CHENNAI: There is the orange-red of a sunset, the yellow of flowers, and the placid blue of water. Amid this idyllic setting, renowned carnatic vocalist T M Krishna sits perched on a rock, with a shawl thrown casually over his shoulders, and it is just him and his music. There are no instruments, there are no mikes, no distraction. The only sounds are the call of a red-wattled lapwing, the water flowing, and at one point, the trumpeting of an elephant.
As the frames and locations change from an aerial shot where the water swirls around to a silhouette against the sunset to a wooded pathway, it is clear that One by Aghal Films is all about the aesthetic experience. Coming five years after Margazhi Raagam, the first carnatic concert film of sorts One is again a collaboration between director P Jayendra and producer C Srikanth. Unlike Marghazhi Raagam that was shot in a concert format, One is shot at nine locations mostly in the picturesque Nilgiri hills.
The songs are a response to the environment, none of it was rehearsed. “I do not plan, that is how I exist artistically,” says Krishna. “I was asked to get ready at 3 am for the shoot. They took me to the location where they wanted me to sing. It was still dark, freezing cold, and I just sang what came to my mind.” The shooting was all in one take, with microphones to capture the ambient noises. “There is very little technological rearranging, how you hear it in the film is how we heard it on the location,” adds KJSingh, the sound engineer.
The 10 pieces vary between thanams, krithis, lighter compositions like javalis and a shloka, although the order in which it was shot was shuffled for the film. “We did not actually go to make a film, we just decided to go shoot and then see what we could make from it,” adds Krishna.
The concept of the film occurred to both Jayendra and Srikanth because of Krishna’s performance style. The artiste’s manner of ‘singing for himself’ is what led to the thought of getting him out of the concert hall and putting him in the middle of nature. “He is in his own world when he sings, and when we added the element of nature and the ambient noises that come with it, the result becomes a sensory experience of a different kind,” says Srikanth.
As Krishna sings Yamuna Kalyani in response to water or dwells on Sankarabharanam to become one with nature and sruti, the aesthetics of the locales, camera work and the music come together in this high-quality experiment to interpret carnatic music creatively.
(The film will release in theatres from December 5, after which it will also be released through DVDs and online platforms)