Aug 30, 2008

Part 4 - They shot me !!!

After the meeting on 14th, I was totally puzzled. I didn’t know where to start, how to select the three songs for each decade, how to learn them, etc. Called up my dad immediately for help; he suggested a few songs and singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Man, its all karma-phala; There was a time when I used to pester my dad to switch channels when he played the oldest of Tamil songs. And now I literally heard him grinning from the other end !!! Got hold of a couple of Cd’s from the nearest Music World; but honestly, I had no clue what I was buying. Most of the songs from the 40’s sounded similar, classical oriented and men sounding like women because of the high-pitch.

It took me three days to finalise the songs and three days to learn them. For 40’s and 50’s, I just had one song in mind. I was comfortable with the songs from 80’s onwards, as I learned a couple of them in the second audition, and for 90’s and 2000’s, I knew more than what was needed. Reached the venue, Sudhakar was already there and also a girl named Aishwarya. Dear old Sb was seated near some huge speakers and next to her was another lady (lets call her Um).

The practice session began. First Aishwarya went and then Sudhakar; poor guy had to change most of the songs that he had chosen. That’s when I knew that it was more of a song selection process than a practice session. Sb selected the songs and Um wrote them down (should be for the orchestration. Obviously, even they need practice!) In the meanwhile, the rest of the contestants filled the room; Rajeshwari (already met in the last meeting), Gayathri and Vikram. The six of us came face to face for the first time.
I was next. Took my songs list and stood in front of the two assessors.

Sb : How was the last week for you?
Me :It was good. Had to listen to a lot of new songs, I mean old songs that were new to me.

Sb : Ok, what have you selected for the intro round?
Me : Kumaari from Anniyan

Sb : No, that isn’t good, that is more of a comical song, whats the other one you have in mind?
Me : I had Sahara Pookal, but (turning to where Aishwarya was seated) she already sang it.

Sb: you have to come up another song.
Me : Hmm…

Sb : For 40’s?
Me : Thyagaraja Bhaagavathars’ Naatiya Kalaye (I sang it when she asked me to)

Sb: Havnt heard this before. Are you sure you are going to sing this well, I guess, it’s a tough song.
I nodded yes.

Got the song approved for 50’s; Paatu Paadava from Then nilavu

Sb : 60’s?
Me : Ullathil nalla ullam from Karnan

Sb : No, change the song (with a stern face, as if that song offended her)
Me : But I know that very well, I sing it well too and that’s the only song I know from 60’s.

Sb :
Theres no way that you can sing that song…..No one
can…after Seerkazhi Govindarajan, there has been no one alive to sing the way he sang that particular song.

Me : But give me a chance atleast ?

Sb : NO and that’s final !!!
Me Grrrrrr…ing (inside)

Got the songs approved for 70’s and 80’s which were Paadumbothu naan from Netru indru naalai and Pani vizhum from Ninaivellam Nithya respectively.

Sb : 90’s ?
Me : En Kadhale from Duet

Sb : change! someone from the first batch had already sang it.
Me : Ok, then, Kayyil midakkum from Ratchagan

Sb (this time she smiled) : No one tries that song in a competition, are you sure you can do it well?
Me : Yes

Sb : 2000’s ?
Me : Shakthi Kodu from Baba (the one I sang for the first audition)

Sb : No, it isn’t even a song, change ! ( I wanted to ask her, if that’s the case, how come you selected me?)

Me: Vellai Pookal from Kannathil Muthamittaal (sang and approved)
Sb :
Ok. Practice well, and get back to me before you leave for today with the intro and 60’s song.

I immediately rang up my friends for help on the intro song and finalized on Kadhal vaithu from Deepavali. Personally, I wasn’t happy with this selection. I was totally put off when she remarked about my 60’s song. I was confident and this lady wasn’t letting me try it even once. Though I had a buffer for the 60’s round (and I didn’t tell her that), I desperately wanted to sing the one I selected. I heard Gayathri, Rajeshwari and Vikram sing as I waited in the hall to give Sb my final list.

They literally shocked me with their talent; especially Vikram. They were all trained and sang like real professionals. Infact, all 5 of them were trained and I was the odd person. That’s when I realized the seriousness of the show. For them, this is a part of their ambition, their career, their dream! Though I am mad about music, I never had it as my priority; never wanted to establish a career for myself in playback singing because of various other reasons. I had no intentions to win; my only aim was just to be a part of the show and do my best. Millions are going to watch this on TV; and I didn’t want anyone to have a bad opinion on my performance. Moreover, out of the other 988 participants, who got rejected, atleast 60% of them would have been trained for years to get an opportunity like this. It was more of a responsibility for me now. I just cannot let anyone down; my family and friends, the Raagamaalika crew, or even the 988 other participants!!!

Next : Part 5 – they finally shot me !!!

Also read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3(a) and Part 3 (b)

Aug 26, 2008

Small is Beautiful - 3

I know I am really late with this section and, now, this would turn out to be more like a DVD / pirated DVD review. I kept delaying this because I somehow missed Sarkar Raj and Bhootnath at the big screen, but thanks to torrents and DVDs, I finally got to watch them(and I regret). S.i.B – 4, the next section with the latest movies will follow this in a couple of days (yet to catch up Bachna Ae Haseeno)

Dasavataram (10 avatars)Tamil
1 legendary actor donning 10 different roles on the lines of chaos theory and butterfly effect. Kamal Haasan did go a little overboard with the effects and the roles, but managed to pull off a never-before-experience movie. The only disappointment was Asins irritating dialogue delivery and the music by Himesh. Recommended for Kamals fans and also for people who wishes to watch something different in Tamil cinemas. 3.5 / 5

Mere Baap Pehle Aap (My father, first you) - Hindi
A pathetic remake of a Malayalam superhit - ‘Ishtam’. Just like title, the movie was pretty long and equally slow. Akshay over acted while Paresh Rawal underplayed the character. Shobhana, Om Puri and Naseeruddin were wasted. The only person worth watching was the heroine, Genelia. Avoidable. 2 / 5

De Taali ( Hi-five)Hindi
‘Theres something about Riteish’, otherwise this would have been another crap in the name of comedy. The first half was watchable, but the melodrama and the david dhawan type of climax spoiled the second half, making it difficult to sit through. Avoidable 2 / 5

Bhootnath (Ghost-Nath)Hindi
Casper meets Baghban ! Director Vivek Sharma joins two different stories and gives the viewer a ridiculous drama. The ghost roams around in designer suits and cries through out in the second half. Amitabh Bachchan as the ghost was good, but Juhi was under utilized and could have avoided characters like that of Rajpal Yadav. Avoidable. 2 / 5

Aamir (Leader)Hindi
After watching the movie, I wasnt sure if I liked it or not. The movie doesnt stay with you that long after leaving the hall. Though it had a couple of gripping sequences, it dragged at times with repetitive scenes. Of course, a good attempt at something different but somehow, somewhere the script just fell flat. Its like they just had the beginning and ending of the movie in mind and the scenes in the middle were simply forced in. Watchable. 3 / 5

Sarkar Raj (Sarkar Rules)Hindi
You have to use your head to watch this movie; the camera moves to and fro like a swing, up and down, sideways and then up again, making us tilt our head to watch it properly. Now, I don’t know if this is what RGV claims as technology !!! The plot was a very normal one that used to appear in the late 70’s and 80’s flicks. The male Bachchans were good, but Aishwarya as usual was boring. I didn’t quite understand her character too. An absurd sequel to the memorable Sarkar. Avoidable. 2 /5

Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic ( A little Love, a little magic)Hindi
This should have been a perfect kids movie if not for Amishas bare act. The movie is good at parts, but somehow loses its momentum in the second half and ends terribly. Fortunately, none of the emotions drag, they were kept subtle and the gags were short enough to enjoy. The music disappoints, except for the 'Pyar ke liye' song that comes in the background. Could be watched at your home with kids on a dull weekend, but please fast forward ‘Lazy Lamhe’. 2.5 / 5

Love story 2050Hindi
The worst movie to have ever released in Bollywood this year, easily. Harman has done his best to imitate Hrithik. Nothing less than torture. 1/ 5 ( 1 for the hard work behind the special ffects)

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (U either knowor u don’t)Hindi
The weakest movie to have come from Aamir Khan productions. The story offers nothing new, but the presentation takes the cake. The movie infact was boring at certain places and the much talked about climax was a let down. The movie worked only here and there for me; but as a whole, a disappointment. All the songs except 'Kahin to' were forced in the movie was looking very odd. The entire cast performed well, the one liners were pretty good and the music and BGM was outstanding. Oooooook 2.5 / 5

Aug 22, 2008

Part 3 (b) - They shot me !!!

continued from Part 3(a)

I went to that office of theirs the next day at 3. 30pm itself. Two of the contestants came in later and three of us waited in the hall. I met them; Sudhakar and Rajeswari. That same judge (who auditioned us for the first and second rounds) walked in from a nearby room and sat in front of us. Let me call her Sb from now on and she also happens to be the director (andthe producer too, I guess) of the show. Without taking much of anyones time, she began :
" 12 of them were selected from the 1000 ones who attended the first
The shooting for the first batch, 6 of them, is currently going on and
for your batch, the rest 6, the shooting would be on 21st, 23rd and 24th. There
would be 9 rounds till the finals; so it is necessary that everyone learns 9
different songs.
Round 1 : Introduction round- any famous melodious song
released after 2005.
Round 2 – 8 : Songs from each decade starting from 1940’s till 2000.
Round 9 : Duet round.
The song for the introduction round should be finalized now. Three songs from each decade should be chosen, studied and there would be a practice session on 19th, which would also decide the final song for you to render. Is everything clear? The song for the duet round will be communicated only at the end of the second day of shooting.
Each round is one episode and all the nine episodes would be shot in 3 days.
So 3 different sets of dresses are to be carried each day. Lunch and
breakfast would be provided at the studio. Is everything clear? "

First things first, I got excited when she said I am one of the 12 selected from the 1000 participants. But when she started explaining the rounds, I began to breathe heavily. And this time the first word I muttered was “ Whaaaaat!!” I had no idea of songs that released before 90’s and I made a fool out of myself in the second audition. Now, 40’s, 50’s, 60s’….aaaaaAAAAHHH! This is insane. How am I ever going to do this? As far as I know, most of the songs in the 40’s and 50’s were highly classical oriented, predominantly sang by the legend Shri Thyagaraja Bhaagavathar. Is there a way out now?? Help….somebody…..anybody !!!!

Trailer for next week – the practice on 19th July
Sb :
Theres no way that you can sing that song…..No one can…after Seerkazhi Govindarajan, there has been no one alive to sing the way he sang that particular song……..
Me : But give me a chance atleast ?
Sb : NO and that’s final !!!

Also read Part 1, Part2, and Part 3 (a)

Aug 20, 2008

Part 3 (a) - They shot me !!!

Due to the length of this post (it was unexpected!), I will be posting it in two parts- Part 3 (a) and Part 3 (b), but on the same week.

I didnt tell most of my friends and also to my relatives about any of the audition, I knew if I did, I would have been succumbed to a lot of embarrassing questions. I tried my best to be normal with my routines, but somewhere at the corner of my heart, my performance at the second audition really hurt me. I forgot how to smile, I stopped singing, all I could think was my failure. I hate rejections and I knew very well that I am not a competition material. This depression continued for 5 days; 5 and half days to be precise.

ZZZZzzzZZZZzzzz…(it was a Sunday afternoon and I had absolutely nothing to do, had lunch, watched TV and slept on the floor itself )….zzzZZZZZZzzzzZZZZ….
My mobile started ringing and it was from an unknown landline number. I picked up the call and heard a female sound at the other end.

Me : Halllaaaaooooo (howling a bit like Himesh Reshammiya, because I thought none of the serious species on earth would call me on a Sunday afternoon)
Lady : Is this Vimal ?

Me (making it sound silly) : Yessss, it iiiis !
Lady (once again, this time in a more serious tone) : Is this Vimal ?

Me (I got up from my sleep now, cleared my throat and looked at my clock, it was 3.20pm) : Yes, this is he. How may I help you?

Lady : Vimal, this is from Raagamaalika. You had attended an auditi…..
Me (interrupting) : Yes, yes, the audition that happened last week.

Lady : Well, you are selected, and next week, you have to make yourself free for three days of shooting at our Chennai studio. Are you in Chennai?
Me (silent for 5 secs, literally and I am not exaggerating)

Lady :
Hello, Vijayan (calling my last name this time), are the signals clear? Can you hear me?
Me (tying to get things straight in my head) : Yes, I can and I am very much in Chennai. But..(didn’t complete!)

Lady : Is it possible for you to take 3 days leave, because the shooting starts from 9 in the morn and would go on till 7 in the night.
Me : That’s ok. I can manage.

Lady : Fine. We would want you to come tomorrow at 4pm for a small meeting to discuss about the rounds and the songs that you would have to choose. It’s the same place where you had the second audition. Can you make it?

Me (didn’t know how to react in my excitement) : Sure. Thank you Maam, thanks a lot (I am sure she knew I was very excited from my tone!)
The Lady laughed and hung the call.

Whoooooooooooooooppppppppieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee was the first word that came out of my mouth; that too at the top of my voice. The song Maaeri had never let me down in the past and it still didnt. I am finally getting my first break on TV !!!

Aug 16, 2008

....that 14 year old girl.

I had no idea what ‘writers block’ was until I tried this post. I had thought of several ways of putting this across, but each time I start, I end up going nowhere. Probably, it is tough to write about someone very close. But I have written about my family and also about my best friend and why is it that I haven’t experienced the same so called block then (Wait, I am deviating from what I am supposed to write once again!)

Well, I guess the reason could be because Ramya is my family and also my friend. We got close during one of her vacations at my place when she was 14 year old . Till then, we knew each other’s existence as first cousins. Moreover, I have always thought of her as an over smart complaint box who behaves most of the time like an absolute pest and wasn’t interested in talking to her whenever we used to meet. But that particular vacation changed everything for both of us. I never knew what it would be like to have a Sister. She was the only child for her parents and she was also looking up to us (me and my bro) as her own siblings. The term ‘cousin’ was not applicable for us anymore; we used to behave like children who shared the same parents.

We used to do masti, sing songs (our fav being Ey,Kya bolti tu), fight with each other, nag each other and be each others emotional punching bag all the time. Together we were a terror and created havoc at home (Btw, her favorite time pass was to clean my comb every time she visited and I don’t even have to ask her to do it). Later on, it turned out to be that we started staying in the same city and we were more than happy for each other.

Ramya is more than a sister to me. She is someone who tolerated all my craziness, spoke for me and against all those who criticise me, defended all my antics, someone who would burst out in tears even if anything silly happened to me!!! How I wish I get hold of a time machine now !

Fortunately or unfortunately, things are not the same now for both of us; cant blame anyone. Priorities have changed; everyone needs to move on with his or her own life. Though miles apart, I am sure both of us would be there for each other forever. But there are times when I wish if my mobile screen could flash “ Pengalooty* calling” along with that special ringtone, for I really miss that 14 year old girl who wept with joy when I sang :

Phoolon ka taaron ka sabka kehna hain,
Ek hazaaron mein, meri behna hain,
Saari umar hamein sang rehna hain………………….

* Pengalooty – little sister

This was how she looked like during that vacation; inspired from Kajol of KKHH (she never agrees and tells its vice versa). This picture was infact sketched and signed by that 14 year old girl herself!

Happy Rakhsha Bandhan Day, Ramya !!!

Aug 12, 2008

Part 2 - They shot me !!!

Got up at 10 am. I could not believe the two things that happened in my life the previous day; first, the audition and second, that I actually watched the worst movie of the decade - Love Story 2050 !!!

I finalized the five songs and the classical song the previous night itself. But had to listen to them once more, take the print out of the lyrics and practice one more time before the audition. To be honest, I became better versed in the classical song than those regular songs. Probably, I concentrated more on the former. Unlike the previous day, I was calm and composed; I knew I was not going to get through. Reached the venue, but this time I was all by myself. There was a crowd near the entrance. I saw someone coming out first, and then a woman (who gave the registration form on the first day) came out and called a name and a number(the first audition number); and one of them from the crowd went in. My blood pressure rose as the audition was happening in an open forum and that the whole crowd going to watch me or atleast hear me sing. But again, no cameras!! I waited patiently having frequent glances at the lyrics. It seems that they have selected only 50 from the first audition and there, just in front of me, my ‘competitors’ were rendering keertanas while I was trying my best to learn some typical filmi songs.

At about 3pm, they called my name : Vimal Vijayan, No.649. I gulped (a bit loudly) and went in. Following were the conversations with the judge (which btw was a she and was the same person who judged the first audition) :

Judge : Ok, Vimal, what’s it that you are going to sing ?
Me (Taking out the lyrics of the most simple song) : Eeramaana Rojaave

Judge : Ok. Go ahead.
Me (Looking at the lyrics and singing) : Eeeramaaana Rojaaveeee….Ennai Paarthu Modaadey….(the beginning and the subsequent para)

Judge : Stop! Stop! Enough!
Me (silent) : Gulp (to myself)

Judge : Why are you staring at the lyrics? Don’t you know any of these songs by heart?
Me: I am afraid, I am not well versed in any Tamil song that released before 1990, I need to look at the lyrics to sing.

Judge : Ok then, sing in your regional language if you know any.
Me: I am not comfortable with songs in my regional language either (the real reason is because I don’t know the lyrics of any Malayalam song!)

Judge : Ok baba (seeming irritated), sing in any language, but make sure you sing without lyrics
Me : Ok, I will sing Maaeri for you, it’s a Hindi song from the album Phir Dhoom.

Judge : Maaa....whaaat ? Ok. Go ahead.
Me (placing my lyrics pages on a nearby table and singing once again) : Teriyaaa….Meriyaaa….Pul gayaaa……(sang 7 lines; to be precise)

Judge : Enough !
Me (standing still with an Oo oooh expression)

Judge : Are you sure you can sing Tamil songs on stage without looking at the lyrics?
Me : Yes, that wouldnt b a problem. I didn’t get ample time to learn the lyrics of (judge interrupting)

Judge : So you mean to say we are jobless.
Me : No, I didn’t mean that. These songs are totally new to me and I have learned these 6 songs only for this programme.

Judge : It says that you were born in 1981 and you should be knowing songs that released before 1990? How come you don’t ?
Me : The reason that I am a Keralite and also because I spent the first 15 years of my life in Dubai.

Judge : Why do you have answers for all the questions that I ask (grunts) ??
Me (smiles) : To myself, all questions should have answers, otherwise they become statements u dumbass!!!

Judge : Anyway, thanks a lot. We will let you know.
Me (gathering my lyrics pages) : Thanks (smiles again)

Judge (Ignoring me !)
Me :
To myself again, what a cheapo? Why cant she even return a smile?

But wait, she didnt ask me to sing the classical song. Probably she knew that I am not trained and after all that had happened, she must have lost hope on me. Hmmm...I turned back and to my horror, all eyes were on me; my ‘competitiors’ were staring at me. I then realised the situation; it’s a tamil song based show and I just sang a Hindi one. Aaargh ! the humiliation, the embarrassment, the agony ! I decided not to look at anyone’s face. I knew this wasn’t for me. I hate competitions. I moved quickly towards my bike and left the arena ASAP.

Trailor for next week – July 13th and 14th; 5 days of depression, a call and a meeting
What? This is insane. How am I ever going to do this? Is there a way out now? Help….somebody…..anybody !!!!

Part 1 - They shot me !!!

Aug 8, 2008

Part 1 - They shot me !!!

I got shot; nearly 24 times and that too in three days; 21st, 23rd and 24th of July this year.

Life was pretty normal for me until July 6th. I never knew there would be a lot of unpredictable twists and turns awaiting me. I tried my best to come out of the situation; I could not. Even without my knowledge, I became a part of it. Everyone whom I knew promised that they would pray for me. I was helpless; my only wish was not to let anyone down. Wait, let me get into the flashback mode now and split the incidents; day wise (that would bring in a lot more clarity and also increase my number of posts !)

Day One – July 6th

I was at my friend and sister, Priyas place in the morning and she had asked me to get ready for an audition for Raagamaalika; a song based show that Jaya TV (Tamil channel) had been airing continuously for the last 6 years. For people who don’t know, Raagamaalika is not the typical reality show that comes on every channel these days. It’s a very serious show and the results are only based on the judges decision and not on votes. I was actually disinterested, as I have never sung for any competitions and was not sure if I could take rejections in the right spirit. Moreover, it’s one show where musical training is a must, which I do not have of any kind. But I couldn’t stand her persuasion; and together we left for the audition. There were almost 1000 of them there and that sight itself sent shivers down my spine. Approached a lady and got hold of the registration form. The only easy portions to fill up were my name and address. The rest were questions like “how many years of musical training do you have” and “mention other competitions/prizes/certifications” and I still had no idea what I was doing amongst those people; my ‘competitors’! I told Priya that if we leave now, we still have a chance to get away without getting humiliated. She grrr-ed at me and snatched the registration form from my trembling hands to fill it herself. After filling up the form, all that we were supposed to do was wait until they called my number - 649. Till the last moment, I wasn’t sure about the song that I should sing. I had a couple of them in my mind, finally 5 mins. before entering the audition room, narrowed down my choices to Shakthi Kodu and gave my best effort during the audition. Thankfully, there werent any cameras to shoot the audition. That would have made me even more tensed. They made me render only 4 lines and said that the results would be out by 4pm the same day.

Priya alone was anxiously for the results as I had lost all hope. At about 4.30, there was a huge crowd near the gate; boy oh boy, the results are out. I sat on my bike itself and made Priya go up to the gate and check. In less than two minutes, she ran towards me shouting “U r through ! U r through!” That was one of the biggest surprises in my life. I mean, there were people who were trained for years and I was one person who had been trained only by myself in various bathrooms. How could I? Or rather how could they? She came back with the second auditions’ criteria - learn one classical / semi classical song and 5 other songs from movies that released before 1990. The second audition was scheduled at 2pm the next day and that’s like only half a day left (subtracting 7 hrs of sleep and the 3 hrs which I was supposed to spend at Love story 2050 that night). Though I am aware of songs that released before 1990, I wasn’t sure how I would learn them and then render it in such a short time. To top it all, the classical/semi classical; how am I going to escape from that one now? For crying out loud, I have never been trained in any kind of music at alllllllll !!!!!

Trailer for next week- July 7th; the second audition :
Me : I am afraid, I am not well versed in any Tamil song that released before 1990, I need to look at the lyrics to sing.
Judge : Why do you have answers for all the questions that I ask (grunts) ??

Aug 5, 2008

Song : Yaaron; Album : Pal (Hindi - 1999)

Belated Friendship day wishes to one and all. This song should have come in a little earlier, but certain technical issues prevented me from doing so(sounding like Doordarshan, right?). anyway, better late than never.

I dedicate this song to each and every one who fall under the label ‘friends’, and it also includes the new ones I found in blogosphere. I take this opportunity to thank all of you for being there for me and for not giving up on me. It would have been difficult for me to be the way I am today if not for you people. Thanks a lot and this comes straight from the whole of my heart.

Trivia :

My first song to have made a person cry --- It was at one of our final PG get togethers that I rendered this song for the first time and a girl named Kinjal Virani cried at the end of the song. I guess, either, it was a wrong time to have sung it or she must have felt really bad for K.K.
Kinjal, I dont think you would be reading this, but thanks a lot anyway (hehehe) !!!

To listen in a better way :
  • Please wait till the entire song streams.
  • Try using a headset/earphone for the overall sound clarity.

Aug 1, 2008

Current Favs : July 1st - Aug 1st

1 Ele Neram from Sakkarakatti (Tamil)
Kangal Irandaal from Subramaniapuram (Tamil)
Singh is Kinng (Snoop Dog version) from Singh is Kinng (Hindi)
4 Cheeky Cheeky from Saroja (Tamil)
5 Pichle Saat Dinon (Live version) from Rock On (Hindi)
Naan Varaindhu Vaitha from Jayam Konden (Tamil)
Kahin To Hogi from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (Hindi)
8 Mehfuz from Aamir (Hindi)
9 Om Zaarare from Kuselan (Tamil)
10 Aksar from Hijack (Hindi)