Posted by: Prashanth Rajan | February 1, 2013

Music : A complex canvas

[This is more of a conversation put down on paper]

I had an intellectually stimulating discussion with one of my friends Karthik Rao the other day, and we were discussing about how much one can interpret from music.

Let’s just give it a little go. I am sure interpretations of music are rather subjective, but I believe that I am more inclined to grasp what the artist is trying to portray when I listen intently to a song containing lyrics. Somehow, the same doesn’t apply when I am just listening to pure instrumental versions. Maybe I am not acquainted with the intricacies and the nuances of music, and the various genres of music, but you give me an instrumental song and 9 out of 10 times I would completely miss what the artist is trying to paint on the canvas. Surely the people who listen intently to carnatic and classical music are well familiarized and can appreciate the work only because they have a clear understanding of the subject. I for one can only hear finely structured musical patterns, but I do not understand the underlying emotion. I enjoy the beauty of a finely written song, and the meaning of the song is what intrigues me rather than the parts which aid it like the background music for example. And I happen to hate heavily computerized aid in songs when precedence is given to commercializing recurring motifs and not lyrics. But am I not missing out on a great deal by just limiting myself to this confined space which I am comfortable with? By conveniently limiting myself to understanding emotions from finely written lyrical songs and not instrumental versions? I would surely love to know what Beethoven is trying to convey without having to read about it or someone giving me a summary about it.

I am a big fan of Coldplay, and am a huge fan of all their albums save the last one (I somehow didn’t like their new direction to infuse pop in their music (Mylo Xyloto), doesn’t suit them I feel). The beauty of Coldplay’s songs are that they are very deep in substance and most of the times they reflect our lives. But I am not a fan of Beethoven or Mozart only because of my own doing. Because I do not understand the emotions that are being reflected in the song and not because I don’t like their compositions.

Karthik and myself also discussed why people listen to music at all. Some do it just for the sake of listening – exploring different themes. Some do it so that they can identify the phase of the life that they are going through with the song. Very subjective again but I would surely like to know what goes on in the head of the listener as well, just as what goes on in the head of the composer intrigues me. I listen to a particular song when I am in a particular kind of mood. There are songs I listen to when I am in a low mood in the hope that I cheer up and listening to songs have helped a lot. For each, his own purpose.

I also happen to have a question which has been bothering me to no end. Do musicians perform a better job of portraying emotions through music ONLY if they have experienced it in their life ? No doubt, a person’s life almost always influences their work, and a musician’s is no different, but is it absolutely necessary for a musician to have experienced it to convincingly portray in their work ? Have there been any instances where a artist with no connect to the emotion in real life has produced a stunning work of art? I would surely like to know my musician-friends’ thoughts on this.

Aren’t just the complexities of music god-awesome ? I just love to explore chaos and complexities in every theme. Well, what can I say, C’est la vie.

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Posted by: Prashanth Rajan | July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight rises – A fan boy review

[Warning : This fan-written review contains NO SPOILERS]

What a perfect ending to a amazing franchise ! I had always been a huge DC comics fan, and jumped at the first opportunity to grab a read of the Batman comics every time I paid a visit to the doctor and had to wait my turn [Cool doctor. No ?].

I know there are a lot of reviews out there, some good, while some are not completely insightful into the intricacies of Nolan’s masterpiece and epic conclusion to the Batman trilogy. But this is a total out and out ravish review from an avid Nolan fan and a huge comic book lover.

I can’t help but laugh at the short sightedness of some of the so called acclaimed movie critics. Somehow I felt that the viral marketing campaigns that had gripped the world has had a psychological toll on the critics, who in my opinion had just compared the movie to its predecessor or had blamed the pace of the movie or lamented the need for new characters. Let me get this straight. Nolan has given the Batman franchise an entirely different tone compared to say Tim Burton’s treatment. The tone is dark, the tone is serious. Let me tell you this. ‘The Dark knight rises’ is different from its predecessor and for good reason.

Coming to the characters, Nolan is known for giving a great sense of depth to his characters, and this movie is no different. Michael Caine as the faithful butler Alfred provides a sense of humaneness in the movie and his role explores the compassion and emotional attachment he has towards the Wayne family. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Gotham cop stands for ideals Gordon and Bruce stood for when they were young, the sort of ideals that Gordon forsake due to years fighting cops and learning that there is a price to pay for Gotham’s streets to be clean. The guilt that Gordon lives with for all these years after the happenings of the ‘The Dark Knight’  – a result of collapsing ideals of truth and justice. Anne Hathaway as Cat-woman is a fine addition – all the while suggesting that when the adversary is too great, it is only obvious that even the dark knight might need a helping hand. All characters have an equally important role in the movie and form and important part of the cogwheel.

Most of the people complain that the first half is slow paced and was not as good as the pacing of the second movie. Well, I will tell you why the pacing of the movie was how it was. TDKR shows Bale as a much older Bruce Wayne, who is reluctant to don the mantle again, knowing very well these years of physical and mental excruciation has taken a toll on him but is forced to do nevertheless because of the situation that arises. The first half was essentially an important part of the storytelling because it showed how vulnerable Bruce has become, both physically and emotionally as a direct result of the consequences of the ‘The Dark Knight’. How all other characters rise up and become fearless in the second half and unite to protect their city when faced with a great evil – the notion that the Batman is a symbol of hope – and that everyone is a hero in their own right.

Critic point – Bane isn’t as good as the Joker.

This seems utterly senseless and complete bullshit. The joker was all about anarchy. Bane on the other hand is influenced by Ra’s Al Ghul and is entirely a concept based on physical brutality and orderness. If you were a comic book fan like me you would realize that both the Joker and Bane are completely different personalities. No doubt Ledger has immortalized himself as one of the silver screen’s greatest villains, but Hardy as Bane is as good as Bane can be. Hardy has done incredibly well and his eyes emote the cold feelings he possess, which was a result of his harrowing past.  As a terrorist leader who possesses incredible mental and physical strength, his character is slightly deviated from the comic book version (where he is more like a 8ft tall physical monster, the focus on the physicality more than the intellect). Tom Hardy possesses an amazing body language which complements his physique and he commands incredible screen presence . The eerie scare that he brings every time he appears on screen is seemingly evident. In other words, Hardy is brilliant as Bane. Scary. Intimidating.

The production values are extraordinary and the sense of realism in all its raw form just goes to show how much Nolan has invested to make the movie realistic – from building an entire underground mock sewage system as Bane’s hideout or the deep pit where Bruce is holed up. Not to mention the blowing up of the rugby stadium. Nothing short of spectacular. Apart from the brilliant set pieces that Nolan has created, his non insistence of CGI wherever possible, everything is astounding and you can feel the epic grandeur of the movie hit your face. The movie goes into a whole new dimension when Bane takes command of the city. The feeling is truly exhilarating.

Hans Zimmer’s music for the movie is on an all-time high and grips your senses. From Bane’s kickass introduction to the anguish and suffering that Batman faces, from Gotham’s lockdown by Bane to Bruce’s revitalization, the music keeps you engrossed in a sense that it is not loud – it is just blends too well with the movie’s pace. The score reflects the depth and realism of Nolan’s storytelling perfectly.  Two of my favourite scenes were when the Batman comes back to action after a long hiatus, and the scene where Bruce makes the jump – these scenes were absolutely out of this world – that whole increased pulse sensation was evident. The moment I left the theatre hall, it did take me some time to come back to my senses and let my mind exit Nolan’s Gotham.

There are a whole lot of subtle references and certain parts in the movie will you make you realize that Nolan has crafted a whole lot of hidden clues within the storyline (The whole Bane-seige of Gotham in the movie hints at a nightmarish kind of post-occupy wall street scenario) – I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing more such hints, I know the joy when you find out something –  A whole lot of fun when you discover them yourself ain’t it ? Anyways while many still believe and compare the movie to ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘The Dark Knight rises’ is a perfect ending to a great franchise, and without doubt the best movie of 2012.

Posted by: Prashanth Rajan | March 13, 2012

A fan review: (500) days of summer

Ok. This one is long overdue. I first chanced upon this wonderful movie when I was in the sixth semester of college. I can say without regrets that this is the BEST movie I have seen about Love till date. Let me tell you why.

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Firstly, I am not going to laud the movie from a film-buff’s point of view and let me tell you that many of my friends did not like the movie because of what happens in the end(SPOILER ALERT). But this movie was just beyond the conventional algorithmic guy-gets-girl-in-the-end types.Anyways, let me tell you that apart from the gritty non-linear story telling, amazing acting by the lead actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel and great music and visuals, this movie hits you right in the heart, not because it is different from cliche. With each viewing, I learn more and more. The technicalities apart, I like the movie because it is not preachy, in a way that it is subtle but it is also so deep in substance and the brittleness and reality of Life. That it is alright for a man to be sentimental and not be the hard emotionless cold hearted casanova that other movies and popular culture generally portray our clan to be. (Men are under-rated !) That the hero’s young sister displays a maturity far beyond her age- which is kind of humorous, and the very witty jokes and realities that encompass the movie.That it is alright to fall in love, be in a relationship, break up, mope over it for a period.But that it is also important to cling on to whatever makes you happy – in this case the protagonist takes up to what he knows best- Architecture. Likewise it is important to take your mind off, go unwind, and not just to mope around forever. That it is nice to believe that you might meet the one anywhere, that sense of ‘hope’, knowing that she might be anywhere in this world, and you might come across her in a ‘butterfly effectesque’ kind of way. But more importantly, even though it is hard to go through all that sadness and that tumultuous phase, that we need to just move on with our lives, and one short life is too small to be squandered upon by repenting over the past. All said and done, I love this movie more than conventional romantic cinema, say because it is NOT a love story, but a story about love. Right ? And the fact that I have watched this movie over a dozen times and I felt compelled to tell everyone what I thought about the movie and why I loved it to the core. A must-watch for anyone who loves watching different cinema.

BTW God, where is my autumn ? 🙂 😛

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