View Full Version : History of TFM Page: Part I - the Inception (RR)

2nd October 2005, 03:06 PM
History of TFM Page: Part I - the Inception


1995 was undoubtedly the 'Year of Internet' at IISc, Bangalore. Internet access, which was a special privilege to a select few, slowly was being opened out to the institute through the Education & Research Network, ERNet ('yernet' should be pronounced 'ee aar net' and not 'yernet' as they advice!). People were rushing to explore the apparent WWW goldmine, but soon realised it's actually World Wide Wait and also a World Wide Wrestle for the connection. Netscape-ing (no IE then) turned out to be another avenue of endless time-waste (the *maximum* speed you could get was 3kb/sec then).

During one such session, I landed on a page titled the Sami's Hindi Music Page (http://www.geocities.com/~sm0e/sami.html). I was zapped! So many articles, lists, pictures, etc! For those times, it was mamooth information. When I searched on tamil film music, all I could find was couple of homepages containing a few .au songs. (.au similar to .wav format. Downloading one song within a day would be an achievement, at ERNet speeds.) Of course there was RMIM (rec.music.indian.misc) where Ramki, Lakshminarayanan (of 'classical ilaiyaraja' series fame), Sandya, Prakash were posting intermittently about tamil movies and music. But newsgroups weren't that user-friendly and even less accessible than the web. On my side, I had to go through a really roundabout way to just *read* RMIM, and you can imagine how difficult it would've been to post. Well, that was a time! The thought of a site for TFM started to form in my mind.

That evening we assembled in Pal's room for our usual post tea chit-chat. After some ramblings, the chat drifted to the 'talk of the town' - Internet & homepages.

'Ennennamo homepages ellaam irukkaame-da!' said one with awe.

'Aamaanda, ECE dosth kooda sonnaanda' another responded with a wide grin.

'Dei.. naan 'andha' pages-ai sollalai' said the former hurriedly.

Suddenly one pisthu asked 'homepage-na ennadaa?'

There was a chuckle, and everyone's eyes were looking at each other and they all seemed to finally zero in me. As I was wondering how to put it to this pisthu, a saviour came. "Homepage ennavaa irunthaa ennadaa, homepage-la enna irukku-ngarathu thaane mukkiyam..!" said one karuthu kandasamy. The quizzer now gave him a cold stare, and appeared to have decided not to press further and embarrass himself. There was some talk about 'cool sites' and soon we were talking about music related pages. Having finally found my time, I started to narrate my findings - Sami's page and the sad state of TFM related pages on the web, and proposed the idea of a TFM site of our own. Being hardcore fans themselves, Pal & Ravi got interested and soon started airing ideas. The rest of the makkal (I think) were watching for while, and finally gave an 'aarambichitaangada..' look and left in batches.. (perhaps to check out *the* sites). Deeply engrossed, we really didn't bother and continued to brainstorm.

We came up with some ideas like Master Index of artists, Links,etc and setout on the task straight away. After some hours of hard work, we came up with several pages. It looked decent, but something was missing.. It soon dawned on us: there were no audios on this music site! Recording the songs should be no big deal since we had the in-house geek Ravi. The real problems were selecting which songs to host and the hosting space (that will haunt us for years to come). Pal suggested that the number shouldn't be a concern, but the presentation should be good. We thought of choosing just one song and dissecting it from various angles. I had hopes since Pal was institute's keyboard player and I can contribute on raga aspects. Thus, we hit upon the idea of 'Song of the week' (it later became Song of the month as we got lazy... heehee) which became one of TFM Page's much talked about sections. We had some facination for 'poonkathave thaazh thiravaai' then, so chose that song. Pal slogged with his keyboard for couple of days to trace chords and Ravi & I with audio & HTML to ready other parts. We gave finishing touches to the final writeup and SOW was ready. I thought everything was done, but Ravi was still busy on his keyboard. Enna endru paarthaal, he was still busy on one artist page. It was none other than Ilaiyaraja's..! He was adding a transparent graphic title, a pic, and plenty of HTML-jigina. No other page had such a special treatment. (Yes, appave aarambichaachu IR saranam.) 'Ennada Ravi' endrudhum, he turned a little from his chair, gave a smile and quickly got back to his duty. We grinned silently and just watched it. Later, that too was ready and we had a look at the final product. It looked decent but.. Ravi's face was showing < 100% happiness. "Tamil Film Music page-la ellaame English-la irukke", he asked with his characteristic smile. "Tamil font ellaarum paakka mudiyumaa" I asked (interestingly, I still ask this to myself when a tamil page is made). He suggested we at least make a tamil banner. He opened PaintBrush (now known as 'MS Paint') and using Mylai font, quickly made a gif banner that read 'thamizhth thirayisaip pakkam'. If I remember right, FONT FACE tags were not supported then, so ours must be one of the first attempts at "Tamil on the web".

Our baby, the 'Tamil Film Music Page' was now ready for launch. The thought of ERNet speed struck me then, and I wondered if the site will be accessible at all outside India, let alone downloading the song. We decided to have a beta-test. We sent it out to Venkat who had just left for post-doc to UK. (He is the same tamillinux Venkat, the admin of several excellent sites iyarbiyal,tamilmanam,etc.) He had good things to say about the content, but said the song was inaccessible. Fortunately he had webspace to share at his univ, so we setup a mirror. Thus this problem too was solved. Now we were really all set and ready to announce. Deepavali was coming up, and we decided to launch it as a Deepavali special. And, thus TFM Page went online on Oct 22, 1995... ! There was a trickle on the first day, but slowly the hits started pouring in from all over the world. So were good comments. We were really surprised to hear from countries like Norway, Germany and also from other remote places, and we really felt the power of Internet. It was a great feeling to have reached out to so many fans.

Well, that was 1995 and only the start of our venture. There were more interesting, exciting things to come...

(To be continued)

3rd October 2005, 11:31 AM
A very good start to the series.keep it going RR.Looking forward to more.

3rd October 2005, 10:15 PM
very interesting to read RR...pls continue sir..... :D

4th October 2005, 12:40 AM
Wishing a very happy 10th anniversary to TFM page. Thanks to TFM page team and the hubbers. TFM page pallaaNdu vaazha nal vaazhththukkaL.
RR: Interesting story about the birth of TFM page. Eagerly waiting to read more about it.
Where is Ravi these days? The last time I saw him, Suba and Jr. Ravi was in Madras last summer.

4th October 2005, 08:34 PM
thanks for all those pisthu and karuthu kandhasaamis to make our pass time pass by....thank u so much... :thumbsup:

wish u for celebrating the golden jubilee..............from my hearts

4th October 2005, 10:06 PM
Thanks jn,Cinefan,MADDY & nilavupriyan! I should've covered up to 1997, but something else came up, so I couldn't. I'll definitely continue this series..

JN: Prof. Ravi is very busy thse days on several fronts, but I think he checks threads at times.

Sundar Ramanathan
9th October 2005, 08:05 AM
RR, Best wishes on the 10th anniversary..
...and thanks for all the little joys the forum brought me over the time

21st October 2005, 02:38 PM
Oru vithai virutchamaai valarnthu nirkirathu......!

Best Wishes on the 10th annivessary...

26th October 2005, 09:49 AM
Best wishes, tfm page entha vitha sandaigalum illammaal constructive agha valara enathu vazhthukkal. Special thanks to Prof.Ravindran who introduced tfmpage to me in January 1998, through which I have got a lot of relationships and of course, so many songs.