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‘Kaadhalil’: A celebration of Tamil film music

By Dimithri Wijesinghe

“Kaadhalil”, an instrumental tribute to love songs of Tamil cine greats hosted by Soundarie David Rodrigo, will be held on 17 October at the Bishop’s College Auditorium.

Soundarie, of course, needs no introduction, having transformed the western choral music scene in Sri Lanka. She’s a pianist, accompanist, music director, and music educationalist and is solely responsible for  starting and directing the all-female ensemble “Soul Sounds”, the first choir to perform and win awards internationally for Sri Lanka.

About the event set to be held next month, Soundarie stated that the event “Kaadhalil” was originally scheduled to be held in March 2020, adding that, however, much like everything else, this too had to be postponed and rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant health and safety restrictions.

Covid-19 setback

As the event was originally scheduled to be held in late March and the curfew was imposed during that time, Soundarie shared that they did encounter a major setback, considering they were unsure of how to proceed. Virtually for three months, they had been unable to do anything.

“We did talk over Zoom and keep in touch, however it was not possible to meet up and rehearse, of course, and the biggest difficulty was the uncertainty and not knowing how things will turn out,” she said.

However, she shared that looking at the bright side of things, as they were well into rehearsals and just only 10 days or so before the day of the event, they had laid the groundwork and all the learning has been done, and when they were able to get back into the swing of things come August, she said it was just a matter of brushing up and rehearsing over and over again.

She shared that the artists, especially those who perform on a regular basis, have had to face lots of challenges, which has been demoralising at times. She stated that it will most certainly take some time for things to settle down and get better. However, there is a bright side to all of this, she said, considering how Sri Lanka is comparatively doing very well, adding that if we continue to follow regulations and carry on to make events like this happen and share our experiences, then that is the way forward.

A celebration of Tamil film music

“Kaadhalil” has been put together primarily as a celebration of Tamil film music, more specifically music by renowned Indian film composer Ilaiyaraaja.

Ilaiyaraaja is a famous singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, orchestrator, conductor-arranger, and lyricist who works in the Indian film industry, predominantly in Tamil and Telugu. He has also worked in Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, and Hindi films and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian music composers of all time, reputed to be the world’s most prolific composer, with an unprecedented volume of work to his name. Nicknamed “Isaignani”, which means “musical genius”, and often referred to as the maestro, Ilaiyaraaja’s work is known to have introduced western musical sensibilities in the Indian film musical mainstream.

Sounderie shared that Ilaiyaraaja’s music is rich with western and classical influences, and therefore has a wide appeal to be enjoyed by all. She added that the event will feature a number of A.R. Rahman favourites as well.

What will be a new experience concerning the event would be that it is set to be predominantly instrumental, with instrumental scores taking centre stage. However, they will be featuring upcoming vocalists who will be lending their voices to the occasion.

One such notable voice would be Megan Dhakshini, who was also the vocalist who performed Sounderie’s original composition titled Kaadhalil, recorded, mixed, and mastered at Soundasia Studios, which premiered in 2 September this year.

The beautiful Tamil love song was composed and directed by Sounderie herself and was released together with its accompanying music video which has since been viewed over 150 thousand times on YouTube. The song’s lyrics were courtesy of  Senthil Kumar and featured musicians Pradeep Rodrigo on bass, Mahendra Pasquel on guitar, Indika Rajintha on flute, and Shane John on drums.

The music video, which was a beautifully haunting visual representative of the song’s gorgeous mellow melody about heartbreak and true love, was directed by Sachith and Rukmantha, starred Tanisha Wijesinghe, and was produced by Focus Art.

For “Kaadhalil” the concert, with Dhakshini representing female vocals, Sounderie shared that they actually held open auditions to find a suitable voice for a male vocal and that they were able to discover a number of talented vocalists who are somewhat new to the industry and are not notable names just yet. They will soon be introduced at the event, she said, adding that they will also include some female chorus voices as well.

“Kaadhalil” will also feature Dhanuksha Seniviratne on keyboards, Shane John on drums and guitar, Pradeep Rodrigo on bass guitar, Ratnam Ratnathurai on drums, and Chrishan Rasiah on vocals. She shared that the event will be a showcase of musical talents and you will be able to experience a fusion of music, with all these variety of artists from varying disciplines coming together. “It’s a celebration which shows that music has no boundaries,” she said.

Sounderie shared that all safety and health regulations will be followed for their guests’ safety and convince, and temperature checks will be carried out diligently along with sanitizing, as advised by the authorities.