Thursday, November 27, 2008

Countertenor of the Unheard

'' I love A R Rahman's music. Among the classical maestros it is Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan'', says John Altman, the Emmy Award Winner, who made his debut in India with a Malayalam film. It was Aakasha Gopuram (A Castle in the Air), directed by K P Kumaran, a renowned film maker. Don't you all remember John Altman who gave music to 'Titanic' and 'Shall We Dance?'. Aakasha Gopuram is the first Malayalam film with an international crew, subject and a music with universal appeal.
He loves Sarangi, the Indian musical instrument, tho most. He is a Jazz person, admires Elmer Bernstein and Steve Wonder.
When I met him at Naji's riverside mansion at Thames (we saw it in Aishwarya Rai's 'Bride & Prejudice'!!) he was sharing a story with Nigel, a co-producer of about 25 Indian movies. He is a treasure-chest of mythical Irish tales, unending. It's quite interesting to listen to Nigel and there your time flies on swift-wings. Probably that may be the reason, as it whiles away, the listeners like Mohan Lal and Sreenivasan huddled together all ears.

John Altman told us about the online music sharing.He prefers to hear, "I went out and bought a CD", to "I downloaded an album from the internet".

Bollywood is bridging out to Hollywood. And John may be one of the many who flies over a host of boundaries to reach Indian theatres, be it screen or stage.

Snigdha was happy to cover Nigel and John for 'Outlook' and me a for a couple of other Indian publications.

Aakasha Gopuram was an Indian adaptation of 'Master Builder' by Henrik Ibsen, entirely shot in the UK. As a newly landed immigrant, Albert Samson was undergoing all sorts of hassles. He went pillar to post to earn a living. Like a migratory bird he changed his nests quite often. All of a sudden his cycle of fate changes. All the doors had been opened and he climbed the ladders of success crushing off all stood against his whims and fancies. In his journey of becoming a successful architect he turned stubbornly resolute to the soft corners of human relationships. But on the other hand, his personal life started eroding away. He confessed to Dr Issac that he stopped building towers and skyscrapers as the inhabitants in those do not know how to live peacefully there. The Halvard Soleness in 'Master Builder became Mohan Lal's Albert Samson in Aakasha Gopuram. Sreenivasan, the scene-stealer-comedian of Malayalam screen acts in a serious role of Dr Issac, which is Dr. Herdel for Ibsen.

I tip my hat to K P Kumaran, for taking up such a challenge.