Friday, March 24, 2017

10 'reasons' why the SPB – Ilaiyaraja issue is unfortunate

It is amazing how fast news travels.  No sooner had Ilayaraja’s legal notice to SPB probably arrived in his inbox than many music lovers who had access to the internet felt righteous indignation and started posting their reactions.  If some of those reactions - as genuine as they were -  weren’t hysterical enough, there were some so-called experts who reveled in the news du jour of the moment and started mentioning non-existent copyright laws, only for others to say that these self-professed pundits had no clue what they were talking about!  There were a few voices of reason appealing for a bit of calm and urging people to not respond without knowing the facts fully.  There were others like comedian Vivek, director CS Amudhan and actor Mohan Raman who voiced their opinions in a very balanced manner.  But a common thread ran across every reaction.  That it was unfortunate that two people who had given us great joy – one through the genius of his music and another through the beauty and versatility of his voice – were going through a crisis. (I am not using the word ‘spat’ since I have no idea what is truly going on, what led to it and what is poised to happen as a result.)

Special thanks to Ravishanker for the wonderfully witty cartoon.  Ravishanker (aka Zola) blogs at
As a fan that doesn’t know either of them personally and as an ignoramus when it comes to copyright laws, I instead choose to rewind the clock (should I say ‘cassette’, given that era?) a few decades in time and mention 10 songs that resulted from their collaboration.  These are 10 songs – among innumerable others – that gave me immense pleasure.  Some songs have had me calm my senses, others have made me tap my feet.  These are the memories that I want to have of them long after one stops playing the harmonium and the other stops singing.  

Since I have seen such a diverse set of messages on this topic mainly on twitter, I am going to let that influence me just for this write-up!  So, each of the 10 descriptions below are 140 characters!  

1 of 10 – Senorita...
Perfect expression of unbridled ecstasy!  The music that plays over the clicking scissors and SPB's rendition of "Poomethai..." are magical.

2 of 10 – Madai Thirandhu
"Pudhu Raagam Padaipathale Naanum Iraivane" - a marvelous way to express the sentiment of a music director.  Godly score and divine singing.

3 of 10 – Sangeetha Jaathimullai
"VizhigaLil ThuLigaL Vadiyumo Adhu Suduvadhai ThAnga Mudiyumo" - tongue twisting magnificence.  Q: What reaches a crescendo?  A: Our senses.

4 of 10 – ILaya Nila…
Mohan owes his career to 3 people - Raja, SPB and SN Surendar.  The guitar, the tune and SPB's dulcet voice vie for our attention.  All win!

5 of 10 – Mandram Vandha
Everything is in sync - visuals, lyrics (the "thotta udan..." line is so perfect to describe Revathi's mindset) and SPB's vocal expressions.

6 of 10 – Kaala Kaalamaga
A song that still sounds fresh, 30 years after launch. Raja's instrumentals are stunningly modern and SPB's singing irresistibly energetic.

7 of 10 – Rumbumbum Aarambam…
The SPB touches - the "yeah" (2:03 min pt) or the way he sings "paerinbam" (2:25) - and Raja's foot tapping tune are like cherries and cake!

8 of 10 – Mannil Indha Kadhal…       
Listening to this breathless song can leave one speechless!  Gangai Amaran's lines are lovely ("Sutrivara seyyum vizhiyum sundara mozhigaL")

9 of 10 – Eduthu Naan Vidavaa…       
A quirky number that finds a place here because I wanted a song sung by SPB and Raja together.  The duo could give a hit even for Janakaraj!

10 of 10 – Kaatu Kuyilu
I am getting insufferably cutesy by posting a song on friendship at this time! Still, a little wistful hearing "Natpai kooda karpai pola..."


ravishanker sunderam said...

Very very Clever Ram Murali ! "So, each of the 10 descriptions below are 140 characters!"
But can I restrict my comments to 140 characters ? :) Doubtful given that as you say very rightly this is such an emotional subject and that many of us grew up on the duo's collaborations.

That self imposed constraint is a master stroke and I simply loved your staccato gunfire comment for each song.

"Mohan owes his career to 3 people - Raja, SPB and SN Surendar."


That comment makes me go back to school days. There is a classmate of mine who used to say "Mohan kaila mike kuduththaapoadhum..."

Actually I'm a staunch Mohan fan. he's quite underrated.

IMHO one of his best acting bytes was in the Brooke Bond Three Roses Tea ad where his expression changes in a nanosecond from pathos to relief.

I think Kamal would have stunk up the Mouna raagam part.

See ? I exceeded 140 characters :)

You've responded to the disagreement with despair as only a true fan can but since I'm older and more cynical it looks to me that atleast Ilayaraja is past his prime and (more important) the simpler era in which they collaborated is also gone.

History is replete with such instances of musical impresarios quarreling amongst themselves like Gilbert and Sullivan in the opera world. The appearance of big money is always a sure sign that something like this can happen.

So your article is very timely - lets just reminisce about those numbers you've mentioned and so brilliantly described.

P.S - That Janakaraj touch was the plum on the pudding

Anu Warrier said...

Love the songs; can't be bothered to comment on a situation I do not know. But Ravi, Mohan 'underrated'? That man did the best impersonation of a tree that I've ever seen. :)

ravishanker sunderam said...

Hey Anu you're being veerrryyy mild.

I've heard worse ! :):)

Actually I've seen more of his unheard of work than anybody else .

Si he's not the rangeless wonder that everyone makes him out to be.

(The poor thing)

And I still say Kamal would have screwed up the Mouna Ragam part

Ram Murali said...

Anu / Ravishanker - thank you for your comments.

Regarding Mohan, I do think that he was a very limited performer. But when guided by some able directors, he was quite effective. I think his best performance was as the two-timing husband in "Rettai Vaal Kuruvi." He was, for the lack of a better word, 'loose' compared to his usual bland performances. He was hilarious in the climactic portions in the clinic. But I'd like to think that Balu Mahendra had a huge hand in his performance. Because if you notice closely, some of Ramesh Aravind's expressions and body language in "Sathi Leelavathi" were very similar to Mohan's.

I also think that Manivannan gave him some interesting non-Mike (!) roles such as the ones in 24 Mani Neram and 100-avadhu naaL. There is a little known Manivannan movie called "Manidhan Maarivittaan" where I thought he was quite effective.

Ram Murali said...

Ravishanker - thank you so much for the cartoon. In addition to the super cool output, I also appreciate your thoughtful gesture. Nandri Pala :)

Madan said...

Re SP-IR duets, another one comes to mind - Vazhi Vidu Vazhi Vidu from the flop Paatu Paadavaa (but the film had great songs that Sun TV used to play regularly, especially Iniya Gaanam):

ravishanker sunderam said...

Ram Murali : The pleasure's entirely mine.

Thanks a Ton again for taking us back to the pristine eighties and the energetic ninties.

Ram Murali said...

Madan - thank you for your comment. And, a huge THANKS for bringing back memories of songs from "Paatu Paadava." I also liked the "Nil nil nil..." song. There was another song that was picturized along the lines of the "Paruvame..." song from "Nenjathai Killathey" with the lead actress jogging throughout the song! I say that because the director apprenticed under Ashok Kumar (DOP for "Nenjathai...") and probably shot that song as a tribute to her mentor. Can't recollect the song though.

Ravishanker - "pristine eighties." Love that term! Goes to show that impact these folks had on the audience!

Venkatesh said...

Great list. Agree with Madan, PP had some nice songs (although I'm not aware of the 'jogging' song that you're talking about). There's a terrific number in Honest Raj - Namma captaine paaduna maari irukkum. :)

Madan said...

Ram Murali: "There was another song that was picturized along the lines of the "Paruvame..." song from "Nenjathai Killathey" with the lead actress jogging throughout the song!" - I guess you mean Poongatrile Kaalai:

Guitar Prasanna and his band had also done a kind of jazz arrangement of this track, can't find it anymore on youtube.

Ram Murali said...

Madan - thanks a lot for sharing; yes, Poongatrile... was the song.