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I am sharing a rather unnoticed gem of Raaja’s from the 90s, Kai Veenaiyai, from ‘Vietnam Colony’ in 1994. The film is more famous for the rip roaring comedy track with Gounder and Prabhu today. However, this is the title song and the entire number doesn’t feature in the film. It is a music teacher teaching kids to sing as the credits roll and the film moves on to the narrative halfway through the song. The full song’s youtube without the video is attached here. It is a semi classical song in the raga Hamir Kalyani. The raga is a janyam (derivative) of Kalyani and its beauty is in its avarOhaNam (descent, i.e. the usual Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa) with two Madhyamams (most ragas have only one madhyamam, i.e. Ma in Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni). The beauty is accentuated by the fact that the two Madhyamams follow each other in the descent. For a nice picture on the raga, head here: http://www.ragasurabhi.com/carnatic-music/raga/raga–hamir-kalyani.html

This song, a musician’s benediction towards Saraswati, the Goddess of music, as she teaches her wards, was Bombay Jayashree’s second wind in film music (was given songs by MSV in ‘ThambadhigaL’, 1987). The lyrics of Vaali closely mirror the theme along with invoking bhakti via Meera and Krishna. The song typically begins with a swarasthanam in the raga and the beauty is again in the descent at ri ga ri ri ga ma ga ga. The pallavi is a beautiful composition, invoking the Vaani with Veena in her hands. The kids chorus is driven by the narrative for there are kids learning. Jayashree touches the high octaves at vaa kaNmaNi and as you wonder for justice to be done to the Goddess invoked, it comes through the lovely usage of veena in the first interlude. The composition gets more beautiful with a flute and the song pretty much stays true to Indian Classical Music (ICM) and is monophonic, i.e. coming one tune at a time as opposed to the often polyphonic (contrapuntal or counterpoint) scores in Western Classical Music (WCM) that IR has filled his works with and the complexity in ICM lies in the melody being sung, as is the case here, than in the orchestration.

The charanam proves itself worthy of ICM, being beautiful in tune and the gamakams, variations in a note or sangathis, drive home the intricacies of singing a raga and Jayashree is razor sharp. The குழையல் at thaayE and the final ascent at varangaL thArAyO is the cherry on the cake and a semi-classical comes a full circle quite beautifully. The second interlude has more beauty in store with the veena and flute continuing their monophonic passage in Hamir Kalyani leading to the second charanam where more of Jayashree and the intricate travel with the song takes us floating.

What a beautiful song!

Audio Link: http://www.raaga.com/play/?id=266525

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