My first symphony

I had the chance of attending the TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) Late night concert featuring Shostakovich:  Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”. I  always wanted to experience a live symphony orchestra and have  always found it fascinating. When I expressed my desire to my friends I often find a (what’s so great about it) look. So when it came to talking about this kind of music I did not have many people to share.

However, I have always been tracking the events conducted at by the TSO. With Luminato 6, there were a lot of events conducted at special prices and some great events for free! . And the late night performance featuring Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905” was a part of it.

The performance took place at Roy Thompson Hall. When I booked my tickets there were two options to choose from,’select your seats’ or ‘Choose best available seat’ I usually won’t do that , but I chose ‘Choose best available seat’. And guess what I really got the best seat in the main floor right in the center of the hall close enough to the stage.

After a brief wait, the performance started right away without any talk. The initial movement was frankly quite below my expectations, then the second and the third movement was melancholic and gradually building up to the finale.  The Finale was something that I never expected it reached unimaginable highs. The victorious sounds thundered the hall and then it all faded slowly to the end. The music was able to kindle a variety of imagery. The music maintained a note-to-note tension that never dipped, preventing any sense of being draggy. Subtitled “The Year 1905,” the symphony depicts the massacre of protesters by the czarist forces, an event that contributed to the revolution that later swept Russia. This piece was so powerful and bombastic that it portrayed the horror that happened and  that which is was about to happen. However to be frank I was quite skeptical about the start, but cannot help stop expressing my appreciation for the finale.

So I came across this quote once. And now it all made sense.

 “Each human life is like a new symphony heard for the first time. It can’t be understood or fully appreciated until after the final cadence.”




Another interesting thing I saw was one person from the stage would sit there all along and would seldom walk up  to clash the cymbals. The clash of cymbals  reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. The clash of the cymbals was so loud then realized how it was used in the plot of the movie.  Only Hitchcock has a talent to make a beautiful orchestra feel haunted. According to me, it one of the best examples of the power of cinema. Below is the video of the climax sequence featuring the London Philharmonic Society at Albert Hall featuring in The Man who knew too much. The sequences are breathtaking!

(Notes: Info on Shostakovich:Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”; Below is the YouTube video link of live performance of the same piece of music to get a feel of it.)

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2011 – A Year of Musical starvation

You may already know what I mean, if you are feeling it. Or may be it’s early but eventually you will feel it soon. Yes, 2011 – 1 full year,12 months, 52 weeks,365 days, 8720 hours and 525 948.7 minutes without AR Rahman ‘s music.

We all know that AR Rahman’s has been through a lot in the past three years. He possibly won every music award on the planet. He requires a lot of rest, may be another lifetime to cherish each moment. As Rahman puts it, two Oscars are more than enough for a lifetime.

So, Rahman pressed the pause button and decided to take a year off. Which is very good for him and definitely has come at the right time. However, poor ARR fans are starving.

It’s like one of the lines from his songs, ” nimmishangal ovunrum varushangalaagum, nee ennai neengi chendralae  ”  ( a minute seems like a year when you are not with me). Over the year we have had many musical treats from Rahman every now and then, but 2011 is hard times for Rahman fans.

Just like me, I know every Rahman fan has a song attached to their feelings.

They have their own code book, so they can relate each song to their own emotions.

Peace- Vellai pookal
Patriotism – Kappal yeri poyachu
Happiness-  Endrendrum punnagai
Separation- Azhage sugama
First love- Athankara munbea va
Marriage- Mangalyam
Loneliness – Newyork nagaram
Motivation – Vetrikodi kattu
Sleep- Thendrale thendrale
The list is endless, every Rahman fan  starts and ends a day with a Rahman song.  It’s hard without it, however this period has given way for me to relish the older songs of Rahman.

Again a lyric from Rahman ‘s song, “poi ondru sol kanne en jeevan vaalum” (atleast lie so that I live) someone at least lie that a Rahman album is going to release so we could sustain this wait.

Some say that Rahman’s music grows onto you, it’s more than that it drowns you.

Enough is Enough, I can’t think of another year without Rahman’s music. So no more breaks Rahman, we are starving..Get up and treat us

And then came Rockstar 2011!

Vaanam – Sky is the Limit

If good movies are movies which elevate the audience, then Vaanam is a gem. It inspires, elevates and still entertains (an unusual combination)

Cloud nine movies’ Vaanam is fresh and engaging and what makes Vaanam stand out is the screenplay. One other major plus of Vaanam is it has a right balance between experimentation and commercial viability.


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There have always been good movies which had a good message and were acclaimed critically but bombed at the box office. (Anbe Sivam is the best example). Vaanam has broken the boundaries. Babel, 21 grams may have been an inspiration for Vaanam but it is neatly packaged for the Indian audience, it holds good with a crisp story line, and engaging characters. 

As you watch this film you are absorbed and involved, sometimes deeply moved. You keep wondering, where the story leads but it all escalates to a touching tale of forgiveness and understanding. You get goose bumps in some of the later scenes in the movie.

Krish has proved that he is capable of delivering such meaningful and engaging movies, which can be catered to the length and breath of audiences.

Yes, some audiences were frustrated about the narrative, but this is just the beginning and they will get used to it. And the good news is Vaanam will make way for more such movies in the future. Kudos to the team of Vaanam for a meaningful movie. I think movies like Vaanam are healthy for the industry, as they entertain and still do not compromise on the script.

Aaranya Kandam – An eulogy

RAJNI PIDIKKUMA ILLA KAMAL PIDIKKUMA?

Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s directorial movie Aaranya Kandam (Jungle Chapter) has been already screened at the South Asian International Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Award for Best Film. After much controversy and struggles, the film was released. The censor board even wanted clearance from actors, Kamalhassan and Rajinikanth for a joke involving both the superstars.

So what is Aaranya Kandam about, Experimental film? A Gangster flick? A Dark comedy? It’s all of the above. Well, Kumararaja can be called the Guy Ritchie of Tamil Cinema or the Tarantino of Tamil cinema. Aaranya Kandam is gangster flick that takes its own time to unfold supported by technical elements in the film. However, all of the movies elements are overpowered by performances, everyone in the frame has lived their roles. The movie stars Jackie Shroff as Singaperumal, Ravi Krishna as Sappai, Sampath Raj as Pasupathy, Yasmin Ponnappa as Subbu, Somasundaram as Kaalayan, Master Vasanth as Kodukapuli, Rambo Rajkumar as Gajendran. With so many characters you may wonder, who is the protagonist? Well, the question has no answers.

Performances carry the film be it Jackie Shroff as the venomous impotent Singam Perumal or the naïve Ravi Krishna or Kodukapuli’s father Somasundaram, all have done a commendable job. Especially Somasundaram is able to tickle ribs even at nail biting situations with his performance and dialogue delivery. Sampath as always fits in the role of an ambitious gangster effortlessly. Then there is Yasmin Ponnappa, the dumb-blonde like in the movie with her sheepish grin is also brilliant. It is almost a perfect cast and Thiagarajan Kumararaja has done well with dialogues, which are clever and has a sense of humor. As the plot unfolds it’s a cat and mouse story, where all that the characters are looking for are freedom, money, power and cocaine.

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Rajini pudikuma? illa Kamal pudikuma? – SP Charan the producer has tweeted that Kamalhassan loves the movie. That is enough reason for movie buffs to go watch the film. Thiagarajan Kumararaja has taken the harder route of opting out of songs in a 2 hour movie. However, the background score is enjoyable, though the sounds are influenced by various world movies. Yuvan Shankar Raja produces a truly enjoyable score in the movie. The cinematography is good, with many unusual placements of camera angle and low-key lighting. If you are a Rajini fan then you will like the movie, if you are a Kamal fan you will love the movie.

Overall, Aaranya Kandam is whole new experience in Tamil cinema with a good plot and a twist in the movie. The movie is overpowered by performances from all characters and is supported by enjoyable music and cinematography.

Published in Behindwoods.com’s Visitor Column

http://behindwoods.com/features/visitors-1/jun-11-02/aaranya-kaandam-jackie-shroff-13-06-11-02.html