Aan Paavam | Contrasting use of background score

Aan Paavam is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s one of the greatest entertaining film with a very simple narrative. This is the debut for Pandiarajan as an actor and I didn’t realize for a very long time that he was the director too (his second film after Kanni Rasi).

Apart from the many comic scenes (brilliant Janakaraj, VK Ramaswamy and Kollangudi Karuppayee ) for which I keep going back to this movie, there is yet another main reason. Yes, the background score of Ilayaraja for this movie.

While this movie is appreciated for all the entertainment it provides, Ilayaraja provided a great background score for this movie (and of course the famous Kaadhal Kasukkudhayya song).

Here’s the specific score that has stayed with me ever since I heard it for the first time when I was around 15/16 years (when I saw the movie for the first time).

The Situation

Pandiyan and Seetha like each other as part of the “Pon Paakum episode“. However, the broker says Pandiyan is not the “Mapillai” he had recommended to Seetha’s father and there is a mix up. Despite Pandiyan’s attempt to meet Seetha and convince her, Seetha says she will marry only the person her parents choose. Pandiyan gives an ultimatum – “I will wait at the riverside tomorrow morning. If you don’t come to meet me, I will not bother you anymore”

Overnight Seetha’s parents talk that they also like Pandiyan and Seetha’s father will meet Pandiyan’s father next day to proceed with the wedding.

The next 5 minutes or so is an absolute masterpiece to watch. Its a great screenplay and Ilayaraja elevates it to a different level altogether.

I have broken it down into 4 parts. And these 4 parts have distinct emotions to it. Ilayaraja uses just two compositions for these 4 parts. The best part is, both the compositions are used in a contrasting way to convey exactly opposite emotions.

Part 1 – The feeling of love

After Seetha’s parents agree to talk to Pandiyan’s parents, Seetha fondly recollects the encounters with Pandiyan. Her love for Pandiyan is expressed through simple shots. She is enjoying the night anticipating her meetig with Pandiyan the next day at the riverside. She even has a “Marudhani” in her feet 🙂

Ilayaraja brings out a brilliant composition with just a flute, a bass guitar and a beat. Here you go:

Part 2 – The Joyous Passage of Time

The scene transitions into a joyous passage of time. The overnight wait and Seetha happily getting ready in the morning.

A “Veena” is all that Ilayaraja needed to compose a score for this:

Part 3 – The Painful Wait

Just as Seetha was about to step out of her house to go to the riverside, her mother forces Seetha to help her out. Seetha is frustrated. Pandiyan has arrived at the riverside.

Ilayarja uses the same composition that he used for the previous scene. With just one addition – the sound of a clock ticking. And it just works well for the painful wait that Seetha and Pandiyan are going through.

Part 4 – The Final Joy and Sorrow

Seetha finally gets relieved. She is running like crazy so that she meets Pandiyan on time. Just as Seetha arrives at the spot, Pandiyan is walking away in the distance.

As Seetha finds out Pandiyan walking away, Ilayaraja uses the same composition that was used in Part 1 to convey the sadness.

In Part 1, the composition was made up of flute and it conveyed the love and the happiness that Seetha felt (anticipating her meeting the next day). In Part 4, the same composition is now made up of voilins and it conveys the sadness and the sorrow of the situation.

Bonus: The Magical Timing

If you didn’t notice in the above clip, just watch again at 0:30 seconds. That’s when the audience is revealed that Pandiyan has actually left. The camera pans from right to left. The score exactly changes at that moment of camera panning from right to left 🙂

Ilayaraja would have composed the entire score in one go. Would have recorded it continously. No computers to edit the timing through software.

Here’s the entire clip in full. Watch it in its full glory to feel the magic again. 3 minutes of absolute bliss.