Wed, 11 Dec, 2019

‘Music could end violence’

In his mesmerizing masterclass session, veteran musician and composer Ilaiyaraaja elaborated on why the film industry as well as the society needs music

28th November 2019, 02:11 Hrs


If a wild white elephant were to invade the Dinanath Mangueshkar auditorium at Kala Academy on Wednesday evening, it would have got tamed. Or if there were candles around, they may have instantly got lit.

Such was the emotion, the frenzy and aura in the 900-seater auditorium packed to its capacity and overflowing when composer, maestro, arranger, director and India’s own legend of rhythm Illaiyaraaja walked in and delivered his masterclass on the quintessential element in cinema -- music.

Indeed, the legend lent the golden 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India its first glitter on its eighth day.

Moderated by director R Balki the ‘Masterclass’ mesmerised every living organism in the auditorium as Illaiyaraaja acceded to requests and conducted his orchestra to render some of his famed film scores. And, with his intermittent pearls of musical wisdom, the maestro broke down what music in cinema means or does to audiences by simply saying: “It (music) draws the viewer to films.”

The highlight of the nearly 90-minute session, however, was Illaiyaraaja accepting Balki’s challenge to compose a background score for a scene from his next film in the making, extempore.

Balki narrated the scene: A son returns home and walks up to murder his father.

What happened onstage next was astounding: Illaiyaraaja did to music composing what T-20 did to cricket.

In flat four minutes, the maestro composed a tune, discussed and arranged it with his orchestra, which on rehearsing it a couple of times, rendered it to ear-shattering applause from the packed-to-capacity crowd.

It was a lullaby in the maestro’s unique, soul stirring style to underline the message of the film scene’s victim (father) to his own son (the murderer). In the maestro’s own words, he thought of the lullaby to signify the father’s thoughts when he sees his son approaching him to murder him: “I sang you a lullaby for peace when you were little.”

Music, Illaiyaraaja said in the course of his conversation with Balki, is meant to lift you up to a different level, high up above the earth, in the clouds and beyond. At another point in the 90-minute thrilling experience, he said music is not meant to heal but to just let you be what you have to or are meant to be.

“It’s not to heal you. It’s to let you be,” Illaiyaraaja said to a poser from a member of the audience who wanted to know from the maestro what is it in his music that at times makes worked up and distressed people, heal.

In the end, the man who has composed music for well over a thousand films, has been voted in a BBC poll at number 9 in a list of 10 all time great music composers of the world and has won countless awards including India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padmavibhusan, signed off by advocating music be made compulsory in curriculae from school to post-graduate levels across the country.

“It will simply reduce and end violence.”      

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