A dramatic raga that derives its strength from bringing forth the pain and sorrow in the hearts of people is Sivaranjani. Poignant and heart-rending, Sivaranjani can often make one’s eyes well up. A Classical raga that is used widely in lighter genres of music such as devotionals, bhajans and film music, Sivaranjani has great recall value among lay listeners, making it populist. The swaras that find place in this raga are Sadja, Chatusruti Rishaba, Sadharana Gandhara, Pancama, and Chatusruti Dhaivata. Misra Sivaranjani that is also popular in Hindustani music features the Antara Gandhara alongside the Sadharana Gandhara, unravelling a bouquet of exotic flavours in music. An interesting Thillana composed by Maharajapuram Santhanam illustrates Misra Sivaranjani impeccably. Other ragas that closely resemble Sivaranjani include Nilamani and Vijayanagari. Vijayanagari features the Prati Madhyama in ascent and descent. ‘Tarunamidayya’ and ‘Andavan Anbe’ of Papanasam Sivan are good examples of Sivaranjani in Classical music. ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai’, the popular ragamalika piece begins majestically in Sivaranjani. ‘Enna Kavi Padinalum’ of Madurai Somu melts the heart and is composed in Nilamani while ‘Vijayambike’ of Muthiah Bhagavathar is an exemplary composition in Vijayanagari raga, a ready reference.
In film music, the examples here cover all the four ragas mentioned above.
‘Soppana Vazhvil’ of MKT (ragamalika in the film Sivakavi ) and ‘Nenjam Uruginindru’ of K.B. Sundarambal are lovely pieces in Vijayanagari. In ‘Soppana...’ Vijayanagari is well-established as the opening raga by the characteristic slide to the Prati Madhyama in ‘Vaazhvil...’.
‘Nalandhaanaa’ from Thillana Mohanambal is a moving piece that showcases Nilamani raga in a refreshing way. One cannot say that these film songs are based purely in Sivaranjani or Nilamani, but one can feel the proximity in musicality. The tThavil beats, nNadaswara refrains and the honeyed voice all blend into an inviting melody composed by K.V. Mahadevan.
‘Andavane Un Padangalai’ (Oli Vilakku, M.S. Viswanathan) and ‘Kalaimagal Kai Porule’ (Vasantamaligai, K.V. Mahadevan) are stunning pieces tending towards Sivaranjani, both rendered by P. Susheela. The opening phrase ‘PDSRG..’ in ‘Andavane…’ sets the mood for the raga. In ‘Kalaimagal’, the composer has pushed the boundaries a bit more, what with the Nishada surfacing here and there. Yet, a flavourful presentation. In the film Kuzhandhaiyum Deivamum there is a rock-nroll song that lifts our spirits — ‘Enna Vegam Nillu Bhama’. This song is set in Sivaranjani! Sheer pluck and ingenuity from M.S. Viswanathan. In the line ‘Namma Povom Jollyaaga Bhama’, the phrase ‘S, RGP RGRS…’ is very attractive and conclusive.
‘Oru Jeevan Thaan’ from the film Naan Adimai Illai is a clever take on Misra Sivaranjani. There is a pathos element that strikes us as soon as the song opens and the haunting continues throughout the piece, the strings section being very effective. ‘Kuyil Paattu’ (En Rasavin Manasile) sung by Chitra, ‘Pon Maane’ (Oru Kaithiyin Diary), ‘Solai Pushpangale’ (Ingeyum Oru Gangai) sung by P. Susheela, ‘Vaa Vaa Anbe Anbe’ (Agni Natchatiram) sung by Yesudas and S. Janaki, ‘Valli Valli Ena’ (Deiva Vaakku) and ‘Kanmaniye Pesu’ (Kaaki Chattai) are all outstanding compositions of Ilaiyaraaja based in Sivaranjani-Misra Sivaranjani family of ragas. In ‘Solai Pushpangale’, the phrase ‘sogum sollungale…’ touches upon the Sadharana Gandhara giving a hint of sadness that is so quintessential in this piece. In ‘Adi Aathadi’ (Kadalora Kavithaigal), the composer surpasses himself and captures the spirit of Misra Sivaranjani beautifully.
‘Paattu Onnu Naan’ from Pudhu Vasantham in the music of S.A. Rajkumar was a runaway hit in this raga. ‘Avar Avar Vazhkaiyil’ of Bharadwaj from the movie Pandavar Bhoomi is an example of how this raga can be handled to suit subtle emotions on the silver screen.
‘Kannum Kannum’ from Thiruda Thiruda in the music of A.R. Rahman is a creative visualisation of this scale in a fusion of musical styles. The use of the electric guitars, drums and the groovy meter make this sound exotic.
In Hindi film music, ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’ from ‘Ek Dhuje Ke Liye’ (sung by SPB, music Laxmikant-Pyarelal) is by far one of the most well-loved songs in this scale. One cannot forget ‘Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din’ from Mera Naam Joker sung by Mukesh in the music of Shankar-Jaikishan.