Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Of Devas and Divas
October 10, 2008

In recent months I’ve been exploring a wealth of Indian classical music and dance on YouTube. Here are a few of my favourite discoveries…

First up are a couple of clips from a pair of films featuring Padmini (1932-2006), the multi-lingual (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) actress and trained Bharathanatyam dancer who starred in over 250 movies.

The first is from the 1956 Tamil language film Madurai Veeran. The song is entitled Aadal Kaaneero. The music is by  G Ramanatha and the lyrics by Kannadasan. The singer is M L Vasanthakumari.  

The second is from a 1954 Hindi language film called Sheev Bhakta. Padmini plays a devadasi, performing a dance of adoration dedicated to Shiva:

The next pair of clips are from the 1962 Tamil-language film Konjum Salangai, and showcase the mindbogglingly expressive talents of another diva of Indian classical dance, Kumari Kamala (1934- )

In the first, Kamala’s character – a court dancer – performs solo, while in the second she participates in an extraordinary 10 minute-long “dance-off” against a jealous rival that has to be seen to be believed!

Finally, here’s a rather funky devotional piece from the 2001 film Kottai Mariamman. I don’t know the identity of the dancer, but the green-faced woman with the trident is evidently meant to be the Goddess Durga; Indian films often feature such matter-of-fact interactions with Hindu deities:

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A great love
June 6, 2008

One of the drawbacks of maintaining a decades-long commitment to the promotion of such a broad and constantly-evolving musical idiom as ambient, is the need to ration one’s listening time; the sheer volume of new ambient that’s being produced in the world today precludes the possibility of any one person ever maintaining encyclopedic, up-to-the-minute knowledge of it all.

Consequently, I’ve tended to comprehensively explore the creative output of a number of key artists on a cyclic basis, periodically expanding the list of artists as I go. However, the sequential nature of this approach means that I can easily remain almost completely ignorant of the work of many other artists – even major ones – for years at a stretch.

And then, one day, I’ll stumble across something which grabs me by the throat and beats me about the head repeatedly with its sheer unadulterated, vibrant, radiant, pulsating wonderfulness.

Something which screams “go out and buy every album this person ever produced right now and spend the next three weeks immersing yourself in their brilliance, you ignorant dolt!”

Something like this:

Truly great art by a truly great artist. The lyrics “a great love cut her life” are both prophetic and acutely poignant in light of Ofra Haza‘s tragic death of AIDS-related complications in 2000, at the age of only 42 – a consequence of contracting the HIV virus from her “great love” – husband, Doron Ashkenazi.  

Thankfully we can still delight in her prodigious musical legacy…