A concert was held by the Isai Mottugal to commemorate their 1000th stage show at Sabari Convention Centre, T. Nagar, on May 21. Isai Mottugal is a unique orchestra comprising children ranging from four to 18 years. The idea of an ‘all-child' orchestra became a reality when M. Gopal, a professional drummer, started the organisation.
Gopal founded the DRUM (A) LAYAM, to teach the kids about the art of drumming. “On the second anniversary in 2003, the kids created unique sounds in the form of rhythms using basketballs, pipes, and kitchen items in front of music director Bharadwaj and producer AVM Saravanan,” said a visibly proud Gopal. He also said that DRUM (A) LAYAM had some children perform in some of their other shows. This according to him, led to the idea of creating a children's orchestra.
The ensemble had their first major programme on May 24, 2004. The show was a roaring success which catapulted them to instant fame. Gopal reminisces about the occasion when the group performed along with singer S.P. Balasubramanium and “Drums” Shivamani at the Kamaraj Arangram. After that Shivamani invited them to perform at the Pogo TV's Amazing Kids Award Function at Mumbai the same year. The DRUM (A) LAYAM performed along with A.R. Rahman in various shows in Mumbai and Chennai.
The troop performed in the 450 week celebrations of the “Sapthaswarangal,” a popular musical show in the Sun TV.
They also performed in various TV channels. They got offers to perform for a variety of stage shows. Their most exciting stage performance happened in Sri Lanka in 2007 where they sang along with playback singers Ranjith and Prasana. The members of the troop, P.L. Krishnamoorthy and Nithyashree, gave sterling performances in different seasons of Airtel Super Singer Junior contest with Krishnamoorthy winning the title. Oviya and Srisha did very well in various music reality shows in other television channels. The singers of the ensemble are also getting various movie offers.
Parathasarathy sang the ‘Choo Choo Mari' song for the film ‘Poo'. Srisha, 13, says “I want to become a professional singer,” and has already sung three songs in a Tamil movie ‘Kaliyattam'.
This young band of 20 making their way into the world of music has succeeded in unlocking their creative potential in the form of singing. With 10 vocalists and equal number of instrumentalists energy, innovation and imaginative sensitivity make the brigade savvy and smart.
On the occasion of the organisation's 1000 concert, peppy and light hearted songs of M.S. Vishwanathan, Ilaiyaraja, A.R. Rahman, Harris Jayaraj and Anirudh Ravichander left the audience revelling in fun, frolic and excitement.
Four-year-old Arjun's renditions of songs like ‘Why this kolaveri?' found the audience in a state of frenzy. With admiration and pride writ large on their faces, the parents and others enjoyed the popular numbers like ‘Roja poo aadivandadhu' (Agni Nakshatram), ‘Irrukaanaa' (Nanban), ‘Minsara poove' (Padaiyappa). It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery and the troupe's rendition of the ‘Mama-Mapile' song from the Sivaji starrer ‘Bale Pandiya' did just that, with the singers performing the roles of Sivaji, M.R. Radha and Balaji.
Singing from memory
Exposure to music at an early age promotes creativity and enhances cognitive skills.
“The kids are involved and have passion for music. This is evident as they sing over 600 songs purely from memory,” says Gopal. He adds by saying that the training is done only on weekends and thus studies are not affected. Gopal can be contacted through 984004 62694 or 94442 31111.
(Nivedita is a III year student of Journalism, MOP Vaishnav College for Women.)