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Updated: May 22, 2014 14:25 IST

Cradling a dream

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN
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Words Worth: Bombay Jayashri
Words Worth: Bombay Jayashri

Bombay Jayashri on the experience of penning and singing the Oscar-nominated ‘Pi’s Lullaby’

The prefix to her name refers to India’s thriving cosmopolitan megapolis from where she hails but it’s hard to contain the appeal of her music to a region, not even to the country. Over the past few years, Bombay Jayashri, with her cross-cultural collaborations has been making her voice heard globally. Now, her Oscar nomination for writing the Tamil song ‘Pi’s Lullaby’ (which she also sang) for director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi bears out her skill to blend populist instincts into the aesthetic.

The well-trained Carnatic vocalist, despite her staunch belief in the classical tenets, has never been undemonstrative of her open-minded approach, magnifying them for the world to be able to showcase the deep and versatile imageries of the genre.

“I am overwhelmed. The nomination reflects upon the profound influence of music and literature in a shrinking world. Somebody asked me how the jury that had no Tamil-speaking member could appreciate the lullaby. And I said you do not need to understand the meaning of the words to experience the emotion,” says Jayashri, who has many hit Tamil film songs to her credit.

The announcement has taken the classical world by surprise, since she is the first Carnatic artiste to win this prestigious nomination. “That creativity is about unrestricted imagination and multi-cultural alliances came through in this composition that was written by a Tamilian and a Carnatic musician, set to music by a Canadian Mychael Danna (nominated for Best Original Score) and visualised by a Taiwanese, Ang Lee.”

The lullaby, the title track, in which Jayashri’s caressing vocals glide like a bird in flight has been creating quite a buzz on YouTube.

Jayashri says it’s more during such rewarding moments that she feels closer to her guru violin wizard Lalgudi Jayaraman and his eclectic outlook. “He would tell me how it is important to understand and analyse music beyond performances.” Every such inventive outing makes you refreshed and energised for further creative challenges, says Jayashri, who recorded the lullaby a year ago in Mumbai. “It was before the beginning of the Margazhi cutcheri season in Chennai yet I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

It took about four days to put together the small number ‘Kanne Kanmaniye’. Lee was very clear about what he wanted. Though he does not understand Tamil, he would ask if I could replace a particular word with something else. It was amazing. He told me ‘let it sound the way you would sing to your son. I want a mother’s love in it, not a literary piece. A child sleeps not because he is sleepy, but because he feels safe.’ He handheld me through every line and the result is there for everyone to hear. It was equally fun interacting with Danna, who has a fine understanding of Indian culture.”

The lullaby that helped Pi sleep and soothed the souls of lakhs of moviegoers has awakened the world to the universality of music, language and culture.

I was so happy when I saw the news in your newspaper this morning.
However, when I listened to the song I got a shock. I understand that
it was nominated under "original song" category.
However, I am so sorry to say that most of the lines are taken from
the Malayalam composer Sri.Irayimman Thampi's famous lullaby
"Omanthinka kidavo", which was composed 200 years ago.
I strongly feel this song does not deserve to be under the "Original
Song" Category.
I am just giving the lines for comparison:
· Mayilo, thogai mayilo (Bombay Jayashri )( Are you the
dancing peacock)
· Chanchadiyadum Mayilo ( Sri.Irayimman Thampi) ( Are you the dancing peacock?)
· Kuyilo, koovum kuyilo (BJ) (Are you the singing cuckoo
bird?)· Mrudu panchamam padum kuyilo (Sri.Thampi) (Are you the
cuckoo who sings “panchamam”)
· Nilavo, Nilavin oLiyo (BJ) ( Are you the moonlight?)
· Pari poornendu thante nilavo (Sr.Thampi) ( Are you the light
of the full moon?)
·

from:  Jayasree Rajamma
Posted on: Jan 12, 2013 at 12:03 IST

A R Rehaman had the oscars. Now Jayashri. My mind thrilled.

from:  Natarajan.k
Posted on: Jan 12, 2013 at 02:15 IST

My heartfelt wishes to Ms.Jayashri to grab the oscar...what a sweet
article is this....Good Luck, Madam....

from:  Bala
Posted on: Jan 11, 2013 at 20:44 IST
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