses strings here. It moves higher and higher as Rama looks up and prays to God and thanks him for solving this longest puzzle in his life. Rama is crediting everything to God, as Maestro surges his strings higher and higher. Way to go!

We can literally see how Maestro underlines the visuals with his background score at every step, not just randomly, but by a thorough study. Every bit of music speaks for the visuals. Is there any composer other than Maestro who has this deep understanding of this powerful visual medium? I bet not!