Kalyana Then Nila

‘Kalyana Then Nila’ from the film Mounam Sammatham, featuring Mammootti and Amala showcases all of Ilaiyaraja's musical abilities in just 4 minutes and 41 seconds. Set in the romantic and evocative raga Darbari Kannada, ‘Kalyana Then Nila’ starts with a soothing rhythm, a beautiful guitar piece which then leads into a short string and flute jughalbandhi. A second’s pause and Yesudas' stunning vocals fill the room. Yesudas is one of those few artists who can make the listener feel and experience the lyrics of the songs. The ease and playfulness with which he entices the listener is almost...

Classic films: Moondram Pirai (1982)

Balu Mahendra wrote and directed this movie starring Kamal Hassan and Sri Devi, Tamil cinemas most successful pair of the 80’s, having worked together in 27 films. The movie begins with the story of Bhagyalakshmi (Sridevi), who has the intelligence of a 7 year old after a serious head injury. She is taken advantage of and ends up in a brothel, where she meets Srinivas (Kamal Hassan) who realises that she has been tricked and takes her to his home, where he takes care of her. Both share an amazing, naive bond which borders on love. Watch one of Ilaiyaraaja’s best known songs, ‘Kanne Kalaimaane...

Classic films: Mudhal Mariyathai (1985)

This classic Tamil film directed by Bharathi Raaja tells the story of a village elder (Sivaji Ganeshan), who is unhappily married to the miserable Ponnaatha, played by Vadivukkarasi. Through flashbacks, a friendship that has blossomed between him and Kuyile (Ratha), a young woman from a lower cast, is revealed. Their relationship complicates matters for both of them, socially and personally. See the unofficial trailer:

Chennai Sangamam next week

Chennai Sangamam, the annual week-long folk art festival, returns next week for the fifth time, with 2,000 performers and 4,000 performances, coinciding with the Tamil festival of Thai Pongal. A significant feature of this year's festival would be performances by the underprivileged children, children from slums, the differently abled and transgenders. The children would perform folk dances, an orchestra by the visually challenged would perform the light musical and a transgender group would stage a play, The Hindu reported. See the Indian Express 's report , and the event’s website .

Classic films: Naayagan (1987)

Directed by award-winning film maker Mani Ratnam, ‘Naayagan’ follows the life of Sakthivelu Nayakar (Kamal Hassan) and his ascent to become a mafia leader. Revenge, justice and family life are the key themes in this biopic which is said to be based on Varadarajan Mudaliar, an underworld thug of Mumbai. Watch this scene from ‘Naayagan’, in which Velu Nayakar’s daughter confronts him and his lifestyle:

More to discover every time

‘Thakida Thadhimi’ from the 1983 movie ‘Salangai Oli’ remains a classical combination of music, lyrics and performance

Versatile and emotive

‘Shenbagame Shenbagame’ from the 1988 film ‘Enga Ooru Paattu Kaaran’ was another hit for Isaignani Ilaiyaraja. Composed in the raaga Sindhu Bhairavi, the song is a solo which has three different versions for the film; the male version sung by Mano, a female version sung by Sunantha (below) and a sad female version sung by Asha Bhosle, one of the best known and highest regarded Indian playback singers who reportedly cried after listening to the tune. Ilaiyaraja was very prolific in his use of the raga Sindhu Bhairavi in this song, distinctly showing the versatility of this raga. It is...

The Tamil music maestro and his gems

Ilaiyaraja is a household name for Tamils all over the world. A highly acclaimed composer, lyricist and writer, he has been in the South Indian film industry for over 30 years producing around 4500 songs to date. Any Tamil person, asked to name their favourite song by Ilaiyaraja, will probably not be able to limit their choice to just one composition, such is the range and quality of his output. He has covered such a vast range of genres and moods which appeal to a wide audience.

Houses of the Holy

Meenakshi temple, Madurai. Photo Olaf Otto Becker “There are temples throughout Chettinad, neolithic cave temples and 16th-century clan temples and tidy ancient structures erected during the artistically nonpareil reign of the great Chola kings. There are animist Ayyanar temples set in rural groves, their grotesque deities guarded by life-size terra cotta horses. There are temples as architecturally impressive as those on any tourist map, places like the 11th-century shrine to Shiva at Avudayarkoil, a place of baffling architectural geometries.” Guy Trebay visits Chettinad, see his report in...

Angaadi Theru – Tamil Cinema’s Dickensian Moment?

The commercial as well as critical success enjoyed this year by the Tamil cinema release Angaadi Theru reflects not just the maturity and range of the Tamil cinema industry but also of its audience. Dealing with the difficult themes of harsh working conditions, rural poverty and exploring the lives of Chennai’s urban poor, Angaadi Theru is refreshingly different from the usual saccharine mix of romance, music and escapism that has become characteristic of Indian cinema as a whole.