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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Making of Thiruvasagam in symphony - DVD review

Finally the much awaited DVD of TIS arrived. I had been very eager like a child to see what is in it since I had been hearing the grandeur of project and the grand music for quite long. I could hardly wait to pop it inthe DVD player to see how Ilaiyaraja has collaborated with the West to produce such a complicated score. I wanted to see how the western musicians felt when they were playing IR's music. Would they feel eerie ? exotic ? or may be chaotic and uninterpretable when they hear it for the first time ? How were the Madras singers used along with symphony orchestra ? What was it that really made IR comment that none other than himself could do justice to the "kaalapramaaNam" of all the songs ?So many questions lashed my mind as I started viewing the DVD.

After viewing the entire DVD, I was left with a feeling of partial satisfaction. I wanted more details on the songs making. I got probably just 10 % of what I expected.

Firstly, the DVD has a lot of complimentary talks of Bharathiraja which did not make a good impression. It is of course important that we get to know about the press conferences and opinions. But when you create a DVD of making of a project, the focus must be, in my opinion, more on the project and the details of it rather than the compliments that follow it. The compliments bordered on magnified adulation which I think, would have been better off being used like salt rather than bread. In other words, they could have been peppered all the way through to boost the value of the project. In stead they appeared to be the sole intention of the video.

Secondly, the explanations of IR were minimal. But in one case, namely where he explains how he impressed on the orchestra that some of the repetitive notes that they were playing would sound good when the vocals would be added were really nice, but short. Off all the songs, only "poovar senni" was shown as an example. They showed a minimal amout of choir activity. But it may be recollected that track 2 which is "pollaa vinaiyE" had the most breathtaking acapella which recevied no coverage. track 5 - muththu natramam" - which has a good usage of drums did not figure.

Thirdly, the contribution of Indian choir was not videographed. This, I believe is a little unjust, since they have had a main portion in the entire project. The very negligience towards the Indian choir tells me that, they were treated just as they would be for any normal tamil film song recording. Or in other words, recording with them was considered an exercise similar to a tamil film song which, as is oft iterated, this project is clearly not. Recognition of the local artists through a little video coverage would have made it more enjoyable.

The opinions of the orchestra were pooled in. Most of them being hungarians and alien to English managed only a little to tell us what they exactly felt. A translator in this case would have helped. It was ridiculous to see captions for the english that the orhcestra people spoke since it was easy to understand and simple. But they were clearly not expressing themselves fully. It would have been better if they had been allowed to talk in their vernacular with english subtitles as they speak.

Overall, the DVD entertains a little but leaves you with the feeling of wanting more