Sunday, August 30, 2009

'To sing one more time'

In Memory of Michael Jackson. This song is composed by Dharan and the lyrics are penned by Benny Dayal. (Once during a recording session, I figured Benny composes and writes his own lyrics, in English though and am glad that his work is there for all to hear and see. I am not sure however, if he his work has already been published, if so I apologize.)

I loved working on this song and it was a very fun session. Haricharan and Naresh were present at the time I landed up at the studio and we also had this small session together behind the mic. Realized, once again that recording together with other artistes is actually a lot of fun. Hope to be able to work with Dharan a lot more in the future. And hopefully Benny will come out with a lot more of his compositions. I think a lot of the professional singers I know seem to be a composer in the making. I too learnt very early how to compose - an Email, a text message and a blog. And that's all the composing I can manage.

Here is the video for you, courtesy India Glitz.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Celebrity - A Public Property?

I have perhaps had it with the opinion of some writers/journalists (just because they have the power to publish with a popular newspaper or a magazine) and a lot of other people, that a celebrity or a movie star or anyone popular is 'public property'.
Would anyone care to define this whole "celebrity is now public property" nonsense?
I remember having an argument with an auto driver several years ago. He was one of those talkative ones and went bak-bak over the racket of the auto. And he happened to mention that a certain actress has to do this and that because she is public property. I remember lambasting him, as politely as I could and perhaps, just perhaps he changed his thinking. And then I asked him where he got the idea from. He said he read it in a magazine.
Today, more than anything else, I see how easy it is for a popular magazine or a newspaper to influence public opinion. To the extent that it makes the reader believe that it was his idea in the first place and not that of the writer's.
I read an article yesterday with quotes from popular people who have said that they don't mind their actions being followed and those who said they do not want the press in their kitchen or their bedroom. A celebrity is no different than who you are. They grow up pretty much the same way you do, study the same stuff, have similar friends and family also perhaps, some circumstances and a lot of other things.
Of course there are several ways a popular person is different from one that is not - One does not have to worry whether a simple Quote will be misconstrued/misunderstood or published in the same misconstrued manner. Because publishing a wrong notion happens in bold letters. Corrections happen in a corner of a newspaper that you will easily miss. I have always noticed that you'll have to search for corrections with magnifying glasses.
While on the topic, this whole thing about celebs repeating clothes and especially writing about it is another thing I detest. Money does not grow on tress. If a celeb has a tree in his compound, it does not grow on his tree either. Every TV interview or show that a popular person shows up on, especially in Chennai, you can bet your hat they have spent their own money on the clothes. No channel pays a celeb for the clothes and let me also clarify a celeb is not paid to give a TV/Radio interview. I got this idea from the guy who irons the clothes outside our building. The entire working class is of the notion that every time a celeb comes on TV or radio they are paid tons of money.
A celeb who repeats a set of clothes is called a Fashion criminal. Who bestowed the title of a fashion know-it-all or expert on the one who is writing this on a paper or a magazine? What the hell is fashion anyway? Some guy or perhaps there are two. They sit in Paris or whichever country it is and decide how the entire world should dress itself in the coming season.
With movies, a viewer watches it over a couple of hours, easily judges in a second on how the movie should have been made, how this should have been done, how that should have been done, amongst a ton of other suggestions. Some say acting is easy and anyone could do it. But if you had to get drenched in the rain for days together for a song shoot, your health not withstanding, or wear summer clothing in Arctic weather and still look as if you are having the time of your life then I wonder how many of the viewers will survive. Stunt scenes are another thing altogether. People do get injured and it includes the stars as well. All those superbly lighted sets that you see in TV shows and movies - the collective heat generated by all those lights can put a desert to shame. Yes a lot of studios have A/C facility but everyone sweats in spite of that. I wonder how the actors in that era managed to act, especially in all those devotional movies in the 60s and 70s with all that make up, jewellery and clothing.
I do not think I have to tell you that even the work - the movies or serials or music or anything else that a professional in the entertainment industry is involved in, which is produced keeping the public in mind, is for public viewing/listening - is not public property. They are protected by various intellectual property and copyright laws. If the copyright laws were really implemented in the country, you actually do not have the right to perform your favourite song. Just have a look at the fine print behind every CD that you might buy. If you are one of those who only downloads music /movies via torrents, well Pirate, I have nothing to say to you.
If this highly controversial Sach ka Saamna and all the 'truth' in it is anything to go by, people are people. Human. And flawed. Maybe a celeb does not have that many skeletons in the cupboard as some participants in Sach ka Saamna.
Like someone said : "I am myself and all my circumstances". I remember Pt Bhimsen Joshi saying in an interview that people only see where he is now with all awe and amazement. But if they had to even glimpse the path that he had to take to be where he is, they would have died a hundred deaths.
No one but the wearer of the shoe will know how and where it pinches. And he will have to break the shoe, sores and all.
Some schools of thought say that God does not judge you. So who are we trying to be? Imagining that we are the sole reason that the world spins on its axis? That we are the upholder of everything around us? If you zoom out even the street you live in, forget everyone else, even you cannot spot yourself or even the most popular person you know. That is how important we all are.
It pains me when some writers refer to women in degrading terms, denounce some acts of several people as undoable and against 'Indian Culture', so on and so forth. What was right sometime back is wrong now and so it continues. Not long ago, it was wrong for the girl to study. Now denying education is neanderthal.
These are times when I had thank my stars that the professionals I have come across in the print and visual media have been absolutely wonderful people.
Maybe I have digressed quite a bit here and there but to sum it all up:
A celebrity is not public property. No matter what someone might write. And has every right to his privacy and that of his family.
My two (or perhaps there are more) paise.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Latest in Aadhavan - Vaaraayo Vaaraayo

After Ayan, Harris sir has given me an opportunity to sing in Aadhavan and when I went to record this one, it was like a breath of fresh air to listen to Unnikrishnan anna's voice. (Excuse the Sir and the Anna, as I can write about the people I know only in the way I relate to/call them)
Immediately after I sang the song, or rather a few days thereafter Unni anna messaged to say that it has come out very well. Harris sir said he was pleased. As far as I am concerned I have been looking forward for the release of this song from the day it was recorded. While working on the cover of Inbox 1305, Mrs. Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi happened to mention that she loves the song. Didn't stop me from asking her if she, by any chance, carried a rough mix of that song in her car. She mentioned that Harris sir does not give the song to anyone for any reason.
And then a week ago I was told to host the audio release of Aadhavan. First thing I was all jittery. Hosting a show on TV is a completely different ball game and hosting a live event is something else. Totally. You may plan a live event to the last detail, but its almost like such events have a mind of their own and they make their own plans. I had no clue what I would do if I called someone with the wrong name, or title, made slip-ups, messed up... hohohoho.. Was even wondering how damage control would happen, what if I angered someone.. all worst case scenarios flashed across my mind's eye. I kept badgering the PRO Nikhil Murugan for a minute to minute briefing, how to invite the dignitaries and the guests as being a newbie I was not at all confident of the protocol and how things are done.
K S Ravikumar sir agreed to meet me and he explained how the proceedings should go on and one more meeting happened yesterday morning with the Producer Udhayanidhi Stalin and KS Ravikumar sir and his team. At the venue, I was able to watch closely how K S Ravikumar sir gave out instructions, how he planned the event and his inimitable style and sense of humour. Even during the first meeting that was fixed, he explained some intricate details of film-making and how things are done as he would to a student and so patiently that I felt darn lucky.
I had a few last minute questions that only Nikhil Murugan could answer and he let me know on the protocol and a lot of other finer details.
Maybe for one of the first times there was a Nadhaswaram group playing music and everything was set traditionally.
Sure I had my slip ups but thankfully there is leeway to apologize on stage. Sometimes while I spoke I kept hearing my voice back in delay and that made me mess up a couple of words as well. When you catch it on TV you'll know what I am talking about.
Vivek sir, was very kind to mention me in his speech, which I have seen that he always does, if I have sung at the start of the function. But what was most touching was when K S Ravikumar mentioned me in his thank you speech and also said he believed that Vaaraayo was his favourite track. At that point in time I know how much I thanked God for having brought me that far to be acknowledged by stalwarts in the industry.
In all this there was this one person who hardly made his presence felt. The producer. Every one who spoke on stage yesterday said how extremely simple he is, to the extent that perhaps it gives simplicity a new meaning. I was stumped when I saw it in Kiruthiga while working with her for Inbox 1305. And though I had heard it from several people before, it is just plain - (for want of a better word) wonderful that a power couple are this simple.
When I heard the song again on the way back there was this joy and immense gratitude to the composer who chose me to be one of the voices for his song. When I sing, I give my life for it. I have yearned for every song that I sing like you can never imagine. If there is something that I am truly madly and shall perennially be in love with, it shall be music. For ever and ever.
There have been days when I felt that my being was twisted so much that it cannot withstand anymore. And there are days when I felt as if my being somehow expanded that it encompassed the entire universe due to the joy that was given to me as a blessing. So much that I loved every being in it. The wise say that this state of mind should be constant no matter what the situation. But then, I am neither wise nor a saint. But some day I ll perhaps get there. Before you wonder, I just meant I ll get to the point of being wise someday. Maybe not a saint.
And to you, reading this post, I wish for you that may you feel the joy that I felt, may life offer you such gifts, wherein you experience every pore of your being brimming with joy and perhaps something like being one with the universe. I have lived it. And wish you do too.
God bless.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wishing for a lost era

I happened to watch Director Cheran's Pokkisham a couple of days ago. Apart from singing in that movie, I attempted to dub and this was one of the times it did not work out. I tried reading out the letters and after a couple of days of work we all saw that it was not my forte and decided not to keep attempting.

During the process I saw some shots of the movie and was pretty awe struck at the detailing that has gone into it. Mom and I saw the movie at a special screening and loved it. The entire beauty of letter writing, checking out the post box and all that, I could relate to that. While I was talking to someone, she said her father used to write in every spare space on the Inland letter so as to make every penny worth. I used to write several letters until I was a teenager and until I started using my Email address. Greeting cards were hand-made, it was taught to us in school. I had a brilliant craft teacher who made some of the most exquisite cards I had ever seen. Embossing and paneling and all that she used to make it by hand. Letters were written mostly to friends abroad. At that point in time, an aerogram was perceived as expensive at 6.50/-. Since my letters went into pages, I used to write on extremely light weight papers, stash it in an envelope and send it on its way. I also remember writing a letter to my Grandmom in Tamil, with spelling mistakes wherever the 'Ra' and 'Na' came to play. This was perhaps while I was in boarding school.

Yesterday we were off to a village by the ECR, which is almost a weekly exercise. Mom goes there to teach music, stories from the Puranas, English and Hindi and basic etiquette. She had done this for several weeks at Olcott Memorial school while I was much younger and this is a small beginning of bigger plans. Now on the way to ECR we stopped at a small restaurant for breakfast. The person who was in charge of running the place, hailing from Tanjavur attended to us personally and this was not because am a known face. I loved the way he took interest in serving the food, so much so that it was almost like we were invited to someone's home in remote or maybe, not so remote Tamilnadu. I wonder how we failed to imbibe that culture. What went wrong in our skills of observation and imbibing? How is it that we failed to imbibe the good?

Coming back to Pokkisham, there is a scene where Mr Vijaykumar, essaying the role of the hero's father in the movie asks why he lied to him. (Though off topic, I think Mr Vijaykumar is one super unsung hero. I have always loved his acting and perhaps there is no one else like him and realized that I am his huge fan)
On the way back home from the movie, my mother, recollecting that scene was saying how upbringing used to be. The elders of the family will be stern but would always have a pleasant countenance. And if the youngsters have made a mistake they would understand from the demeanour, the minute changes in the tone and the way the elders look at them. Apologies will be in order and things would be back to normal without saying much or raising of voices. If something needs to be corrected the elders said so but once. When very angry there would nothing more than a harsh "HMMM".
Telephone would be present in a few houses and even those that could afford the service thought it was unnecessary. And now the cell phone is used to exchange information on what happened in the last episode of a serial or the latest gossip. When was the last time that a conversation on a messenger or the phone was totally useful? Or rather, had value? True, the definition of value is subjective. But more often than not we have learnt to lie to ourselves and there started the disintegration. I remember a proverb, the WWW says its roots are Spanish: Do not speak unless you can improve the silence. I somehow feel a crying need for this saying to come to effect now. Do we know how to listen to people who do not talk much? And here I am not speaking of people with disability.

Maybe with the onslaught of all the technology we have grown insensitive. People who might genuinely respect elders are criticized. People who have some culture and sophistication are criticized. And this by people who hail from similar backgrounds. I just fail to understand where the slip has happened. How long do we keep blaming the media? Is it, after all a reflection of what has happened within our lives?

The letter writing era, the time window between letters, the glee of getting something via post .. somehow the instant means of communication today just pales in comparison, which is actually supposed to serve a purpose. A purpose of serving us. But in turn we seem to be serving technology ; being its slaves. SMSing a hundred thousand times a day. Frankly its irritating to see someone typing away on their phone incessantly. The constant chatting on various IMs. I find that tiresome as well. When I was younger and when all this seemed magical I used to make a face when mom used to ask "What in God's name do you achieve by asking someone on Chat or Sms what's up?" Though I obeyed grudgingly, not immediately of course, but eventually, it makes perfect sense now. My Chat clients are usually off. I used it only when linguists or clients have questions.
What is the purpose after all? Do you end up a little smarter with all the smsing and chatting? Or does the person on the other end feel happy when you keep in constant touch.
Though I am thankful for all the conveniences of this day and age, I long for the silence and tranquility that our elders enjoyed. I yearn for the sophistication. I yearn for the perfection of the era gone by. I yearn for the dignity that people saw all around them.

More often than not I love the company of the older generation. So much to learn from them. Right from the way a family set up worked, marriages worked, children were brought up. It is all very beautiful. At least with the kind of families that I have been exposed to. A lot of people thought my mother was bringing me up in too sheltered a manner. There would be enough and more people who would come to advice on how to bring me up. And there were enough and more "well meaning" people to advice me that its not all that good to obey my mother. But now its all crystal clear. I see the difference between the pithy chaff and the golden wheat. And thank God for the upbringing that I have had. For my mother. Sadly I see that a lot of parents are unable to make this happen for several reasons. Some blame the media. Some blame peer pressure. Some blame other members of the family.

I was reading another article on how bloody tough it is to bring up children with the kind of exposure they get, the kind of entertainment they are exposed to and how children are perhaps no longer innocent. Even while hosting the show on Aahaa FM while discussing on a related topic, a lot of people blamed the parents/grandparents who watched TV for inappropriate behaviour in children. As toddlers grow up, they are fed on a diet of cartoon and mostly serials. Perhaps there are ways of feeding a child without the help of a Tom beating Jerry up. Or anything else. Though I have loved the cartoon at a point in time, I think its perhaps something elders should watch and should be kept far away from a young mind. Along with the smartness of Jerry, 'only the good triumph', or good people are subject to a lot of trouble or brain is better than brawn or whatever underlying or subliminal message the cartoon has, something that is going to be absorbed first and perhaps foremost is the violence. And learning to laugh at it someone being thulped. I wondered how children were brought up when TV was rare. And when the time comes, my children will be brought up exactly the same way. And mostly they will be home-schooled. Reading up, I see a lot of families have chosen this path to educating their children. I guess an exam affiliated to a board can be given from anywhere without needing to go to school.

Robin Sharma also wrote in his book. A reminder of sorts that the phone is there to serve us and it is not necessary to jump and take every call. Our family comes first. TV and radio and entertainment need not be always on. After 6 in the evening every apartment complex is full of cacophony of various channels blaring.

I have a lot of old world sentiments on several things. I refuse to and shall continue to in not conforming to a way that is standard. After all its only that - Standard. I do not go about judging and telling people what to do. And in the same way, I do not want to be told to conform to a lot of things which are perhaps acceptable by most for now. I wish to live life on my own terms even if it seems dated at times. And when I look around me carefully, I see there are a few people closer to my age who share my sentiments. We may be outcasts of sorts, called reclusive or eccentric or sometimes plain rude. But then its only time which can prove certain things. As my mom says when you are trying something new or working on something new its best to keep quiet about it and when the time comes and when the end result is there for all to see, the world would wonder why they did not think of that.
More than anything else I wish for peace and quiet. Within and without. And really hope a lot people around take the trip of finding the peace and silence within and discover that.
And truly Pokkisham is a wonderful movie. In the detailing and actually so many things like the way letters were written and read, trunk calls and in capturing the essence of an era gone by, it is a lot of magic and truly worth the money you spend on the movie.

P.S.: A heartfelt thank you to all the comments I got on the alternate means of power generation. It was a fund of information and more sooner than later I would be doing everything possible to powering my home in this manner.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Its been one hyper week. Recorded some songs, dubbed for another movie which I shall reveal (as usual) only at the time of its release, traveled to Bangalore and got some other equally important things done.
After driving around in Bangalore, I realize that Chennai is actually a dream with regard to traffic. You don't get stuck for hours in traffic and somehow I thought most roads are narrow there. Or perhaps its a matter of perception. There are perhaps way too many vehicles in Bangalore. But once back in Chennai I thought we had slightly broader roads. Yes, our city is not as green, but we do have our benefits. Despite all that any other city would win hands down on road discipline. We just don't have that. And I did not see so much honking. I happened to notice that its usually only the drivers in our city who have the habit of perpetually honking, driving on high beam in the city and blinding you out, all that sort of a thing, and I did not see that in Bangalore. The effects are worse on a rainy day. If only someone can catch all of them and make them sit through a compulsory eye blinding session, they would know what it feels like.
We went to the 1st year anniversary celebrations of Inbox 1305 and again was quite surprised by the simplicity of the do. Sharad Haksar, a photographer I admire and Soundarya Rajnikant were the guests of honour. The best part of the evening was a pantomime by some 15 engineering students who were mentored and trained by the super Mitran Devanesan. I wonder why such art is not supported and encouraged by all of us. Why do concerts, plays, pantomimes and suchlike always struggle to bring in the crowds? Why do people not like to spend on the ticket for such events? Honestly given the choice I perhaps would have given a pantomime a pass on any other day. But this exceptional performance as a part of the evening was quite an eye opener.
I got quite a lot of comments that nothing has been happening in this blog lately.
There are times when not too much is spoken and said. And all for a good reason. A time of incubation of sorts. Also, I have not been too moved by something latelyto write. When I do get the occasional spark, I m usually driving. In the middle of somewhere trying to get someplace. And by the time I get back I have either forgotten all about it or some things just take precedence.
For now, I am praying to God for a lot of help and working pretty hard. Hopefully things will happen in the right manner.
As for you who checks this space every once in a while, here is a wish. May you have the courage to dig out a purpose which is hidden away, work it out even it seems impossible, do every rightful thing to get it to fruition and may the Universe help you in your mission.
Take care and God bless.

A question

Is it possible to power an entire corporate building/hotel/school/mall or any other huge facility/community which is as close to zero carbon as possible.
From what I gather, some of the structures I mention utilize equipment that need a stable power supply. I know that some equipment in various industries in India are run by generators.
Out of curiosity, would it be possible to make a structure like Spencer Plaza or Tidel Park completely 'green'? What are the options available in India? Are there laws or something on those lines which give facilities or exemptions for some facilities that reduce the carbon footprints or achieve the carbon zero challenge in India?
Could you please care to enlighten me on this?

P.S: Its just not possible, that with the number of brainy people in our country, we do not have a way. What is perhaps missing is transparency and awareness of the talent. I am going to be looking out for those people. If you know someone let me know. I am trying to see if I can 'green' power my home with the capacity to operate sensitive equipment as well.