CHENNAI : On the eve of India’s 72nd Independence Day, we were treated to something special. A compelling narrative of the diverse musical flavours of our country. Kavithalayaa Productions, the brainchild of late K Balachander, in association with Amazon Prime, launched their maiden web series, ‘Harmony with AR Rahman’ at Prasad Lab preview theatre. We caught a 60-minute montage, which gave us a glimpse into the 200-minute series, divided into five episodes.
The series is special for several reasons. Firstly, as a millennial, we witnessed Kavithalayaa, a production company whose films and storylines have been nothing but an inspiring and thought-provoking step into digital media. Secondly, the 51-year-old Oscar winning composer takes on the role of being a conversational host with ease, as opposed to his usual ‘camera shy’ image. Also, city-based, Sruti Harihara Subramanian, the director, has weaved aesthetics, heritage, ambiance, and the stories of the musicians into a breathtaking audio-visual experience, in this non-fictional five-part series.
“We have produced content for the big screen, small screen, and now, we have entered the world of digital media. From a new logo, and jingle music that suits the sensibilities of the millennials to delving into producing content in other languages, this is our way of showing that Kavithalayaa is keeping up with the changing times,” said Pushpa Kandaswamy, producer and KB’s daughter.
The series takes us on a journey alongside Rahman, and explores the roots of India’s rich musical heritage through his interactions with four artistes — Sajith Vijayan, an exponent of the mizhavu; Baha’uddin Dagar, rudra veena exponent; Lourembam Bedabati, folk singer, and Mickma Tshering Lepcha, singer-flutist. It is also laced with personal stories of the musicians, their culture, and also dabbles with barriers like caste, tradition, and class. “Music should not be limited to one community or one country. I think it should be accessible to everyone,” says Rahman in the video.
Talking about stepping into a new arena after a four-year hiatus, Kandaswamy said, “After his (KB’s) demise, we took it slow. But, we also wanted to take his legacy forward with something different. So, we put our heads together and decided to work on a series that explores our music, culture, and heritage. When we shared the idea with Rahman, he said that he was fascinated by it, and he came onboard immediately. We are so fortunate.”
As Kandaswamy gushed about Sruti’s eye for details, and her passion, the National award-winning filmmaker added, “A lot of love and passion has gone into making Harmony. A year ago, when Pushpa and Kandaswamy came to me with the idea of a documentary film about music, I jumped at it. From the research phase to traveling across the country, and shooting the series, it has been a delight. Rahman sir has a boyish charm, and a sense of humor which most of us don’t see. I hope I have captured that side of him in these five episodes.”Good music and art has the ability to make one smile, cry, and feel a multitude of emotions. This one will make your heart jump with ‘mauj’ (ecstasy). (The series is now streaming on Amazon Prime)