Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lost in Translation- Can the same song be enjoyed in 2 different languages?

My latest favorite song, playing on  loop is 'Unnai Kaanadhu Naan Indru Naan Illaye' from Kamal Haasan's latest movie Viswaroopam. It's got a slightly no- very effeminate Kamal Haasan dancing Kathak, women Kathak dancers whose costumes and nupurs are drool-worthy, Shankar Mahadevan's voice and the peculiar male singing from the female perspective, which for once, fits right in.

But without a doubt, the lyrics take the cake in this one. Despite the aesthetics of the setting and sound, I found myself going back for the lyrics again and again. I must confess, I didn't get ALL of the lyrics straight away, but it was pretty clear its about a Gopika pining for Krishna's presence. Because:
a. The scene starts with a magnifique description of Krishna, and b. Krishna-Gopika Leelas are a central theme of many classical Indian dance forms.

In Indian mythology, Krishna is one of the 10 avataars of Mahavishnu. One of the other avataars of Mahavishnu is Rama, who was born on Earth as a human being without being aware that he is God (thats kinda schizophrenic, but more of that later). Hence, Rama underwent the joys and pains of the human life and was fully capable of human emotions such as mistrust and jealousy, which brought him more pains. Rama was a mortal and he knew it. Krishna, however, was that avataar of Mahavishnu, who came into the world with much publicity (issued a death warrant in-vitro to the reigning oppressor of the time, staged an escape when just a newborn) and as much entitlement as only a God can. He too underwent the joys and pains of the human life (mainly brought on by his extended family which was trying to get him into the thick of family disputes all the time) and was fully capable of delivering judgments which sealed the fate of humans with a smile. Gopikas were female mortals who lived in the same village as Krishna and were unrelated to him. They were the village belles who adored and worshiped Krishna with all their hearts. In mythology, the love and devotion of the Gopikas is explained as the meeting of the human soul with the Supreme being. The Gopikas were utterly devoted to Krishna and this was  an open secret. There was no secret in it, it was just open knowledge and nobody was perturbed or disturbed or any sort of 'urbed' by it.

Which is why 'Unnai Kaandhu Naan Indru Naan Illaye' fits right into the mythological setting too. In the song, the Gopika is basically saying that without seeing Krishna, she is not herself, her true self. Just as the way there can be no roots without a seed. She is sad about the fact that he can never be hers. Because she is only a mortal, while he is God. Yet, her devotion makes her resolve to sustain herself with the mere fact of his existence instead of pining away for his presence all the time. This is in the last lines of the song 'Indru kadhai enni veen ekam engaamale, unnai mooch-aaki vaazhvenada..'


When you are dubbing a picture in 2 or more languages, it is obviously not an easy task to translate the exact emotions into another language. Even if you get Javed Akhtar to pen the Hindi version. I don't think Javed Akhtar held a candle to the lyrics by Vairamuthu. Not even close.

Sample this- "Mai Radha teri,mera Shyam tu, .. par yu naa kalaai thaam tu.." = "I'm your Radha, you're my Shyam.. but please don't hold my wrist~~ don't hold me back from leaving.."

This is so superlatively bad and emotionally retarded if taken in the sense of the relationship between Radha and Krishna, or rather, ANY Gopika and Krishna that it has no right to masquerade as the Hindi version of "Unnai Kaanadhu".

Because, if and when Krishna was with the Gopikas (which I suppose, was occasionally), and when the Gopikas pined to be with Krishna (which was always)... they would never, ever say "Let me go.."

Infact, when Krishna was around, Gopikas abandoned herding their cattle, milking them, churning the butter etc etc and were swept up in the awesomeness of the presence of Krishna to care about anything, even hunger, in the world. It just seems so out of place to have a Gopika or Radha say "Oh Shyam.. let me go... don't hold me back.. "

So, for someone who heard the absolutely divine "Unnai Kaanadhu Naan Indru Naan Illaye" to hear "Mai Radha teri mera Shyam tu.." and accept that this is what they did to a song in translation... is... blue murder..

Wanna hear what blue murder sounds like? ;|

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why do I love thee?

If it were about the how I would 'nt short of words. I would be no shine on Elizabeth Browning though. But that's not what I'm wondering about. But if I were to be asked by you "Why do you love me?" or if I sit down to think, "Why do I love you?" words, thoughts, feelings escape me. How do I say... how do I start putting it in words. Your words, your face, your presence... it feeds my soul. Incredible joy and incredible sadness, glowing admiration and extreme jealousy, hope and despair both equally exhilarating and consuming. How does the parched desert feel when raindrops fall on it? How does the voyager feel when he sees land for the first time in months? How does the scientist feel when he unravels the mystery in his lab? How do trees feel before being struck down by lightning? The antelope before a lioness clamps down on his throat? Knowing someone who was by your side all along suddenly doesnt exist in this world? All this and more... I feel. Is it all you and only you? The cause for all this? However much I would like to believe that, I know I can't discount the presence of what created you- me. If you are perfection, the realisation of God, then I am the ugliness that marrs it. The Devil that sullies it. You are the pristine white, I am the blinding black. Because that's how nature works...A thing of exceptional brilliance immediately attracts a thing of exceptional devilry to attach to it. If my mind realises the perfection in you, my heart rushes to spoil that perfection, ruin it, damn it. I want to wish it away.... but my mind cant let go. And there I exist in the midst of all this- unable to let go and unable hold on either. Until I separate my mind from my heart... until then, I'll always wonder, Why do I love thee?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sing to me

If there's anything I love more than black and white movies, its their music score. Ok, music scores of not just black and white movies, but several movies from 40's to 80's-90's. There's just something sooo lilting about the old school music scores, before the advent of the synthesizer. When trumpets and triangles and accordions and violins and pianos were used! *moment of silence*

Anyhow, the best tonic for the perturbed mind are some of the songs from the black and white era bygone... following are some of favorite songs which sing to the Tamil in me... most of them star Sivaji Ganesan (because I am a rabid fan ;) 

1. Chittu Kuruvi Mutham Koduthu from Puthiya Paravai

I'm partial to songs from this movie (love Paartha Nyabagam illayo) but the aalap after the first line is the best part of this song for me.. which 'paartha nyabagam..' doesn't have.

2.  Malargalai Pol Thangai from Pasamalar

This song would have possibly been serious competition to  'Phoolon ka Taaron ka' down south had they been released in the same period. Pasamalar was released in 1961 and Hare Rama Hare Krishna came a good 10 years later in 1971. Though the emotions and the settings of both the songs are quite different- in Pasamalar, Sivaji Ganesan plays a responsible and dutiful brother who has to get his sister married (his dreams for her are the setting for the song) whereas in HRHK, 'Phoolon ka Taaron ka' is tinged with pain and yearning as the siblings have been separated in childhood.

Both songs are evocative of brother-sister relationships.

3. Muthukulikka Vaarigala from Anubavi Raaja Anubavi

Anubavi Raaja Anubavi is still one of the best comedy movies around and this song just makes it that much more lovable! The camaraderie shared by Naagesh and Manorama is adorable and the lyrics fit the fisherman's village romance setting to the T. What's not to love?

4. Aaha Inba Nilavinile from Maya Bazaar

A sweet song and even sweeter is the style of romancing a-la- mythological times. Full moon. Check. Un-polluted Lake. Check. Singing while oaring a boat containing Savithri effortlessly without breaking into a sweat. Check. Ah, young love!

The best part is the comedy of errors that takes place in this song. The two young lovers (Abhimanyu and Vatsala) have a midnight rendezvous in the lake and the guards inform Vatsala's father about her indiscretion. While her parents are rushing to the scene of the crime (:O), Krishna the all-knowing realizes that Vatsala's parents are going to come and spoil their romantic night-out and comes to warn them and send them away. Then he and Rukmini take the place of Abhimanyu and Vatsala in the boat and resume the song. Balarama (Vatsala's father) and wife reach the scene and are relieved to see that its not Abhimanyu-Vatsala but Krishna-Rukmini. Then Krishna invites them to enjoy the evening and leaves. Balarama then takes his wife on the boat.. because it would such a wasted opportunity to come till the edge of the lake and then turn around without having a tour on the boat!

5. Enna Enna Vaarthaigalo from Vennira Aadai

Steeped in womanly charm (afterall its Jayalalitha and P. Susheela) and the background music has the Raj-era undertones. Classic.

6. Vantha Naal Muthal from Paava Manippu

Apparently this movie was ahead of its times and created a stir in the conservative society of those days. But this song is evergreen in terms of music as well as lyrics and will never go out of style or become irrelevant (sad but true). But brownie points for putting Sivaji Ganesan on a bicycle :)

7. Annakiliye Unnai Theduthe from Annakili

A song of love, longing and hope starring the beautiful Sujaata. Mesmerizing music and warm lyrics feature in this sombre movie (I haven't seen it, though). The beat and the tune makes this song memorable and you can't help but feel good when you hum it.

Which songs sing to the Tamil in you? Or any song in your native language which sings to you? Share them with us here!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I am back....

I can't believe its been more than a year since I blogged... Checked out my past writings and reviewed them all.

It's definitely not a coincidence that I haven't blogged since I started my CS Articleship. A major chunk of your day get cut out and the rest of the time is left for fulfilling the bare minimum of living a life!

Anyway, now that I have the time, I hope to write something concrete rather than just daily observations, which while fun, doesn't really help the I-want-to-be-a-writer cause! ;)