Sunday, December 26, 2010

God in disguise

Bengaluru climate is beautiful and responsible for giving me a bad cold and sore throat. Haven't sung in ages!! Well, that's an exaggeration :) Today morning I was standing outside in my garden area talking to a friend about my New Year plans and suddenly an old man walks in smiling brightly. He spoke so softly that all I could make out was 'someone learns music in this house' and I nodded. Ya, obviously, anything to do with music in my house can be related only with me as I am the sole musician at home :)Anyways, the man self-invited himself to the sopanam and made himself comfortable . Both my aunties who love talking about the puranas and vedas and Hindu mythology were very happy to start a conversation with him. He is supposedly a dance teacher and the moment he knew about my training in dance he started to shoot questions like what does 'bharat' mean in Bharatnatyam and the like. I instantly got reminded of my school days when I used to be asked about some dry cell in Physics when I was day dreaming big time!! After a series KBC-type questions (except that there was no crores involved in this one), I gave up requesting him to pass on the knowledge he has. Very happily he told me how Hanuman happens to be the God of music and how Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge. He went on and on and then he told something that is so vital for everyone to know. What is destined to us will only come to us and even the Gods won't be able to stop it from happening. He spoke so wisely about the Geeta and about how he perceives it to be a conversation between Sanjeya and Dritharastra . His eyes were blue and glowing with knowledge and experience and most important- confidence. He said that whatever we say, if in our mind we feel we are right, is in a way right for the ones who listen to us. But then it is for the listener to analyze it later.

Long time back when my granny was going back to Bombay after her short stay with us in Muscat my mother was nervous of leaving her alone. At the airport there was some impediment about her visa or something and there was this man who appeared from nowhere who sorted out everything in a snap that afterwards when we looked for him to thank... he was gone...just like that. That day my mom said she had witnessed God. It's such a beautiful, enlightening feeling to meet such random people who make a mark within us, teaching us, being there for us in the best and worst of situations.

Funny thing was he didn't want to hear me sing or didn't ask me about how much I have studied. The old man said he will visit us soon as if letting me know that he will come when he wants me to know something. I always believe that there is a reason as to why such things happen. I just watched him go away knowing that I will be meeting him when I need to.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The reason why I believe I stand out

Back after a 4 day trip to Chennai and Bangalore that seemed like 4 months. While I recorded 4 tracks and went bolti bandh in Chennai ..It was a smashing experience jamming with the Carnatic fusion band Agam at Kyra. Now that I am back, was settling into starting my regular practice again. As I was brushing through my notes I came across this torn page from the Chicken Soup, god knows how it landed up there, which was very thought provoking. So I decided to share it in the blog cos it really opened my eyes. I am a big-time Chicken Soup fan and have read the series several times when I felt pressure in school. This one begins with a quote by A.L.Kitselman that says
the words "I am ..." are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you're claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.

Majority have ridiculed me when I used to confront their question of 'What are you exactly doing apart from music?' with 'this is it’. I don't know what it was but t'was quite funny to see people listening to and watching every possible musical shows on the Radio and TV but not being able to digest it as a profession. Anyhow, I have no other choice but to stick to music as sadly this was the only field that brought out the best in me and kept me happiest. But in today's day and age where necessities have been overstepped by luxury, money becomes the vital reason as to why people opt for safer, dignified (according to society) options. And the fact is you're not going to be happy in a place where you're forced to fit in.

Excerpt from the Chicken Soup:

I am an architect : I've built a solid foundation; and each year I go to that school I add another floor of wisdom and knowledge.

I am a scientist : Each day that passes by, I gather new data, make important observations, and experiment with new concepts and ideas.

I am a doctor: I heal those who turn to me for consultation and advice, and I bring out the vitality in those who seem lifeless.

I am a lawyer: I'm not afraid to stand up for the inevitable and basic rights of myself and all others.

I am a mathematician: making sure I conquer each one of my problems with correct solutions.

I am a jury member: judging others and their situations only after I've heard and understood the entire story.

I am a banker: Others share their trust and values with me and never lose interest.

I am a mountain climber: Slowly but surely I am making my way to the top.

P.S. Don't try to fit in when you're meant to stand out. Be proud of what you are even if you flip burgers for a living.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hindustani Concert at the Soorya Festival in 'Jalsa Ghar'

A once in a lifetime opportunity they say. For me, it was just my mother's dream. I remember every time we walked into the Al Falej , where the Muscat chapter of Soorya Festival happens, my mother will always tell me about how she keeps dreaming of me performing one day in that stage. Well, eventually I did perform regularly there but as part of various other shows. I guess I was destined to be a part of the Kerala chapter. When Moorthy sir called me to be a part of a major event that was going to be choreographed by some of the best musicians and dancers I was way too excited. Unfortunately that never materialized for reasons I am still not sure about! But immediately after that event was over... Moorthy sir asked me if I am willing to perform for the Jalsa Ghar. It was too good to be true. Do you really have a lot of Moorthys walking around giving options to talented artists about what they want to perform? Well, Yeah!!! I was given an option of either doing a Ghazal sandhya or a Hindustani concert! November 19th 2010 is probably the date I've been repeating the most this year and funnily I didn't invite anyone!! Why? I was dead nervous and that actually ruined a little bit of my initial aalaps in Maru Bihag :) The only thing I missed was Moorthy sir's presence. He had to leave to Europe urgently and I couldn't get any positive one liners from him before the concert, which he usually does, that can weave magic on you and can also create an everlasting impression. I thank the whole Soorya family for making me feel at home and to my accompanying artists too. Retnasree was on the tabla who did a fab job and Nalin Moolji was on the harmonium. Sanitha was on the tanpura (special thanks to her) . Well, I guess my gurus blessings are always with me that help me get through with these opportunities in a painless manner. Last but not the least... A big hug to the audience who cared to criticize and appreciate me after the show.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Avial Gigs at Blore and Delhi

It all happened so soon that I myself got no time to think over the phone call. The moment Rex gave me a call I was too excited already..Thinking how I should go about it. Honestly I was not excited about performing for the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week but the whole adrenaline pump that was happening inside me was for the fact that I was finally getting to jam with one of my favorite bands AVIAL !! Well, like I have always believed... my work spoke for itself. Amidst the whole commercial music scene I was getting a little restless about the work I was being offered that too with hardly any remuneration. It's frustrating but fortunately the motivation to work harder never died in me. But today I have to accept that remaining focused is the most difficult job ever! Anyhow, the Blore Avial concert was at the NIMHANS organized by the KEA (Kerala Engineers Association). Right before the concert there was flower (pookalam) competition after which the concert took place. Audience was literally throwing flowers at Rex and Tony for their jamming... it was insane!!! I performed Karukara with Tony and did an old black and white track 'Garjat Barasat ' too.

Delhi ... my first time... reminded me of the clean Muscat. Pragati Maidan looked big and the sets inside for the Fashion week looked even grander. Those guys were just amazing with us. Everything from diet coke to beer to chicken rolls were available there and on the other side we had cranky models who were so tired that they could drop dead right there ! Our designer, though quite tiny in size, is quite intelligent especially when he told us about how he conceived the whole idea of getting a Kerala Band and influencing that culture in his designs too. Hats off to Varun Sardana! It was exciting as we also got to meet Karsh Kale whose pretty cool apart from being a fab musician. In fact he was performing with us on the same day but for a different designer. Nevertheless the experience was fantastic and I would like to thank Avial and everyone who gave this super big opportunity so early in my career !! Here is a glimpse of what we did for the Fashion Week ..I apologize for the poor audio quality though CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

Friday, October 1, 2010

Buck up India

Just read an interesting, essential mail today which is so apt for the present phase India is going through especially after the CWG mess and Ayodhya verdict and wotnot. The mail was by Dr. Abdul Kalam on how we all tend to react so negatively by just pointing fingers at each other. I am reiterating the fact that we hardly realize the amount of contributions we do as a citizen with voting rights. The blame game just goes on and we have journalists who are so good at instigating us to carry on with this blame game . Not blaming them but sometimes we really have to think. Think about if we are good enough to point fingers at others. I'll quote what the former President had to say

YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke. The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination.
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.

YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?

And he also said ,
Take a person on his way to Singapore . Give him a name - 'YOURS'. Give him a face - 'YOURS'. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are.. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity… In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai ... YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah.

He's said it all and I am sure that from tomorrow we are going to keep this in mind but never apply in our actions. We are the ones who ignite everything into flames.. everything from spitting on the road to ill treating our foreign tourists to bribing to disobeying traffic rules. You have to be the change you want to see. Buck up !!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote for the month

Happy Onam to all my lovely bloggers and blog readers !

"Your problem is never really your problem, Your reaction to the problem is really your problem"

After all it's our perception that defines our actions.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The other side of the coin

So many great men say great quotes and some do it very sarcastically ! All saved and thought for Independence day. Some went above my head and there were few others that made me think . One such a line was from Mr. Pritish Nandy who tweeted 'Innocent people are always the victims, irrespective of their faith, caste, status, gender.' I am the common man and hence giving my perception .

Every one conveniently calls the common man 'innocent'. Well, the real question is :
Is the man innocent cos he's deceived by policy makers who are chosen by him? OR
Is the man innocent because he is the victim due to divisions such as caste, religion .. that were made by the man himself !

Either ways ... both the routes that backfired on the man (which gave him the label of being an innocent) were chosen by him.

So now, who is actually the innocent one ?

1) The policy makers who knowingly fall prey to the votes of the 'innocent' man who cannot even make the right decision on who to trust and vote?

2) The terrorists who despite causing so much of negative impact were unsuccessful in instigating any peaceful measures yet!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fact and Fiction

Have lost complete touch with the Filmi world cos of prior, present and future commitments :) but of late have been able to catch up with some good movies especially animation. I watched the highly recommended ‘Toy Story 3' and 'How to train your dragon' and ended up wanting to own a pet dragon :) Well, the point is how every child is brought up learning that ogres, lions and dragons are monstrous and beasts and having to unlearn all of it after watching animated versions that portray them in the cutest way possible!!! After watching Ice age I fell in love with mammoths; Madagascar made me yearn to cuddle all the lions in the world and my latest addiction is - dragon!! I just realized, on a serious note, about how we classify everything as good and bad. It's all in the mind. Yep! Back to square one! Come to think of it... we all point finger, mimic and ridicule politicians 24/7 for the slightest wrong move when on the contrary...we are the ones who appointed them. Who should be whacked? If everything negative was probably animated in a cute, positive manner, would our perception change? Shrek made everyone love ogres. In fact, nowadays the concept of your *dream person* is more like an Ogre than that of a prince charming. All this because of a man who is creative in graphics! We all are born equal and good and it's situations that make us evil and bad. But everyone should be given that golden opportunity to change. Cos, we all have 2 options. Be happy with what you have, or try to create happiness through whatever possible way. Either ways, the point is in doing it by not ruining others life. On that note, I take my leave... Happy 64th Independence Day

*Vande Mataram*

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The ball's in your court!

Watched an interesting episode of 'Talking Point' on Rosebowl and the topic was 'Are we spoiling our kids with Gadgets'. The standard answer was 'No, if there is parental supervision'. I think it's all in the mind. To an extent when parents restrict their children from using the latest whatever-is-happening, it's very likely to see the kids using secret methods of satisfying their wants. I am referring to it as 'wants' as I still feel it's not a necessity. I lived 16 years of my life without gadgets and lived a happy, content life. Anyhow, most of the points raised in the debate were obvious such as video games having a negative impact such as addiction and also about women being harassed through hidden cameras, etc. Well, clearly that is the work of an evil mind. But, what about the majority?

In school I only did well in subjects I liked. In the rest, I performed quite badly. When I come to think about it now...I realize that I did well in those subjects because I liked studying them. I was never mechanical like how other students were ordered to do so by their parents. I have always heard about being in a good friends circle to enhance out personality and habits. But what matters at the end of it all is how you perceive things and how much control you have over your actions. It's easy to get intimidated but takes a while to get influenced. Again, that depends on how vulnerable you become.

When it comes to owning a cool gadget, it's quite natural to see one showing it off and treating it equivalent to the thing we are maximum possessive about, which is not wrong. As long as we know that it is only an equivalent and not a replacement we are on the safe side. If one really wants to spoil himself intentionally (i.e. after knowing it's negative after effects) then no one can stop him. Parental guidance and supervision can dominate only till the teenage period. After that, we all know, no one can control their dreams, ambitions, thoughts. So the best we can do is by letting them know the pros and cons and let them decide what their priority is. It's all in the mind people! It's your will power, determination, goals and your dreams that define you, your character and your life. So whether we have gadgets or no gadgets... what matters is our priority
Over instant excitement with long term negative results AND conscious understanding with long term positive results.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Trust defines relationships to an extent. Tolerance is the saturation point. It's hard to trust anyone just for the sake of them being a nice person. We humans have just lost faith in goodness and simplicity and honesty. Few days earlier, a leading actress had said that 'honesty is an underrated concept in Bollywood'. I think it's underrated everywhere. It's so hard to just trust someone for being plain honest. We never seem to realize their honesty and instead start doubting their skills. In today's world, it's considered to be 'politically correct' when you are dead honest about something. But honesty is like power. It comes with a responsibility. One must be honest and tolerant. I don't think it's nice to be frank to an extent where you end up hurting someone's feelings. It's important to convey the point by not presenting it in the raw form. Don't end up being a person who expects positive criticism when you can't speak up your mind. Don't make a bunch of insensitive friends who add up to more than your list of enemies. Honesty might not give you an invitation to the happening party of the week, or an entry to the coolest gang. But it can give you satisfaction for a lifetime...satisfaction to the extent of even healing fatal relationships to be the trusted one forever.

Everyone is a hypocrite. Not even one person could have spent their life without lying at least once in their life. So many times, when we are required to be polite, we end up being diplomatic - which is hypocrisy. In the Film industry, one can get to hear a lot of gossips, rumours, lies and deceiving truths. But I seldom get to appreciate those who do it on the face rather than being two faced. People clearly tend to forget about karma. What goes around comes around. That implies to all the good and bad things happening in our lives. In a lifetime, where we all want to live it to the fullest, we hardly get to enjoy vital moments of being true to someone, of being caring, of being a professional, of being an accountable citizen. What's life when you know you have hardly done anything satisfactory? When you are secretly plotting against your enemy, you pat yourself at the back for executing it successfully, you forget that He is already penning it down simultaneously and mailing it to ''. We all rely upon Him. If it wasn't for Him we would not be in pain. Nor would we have the strength to overcome the pain. If He made the mountains and the rivers and the flowers ... he also made quakes, floods and trees. Think of your purpose of being a part of this beautiful earth. You are here for making a difference. Don't be a spoil sport by happily ruining other's life by being judgmental. It's easy for one to point fingers at the politician for bribery, at the script writer for the failure of a film, at the rains for causing flood. But we are indirectly attributing to the failure of what we see around us. Bribery starts from you who are not patient to wait for time to solve your problems. A bad movie starts from you having a bad taste about the 'latest trend'. A flood starts with you polluting the environment, by wasting our natural resources. Like Shashi Tharoor once said : you have to be the change you want to see.

Quote for the month

Well, it's really not a quote but a tweet by @chetan_bhagat on behaviour. It goes like this :
If someone disagrees with someone's opinion, one can give a counter opinion. Tasteless, personal remarks not cool. (Not talking abt me)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder how politicians end up finding ways to cease development ! Strikes are never the solution to any problem. But then how else can one voice his opinion and make a point ? But on the other side you cannot afford to disrupt the lives of millions of others at the other side. So many people who have to be at the hospital, workplace have no other go. It's like adding fuel to the fire. It's even more surprising to see the ruling government hold a strike risking their chance of winning at the elections. But again, who cares? I used to love the strikes initially only because I hated to go to my language classes in college. Also, living a monotonous life for the first 17 years, having to lead a life full of surprises became interesting. You really never know if you'd end up doing what you have planned for. Strikes have to stop. It's not only disrupting lives but putting Kerala, known for 100% literacy, to shame.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quote for the month

We all are becoming intolerant and impatient day by day on the silliest of issues. No one ever realizes that tolerance may not give you reactions in a jiffy but definitely works in the long term. So here it goes :

First they ignore you,then they laugh at you,then they fight you,then you win -
M.K. Gandhi

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pappu - My Telugu Launch

The first time I ever attempted singing in Telugu was for Shyamaprasad sir's Ritu's Telugu version aka 'New'. Had a little tough time singing that as the language was new and was only my second playback. Surprisingly , destiny had other plans! At the time when Ritu had released a young composer, Phani Kalyan from Chennai had liked my demos and wanted to feature my voice in his debut album . But somehow that never materialized and all was forgotten about that project. Months later, he asked me if I would be comfortable recording a Telugu number for his debut film , I was not only surprised but taken aback by his nervousness as a composer. I was all game for it though the language barrier never occurred to me.

Recording in A.M.Studios is any singer's dream! Sitting in the office and underlining certain words and writing few alphabets in Malayalam was how the afternoon was spent. After taking little rest we began recording at around 6. It was a splendid experience for me to be experimenting with another language so soon! I never ever thought of doing a Telugu number so soon in my career. The song being a duet had made me curious to see who would be singing the male portions. Initially there was a plan of featuring a popular young singer..but nothing took off. Finally as luck has it, A.R.Rahman had introduced a Grospel singer, Alphonse through Aaromale! I was again blessed to have Alphonse sir as my duet partner in this film. A big thanks to Phani for making this happen and wishing him all the success for a bright musical career.

To listen to the track CLICK HERE.

P.S. The film's name is Pappu! You can check out it's poster here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quote for the month

"You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sivamani - in conversation with Neha Part 1

One of my most memorable works in Rosebowl and was nervous !!! Check it out

I loved his tips and most importantly the advice to all young musicians out there : Throw your ego away ! :)


Part 2:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quote for April

Vishu is approaching and I want to wish all of you a happy year ahead. This month's quote would be:

Don't be disappointed if the world refuses to help you. Einstein once said
" I am thankful to all those who said no. Because of them, I did it myself! "

One of the greatest lessons taught by my Guru, Ramesh sir was the process of self learning. It also instills upon one , discipline, to come face to face with the critic within you and to identify the creative you. You know you are on the right path when you realize the importance of what you need rather than what you want.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Television 'empowerment'

I read a thought provoking article in The Hindu today on how Television serials influence and 'empower' Indian women around the world. The reporter had mentioned on how women were not only entertained but even felt empowered watching serials which highlighted the weaknesses of the female community. Anyhow, out of my personal observation I realized a thing. I have two 60+ aunts who are totally into watching soaps. One aunt is addicted to Malu and Tamil-dubbed-into Malu serials and the other manages to watch Hindi and Malu soaps running at the same time. The poor remote suffers in the process but who cares? After all it's not going to make them feel empowered! The former is very creative. She loves poetry and writes a lot of good poetry and stories. I kept telling her to involve herself into such creativity rather than spending 4 hours in front of the TV increasing her blood pressure when the soap will end right at the time when the leading lady is about to give out the ‘secret’. But both my aunts would justify saying that all their lives they've been doing house chores, taking care of their grandchildren, serving everyone around them...that, the least bit of entertainment they could get was by watching these soaps. I could not understand what they felt. It was the Generation gap!

Then the reality shows happened. And they came like a pauper but ended up being the Kings of TRPs! They attracted every sector of the society. It was a full packed drama with dance, costumes and good music! What made me happy was that they took up the prime time of the daily soaps and reduced the prominence of Indian serials. It was a good trend until they ended up with reel, oops! I mean 'real' emotional stints! With emotional atyachaar going on everywhere, it became hard to decide if serials were a better pass time or the latter. No one benefits from all this except for the ones who run the channels.

Coming to my point: Audience has always adjusted to what the Television caters. Once upon a time Doordarshan aired good shows of which everyone became major fans. That crown was taken away by the commercial channels later on. It was more like a relay race with an unpredictable end. Just when I thought that reality shows are really going to get the leading ladies of Soaps end up jobless, Balika Vadhu happened. Whatever the television had catered, from good music to crying serials to dangerous games to swayamvars and the like, they have always managed to get above average levels of TRPs. So from this I understood that audience has always learnt to compromise with what they are spoon-fed with. Just like Political Parties. There is no party with the perfect ideology, or if any, being followed as per the rule book. We all (or at least me) go in for a compromise by voting for the better among the lot. Same way, when one ends up bored after doing whatever possible in their iphones and laptops he tends to adjust himself to what the Television provides. I feel that, like how good journalists attempt to provide literal news, Television must take up the responsibility of showing good shows. At the end of the say it caters to ever sector of the society from kids to grandpas. Few entertainment shows that are harmless can definitely be aired for not only Trps but also for a difference from the usual. YRF Television is doing a good job by providing some good, entertaining, harmless visual treats and reality shows like ‘Dance Indian Dance’ are some popular shows which highlight true talents .But soaps which claim to empower women must get realistic and realize the importance of educating the youth and the old. They must also show situations where a woman literally feels empowered instead of being put through a lie, instead of being put through an emotional, manipulative visual treat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Creator's eye, the height of enlightenment

Today I was fortunate enough to watch one of the upcoming film maker, Bobby Mana's short film. It is officially not released as such but I am blogging about it as I got to learn a few things today. He assists Shyamaprasad sir in his movies and I got to know him during 'Ritu'. I, my parents and Manoj (who had assisted Shyam sir in 'Ritu' but is a thorough IT professional) watched the film and then we were asked to convey whatever we felt after watching it. Obviously he was not expecting a 'good attempt' or a 'very intellectual idea' or any of those cliched comments. Honestly, I didn't understand the conclusion part. It was a little complicated or rather we Indians are too used to spoon fed movies. Even in a thriller when the lights go off and the heroine is frantically searching for a torch the cameras show every tiny little detail from the time she finds the torch to switching it on to clutching on to it showing her finger nails prominently. This too, I realized when Bobby pointed out how spoon fed our movies are. Where does it give us the time to think? To think about what happened when and why.. To think about something apart from the popcorn and sms-es we receive during the movie.

Except for Manoj the rest of us were blank. I told him very honestly, ashamed at my can't-figure-out-a-thing perception, that I din't get the conclusion which is actually the 'suspense'. Very patiently he explained the story and then asked us to watch it again. Keeping all the hints in mind as I watched it the second time I totally got what he wanted to convey. Later , Manoj and I were giving some critical feedback on the acting and few scenes we still could not connect with. As I was seriously complaining about a particular scene, Manoj was looking down as though admiring the earth beneath him was, with a smile, ridiculing him .When Bobby sensed the vibe and asked him about what he was thinking.. he replied something that inspired me to blog about this.

It is absolutely astounding to have a creator put in his imagination into practicality and it is another extreme to have the receptor analyzing only quarter of what the creator has portrayed. It's even more beautiful when you realize what you had missed and then get an opportunity to experience it once more... you cannot feel more enlightened than this. Creativity is like magic. I don't know how it produces or if it will last. But I know it's there. It's like an evidence without an evidence. It's the beauty of seeing through the creator's eye. That's exactly what I got to do today. With my perception I missed half of the fun and efforts he put behind the creation. Certain things in life are that way. We never realize it's beauty and we rarely see it through the other perception. Maybe if life was like watching a movie from the director's eye... things would have been much different. Definitely not for the worse.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quote for the month

Yesterday I had a shoot for one of the episodes of Nine at Night for Rosebowl. I got to have a conversation with Mr. Alphonse who is creating waves with his latest from Rahman's Vinnaithandi Varuvaya. Apart from being humble, talented and a spiritual person, his struggles ,despite a great entry as a composer through 'Vellithira' ,is worth a listen. His belief in God and constant hardwork without any distractions has inspired me in a way to ignore all the negativity that comes in my way. You must remember that the greatest critic of you is within you. And the Quote for the month is :

"Dreams and Dedication are a powerful combination."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The ignorance of meaningful perception

Maqbool Fida Hussain aka the Picasso of India is one of the most discussed topics of today especially after he accepted the Qatar citizenship. Though conferred upon him, the decision was completely his to accept it. In the past, Indian groups have gone against his art which according to him is freedom of expression and according to few others, obscene. But for me, perception from the eyes of many is what I have understood from many debates on the issue. Some call it 'Rape of Bharatmata, few others call it Naked Bharatmata or Bharatmata in Red. What caught my attention was her nudity. Why MF painted it that way is not a matter of concern. Whether he respects Bharatmata or any other woman is not an issue cos if we get into it we'll end up punishing majority of the men in the world (For eg: Aarushi Khanna, Ruchika case). But what should be discussed is if the art will affect the morals of the society and our Gen next.

I don't know what ‘freedom of expression’ is. This term sometimes justifies littering on roads and sometimes allows the rich to get away with crime, sometimes permits to create a scene in the middle of traffic and sometimes does justice by returning land to the deserving farmer. When MF's paintings were considered to have hurt Indians' sentiments I wondered where all these sentiments went when we indulge into war claiming to be true Gandhians. Where were the sentiments when we silently gave in to bribery? They were hibernating perhaps! Obscene Blue film posters are visible in so many areas in Trivandrum, yet everyone has time to point out only at the nudity of MF's paintings. Certainly he is at fault. But I don't believe in punishing one and letting the others get ignored.

Getting to my point, there are several temples in India which proudly show off our Cultural heritage. As a child, when in India for summer holidays, I loved to visit temples and listen to my Grandma put me to sleep with interesting, authentic, mythical stories of Indian Gods. There were many guides who explained the importance of each temple during such trips. Some temples belonged to the early era where artisans carved out certain Gods with just a single rock. In fact temples were born out of a single rock, etcetera. I always pondered upon why most of the women carvings had a bare chest. Being a big fan of Hindu mythology I have never come across anything such as the women walking around bare chested like the men. So I always found it weird to see such stark nakedness in such beautiful temples that were places of historical value and most importantly, of faith and worship. Some carvings were so erotic in nature that it used to irritate me to worship idols who were surrounded by such obscene art. When such art can be preserved, applauded, declared to promote Indian culture...I do not see any point in vandalizing Mr. Hussain's paintings. For a look at what I intended to say go here :

Kalidasan had once written about Goddess Parvathy in an erotic way for which he was criticized to the core. But we still treasure his other works and pass it on to the next generations though one of his most famous drama- Abhijnanashakuntalam has it's most pivotal scene changed at his convenience (The scene where King Dushyanta apparently forgets Shakuntala after returning back due to a curse is an imaginary addition by Kalidasan so that he could portray the main hero in a good light).

Let us not generalize and point fingers at who we feel is convenient to fall prey to our selected accusations. Let the 95 year old man live his life in peace and I certainly agree with him accepting the Qatar nationality. I wouldn't tolerate anyone vandalizing my art, no one would!

Here are few tweets from tweeters I had debated with:
@VineethJose- The carvings also have sculptures of gays , lesbians and people having sex with animals. Its all there since vedic ages.

@RahulEaswar- Dear Neha. Can u imagine a situation where Sri Hussain paints "Rape of Qatar", Naked Qatar Queen, Queen's affair with someone else

@crown_jk- Carvings made in ancient society was more moral.For them there was nothing wrong in nudity. Now time has passed.We are in 2010,those carvings are now symbols of IND civilization.Now nudity is considered as a crime,can we go & destroy carvings? No. But living in this society,MF made paintings which will hurt people who believe in Hindu religion and love motherland.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Rival

I discovered creativity the first time I ever realized the meaning of what music is. I still do not know how to define what music is or creativity is. I have always been bad at giving scientific explanation about terms and conditions that define our life. But what is more important is to experience it. Whenever I sit in front of my Guruji, unaware of my thoughts, he seems to react exactly the way I want him to. It was very hard for me initially to find out mistakes in me because I never came from a traditional musical family. No one can sing at home. But they have great sense of music. But it was still hard for me to imbibe certain aspects when I was on a competitive platform. I still am. But now it's different. Back then I was always trained to give more importance to the element of performance. Or in simple terms, to have the guts to get on stage and sing your heart out. I was a little girl of 9 when I first participated in a singing competition held at the Indian Social Club, Muscat. Unaware of the stiff competition I sang just the way my Guruji taught me. If he was happy, I was happy. When I started winning prizes year after year I realized how good I am at singing and though my parents kept emphasizing on the importance of performance I knew deep inside that I wanted to win. Not to justify my singing with the acceptance of a trophy with my name carved on it but to be able to wear a new dress and to shine with glory that I am a star among the other winners.

The element of fame has never ever been attractive to me. Because as I grew up, understood that getting a prize makes me happy but to work harder the next year to maintain my level made me feel responsible. Responsible to not only my parents or the judges or to a couple of well wishers but to my Guruji and to myself. I woke up and turned a new page of my chapter to learn that I need to give the same kind of quality whenever I perform.

I have been denied a prize several times. I have also been denied the eligibility of getting a prize several times. Has it made me angry? Yes, but only at that point of time. Later on I understood that how I can't imagine writing with my toes , certain people don't think I am good enough to be their fingers. Since then I learnt the art of forgiveness. It's so beautiful to forgive and very hard to forget. I can't get it out of my head. I then agreed that keeping such bad events in my mind will always make me a little more cautious the next time I take a step ahead.

Many people have inspired me to practice, to keep striving harder, to never lose hope and to never speak ill of anyone. At some point life made me realize the value of the talent I have been blessed with. It's a happy responsibility I have to live with for the rest of my life. To achieve certain things , practice is not all that is required , we need to also have the courage to face struggles. But then I felt at times that I am wasting all my energy in facing these struggles, then where is the time to practice? or to live life? The answer is in knowing who is blocking you. We ourselves decide who we want to block our paths. I know it's pretty appalling to read this but when we want to give in ourselves to struggle , struggle will always be after us. I don't want to get in depth about such a subject where I myself am experiencing it right now. But the key to get rid of all the pain, struggles, negativeness around you is to compete with yourself. You are your biggest competitor. You are the only one who can beat yourself to secure the King's throne. Don't leave things to lady luck or the almighty everytime cos each time you do that you are only going to become a couch potato. Look into yourself to realize your powers and make them work. It's all within us. When we compete with ourself, we never lose. Remember that and you'll realize how lucky you are to be breathing on this beautiful earth. When you realize about the biggest competitor within you , you will be able to face the opportunities in your life instead of calling it a struggle.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Few lessons learnt

Having a positive attitude helps a lot in overcoming stress, unwanted rumours/gossips about one self, tension ,etc. Over time I have met loads of people in my life where some have been extremely generous to me and some shrewd. But I have always felt that God does it on purpose so that we understand the value of relationships be it for the worse or otherwise. Anyhow, I wanted to write few quotes which came across my mind when I had to face such people/situations. Most of them have taught me a lesson in a good way and I would like to dedicate this post to them for opening my eyes!

I have decided to blog at least once a month on such quotes that enlightened my sense at such unexpected situations. Here we go ...

The reason why people talk behind your back is because you are ahead of them.

If you live to please others, no one will love you. What you get is only appreciation.

Make your anger so expensive that no one can afford it.

Feel free to share your favourite quotes too.. till then Ciao!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rosebowl on Youtube :)

It's absolutely amazing to work with Rosebowl. And now the good news is that the channel has it's music videos uploaded on YouTube :) Amazing isn't it?? Something you have to watch out for is Avial; Job, Charan and Yakzon; The Piano sessions with Stephen Devassi ... go ahead ..enjoy some awesomatic music !!!

The link

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Republic Day !!!

Happy Republic Day to all of you. Though I am still worried about the country's regard towards 26/11, Ruchika case and thousand such problems we can definitely be proud about the declaration of the Padma Bhushan awards..especially to the greatest legend ever, Mr. Illaiyaraja, most admired human being, Mr. A.R.Rahman and the one I consider a perfectionist, Mr. Aamir Khan. It's absolutely great to hear such a good news on the eve of the Republic Day! Let India keep producing such Khans and Rahmans :) and wishing Mother India a great year of environmental peace and tolerant humanity.

The above pic was sent by Dad through some forwarded mail. I found it very attractive and not too loud! Have uploaded few more .. check them out HERE.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ustad Dilshad Khan and Begum Parveen Sulthana

Wow !!! I never in my dreams thought that I could watch them live ! As Begum Parveen Sulthana said that the last time she and Ust. Dilshad Khan had come to perform in Kerala it was 20 years back when I must have been a tiny little foetus in my mother's womb! When they entered the open hall at the Kanakunnu Palace everyone started applauding out of respect. The commenced with Raag Yaman . They both sang a vilambit Khayal and a Dhrut Khayal followed by my favourite tarana in Raag Hamsadhwani composed by the Ustad himself.

The Open air concert was filled with claps when she sang it in ,what I feel is the 'echo' style. Here, a taan is sung in normal heavy voice and is imitated as it's own echo. I will speak to my Guruji and ask him if there is a definite term for such a kind of singing. So please excuse me if I have used a wrong term as such. Ustad Dilshad sang the right opposite of an echo. He produced the echo effect first and then sang it in the heavy tone. Mashallah!

Third presentation was in a rare raag known as 'Maluha Maand'. As Parveenji was explaining about the raag, Ustad interrupted by saying it's the marriage of a woman and a man. He then winked at her and the place was filled with mild laughter as though mocking him for teasing her at a serious discussion point. Such a jovial person. My mom was saying that a Guru should also have a jovial, fun loving side to enhance a student's relationship with the Guru. Ustad said that Maluha is a raag which has the features similiar to that of a man. Very dominant, bold ans strong. Whereas, Maand is more frivolous in nature and has a little bit of mischief! So the marriage/ combination of the raaga is 'Maluha Maand'. A beautiful Tarana in the same raag was also performed and there was this one line which was sung in persian language. At the end of the presentation of the raag the Ustad mentioned that tarana happens to mean 'love song' in Persian language. And that it is extremely important to incorporate atleast one line of the language in the tarana instead of only 'tabala bols'.

Soon after their second performance Pt. Ramesh Narayan felicitated them and the concert was also enlightened by the presence of carnatic vocalists, Mrs. Binni Krishnakumar and Mr. Krishnakumar and famous Cine Music Director, M. Jayachandran.

The concert was closed with two Meera bhajans. One of them was in Raag Misra Bhairavi! Beautifully rendered and Parveen Sulthanaji has always been my favourite female classical vocalist in Hindustani. I am glad I could be a part of this Festival.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dr. Gopalakrishnan on Astrology

The first time I ever knew about Dr. Gopalakrishnan was when my mom was reading out a sloka explained by him when I was around 10 or eleven. That time I couldn't remember his name but that sloka became a part of my life ever since. As I grew up she would tell me of how he used to speak about a lot of superstitions which were not bothered to be explained on scientific terms by a lot who belonged to the older generation. I keep wondering how no one ever wanted to know why we follow certain things as per tradition. One such a thing is doing the Ganapati Homam in a newly built house. It is actually done because the homam emits a lot of elements help in purifying the air and of course that will spread positivity in the atmosphere around us. Many such things were explained by him and I am a big fan of him. I have even prepared a list of things to ask in case I meet him somewhere!!

Just caught up with some awesomatic videos where Dr. Gopalakrishnan, Hon. Director of the IISH (Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage) was speaking in depth about Astrology. Such an eye opener! I absolutely believe in astrology as a science. But sadly somehow one thing leads to another and I get a little curious to find out what my stars have to say. As per the scientist astrology is all about the celestial constellation once we start breathing. Since astrology is predicted on the basis of the birth timing , there are four ways of considering it. One is when the baby's head is seen, second is when the whole baby is out of the womb, third is when the baby starts crying, fourth is when the baby is separated from the mother on cutting the umbilical chord. But Dr. Gopalakrishnan explains about the fifth and the most important way of considering the timing is when the sperm meets the egg which sadly cannot be recorded. Hence, this could be one of the problems as to why some horoscopes read the opposite of it's owner's life!

He explained in detail about the position of the earth, greenwich line, and how astrology is a science that can be proved. But what is appalling is that people don't really care about the science part but the predictions. Here, prediction , as the word suggests, is a 50-50 chance which explains why some things work as per the astrologer's say and some don't. Predictions cannot be explained scientifically and is not a part of scientific astrology.

Another interesting fact that the scientist mentioned was that some people study the subject only to prove it wrong, to challenge it or to insult it. One should study it for 2 purposes: To learn if it is scientific and second to see if it's useful in our life. Funnily, both don't have to compliment each other in all situations. Emotions, feelings, respect are unexplainable by science but are excessively used in our lives.

Please do not blindly believe in astrology and drive your life in the roads suggested by interpreters of the stars. Nothing can define your life more than your hard work and will power and your prayers. If you are still interested in having a peek at your future then what is best is to be happy about all the good things told about your life and to blame all the obstacles to the astrologer's reading or blame the nurse who took down your birth time ;) !!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jan 6th - The B'day Boy


The man who's made me think over and over again about one note.
The man who's made me think over and over again about the 7 notes.
The man who's made me think about m.u.s.i.c.

Happy Birthday to the Maestro, my inspiration, my first step to realizing c.r.e.a.t.i.v.i.t.y.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Media on sensational news

Wow.. 2 centuries !! My 201th post :) Watched a big debate on media hyping up sensational news. Well of course they have had their share of mistakes but there are few things I wanted to blog which was prominently spoken by the panelists of the debate. Media has played a very vital role and I do believe that they are the conscience of the society, the people. Cases like the Neelam Katara case, Jessica Lal , Aarushi's and even the Ruchika case would have not progressed this way if the media would not have reported in this manner. Their efforts are totally appreciated. But also in terms of getting into the depth of each case and the consequences of the adjacent angles have to be given equal or more importance. Like one of the panelists had mentioned, Rathore was definitely the centre of attraction in a bad way but after that every news update about the case had only been showing Rathore's politics and corruption. This is the point where the media can actually showcase the running of corruption happening among the police forces, politicians and the judiciary. It's so depressing. Girls are anyways not safe in any area how ever early or late hours of the day and if at all something bad happens no justice is done. I really wish the media could also emphasize on such material facts which could bring some sort of an enforcement of doing things in the right manner.. especially the system of law! Honestly my faith from the judiciary is totally blown away after the Ruchika case. It feels even more insecure and worries to see the gen next of women grow up in such an insecure environment.So *applause* for the media for everything they have done to provide justice !!!

Monday, January 4, 2010 tube to life

Listening to a lot of world music nowadays. I am incredibly thankful to Steve, Chad and Jawed for youtube , my source to majority of my collections. When my dad used to brag about his once-upon-a-times I really used to chuck it saying every gen next have their share of struggles. But this time literally , dil se, I totally agree with him cos of youtube. I mean what more could once ask from life??? I got some of the golden-est (really mean it !) of the golden classics to the most jazz-iest of the lot in any language !! Life's totally revolving around a click. This is where I support technology 100 x infinite times !! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chetan Bhagat should be given the credits

Feeling really bad for Chetan Bhagat cos of the whole '3 idiots' issue. Definitely the makers should be given credits for original 'screenplay/ script' and not for original 'story'.Infact I find the story modified and not recreated. Like Chetan highlighted at a live News talk , how can a film be given the credits of original story when it has been based on a hit seller book? Irrespective of Chetan being given his dues as per agreement it certainly is not ethical to be forward enough to take up the credits themself. Clearly 3 idiots is a lot different from Five.someone but the basic things like Raju moving over to Chatur's room, they splitting up, they stealing the papers, Raju trying to commit suicide, Raju's family conditions are interpreted in the movie just like in the book. This is the soul of the movie . I totally agree with Bhagat to fight for his moral rights and also he's being reasonable by asking for genuine compromise in terms of giving him the 3rd place in credits for the adaptation and not in terms of money. Sad is the state of writers who spend years for making a book like five.someone. Whether the credits are given or not I am still going to remain a big fan of his books and hope that the humour nevers dies out from his future works.

P.S.Got to watch 3 idiots 2 days back and one great work I say. Truly enjoyable though they included a lot of cliches.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome 2010 !!!

Late by two days I know!! but... HAPPY NEW YEAR !!! Well the first half of 2009 was pretty low for me. Silly predictions, zero results, bad bad health, dealing with intolerable problems attached to the college, University and their tantrums... it would be better to not blog about it !! But around mid April I got to sing for Ritu and I still feel very blessed to be a part of the project. I am one of the lucky ones to be a part of this film and most importantly it felt like a family rather than a 'film'.

My work accelerated as a TV presenter too. Got loads of offers but I didn't take them up cos I felt I am best made for singing, music. How much ever I indulge myself into photography, news debates, blogging and wotnot the end I feel full only when I am into music. To work with Stephen Devassi at a very early stage of my career is truly a blessing in form of Rosebowl. The amount one gets to learn from the experienced is like a treasure box. I also came up with a lot of innovative ideas, took my first step into composing seriously, etc. So 2009 was almost like 'making of a musician' ..I'm there..but not completely. Everyone has been raving about what a great year 2010 is going to be for everyone. Wonder why 2010! Somewhere in the midst of all this discussion even I feel, out of my intuitions that something big is waiting for me in 2010. I hope there is progress in law and order of our country and the climatic conditions. Hope is not all we can do .. it's time to make a difference in some way or the other. So this year is going to be one of the action-oriented decision-making years.. Wishing you all a year of excellence!!