Concert with a cinematic impact, an ad-man’s brain child
CHENNAI: The magic of a live Carnatic concert blended with the visual impact of cinema – this was the sensory potion Jayendra Panchapakesan wanted to brew.
In his quest to provide the listener with an equally evocative visual experience, he started toying with the idea of filming a live concert four years ago. “Shooting a live performance on film is a difficult exercise,” he says, explaining what would have been a painful effort before the advent of digital technology. “You could run out of film,” which meant losing the essence of a live performance.
“Even two or three years ago, we had a far lower quality of digital equipment,” he says. The current technology provided him the right means. “We shot on Red cameras, which have a resolution of 4K. This is the first film to be shot with seven Red cameras in the world,” he says.
Thus began the journey to realise his pet idea – a concert of T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri presented in the format of cinema.
Why cinema? “The Indian classical music connoisseur does not look beyond the talent of the artist,” he says. “The audience does not bother much about the quality of visual presentation and sound delivery.” And, that is where his trained eye, with over 22 years of experience in the ad-film industry, wanted more.
“Imagine if the lighting could change with the mood of the music,” he says.
“A Carnatic concert is the only place where both the audience and the performer are well-lit. The light creates a barrier. Only if the audience is immersed in darkness, you can lose yourself, cut yourself from the surroundings and connect solely with the performer.” A film also opens the doors of Carnatic music to a new audience. “Even if you don’t know Carnatic music too well, you can enjoy it as a thing of beauty.”
Despite the medium, the focus was on the live performance. “I could have made the musicians sing on a beach or in Mahabalipuram. But, it had to be a regular conventional concert format, where the musicians sat on a stage and performed,” he says. So, the Venkata Subba Rao Memorial Hall at Lady Andal School was chosen.
“I knew I had to use different coloured nets for stage setup,” he says.
“The material gives translucency, reacts to light and changes shapes. It flows to the fluidity and tonality of the music.”
As these intricate details, which had started out as nascent thoughts, were communicated to his crew, the notes of ‘Margazhi Raagam’ emerged. “It is about taking the spirit of the Chennai music season to the world,” he says.