Before I begin this post, I have to thank a few people. First off, the people who write for Music, method and Madness - I would specifically like to thank both Ramakrishnan and Mathangi, for all the thoughtful conversations on the blog and the wonderful songs they bring to the table and their words. Secondly, to the people who read this blog and communicate their comments. Many thanks; it feels good to see my vision in print. Like it says on the sidebar, this space is open source, so if there is some song you would like to discuss/ write about/ or just share, please feel free to mail it to me.
In cultures across the world, people sing to their Gods. It is like offering one of the highest pinnacles of human cognition - music - to one of the highest conceptions man can have - God. By God and divinity, I do not mean a personal God so much as what every human being holds high, pure, unsoiled and sacred unto himself. The emotions that come out when one contemplates the divine in any form are boundless. They are human in all aspects, but because the object is divine and therefore, by definition, something that is superhuman and worthy of the best, the limits of our all too human emotions are elevated to a different plane. Whether this emotional outpouring takes the form of art or literature or music, the result is something that is ecstatic and transcendental at the same time.
I was organizing my iTunes folder when I came across a few Rahman songs that seemed to follow this theme - contemplation of the divine. Before I knew it, I had compiled a playlist of the same, and for the past few days, it is the first thing that I listen to every morning. Needless to say, Rahman and divinity in the same line is something that should not be talked about, but experienced. So I am going to share my playlist with you, with a few thoughts. Forgive the words, they are but an adoring fan's indulgence :-)
1. The first song is what has been looping on my playlist all day - the song from Rahman's latest album, Puli called Namakameeyara swami. I can see that Rahman is kind of on a 'Jaa re udd ja re' hangover, the orchestration seems similar. Absolutely love the transition into Ananda Bhairavi towards the charanam.
I got a Telugu speaking friend to translate the song in its entirety for me. The primary emotion of the song seems to be trust - God as a bedrock, something to believe, something that relieves all fear. Absolute trust. It is entreating the lord to give the supplicant all that is good and desirable, eschew all that is not good. The lyrics reminded me of the immortal 'Hum ko man ki shakti dena'.
Pawan kalyan with a gun is not the best title picture for this song :-) Adjust maadi please!
2. Where does the realm of philosophy end and where does that of religion begin? Philosophy demands intellectual rigor and logic to a large extent; religion is in the realm of experience. When there is synchrony and harmony between the two, what can there be but peace?
The reason I am quoting this next verse is not just the deep meaning of the verse, which summarizes the philosophy of the Sikh religion. I love the video - if viewed in the context of the movie, it exemplifies faith. For all their playfulness, what holds those characters in the movie together is faith. It was brilliant to watch this bit in the movie - if I remember correctly this comes up after Ajay (Madhavan's character) rejoins the army and they start filming again, and truly start believing in the ideals of the freedom fighters they are playing.
3.The third emotion in the list is harmony, and the third song is 'Tumre Bhavan Mein' from Delhi 6
Arguably one of Rahman's best albums ever, the film was not very popular. Personally, this is one of my favourite movies, and one of the reasons I like it is the subtle integration of themes into the plot. For example, this song comes up in the context of a puja held in the house of one of two brothers who are at loggerheads. It is am amusing scene, where they try to sing the bhajan to outdo the other. Then their wives chip in, singing together. Harmony is restored.
I preferred to post the noisy version of the video in the context of the scene in the movie than the song in full.
4. விண்மீன்கள் கண் பார்க்க சூரியன் தோன்றுமோ..
This is a beautiful composed song and a beautifully composed video. There is something incredibly heartwarming about a child's devotion, isn't there?
PS: Is this Vairamuthu?
5.Another of those 'situation songs' where the emotion comes out not only because of the divinity invoked but also the plot that demands it. Sita, as captured in this song, is close to my version of her and therefore I find that special resonance. Lyrics are beautiful, aren't they? 'Mann se Raavan jonikaale Ram uske mann mein hain' :-)
6. I feel so sorry that I could not find a video of this song. This is another context - situation song, I guess the emotion could be called Shringaram, given that the song is called 'Alaipayudhe kanna, en manam alaipayudhe'. The expressions on the faces of the lead actors speaks more than the song (or the dialogues following the song) do. Besides the song being a major plot point, it sounds so comforting. Not so much as an alaipanjufying mind so much as a lullaby.
Unfortunately, I don't have a video (there isn't one available on Youtube) and all the online streaming sites I checked at have this annoying code that plays immediately when the page opens. If someone can help me find the song/ video/ tweak the code, that would be great :)
7. Water is an incredibly soulful album. And this rendition of Vaishnava Jana tho is...just listen :-)
|Vaishnava Jana To ...|
8. I have lain under the stars many a night listening to this song on loop. It has ARR's very magical voice singing it out, and it is a very personal song for me. (I know I sound like one of those people on Sun Music dedicating a song to their mummy, daddy and 3rd bench Kamala, but I'm okay with that :-))
9. Arziyaan saari mein, chehre pe likh ke laaya hoon....
I like to think of this song as Khwaja's skipping-with-joy cousin. While Khwaja is solemn and supplicating, registering awe and mysticism, Arziyaan is familiar with the lord. After all, it is 'mora piya ghar aaya...' :-)
10. I included this song in my list of 10, because it is not a religious song per se, not in the sense of it being affiliated to a particilar religious belief system. However, the innocence and imagery of this song, the ideas in the lyrics, and the lovely music - nothing spells divinity better.
There are songs I have missed, I know. If there are any that come to your mind, do write about them in the comments section!