CHENNAI: Remember Pradeep Kumar, the voice who gave hits like Aagayam Theepidicha (Madras, 2014) and Kadhal Kanave (Mundasupatti, 2014)? The singer and founder of Poorva Productions recently screened his debut directorial, a musical documentary — Arunagiri Perumale, as part of Poetry with Prakriti Festival at Goethe Institut. Welcoming the audience was a live symphonic rendition of one of the eight Thiruppugazhs featured in the film — Santhatham Bandha Thodarale, by the Poorva ensemble — Pradeep, Susha and Sean Roland. “The documentary celebrates the Tamil literary work Thiruppugazh and the mystic saint Arunagiri who wrote this master piece,” said Pradeep.
His visit to Tiruvannamalai in 2013 and the series of events that led to his meeting with Kasi Visveswaran, a singer-cum-mentor in Tiruvannamalai, who threw light on the life of the mystic saint, were the main reasons for him to make a documentary. “During this Girivalam trip, I lived like a sadhu. I met many saints, had some amazing experiences and got new insights about Arunagiri and the interpretations of Thiruppugazh, which has been a major part of my life,” he said.
The first part of the film takes the audience 600 years back to explore the life of Arunagiri through the eyes of Pradeep. The musician enthusiastically told CE, “My mother gave me a very old edition of the book as a child and I always wanted to compose music for eight songs from the Thiruppugazh. So, it basically started off as an idea to make a music album…but, now it has taken a different turn and I have become a director!”
Discovering the essence and relevance of Thiruppugazh in the changing and contemporary times, Pradeep had always been intrigued about the life of Arunagiri. “His works were one of the main in Medieval Tamil literature. It’s unfortunate that not many know about his life and journey. This is one of the reasons why I decided to go on a foot trail to all the places he had mentioned in Thiruppugazh. I wanted to trace his life through his trail itself,” he shared. The first concert took place in 2014 in Boston “It was enthralling as most of the work was through crowd funding,” he said.
The orchestral arrangements were done by Kalyani Nair, singer, and additional arrangements were done by Sean. “Though it was a challenge to explain the rhythm that captures the essence of Thiruppugazh, the team understood it beautifully,” he smiled.
“The documentary shows three parallel narratives — of lord Muruga, of Arunagiri and his life and the other the contemporary period. Pradeep as a narrator clad in a dhoti carrying a guitar in Tiruvannamalai and other temple towns mentioned in the Thiruppugazh is a treat to watch,” added a 60-year-old.
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