Feb 5, 2023

My Favorite 9 : Love duets composed by Ilayaraaja

My favorite top 9 romantic duet Tamil songs composed by Maestro Ilayaraaja...It was a very tough task to filter down just 9 among the hundreds of my favorite Raaja sir duet melodies. But finally this is my list for various reasons.

1. Valaioosai kalakalakalavena ( movie : Sathya, 1988) 

This evergreen song from the 80s was written by Kavingar Vaali and sung by the legends SP Balasubramanium (SPB) and Lata Mangeshkar. Lataji's voice adds a "chill" to the breezy sindhu bairavi composition by Raaja sir. The perfect song if you are on a long drive or sitting on a bus by the window with the breeze on your face! Watch out for the quirky bass line. Love the picturization of the song and the onscreen chemistry between Kamal hassan and Amla..

2. Kaadhal kavidhaikal ( movie : Gopura Vasalile, 1991)

A feel good romantic song penned by Piraisudan and sung beautifully by SPB and Chithra. Raaja sir has deftly used the Maya maalava gowlai ragam with his trademark strings and flute combo interludes to give us a peppy melody. 

3. Pothi vechha ( movie: Mann vaasanai, 1983)

Kavingar Vairamuthu's flawless lyrics form the base for this rustic yet sophisticated composition by Raaja sir. This is arguably one of Raaja sir's best preludes. Singers SPB and S.Janaki have given life to the song with their playfully romantic expressions. The 1st interlude almost starts like a symphony with violins that settle into a short guitar line which seamlessly culminates with nadaswaram and thavil....unbelievable transformation possible only by the maestro. The clap portion that follows is just magical. The 2nd interlude is another masterpiece with flute and strings. A truly magical composition!

4. Vaa vaa Anbe Anbe (movie: Agni Natchathiram, 1988) 

Sivaranjani is a ragam generally associated with pathos ..but in the hands of Raaja sir, it has transformed into some of the most lingering romantic melodies. This song is one such gem.. It is written by kavingar Vaali and beautifully rendered by Yesudas and Chithra. 

5. Nee partha paarvaikoru nandri ( movie: Hey Ram, 2000)

This song is a treat to the ears by singers Asha Bhosle and Hariharan. Kamal hassan himself has penned the lyrics and Raaja sir mesmerizes me with this soulful composition. The Bengali poetry recited by Rani Mukerjee along with the Piano prelude played by the great Viji Manuel adds the required sensuality to launch the song into a blissful orbit. Mesmerizing!

6. Kodiyilae Malliyappu (Movie: Kadalora kavidhaigal, 1986)

A song that I can hear on the loop in the soulful voice of singer Jayachandran along with S.Janaki. Vairamuthu's lyrics add color to this awesome composition by Raaja sir. The interplay of Violins, Violas, cellos, flutes with Viji Manuel's Keyboard give the song a symphonic grandness yet there is a tenderness overall. Watch out for the Bass underlines that are unique to Raaja sir. Truly a Masterpiece !

7. Roja ondru mutham (movie : Komberi Mookan,  1984)

One of my all time favorites, this song is very delicately sung by SPB and S.Janaki. Vairamuth has penned the soothing lyrics. Raaja sir almost has composed a romantic lullaby that literally is honey to our ears! Watch out for the second interlude that goes out of the box and returns gracefully back to the song!

Another version of the same song is Theeram thedi olam padi with a completely different orchestration and treatment by Raaja sir in the Malayalam movie Unaru that came in the same year.

8. O Butterfly (movie: Meera, 1992)

Kavingar Vaali has peened this beautiful number. The legend SPB takes the sung to another level. The female voice is another legend Asha Bhosle. However I always have felt that a younger female voice could have added more sensuality to the song. I love how SPB improvises this song on live stage performances ! Please watch out for Raaja sir's mesmerizing Chromatic string arrangements towards the fag end of the song ...  goosebumps guaranteed !

Oh butterfly is personally special to me as this was the first song I learnt to play Bass guitar - taught by Shamim, my Music guru at college. 

9. Poo vaadai Kaatru ( movie : Gopurangal saivadhillai, 1982)

You might find this a surprise choice in the list. If you have not heard it, please do so with ear phones to truly enjoy this intricately playful composition by Raaja sir. Just listening to the running Bass lines is enough to take you to heaven! With Vairamuthu's cool lyrics and extraordinary rendition by S.Janaki and Krishnachandran , this song should have received more attention.  

Also Visit Love duets in Ilayaraaja's voice for my favorite 9 sung by Raaja sir himself.

So what is your top 9 Raaja duets?

Feb 3, 2023

Paragon lunch

Today I had to visit Kochi (Cochin) on an official trip. After my work got over by mid day, I decided to take my juniors to the famous Paragon Restaurant at the Lulu mall. I have great memories of Paragon that I had visited many a times in Calicut about a decade ago with my regional boss Mr.RK. But I was not sure if the Cochin branch will meet the same Calicut standard.

Paragon was originally opened in 1939 at Calicut and has maintained a long legacy with its quality and taste! 

The afternoon rush was surprising. We had to nearly wait for 20 minutes to get a seat! We ordered a plate each of Mutton and Chicken Biriyanis. The biriyani here is unique... typical "calicut" style - that is mildly flavorful with lots of dry grapes.  For the sides we tried their Hamour fish fry and squid panfry. Both were fresh and tasty. We ended with their popular dessert - the elaneer payasam. It was an enjoyable meal. 

The waiting customers

With my team mates Vivek and Masthan

Hamour Fish fry

Mutton Biriyani

Squid pan fry

Elaneer payasam

We also came to know that Paragon has recently opened a branch in Bangalore and that too in a building (1 Sobha at St Marks road) I had concept designed when I was with Sobha Ltd. Need to check it out soon...

Jan 22, 2023

Pongal celebrations at Sobha city


The Tamil Sangam at our residential society (Sobha City) organized a grand two day pongal celebration event at our Sobha city Club house. The grand festivities included cultural shows, sports events and culminated with a delicious community lunch! Here are some glimpses of the festivities...

Traditional Kolam

Program started with Mangala isai...

Thiruvalluvar in action

V.O.C in action

Traditional oyil aatam

Traditional dance

Folk dance

Actress Anju Aravind trained the traditional dancers

Children of Sobha city in colorful attire

Little Barathiyar

The grand traditional vegetarian lunch on plantain leaf

An array of side dishes

Crispy Appalams


On the leaf...a sumptuous lunch

Jan 19, 2023

Ashokism award 2022 ...Kadaisi Vivasayi

My choice for the best Tamil movie of 2022 goes to Kadaisi Vivasayi (The Last Farmer)...a film by Director M.Manikandan. The down to earth story of a simple 80 year old farmer has been told with metaphorical layers of surrealism and spiritualism yet staying within grounded realism. Every character is believable. Manikandan does a superlative job in conveying the messages on social issues without being preachy. Nallandi as the farmer impresses you from his first shot till the finish. Its hard to believe that this is his first movie! Sad to know he passed away before the movie hit the screen. Vijay Sethupathi does a lovely cameo role. Manikandan's camera work was a treat to watch. I would love to see more of such grounded movies in Tamil... Thanks Manikandan.

[The movie is on Sony liv if you plan to watch on OTT]

Other praise worthy movies I saw in 2022 were  Gargi and Taanakkaran

Best Song of 2022 :  Chola Chola from PS1 
Composer : AR Rahman
Singers : VM Mahalingam , Nakul Abhyankar and Sathyaprakash
Lyrics : Ilango Krishnan

Jan 16, 2023

Yellow Station !

 The good old Cantonment railway station in Bangalore... In yellow avatar 

#clicked on the way

Jan 15, 2023

My favorite black fastrack

My black fastrack watch turns 25 this year and still runs faithfully on time and remains the favorite among my watches! I wear it on special occasions even today... My memory goes back to the day I "met" my watch for the 1st time!

During my M.Arch days (1998) at SAP with a column I had painted...the new fastrack on my hand!

It was the year 1998 and I had just joined The School of Architecture and Planning (SAP) at Chennai for my Masters degree in Architecture. I was at the SAP hostel when I suddenly received an anonymous money order for Rupees One Thousand. It did not have the senders name or address..but only a message note saying that the sender will contact me later. I checked with my parents..they had not sent it. I couldn't imagine who would send me 1000 bucks (till today its an unsolved mystery!) .. But anyways I was very happy and I decided to get myself a nice watch of my own liking, as I was wearing an old fashioned watch gifted by my uncle during my school days... In the same evening I went to the Titan showroom at Adayar along with my friend MC Ramesh. As soon as I entered the showroom my eyes fell on this black beauty priced at 1000 bucks! Fastrack brand was just then newly launched by Titan and it was love at first sight! 
I have owned many watches in the past 25 years...but this black fastrack remains very special through my good and bad times....Thanks to my mystery sponsor !

As time flies...
The journey ticks on...

Jan 9, 2023

Bonjour Bonheur Ocean Spray resort near Pondicherry

Our two day stay at the Ocean Spray resort near Pondicherry was pleasant and comfortable. 
The sprawling resort has a man made waterbody as a central theme.  Its a great place to chill out as a group with a range of outdoor activities available. The huge swimming pool seemed to attract many visitors.. The front house staff were generally very friendly. The house keeping staff were also very polite and helpful but it was evident that they were not well trained as you expect in a 5 star resort. The resort lacked in fineness of a star hotel in many fronts..but the overall ambience made up for this. Maybe a professional GM could turn this place around into a world class resort.
The Grand arrival Portico

View from my room 

The water body

at the Amber restaurant
The food here was generally good. The morning complementary breakfast was in fact excellent. We loved the spread and the quality as well. The alacart lunch and dinner were very expensive. The exorbitant cost didn't seem justified at all.

Tiramisu was their best dessert


The quite Mudhaliar kuppam beach behind the resort was an added advantage. It was a 200m walking distance from the resort with hardly any soul in sight.