October 2007: Rubber Stamped
by Elizabeth Menon

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'Rubber Stamped'!

I have learned something new last week: a new title for all singers: 'Rubber Stamps'!! I am not quite sure whether this title is only for singers from Kerala or singers world wide! Apparently, one of the music directors in Kerala bestowed this on Chithra and all the other singers. Music director Alex Paul revealed this 'New title' during an interview and it was reported in a Newspaper. He was talking about Chithra's singing and her ability to absorb and reproduce everything according to the music director. When he was asked by the reporter about his usage of the word 'Rubber stamps' and whether it's appropriate to call all singers 'Rubber stamps', he apparently said, ''Yes''. If he made a mistake in calling Chithra, who is blessed with a voice that is inimitable and quite celestial, 'Rubber Stamp', he could have changed it; to the contrary, he repeated his statement saying that all singers are rubber stamps! He explained that the music director makes the vocalists sing repeatedly, till they do it exactly the way he wants. One can understand that principle, but to call all singers 'Rubber stamps' is quite insulting and beyond comprehension. Each singer has his or her identity that is reflected in every song, be it the voice or the meaningful rendering. Of course, this quality varies with each singer and all singers collectively include also Yesudas, whom Malayalees have given the Gandharva status or even beyond! One must also remember here that Chithra is respected almost like a Goddess in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

It's a known fact that a song is a combined effort of the one who writes the lyrics, one who does the music and finally the singer; one without the other does not make to much. Music lovers know the power of music directors like Babu Raj, Raveendran, Devarajan, Dakshina Murthy...., the list is endless! Even the best music director may not be able to make a hit song without a talented singer, even with the best lyrics; best music director may be able to make a hit song with a badly written song, but only with someone with a voice that has meaningful depth and range. But a singer with a captivating voice can make a hit song, even with a badly written lyrics and a music to match! There are so many examples of songs, with average music and good lyrics, average lyrics and good music or even good music and lyrics, which go unnoticed when sung by an average singer and attain classic status when sung by a singer, blessed with the celestial voice. A music director can bring out the best in a singer and if that singer has a voice that has meaningful depth and range, the result would be a delight; but that doesn't make that singer, a 'Rubber stamp'!

A song with the beautiful lyrics comes to life when matched with the best singer and the quality of the song will only improve with good music direction. There is no doubt that a good song requires good lyrics, good music direction and of course a good singer; quality of the song ultimately depends on the singer, helped by the writer and director, of course. So there is no argument here that it is a combined effort: one doesn't exist without the others and to call all singers, '' Rubber Stamps'' is insulting and meaningless. It's a pity that he chose to use this word and let's hope that Alex Paul didn't mean it when he used the word 'Rubber Stamp': a lesson to all, in using words correctly and appropriately!

BFI 51st London Film Festival: 17 October- 1 November 2007

It's that time of the year when great films from all over the world come to London! London Film Festival Starts on 17 October with the opening night gala showing David Cronenberg's 'Eastern Promises' and finishes on 1 November with the closing night gala showing Wes Anderson's 'The Darjeeling Limited', a train voyage across India. There are around 184 feature films and 133 short films from 43 countries which will be shown at various venues in London, BFI Southbank, Odeon West End, Odeon Leicester Square, Tricycle Cinema, Cine Lumière, ICA Cinema, Ritzy Cinema and Waterman's art Centre.

There are five Indian films including one Malayalam Film, 'Four Women'. All have subtitles.

1. Four Women: Malayalam: Adoor Gopala Krishnan: Sunday 28 Oct 14.15 Tricycle/ Thursday 1 Nov 18.00 OWE1/ Manju Pillai, Nanditha Das/ 105 Mins

2. Frozen: Hindi : Shivajee Chandrabhusan: Sat 27 Oct 12.30 OWE1/Sun 28 Oct 18.00 Watermanns/ Danny Dengzongpa, Gouri / 110 Mins

3. The Last Lear: Ritu Parno Ghosh: Thursday 18 Oct 13.15 OWE2/ Sun 21 Oct 13.00 OWE1/ Amitab Bachan, Preity Zinta, 123 Mins

4. Mahek : K. Kanade : Sat 27 Oct 18.15 NFT2 / Shreya Sharma, Anuya Bhagavat / 80 Mins

5. Voyeurs Ami,Yasin Arr Amar Madhubala: Budhadeb Dasgupta : Thursday 18 Oct 16.15 NFT1/ Sat 20 Oct 16.15 NFT1/ Prosenjit Chatterji, Sameera Reddy/ 110 Mins

6. The World Unseen: Shamim Sarif: Tues 23 Oct 2045 NFT3/ Wed 24 Oct 1 4.00 NFT1/ Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth/ 110 Mins ( UK- South African film about two Indian women in South Africa)

Booking starts on 29 September: on line at www.lff.org.uk or by telephone: 0207 928 3232 or in person.

Enjoy the Festival! Bye for now,


© E Menon



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