Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rehearsals and etcetera (With additions)

More often than not, the rehearsals are the most fun. When we are all a little more chilled out and the heat starts getting to us only as it nears the time of the actual event on stage, but until then its all fun and laughter. At other concerts that I have been part of, the standard quip would be to say that the final rehearsal will be the concert itself. Also, some onstage mess ups, that perhaps only those that the artiste knows, mostly the musicians and co-artistes would also know and rarely the audience knows.
The rehearsals for Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya's audio launch had us all spend considerable time, jamming,  working out how we could perform the songs - especially since it would be the first time people would listen to it, there was some pressure there with a lot of joking and good humour thrown in. Gautham sir would be present for every rehearsal session. Early. He already knew all the lyrics, everyone's portions, entries, who would sing where, by heart and sang along with gusto.  I was suggesting he should sing sometime, though he already has in Vaaranam Ayiram, when the title cards play. He sounds good I think. Also, once we had set the order for all the songs and we would repeat it for the 2nd and 3rd times for reinforcement, Gautham sir gave the cues on who should sing when and where right after the first time. For me, it was something I had never seen a Director do. He gave his inputs on how the unplugged versions would be presented even as we put it together under Srinivas sir's guidance. Blaaze anna came up with this rap portion in Omana Penne that you won't find in the album. On Day 1 of the rehearsals, Omana Penne was the first thing that was set. While Srini sir and Benny were discussing how to come in to the song and while it was being put together, Blaaze Anna came up with this "million in one" lines and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Every other song fell in place too. There was this one session where Rahman sir had heard the entire unplugged version in London, for which I was not present as I was traveling from Kuwait to London. So there was no opportunity for me to meet him until we got on stage that evening at BAFTA. That was unsettling as well for me because his input before the show is the most valuable one. And I had no way of getting it. And his being there in the first row and watching us was a very jittery feeling for me. I think it was the first time that I was performing with Rahman sir in the audience. The second time, also, with the audio launch in Chennai.
I remember before all of us got on stage we were a bundle of nerves. And the guys kept saying it feels so different because the air is so formal. All this suit and tie and coat... they kept saying.  And they said it was because of that attire they felt nervous. Before we got on stage we formed a circle, held hands and Alphonse sir said this most beautiful prayer. I was so touched. It was one of the most sincere prayers I had ever heard or seen in a while. It did make a difference to how we felt. But I didn't loosen up until Hosanna was over. I joked with Srini sir later, that at every such momentous occasion, he is the opener. Even at the November Fest concert last year, when the curtains went up, he said that this is one of the times when the artiste is in awe of the audience and it does not help to be the first person to sing. Because that's when the entire sound systems and everything will be adjusted or readjusted. No matter how many sounds checks, Murphy's law is always at play. For that matter the audio engineers at London were downright brilliant. They set up the systems in about an hour. And yes Srinivas sir opened with Hosanna. And of course Srini sir opened with Hosanna.
I am trying to figure out, why it takes a while for me to find my bearing on stage especially with how I hear my voice. It takes at least a while to settle down and also because for the kind of songs that I have sung, the throw changes. Like for example between a Mayya Mayya, or a Miss you Da or a Sahana, singing them back to back in a show seems to be the engineer's nightmare. Whispery to husky to downright throwing my voice the way it can be heard to the last row without a mic is not something that a guy would like I guess. I might have to get this sorted too.
I realized that I had met Simon Webbe (of the Blue boy band), who had been kind enough to walk up to me and say that I have an awesome voice and said something like, "I didn't even know those notes existed.. you are an amazing singer". I figured he was a musician but I didn't recognize him but the next day, Ravi of the VTV team asked me whether I had met Mr Webbe. And I asked Who? And Ravi said "he wanted to meet you." Then I came back home, all the way back to Chennai that is,  googled and was like ack!! Yes I was polite and all, but it would have been nice if I had known his work and who he was. Ah well.  Until we were called on stage we were peeping through the door to see what was happening and apparently the audience was loving what Gautham sir was saying. We heard a lot of laughter. And then we were called on stage one by one. Srini sir had said that singers should be invited to audio launches as a norm but this has become an exception. And perhaps because Gautham sir is into music he treated us all so well. And made us feel special. Rahman sir made a rare display of his sense of humour on stage after everyone had expressed their thanks, Rahman sir said "I want to thank my wife. I wanted to wear this tie but this (collar) was too tight, And she helped stitch this button here which made it possible to wear the tie. So I want to thank my wife". Some smart alec later called out to her "Great job with the button".
This performance onwards I was making an effort to smile while singing. I had heard so many people tell me to do that, including my mother. Of course even I don't have the wisdom to take it the first time when mom tells me. And now people ask me if I was smiling throughout the show because I forgot the lyrics. Hehe.. Nice. But should be sticking to this and making a few more changes on my performance side as well.
I remember Devan remarking, perhaps during the rehearsal in Chennai before everyone took off to London, that more than the show, the rehearsals is what we would all remember the most. Devan is perhaps the funniest guy I have ever met. Tremendous sense of humour, great timing and the anecdotes he had to share had all of us in splits. I remember this time, when I had just met Devan and Harish Raghavendra and during the time that we were killing before we had to go on stage, both of them  were unstoppable and mom and I were a complete gone case with all the laughing. My voice took quite a while to recover. Just in case you don't know, laughing does no good to the singing voice. Its one of the worst things to do before singing. Which is why Srini sir also told them not to put Devan on the same flight as him and the others. Because we knew we would all have laughed so much that we would have no voice left. And sometimes he made these funny faces while playing the guitar, that we had to physically turn away and look somewhere else while he played his bit. And also, the majority there would speak Malayalam, i.e. Benny, Stephen, Srinivas sir, Alphonse sir, Alaap who joined us for the performance at Chennai and they would ramble off and Devan would say "Cut the Asianet".  The quietest person is Blaaze Anna. Doesn't speak much at all. But when he gets up and raps.. oh wow. But perhaps I have learnt more Malayalam than ever thanks to all the time we spent at the rehearsals.
But yes, all rehearsal sessions are not happy pappy as this one or as positive. Some are truly painful, emotionally that is or just uneventful.
Again, I hope to work with Stephen and Devan too sometime, if they have the time/inclination. Let's see. I really want to start working on my own albums but the way things are and with the downloads, even if someone is kind enough to invest in an album, how does the ROI happen. Or does it anyway? Hopefully we will figure this out...
The rehearsals and the performance for this launch was musically gratifying, a thought that all of us shared. And yes, life does show some spring colours.
As for today, though it was Pongal, I didn't like it one bit. The day wore high heels, dug them deep in clayey soil and dragged.


Lavanya said...

Hi Chinmayee,
i am a regular visitor to ur blog but never leave any comments. The reason why i am commenting now is to request you to keelp blogging (i ma not a big twitter fan). Thru all your detailed writings, i can put a face/life/emotion onto the people you describe (like Devan sir). And that brings a smile to me (and to others too i am sure)!
So, please do continue blogging however unfrequent you are.

May god bless you.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Hi, 'Happy Pongal and Mattu Pongal' too ..Just kidding.

Not sure why I laughed so hard at 'Cut the Asianet'.

VTV rocks I have to say ! Kudos to all of you.

Abhinay said...

Hi Chinmayee,

I did watch the videos of the audio launch and thought ur voice was pretty stable. I am sooo madly in love with aaromalae... fantabulous songs in VTV... i did notice that u had to sing kalyani menon's portions as well :)... nice effort. great album!! worth the wait!!

M GANESAN said...

Dear Ms.Chinmayi,

Yesterday we got the opprotunity of seeing the Audio launch event in Kalaignar tv"s telecast. Part of the rehearsal Shots are also included. we observed tht how the director mr.Gautham was enjoyed the music from his partipation in the singing along with the singers.

People like Deven gets pleasant only by seeing smile on others faces.



ViJaY said...

Lol.. I just saw the videos of the audio launch! Being in the US, I am missing all the tv shows and functions!! Aw, heard all songs and VTV is absolutely mesmerizing me!! U hav, as usual done a good job in Anbil Avan!! :) Keep rocking!!

Sreekrishnan said...


Watched the VTV audio launch and at times - i felt that the unplugged version sounds as stunning as the album version itself.

i was trying to play both side by side to see how different they were. I think unplugged version sounds more like "the mood" of the lyrics. The tune feels pure there !

Do you think you can do an actual recording of the unplugged version and release it. I'd for sure pay for it ! and i know millions of maniacs like me would do the same.

Just the Piano, guitar and the vocals !

Praying for this to happen !

Anonymous said...

//Devan Sir//
//Blaze Anna //
//Asianet //

Very nice writings! lovely!

I expect a book out of your experiences!

- Viji

Anonymous said...

HI Chinmayi,

U were looking awesome in the VTV audio launch...IN theme

Jayaharan Jagatheesan said...

I am a recent fan of yours...and my comment here is irrelevant to u'r blog post...but..i really appreciate u'r effort on the songs 'miss u da' and 'anbil avan'...u seem to have strained ur voice a lot for these songs...which shows the trust of the music director on u'r improvisation skills...way to go Chinmayi... :-)...Jayaharan

Maddy said...

That was a very interesting blog. I did see the videos of the audio launch(VTV) in Chennai and all of you on stage were enjoying every moment. No wonder the final product is also amazing!!!

How cool or talkative ARR sir is during the recordings?. Does he make fun, laugh around when he is recording??

Maybe when time permits, it would be great if you can write some memorable moments in ARR sir's studio along with the other singers!!



Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Lavanya: Will do
Narayan: :)
Abhinay: Thanks.. Slightly messed the lyrics in one line but I was OK after that
Ganesan: Yes.. Mr Menon is highly involved with the music, he was present at every rehearsal and sang along throughout.
Viay: :) thanks
Sreekrishnan: True we had a great time putting it together. I am not sure if that would release though I believe Rahman sir said something like that should happen. But not sure if it would come to existence.
Anonymous: Devan Sir?? I didn't refer to him as sir :)
Anonymous: Thanks. The malayali look was the code
Jay: thanks!~
Madan: He is very cool. But not talkative. I have written about my recording sessions at the recordings and some shows. You ll have to go through that. Also, I will have to tell you that I am not at liberty to talk about everything :)

Maddy said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to each one of us. I very well understand you are not at liberty to talk about everything :) And since I have only recently started visiting your blog, I will have to spend some time to read through the earlier posts.

Its just that ARR is such a tremendous inspiration to me....and sitting in the US and watching VTV audio launch videos and the way all the singers were enjoying the occasion and it felt nice with the director giving an insight to the songs, situation etc.

Keep making all of us happy with your beautiful singing!!!

Vaidy said...

Saw your anbil avan performance... I really liked the way it was presented on stage (by your team)... Simply Superb...the entire show was just incredible.. I thought Kamal would speak a few lines about your performances.. It was a little disappointing though...

Anyways, I liked it very much... Plz Keep rocking..

Anonymous said...

Hii Chinmayi.. Just now heard VTV songs... OMG!! as with anyone who loves music and especially from the MASTER... its just left me speechless.

Just wanted to wish you best luck for your song and wanted to know your thoughts on 'aaromale'... man.... tamil or even indian music needs such innovation.... i couldnt stop listening it repeatedly... though i couldnt understand a word .;-)....

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Madan: Welcome :)
Vaidy: :) Thanks
Anonymous:If I gush anymore about Mr Alphonse people will think I am obsessed. Right from when I heard the tracks I have been raving about him in my tweets. I think even in the performances he ripped it. He is a super man. And a stupendous performer. And extremely simple and soft spoken, you cant believe it.

Jayaharan Jagatheesan said...

I had goose bumps multiple times listening to Sahaana saral. Thanks to you and A.R.R for rendering such a classic song. Can you tell us which is u'r favorite among u'r songs?..Jayaharan

Maddy said...

It was kind of replay of back stage or rather "Making of audio launch".

ARR's button episode is cool.

May you have enough oppurtunities to laugh out loud like this one,of course taking care of your voice.

M GANESAN said...

Thanks for your reply for us. I want to add few more comments. Very Good performance on the stage during the audio launch. We have enjoyed .The Songs Hosana, Omanapenne ,Anbil avan & Vinnai Thandi varuvaaya are very very nice.


Narayanan Venkitu said...

'Aaromale ' Song of the Year 2010 !

National award guaranteed - For
AR.Rahman , Alphonse.

Never heard a song like this in a while.

Mizta_G_Curious said...

sorry chinmayi, paathi entry padichi mudikaruthukulle thookamey vandhurichi,hehe (kochikaathinge)...i think you should come to malaysia once, it'll be a great delight for myself and tamil songs listening people in malaysia...wanna sing vaarayo vaarayo song with you if it is possible :D
take care

-kuala lumpur,Malaysia-

Sreekrishnan said...


Thanks for your response ! I happened to note that there are lot of people in the arrahman Yahoo groups who feel the same ... Every one likes it there as well.

If you can get the message conveyed to gautham or rahman sir, it would be very nice !

Again, great work it was so nice to feel the song live !


Unknown said...

Hi Chinmayi,
I am an ARR fan. I do visit ur blog frequently because i like ur singing and also u r a very good blogger. But there are many frenzy fans for u. One of them has written an article about u. his name is Ajit Mundra. Take a look

APK said...

Hey Chinmayi,

can you write some gossips about you..i mean those you heard about yourself or you want to hear about yourself...Celebrity without gossip nalla illaiyae...plz...

I would like to thank and appreciate your Mom for making a Chinmayi out of you..not going overboard but you definetly a good insipiration for least for making good use of the opportunities that flew your way..Is your Mom role model to you

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Jay: One question I can never answer :)
Maddy: THanks
M Ganesan: Thanks
Narayan: True!!
Gun_Damn: :) Hopefully.
Sreekrishnan: they have already been saying. but lets see.
Aficion'ado..: Will do thanks
APK: that is also there.. there is hardly any gossip about me, but I have written about.. Kungumam wrote a weird thing… there in my archives

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Jay: One question I can never answer :)
Maddy: THanks
M Ganesan: Thanks
Narayan: True!!
Gun_Damn: :) Hopefully.
Sreekrishnan: they have already been saying. but lets see.
Aficion'ado..: Will do thanks
APK: that is also there.. there is hardly any gossip about me, but I have written about.. Kungumam wrote a weird thing… there in my archives

drashkum said...

anbil avan is fantastic !! especially the sequence where you and devan sing parts of " inimel puyal veyil mazhai Paalai, solai ivai,
Ondraaga kadappomey" and the great merge of christian choir and organs with hindu traditional marriage naadhaswaram music

hats of to ARR!!

i have always had trouble finding your voice in songs because of the way you sing each song with subtle variations.

i think this anbil avan is more closer to your origional and " super singer" voice

keep up the good work!!

Saravana said...

The audio launch was very nice. Wish every audio release is so pleasant as this one. Was wondering who is going to sing Kalyani madam's part since you were the only female singer ons stage. You surprised us in that song. Good to see the smile after you missed a word or two in the lyrics :-) (probably this is the first time we've seen it). Felt that you were little serious/conscious for the next few minutes..

You were superb in Mannipaya also. Sreenivas in Hosanna was nice.

Anonymous said...

yo chins...nice of u to mention me in th eblog...lik ei said its teh rehearsals ull remember th emost...see u soon for teh telegu launch..enjoy the indonesia gig!!!!


Sadanand said...

as usuall AR Rahman Sir's creation are impressive., aaromale aaro has a beautiful guitar chords, can i know who played the guitar in this song, amazing team work. and hey the performance and presentation on music launch of vinaythandi varuvaaya was amazing, can i get a DVD of the music launch

Preethi said...

Hi Chinmayi,

I have been a great fan of urs since kannathil muthamittal. i wasn't even aware about this blog till date. aaromale shows the hard work and dedication each one of u have put in. its great.. i just had a request...i just love the the song that u sang in one of the tv shows.. tesulavude ten malarale.. i would like to download the version u have sung can u plz help me find it..?? Plz

Unknown said...

Hi Chinmayi... I am a great fan of your voice whatever it is ..singing, dubbing, achchoring...u r doing a great job..In VTV audio launch the way u sung 'mannipaya'.. awesome.. i hav collected many snaps of will be nice if me get a chance of watching you in TV again..atleast i can hope for that...this is the first time i am blogging u..will you reply...if u did i will go somewhere to moon...

Unknown said...

Hiii chinmayi...

i too watched the vinnaithandi thandi varuvaya audio launch, it was awesome!! AR RAHMAN Sir's composition is rocking as usual and ur voice sounded gr8 in the show.i had met u once at a music contest in kovai in which i had participated . i used to wonder seeing u excel in so many fields at such a young age.u are a gr8 inspiration 4 me.keep giving us gud songs in the years to come....