Raaja, Rahman and a Reply

Original Post

Hulkster, I can tell you that your post is not Sour Grapes. Sour Grapes is when fans of Composer A are miffed at Composer B’s rise and then when Composer C rises to eclipse Composer B, then rejoice in that and take cheap potshots at B. 


Clearly, the clearest proof that IR doesnt care much awards or recognition is when IR fans’ desparate attempts to get him to help in simply getting Chicago S.Orchestra to play his music fails. How can an average human not be interested in a simple chance for publicity? The answer is then he is not average. He is beyond that. If actions speak louder than words, then this action clearly speaks louder than anything we fans can say about he doesnt care for awards. 

I also think you have over-simplified Rahman. He has his own theories I guess which he doesnt talk about but there is so much he experiments with sound. You cannot claim that sound is not music because that is what IR himself says “nai kuraikkarurudhula music irukku, kuzhandhai azharudhula irukku etc”. In that sense, ARR is a cut above the average Indian composer. Both IR and ARR have differentiated themselves from the average Indian film composer because their sound is A-z theirs. Every interlude, every movement is conceived by them. 

I do agree with many that this is not the time to worry why ARR got recognition and IR didnt. 


Also, I dont think ARR cares for awards either. Clearly, he has said and done enough things for us to infer that he is an exceptional talent who is more interested in taking Indian music beyond shores it has traditionally washed its waves with. I do think he sees an oscar and GG as a recognition for Indian film music than for himself. If he lobbies or explains himself to the suited crowd judging him at oscars, surely I believe it is not pursuit of self-glory but the bigger goal of limelight for the music community he represents In other words, I see ARR’s Oscar as an award for IR, an award for MSV, and his talented predecssors, too but particularly MSV and IR, because these are the two giants that defined popular tamil film music. Given ARR’s personality and genuine humility seen on many occasions, I would rather believe he thinks the same. 


Also, a century from now these 3 may be seen as the trinity of popular tamil music – when we think of Carnatic music, which was probably POPULAR MUSIC in the 19th century, we dont think of what their fans at that time thought of each other. We simply accept that Deekshitar, Thyagarajar and Sastri were masters all and move ahead. A similar thing might happen with these 3 and we have to be thankful that we lived in the times of all these 3 great musicians. Maybe our grandchildren may envy us for that.




//Experimenting with sound// – Yes ARR does that a lot and as you said IR also acknowledges that music is sound and vice versa. But we all know that sound is the primitive form while music is its advanced form. We human beings have come a long way experimenting with sounds and have culminated the knowledge gained over thousands of years into ‘music’. If We are going back to experimenting in sounds, it doesnt mean progress, it means degeneration of a system that humans have evolved by all trials & errors. May be ARR is setting the stage for the upcoming generations to evolve the patterns of sound through digitized means, when in future there will be no more natural musical instruments to play and the whole world will be Filled with the digital form in everything. Even then I believe they can’t go beyond the 12 notes which is the very nature of music in this universe. Its just that it doesnt make sense to me when someone is experimenting in ‘sound’ when there is so much to explore and extend the realms of ‘music’. IR had definitely inculcated the ‘sounds’ arising out of synthesisers in many of his compositions but never once he let them overtake the song or the emotion it needed to portray (Listen to the car honks in ‘Poatta Padiyuthu’ it is done in warrant of the situation and it has a musical pattern of its own. The tension of the reckless unemployed youth is portrayed throught the song using various sounds). The purpose of music/sound is what is more important for Raaja, than the extra richness that shadows the emotions in a Rahman song. 


One reason I see in the striking contrast between Raaja’s and Rahman’s perception of music & sound is this – Raaja whose only aim was to compose for ‘Films’ saw music as a form to convey a story, the mood of the characters and their underlying emotions and he evolved his style in that way, while ‘Rahman’ being an Ad film composer and who had never even dreamt of composing for a film, built his style to suit a 30 sec or a 1 min Ad film which needs to be bold, strong and needed to convey the consumer about the product and the necessity for them to buy it, in that given short time and frame of the film. He had to create musical motifs and patterns which needs to be catchy and instantly striking, he resorted to ‘loops’ and ‘sounds’ which are bolder than ‘music’. He extended the same style to films as he would not be able to shrug off a deep understanding of musical creation, which sunk in him during his formative years. Hope I have put it right! that I see Raaja-film-music-audience are all intricately interwoven with a emotional relationship while I see Rahman-film-sound-consumer are connected in a Product-Consumer relationship.  

I can see people in various forums discussing and dissecting Raaja’s musical richness and the underlying emotions/moods it evokes. While most of the peers in ARR fan club are trying to find the layers, soundscape and the aural pleasure it gives. Take for example ‘Amma endrazhaikaatha’ by IR and ‘Kaliayil Thinamum’ by ARR though not comparable on parallel lines for the situations in the movie, both tries to evoke the understanding of a sons need for mother…I just cant relate with the later composition! no feeling of motherhood in the song. Its yet another song for ARR to showcase his brilliance in setting a tune and engulfing it with rich sound-music pattern. OTOH I also agree that there is an entire generation which cries for this song with their pseudo emotions. Ok…there may be a question now how to identify this pseudo and real emotion forming within the heart of human beings. A very simple analogy – If we realise after we had shed our tears that we had cried – its real, if we know beforehand that we are going to cry and weep in full conciousness – its pseudo. Not to deny that world is getting, more and more immune to real emotions and deriving pleasure out of pseudo emotions. Here is where Raaja is still sending out a strong political message with his music that ‘I will compose music only that which will touch your heart’. It wont take a fraction of a second for him to embrace the modern technologies and exploit our senses to the fullest. He is just against it. So we dont know yet whether will Raaja will do it or not (I believe he will not), but so for ARR is the best in what he is doing.


//Every interlude, every movement is conceived by them.// Yes for Raaja – apart from the inspirations from WCM and various folk songs, when he composes every single note is coming from his mind. No for ARR –  I know by talking with many people in the industry and also through various interviews by personalities involved with him, that he picks from various sources readily available and the sources around him.For exaample If he needs a particular mood for rhythm he Asks ‘Shivamani’ to play some rhythms, if he needs a flute bit he will ask ‘Naveen’ to play for a amood and so on with other instrumentalists and singers (Hey singers too sing for him in various styles and they wont know which one will be selected, and would know only after the release of the ACD) all of which will be recorded into his MIDI processer. Then he ‘picks’ and ‘packs’ an almost final version over which the additional programmer will work and complete the job. Yet the composition is not over…He listens, relistens and starts adding layers upon layers until he thinks the song has now become ‘Complicated’ for the masses.If we are trying to get into their minds I would say The moment someone explains a song situation to Raaja the patterns start forming in his mind and he will be clear within few minutes like a google map showing all details with where is NH7 where is NH16 etc., 🙂 Rahmans mind also start forming some patterns but I would say they would be hazy or cloudy which will get clear only after he sits down and gets help of other instrumentalists around him. And after he has found the NH7 and NH16 he will try to find the ball bearings in the wheel of a car moving down in NH7 or the sound of its horn honking 😉 

In this context of their working styles I say Raaja is a genius & complete composer while Rahman is brilliant yet incomplete composer.  


//Both have differentiated from an Average Indian composer// – no qualms here, Although Off late Yuvan is proving better than others in the dept. of BGM & few songs, which makes me have hope on him after Raaja.


//Also, I dont think ARR cares for awards either…Given ARR’s personality and genuine humility seen on many occasions, I would rather believe he thinks the same.// – Rahman cares much for these awards which will push him towards more oppurtunities and more money! Tell me one award function ARR has missed in his lifetime?!! I can quote numerous instances wherein Raaja had sent ‘Yuvan’, ‘Bhava’ or ‘karthick’ to collect his awards. he doesn’t go because he doesn’t care for the awards while because he cares for the people behind the awards he sends someone representing him. ARR had been very clever and had been successful in using the oppurtunities presented, expanding his Horizons which in turn will give him more oppurtunities and more markets. Rather Blunt, but I would definitely say ‘Money’ is the driving force for ARR and he is using his musical and marketing skills to earn more of it. He keeps the demand for himself very high by accepting few offers and then to keep himself always in limelight he feeds the consumers with what they need from time to time. 

Compare with Raaja who doesnt even want to come to limelight, I had a friend of mine who was connected to an event management group. The group wanted to do a show with Raaja in Bangalore…The reply he gave was ‘Do you want me to compose fresh music or sing the same old songs…there is so much rehearsels to be done… atleast a month will be wasted on this. I can use that time to compose some new songs’.The Person who contacted Raaja was surprised by this answer and replied ‘Its Ok, we want to hear more of your new music’ and came back from the studio.I know it took a lot of persuasion by the people behind for the performance in Italy, Chennai & Dubai to happen. The point is he is not into this kind of marketing himself while ARR is perfect in marketing himself and his ‘products’. When it has come down to ‘Market economics’ no body is too egoistic to spoil the market they have. Look at the humbleness of ‘Infosys Narayanamurthy’ or a ‘Bill Gates’ are they any lesser in ‘humbleness’ as perceived by the society?!! all these humbleness, humility has a ulterior motive behind – ‘Making Money’ & ‘Making More Money’. Connect this with ARR’s misunderstanding with Farah khan during ‘OSO’. Every action of his oozes out of this Greed to be in limelight and make money. Every action! Be it brand ambassador for UNO, Be it ‘Pray for me brother’ Be it ‘Playing for Tsunami victims’ – everything lack genuinity behind the actions and I see it all as a ‘Capitalistic System generated Sympathy’ which doesnt come from heart but from ‘Head’. If Raaja ‘feels’ for the ‘Tsunami victims’ he goes to the Chief minister and gives 2 lakhs for the relief fund and walks away, When ‘Rahman’ feels for the ‘Tsunami Victims’ He arranges an orchestra and spends many lakhs in organising them, flying them down to the beach and conducts a musical programme for the people who are desolutes and are devoid of basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. He makes an Advt. of the feelings he has towards them – Straight Capitalistic Attitude. When an oppurtunity presents itself for Raaja to compose a song for eradicating Aids and support its victims, before many Hollywood personalities and Other NGO’s, He composes a crossover song and sends KarthickRaja to perform it on stage! never trying to come into the limelight. When Rahman gets an oppurtunity to perform a song to ‘Eradicate Poverty’ He composes, acts and releases a ‘single’ asking everyone else to ‘Pray for thy brother’ and ‘Pay for the thy Big Brother’.I can go on writing more and more on both of their actions for which there will be reasonings & Brickbats from ‘ARR camp’, Hell I care Because I know ‘Raaja  is getting paid for composing music, which is his passion’ and ‘Rahman is composing music for getting paid’ which is his passion’. Music is means for Rahman to make money, if not music he would have become an ‘Electronics Engineer’ to make the same money. Come what may and if the whole life & world had been against ‘Raaja’ He would have become a composer in Tamil films. 

Disclaimer: There is no disclaimer 🙂 Anyone is welcome to ‘Argue’ here and no reply from anyone will be edited unless it contains ‘Ketta Vaarthais’


62 responses to “Raaja, Rahman and a Reply

  1. RS, I cant reply on full scale soon. but briefly, we have to agree to disagree on some points. Rahman is really a POP musician, in the guise of a film musician. But he is a genuine, genuinely succesful POP musician. We can even argue that IR himself could be describe as the same – his music doesnt really fall into any pigeonhole but IR we know is more classical
    My belief is that Rahman doesnt understand the films medium as much as IR does – which is reflected in their BGM ability
    Even Slumdong Millionaire, someone observed in Baradwaj’s blog, the music seems so standalone. It plays its own thing generically whereas IR’s BGM will recognise every moment on screen. For instance, the whole Ringa Ringa sequence is just one song covering some pan developments. But IR would have differentiated the different emotions.

    But I am willing to call Rahman a genius because I cannot deny that he is able to link to certain musical styles like Sufi, Bhangra, thumris in a way that IR wouldnt want to or cannot. Rahman’s understanding of north indian folk/punjabi folk is better – and this is why he is hugely succesful in Hindi – I may bewrong but that is my belief. Thodi si bhool in RDB is a fine marraige of Bhangra and Rahman POP.

    So, this discussion will continue but I stand by my belief that though IR would remain the Thyagaraja, Rahman has his own space in the trinity, and I dont want to compare and say one is better than the other.

  2. RS, on his personality, yes, he is more savvy, street-smart than IR. But I dont think that basically he is more greedy or more worldly. he has the right mix of pride and humility in my opinion. He doesnt take shit and he knows how to get value for his talent both in terms of money and in terms of future opportunity. While I respect IR’s vidya garvam and his summary dismissal of mediocrity and his putting mediocre directors and producers in place by treating them like shit, I do sometimes wonder if a little bit of adjust maadi could have broguht him grater current recognition. Then again, that is fine – as I said I dont care now whether Paul Newman or Roger Ebert appreciate him. Raja is my Raja. And that is enough for me.

  3. I think there is a certain ideological stance here RS. I dont have problems with Rahman being money-minded. In his altercation with Farah Khan, I am totally on his side. What he was trying to do was to get the music composer his dues on copyright and royalty. He said in his interview to Baradwaj Rangan that “I dont care about money. I wanted to take a stance there.”.. Then after a pause he added “I didnt mean I dont care for money absolutely – ofcourse I get paid in Crores and I care for it – but in this case, it doesnt really matter to me personally whether I have the rights or not but I feel composers should be given their due”.
    I tend to believe him when he says that. As he himself says, basically good human being-a illama, andha fame, andha opportunities varadhu. I think nothing is wrong with his self-marketing. He understands that by marketing yourself, you give yourself more chance to be appreciated. I mean, if someone comes to his music because of the marketing and then finds it satisfying, then it is good, no?

    Raja’s philosophy is different – and I love Raja because my philosohpy is similar – but we have to allow for a different attitude and pursuit in others.
    I think Rahman is making enough money now so that he doesnt ever have to depend on others to give him chances when his marketability goes down. Appo he will grandly earn from his studio and will find an alternative way to popularise his music. To some extent, you can see IR being limited by his lack of money today – he is limited by the producer’s wallet. Nothing wrong if ARR is ensuring that he never reaches this stage.

  4. BTW, Slumdog paarthaen and track kettaen. oru pattu alladhu oru BGM piece kooda ninaivula illai. Adhe samayam, the film doesnt have enough emotional hooks at all – in that sense, I would say Rahman’s music is fitting – but oru pattu kooda manasula nikkama…this is a first for me in my experience with Rahman. Enna solla, if someone can sponsor Hungarian orchestra for IR, and find a right hollywood movie, and probably hide the fact that he is a dhoti clad Indian, and show the credits as some european composer’s, he will surely win the Oscar. Illai John Williams-nu title-la pottalum, nobody will notice the difference – hmm..opportunities, see where IR is hurt ?

  5. Just to put my first comment in perspective, I think Rahman is a genius POP musician. IR is ofcourse a genius who knows where the strings to your heart are. He can manipulate your emotions. In addition, in the 80’s, he also played the part of the foremost POP musician of his culture. Whether that makes him a greater genius than IR, I dont want to comment. I am fine with not comparing like that.

  6. “Whether that makes him a greater genius than IR, I dont want to comment. I am fine with not comparing like that.

    Read it as
    “Whether that makes him a greater genius than ARR, I dont want to comment. I am fine with not comparing like that.

  7. I am talking to myself :-). Enakku comment space kudutha, ippadi thaan nadakkum 🙂

    BTW, white background-la black ezhuthukku maatha mudiyuma. My aged eyes arent able to handle this site 🙂

  8. //I do think he sees an oscar and GG as a recognition for Indian film music than for himself.//

    We can be happy that, India is winning an Oscar or GG (as ARR himself said he is contributing the award for billion people of India), but we certainly cannot be proud and happy that “Indian Music” has been recognized and awarded. It is just POP songs with Hindi lyrics have been recognized, not even a pinch of nativity in those songs are BGMs. Very Very far from heart and soul. This is what we are projecting to the world as Indian Music is, which is a pity and dissapointment.

    Sorry for interruption, but could not resist, Hial Music Genius Ilaiyaraaja, who is gift from God to us in Billion years. Nobody can ever dare to achieve what he has done (rather than our body, ask all our souls which will tell you how they love his music, it is just a feeling which cannot be expressed in words).

    Thanks enjoy listening HIS music…


  9. I dont think the characterisation that IR is motivated purely by art and Rahman purely by money is accurate, atleast in my humble opinion. Raaja does care for money and recognition. Rahman also cares for money and recognition. Also, Rahman is not completely focussed on making money. He really likes to create novel soundscapes, albeit using loops/collaborators etc. He just loves what he is doing and I dont think without this sort of involvement he would be this successful.
    IMHO, Rahman is not a genius in the same league as IR. Please check wikipedia for the definition of a genius and IR has all the traits of it (including the weird behavior 🙂 )

  10. Raj,

    Thanks for these elaborate posts 🙂 Will come back after WE get to read more comments on these.
    BTW Enakku intha Blog template maatha theriyaathu. Lemme tweak around and make it better for your eyes.

  11. Vanakkam Vijayan & Kiru…Will reply soon

  12. Agree with some, disagree with some and liked reading the comments of Raj.
    Still assimilating and formulating :p

    Do you mean POP as in pop proper or “POP” (in quotes, as in popular contemporary music)??

  13. Raj,

    But I am willing to call Rahman a genius because I cannot deny that he is able to link to certain musical styles like Sufi, Bhangra, thumris in a way that IR wouldnt want to or cannot.

    I think Rahman is a genius POP musician.

    First time Iam listening to this ‘genius POP musician’ nice coinage and hope Iam fine with it. 🙂 Dont forget to keep adding that Tag always otherwise if we are going say Raaja is a genius and Rahman is also a genius, we wont know where we stand.

    Apart from this your other point I’ve quoted above regarding him linking with the north indian style of music is not a prerequisite for a genius. A genius is one whose mind is ahead of its time and have a deeper understanding of the domain in which the person works. Raaja is definitely ahead of his time like an Karlmarx,Einstein or Bharathiyaar. Its people like these who propel the evolution of mankind and its Culture/Arts etc., to the next step with a quantum leap, completely avoiding any intermediaries – which would have taken few more decades/centuries for the mankind to evolve and arrive to that point.

    Raaja took the cue from ‘Salida’ (Who was a genius in his own right) Expanded the vision and broke all barriers to take that giant leap in music. Rahman on the other hand was a product of his time. Though in Indian context his music sounded new, it was just a replica of what the western POP musicians were doing, good quality sound recording, usage of loops and softwares, catchy phrases…If Dr.Alban composes ‘Mata oh a eh’ with a loop Rahman uses the same loop to compose ‘Mukkala Mukkabala’. …Ok Iam getting tired of this line of arguement!

    Tell me as a genius what was his contribution ‘Musically’ to advance the Art form? Even as a ‘Genius Pop musician’ he has not contributed anything to that Art (thinking of Raaja now and his contributions as a POP composer…Getting goose pimples). The only thing Rahman does brilliantly is picking musical forms and sounds from various world parts and integrating them into his compositions. Integrating in the sense that..It all stands alone with their own identities never transforming from their roots to a blossoming flower or a plant. Every sound/Music form he picks will be shouting out loud for attention…inga paaru Jazz, inga paaru celtic, inga paaru spanish, inga paaru hindustani. (Goudamani joke- tho inga poosu, inga poosu :))
    Alternatively whatever musical forms/sounds that Raaja had picked up from around the world will be seamlessly blended into the music and you wont even identify it in the first listen unless you are a keen observer/listener who is hell bent on finding out that magic. Same applies for his BGM in the movies: Rahman- loud and clear, Raaja – subtle narrative. Now try listening to Raaja’s various songs in the perspective to find out what all musical forms he has explored and enriched those forms aswel taken the bold next step towards moulding the art into something new. I’ve found Irish/celtic, jazz, hip-hop, rock, spanish, chinese/mandarin, ghazals, African, middle east, Blues, reggae, rocknroll…what not?!! and never an average south Indian found his music alienated like ‘Rahman’s.

    Hence I like to call Raaja a Genius and Rahman a POP musician.

    I dont have problems with Rahman being money-minded.

    hey Me too personally no Problem. I’ve written that negating the points you put forward implying his humbleness/humility etc., And also in an attempt to understand why both Raaja’s and Rahman’s working styles and music are contrasting.

  14. As an afterthought just remembered from the pages of John scott who conducted Raaja’s RPO Symphony, that Raaja was hurt by some critiques that it is not at all symphony and hence he has withheld its release. The thought immediately struck me was ‘If Raaja composes a symphony how can that be anymore a ‘Symphony’? it will be the next stage of ‘Symphony’ enriching it with Indian musical idioms and advancing it 🙂 thavul, naayanam ellam irunthirukkum, too bad that Raaja’s ego was hurt and he has withheld its release 😦

  15. “Raaja was hurt by some critiques that it is not at all symphony and hence he has withheld its release” – If this is true that is very regrettable. I wonder why rAjA, who insists everywhere that music is beyond classification and other such constructs, would be upset by someone stating that this wasnt a symphony (I understand of course that the tone of the criticism might be ‘instrumental’ to this reaction from him)?

    All this “genius/POP genius” classification has me very intrigued – prompting the line of thought below [ Bala has a very valid question Raj, on whether you are referring to the POP rock genre’ or if you are using POP as a reduction of popular music – I will assume the latter because I dont believe Rahman can be accurately classified as someone who composes in the POP rock genre’].

    Rahman, who has been hitherto described as a pop genius, is currently in the position to influence the nature of what has always been popular music in India – Film music. RAjA too had that privilege, though mostly only in the South Indian ethos, but the way they both have handled the opportunity was completely different. RAjA I dont think would ever alter his compositional vision “to keep up with the jones’s”. PulikEsi makes a valid, related point about the musical stylings being almost inseparable in their fusion. If I am permitted to feign an understanding of rAjA, I think it is because the man doesn’t compose to incorporate a certain style. As a certain result in the early nineties rAjA was falling into the same time-honored pitfall of becoming “uncool” – something that happened to MSV (the competition there being Hindi Film Music – until rAjA came along of course). RAjA was losing some of his (one could categorize as “wannabe cool”) young urban audience – A burgeoning demographic that Rahman fell in and understood.
    Rahman being acutely aware of this dynamic makes very certain that he will never be classified as the ‘dinosaur’. [Please understand I am not calling MSV/rAjA, dinosaurs. Just that this was the perception of the so called ‘Influentials’ (to borrow a term from “The Tipping Point”) much to their own loss.] He understands competition and the vagaries of the market. Baradwaj quite rightly points out that it was very opportune that this understanding could be coupled with the shrinking globe and transparency of/ availability of multiple influences. Rahman is consciously aware that he shapes India’s popular music and that with ‘ulagamayamAkkal’ if he isnt ahead of the curve (even if only by a small amount) that mantle will be wrested from him to be awarded to someone else [To his credit at least a lot of melodies are patently Indian]. I dont think rAjA cared and neither do I actually.

  16. compli,

    here is the link to ‘John Scott’ page

    The content from there:

    Mr. Scott,

    I think you are one of the best composers around & my mission now is to go out and get all your CDs. Please keep composing & keep releasing your music.

    The question I have is somewhat involving you and another person. I was thrilled when I heard that you were going to conduct the symphony for Mr. Ilayaraja from India when he was commissioned to write a symphony. Mr. Ilayaraja is my favorite Indian composer & I couldn’t believe my ears when I came to know another one of my favorite composers (you!) was going to conduct it. There was a huge celebration for him in India with all the top personality & you honoring Mr. Ilayaraja. This was shown in the tele & I was ecstatic to see you on stage. As you were being garlanded on stage, I also happened have your CD ‘John Scott’s Favorites’ gracing my glass cupboard with you in front. I so excitingly pointed out to my family members ‘there that’s him’ & they really couldn’t believe as well.

    But till now, this symphony has not been released & there hasn’t any news about it. I hope you can enlighten about its release & the work of Mr. Ilayaraja.


    Dear Anbu (Singapore),

    Thank you for your very kind comments. I am a very lucky person because I spend my life doing what I like, which is composing music.

    It was very interesting to hear that you witnessed the Ilayaraja honoring ceremony on TV. I was flown from London to Madras specially for it. It was an incredible experience and I shall never forget it. Ilayaraja and I became very close friends and I have tried to encourage him to get his symphony released. I believe he was hurt by a critics review, and this is the reason it has not been released. I had the privilege of conducting the recording sessions with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in London, and we all believe it deserves to be released. The trouble is that critics are capable of destroying sensitive artists and have done it throughout the history of music. The more one knows a piece of music the more one loves it, and the stupid critics are incapable of judging anything they have never heard before. They have seldom been right. There is a wonderful book by Nicolas Slonimsky entitled LEXICON OF MUSICAL INVECTIVE. It is a history of musical criticism since Beethoven’s time. It shows how the critics have crucified every great composer without exception! I will contact Illayaraja and tell him about your kind remarks and that he owes it to us all to make his symphony available.

    I send you my best wishes,
    Sd./ John Scott

  17. compli, vayya. Bala thambi, unakkum serthu solraen.Indha maadhiri jargon, term-dropping-lam pannina naan odi poyidvuaen 🙂

    I think both of you understood that I meant popular rather than a specific genre currently understood and classified as POP – enakku western music-la classical thavira veru edhum immi alavu kooda theriyadhu – classicalum immi alavu theriyadhu but atleast exposure irukku – so I will refrain from discussing at that level.

    compli, some points needd to be made
    1) Rahman currently has the pulse of the urban young audience. Doesnt mean he will not lose it forever. Time and tide waits for no man
    2) Rahman is roughly the age when IR was in his early stages in his TFM career. For him to reach IR’s current age, it will be 2032. Mind boggling to think what Rahman will be by then.
    3) I have put your point in very crude terms before – that IR if exposed to a new form of music, goes to it, internalises it and he himself doesnt know how it will show in its output. Rahman sits in his place, makes that form come to him and integrates consciously into his style. I think you made the same point in a different way. Of course, this means that he will be able to adapt better consciously. Fidelity to a form is not in his mission or vision statement. If we are talking fusion, I believe that IR will beat him hands down – fusing two forms, not losing the soul of either form and coming up with an exhilirating result – idhu rajavukku kai vandha kalai. Integrating two forms and coming up with an exhilirating result but not particularly catching the soul of either form – idhu rahman style. I cannot substantiate this technicallly because of my (lack of) musical knowledge.
    4) All the same, rajasaranam, I dont have qualms calling him a genius, POP genius, if you will. Because music ulla namma karainju poradhu oru style(Raja style)-na, idhu innoru style. Adhukkaga, Rahman verum pop composer-nu summa solli vidura alavukku Rahman mattam illai. Edho ondru irukkiradhu avaridam enbadhu en karuthu.
    5) understanding of films, understanding of emotions, pyschology – idhule ellam raja is the king. I have put this point in Baradwaj’s column space before. Raja scores to the psyche of the characters – Rahman scores to the generic mood of the scene. If Rahman is good at generic emotions (Bombay Riots poignant theme SDM-la use panni irundhalum difference illai, Latika love theme dil se-la use panni irundhalum difference illai), Raja is the king at having specif c subtle variations(Enge sellum indha paadhai, adhu andha Sethu situationku mattume porundhum – adhai thookki neenga Pithamagan-la poda mudiyadhu). But how the future generation would perceive this difference – they wont – they will simply see the music as a song or a piece of music – indha visuals illama endha emotion-kunu avanaga therinjikka vaippu illai. So one hand, my point that recording quality does not guarantee long term staying power of music is against Rahman, the fact that the specific emotions associated with his songs will eventually be forgotten and his songs will be evaluated stand-alone militates against Raja. Idhukku kaalam dhaan badhil sollanum

  18. Thanks RS. Who’s the dark voice? yAruda kurukka critic paNrathu! cha, moodE spoil paNrAngappA!

    But he does only say there was criticism, no indication as to the kind or type of it. However his general enthusiasm for the music seems to suggest that the criticism was hardly constructive.

  19. Compli,

    I took the privilege of interpreting the critic’s voice from these line of JS

    The more one knows a piece of music the more one loves it, and the stupid critics are incapable of judging anything they have never heard before.

    Never heard before…I think we wont find the symphony ‘surprising’ if at all it gets released. Raaja has prepared us well for his style of integrating any two unrelated musical forms.

  20. raj,

    4. Etho onnu illatha manushan intha olagathila yaaru?!! Oru academic interest thaan 😉
    Deva’va Verum Copycat composer’nnu yaen sollanum? Etho oru vishayam irukarathaala thaan 600 padam mela music pottu irukkaaru. Sila paadalgal kaetkkum bodhu ithu Raaja paattu thaano’nnu sandhega pada vaikravar avar. Aanalum naama avar ‘diss’ panrathu illaya.

    Ok Getting back to ARR, Raaja Thavirthu, matha ellarayum vida Siranthavar’ndrathula enakku entha sandhegamum illai. Rahman’a mattam thatta… sari vaendaam, aana intha alavukku pugazh avarukku isai mattumae koduthu irukka illa avaroda PRO matrum ‘marketing skills’kkum athula pangu irukka?

    5.Ummm… To be thought about situation, But I think he will be judged by the generic songs like ‘Love’, ‘Pathos’ etc., and his most of the situational based songs will be forgotten. But There will be always his non-film albums for the future generations to know his greatness.

    Apdiyae santhadi Saakkul BR blog’la oru periya poruppa thooki vechuteenga 😐 Delhi varaikkum Oor sutha vechathu Pathalaiyaa 😀

  21. RS, pinnne oru oru poruppukkum adhukku thakka aasami kidaikkanum illaiya?
    Naan, compli, ellam Rajavai pathi blog comments ezhudhuvom, blog ezhudhuvom(naan adhu kooda pannadhillai), aanal oru dhavam maadhiri eduthu pottu seyya ungalai maadhiri varuma 🙂
    Idhuve kamal pathina vishayama irundha thambi bala(karthik) kitte solluvom.
    Innikku enakku therinju raja-vukku irukkara oru theevira thondar neenga dhaan. Adhanaala dhaan
    But idhu vandhu Raja familyoda cooperation thevai padugira vishayma – ange dhaan enakku nambikkai illai. I dont think KR, YSR have as much commitment to their fatehr as you have and therein lies the tragedy

  22. I always think of this analogy when I am comparing Rahman with Raja or some of the earlier greats.

    My analogy is with the current digital photography. There are two ways to get a final output of a photo. One is to go to that place, be there at that time and click the photo. Then do some color corrections and stuff like that but don’t add anything which was never there in your shot.

    The other way is to take a shot wherever you want. Then take a scenery or two from another photo or from some stock photo library, stitch it with the photo you have taken and come out with an attractive print.

    If both these type of photographs are for sale, the buyer is going to buy the one which appeals to him / her the most. They wouldn’t care much whether the photo was as originally taken by one photographer or it is made up of some original part and multiple added on parts (bought legally, lets say). I don’t think you can blame the buyer for the choice here. The problem comes when you claim that the person who uses Adode adroitly to stitch together these photos as a great photographer. It is very different from saying that a photograph is attractive and saying that person is a great photographer in this digital age.

    As long as this distinction is clear, I don’t have a problem. There are multiple excuses given, ‘this was inspiration’, ‘only beat is copied, tune is original’, ‘it is commercially available’ etc. I have no issues here. The only thing that amuses me is that a person with average photographic skills and wonderful Adobe skills is being termed something like ‘Ansel Adams of Andimapatti’ 🙂

    I still remember listen to the prelude to ‘Hello My Dear Ethirkatchi’ and exclaiming, “Wow. This guy knows his English music. This sounds so very authentic”. Only to be told later that it was authentic because it WAS English music. I have been very appreciate more than once only to be disappointed to learn the source was somewhere else. That is when this photography analogy came to my mind.

    Infact copying a whole song is much better since we can immediately point it out when we hear the original. In these cases of cut and paste you cannot do that since multiple sources may be involved and there are multiple exit routes. Sometimes I wish that along with the long list of credits given, the modern music directors will also tell us where the loops and samples were sourced from. Then it becomes easy to evaluate the contribution of the music director to the song.


  23. Suresh, if that digital photo is a valid art item of consumption, then, IMO, the best digital photographer who can think of combining the building blocks in unique ways qualifies to be a genius – comparing him with the painter of old school or a spontaneous photographer is not required.
    I am a Raja fan(atic, even) so I dont give same respect to others but like i said in tfmpage, I can “understand” and “get” that Rahman is a genius – I am just unable to feel so. That doesnt take anything away from Rahman – I dont want to detract anything from him just because I dont “feel” his genius. I can comprehend it.
    kashtama irukku explain panna – I hope you can get me

  24. Plum,

    I get what you are saying. My contention is not about the final product for consumption. I am fine with it. If a person can create a final digital photo which is appreciated and loved by many people, there is no issue. But my problem is when you call him a good photographer. If you tell me that he is a good digital graphic artist, then I will fully agree. To me the problem is that I do not have all the information to evaluate whether a person is a digital artist or he/she is a conventional photographer since all digital artists of today pose as if they are conventional photographers.

    Let me reiterate what I said. I have no issues on the final product or about calling someone a genius. But what genius is the question? Genius Digital artist or a genius photographer? I would vote for the former and not the later. As with you, I believe Rahman is a genius when I take him to be an artist who can combine various building blocks and give a very palatable dish to the audience. He knows what will sound good and what will be catchy. Whereas if I think of him as a composer and listen to his music, I cannot think of him as a genius.


  25. Agree with you fully. The question is who is calling him a genius photographer. His fans. Even there fans who understand music better will not say that – example, Baradwaj Rangan, he appreciates Rahman and considers him genius but always makes that distinction between IR and him. Rangan is one step beyond me in that he seems to be able to enjoy albums like Dilli-6, which I am not. Maybe knowledge of 80’s pop and rock helps there, I dont know. So maybe he does feel Rahman’s digital photography genius. I am not able to but still I see some of the output like Swades, Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, and I am forced to agree that Rahman has it. If he focusses on conventional music, I do think he can do it not to the level of IR but in the same hemisphere :-). Kangalal Kaidhu Sei is an example. Chinmayee’s humming in the first interlude is godly and as conventional a tool as you can use. A man who can do that cannot be less than a genius. IR is a greater genius-nu sollalam. Aanal, as an IR fan, enakku adhai solla vendiya avasiyam thonalai. Adhai solvadhu kooda insecurity pola thondrugiradhu and oru IR fan-ku insecurity tehvai illai. This is an artist who will live for centuries. You know it. I know it. There is no opinion or conjecture about it. Adhu fact.

  26. ada che, goose is naan dhaan. Oru oru siteku oru oru peru vechadhu thappa pochu

  27. Hi Plum(p) Goose 🙂

    Agree with you on what you say. Honestly I haven’t heard Kangalal Kaidu Sei. I will hear it soon. Any good music is worth it.

    Whenever I hear Rahman’s ‘conventional’ music, I am reminded of MSV’s music. Infact the more I listen to Rahman’s melodious number the more I respect MSV !!! Will write in detail later.

    In many cases when it concerns rock and pop I also enjoy it. Unfortunately I am more oriented to rock and somehow our Indian Rock doesn’t make too much of an impression. I listened to Dilli 6. A nice album but I thought it was overpraised by his fans.

  28. Agree. Rock On nu oru kandraavi album kuduthuttu idhu dhaan rock-nu oruthan inge mumbaila kuduthaan. Sagikkalai. Idhaiyellaam epdi thaan rasikkarangalo
    OTOH, some western rock stuff (I dont remember names) given by some friends really strikes chords. Enna ezhavo 🙂

  29. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100089276

    “When I did RojA most Indian film music was very traditional… Indian folk or classical based. It was very regional. A lot of young people were listening to their own music . bands.. arabic music. They were moving away from film music. So I thought why not compose music like what they were listening to in films…”

    “”When I made music for ROJA I was certain it would be my first and last work. The prevalent sound of the time was so typical. I had no hope. Not many people believed that much could be achieved without the dholak and harmonium.”

    The first quote effectively reveals what pages of discussions would reveal.
    That, gentlemen is the primary difference and this point has already been touched upon by RS.
    However, where i differ from RS and Suresh is that it doesn’t just end there. Rahman’s music is not only and always about sound – it’s primarily that but trust the man to come up with a great score even if you burn his studio and leave only a violin and a dholak :p
    I think both differ in their priorities. I believe its down to their personalities. I reject the notion that Rahman is driven just/only by money (not implying for a minute that doing so is ‘wrong’ in the first place). IMO he is smarter and more pragmatic when it comes to money, fame and reach. adhu thappu illa nu nenaikkaren.

    However, the second quote sounds like a little brother of Raaja’s condescension :p Namma aalu “pop-corn” music nu dismiss pannitrundhaaple, ippo Rahman has reduced it to dholak/harmonium 🙂 Or am i putting word into mouths?

    “Hello Mr Edhirkatchi” is copied from which song?

  30. Compli wrote:
    “PulikEsi makes a valid, related point about the musical stylings being almost inseparable in their fusion”

    Exactly. Many of the people in their early mid-20s have this notion that Raaja never
    (a) Experimented
    (b) fused different genres in his music
    (c) used western music (seriously!)
    Why, even many die-hard Raaja fans (who are not exposed to other musical styles) will claim “Raaja’s songs touch our souls. He doesn’t need to use new sounds, genres. His table and tune are enough” etc…
    This is so because when Raaja does music, it intrinsically has the Raaja stamp. His unique style. The man might have bordered on being repetitive and stagnated (his recent music suffers from this only for the shackles to be broken by one killer album or two) but his music is Raaja style.
    Raaja paatula mettukku etha madhiri thamizh vaarthaigal “ukkaarum”. Genre edhuva irundhaalum adha pathi edhuvume theriyama irukkaravanukku adhu oru Raaja thamizh paatta dhaan theriyum. I’m not sure if its a conscious attempt or if it happens so naturally to him. I prefer to think its the latter.
    Anjali albutha eduthukkuvom. How do you classify it? Its not rock (another popular misconception – paatula electric guitar irundhaale namma makkal hard rock, heavy metal-ndruvainga, trumpet, sax irundhaale jazz-niduvainga). Its not how pop sounded those days. Actually elements of ‘rock’, ‘pop’, ‘rap’, WCM might be there but the song will have the primary identity of a Raaja song. Going back to Anjali, all the songs have similar arrangements but they don’t sound the same. The drumming is uniquely Raaja-ish, bass lines reminding us of funk, trumpets giving the grandeur, female(?)/children in chorus giving harmony and the main tune/melody having the certain rootedness. This typifies the atypical Raaja.
    He never uses constipated (j/k) vocals which might well be from Turkey, Broadway or a London undergrouns bhangra/reggae scene.
    Vijay Antony-nu nenaikkaren, a decent composer (i think the ‘job’ of an MD is grossly iunderrated), ippo oru padathula oru paattu. A contemporary song, with contemporary sound. For all it matters, one would think he is in a bar somewhere in the west. Lyrics mattum dhaan tamil and adhulayum the constipated pronunciations and intonation. Please don’t get me wrong here – i’m talking only from a musical angle here and not from a Tamil-culture-protectionist view. Well, nothing wrong even if he did but thats what makes him what he is, musically. For Raaja, its not so much about conforming to a genre/style as much as ‘experimenting’ with the style while still churning out the song in his Raaja style.
    Delhi 6 – I think its got some wonderful songs (loved Masakali, Dil Gira and to a lesser extent Rehna Tu) and musically its got staggering variety. While Rahman would have wanted Rehna Tu, to sound like a lazy relaxed song with Sting-like vocals, Raaja would have treated it differently. The first quote in the previous post gives better context to all the genre/style discussions, while Raaja sees Bach’s concerto as Hamsadhwani….

    RS put it in a good analogy- film-music relationship vs product-consumer relationship. Thats the reason Raaja is untouched in the realm of BGMs.

  31. Raj,
    DevD songs ketteengala? Pramadhama potrukkaan Amit Trivedi

  32. “Rahman would have wanted Rehna Tu, to sound like a lazy relaxed song with Sting-like vocals, Raaja would have treated it differently”
    I think i messed up conveying what i meant. Basically, Rehna Tu sounds like a Sting song (interestingly, it has both old-world and new-world Sting sounds) – being true to the genre/style/mood. “Jilleeeeeeenu oru kaadhal” exemplifies this. Compare this with “Korangu Kayyil Maalai”.

    Whatever i have mentioned till now – i look at these as just differences. I may prefer one over the other but i’m ok if a Rahman fan prefers his signature. However, i have strong opinions on the aspect i’m going to dwell on now – Context, rootedness.

    “Valayappatti thavile thavile” – After the raaga changing sequence, the singer ends a line with “bus eri”. Dunno if you can get what im referring to and hence let me give another example – “Yaaro yaaro di”
    The two songs in general and the “bus eri” in particular – there is no freakin way it should have found its way into a Thamizh film (again, not the protectionist context but rather the context of musical relevance). No wonder many of his Tamil songs fit like a glove when dubbed in to Hindi. a pan-Indian sound or whatever. This aspect surfaces often in Rahman’s rerecording. High pitched middle-eastern, sufi or Hindustani vocals where it has no business.
    (Appo WCM mattum eppadi Thamizh naattu gramathula varum-nu kekkalaam. I don’t have an articulate reply to that. idhellam explain panna mudiyadhu, feel pannanum.. Maybe about the Raaja stamp).
    The worst grouse is that these songs are supposed to be Tamil folk!!!!

  33. I stumbled upon this post by Shaji today validating many of the earlier interviews of ARR that I have quoted from my memory.

    ARRahman: from RKShekar to Oscar

    Just for the academic interest 😉

    This is what he had to say about his entry into the world of film music: “I am not sure why I accepted the offer to do ‘Roja’ film. A fee of Rs.25,000/- was fixed. I could make this amount in 3 days doing advertisement jingles. I might have been attracted by the opportunity to work with Mani Ratnam. For Roja When I placed a bouquet of tunes to choose from, he rejected tunes with overtones of other composers and chose only the tunes that sang my uniqueness.”

    He later commented: “Composing music for jingles created awareness in me about the precision in music. In the few seconds given to us we have to create a mood and convey a message as well. Jingles taught me discipline in music.”

    Even though Dileep formally trained in music, he did not want to enter the music industry. His ambition was to become an Electronics Engineer. He had said: “I was not fanatically involved with music. I was more interested in technology. When I was a child, I had regarded music only as my father’s daily work which fed us. I was not particularly excited about it.”

    BTW that was a well written article on the father-son duo. I’ve listened to ‘Chotta muthal’ from Pazhasiraaja earlier just to know how were the songs composed then, as Raaja is composing for the new ‘Pazhasiraaja’. That song by RKS instantly hooked up into me and tune is embedded though I listened to it just once. Today After reading this article I am going to revisit the songs of Pazhasiraaja from HERE

  34. 1) Who is the first MD whose pictures were printed in the film ads?
    2) Who is the MD whose cut-out was placed in front of the theatre?
    3) Who is the MD whose earlier day cassettes had only his name on the covers?
    4) Who is the MD who scored songs which were written on himself?
    5) Who is the MD who scored songs which talked about his relatives/native places?
    6) Who is the MD whose favorite younger generation MDs are his relatives?
    7) Who is the MD who hates awards, but still collects them by sending some others, without refusing them?
    8) Who is the first Tamil MD who, rightfully, fought for the copyright of the songs he scored?
    9) Who is the MD who gave interviews to every person who carried a pen and paper at the launch of a major non-filmy work?
    10) Who is the MD who doesn’t like publicity?

    Parthi.nv, A big big fan of Ilaiyaraaja.

  35. Bala (or is it Karthik?) 🙂

    Well, I am not implying that Rahman cannot create outside of the sound. All I was saying is that he borrows a lot of sound / music from the western world (or what generally people say as ‘commercially available stuff’). I am sure he will compose only with a violin and a dholak. But going by the evidence till date, I don’t think those compositions will be very ‘different’. Infact if I were to take only the tunes of Rahman, I definitely would consider those to inferior to those given by masters like MSV. So if you take out the ‘sound’ from Rahman’s music as it exists today, you will not find much of a soul behind. (As usual there will be exceptions but on the whole, from just a tune perspective, I would any day rate MSV or KVM far ahead of Rahman). I am trying not to bring in Raja here 🙂

    Not ‘Hello My Dear Edirkatchi’ on the whole but the prelude, which attracted me to the song was taken from the OST of the movie ‘Firm’.


  36. parthi,

    the sarcasm is very obvious 🙂 thanks for stopping by

  37. http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20090221/914/ten-rohit-bal-for-rahman-at-the-oscars-o.html

    Hmmm…Just thinking of Raaja who would wear a dhoti and roam around like a ‘fakir’ never caring about his attire to impress to others. Even when he wears the jacket/suit while visiting european countries it seems only to avoid cold.

  38. Appo WCM mattum eppadi Thamizh naattu gramathula varum-nu kekkalaam. I don’t have an articulate reply to that. idhellam explain panna mudiyadhu, feel pannanum.. Maybe about the Raaja stamp

    Hmmm..Reply irukku ithukkum 🙂

  39. //the sarcasm is very obvious thanks for stopping by//

    This is all what you are going to say?

    It doesn’t bother me when you say Ilaiyaraaja’s music is far superior than Rahman’s. But when you talk about other aspects of their personalities, Ilaiyaraaja will be in the down side most of the times.

  40. shabba..mudiyalai. I have to learn to control the urge to reply to the likes of Parthi.

    I missed the later part of this discussion.
    Bala(K), lot of what you say is similar to what I have thought and posted before. That pan-Indian sound thingy fo ARR and rajasaranam’s point on fusion being smooth .

    Clearly, ARR scores for moods, IR scores for Characters. The former will always have the advantage of being generic therefore usable for any slight variation of a generic emotion. IR’s score is for those slight variations – ange dhaan he is unbeatable. To indisputably prove this, we must produce a Punjabi movie and offer it to IR. I have no doubts he will adapt and produce authentic punjabi music. Maa Ganga bhajan – now, isnt that north Indian?

  41. RS, nice article link. Rahman clearly says he is more inclined towards tech than music. Clearly, the difference between IR and ARR lies here. I think this is what IR is saying when he says “people should not mistake what ARR does for music”. I dont think he is being patronizing there – he is merely pointing the difference in approach. Music is God-nu ninaikkaravan, technology-kku avlo importance kudukkamattan. Product is mukkiyam and technology aids in the product-nu ninaikkravan is pushing music to second priority.

  42. raj,
    Pulikesi said Rahman is a publicity seeker. I said Ilaiyaraaja too is not a saint. If you want to sweep the facts under the carpet, it is fine with me.

    //likes of Parthi.//

    Btw, you’ve read just two comments of mine and you’ve already sorted me out!! Great 🙂

  43. oru paanai sotrukku oru soru padham. Idhai naan edhukku inge ippo solraen? Never mind
    RS< thanks for changing the background colours. Romba vasadhiya irukku padikka ippo – aanal post dhaan poda maatengareenga. Pin Naveenathuvam, Oosi nvinathuvamnavadhu podalamla 🙂

  44. raj,
    Emakku thozhil Raajavin Isai kaettu kidappathey, pathivu ezhuthuvathalla 🙂

    But, Yes Iam thinking of posting something about manythings, but time is always a culprit. Next week you can expect me to post something new here.


    If you cant understand the difference between mere fans satisfying actions and publicity/marketing actions…what else can be done other than to ignore you.
    Just contemplate on this…Had Raaja been a media savvy, Publicity seeking, marketing guru..He would’ve reached more than where Rahman is today. If you cant see that, So Be It!

  45. I know nobody has changed their stance arguing anything. I just wanted to state my point as you’ve done. Any amount of argument will ever change me or you.

    Nobody is perfect is what I am trying to say. Not one man in the world. Ever.

    Did you read ‘O pakkakgal’ in this week’s Kumudam?

  46. Check out this article by Sadanand Menon. He is saying what Pulikesi has been saying here about Rahman’s influence being his own jingles and also what others have been mentioning about the ‘rootedness’ of Raja’s music. I would personally agree with his conclusion

  47. S.Suresh,
    Which article?

  48. Suresh,

    Thanks. I myself wanted to post that article link re-iterating what I had been saying based on my observations.


    I’ve read ‘Gnani’s Olarals. Thinking of writing an elaborate reply.

  49. I’ve recently been reading quite a few articles, blogs, posts, comparisons between ARR and Ilaiyaraja… using their contrasting styles of composition as a means to compare which of the two is better… but in very crude terms… as if one must rule over the other… Someone actually went so far as to claim that ARR was a genius for POP music compositions, but IRR is a true film music genius. After having recently watched Ilaiyaraja compliment and applaud Rahman’s achievements, and having watched Rahman send an important message to all tamil film music lovers – to not compare in so vile and violent a manner, I was inspired to respond:

    Genius pop musicians, genius classical musicians, genius ghazal musicians…. ah yes… if you ask Jagjit singh, he would tell you that IR and ARR are both nothing, one comes from a jingle world, another comes from an equally deprived film music world… and their music lacks the substance and quality of his ghazals…

    Need I go on… these vain comparisons are everywhere and abound… but the entirity of these arguements and these comparisons are focused on the very thing that is so aptly put in “Life of Pi.”

    “There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they percieve a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astounding. Their resolve is frightening. These people fail to realise that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside.”

    These comparisons are the very same fodder of foolishness.

    I have heard often that when, after a sudden spark, Illaiyaraja pens a magnificient composition, writing fluidly in a magical moment where the perfection of all the possibilities for the song – infact, the original composition that Illaiyaraja concieves in his head, as he begins to note it down, to place it on paper… in that very act the composition changes, until he is left with something majestically different. And he cannot say for certain which composition was the better one. The one that was in his head, or the one that is now on paper.

    And when, roused by the power of the composition, people have asked Ilaiyaraja the secret to his alchemy… he would most often point upwards onto heaven… for he himself knew not the contours of this divine power.

    When Rahman is asked about his genius, he atributes all glory to God.

    Harris Jeyaraj once mentioned in an interview that sometimes he gets the uncanny feeling that the most part of concieving a composition is actually within the period of “waiting”… for that moment where a revelation is given onto the composer by a higher force. That it is indeed an act of listening, of recieving. Not creating.

    So, the genius that lies in any great composer, is not even his to own.

    Yet here you are, adding thickness to the illusion.

    Infact, for the most part if you catch a composer at an honest moment – no matter the manner in which he composes (Illayaraja is reputed to write the entire song through a single insight, and Rahman is reputed for his experimental and embracive nature), any composer will tell you that his gift is something that he cannot take credit for.

    That is, until the advent of ego. That part of humanity that wants to own, despite all evidences to the contrary. This is why Illayaraja is also known for having fought with a filmmaker or two over why a film was a mega-blockbuster hit. He insisted that it was his music that made the film what it is, and the director would insist that it was his vision.

    The truth is, all such sparks of creativity was not theirs…

    And creative people, artists who have truly meditated over their gift will attest to this. They will tell you that the more they try to own it, the more they will lose it. The more they leave themselves open, the greater the sparks of genius.

    Ilaiyaraja leaves himself open by different means to ARR, 0ther than that their genius lies only in their surrender onto God. Rahman prays before, during, after every composition, every day. He is acutely aware of what I am speaking of, as is Ilaiyaraja.

    An erstwhile film journalist recounted his own experience when he once went to interview Iaiyaraja:

    “He invited me into his room at Prasad Recording Studio (in Kodambakkam, in central Madras). It is a bare room, with just one straw mat to sit on and piles of the special, personalised notepaper Raja uses to compose on.

    “After sitting cross legged on the floor for a bit, he suddenly got up and switched off the airconditioner – in August, mind you, when it is hottest in Madras. Then he sat, in the lotus posture, eyes closed, while I sweltered in the heat of that enclosed room. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and in his trademark soft voice, said, ‘The best music can be heard in the sounds of silence’, and then closed his eyes again to listen some more…”

    A passage, “In his short life, Mozart created over 600 masterpieces. Because he was peerless in his accomplisments, like Michelangelo, many in his time claimed his treasured music to be divinely inspired, the voice of God.

    “People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me,” he once explained. “Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not studied over and over.”

    “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. ” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

    So, then, are you arguing and comparing who is more capable of love? Rahman or Raja? This does not seem silly to you?

  50. Pingback: All Credit to God « The Revolution is Within

  51. Need I go on… these vain comparisons are everywhere and abound… but the entirity of these arguements and these comparisons are focused on the very thing that is so aptly put in “Life of Pi.”

    “There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they percieve a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astounding. Their resolve is frightening. These people fail to realise that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside.”

    These comparisons are the very same fodder of foolishness.

    Very contradicting indeed! the passage between the first revelation and the last statement defies the purpose of not to make comparisons. Pondering over the text in the passage, it clearly indicates the comparisons being made by the perceptions and notions that one ‘explanatory system’ has created over another kind of ‘explanatory system’ which has been created by the others and tries to drive home a point of ‘worthlessness’ of the others system and commands them to look inside not outside according to their system. huh.
    Words are very tricky indeed and these slips are bound to happen when we are living in the world of words. Foolishness yes – but what else do you and me are doing here. You call me a ‘fool’
    comparing your understanding over something. I dare to call Rahman incompetent in comparison to Raaja. So what. You have the choice of either proving me wrong with reasonable ‘words’ or get into the textual jargons of ‘Advaitha’ spewing venom or simply sitback looking within yourself and meditate. You post because you want to say something. The moment you say something it becomes contrived from what this cosmos is really about. But we perform exactly in this continuum with no other choice. So lets Debate and get it over.

    “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. ” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

    So, then, are you arguing and comparing who is more capable of love? Rahman or Raja? This does not seem silly to you?

    Does it seem silly to you when someone says my moms food tastes better than any other food because of love? Does it seem silly to you when a women appeals more in showering their love on us and we feel blessed – ‘comparing’ with other loveless souls or womens who did not appeal to us? If yes, so be it for you.

    Yet you wont understand the comparisons dwelling deep inside you… Why Mozart? why not Salieri?
    Why Rahman’s composition are a study material for you? why not ‘Deva’s? How silly is it to write about Rahman’s genius while ignoring the genius of Deva?

    So, the genius that lies in any great composer, is not even his to own.
    Yet here you are, like fools, adding thickness to the illusion.

    Why do you add ‘Great’ before the composer word here? Why cant ‘he’ be a composer alone? or a Genius alone? With who else did you compare to call them ‘Great’ ?
    So what if the revelation to the genius great composer ‘Sirpi’ came from multiple resources in ‘Ullaththai AllithA’, Which illusion of yours is stopping you from recognizing it? The same illusion is stopping me to recognize Rahman in the same lines of Raaja as a genius. Period.

  52. Note; I know I took my time, and several posts, to reply to you… but I really like to think over a topic, really muse over it, so that it is fully considered in several ways. I feel I learn a lot by taking that approach in life… anyway, I’ve collected all my replies into one for you:

    Good point about mom’s food being better than any other food because of the love within it. By which, you mean to say that anyone’s attributing genius, or measure of genius onto another, will always be a subjective enterprise… it can never be a scientific undertaking. In other words, genius shall always only be a matter of opinion – this is where your point leads.

    I, for one, look to the sparks of genius, and indeed, Ullathai Allitha would have been a work of genius by Sirpi if it wasn’t for the fact that the songs were lifted off some hindi and arabic albums/soundtracks. But then, rather than that, let’s consider “Malare Mounama” by Vidyasagar… which to my knowledge is an original work (relatively speaking – for what is truly original?) – and therein lies the point…

    During a writing seminar the keynote speaker, Billy Marshall Stoneking so succinctly expressed that “Where the work’s origins intersect with the artist’s origins, it produces that extraordinary and timeless freshness we so clumsily refer to as ORIGIN-ALITY.”

    Bearing this in mind, what becomes uproariously evident is that anyone who strives to create art with integrity, with genuineness and an unbending passion, will surely have sparks of originality.

    For this very reason, I do not denounce any artist, any creator… I focus on the work much more than I focus on the artist… because in the end the artist is merely a vessel and it is God who is creating the art.

    For this very reason, it is always better to be open, embracing, and be ready to find genius in the most surprising of places.

    What you are doing rather, is being so hell-bent on building a fort around what you call classy artwork, that you are infact locking yourself in.

    Or in other words, so adamant to believe that only mother’s cooking is best, that suddenly its no longer about love – but about fanaticism.

    For in, essence, your claim is simply that God works only through Illaiyaraja. For some reason, God cannot come through anyone else, cannot create art in any other way… no one else is open enough… is that so? Or is it that you have blinders on, possibly?

    The Genius is God’s. You cannot call Illaiyaraja a genius for being more open (which, at the most, is all he is doing). The word, genius, is in fact misleading when it is considered in those terms, for it is discrediting the actual source of inspiration.

    Your second point that was also very valid was the question of why I am chosing to devote my time to certain composers over others… especially after talking about not comparing, by what measure am I choosing? That very question is integral.

    Seeing as art is an all-encompassing medium… the most illuminating answer would first come from me explaining why I chose my favourite writers… Which, funnily enough, inevitably is a result of my favourite books…

    The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
    Lion of Macedon & Dark Prince – David Gemmell
    Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett
    Perfume – Patrick Suskind
    Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
    Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
    Illusions – Richard Bach
    Starseed Transmissions – Ken Carey
    Red Dwarf & Better Than Life – Grant Naylor
    Timeline – Michael Crichton
    Siva – Ramesh Menon
    Life of Pi – Yann Martel

    I am bringing this up for specific reason – I do not like all works by any of these writers. I am not fanatical about any of them. I try to view creativity with a discerning eye, practicing the art of recognising hidden gems, of moments of ephiphany bountifully captured… Of the ghost of a magnificent idea manifesting in the art of a sculptor… Who lets his hands work without his mind’s interference… Of mediumistic storytelling, tribal, intrinsic, heartfelt – with precision and flair. These sorts of works do not happen often. Not often at all. They are hard to find. And I cannot say that any of these writers get it right every time.

    But every now and then, they come upon a brilliant seed of an idea, and they bring it to perfection… And each time even they admit that their work is one of inspiration, not creation. I cannot tell you this is an objective process – I am not certain that it is… But I have certainly studied the guidelines of how to tell a powerful story, of the inner struggle the writer himself must go through in order to tell it.

    The writers repeatedly reveal to you, that their characters have a life of their own, that their characters act on their own… And the role of the writer is very much as a medium.

    Which is remarkably parallel to what composers tell you… Or painters tell you… I loved Satanic Verses, the book was laced with a hallucinatory perfection, yet Salman Rushdie’s other books didn’t have that powerful an effect on me. Some people say that Midnights Children was their favourite, that very well may be – yes, favouritism is a subjective enterprise.

    But that’s my entire point! A person who truly recognises that his selection of art is a learning, evolving process, doesn’t stop to block, to lock himself up into a barrage of close-mindedness. Declaring some poor fellow a genius, and lacing his footsteps with petals, all the while forgetting to explore what else is out there in the world.

    I gave a list of favourites… That list grows with time. With time, I add new authors to the list. And as to comparing between them, that is often a case of comparing apples with oranges. And just because I like apples better doesn’t mean oranges are of any lesser value! I recognise this! And again, if I am writing to question you now, it is for this very thing – because this entire thread has been about your need to devalue oranges in order to give high standing to apples. You seem to need to claim that Rahman is somehow lesser than Raja in order to feel that you are not blaspheming. It certainly bears all the signs of textbook fantaticism.

    From my earliest memories to my youth, Ilaiyaraja, and yes, Deva, even less frequest composers such as Hamselekha, dominated my love for Tamil film songs. Even so, even then, the song came first. The song took priority. And as I counted my most favourite tamil songs, I found that nearly 90 percent of them were songs by Ilaiyaraja. So, I loved him for it. Even then, the song still came first. I didn’t get blinded by that love as to create a new religion.

    And because the song came before the composer, when Rahman’s Roja, Gentlemen and Thiruda Thiruda were released, the song blew me away. Only then did I notice Rahman. And I can understand that some people felt it was a matter of loyalty, of allegience. Which, is what I call silly. Just as I call religious wars silly. The time tested term needs to be applied: Unity in Diversity.

    Then there are those who claim in vain attempts at rationalism that they simply do not like the “sound” of Rahman. Which suddenly reminds me of a very wise move by a member of a tamil music appreciation online group… After months, nay years of fighting between two staunchly opposed sides in the group, one vehemently standing by Ilaiyaraja, weapons poised, and others in strike pose by Rahman’s side… A member of the group said (and I am paraphrasing), “Ok, both sides have been fighting about which composer is better for some time now. But you know what, I am sure that all Ilaiyaraja lovers still like a few songs by Rahman, and all Rahman lovers still like some songs by Raja, so why don’t we all share which songs of the other composer we like?” What followed was a long list of one side appreciating the other. Ha ha, would it be ironic to say it was a stroke of genius without being misunderstood?

    So, yes, if you want to compare, then compare, but not crudely, not violently, imagining that you are somehow being politically correct by calling Rahman some pop music genius… Instead, better to run for politics and convince people that indian slums don’t actually exist. If you want to compare, then compare, but do it as objectively as possible, without needing to feel guilty that you owe your idol a special pedestal – you will see clearer that way.

    Refering to a statement you made in an earlier post,

    “Hell I care Because I know ‘Raaja is getting paid for composing music, which is his passion’ and ‘Rahman is composing music for getting paid’ which is his passion’. Music is means for Rahman to make money, if not music he would have become an ‘Electronics Engineer’ to make the same money. Come what may and if the whole life & world had been against ‘Raaja’ He would have become a composer in Tamil films. “

    This is exactly the kind of bias I am talking about. Suddenly if a man is a recluse he is humble, and if he is in the limelight, he is capitalistic? That is your criteria? Take a good look around you, remove the blinders. There are hundreds of examples the world over that reveal that this is not at all the case whatsoever. That people are reclusive for reasons that have nothing to do with their view on making money. Director Shankar is one of the most commercial-minded directors (and very successful at it) that you will find – and yet he stayed out of the limelight till it came time to promote Sivaji. On the other hand, someone like Daniel Day Lewis actually goes into reclusiveness because of his need to investigate his own life through introspection – but, again, this is not always the case – and not always the reason. It is pure immaturity to stereotypically categorise reclusiveness and showmanship. But then again, you have made your biases very clear. What remains amusing is that you seem certain that you are somehow being objective about your prejudices.

    Robert DeNiro, as was told by Shurtleff, does not give interviews because it is an ability he was never very good at, he had little to no interest in self-promotion. Yet does that make him somehow more humble? People who personally know Rahman express time and time again that he is the humblest person they have ever met in the Tamil Film Industry. There are documentations of Illaiyaraja fighting with film producers and directors, claiming that his songs makes or breaks any film (it is not up for debate if that is true or not, what is integral is that it definetely shows no humility).

    Yet, again, what you have done, is taken only what you wanted to hear, and disregarded the rest. Bad decisions are made that way. Illusions are created that way. What you have is prejudice, you cannot even call it opinion. Opinions are formed after considering all the evidence, impartially.

    But what is curious is that you NEED for Ilaiyaraja to be the King – you cannot be at peace without it. You need him to be a virtuous, honorable man, and you NEED in comparison, for others to lack any integrity as a human. You needed it, so you created a story to suit it. Otherwise, you would have noticed the very very obvious;

    “I can never forget a line of Rahman’s, which he said to me while at his studio, “I’ve decided that whatever goes from here has to be good”. He said it with neither arrogance nor extreme confidence. It was just so very simply said just as a decision he took and that single sentence made me understand A.R’s greatness, more than his music itself. I have known many including myself who said, thought, and wished the same, but with the exception of A.R I have yet to meet a single man who practiced it and continues to practice it.” – Ram Gopal Varma on Rahman (And this guy has actually met him. Read most of the articles of people who have met Rahman – you will be surprised).

    So, the question actually is, where are you imagining up these conclusions on Rahman? Actually, that’s rhetorical – it’s clear you haven’t given Rahman much of a chance to begin with. As for me, I love them both just the same, Rahman, Raja, like my two eyes.

    Oh here’s another one from Ram Gopal Varma (he has worked with both Rahman and Ilaiyaraja);

    “Also, A.R is the only artiste I have met who does not have creative arrogance. I mean that he never defends his work if it were to be criticized. He was recording The spirit of Rangeela theme in Chennai while I was shooting in Mumbai. When he sent the track to me I didn’t like it, at first hearing. Not just me but the entire unit didn’t. I called A.R and told him that it was not working. Without a second’s pause he said he will work out something else, and this he said after having worked on the track for more than a week.

    As I was playing the spirit theme in my car over and over again, at some moment it hit me like a thunder bolt, and I told him that I must have been out of my mind not to have liked it in the first place. He smiled and said “I knew you would like it eventually”.

    I am not saying that Rahman is more humble than Raja, or has more integrity than Raja… I find them to be different people. As a human being, it is better to have the sensibility to see the differences in people and appreciate it…

    On the whole, what this reminds me of is this; say you have a best friend who’s started a small business, and the business is thriving, and as a genuine well-wisher you are very happy for him… then one day a competitor for the same business opens shop accross the street and your friend’s business stops doing so well… then what happens? Then even if your friend doesn’t mind the competitor, as a well-wisher of your friend you will start cursing the new competitor… you will hold ill-will towards him, imagine all sorts of nonsense about him, and be utterly unwilling to consider him as a person. This is how you are behaving.

  53. Oh, and one last (but not least) obvious contradiction in your arguments: Raja has been often cited to say, and even Karthik Raja has mentioned this about his father, that his father is fed up of the kind of music he is constantly asked to create. To quote;

    “Dad wants to explore music in a deeper sense. I know that he feels restricted here in India. His ability and his talent are restricted to people running around the trees, fighting the villain, and getting married. The directors who come to him don’t know what he is about. “Sir, could you give us a teasing song? We want a dance number.” That is not music. That is just commercial business, which dad labels as ‘plastic music’. Use-and-throw stuff!” – Karthik Raja.

    The only difference really is, Rahman got the opportunity to explore his music with less restrictions overseas – and this freedom came about by a carefully decided approach to his career. However, the point here is, Raja is bending to the will of the directors and making stuff which he calls “use and throw” stuff, creating music that doesn’t give him satisfaction… And for what? For money. Yet, somehow, you have imagined up some valour in his actions, yet cannot attribute the same valour to Rahman – why is this? Do you have any valid reason at all? Honestly think about it – it is simply your NEED to believe it, and truth be damned if it gets in the way. I’m sorry, that attitude is not valuable by any standard, not to you, nor to me. It will not help us evolve, it will not feed our awareness.

    If you did some research you will see the careful method in which Rahman made sure that he had the freedom to constantly explore new avenues (which a creative person constantly needs), and decided at several points in his career to accept a new challenge overseas. Disgruntled by this, you call him a capitalist. Likehow some muslims call non-muslims infidels. It is a thoughtless stance.

  54. vajrakrishna, great!! You put it so well. I agree with you on majority of the points. Well done.

  55. manickam,singapore

    no debate that rahman is genius, n no meaning to compare ghambir with kapil,or gavaskar…

    basic fact i felt is… rahman fully merged n used to western which have been already achieved by elvis,jackson….so on… (thats y he recognised by western)..the hard thing is to export our culture,food n music…if it is possible that is success.globalsing is success to americans… let the countries, cultures be independent…if all one…then nothing is interest…

  56. bragadish, USA

    Vajrakrishna –
    Excellent. Very well articulated to shut both ends. Listen to whatever music pleases you, let music be the winner, not their messengers.

  57. This post has made my day. Out of all Raja vs Rahman posts, this post( + comments) is what I like.
    @Pulakesi : Those are the same thoughts on Rahman from my side. He is not that ultra ‘humble’ as he is perceived by his fans.
    The only thing that differentiates between IR and ARR is ARR thinks in a very grand way. IR was contemplating to start a school, but he didn’t still.
    And ARR after waiting for so long ” ….that some one would start a music school…” he has already started it. In Music, of course I’m on IR’s side.
    Mind you – I’m born in ARR’s era and i’m just above 20.
    @Suresh.S: what heck! I got the same analogy too.
    I also have a different analogy for both.
    Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Alva Edison. Nikola Tesla is a pure genius but had very bad public, business skills. Thomas Alva Edison had lot of patents, most of them by trial and error, had lots of money, excellent public skills, so on and so on.
    Just that engineering students like Nikola Tesla and School students like Thomas Alva Edison.
    @Vajkrishna: Your responses are amazing. You must be more engulfed by your God & Altruism. God – an imaginary entity for me and Altruism – It doesn’t exist — according to me.
    Poor IR – what would he do, if people coming to him ask for such stupid music and he thinks about creating different music? The least he could do is to shout at the film people. One should imagine how this guy can composed over 4000 songs on pen and paper. For that he has to stay at chennai always. He doesn’t know to do a remote composing via internet. He has to synchronise 100 over musicians sounds. Each and Every day – without any rest. And I guess, no body would have tolerated all this except IR. In that toleration, he might loose temper – but I think is a very very tiny bit.
    Ilayaraja – You are the reason why I understand Love and Happiness. No other thing has taught me that. Being a hyper ultra individualist I’m – I always doubted that Love exist. It exists . Thanks to you.

  58. Please add this line to my previous comment.
    @Pulikesi: I agree with you on IR completely scoring his music in his head and ARR ‘collecting’ music from his musicians. Is that one of the reasons why ARR credits his musicians and IR doesn’t? Other reason may be the number of musicians who play for both.

    IR forces musicians to deliver what he has completely written where as ARR asks his musicians to play whatever they like and stores some of them for future use. Of course in the first case, one has to be strict like a teacher and in the second case, the person is regarded as friendly and ‘humble’.

  59. Also have you replied to Shaaji’s article?
    I’m a non Tamil, so If you did, I need translation. Thanks. 😉

  60. bragadish, USA

    “…all these humbleness, humility has a ulterior motive behind – ‘Making Money’ & ‘Making More Money’. Connect this with ARR’s misunderstanding with Farah khan during ‘OSO’. Every action of his oozes out of this Greed to be in limelight and make money…”

    @Pulikesi – see for yourself what your Ilayaraaja has to say about music being business

    FRONTLINE : What is your view about music?

    Ilaiyaraaja : To me, music is nothing but fraud. The moment you play all the seven notes, music is completed. Then going on repeating it – in different permutations and combinations – is nothing short of cheating. The person who successfully cheats a large audience for an extended period is called the “big” composer. Genuine music, to me,is the one which has no purpose. It should be as natural and as purposeless as the flow of the river. I have a purpose in creating my music. The purpose is business. Saint Thyagaraja sang songs to attain God. So even he had a purpose for his music. At least, he never sold his music. But take a farmer for instance. While ploughing, he spurts into a crescendo of music with no purpose. That is true music.

    Both IR and ARR or whoever needs money. Period. IMHO, it appears to me IR needed more as we can see the number of movies he did. Hope this educates you a bit… Do not worship IR or ARR, they are not GOD. They are GOD’s messenger of music and simply enjoy it from whoever it is.

  61. Astithan,

    Doubt in the existence of God is a wonderful thing. I personally believe one should test everything out for himself or herself and never follow the crowd blindly just because everyone else agrees with each other. The entire world has been wrong several times over.

    What grabs me in this case, as I mentioned previously, is that so many wonderful musicians and artists – when they are fully immersed in their work – they later express in awe that they felt they were not the creators of this work. That the “spark of genius” is a moment they wait for… a moment of communion. It exists more as a source of amazement for them than a source of belief or faith.

    I’ve been exploring art and how artists work for a long time, especially seeing as I’ve also been aspiring as a writer and composer. One of the things some wonderful artists agree on is that real art happens when you “step out of the way” and let your subconscious – or superconscious – speak through you. Real art happens when you don’t allow your mind to interfere, when you don’t resort to some kind of formulaic response. That’s when real originality is born.

    I tested this out, and only after personally experiencing the same did I come to understand what they were speaking about. This is why Illaiyaraja points to God, why Rahman points to God… I think it is more out of experential understanding in a “creative force” than it is out of socially imposed belief.

    My favourite quote is this:
    “Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, even though they have
    been held in honor for many generations and in diverse places.
    Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.
    Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.
    Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself
    that a God inspires you.
    Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.
    After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to
    be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.” – Buddha.

    I try to follow this principle daily. There is an intrinsic universality to it’s truth.

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