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Singer-composer Pradeep Kumar explains why his documentary is a tribute to ‘Thiruppugazh’

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“Won’t people think I wrote a story about myself?” ponders singer-composer V Pradeep Kumar, with whom this author shares a identify and preliminary, as he winds up our telephonic dialog with a snort.

Before parting methods, we focus on elements of his musical documentary Arunagiri Perumale at size; Pradeep uploaded the movie to YouTube final week.

Filmed in 2014-15, the documentary has, as its centrepiece, an association that options a 16-piece classical ensemble in a stay live performance, produced in Boston, and options Pradeep apart from fellow musicians Kalyani Nair, Susha and Sean Roldan.

The movie additionally tracks Pradeep’s journey of discovering Arunagirinathar, the 15th-Century Tamil saint poet recognized for composing Thiruppugazh.

Pradeep Kumar (C, on stage), Sean Roldan (R, on stage), Susha (L, on the cajón) and Kalyani Nair (conductor) during the 2014 live concert in Boston as shown in the film

Pradeep Kumar (C, on stage), Sean Roldan (R, on stage), Susha (L, on the cajón) and Kalyani Nair (conductor) throughout the 2014 stay live performance in Boston as proven within the movie
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

“The film was ready in 2016. I had been waiting for the right platform to release it; there were talks going on with digital streaming players but nothing materialised. So I decided to release it on YouTube,” says Pradeep.

Excerpts from an interview:

What drew you to Thiruppugazh?

The inspiration was my guru J Venkatraman.

For a few years, Thiruppugazh’s place in performances was as an add-on. For occasion, in a Carnatic kutcheri, folks would conclude the live performance by singing a few strains from Thiruppugazh.

But my guru had this rabid need to compose songs out of it, which his guru Alathur Venkatesa Iyer had handed on to him.

Pradeep Kumar (L) and Sean Roldan (R) during the 2014 concert as shown in the film

Pradeep Kumar (L) and Sean Roldan (R) throughout the 2014 live performance as proven within the movie
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

I too shared this need, and, for a very long time, I had needed to make a symphonic association. Thiruppugazh was good materials. Also, it could be a tribute to Arunagirinathar’s compositions and so the unique thought was to do a live performance nevertheless it developed into a documentary.

The movie offers the concept that you’re drawing a parallel between the journey of Arunagirinathar and your personal journey of self-discovery…

Yes, I’m telling the world about this large character they need to find out about, therefore I named the movie Arunagiri Perumale (Perumale, on this context, suggestive of a divine equivalence).

But the story, if there is any within the movie (laughs), is about my journey.

There are many tales about Arunagirinathar, all laced with mysticism. For instance: the story of his metempsychosis, that after the individuals who disliked him burned his physique, he lived out the remainder of his life as a parrot when he sang extra songs. If you may have watched the TM Soundararajan movie (Arunagirinathar, 1964) you’ll know.

A visual grab from the film ‘Arunagiri Perumale’

But I solely had wonderment. How might anybody write so many songs in a single life time?

So, when approaching such a topic as a documentary filmmaker, I might have gone into the facet of mysticism, asking questions like how might a man flip into a parrot?

Or, I might have approached it with a non secular lens, singing reward of Muruga (the Hindu deity to whom Arunagirinathar wrote his songs), however for me all of this was a story. It didn’t make a distinction if Arunagirinathar lived within the 15th or 10th Century, or if he was dwelling within the current.

So, I erased the time idea from my movie. I used to be on a search and I wanted to journey, meet folks, and ask them what they knew of this individual I used to be looking out about. I didn’t need to inform folks what I knew.

Music was key to attaining what I sought as a result of that was the one instrument in my disposal. I needed to give folks an expertise.

In the movie, you categorical remorse that you’re not in a position to pursue such offbeat topics which demand time and analysis because the help is lacking. Are you suggesting that mainstream musicians ought to work outdoors the industrial framework?

What occurs is that after we are studying music, we don’t take into consideration these items. All we, as musicians, attempt to do is expose ourselves to many alternative kinds of music.

Pradeep Kumar in the film ‘Arunagiri Perumale’

However, as soon as we get the stamp, say, a singer… we begin doing solely what is wanted for us to proceed our existence and help our livelihood. But we all the time have the choice to do such tasks, besides it needs to be one thing we search out.

Do you discover working throughout the industrial framework stifling to your artwork?

There used to be a time when musicians used to sing and the society would handle their wants like feeding them.

Today, the artistes have developed. A music director needs to be as adept at choosing calls and talking to folks over the cellphone with out getting offended like a BPO worker as he is at making music (laughs).

What occurs right here in industrial cinema is that music composers are given an quantity and we’re requested to handle every little thing. But this is not manufacturing; nevertheless, all of us are adapting to it.

Are you advocating that it is time for mainstream musicians to embrace various tradition?

I’m not a consultant of other tradition as a result of I too work within the industrial circuit. But I gives you an instance.

A visual grab from the film ‘Arunagiri Perumale’

A number of years in the past, I picked up a guitar and began taking part in on the Besant Nagar seaside (Elliot’s Beach in Chennai) with Sean Roldan and my associates. Slowly, a group began to pay attention to us.

In a few months, we had impressed a few college students from the fishing hamlets close by to take up guitar and begin making music. All this occurred with out expecations. But I didn’t facilitate it, my music did.

So, if everybody tried to do a easy factor to break freed from the prisons they’re in, it’s going to depart a large affect.

All the musicians I work with, we all the time speak about how pointless it is to choose what the viewers will pay attention to, however that is what is occurring [in mainstream music].

We make music for goal audiences as a result of the file label asks for it. They ask for stuff like fusion music. As artistes, we aren’t meant to suppress what we would like to do.

Since you point out artistes, the Odhuvars and their vocation that you simply function within the documentary are fading out from existence due to lack of help…

We want to help these artistes. We met a lot of people music artistes like parai exponents, karagattam dancers and others throughout the Chennai Sangamam music pageant years in the past. Unfortunately, the pageant doesn’t occur anymore. But I’m glad you requested me this query as a result of I’m making one other documentary. This is on nadaswaram artistes.

Can you elaborate?

Many nadaswaram artistes have had to change their professions and discontinue the artwork due to financial wants. I do know of 1 superb nadaswaram participant who now runs a salon in Medavakkam. Even those who make the nadaswaram are quitting the commerce.

A visual grab from the film ‘Arunagiri Perumale’

But I need to make one thing clear. What we must always perceive is that an artform won’t ever stop to exist however the folks concerned in it’s going to. Because they’re people. That is why it is crucial that we lengthen help to these artistes.

And I needed to begin filming for this documentary after a recce in November final 12 months however I put it off for some purpose. Now I don’t assume I can begin till later this 12 months due to the lockdown. I will likely be filming it from Thanjavur.

How have you ever spent lockdown? What are the movie tasks you’re engaged on?

I’ve spent all of lockdown at residence engaged on my remaining tasks.

I’m the composer for Arun Prabhu Purushothaman’s Vaazhl (produced by actor Sivakarthikeyan). There is additionally Kuthiraivaal, Vignarajan’s Andhagaaram (produced by filmmaker Atlee) and a challenge every in Malayalam and Telugu that I’m engaged on for the time being.


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