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Carnatic concert on celluloid trails a blaze

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Preview: (From right) Director Jayendra Panchapakesan, Member of Parliament Kanimozhi and Carnatic vocalists T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri at the launch of the trailer of ‘Margazhi Raagam’ in Chennai on Tuesday.
Preview: (From right) Director Jayendra Panchapakesan, Member of Parliament Kanimozhi and Carnatic vocalists T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri at the launch of the trailer of ‘Margazhi Raagam’ in Chennai on Tuesday.

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: For this kutcheri by T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri, make sure you book the coveted last row. And, do not forget to keep your eyes open, because ‘Margazhi Raagam’ is unlike any other concert you have been to.

“I have listened to concerts for many years, but this is a very different experience,” said Member of Parliament Kanimozhi, after seeing a glimpse of what was to come in the trailer of the film screened here on Tuesday.

‘Margazhi Raagam’ is the realisation of Jayendra Panchapakesan’s dream – to present Carnatic music in a more evocative fashion. An ad-film maker for over 22 years, Mr.Panchapakesan had conceived the idea of using the medium of cinema to present a full-length live classical concert. “I was handicapped in terms of technology,” he said. That changed last year with the advent of Red cameras which could provide a high-end resolution. “This is the first film in the world to be shot with seven Red cameras,” he said. Despite the technological achievements, the focus remained rooted on the performers who bring forth the music that makes the magic. “We were unsure whether it was possible to create music with robotic objects staring at you,” said Mr.Krishna. His fears proved to be unfounded. The experience turned out to be like “sitting with colleagues for six hours and having fun.”

“At no point did the cameras and the shooting affect the musical flow,” he said. “Lot of the flow depends on who is accompanying you,” he added. “When that musical space is created by the rapport you share with the accompanists, it does not matter whether there is one person or one thousand in the audience. We sang like we would sing anywhere.”

In terms of content, both a conventional concert and ‘Margazhi Raagam’ are the same. “The music is the same and the medium of cinema would draw a wider audience,” said Ms. Jayashri. “It is a misconception that the regular content of Carnatic music will not appeal to a broader audience,” Mr. Krishna added.

Audiences will find this experience markedly different. “In a concert, there are so many distractions. One never gets to have a complete experience of what is happening on stage,” said Ms.Kanimozhi.

“Our stages have never looked so aesthetic. None of our concert halls are well-equipped; despite having so many years of the music season, the sound systems are pathetic,” she added.

The experience of sitting in a dark cinema hall listening to 5.1 surround sound and watching the sweat beads glisten as the music soars to higher octaves is unique. “The voice, sound, everything was so intense, so deep,” said Ms. Kanimozhi. “This captures the full experience of a concert in a way that can be preserved for posterity.”

‘Margazhi Raagam,’ produced by C. Srikanth of Aghal Films in association with Real Image Media Technologies, is set to release on December 18 through Sathyam cinemas. The 110 minute concert would also be released in Blu-ray, DVD and audio CD with six-track surround sound.

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