Tuesday, January 15, 2008


"About 10 years ago I undertook to construct the principal towers of the Siva temple at Thiruvanamalai and the Vaishnavite temple at Srirangam; I spent my own money on the projects - I did not collect money from others. I could have completed Thiruvasagam also without financial assistance from others, but did not wish to do so. Because, when the project was conceived, I was reminded of a remark made by the late Kanchi Senior Acharya. He said that in the olden days, even if a king wanted to construct a temple tower, he would not do it with his own money, but collected finds from the people for the purpose. The idea was that there should be participation by the people. That was why I was keen that others should also join in this venture."

"Give me half an hour and I can finish a film."

"Western classical music is perspective - look at the number of people involved in a symphony! Our traditional music is lonely."

About Budapest: "For the last 3 years, I have been doing most of my recordings there. The artistes there are very talented - it's a renowned organization with 100 years of experience and is among the world's best orchestras. The conductor, Loslo Kovacs, has been very close to me - I find it easier to work with him than my own brother! Vienna is where most of the world's greatest composers have worked. From the classical to the romantic periods, great figures like [Wolfgang Amadeus] Mozart, [Johann] Strauss, [Johann Sebastian] Bach and [Ludwig von] Beethoven had Vienna connections. Those veterans would have visited Hungary and conducted performances here. My attachment and respect for that soil have also influenced by decision in selecting the Budapest Symphony Orchestra for Thiruvasagam."

About Thiruvasagam: "Like most Tamils, I have great admiration and reverence for Thiruvasagam. It is one of our great treasures. Its unique feature is its emotional appeal to readers. Manickavasagar sings the praise of Shiva and profusely thanks Him. While doing so he calls himself "meaner than a dog," "man of evil deeds," and so on. Manickvasagar, the prime minister of a Pandya king, should have overcome his ego before doing this. In moving, bone-melting words, he makes a sort of confession to God. Because of their very emotional nature, his poems reach the people. All his works are highly emotional and are bound to appeal to every reader. If his songs were mere statements of facts, without an appeal to your heart, they would have had no impact. Thiruvasagam, therefore, occupies a special place in Tamil literature. Hence the traditional saying: "Those who are not moved by Thiruvasagam will not be moved by any other work." I started working on the project as early as 2000. When I approached big people for funds (I won't mention any names), many could not even understand the concept or its significance - they did not realize that it would get a place in history later. They saw it only as scoring music for some devotional songs and wondered why it should be so expensive. They did not respond. More than their refusal to participate, I was hurt by the way they approached the project. Generally I do not go for such help."

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