Vani Jayaram's Tamil Film Songs Chronology
- by Saravanan 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979

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We shall commence our journey through the year 1978. However, before we actually begin with a retrospective of the wonderful songs that Vani Jairam sang this year, let me, in this part, ruminate in leisure, (I am in the "Random thoughts" mood!) over the tfm scene in 1978, especially concentrating on the Music Directors who made a mark, and the female singers who got to sing some good songs this year.

We have to surely begin with Ilayaraja, for he had already become the industry's blue-eyed boy. Every film that carried his name as MD had songs which became assured hits as a matter of course. IR was bestowing refreshingly different and enchanting scores on film after film. The sheer numbers of his films speak volumes of his increasing popularity. 4 in 1976, 12 in 1977 and 21 in 1978. In the coming years, these numbers would only increase more and more.

We have already seen that in his very second year, he bagged the prestigious TN State Government Award for his awesome score in "16 Vayathiniley". It was again in 1977, that producer K.Balaji had turned to IR for his lighting his Deepam. While Panju Arunachalam, Devaraj-Mohan and S.P.Muthuraman were already IR regulars, when Bharathiraja, an old friend of IR, got an opportunity to direct, IR was his musical backbone. In 1978, this partnership created magic in 2 completely diverse themes, Kizhakke Pogum Rayil and Sigappu Rojakkal.

Again it was in 1978 that not being content with merely making music, IR brought about a revolution in tamizh film music by introducing stereophonic sound in "Priya". Of course, this became possible only with the help of KJY who had bought the equipment, and willingly allowed IR to experiment and record the songs in 8-track stereo. TFM would never be the same again!

This was a period when Tamizh cinema was itself passing through an invigorating phase of renaissance. Melodramatic themes with ageing actors in studio settings were slowly but surely being shown the door. While Bharathiraja was among the pioneers of this movement, two others who set new standards in filmmaking this year were Rudraiyya (Aval Appadithaan) and Mahendran (Mullum Malarum). And of course, it was IR who added spellbinding sheen to their path-breaking ventures.

It was not the new wave directors alone who were seeking IR's musical support. Veteran Sridhar, who was an ardent admirer of MSV and who never worked with any other MD since "Nenjil Or Aalayam"(1962), crossed over to IR to create the songs for his "Ilamai Oonjalaadukirathu" in 1978. And no less a person than Sivaji Ganesan is said to have remarked at that time, that of all the songs of 1977, "Senthoorappoovey" was the one he liked the most! (Notwithstanding the magical songs created with painstaking care by MSV in 1977 for Sivaji, even in insipid stories like Avan Oru Sarithiram and Annan Oru Koyil).

And how did MSV fare this year? It terms of numbers, he had more films than IR: 28. And in many of them, he crafted wonderful songs. But the fact remains that many of his songs were overshadowed by the contemporary works of IR. He would still be a force to reckon with, but the irreversible descent had begun.

Let us take a quick glance at the other MDs and their works this year.

KVM's plebeian score in "Radhaikketra Kannan" was a big let down. V.Kumar, as usual breathed melody into the songs of Kannamoochi, Ival Oru Seethai, Annapoorani and Chathurangam. And Vijayabhaskar got to compose the music for a K.Balachander film, and in spite of its name, VB's songs had thapaadha thaalangal! Another film that came his way was "Per Solla Oru Pillai".

Shankar-Ganesh continued to be a godsend for low-budget producers who weren't too particular. Devar, after the stupendous success of "Aatukkara Alamelu" the previous year, continued with S-G for Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam. S-G also gave a couple of great songs in A Bhimsingh's last film "Kai Pidithaval". Among S-G's other films this year were Unakkum Vaazhvu Varum, Panchamirtham, Meenakshi Kungumam and Ullathil Kuzhandaiyadi.

Chandrabose, who had arrived the previous year with his "Mathura Geetham", shot to fame in 1978 with his enchanting "Maampoove siru mainave" in Machanai Paartheengala. His other film "Mangudi Minor", along with the songs, sank without a trace.

Shyam, who had earlier worked with R.C.Shakthi and Kamal in Unarchigal(1976), came together with the same team in 1978 to create some lovely songs in "Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala". Sathyam and Ramesh Naidu peeped into TFM and gave some good songs in Mudisooda Mannan and Melathalangal respectively. R.Ramanujam gave an excellent account of himself in Ananda Bhairavi. When the super hit Malayalam film Madanotsavam was dubbed into Tamizh as Paruva Mazhai, TFM was honored to welcome to its fold, the genius called Salil Chowdhry. (Salil's first tamizh venture "Karumbu" was never released). M.B.Srinivasan wasn't so lucky. Though he composed two wonderful songs for Jayakanthan's "Pudhu Seruppu Kadikkum" in 1978, the film found no takers and never saw the light of the day. HMV Raghu gave an appealing score to Kanchi Kamakshi.

So much for the MDs. Now let us look at the works in this year of female singers (apart from VJ, whose songs we will be looking at in detail).

S.Janaki was, of course, there, right on top. She had strongly consolidated her postion in 1977, and in 1978, she would effortlessly retain her postion. The songs that she got to sing for IR this year were really memorable. Consider a sample of these spellbinding solos: "Matha Un Kovilil"(Achaani), "Veenai meettum kaigale"(Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam), "Vaazhkkai Odam sella"(Aval Appadithaan), "Vasantha kaala kolangal"(Thyagam), "Adadada maamarakkiliye"(Chittukkuruvi), "Kanden engum"(Kaatrinile Varum Geetham), "Yethamirachu"(Bhairavi) and "Poovarasampoo pooththachu"(Kizhakke Pogum Rayil), all absolute gems!

Her list of duets for IR in 1978 is equally awesome. Ranging from TMS to Kamal, she sang with various singers to create lovely duets of lingering enchantment. A random selection from them: "Alaiye kadal alaiye"(Thirukkalyanam), "Engum niraindha iyarkkaiyil"(Ithu Eppadi Irukku), "Hey paadal ondru"(Priya), "Kovil mani osai" and "Malargale"(K P Rayil), "Then malli poove"(Thyagam), "Ninaivo oru paravai" and "Indha minminikku" (both Sigappu Rojakkal), "Oru vaanavil poley"(Kaatrinile Varum Geetham), "Aazhakkadalil"(Sattam En Kaiyil), "Kinnathil then vadithu"(Ilamai Oonjalaadukirathu).

And with IR showing the way, other MDs too gave SJ some great songs this year. "Sugamaana Sindhanayil"(Taxi Driver-MSV), "Ninaivu pothum"(Punniya Bhoomi-MSV), "Ven Meghame"(Aayiram Jenmangal-MSV), "Sindhunadhippoovey"(Shankar Salim Simon-MSV), "Ithu ilamaikaala iravu"(Kai Pidiththaval-S-G), "Penn ninaithaal"(Meenakshi Kungumam-S-G), "Ananda veenai naan meettum pothu"(Melathaalangal-Ramesh Naidu), "Then malar kannigal"(Paruva mazhai-Salil Chowdhry), "Oh kaadhal bodhai"(Mudisooda Mannan-Sathyam), "Ponne bhoomiyadi"(Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala-Shyam).

PS was definitely not where she was, say even 3 years back. The number of her songs was steadily coming down. However she still sang some lovely songs in 1978. Recollect these ones: "Darling darling"(Priya), "Thaalaattu"(Achchaani), "Iyarkkai rathangale"(Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam), "Megame thoothaaga vaa" and "Moha sangeetham"(Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai), "Dhinam dhinam oru nadagam"(Idhu Eppadi Irukku), "Thangakudathukku pottum itten"(Maariamman Thiruvizha), "Orey idam"(Sattam En Kaiyil), "Unnai nambi nethiyile" & "En kannmani"(Chittukkuruvi) - all IR, "Manjal itta nilavaaga"(Aval Thandha Uravu), "Kannanai ninaikkatha naalillaiye"(Seervarisai), "Veera magan poraada"(Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan), "Joyful Singapore"(Varuvaan Vadivelan), "Udhadugalil unathu peyar"(Thangarangan) - all MSV, "Vaa nilave"(Panchamirtham-S-G), "Neram vandhachu"(Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam-S-G), "Kannanukku kovam enna"(Annapoorani-V.Kumar), "Sirithaal andha sirippil"(Ananda Bhairavi-R.Ramanujam).

One singer whom IR brought back into the limelight this year was the great Jikki. Jikki (Pillavaallu Gajapathi Krishnaveni) was the queen among singers in the 50s, and this was no mean achievement, for in the 50s, unlike in the later decades, highly talented and trained singers were many in number. Jikki proved herself as a singer of rare merit in this galaxy of stalwarts like MLV, (Radha)Jayalakshmi, R.Balasaraswathi, T.V.Rathnam, P.A.Periyanayagi, P.Leela, T.S.Bagavathi, A.P.Komala, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, K.Jamunarani, and later PS and SJ. She was said to be one of the two favorite singers of G.Ramanathan, (the other one being S.Varalakshmi). However towards the beginning of the 60s, due to personal and other reasons, Jikki lost out and quickly became history. Though she made a comeback of sorts in the early 70s and got to sing a few songs in the following years, it was IR in 1978 who gave her an alluring solo- "Kaadhalennum kaaviyam, kanni nenjin oviyam"(Vattathukkul Sathuram). And oldtimers who were deprived of this voice all these years got to hear vintage Jikki again in all her glory. It remains to this day a song of mesmerizing beauty.

LRE got one of her rare opportunities to sing for IR this year: "Nee Mohiniya"(Thirukkalyanam). Among her songs for MSV were "Oru pakkam neruppu"(Vandikkaran Magan), "Kottu Potta" and "Azhagi Oruthi"(both Pilot Premnath).

It was a memorable year for BSS as well. "Itho itho en nenjile"(Vattathukkul Sathuram with SJ - IR), "Nadigai paarkkum nadagam"(Oru Nadigai Nadagam Paarkkiraal), "Adiyenai paaramm"(Vanakkuthukkuriya Kadhaliye) and "Rathi devi sannidhiyil"(Oru Veedu Oru Ulagam) – all MSV, were her songs this year.

K.Swarna got to sing two songs for her husband in Chathurangam, "Ada abishtu" and "Aarambam maalai nerathu".

It was in 1978 that Manorama sang her evergreen "Manjakkayiru thaali manjakkakyiru" for S-G in Unakkum Vaazhvu Varum. She also got to sing for IR this year, "Adhu maathiram"(Achchaani) and the famous "Kaanaankuruvikku kalyanamaam"(Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam).

Again, it was in 1978 that a new, distinctly enchanting voice suddenly made its song heard. She sang her first tamizh song with SJ for IR. The song "Vaanathu Poonkili" from Thiripurasundari may not have become a big hit, but the new singer Jency Anthony would attain instant stardom, and in the following 4-5 years, go on to sing wonderful songs in blockbuster movies, at the same time maintain an amazingly low profile (I don't recollect ever reading any interview of hers or even seeing her photo in any magazine!) and one fine day, simply diasappear from TFM, never to return. The other songs of Jency in 1978 are "Adi Penney"(Mullum Malarum), "Aada sonnare"(Vattathukkul Sathuram) and "En Uyir nee thaane"(Priya).

The voice of S.P.Shailaja too was first heard in 1978, though she would make a full-fledged debut only in 1979. In 1978, she gave a spellbinding humming for an ever-appealing song of her brother's, "Mazhai tharumo en megam"(Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala MD:Shyam).

Speaking of brothers and sisters reminds me to add that in 1978, Shobha Chandrasekhar sang a dreamy, magical duet with her brother S.N.Surendar, for Ilayaraja. I am sure at least some of you would recollect the class song "Maalai ila manathil" from "Aval Oru Pachchaikkuzhandai".

This, in short (!), was the tfm scene in 1978. In this year of wonderful music, Vani Jairam reaped a bumper harvest of excellent songs for various Music Directors.

Anbargaley, let me confess that I was a mere child in 1978, and I have absolutely no business to be dissecting the state of TFM prevailing then, as though I had observed it firsthand!! So, if any of you who were old enough in 1978 recollect any interesting happenings in TFM that year, please help me. Again, if there are any errors in what I have written, Mannitharulga!

In his foreword to his famed autobiography (so aptly titled "Roses In December"), M.C.Chagla writes "God gave us memories so that we may have Roses in December".

A few minutes ago, as I was debating with myself about the choice of the songs with which to begin the 1978 retrospective, a flood of nostalgia overcame me. Most of these songs were an integral part of my childhood. I grew up listening to these songs. The very thought triggered off a kaleidoscope of memories of those enchanted days, innocent, carefree and unfettered. True, all for a long time we didn't have a TV, and I used to barge into my neighbor's house to watch Friday's Oliyum Oliyum and Sunday's movie, and when finally we could afford one, we got an EC B&W TV (on instalment basis), and for music, we had only the faithful radio. Ilangai Oliparappu Kootuthavanam Tamizh Chevai 2 and Vividh Baharathi. And yet we never felt the lack of anything. Today I have all the latest gadgets, but I'd give anything to bring back the happiness of those childhood days!

These songs bring a wistful lump in my throat, a sort of happy-sad feeling, it is like seeing a treasured sight through a window, but knowing you can never actually go out. For a minute, I am back in Madras of the late 70s, (with a stepcut and wearing drawer/bellbottoms), with near and dear ones, friends with whom I have lost contact with long back, and relatives, some of whom have departed forever, these songs belong to that timeframe. Sitting here in office today (with an unsuspecting boss who would surely not be amused to know what his dear junior is furiously typing away), miles and seas away, and decades later, older and not much wiser, these songs seem to be a magical time machine transporting me to that lost world. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained (at least temporarily!).

We will commence, as is our wont, by discussing Vani's songs for the Mellisai Mannar.


Swing swing - Vanakkathukkuriya Kadhaliye
Santhi my Holy Angel - Taxi Driver
Ithu undhan veettu kili thaan - Shankar Salim Simon
Kannan mugam kaana - Aayiram Jenmangal
Medaiyil aadidum - Vandikkaaran Magan

Oorai thiruththa oru pillai - Vandikkaaran Magan
Ilangaiyin ilangkuyil - Pilot Premnath
Azhagiya kiligalin oorvalam - General Chakravarthi
Eththanai malargal - Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal
Andhamaanai paarungal azhagu - Andhaman Kathali

Ninaivaaley silai seithu - Andhaman Kathali
Anandam tharum ragangal - Iraivan Kodutha Varam
Nalla kanavunukku manaiviyaanaval - Ilaiyarani Rajalakshmi
Thendralil aadum koondhalil - Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan
Amudha tamizhil ezhuthum - Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan

Mangalam pongum - Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan
Ada Ennanga idhu - Justice Gopinath
Namadhu kaadhal engum - Justice Gopinath
Ilakkanam Maarudho - Nizhal Nijamaagirathu
Sathiya Thirukkolam - Varuvaan Vadivelan

Varuvaan Vadivelan - Varuvaan Vadivelan
Neeyindri Yarumillai - Varuvaan Vadivelan
Mein Hoon Lucky Ladki - Vayasupponnu
Adho Adho Oru Sengkottai - Vayasupponnu
Pudhu manjal meni chittu - Rudra Thaandavam

Kalaimagal uravum Thirumagal varavum - Per Solla Oru Pillai
Paada chollum nenjam - Per Solla Oru Pillai
Sorgathai paarkkiren unnidam - Aval Oru Adhisayam
Azhagaana ila mangai - Thappu Thaalangal
Ammadi Ponnu ennamma kannu - Rajavukketha Rani

Aalaippaar azhagaippaar - Rajavukketha Rani
Udalenbaar Uyirenbaar - Puthu Cheruppu Kadikkum
Aaana Kaanaa - Sri Kanchi Kamakshi
Thamizh vendhan Pandiyanin angam - Ananda Bhairavi
Orey Naal unnai naan - Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu

Nee kettaal nnan maaten endra - Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu
Thaali ondru thevai enna - Thirukkalyanam
Thanakkoru Sorgathai – Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam
Nitham nitham nellu choru - Mullum Malarum
Kannan arugae paada vendum - Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai

Yaengum deivam angae - Sonnathu Nee Thaana
Kandaen engum - Kaatrinilae Varum Geetham
Madhanorchavam rathiyoduthaan - Sadhurangam
Andhiyilae sevvandhi jolikkudhadi - Annalakshmi
Anna un idhayam - Annalakshmi

Kannan angae Radhai ingae - Mangudi Minor
Ellaam un arulaalae - Radhaikketra Kannan
Ponna Porandhava - Radhaikketra Kannan
Aadungal Paadungal - Radhaikketra Kannan
Naan paadam solli koduppaen - Alli Durbaar

Ponnae Bhoomiyadi - Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala
Thalathalakkuthu minuminukkuthu - Mela Thaalangal
Srirangano Srideviyo - Meenakshi Kungumam
Muththamma chinna chittu - Meenakshi Kungumam
Devadhai oruthi - Kamakshiyin Karunai

Kadhai sollum silaigal - Karate Kamala
Naanae oru vaettaiyaada vandhaen - Karate Kamala
Kannaalam kattame - Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi
Kannukku neeyoru kannipponnu - Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi

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Swing swing - Vanakkathukkuriya Kadhaliye
Singers:VJ&JC - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Based on a story by the late Rajendra Kumar, VK was directed by veteran A.C.Thirulogachander. It boasted of a talented star cast. Sridevi in a dual role, along with Rajinikanth, Vijayakumar, Jaiganesh, Jayachitra and others. It was a story of twins, separated at birth, (even an unborn baby can guess the rest of the tale) with one of them being clairvoyant to boot! (I vaguely remember one of them suffering from bouts of severe stomach ache as well. What about the headache that the attacked the viewers?! ) A film of insufferable boredom.

MSV had tuned in a couple of good songs that became popular. "Adiyennai paramma" by Jolly Abraham & B.S.Sasirekha was a big hit.

This song is filmed on Rajini and Sridevi, who appear as Christians, hence the English words in the lyrics. Among the rare opportunities that Jayachandran got to sing for Rajini (Vaazhkkaye vesham for Aarilirundhu Arubathu Varai was another one).

JC: Swing swing unathu oonjal naan
VJ: Sing sing unathu paadal naan
JC: Sweet sweet unathu azhagu thaan
VJ: Sure, sure, unathu amudham naan

JC: Nenjodu ninaivu sumaigal
neengatha uravu sumaigal
VJ: Ennodu paruva sumaigal
ellame azhagu sumaigal
JC: Kannodu kanavu sumaigal
kaiyodu kaniyum sumaigal
VJ: Ondralla anbu sumaigal
Ovvondrum inba suvaigal

VJ: My darling, indha mayakkam
Good Morning sollum varaikkum
JC: Naam kaanum indha nerukkam
naal thorum nenjil irukkum
VJ: Anandam ellai kadakkum
angangal thannai marakkum
JC: Manjangal kandu kalakkum
nenjangal engum inikkum

A lovely, lovely song! MSV maintains the caressing romantic mood throughout. Hark at the way the English words are sung twice initially and then thrice in the repetition. The interludes, with the trumpet dominating, add to the western backdrop of the song. JC & VJ, my favourite pair, as usual, bring to life the singular beauty of MSV's vision.

Listen to it and you'll be "swing"ing with ecstacy! Nenjangal engum inikkum.

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Santhi my Holy Angel - Taxi Driver
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Saruchitra Films' "Taxi Driver" starred Jaishankar and Sridevi. 1978 seems to be the year of this pair. Apart from TD, they were together in Mudisooda Mannan and Idhu Eppadi Irukku as well. However Taxi Diver was the biggest hit of them all. In fact, it was among the last successful films of our Thennagathu James Bond, and did well in Sri Lanka too.

And like that old Hindi Taxi Driver, our tamizh TD also had an excellent musical score, thanks to MSV. The immortal SPB-SJ duet "Sugamaana sindhanaiyil idhamaana uravodu sorgangal varukindrana" was among Kannadasan's favorite songs in his last years. Another wonderful song was sung by MSV himself, along with SPB, "Ithu rajagopura deepam, agal vilakalla".

SPB: Santhi Santhi Santhi
My Holy Angel
VJ: Babu Babu Babu
My Jolly Ranger

SPB: Poovin melliya Santhi
punnagai arumbugal yendhi
Nee vandha pothu
naan kanda madhu
ninaivil nindrathamma
endhan ninaivil nindrathamma
VJ: Poo viritha solaiyile
ilankaatru vilayaadum neramithu
bodhaiyile naan mayangi
un maarbil arangerum paruvamithu

SPB: Vaanappandhal valamaana megam
malargal isappaadum azhagu
Kaatru thaalattum kanicholai marangal
kavithai uruvakkum azhagu
kavithai uruvaakkum azhagu
VJ: Mangalam vilaigindra manamedaippola
Mandhira malairajan azhagu
Sangoli isaiyaaga ulagangal marandhu
thaavidum paravaigal azhagu
thaavidum paravaigal azhagu
SPB: Thaavi varum un aruvi
thallaadi neeraadi saaindhuvidu
VJ: Poovidhazhil saareduthu
polladha sugam thandhu serndhuvidu

VJ: Kodai kaalangal kulirkaalamaaga
tholil uravaada vendum
SPB: Odai neeraadi uravaadi magizhnthu
kadhal padham kaana vendum
kadhal padham kaana vendum
VJ: Un manathu kettappadi
ovvundrum nee kaana sammadhame
SPB: Ennudane nee irundhaal
ezhmai ninaiyaathu en maname

The inane "My Jolly Ranger" (!) notwithstanding, this remains a memorable composition. SPB carefully says "Santhi" and not "Shanthi" and the echo effects of his emotional call set the mood of the song. There is a subtle undercurrent of melancholy running right through the song, I wonder why. SPB and VJ are at their soulful best. The whistling in the second interlude is a typical MSV touch.

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Ithu undhan veettu kili thaan - Shankar Salim Simon
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

When Manmohan Desai released his "Amar Akbar Anthony" in 1977, he himself would not have expected its stunning success. And this lead to a spate of films having similar names in various languages. In Tamizh itself, I remember one more film, perhaps a dubbed one, "Ram Robert Rahim".

"Shankar Salim Simon" was the brainchild of P.Madhavan. It had Vijayakumar, Jaiganesh and Rajinikanth in the lead roles, supported by Latha, Manjula, YGM and Manorama (I don't remember the name of the actress who played Jaiganesh's pair though).

This was the year when Latha was finally freed of the yoke of being restricted to MGR films. As long as MGR was acting, I think the only outside films she did in Tamizh were "Sivagamiyin Selvan" and "Veetukku Vandha Marumagal". But after the end of MGR's film career with "Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan", Latha found herself flooded with films with various heroes. And she blossomed to be a good actress too. Her performances in Vattathukkul Sathuram, Azhagey Unnai Aaradhikkiren and Annapparavai stand testimony to her capabilities as an actress of caliber.

MSV had an instant hit in "Sindhu nadhippoovey", which SJ had rendered with aplomb and characteristic panache, and MSV's Hindi lines (Yehi to pyaar hai, mohabbat ki nishaani hai etc) adding to the song's lure. Other songs included "Vandhaale oru maharasi"—SPB&PS and "Gopurathiley oru chittukkuruvi"-Kovai Soundararajan&Chorus.

In this song, Latha & friends (in tennis attire) are getting back at YGM & co, who had attempted a bit of eve teasing, and Latha tries to drive some good sense into the heads of these roadside Romeos.

Ithu undhan veettu kilithaan
ithu undhan veettu kilithaan
koondil vaithu kurumbu seiyya
pazhathai kandu pasiyai theerkka
parandhu vandhene
parandhu vandhene

Ragangal irukku, pala vidhangal irukku
idhai sugangal unakku tharavo
Indha Rathiyai eduthu ungal madiyil anaithu
inba kavithai padikka varavo
Pachchai poonkodi manjal meniyil thullum mottugal ungal pakkam
ichchai theerndhida aasai vandhadhu engey ponathu engal vetkkam

Panaththai madhikkum sila idangal irukku
ivai kulathil pirandha kiligal
Engal nadaththai ozhukkam panbai madhikkum pazhakkam
avai padippil kidaitha vazhigal
Kanni penngalai kannil kandathum jaadai seivathu budhdhikkedu
Annai thandhayin ennam poloru pennai paarthathum kattippodu

Even in this (literally) pedestrian situation, MSV came up with a song of eternal allure. It starts off with some guitar notes, and VJ opens her account in superb style. Ivvalo sweeta oru dose vaangurathunaa, kadalai pottukkitte irukkalaam! If her humming followed by some whistling in the first interlude makes you long for more, then her lovely prolonging of "Varavo" makes you sigh with contentment. And that's not half of it. Wait till the end of the charanam, and you are in for a rare treat. Vani, without any warning, bursts into a brilliant but brief swara passage, beginning with ga ma ga ma pa, ma pa ma pa ni, pa ni pa ni sa, ni sa ni sa ni sa dha and flies in a Grand Prix pace to touch the pallavi again.

Ivar engal veettu kili thaan!

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Kannan mugam kaana - Aayiram Jenmangal
Singers:VJ&JC - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

A Malayalam horror film called "Yakshagaanam" did brisk business, and that was enough for our Kodambakkam dream-merchants to promptly remake it in Tamizh. Directed by Durai, AJ starred Vijayakumar, Rajinikanth, Latha and Padmapriya.

I remember watching it with terror, and then spending many a sleepless night! The story was fairly simple. Rich Vijayakumar loves the poor Padmapriya. But her Murai Maaman (K.Kannan?) is determined to have her, and one day she dies while trying to escape from his clutches. Later Vijayakumar marries Latha and begins a new chapter. But when they come to the estate, PP's aavi, which is still hovering around, enters into Latha's body. Latha's brother Rajini suspects that something is wrong and thwarts the evil designs of the ghost, and in the petrifying climax, finally manages to exorcize Latha from it.

MSV's songs were great. SJ's two "pei" songs "Venmegame" and "Azhaikkindren" still strike my heart with chill. PS's "Naan aadaatha aattam" failed to create an impact.

This is a mellifluous song, filmed on Vijayakumar and Padmapriya.

VJ: Kannan mugam kaana kaathirundhaal oru maadhu
Mannan vandha pinney thanninaivu enbathu yedhu
JC: Kannan mugam kaana kaathirundhaal oru maadhu
Mannan vandha pinney thanninaivu enbathu yedhu

VJ: Ponnum poovum minnum angam
Kannan endhan kaadhal sangam
Innum sollungal mangai ragangal ungal nizhal allavo
Kannil nillungal nenjil sellungal neengal naanallavo
Neengal naanallavo

JC: Modhum thendral kaadhal nadhiyil
moga paruvam undhan madiyil
Angam neeraada kanngal thaalatta pongum sugamallavo
Thanga kinnangal vaira kannangal kavithai therallavo
Kavithai therallavo

VJ: Sorgam endhan pakkam vandhum
vetkkam vandhaal engey selven
Engey nindraalum engey sendraalum ungal porullallavo
Yengum ennangal pongum thaabangal enakkum undallavo
Enakkum undallavo

MSV has provided a spellbinding tabla support throughout the song. A short Veenai bit is the prelude to the pallavi. My favorite pair at the vocals once again , the chemistry is as expected. The singsong prose like first two lines of the charanam, and their seamless blending with the tune of the third line is an astounding indication of the genius of the creator. The second interlude is different from the first and third. There's an unexpected bit of music in the middle of the charanam as well, before the lines are repeated.

A dainty, dulcet duet, one that will rank as one among the best ever of JC-VJ.

We had commenced our 1978 Journal with some of the songs by the Vani-MSV collaboration, and we will continue this week to recollect some more songs that VJ sang for the Mellisai Mannar.

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Medaiyil aadidum - Vandikkaaran Magan
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

MGR had become the Chief Minister of TN the previous year and the DMK party had received the worst drubbing in its history. Kalaignar wished to mould his son Muthu into a celluloid hero in the lines of MGR, but Muthu's film career was shortlived, and by 1978, he was all but forgotten. It was in this juncture that Kalaignar joined hands with "Makkal Kalaignar" Jaishankar to make "Vandikkaaran Magan". The film was based on CN Annadurai's story and had fiery dialogues by Kalaignar. The unexpected success of this film emboldened this partnership to try their luck again in the next year, but "Aadu Paambey" sank without a trace. However, Jaishankar was projected as a hero with DMK leanings in a time when MGR was the monarch of all he surveyed in TN. It is quite another story that some years later Jaishankar denied this by stating that neither did anyone from DMK invite him to join the party, nor did he evince any interest in doing so!

Vandikkaran Magan had in its lead the hit pair of the 70s, Jaishankar and Jayachitra. How many films had these two acted together! Petite Jayachitra, with her mischief-filled eyes, was the perfect foil for the sober Jai and there was an undeniable chemistry on screen between them. However, by 1978 the magic had worn thin. Jai's swashbuckling image was a distant memory and Jayachitra had bought the one-way ticket to "Gundoor". 1978 marked the beginning of the end of the road for her. Her 100th film "Nayakkar Magal" was released in 1982 after years in the making. She returned to do supporting roles in Lakshmi Vandhachu(1986) and Paruva Ragam(1987). Her performances in both Agninakshatiram(1988) and Puthu Puthu Arthangal(1989) won acclaim. But, not being satisfied with this, she produced Pudhiya Ragam(1991), with herself as the heroine, and her son-in-law from Puthu Puthu Arthangal(Rahman) as her hero! The outraged public treated the film with the contempt it richly deserved. Jayachitra made some negligible forays into politics by becoming a member of the Congress party. Currently, she can be seen acting in "Alaigal" serial in Sun TV (though she seems to have disappeared for a long time now).

I have seen this song on TV long back. A pudgy Jaishankar and a pudgier Jayachitra dressed in royal costumes prance about singing, perhaps a dream song. Other songs in the film include "Paduththaal, purandaal, urakaamillai"-SPB&Ramola, "Oru pakkam neruppu"-LRE and "Nadagam nadakkuthu naatiley"-TMS.

SPB: Medaiyil aadidum melliya poonkraatrey
nee aadaiyil aadinaal manmathan vilaiyaattey
Menagai poloru punnagai pudhu paattey
un meniyin saayalo ananda neerootrey

VJ: Pazhukka pazhukka rasam pizhiya pizhiya pazham
ulloora kalloora thalladumo
Kudikka kudikka manam midhakka midhakka dhinam
vandaattam kondaattam undaagumo
Odai meenaada
Odai neer vendum
Uravinil naan aada
Oruvan nee vendum

SPB: Odiya odiya idai neliya neliya nadai
ullasa pallaakkin oorgolamo
Nerunga nerunga mella odhunga odhunga enum
oodalgal yuvarani oyyaramo
maalai idalaamo
manjam varalaamo
selai thodalaamo
kaigal padalaamo

VJ: Nazhuva nazhuva ennai thazhuva thazhuva varum
viththaigal kanna un vellottamo
SPB: Mayakki mayakki pinbu maraithu maraithu vaithal
anbey un selvaakkin adayaalamo
VJ: Kaathal vilayaada
kaaval kidaiyaatho
SPB: Kaaval thadaippottaal
aaval meeraatho

An exquisite duet from the Master. The swift charanams have longwinded lines with difficult words, but the singers are made of sterner stuff and effortlessly reach the finishing line in singular style. Can any of the present day singers mouth lines like "Pazhukka pazhukka rasam pizhiya pizhiya pazham uLLoora kaLLoora thaLLaadumo" with the elegant clarity of VJ, and that too in that speed set by MSV? The song was a big hit in its time.

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Oorai thiruththa oru pillai - Vandikkaran Magan
Singers:VJ,S.Govindarajan,K.Soundararajan - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

The other songs in the film are "Paduththaal purandaal urakaamillai"-SPB&Ramola, "Oru pakkam neruppu"-LRE and "Nadagam nadakkuthu naatiley"-TMS.

Kovai Soundararajan has sung the last part of the song. His real name is Chinnasami Srinivasan. When Aringnar Anna heard him sing in a programme in Coimabatore, he renamed him as Kovai Soundararajan, as his voice bore a striking similarity to the voice of TMS. KS struggled for opportunities, as while TMS himself was still going strong, there were very few takers for a TMS clone. However MSV, Vijayabhaskar and S-G gave him some memorable songs, and KS made the most of them. Songs like "Engaladhu bhoomi kaakka vandha sami"-Neethi, "Jambulingamae jadaathara" and "Mella pesungal"- both from Kaasethaan Kadavulada, "Indha naal nalla naal"-Aasirvaatham, "Kadavul potta kanakku"-Maalai Soodavaa, "Aanjaneya Anumanthayya"-Kaasi Yaathirai, "Sonpappdi sonappapdi"-En Magan, "Punnaimaram onnu thennai maram onnu"-Muththana Muththallavo, "Kannankarutha kuyil nirathavalae"-Dr.Siva, "Manjal poosi manjam konda" and "Appappa thambi"- both from Ungal Viruppam, Ilaya Thalaimurai title track, "Naan summa thodavae maataen"-Aval Oru Adhisayam and "Gopurathilae oru chittukkuravi"–Shankar Salim Simon, ensure a place, humble though it may be, for KS, in the galaxy of Tamil singers.

This song seems to be the exultant celebration marking the birth of a son, perhaps of Jaishankar & Jayachitra. The song exudes an air of festive and boisterous merry making.

VJ: Oosimel raapagalaa ukkaarndhu thavamirundhaa
Urakkam varaama orukkalichu paduthirundhaa
Pesi vechcha pechchuppadi paththaam masam peththeduthaa
Aasaikkadal kulichava thaan azhagaana muththeduthaa

SG: Oorai thiruththa oru pillai porandhaan
Appan peyarai nirutha rendukkannai thirandhaan
Thaarai thambattam kottungadi
Kai thaalam thappama thattungadi
SG&VJ: Oorai thiruththa oruppillai pirandhaan
Appan peyarai nirutha rendukkannai thirandhaan
Thaarai thambattam kottungadi
Kai thaalam thappama thattungadi

SG: Anippillai thennampillai
kilippillai keerippillai
aththanaikkum usandhadhu ennappillai
Ada sollu pulla
VJ: Oru aaththaa madi sumandha chinna pullai
Thottu paartha kai manakkum vanna pullai
Thottu paartha kai manakkum vanna pullai

SG: Vellarikkai vidhaiyaippola sirikkudhadi
pillai vellaritham poovaattam irukkudhadi
VJ: Kallirukkum thaamaraippo
kaadirukkum malligaippoo
mullirukkum seriyilae porandhadhadi
ingae ullirukkum seithiyellaam arijidhadi
Peththeduththa ammaiyoru panakkaari
nalla peru vecha appanoru thozhilaali
SG: Melidathai keezhidathil
Oridathil serthuvaikka
kaaranamaai vandhadhadi indhappillai
indha kaariyathai verevanum senjathillai

KS: Anandha thenae arumai maganae
naan sollapporadhai kettukkada
nee nallathai kaathulappotukkada
nee nallathai kaathulappotukkada

KS: alaiyil uzhaikkum thozhilaali
unna arisayaikkodukkum vivasaayi
mootaiyai thookkum paataali
indha moovarum namakku kootaali

The song begins with a pleasant flute bit, and VJ enters with the gentle thogayara. The graceful line endings are typical VJ, while the extra soft last line beginning with "Aasaikkadal kulichchava thaan" is of particular appeal. This prelude is the hushed calm before the exuberant storm. All hell breaks loose when Seergazhi begins with "Oorai thiruththa oru", rumbustious revelries commence in right earnest and KS joins the party toward the end, singing a few words of socialist advice to the infant son!

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Ilangaiyin ilangkuyil - Pilot Premnath
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

"Pilot Premnath" was an Indo-Srilankan joint venture and had Sivaji being paired with a Srilankan actress, Malini Fonseka. It was shot almost entirely in the lovely isle. Seeing the enchanting locales the country had to offer, there were a number of films in quick succession to be shot in Srilanka, Nangooram(1979). Othayadi Pathaiyiley(1980) and Mohana Punnagai(1981), for instance. Years later, Puthiya Mugam(1993) and now Kannathil Muththamittaal had scenes shot in Ilangai.

Others in the cast were Sridevi, Vijayakumar, Jaiganesh, Jayachitra, Satyapriya, Thengai Srinivasan and Manorama. It had A.C.Thirulogachander in the cockpit.

The story was a modified rehash of Sivaji's Paar Magaley Paar(1963), which itself was the celluloid adaptation of UAA's stage drama "Petraalthaan Pillaiya". Pilot Premnath is a widower with 3 children - Vijayakumar, Jaiganesh and Sridevi. Accidentally, he comes to know that one of them is not his own child, and he loses his piece of mind. In the end the pieces of the puzzle fall in place and all is well.

The other songs include the catchy "Azhagi oruthi ilanee vikkira kozhumbu veethiyiley"-JC&LRE, the feet-tapping Ceylon baila "Coatu potta mudalilikku kolumbulethaan kalyanam"-Ceylon Manohar&LRE (what a blast LRE has in this one!) and "Who is the black sheep"-TMS.

This song features Sivaji with Malini Fonseka. I saw the film as a child, and remember being horrified at her gruesome death. The pumping stove bursts and she is enveloped by fatal flames. I was too scared to go inside the kitchen at home for days after watching the film!

TMS: Ilangaiyin ilangkuyil ennodu isaippaadutho
salangaiyin oli enum sangeetham nagai aanatho
VJ: Naadenna mozhiyenna
ullangal uravaada
Yedenna ezhuthenna
ennangal parimaara

VJ: Endrum intha bhoomiyiley
unakkaga naan pirappen
Nee thaan en thalaivan endraal
nooru jenmam naan eduppen
TMS: Vilagaatha sondhamithu
palakkaala bandhamidhu
Inai serum noolizhaippol
inaindhen un noolidai mel

TMS: Anbu deivam Gowthamanin
arul koorum aalayangal
Valarum nam uravugalai
vaazhthugindra velaiyithu
VJ: Kathir vaanam ullavarai
kanamthorum kaathal mazhai
Thamizh polum aayiram kaalam
thigattaadha mohana ragam

An enthralling duet. One that will find place of pride among Sivaji's best duets from the 70s. TMS starts off with the sound of the kuyil cooing in reply to his pallavi. Contrast the hero of 1978 who likens his beloved's laughter to the music of anklets, with the hero of 1996, who is reminded of the telephone ringing when he hears his sweetheart laugh!

Hark at VJ's "Endrum indha bhoomiyiley unakkaga naan pirappen, nee thaan en thalaivan endraal nooru jenmam naan eduppen". Soulful is the word that comes closest to describing the amazing grace in her song. TMS sounds as majestic as ever. The song was/is immensely popular. I remember that it went to the first position in the "Isai selvam" programme of Radio Ceylon the very next week after it was introduced, and there it stayed for months.

Thamizh polum aayiram kaalam thigattaadha mohana ragam!

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Azhagiya kiligalin oorvalam - General Chakravarthi
Singers:VJ&LRE - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

General Chakravarthi was directed by oldtimer D.Yoganand and starred Sivaji Ganesan, K.R.Vijaya, Kavitha and others. I remember seeing it in Shanthi Theatre, Madras on its 100th Day (I remember it particularly well, as all children who went that day got a cool pencil as a compliment, and I showed it off proudly in class the next day. I was in 3rd standard then!).

I have also seen it subsequently on TV and remember the story as this: Sivaji (General Chakravarthy) and his wife Doctor Bharathi (KRV) have a daughter, Kavitha who is the apple of their eye. Kavitha falls for a handsome cricketer (Chattakaari Mohan?), and inadvertently becomes pregnant. Luckily, the strict General is away when KRV makes this shocking discovery. What does she do? Hold your breath. She pretends that the child is her own!!!! Sivaji returns and is told that he has fathered a child at this age! He takes it with a pinch of salt and the events that follow confirm his suspicion. I think he sees Kavitha feeding the baby, the truth is revealed, Mohan and Kavitha tie the knot and its time for "Subham", wait... KRV discovers that she is really pregnant!!

Other songs include the TMS-PS duet "Hello my dear doctor! What is the matter?" and the TMS solo "Nee enna Kannanaa, naan enna Kamsanaa?".

This song, in all probability featured Kavitha and friends having fun, teasing some men.

VJ: Azhagiya kiligalin oorvalam
avasarappattaal nadakkathu
Adikkadi neengal aadi asaindhaal
azhagukku vaattam irukkathu
LRE: Aalai annaipathil sooraradi
adhil aasai ivarukku adhigamadi
Kamanai pazhikkum Bheemanadi
naan kaniyaaga pirakkavillaiyadi

VJ: Aiyah oruvagai minoradi
ivar aathiram paduvathil majoradi
Kaiyum kaalum thudikkudhadi
ivarkku kalyanam aagalai theriyudhadi
LRE: Kaathalai thedi povaaro
Illai kappalai pidikka povaaro
Paavam avarukku padharudhadi
pakkuvamaaga vazhividadi

LRE: Poga ninaippathu poithaandi
ithu ponnula mayangura kaithaandi
VJ: Aadai thiruppura kadhaithaandi
ivar horn adippathu adhuthaandi

I admit that there is nothing outstanding about this song, except that it has two favorite singers of MSV coming together for the first time. LRE (Lurdhumary Rajeswari) was a very talented singer and was the other female voice in most films of the 60s. Her voice had lost much of its sweetness by 1978, yet there was still a hint of the old charm. MSV staunchly stood by his protege even till the mid 80s, after which he himself found few takers.

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Eththanai malargal - Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

"Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal" was second in the trilogy of the Bhimsingh-Jayakanthan collaborations. The first one was "Sila Nerangalil Sila Mnaithargal" (1977) and the third in the trailblazing series was "Karunai Ullam"(1978).

We had discussed JK and his works extensively while dwelling on "Veru idam thedi povaalo", and so let us proceed directly to talk about ONNP. I saw this film on TV in 1990, when I was in college, and was lost in wonder. For days afterwards, I used to go on and on about it to my friends! Sad to say, none of them seemed to share my enthusiasm.

This film too, like SNSM, had Lakshmi and Srikanth in the lead. As the name suggests, it tells the tale of a stage actress, Kalyani, so wonderfully portrayed by Lakshmi. Srikanth plays Ranga, a journalist (or perhaps a writer), who is attracted to her. Here is what I recollect of the story: They get into an easy, intimate relationship, with no questions asked. Presently Ranga wants to formalize their relationship, Kalyani agrees, and they get married. Kalyani continues to devote time to her career, and Ranga gradually finds himself disenchanted, his expectations of a traditional submissive wife are frustrated. Kalyani, with remarkable sagacity, understands his feelings, and gently endeavours to put things right. But the chasm gradually widens. Ranga proposes a divorce. Kalyani is greatly saddened, but agrees, telling him calmly that she had not forced him to marry her, and now she was not forcing him to divorce her either. (Nagesh plays a memorable cameo as the "divorce" lawyer). In this juncture, Kalyani wakes up one morning to find her legs paralyzed. Ranga doesn't have the heart to divorce her in this state (though Nagesh cheerfully tells him that now he has a valid cause for seeking divorce). In nursing Kalyani, Ranga gains a few insights into what love really signifies, the understanding, compassion and give&take, all which go a long way in nurturing a relationship. The film ends in this healthy note.

Lakshmi effortlessly stole the show, with her natural and heartwarming performance, with Srikanth too, enacting a complex character, with unexpected maturity.

The film had only two songs, both written by JK himself. The other song is the climax "Nadigai paarkkum nadagam, ithil resigarellaam paathiram"-Jolly Abraham & BSS. Both are asareeri songs, a style that Mahendran and Balumahendra would later adopt to stunning effect.

Both: Eththanai malargal, eththanai nirangal
Eththanai manangal- thirumanangal
Aththanai malarum uthirvathillai
Andha anbenum eeram ularvathillai
Niththamum pudhu manangal
Ingu nerndhidum thirumanangal

TMS: Muththinai pol paniththuli irukkum
muththirukkum thottaal mullirukkum
VJ: Budhdhanai poloru budhdhiyiley
silar pookalai marandhaar bhoomiyiley
intha pookalai maranthaar bhoomiyiley

TMS: Neeyum naanum yaaro yevaro
nizhalaai uruvaai thunaiyaanom
VJ: Thaayum thandhaiyum illaadha
oru thanimaiyil kalandhu uravaanom

TMS: Malarinum mellidhu mellidhu sila manangal
VJ: Mayangiyum kuzhambiyum theliyum sila gunangal, nalla gunangal
TMS: Uravinil ezhum inba naatham, kaathal geetham
VJ: Olikkum maniyellaam uyarndha vedham
Udhirum malargal nallaasigal odhum

Awesome lyrics by the writer nonpareil, and sung with understanding by TMS and VJ. MSV gives an auspiciously apt Nagaswarm & gettimelam backdrop to the song. The song captures, in poetic lines, the essence of the film itself. You are left wondering anew at that genius called JK.

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Andhamaanai paarungal azhagu - Andhaman Kathali
Singers:VJ&KJY - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Muktha films' "Andaman Kaadhali" starred Sivaji Ganesan, Sujatha, Kavitha, Thengai Srinivasan, Manorama, YGM, Senthamarai, Kaathadi Rammamoorthi, Sukumari, CID Sakunthala, Typist Gopu and others. Story and dialogues by Prakasam. Produced by V.Ramaswami and directed by V.Srinivasan.

Muktha Srinivasan, along with his brother Ramaswami started his career in the Accounts Section of Modern Theatres. He learned the ropes of film craft under the tutelage of trendsetters like K.Ramnath and S.Balachander. He got his break as a director in Mudhalaali(1957) produced by M.A.Venu. Under his own banner "Muktha Films", he made a mark in his early ventures like Idhayathil Nee, Poojaikku Vandha Malar, Ninaivil Nindraval, Niraikudam, Aayiram Poi, Bommalattam etc. The 70s and the 80s were the decades when the Muktha flag was flying high. The last film to come from the house Kanngalin Vaarthaigal(1998), directed by Muktha Sundar, and starring a pre-Sethu days Vikram sank without a trace. Though Srinivasan has worked with generations of actors like SSR, Gemini Ganesh, Muthuraman, Ravichandran, Jaishankar, Sivakumar, Kamal, Rajini, Murali and Pandiyarajan, his films with the Nadigar Thilagam are the most memorable.

Srinivasan, an old Congressman, quit the party along with G.K.Moopanar in 1996 and was one of the founder members of the TMC. He has also written a collection of short stories which fetched him critical acclaim.

The Muktha movies always boasted of wonderful songs. Whether the score was by V-R (it was Srinivasan who introduced Vaali to MSV during the making of Idhayathil Nee), V.Kumar, Shankar-Ganesh, Ilayaraja or Chandrabose, the films had great music. Even the disastrous Kanngalin Vaarthaigal had that alluring "Alli Sundaravalli"(Arunmozhi, MD:IR). However, it was with MSV that Srinivasan enjoyed a special rapport and the Mellisai Mannar would repeatedly come out with awesome scores in Muktha's films.

Time and again our filmmakers have taken stories revolving around the Andamans. Andaman Kaithi was a MGR-Thikkurasi Sukumaran Nair starrer that came out in 1952. Kaalapaani (Siraichaalai) in 1996, brought the focus back on the Andamans. Kaakka Kaakka and Iyarkkai are two films, parts of which are being currently shot in these lush isles.

Muktha Srinivasan chose the Andamans to be the enchanting milieu for the film, and in the process, exhibited, in glorious color, the breathtaking beauty of the islands. In 1979, he would shoot another Sivaji starrer "Imayam", almost entirely in Nepal.

AK is the tale of the loyalty of a wife to her husband from whom, she has been separated for long, by a quirk of fate. Sivaji (Prabhu) and Sujatha (Maragadham) a tribal Andaman lass, fall in love. Sujatha, however, is terrified of the repercussions that will follow if her clan comes to know. Presently, as is the rule in tamil films, they are forced to spend a night together, and the inevitable happens. Sivaji does the honorable thing by marrying her the next day, with a village temple deity as the witness, and they are all set for a happy married like. But fate wills otherwise. When Sujatha falls seriously ill, Sivaji rushes to Thengai (Dr.Banerjee). Thengai adamantly says that he would come only if Sivaji pays an exorbitant sum. In the heat of the moment, Sivaji strikes him, and Thengai falls still. Thengai's wife Manorama screams that her husband has been murdered. Horrified that he had killed Thengai, Sivaji flees to Tamil Nadu. There he happens to save a rich man from drowning, and this selvandhar is sufficiently grateful to take Sivaji under his fold, and also presently dies, leaving Sivaji as the guardian of his only daughter, Kavitha.

Years roll by. Kavitha is now grown up, and she is a great enthusiast of art forms. She wishes to see the works of a young sculptor, Madan, who is based in Andaman. Sivaji is reluctant to go to Andaman, as he fears that his nemesis will catch up with him. Nevertheless, he has never refused Kavitha anything, and so they travel to Andaman. Is it any surprise that Madan happens to be Sivaji-Sujatha's son, or that Thengai isn't dead after all or that Kavitha falls in love with Madan?

But what follows gives the story unexpected and interesting twists. Sujatha's uncle Senthamarai, is after Sivaji's blood, since he feels that Sujatha had been let down very badly by him, and Madan too wants to know who his father his, as he wants to make a statue of him, and tell the world what a scoundrel the man was. Due to this, Sujatha refuses to reveal that Sivaji is her husband, fearing for his life. Madan is adamant that he can think of marriage only after finding his father. Sivaji tries in many ways to make Sujatha reveal that he is her husband, but she thwarts all his moves. How the knot is untangled forms the engrossing climax.

The other two songs are by TMS. "Adi Leelakrishna Radharamani" and "Panam ennada panam panam".

VJ: Andhamaanai paarungal azhagu
ilam paavai ennodu uravu
Andha thennai thaalaattum ilaneer
Indha theevu penn thoovum panneer

KJY: Indha mega koondhal kalaigal
kadal neeril aadum alaigal
Undha moga raga naadham
indha ezhai paadum vedham
Andhamaanum unpola azhagu
ilam paavai unnodu uravu
Andha thennai thaalaattum ilaneer
indha kaadhal penn thoovum panneer

VJ: Nalla poovum thenum thirandu
sugam pongum ullangal irandu
Idhu raja raga swargam
ini pesa enna vetkkam

KJY: Idhu yekkam theerkkum thanimai
enna inbam amma un ilamai
Indha devi meni manjal
naan thediyaadum oonjal
VJ: Ungal kaigalendra siraiyil
varum kaalakaalangal varaiyil
Naan vaazha vendum ulagil
Andhamaanai pola arugil

Notwithstanding the fact that KJY's voice was completely unsuited for Sivaji, these two songs were among the biggest hits of the year. They remain to this day immensely popular. And this goes only to show the timeless appeal of MSV's magic. Though Sivaji had earlier featured in KJY's "Malarey kurinji malarey", this was the first time that he was actually moving his lips to KJY's voice. KJY could never impress as a singer for Sivaji, though he was very successful whilst singing for MGR. KJY's other songs for Sivaji were in films like Kavariman, Thirisoolam and Anbulla Appa.

The song is filmed on Sujatha, dressed in colorful tribal attires and atrocious headgears, and a bewigged and big-bellied Sivaji. The song begins with a bewitching humming by KJY and VJ. The opening music is unforgettable, and throughout the song, MSV dazzles with the polish and poise of his arrangements. VJ and KJY sound so wonderfully romantic. The song is a hypnotic experience.

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Ninaivaaley silai seithu - Andhaman Kathali
Singers:VJ&KJY - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Another enticing song by the same pair. This time for an aged Sivaji and Sujatha, when they get together after years of separation. Greyhaired Sivaji, with a walking stick, and Sujatha, in simple cotton sarees, leaning on Sivaji's shoulder, as they take long walks all over the island, and boat rides along the coast.

KJY: Ninaivaaley silai siethu unakkaga vaithen
Thirukkoyiley odi vaa
Thirukkoyiley odi vaa
Neerindri aarillai
Neeyindri naanillai
Verindri malarey edhamma
Verindri malarey edhamma

VJ: Ayya un ninaivethaan, naan paadum ragangal
Appodhum ippodhum thappadha thaalangal
Kanneeriley naan theettinen kannathil kolangal
Kannathil kolangal
KJY: Sendhoora bandham, nilaiyaagum vannam
Samsara theril naan eri vandhen
Thirukkoyiley odi vaa

KJY: Mullaikku kuzhal thandha, pennmaikku pennmai nee
Pillaikku thol thandha annaikku annai nee
Adhikaalaiyil naan ketpadhu nee paadum bhoopalam
VJ: En kanngal rendum pallaandu paadi
Sevvaanam aanen, unnai thedi thedi
Thirukkoyiley odi vaa

The song is a subject of a never-ending controversy that KJY mispronounced "Thirukkoyiley" as "Therukkoyiley". But to my ears, it sounds only as "Thirukkoyiley". However, KJY does sing "Sendhoorabandham" as "Sendhoorabendham". But these are minor errors, considering the mincemeat that today's singers make of our wonderful language!

That apart, this too is a mesmerizing song by MSV. Slow and dreamy, perfectly befitting the reflective mood of the old couple, as they look back in a philosophical mien, the twists and turns in their life. The "Aaaa Aahaa" before the repetition of "Thirukkoyiley odi vaa" is a stroke of the Master's genius. How much beauty it adds to the song! KJY's voice, which always has a tinge of melancholy in it, fits in the scheme of the song so well. As for VJ, appodhum ippodhum thappadha thaalangal! Ninaivaaley silai seithu vaikka vendiya arumayaina paadal.

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Anandam tharum ragangal - Iraivan Kodutha Varam
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Iravivan Kodutha Varam starred Rajinikanth, Sumitra, Srikanth and others. I have a vague memory that it was directed by A.Bhimsingh, though I wouldn't bet on it. If it was indeed by A.Bhimsingh, then that great director had made 4 films in 1978. Oru Nadigai Nadagam Paarkiraal, Karunai Ullam, Iraivan Kodutha Varam and Kai Pidithaval. It was during the making of the last film that he passed away suddenly.

I have seen the film many years back on TV. I dimly recollect that Rajini played, with characteristic bindaas, a negative role of an unscrupulous womanizer. The other songs are "Mangai endraal" by Jolly Abraham & BSS, and "Vellai kalai uduthum" by MSV.

Anandam tharum ragangal
avaladhu veenaiyil ganangal
Kalam kadandha niyangal
kanindhu pirandha nerangal

Kalyana melangal irumurai kettaval
ponnana menikku saandhi indru
ponnana menikku saandhi indru
Kaanaadha kanavugal palamurai kandaval
kannara kaangindra kaatchi
Iru kannaara kaangindra kaatchi

Thaan ondru ninaithathai
thaan seithu mudippavan
Gnanathil sirandhavan Geethaiyiley
gnanathil sirandhavan Geethaiyiley

Sandhosham enbathai thaan thedikkondavan thullugindraan aasaiyiley
thullugindraan aasaiyiley

Kaalathin vegam kuraindhadhendru
avan kaadhalin vegam adhigarikka
kaadhalin vegam adhigarikka
Kaviya nayagan parappathenna
than kaadhal nayagiyai anaithirukka
kaadhal nayagiyai anaithirukka

Namey ninaithu, namey magizhvadhai
naatinar solvaar madhiyendru
Nayagi ninaithu nayagan mudippadhu
nallor solvaar vidhiyendru
Anandan ennum azhagiya yettil
avargal ezhudhiya kavithai ondru
Avargal ezhuthiya kavithaiyai padithu
Aandavan seitha thitutham ondru

A long song, sung expressively by VJ. It gives us a glimpse into the story too. Apparently the heroine's first marriage was short lived, and she is now contemplating another marriage. MSV's song "Vellai kalai uduthum kalaimagaley, nee vidhavai alla adhai naan ariven" relays more of the story, her second husband dies suddenly. But the question is whether she is a widow, for her first husband is still alive!

The song begins with MSV's lilting music, and VJ exudes an air of exultant exuberance in the excellent pallavi. The auspicious sounds of a wedding, the Nadaswaram and the Melam are heard in the first interlude. The next interludes are filled with MBSish chorus voices portraying the meandering moods of the heroine. The voices and the music suddenly become solemn just before "Naame ninaithu", and VJ also sings these lines in a suddenly reduced tempo, and brings forth with characteristic grace, a feeling of restrained angst.

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Nalla kanavunukku manaiviyaanaval - Ilaiyarani Rajalakshmi
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

I don't know anything about this film other than that Jaishankar was the hero, with perhaps Srividya as his pair. The title suggests a historical tale. The songs were heard often on the radio. "Adi ponnaa"-TMS, "Paatondru paada"-TMS and "Manam kavarndhu varum"-MSV being the other songs.

Nalla kanavanukku manaiviyaanaval
andha Kadavulukkey nandri kooruvaal
Avan vallamaiyai endrumey virumbuvaal
anbu vaazhkkiyiley deepa oli yetruvaal

SriRaman Mithilai nagar veedhiyil vandhaan
angu Seethai avan thol kandaal tholey kandaal
Kaadhal konda Janakiyai Kamban kandaan
andha kaadhalukku veeramey kaaranam endraan

ThiruMurugan veleduthu veeram kaatinaan
andha Deivaanai Muruganukkey maalai sootinaa
Kaalamellaam kaalaiyarkku valimai vendumey
nalla kaariyangal saadhikkum thiramai vendumey

Thanneeril irangaamal neendha mudiyuma
Dhairiyamey illamal vaazha mudiyuma
Thannai nambum manithanaiye ulagam nambum
indha thathuvamey illarathil nallathu seiyum

What a spellbinding sermon on courage, with hard-hitting mythological analogies! Indeed Dhairiyam is purusha lakshanam, and this wife gently puts across this message to her husband. VJ brings out, with enthralling empathy, the feelings of the wife who urges her husband to be "Bold, and thus beautiful". As in the case of many of MSV's songs, the first and third interludes are similar, while the second is different. The opening flute notes give the song an arresting prelude.

Another song that comes to mind in the same situation, of a wife wanting her husband to be brave, though in a lighter vein, is "Oru asadaattam en aambadayaan azhuthaappidikkaathu"-PS, from the film Thanikkudithanam(1977). It is said "Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant never taste of death but once", and it is quite understandable that a woman would want her man to be heroic. However, she ought not carry it too far, as James Leigh Hunt reminds us in his wonderful poem "The Glove and the Lions".

Let us recall three lovely songs that Vani sang for MSV, and all from the same film. The film that marked the end of a glorious career of an unparalleled Icon of tamil film history. Yes, I am talking about Soleeswar Combines' Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan.

The life and times of Marudur Gopalamenon Ramachandran (1917-1987) seem straight from the pages of a Hans Christian Anderson or Grimms Brothers' fairy tale. Born in a poverty-stricken family in Kandy, Srilanka, he rose to the position of the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. However, nothing came to him in a silver platter. He had to struggle all the way. But he had the vision to dream, and the singleminded determination to transfer his dreams to reality.

He was 6 when he joined the Madurai Original Boys theater group. His first film was Sathi Leelavathi(1936). But he got his first major break much later in Rajakumari(1947). It was the era of singing stars, and MGR found the going tough, as he could not sing. However, from the mid-50s, with TMS as his singing voice, he rose to unprecedented heights of fame and success. His association with the DMK made him a political force to reckon with. He never forgot his humble origins, and perhaps that is one reason why he would always feel for the poor and the downtrodden and did his best to improve their lot. To them, he will always remain their "Idhaya Deivam", "Makkal Thilagam" and "Puratchi Thalaivar", and he is forever enshrined in their hearts.

Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan, based on Akilan's "Kayal Vizhi", was some years in the making and was released in 1978, thus earning the distinction of being MGR's last film. (Of course, there were a couple of unfinished ventures Anne Nee En Deivam, Nalladhai Naadu Kettkum etc, and Bhagyaraj used a part of the footage for his Avasara Police 100 in 1990). In fact, MGR was keen to continue acting even after becoming the CM, but the then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, asked him to refrain from doing so.

MGR was 60 years old when he acted in MMSP, and though his physique was awesome as ever, the wrinkles on his face belied his age. I think I have read somewhere that B.R.Pandhulu was the director initially, but since he passed way halfway, MGR himself directed the film. MGR's co-stars were Latha and Padmapriya. Latha's performance in the film fetched her the TN State Govt Award for the Best Actress 1977-78. The film also bagged the TN Govt's "Sirappu Parisu" for 1977-78.

I have seen the film on TV as a child, but remember only the impressive war scenes.

The other songs in the film were "Veera magan poraada"-TMS&PS and "Thaayagathin sudhandhiramey"-TMS (both by Kavignar Muthulingam). The story goes that MGR wanted KJY to sing "Thaayagathin Sidhanthiramey" too, but MSV insisted that the song needed TMS's "veeryam" and got his way too.

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Thendralil aadum koondhalil - Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan
Singers:VJ&KJY - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

This lovely unforgettable duet featured MGR and Latha.

KJY: Thendraliaadum koondhalilkanden mazhaikkonda megam
en devadhai amudham sindhidum neram ini enna naanam
ini enna naanam
ini enna naanam
VJ: Mannavan ungal ponnudalandro Indiralogam
andhimaalaiyail andha Maaranin Kanaiyil yen indha vegam
yen indha vegam

KJY: Paavai udal paarkkadalil
palli kola naan varavo
Pani sindhum kani konjum
poovidhazhil then peravo
VJ: Maalai varum neramellaam
mannan vara kaathirundhen
Vazhiyengum vizhi vaithu
paartha vizhi poothirundhen

KJY: Aalilayin orathiley
megalaiyin naadhathiley
iravendrum pagalendrum
kaadhal manam paarpathundo
VJ: Kalla vizhi mogathiley
thulli vandha vegathiley
idhazh sindhum kavi vannam
kaalai varai ketppathundo
Kaalai varai ketppathundo

KJY: Karpagathucholaiyiley
pootha malar nee allavo
vizhiyennum karuvandu
paada vandha paatennavo
VJ: Kaaviyathu nayaganin
kattazhagu maarbiniley
sugam enna sugamendru
mohana pann paadiyatho
mohana pann paadiyatho

Classic lyrics by Pulamaipithan. Pulamaipithan (Iyarppeyar: Ramaswami) was foremost among the lyricists promoted by MGR. He showed his mettle in his very first song the meaningful "Naan yaar naan yaar nee yaar"(Kudiyirundha Kovil), and continued to impress with his artistry with words. His was a regular name in the credits of MGR films. MGR honored him by making him a member of the Legislative Council and also appointed him as the Poet Laureate (Arsavai Kavignar). Pulamaipithan is now again in the news. Jayalalitha has appointed him AIADMK's Headquarters Secretary.

Pulamaipithan won the TN Govt Best Lyricist Award for 1977-78, for his works in MMSP.

The song is said to be based on Aarabhi ragam. A melodious composition by MSV and mellifluously rendered by two classically trained singers. (Incidentally, KJY bagged the TN Govt's Award for the Best Playback Singer for 1977-78). The song begins with attractive notes on the flute and veenai. No two charanams sound similar. And each one is distinctly appealing. The two singers add so much beauty by their briga-laden rendition. VJ scintillates throughout, particularly memorable are her "Vazhi engum vizhi vaithu" and "Kaalai varai ketpathundo".

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Amudha tamizhil ezhuthum - Maduraiyai Meeta Sundarapandiyan
Singers:VJ&JC - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Another captivating duet, this one filmed on MGR and Padmapriya.

VJ: Amudha thamizhil ezhuthum kavithai
pudhumai pulavan nee
Puvi arasarkulamum vanangum pugazhin
Puratchi thalaivan nee
Puratchi thalaivan nee

JC: Idhazhil ezhudhi vizhiyil padikkum
kavithai nayamum nee
Siru idaiyil ulagin sugathai unarthum
vilakka uraiyum nee
vilakka uraiyum nee

VJ: Naanam oru puramum
asai oru puramum
nenjil midhappadhenna
Unnai oru kanamum
ennai maru kanamum
ullam ninaipathenna
ullam ninaippathenna
JC: Naadham isaithuvarum
paadha manichilambu
ennai azhaippathenna
Oonjal asainthuvarum
neela vizhi irandin
vannam sivappathenna

VJ: Ethukai adhu unadhu
irukkai adhu enadhu
pennmai aadattume
JC: Oru kai kuzhal thazhuva
marukkai udal thazhuva
inbam thedattume
inbam theduttame
VJ: Vaikai ennai nerungi
vaikai anai Madurai
vaigai anai polavey
JC: Mangai enum amudha
Gangai peruguvadhu
neendhi karaikkaanavey

Paaliyath Jayachandran is a singer whose voice is forever enchanting. Though a Malayali, his Tamizh is flawless. A contemporary of giants like KJY and SPB, he could never make it to the top like them. Nonetheless, he has sung some unforgettable songs, and for many fans like me, he will rank among our very favorite singers. Of late his career seems to got a fresh lease of life, with ARR giving him some excellent songs.

Though he was quietly making waves in the 70s, he very rarely got to sing for the reigning stars of the day. Whilst he never sang for Sivaji Ganesan (except the lovely asareeri "Nenjil ulla kaayam ondru" in Rishimoolam), he sang two songs for MGR, one was "Ethanai manidhargal"(Needhikku Thalai Vanangu) and the other was this "Amudha thamizhil". The song is said to based on Dwijavanthi Ragam. Raagathoda peyarey ivvalavu inimayaaga irikkirathey, appo indha raagathil amaindha paadal evvalavo inimayaaga irukkum? Irukkiradhu! Again, lovely wordplay by Pulamaipithan. A song where the lyrics, music and voices sit together is spellbinding sync.

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Mangalam pongum - Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

A enthralling "dance" song, probably filmed on Latha, who was trained in classical dance.

Mangalam pongum Manithamizhnaadu
pugazh manathodu kadhir poley vaazhiya needu

Sangamam kanda kaviththira naadu
Engal sandhana thamizhukku veredhu eedu

Innisai thendral kaaviyam paada
pudhu ezhilodu malar poothu solaiyilaada
Penngal sirikka muththukkal thirakka
Uyar pennmayin karpenum theekkanal parakka

Anbu malarndhida panbu valarndhida aramey vaazhga
Thennai sezhithida kannal thazhaithida thiruvey vaazhga
Thandai kulungida thaalam muzhangida kalaiye vaazhga
Nenju magizhndhida konjum pasunkili thamizhey vaazhga
Senthamizhey vaazhga
Bharatha kalaiye vaazhga

Over the years, singers have been tested with such "dance" songs, and many have come out with flying colours. D.K.Pattamal's "Theeradha vilayattu pillai", N.C.Vasanthakokilam's "Eppo Varuvaaro", MLV's "Paarkkadal alai meley", P.A.Periyanayagi's "Neeli magan nee allavo", T.S.Bagavathi's "Pollathanathai enna solven kanna", A.P.Komala's "Varavendaam endru sollu", P.Leela's "Kaathiruppaan Kamalakkannan", T.V.Rathinam's "Govindan kuzhalosai keleer", Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi's "Kaana kann kodi vendum", Ravvu Balasaraswathi's "Thangam pongum", M.S.Rajeswari's "Bharatha naattikkinai Bharatha nadey", (Radha) Jayalakshmi's "Aadinaal nadam aadinaal", SJ's "Kannan mananilayaiyai thangamey thangam", PS's "Mannavan vandhaanadi" are all outstanding examples of songs of this kind.

Of course, VJ also stamps her class all over this short enchanting song. She would go on to sing some more such memorable dance songs in the coming years. The jingle of anklets is heard throughout the song, adding to its appeal. Another female voice is heard, singing the swift jathis. Wonder why MSV chose someone else for the jathis, considering how superbly VJ herself could sing them, as amply evident in that awesome song "Thottilil thodangidum thaalaattu"(Kanne Kaniyamudhey). Nevertheless, there is some contrasting allure in VJ singing the lines and that slightly gruff female voice singing the jathis in between.

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Ada Ennanga idhu - Justice Gopinath
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Valliyandaan Pictures' "Justice Gopinath" starred Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, Thengai Srinivasan, Major Sundararajan, K.R.Vijaya, Sumitra, CID Shakunthala, Aparna and others. It was produced by K.Sivashankaran and directed by D.Yoganand.

D.Yoganand, a veteran director, was perhaps more acclaimed in Telugu. His first film was Ammalakkalu(1953), starring NTR, Padmini ,Ragini ,Relangi Venkatramiah and Surabhi Kamalabai. The film was simultaneously released in Tamizh as "Marumagal". Both versions were successful, the theme of a bride reforming all the ills in her husband's house being an ever-popular one. The songs are remembered to this day.

This initial success paved the way for Yoganand's long career, both in Telugu and Tamizh. Other memorable works of his in Telugu are Thodu Dongalu(1954), Vijayagowri(1955), Jayasimha(1955), Shri Gowri Mahathmyam(1956), Vachina Kodalu Nachindhi(1959), Ummadi Kutumbam(1967), Tikka Shankarayya(1968), Baghdad Gaja Donga(1968), Kodaludidina Kaapuram(1970), Thathamma Kala(1974), Vemulavaada Bheemakavi(1975), Simham Navvindhi(1983) etc. He was among NTR's favourite directors and he has also directed NTR's son Balakrishna in many films.

Yoganand made a mark in Srilanka as well. His Sundara Birinda(1960) is considered a milestone in the annals of Sinhalese film history.

Among Yoganand's early works in Tamizh, noteworthy are Cauveri(1955), Anbu Engey(1958), Engal Selvi(1958), Bhoologa Rambai (part of which was directed by S.Balachandar), Parthiban Kanavu(1960) and Parisu(1963).

From the late 70s to mid 80s, he made a series of films with Sivaji Ganesan, many of them being eminently forgettable. And just as he had directed both NTR and Balakrishna, he directed Prabhu too in films like Sumangali(1983) and Sarithira Nayagan(1984).

D.Yoganand was honoured on 29th Dec 2002 by The Cine Technicians Association of South India. He was awarded the "Ramnath Award for Lifetime Acievement" on the occasion, and many including K.Balachandar and Cho Ramaswami recalled Yoganand's works with reverence.

In those days, I distinctly remember that any Sivaji film would "enjoy" a decent run in Shanthi, Crown & Bhuvaneswari theatres in Chennai. (While I have been to Shanthi, I never knew where Crown and Bhuvaneswari were, just saw their names in the posters of Sivaji films as a matter of routine!). Justice Gopinath, its quotidian fare notwithstanding, would have undoubtedly enjoyed such a modest success, but its timing was all wrong, for it was Sivaji's 199th film, preceding "Thirisoolam" by just a month. And this clash of dates sealed its fate.

Likewise it turned out to be just another Rajini film, in a year when there were 15 Rajini releases in Tamizh alone. (In a single day, 30th Oct 1978 he had 3 films releasing - Thappu Thaalangal, Aval Appadithaan and Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam). His film as a hero, Bhairavi, had come out on 2nd June 1978 and he tasted unprecedented popularity. JG (16th Dec 1978) came in between En Kelvikkenna Bathil (9th Dec 1978) and Priya (22nd Dec 1978).

I have seen the film. Here's what I dimly recollect of the proceedings. Sivaji and KRV are broken hearted when KRV suffers a miscarriage and the doctor ominously declares that KRV can never get a child again. A child of an incarcerated criminal comes into their hands and they bring him up as their own. He grows up to be Rajinikanth and Sivaji makes him study law, so that he can follow in his footsteps. This idyllic set-up receives a rude jolt in the form of the original father who is released after serving his term. Usual histrionics and melodramatic reels later, all is well that ends well.

Not even the novelty of seeing Sivaji and Rajini together could bolster the banality of the theme. Sivaji and Rajini would get together in a few films in the future, Naan Vazhavaippen(1979), Padikkathavan(1985), Viduthalai(1986) and Padaiyappa(1999).

Another song in Justice Gopinath is the TMS solo "Naana sonnen theerppu".

VJ: Ada Ennanga idhu pollathanam china pillaiyattam
Unga kurumbai adakka payal varuvaan singakkuttiyaattam
Avan appanai pola gettikkaranaai sattam padippaanga
Avan sattam padippaanga
Neenga vambu valarthaa kandupidichi dhandichiduvaanga

TMS: Hmmm?

VJ: Yes, Your Honour!

VJ: Unga ishtappadi ippo kashtappada
ingu ennaal aagadhunga
Konjam pechchu koduthaalum moochu iraikkudhu
madiyil baaramunga
TMS: Ini pillaikku thaana solladi kannu mudhal mariyaadhai
Adi ennai gavanikka unnai vitta veru aalu kidaiyaadhey
VJ: Naan kattil oru pakkam thottil oru pakkam
poda therinjava thaan
Neenga palliyaraiyila paadura paattukku aada therinjavathaan

TMS: Ada enamma ippo ennoduthaan indha adhigaaram
Unnai sinunga vaithu rasippadhellaam anbin adaiyaalam

TMS: Indha mullai sirippilum kollai vanappilum
moham pirakkudhadi
Adhu manjal kulikkira meni azhaginai konja thudikkudhadi
VJ: Ippo kaadhal edhukkunga, coffee kudikkanum aari kidakkuthunga
Adhikaalai pozhudhiley veettai gavanikkum velai irukkudhunga

Sivaji and KRV were among the most enduring pairs in the history of Tamizh cinema and shared an endearing on-screen chemistry. They paired together for the first time in Selvam(1966), and for the last time in Krishnan Vandhaan(1987). Many stalwart directors such as KSG, APN, Bhimsingh, Sridhar, KB, P.Madhavan, K.Shankar, ACT, K.Vijayan, Muktha Srinivasan, R.Krishnamoorthi have brought them together in memorable roles in dozens of films.

This song is probably sung when they are happily expecting the birth of their son, and the lyrics (Vaali) bring out the intimacy between the husband and wife. He is peeved that she is not "looking after" him adequately, to which she pacifies him with suitable answers. TMS and VJ bring out the feelings vividly. VJ's "Hmmm... singakkuttiyaattam" depicts so fetchingly the assertive pride of an expectant mother.

Again, words singing paeans to the Punnagai Arasi "Indha mullai sirippilum". Nothing new considering MGR sang years back to her "Pavazhakkodiyile muthukkal poothaal punnagai endre peyar aagum", Mohan would declare "Sapthaswaram punnagaiyil kanden", Jaishankar would sing "Punnagai minnidum arasi", Kamal, for his part, would exclaim "Muthu muthu pallum undu, thikkira sollum undu"!

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Namadhu kaadhal engum - Justice Gopinath
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

This duet featured Rajinikanth and Sumitra, perhaps their only duet together (not taking into account "Raja enbaar mandhiri enbaar"). Years later, she would play his mother in Pannakkaaran (more on Sumitra below).

SPB: Namadhu kaadhal engum endrum kaanadhadhu
andha Kambanum verendha kombanum idhuvarai paadaadhadhu
yendha kavignanum kalaignanum avanavan padaippinil kooradhadhu
Namadhu kaadhal engum endrum kaanadhadhu
Yaarum paadadhadhu
Yettil kooradhadhu

VJ: Varuvaan varuvaanendru
Thoduvaan thoduvaanendru
Valaiyaadum kaikkondu vilaiyaadum kandru
Ulagam ariyavannam
Udhadum sendhenkinnam
Sindhaamal sidharaamal koduppaley annam

SPB: Indha Devi irukkum thirukkovilukku
en kann kaana ennaalil kumbabhishegam
VJ: Yuva rani irukka, indha rajanukku
oor kondaada eppodhu pattabishegam
SPB: Andha mangalamelamum mandhira goshamum ketkkindradho
VJ: Adhai kanngalum nenjamum karpanai seidhindru paarkindradho

VJ: Vizhi naanam irukkum thiru meniyiley
viral pattaalum thottaalum sendhoora kolam
SPB: Idhazh moodi irukkum kodi thaamaraiyey
naan muththaada oththaada yen jaalam
VJ: Mani muthirai ittavan sitridai thottavan polladhavan
SPB: Ivan innamum unnidam panjanai saasthiram solladhavan

A breezy romantic duet with good lyrics (Vaali). The opening humming by both singers is a treat, especially VJ's sing-song and prolonged "Aah Haa" makes us say "Aahaa!". Hark at her weave magic in "pattaalum thottaalum" – that's VJ the consummate artiste for you!

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Ilakkanam Maarudho - Nizhal Nijamaagirathu
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

So many films come, with so many songs, many of them are forgotten, and get buried in the sands of time. Only very few remain etched in memory forever and are treasured for posterity. "Ilakkanam Maarudho" is one such timeless classic.

O.Henry narrates in his famous "The Gift Of The Magi", "Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy".

Likewise had the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon proudly lined up the best works of the international musicians, singers and poets on their side, we would, from our window, play "Ilakkanam Maarudho" just to gleefully watch them turn a nasty shade of green!

Kalakendra's "Nizal Nijamaagirathu" was produced by Govindarajan & Duraiswami, with Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction by K.Balachandar. The film starred Kamal, Saratbabu, Sumitra, Shobha, Anumanthu, Mouli, Sundaribai, Oru Viral Krishna Rao and others. It was the first film of both Saratbabu and Shobha in Tamizh. And what a magnificent introduction it was for both of them!

Padmashri Kailasam Balachandar (born 1930) needs no introduction. Starting his career as an employee in AG's Office in Chennai, he put together a drama troupe (Ragini Recreations) and staged epoch making plays with actors like Nagesh, Major Sundarrajan and Srikanth. He entered the film world as a scriptwriter for films like Deiva Thaai, Neela Vaanam and Server Sundaram. A.K.Velan gave him an opening to direct his own Neerkumizhi drama for the silver screen and the rest is history. He boldly ventured into hitherto unexplored areas of story telling and tasted unequivocal success. He took Tamizh cinema forcibly into a different realm altogether "where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, where words come out from the depth of truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit" (due apologies to the great bard).

KB, the Iyakkunar Sigaram enjoys a rare place of pride in the history of Tamizh Cinema. He has successfully worked with generations of actors and technicians to create films of eternal enjoyment. Even after directing films for nearly 4 decades, his thirst for novel themes and exploring new horizons remains unquenched.

Of late, he is concentrating on the chinnathirai, and even here, he has showed his mastery in every way. His "Anni" has enjoyed enviable ratings, and he is all set to present "Sahana"-the sequel to Sindhu Bhairavi.

Nizhal Nijamaagirathu was a remake of the Telugu film "Chilakkamma Cheppindhi" (stg. Rajinikanth, Sripriya & Sangeetha) which had run to packed houses the previous year.

It was a role of a lifetime for the sadly under-utilized Sumitra. She brought out a plethora of so many shades of emotions, playing the complex character of the rigid, man-hating, soda-buddied dance teacher Indhumathi.

Diminutive and dainty looking Sumitra made her debut in M.T.Vasudevan Nair's award-winning "Nirmalyam"(1972). It was director Durai who gave her memorable opportunities in Tamizh in "Avalum Pen Thaane" and "Oru Kudumbathin Kathai"(both 1975). She paired with Kamal in "Lalitha" and "Moham 30 Varusham", and "Nizhal Nijamaagirathu" was the third. Years later, she would play his mother in "Singaravelan".

She left a lingering impact in films like "Annan Oru Koyil", "Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri", 'Vattathukkul Sathuram", "Sonnadhu Nee Thaana", "Kadavul Amaitha Medai", "Chittukkuruvi", "Anbe Sangeetha", "Mudhal Iravu", "Mazhalaippattaalam" and "Sangili". She was more suited for demure and downcast roles, and hep roles that called for modern clothes did not become her at all. Not that she didn't try. I still shudder from the memory of the sight of Sumitra in a song in "Aadu Paambe" where alongside a long well-oiled plait of hair bedecked with flowers, and jimikkis on either ear, and a big pottu on her forehead, she was literally dressed to kill, in a shirt and bellbottoms!

The advent of fresh faces like Radhika, Radha, Madhavi and Ambika left her with very few opportunities in the early 80s. She gave a last shot. She herself produced a film, acting as the heroine and made her mentor Durai direct it. But though "Oru Manithan Oru Manaivi" which saw the light of the day belatedly in 1986, did win some good reviews, it was a commercial disaster.

However, in the meantime, Sumitra had made the transition to character roles gracefully. She was Bhagyaraj's sister in Poisaatchi(1982), and Prabhu's sister and Revathi's mother in Kanniraasi(1985). She brought rare dignity in portraying the role of a wife suffering the humiliation of wedded to a husband who has another woman in his life, Susheela Vishwanath, her role in Agni Nakshathiram(1988), cannot be forgotten so easily.

Like many of her colleagues Sumitra's personal life was far from happy. Her marriage with actor Ravikumar was shortlived. She is said to have later attached herself to a Kannada film producer. Her daughter Uma is making waves as an actress. Her performance as Vijayakanth's sister in "Chokka thangam" has elicited notice.

The second person whom we need to reminisce on, whilst talking about NN is that magnificent artiste Shobha. Shobha was the daughter of a smalltime Malayalam actress Prema, who was ruthlessly ambitious and pushy to make her daughter all that she herself couldn't achieve. Earlier Shobha had acted as a child artiste in some Malayalam films. Life took a different turn once she came to the notice of Balu Mahendra. He cast her as the heroine in his first film as director, "Kokila", which won rare reviews in Karnataka and beyond.

She was a natural performer, and essayed her roles with realistic simplicity. She exploded the myth that only arrestingly beautiful faces could make it big in films. She had an inexplicable charm, and a personality that exuded distinct grace and charismatic innocence. No one could believe that NN was her first Tamizh film, the way she stole the show effortlessly in her poignant portrayal of the rustic Thilakam with a mind of her own.

She went to capture the hearts of the filmloving Tamils in her subsequent ventures. Alas, they were too few in number, Mullum Malarum, Oru Veedu Oru Ulagam(both 1978), Chakkalathi, Agal Vilakku, Azhiyatha Kolangal, Ennippadigal, Veettukku Veedu Vaasappadi, Oru Vidukathai Oru Thodarkathai, Pasi (all 1979), Moodupani, Veli Thaandiya Vellaadu, Ponnagaram and Samandhippoo (all 1980).

And just when we had thought we had our spirited answer to the likes of Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi, came in May 1980, the dreadful news of Shobha's suicide. She took the extreme step, as her personal life with her mentor Balu Mahendra had not turned out as expected. Tamil Nadu, nay the entire South (Shobha's Malayalam film "Shalini Ente Koottukkaari" was enjoying a stupendous success when she died) reacted with incredulous dismay. Ironically, she had just then bagged the National Award for Best Actress(1979) for her wonderful performance in Pasi. Saamandhippoo was the last film she acted in. I think she did not live to complete it.

Balu Mahendra wrote a sentimental series of musings in Kumdudam titled "Shobhavum Naanum", but the public knew the truth. And it was left to our Kerala brethren (K.G.George, to be precise) to boldly craft on celluloid the life and death of Shobha. Lekhayude Maranam-Oru Flashback (1983) starring Nalini and Gopi told it all with stark reality.

But nothing would back Shobha. Shobha lives on, in the hearts and memories of thousands of fans.

Nizhal Nijamaagirathu had only two songs, and the other song is the spellbinding "Kamban yemaandhaan"-SPB.

Now let us dwell on this epic song, the song that reflects the changes in the lives of the two women, Indhumathi and Thilakam.

ilakkanam maarudho
ilakkiyam aanadho
idhu varai
adhu enna vedam
idhu enna paadam

Look at this question asked to K.Balachandar and his reply:

Q: In present day mainstream productions music has taken away the credibility of cinema and the genuineness of the medium. Is music an inevitable evil in Indian cinema? Who is responsible for the extreme use and abuse of music?

A: In Indian cinema the music comes from the same oral tradition which inspires all our arts. It may seem forced to a Westerner but we have all grown up with it. I do not think we are using or misusing music more than we have done before. I decided that I would not be ashamed of song sequences but use them to my advantage. I do them to entertain myself as much as the audience. You have to build these sequences into your screenplay, and at a point where it will give you the pause you want, lift a moment or emotion, provide a link or a leap. It is a license to transcend dramatic logic, use abstraction. Don't you do that in literature? If using songs makes it easier for people to grasp what I am doing, I do not mind using that language. Think of it as a compromise, or as a method of communicating.

This song does all this and more. But first, to appreciate this captivating song in full, here is Nijamaana Nizhalin kathaisurukkam. Dance teacher Indhu (Sumitra) lives with her brother Chalam (Saratbabu). She is a stern and rigid person, who hates the male species in general (I have a vague recollection of the reason being a suitor rejecting her). Stonedeaf Kaasi (Anumanthu) is their servant. Thilakam (Shobha), from a village, is brought in as the cook/help. Enters Sanjeevi (Kamal) a close friend of Chalam, who comes to the same town for work. He stays in the house opposite.

He finds Indhu fascinating and tries to break her reserve, but Indhu is unrelenting. Meanwhile Kaasi develops love for Thilakam, as she is the only one in the house who treats him as a human being. However, fate has other things in store for Thilakam. Chalam, who has an eye on her, seduces her one day. Thilakam becomes pregnant, and a scandalized Indhu casts her off. Cowardly Chalam hides the truth.

Sanjeevi comes to Thilakam's rescue. He arranges for her to stay in a small hut, with Kaasi for her kaaval. The neighborhood is agog with the unknown father, names of both Sanjeevi and Kaasi doing the rounds. Thilakam slowly realises Kaasi's love for her. Unable to bear Thilakam's shame, Kaasi, who knows the truth, threatens Chalam one day to accept that he is the father, else he would have to kill him. Meanwhile, Indhu comes to terms with her love for saadhikka vandha andha aadhikka nayagan Sanjeevi. Chalam speaks to his sister and admits that he is responsible for Thilakam's fate.

Though Indhu is shocked, she immediately goes to Thilakam, begs her forgiveness, and asks her to come back as her brother's wife. Thilakam does a volte face and replies in a cool manner, that she was even then living in her own house and points to Kaasi as her husband. Indhu goes back, thoroughly humiliated. To add to her woes, Sanjeevi announces that he is transferred to another town and has to leave at once. Indhu hesitantly asks if she could come with him, and after a delightful suspense, Sanjeevi takes her. Subham! The story, like cricket, is full of glorious uncertainties and that's what makes it appealing to this day.

And this song comes as an asareeri towards the end of the story, the point where Indhu cannot deny to herself that she has fallen for Sanjeevi, and the point where the pregnant Thilakam, living in seclusion with Kaasi, slowly realizes that Kaasi is indeed the "King" whom a roadside astrologer predicted would marry her.

A song which Kannadasan, MSV, SPB and Vani can display forever as proof of their respective talents. A captivating creation in every way. KB must have felt a trifle frustrated that Kannadasan repeatedly came up with songs that told in a few lines the entire crux of his complex stories! The delightful verities and stunning vagaries that make up life can be glimpsed in the situational lyrics of this song.

The first two verses are devoted to Indhumathi and the next two, to Thilakam.

The song begins with SPB singing "Ilakkanam maarudho" and the inimitable way in which he prolongs the question, and the percussion-dominated response of MSV make the song a winner in the very opening and fills the listener with a thrill of anticipation.

How beautifully Kaviyarasar depicts the subtle alterations in the mindset of the Indhumathi, "Ilakkanam maarutho ilayakkayiam aanatho", he wonders! How come something poetic called love has found root in her inflexible mind?

kallaana mullai
indrenna vaasam
kaatraana ragam
enindha gaanam
venmegham andru
kaar megham indru
yaar solli thandhaar
mazhaikaalam endru
kann thirandhaano
pennmai thandhaano

Adadaa, arpudham! Awesome analogies that are quintessential Kannadasan, as SPB in the voice of Indhu's alter ego questions her, rather tauntingly, on the changes that love has wrought in her wrought-iron cased heart, now suddenly the self-imposed iron fetters rot and break to pieces, as the woman in her asserts herself! Hark at SPB's mocking chuckle while singing "Yaar solli thandhaar", can anyone else do this?

Enters Vani, Indhu herself bashfully answering her manasaatchi's queries.

en vaazhkkai nadhiyil
karai ondru kanden
un nenjil etho
karai ondru kanden
thirai pottu vaithen
thirai potta podhum
anai pottadhillai
vilakki vaippaayo
viLakki vaippaayo

How helplessly she brings out her bewilderment in these changes, how vulnerable she sounds when she pleads for an explanation. Trust Vani to so fetchingly bring out Kaviyarasar's lyrical play "vilakki vaippaayo, viLakki vaippaayo".

Now we come to Thilakam's tale of betrayal and infamy. SPB again,

thalaadum pillai
ullamum vellai
thalaattu paada
aadharam illai
deivangal ellaam
unakkaga paadum
paadamal ponaal
edhu Deivam aagum
unakkoru paadhai
uraippadhu Geethai

Soothing words of consolation rendered with compassion. The way SPB splits "Aa thaaram illai" facilitates a double interpretation: "aadhaaram" meaning she has no license to sing a lullaby, and "Aa thaaram illai" meaning she is not yet a wife, so how can she be a mother! Kannadasan, brings his favourite "Geethai" as an oracle of better times that are just around the corner for Thilakam!

Its Vani's turn again. Thilakam waking up to the love of her benefactor and bodyguard, deaf he may be, but dear he has become to her.

maniyosai enna
idi osai yenna
edhu vandha podhum
nee kettadhillai
nizhalaaga vandhu
arul seiyum Deivam
nijamaaga vandhu
ennai kaakka kanden
nee ethu
naan ethu
yen indha sondham
poorva jenma bandham

The way VJ has rendered these lines so replete with expression shows how much she must have been moved by Kannadasan's lovely lyrics. She rounds off the verse with a haunting humming whilst getting back to the pallavi.

MSV deserves our unreserved praise, understanding that for this song the lyrics need prominence, and appreciating the fact that Kannadasan had penned lyrics of singular beauty and relevance, he selflessly desisted from flaunting his unquestioned musical skills here. True, he dressed the words in an enticing tune, but he stopped with that. His interludes are simple and short, so that the focus is not turned away from the words. But even within that self-imposed restriction, he showed his capabilities. Listen to the flute-filled first interlude, the magical baton of the Mellisai Mannar reveals itself!

A word on the picturization. As envisaged by Kannadasan, KB filmed the first half on Sumitra and the latter half on Shobha. A shot stands out evergreen in memory. Thilakam puts some clothes for washing, a vest of Kaasi's is among the heap. Just as she takes it to wash, Kaasi rushes to grab it from her. She looks at it, puzzled, when she finds the dirty imprint of her own palm on that. Long back, once when she found that her repeated calls had fallen on (actually) deaf ears, she had touched him to draw his attention. And Kaasi had carefully preserved the relic all these days. Understanding dawns in her eyes of his deep love for her. Oh, Shobha's eyes spoke so many volumes in that shot. Karuppu Vellaiyiloru kaaviyam indha paadal!

Forgive me for going on and on. But every time I listen to it, it tugs at my heartstrings. I think wistfully of the bygone times when we had such artistes who could create such enchantment.

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Sathiya Thirukkolam - Varuvaan Vadivelan
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

K.Shankar started his career as an editor, and gradually graduated to direction. Like Yoganand, Shankar made a mark initially as director of mythologies for AVM Studios. He made in a name for himself as a professional director, with a planned approach and a meticulous eye for details. His forays into other languages have also won appreciation. Some of his early films were Shiv Bakth (Hindi-1955, co-directed by HL Narsimha), Dosthaara (Sinhalese-1956), Nagadevathai (Tamizh-1956), Sadharma (Telugu-1956, co-directed by KR Seetharama Shastri), the super hit Bhoo Kailash (Telugu and Kannda-1958), Bakthi Mahima (Hindi-1960), Rajkumar (Hindi-1964) and Bharosa (Hindi).

In the 60s, he was a much sought after director in Tamizh. His association with G.N.Velumani's Saravana Films brought out a series of memorable hits. At a time when MGR and Sivaji Ganesan were considered staunch rivals, K.Shankar was perhaps the only director to be patronized by both of them. Indeed, it is to Shankar's record that he managed the delicate balancing act quite creditably, especially when he was working on their films at the same time. Years later, he would chuckle and reminisce with nostalgia how he directed Sivaji in Aalayamani during the day, and rushed to direct MGR in Panathottam in the evening! Some of the films directed by K.Shankar that come to mind: Paadha Kanikkai-1962, Idhu Sathiyam-1963, Aandavan Kattalai-1964, Panjavarnakkili-1965, Kalankarai Vilakkam-1965, Anbukkarangal-1965, Gowri Kalyanam-1966, Kudiyirundha Kovil-1968, Kallum Kaniyaagum-1968, Adimaippen-1969, Pallaandu Vaazhga-1975, Uzhaikkum Karangal-1976, Indru Pol endrum Vaazhga-1977, Neela Kadalin Orathiley-1979, Mangala Vaathiyam-1979, Balanagamma-1981, Miruthanga Chakravarthi-1983, Thambi Thanga Kambi-1988 and Nalladhey Nadakkum-1993.

Starting from Varuvaan Vadivelan, K.Shankar turned to mythologies with a vengeance and made a remarkable series of them. Many of them were memorable and had wonderful songs. Some that come to mind: The Srinivasa Kalyanam part of Deiva Thirumanangal-1981, Thaai Mookambigai-1982, Rajarishi-1985, Navagraha Nayagi-1985, Mupperum Deviyar-1987, Velundu Vinaiyillai-1987 and Meenakshi Thiruvilaiyaadal-1989. It is due to these films that K.Shankar earned the epithet "Irai Arul Iyakkunar".

Films based on mythology had not appeared for a while, and Subbu Productions' Varuvaan Vadivelan, an entertaining socio-mythological with parts shot abroad, was received with enthusiasm. Its stunning success led to a spate of similar films by many directors, some of which had great classic(al) songs.

Varuvaan Vadivelan won the TN Government's Special Award for 1978-79. The film had in its cast Vijayakumar, Jaiganesh, Latha, Jayachitra, Fadafat Jayalakshmi and many others. I saw the film as a child and was awe-struck seeing the Murugan temples in Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and the great multitude of devotees that throng these temples with fervor and piety.

MSV had enhanced the film's appeal with a splendid score. Among the other songs were the famous "Bathumalai ThiruMuthukkumaranai paarthu kalithiruppom"(Bangalore A.R.Ramani Ammal, Seergazhi Govindarajan, TMS, PS, LRE, MSV and chorus), "Joyful Singapore colorful Malaysia"(SPB-PS), "Paaru paaru paaru"(LRE-LRA) and "Kadavul engey irukkiraar"(LRA & chorus).

Let us now dwell on this mesmerizing song by TMS & VJ.

TMS: Paavakkadai theruvil
Paduthirundha paavai enai
Gnyanakkadal thannil nadakka vitta
Vel Muruga
Aarupadai Nayaganey
Avamadhikkum maanidarkku
Maarudhalai kaatti manam thiruthum
Vel Muruga

Sathiya thirukkolam Muthaiyan vadivendra
thaththuvam arindhen Kandha
Piththanin vilayaattu pizhai poruthe
undhan perarul thandhaai Kandha

Kai sumandhaal enna
thalai sumandhaal enna
Kandhanai sumakkindradhu
Avan Kadan thandha en meni
kaalathiley vandhu
kadanaiyum theerkkindrathu

VJ: Maadhumayaal maindhan
Maasi magam kaana
maanudam thiralgindradhu
Indha makkalin vinaiyenum
sikkalai theerkkum karam
Sikkalil irukkindradhu
karam Sikkalil irukkindradhu

TMS: Azhagappan menikku
azhagu seithaal adhil
Arul neri jolikkindradhu
Thiru Aandiappan kaalil
aasigal pera vendi
Arasangam varugindradhu

VJ: Venthanal pol ezhundha
vidhiyinil thudippaarkku
sandhanam tharugindradhu
Nalla veettu kulamagalai
vilakketri vaikka cholli
kungumam idugindradhu
Mangala Kungumam idugindradhu

TMS: Avanidam ponavarkku
Avanai adaindhavarkku
Yamanidam bayamillaiye
Andha Sivanidam Om endraal
Ivanidam porul ketppaan
Ivanukku mel illaiye

Both: Undaana aayudhangal
onbathu ethirthaalum
Dhandayudham kaakkume
Avanai kondaadum pergalukku
kurai yaavum odividum
Kodaanu kodi varumey
Kodaanu kodi varumey

TMS, apart from his unparalleled record in tfm, has sung many ever-popular devotional albums. Many of them being on Lord Muruga. Indeed his songs such as "Azhagendra sollukku Muruga", "Mannaanaalum Thiruchendhuril mannaaven", "Ullam uruguthayya", "Muruga nee vara vendum", "Endhan kuralil inippathellaam Kandhan kuraley" etc leave one filled with a tranquil enchantment. VJ too has sung spellbinding songs on Lord Muruga. The "Murugan Paadalgal" album, written and composed by VJ herself, won widespread acclaim.

In this song, both these great singers come together and sing the fervor-drenched lyrics with excellent understanding. TMS commences with the emotion-choked virutham of one who has woken up to the wisdom of the omniscient and omnipresent grace of the Lord. VJ's rendition thrills the listener with brimming devotion. MSV fills the interludes with Veenai, Nadaswaram and Chendai bits, and these accompanied by the tolling temple bells make this song a spellbinding devotional treat.

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Varuvaan Vadivelan - Varuvaan Vadivelan
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

The vital aspects of a Bharathanatyam performance are said to be Angika (the body architecture), Vachika (song and lyric), Aaharya (stage decor) and Satvika (interpretation). In this lovely song, featuring a dance by Jayachitra in the temple precincts, Vani's Vachika stands out with captivating majesty.

Varuvaan Vadivelan
Varuvaan Vadivelan
Thanigai vallalavan
azhagu mannanavan
ninaithaal varuvan Vadivelan

Sirithu kurathi pennai anaikkindravan
aval sengkani vaaidhazhai nanaikkindravan
Idaiyinil kaikkoduthu valaikindravan
Alli idugindravan sorgam tharukindravan

Adiyavar ketta varam tharukindravan
endrum avar kannil neraaga therikindravan
Kodiavar pagai theerthu mudikkindravan
Seval kodiyanavan namakku iniyanavan

Thirumurgaatruppadai naan padavaa
Illai Thirupugazh paadi ingu nadamaadavaa
Kandhar Sashti kavacha kavi padava
Avan mun kaiyendhavaa vetri kadal neendhavaa

Recently, Sangam Kala Group of New Delhi, thought it fit to honor Vani Jairam with an "Achievement Award" (Kumudam Junction dated 1.4.2003). Vani, in her speech said "Once Anu Malik told me 'Vaniji, you are an excessively trained singer. That is the main problem'. I have not understood what he meant till today!".

But isn't it due to Vani's training, that she is able to carry off such an intricate song with apparent effortlessness. The discerning listener surely perceives that the seeming effortlessness of her singing is rooted in technical mastery and ceaseless practice. If that training seems 'excessive' for you, Mr. Anu Malik, fine, VJ is better off by not singing for you! It is your loss, not VJ's.

In this song, said to be based on a Ragam called Sampoornam, VJ simply dazzles. The ease with which she so precisely distributes the words of the lyric line over the time cycle, the clear enunciation of the lyrics, the taut grip on the Kaalapramaana, the imaginative exploration of the vistas of the Ragam in changing speeds, each syllable soaked bewitchingly in the sruti - all of these exhibit her pedigree. Hark at the alaapanai in between the first Charanam, and the "Muruga, Muruga" uttered a dozen times in the 2nd interlude. Awesome!

Vaniyin Seppiya Naavai Sevvel Kaakka!
Engal Vidhi sevi irandum Velavar Kaakka!

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Neeyindri Yarumillai - Varuvaan Vadivelan
Singers:VJ&SG - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

Another song replete with a torrent of emotional devotion, shot probably in Kathirgamam in Sri Lanka. I am just guessing the situation, going by the lyrics. She sings to the Lord to restore her husband's eyesight, and what an heart-rending cry it is! Can the great Lord be unmoved, lo and behold, for the husband can now behold! And he breaks into a fervent thanksgiving.

VJ: Neeyinri yaarumillai vizhi kaattu Muruga
Nenjuruga vendugiren oli kattu
Nambikkai konduvandhen arul kettu Nee
Gnanakkann thanai thirandhu vazhi kaattu
Arule Arule Ulagam unadhallava
Arivum porulum yaavum Nee allava

Thirupathi maamanukku kannillaiyo
Maami ilakkumi enaippoley pennillaiyo
Gavanthil engal nilai varavillayo
Naangal Kathirgaamam
Naangal Kathirgaamam vandhatharkku palanillayo
Kaasi Visalatchi undhan maganidam solvaai
Kanchi Kamatchi undhan maganidam solvaai
Angayarkkanni undhan maganidam solvaai
Adi Abirami nee unadhu maganidam solvaai

SG: Kanden! Kanden! Kanden!
Muthukumaran Bakthi Saravanan Vaidhyanadhanai kanden
Mudi udai mannan thiru mudi aruge kodi udai sevalai kanden
Kothum naagam pollathaaga kathum thogaiyai kanden
Kolam marida gnana kanngalum oona kanngalum konden

Veedu namakkundu Arupadai veedu
Vedham namakkundu Muruganin paadham
Virundhu namakkundu Kandhanin namam
Marundhu namakkundu Vaidhiyanaadham
Ayya Murugaiyya
Ayya Murugaiyya

Padmashri Dr.Seergazhi Sivachidambaram Govindarajan (1933- 1988) remains among the best-loved voices of Tamil Nadu. Starting from 1954, when he sang "Sirippu thaan varuguthayya" (Ponvayal, MD-Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma), SG has sung many wonderful film songs. Though he initially sang songs of all kinds (including romantic and comic) for many actors, including MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and SSR, later he was assigned only asareeri and devotional songs. He won the TN Government award for the Best Singer in 1970 for his wonderful songs (Madurai arasaalum Meenakshi, Thirupathi malai vaazhum, etc) in Thirumalai Thenkumari. SG also made his mark as an actor. He played, with panache, the title role in APN's Agathiyar(1972). Other films that showed him in memorable roles were Kandan Karunai, Vaa Raja Vaa, Thirumalai Thenkumari, Rajaraja Chozhan, Thiruvarul and Dasavathaaram. SG has lent his voice to many a devotional album. His "Abirami Andhaadhi" set to tune by T.R.Papa is one album that will find place in most Tamizh houses. SG's son Dr.Seergazhi Sivachidambaram(a real MBBS doctor), who, despite being a good singer, has not been favored much by our current MDs.

Vani had sung earlier with SG. "Oru kodi aasaigal" (Uravukku Kai Koduppom-1975), and she would sing some more songs with him. Later on, while discussing Vani's songs for Shankar-Ganesh in 1978, we'll look at another memorable song.

Here VJ commences the song with a plaintive wail for her husband to get back his lost vision, and she makes it such an enchanting entreaty that the Lord promptly obliges. SG starts his song with a breathtaking aalaapanai in between the repetition of "Kanden" and then the inimitable "Isaimani", and the ringing Koyilmani give the song a fantastic finish.

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Mein Hoon Lucky Ladki - Vayasupponnu
Singers:VJ - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

RGM Productions' Vayasupponnu, directed by K.Shankar, starred Rojaramani in the title role, with Muthuraman, Jaiganesh and Latha being others in the cast. The story was perhaps by Manian. I saw it on TV as a child, and remember being dismayed that Jaiganesh, whose name in the film was Saravanan, had an early death in the story!

The most popular song from the film was "Kanchi pattuduthi kasthuri pottu vechu"-KJY&Savithri, a lovely song set in the rare Kalyanavasantham ragam, the lyrics for which fetched Muthulingam the TN Government's award for the Best Lyricist for 1978-79. Another song in the film was "Ethanai Kodi (Mathalaathai thattikkondu)"-SPB&Chorus.

Rojaramani made an unforgettable debut as a child artiste in "Baktha Prahalada"-1967. She became a very busy child artiste in various languages (Meherbaan, Apna Desh in Hindi and Babu, En Thambi in Tamizh etc). Her first adult role was in "Chembaruthi" (Malayalam). The film's success ensured that Rojaramani would play the same role in the Tamizh and Telugu remakes as well (Paruva Kalam and Kanya Vayasulu, respectively). Rojaramani was a popular actress in Telugu and Malayalam. Her performance in Balumahendra's Kokila (Kannada) also fetched laurels. However, she could not make it big in Tamizh. Her few films in Tamizh include Vandikkaran Magan-1978, Sivappukkal Mookuthi-1979, Aayiram Vaasal Idhayam-1980 etc. She married her co-star of the Oriya film Choti Behen, Chakrapani in 1981 and thereafter continued in the Telugu film industry as a dubbing artiste, lending her voice for Radha, Suhasini, Poornima Jayaram and others. She was given the Cine-Goers award for the Best Dubbing Artiste in 1999.

This song has Rojaramani staring at herself in the mirror and singing a "Mirror mirror on the wall" type of song.

Mein hoon lucky ladki
vayasupponnu azhagi
Ennam muzhudhum
niththam neendhum

Egipthu Rani
Enadhu meni
azhagai paarthaal
naanam kolvaalaam
Angam engum
munnum pinnum
vannam konjum
Thanga kalasam

Payanam vandha
paadhi vazhiyil
pudhayal edutheno
Manithan vadivil
Devan vandhu
yaavum koduthaano
Kattuk kaaval
vattam indri
Vattam podum

Wonder if Cleopatra really bathed in donkey's milk, or was that Vali's fancy! Anyway, the inane lyrics notwithstanding, VJ brings in a breezy, nonchalant air, which adds charm to the song. The variations she brings in the repetition of the Charanam lines are catchy and the slow laidback repetition of the pallavi is enticing. The way she prolongs the last syllables in "Vannapparavai", "Thanga Kalsam" and "Chittukkuruvi" is signature VJ!

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Adho Adho Oru Sengkottai - Vayasupponnu
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:M.S.Viswanathan

This song featured Muthuraman and Latha, going around Delhi. Muthulingam makes place for the Capital's landmarks like the Red Fort, Qutub Minar and the Yamuna in the lyrics of the romantic duet.

As we had seen earlier, after MGR became the CM, Latha started acting with various actors like Sivakumar, Kamal, Rajinikanth, Jaiganesh and Srikanth. Here she paired with Muthuraman.

TMS: Adho adho oru senkottai
Idho idho oru thenkottai
VJ: Yedho yedho un manakkottai
Endrum endrum naan un vettai
TMS: Nee oru Mumtaaz
Naan oru Shah Jahan
VJ: Naan oru Mumtaaz
Nee oru Shah Jahan

TMS: Yamuna dheeram, maalai neram
yavvana penn Radhai vandhaal
Kanngal paarkka, kaigal serkka
kanni magal naanam kondaal
VJ: Kaniyin meley kiliyai poley
koththa vandha kaadhal manna
thazhuvum velai, nazhuvum selai
vittuvidu aasai manna
TMS: Adi malligaiye
Kodi mellidaiye
VJ: Pugazh mandhiramo
illai thandhiramo
TMS: Aaha pongudhadi kaadhal Gangai

TMS: Inikkum ragam paadum penney
unnai oru veenai enben
Kodhikkum meni neeril aada
unnai oru odai enben
VJ: Qutub Minarin uyaram poley
un manadhu naanum kanden
Nilavai thedum poovai poley
un azhagil naattam konden
Ezhil mannavaney
Rathi mannavaney
TMS: Kadhai sollidavo
Kannam killidavo
VJ: Aaha kattividu thaali ondrai

A nondescript duet, though MSV gives some lovely flute bits in the interludes. And while VJ says "Mumtaaz", TMS chooses to say "Mumtaaj"!

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Pudhu manjal meni chittu - Rudra Thaandavam
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:M.S.Viwanathan

Alarmelu Manga Productions "Rudra Thaandavam" starred V.K.Ramasamy, Nagesh, Vijayakumar, Sumitra and others. It was directed by VKR himself, and proved to be a modest hit. The film was based on VKR's own play for propagating the 20 Point Programme during the Emergency years, and VKR played the lead role of Lord Siva with savoir faire.

Virudhunagar K Ramasamy (1926-2002) was among the most enduring actors in the long history of Tamil Cinema. His early apprenticeship in the drama troupes of Ponnuswami Pillai and Kalaivanar N.S.Krishnan served him in good stead throughout his career as an actor. At the age of 21, he played an elderly man in his first film AVM's "Naam Iruvar"(1947), and fate willed that he would play only predominantly elderly roles. Over the years, he gave memorable performances in hundreds of films like Parasakthi, Penn, Veerappandiya Kattabomman, Paavai Vilakku, Pudhiya Paravai, Paar Magalae Paar, Ooty Varai Uravu, Lakshmi Kalyanam, Vasantha Maaligai, Kasi Yaathirai, Aanpavam, Mounaragam, Velaikkaran, Varusham 16, Agni Natchathiram, Poo Pootha Nandavanam, Arangetra Velai, Arunachalam, Dum Dum Dum etc. His last film was University.

He was the recipient of the Kalaimamani Award instituted by the TN Govt. He bagged the TN Govt.'s Best Comedian Award in 1982-83, and the "Kalaivanar Ninaivu Virudhu" (also from the TN Govt.) in 1988.

Together with Akkammappettai Paramasivan Nagarajan, VKR started producing films under the banner "Sree Lakshmi Pictures". The films that came from this collaboration include Makkalai Petra Maharasi-1957, Nalla Idathu Sambandham-1958, Thaayaippola Pillai Noolaippola Selai-1959 and Vadivukku Valaikappu-1962. Later APN broke away from VKR, and started making his own films under the banner "Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures". Navarathiri-1964 was the first film under this banner, followed by the famed string of grand mythologicals. Meanwhile, VKR produced Selvam-1966, under the banner "VKR Pictures". VKR has produced 13 films, and Rajinikanth made him one of the many producers of "Arunachalam". However, years of dissipated living eroded all his earnings, and with his son bringing financial ruin upon the family with his film "Sundarapandiyan" (starring Karthik) which is still lying in the cans, VKR died in penury after a brief illness on 24th December 2002.

Other songs in Rudrathaandavam were "Nee mannavana chinnavana"-TMS and "Oru aaththukku karaiyum"-LRE.

SPB: Pudhu manjal meni chittu
pudaivaikkul oonjal ittu
Nadanangal aadidum nayamaana azhagu
Vizhiyae idhu enna rajangamo
idhu enna rajangamo
VJ: Idhazh thottu thendral poojai
idai thottu Kaaman poojai
udalengum ungal poojai
idhu thaanae ungal aasai
Moham azhaikkindrathae nanam thadukkindrathae
Hmm hmm naanam thadukkindrathae

VJ: Neer konda megangal kudai podavum
nilai konda pushpangal manam thoovavum
ther konda paravaigal sruthi meettavum
thirumeni valam vandha sugam ennavo
SPB: Kaarkoondhal kadal kanda alaiyaagavum
Ther konda manichangu oli kaattavum
Nizhal konda rathi devi uru vandhadho
VJ: Angam thodaamal sangam illamal kannil sugangal illai
SPB: Mannan varaamal Maharaniyennum pennnmai nalangal illai

SPB: Then sindhum sirukkoodu nadamaaduthu
sirumullai magarandhappodi thoovuthu
maan vannam madi meedhu vilayaaduthu
mazhaiyaaga thamizh veenai isaippaaduthu
VJ: Uravendrum sugamendrum ninaiyaadhadhu
oru nenjil nilayaana idam theduthu
iravendrum pagalendrum ariyaamalae
idhamaana sugam kaana unai naaduthu
idhamaana sugam kaana unai naaduthu
SPB: Thanjam pugundha manjal nilavai endrum marandhadhillai
VJ: Anjum nadungum pinjaaga nindrum aasai izhandhadhillai

If MSV based the opening tune of "Ilangaiyin Ilam kuyil" on his own "Bhale bhale" from Maro Charithra, for "Pudhu manjal meni chittu", he seems to have heavily borrowed from "Yae theegappovuno", another unforgettable number from Maro Charithra.

However, this inspiration does not in the least deter the fact that this song is an absolute delight, with SPB and VJ at their euphonious best. The "Nayamaana azhagu" part and its progression to "Vizhiyae ithu enna raajangamo" has both the singers adding their individual touches, and these cherished moments are alone enough to bring lasting allure to the song. Nayamaana azhagugal niraindha paadal.

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Kalaimagal uravum Thirumagal varavum - Per Solla Oru Pillai
Singers:VJ - Music:Vijayabhaskar

It is now more than a year since Vijayabhaskar passed on, and he has been, without much ado, callously consigned to the dustbin of history. His contribution to TFM has gone largely unrecognized and unappreciated. It is a crying disgrace that the TN Government has not found it fit to honor him in any way while he was amidst us, or his memory after his demise. A small consolation is that he was posthumously conferred the K.Subramaniam Award by the Cine Technicians Association of South India on Dec 29, 2002. Of course, while he was alive, the Karnataka Government honored him with its Dr.Rajkumar Award in the year 2000.

It is then left to us fans to remember him, with undying gratitude, for he bestowed upon Tamil film music some of its finest and defining moments in the latter half of the 70s. And this was no mean achievement, considering that he had no powerful promoter, no benevolent patron, no big-banner films. MSV was still going strong. Ilayaraja had made a dazzling entry and was composing wonderful songs film after film. S-G were around to cater to the smaller banners. Talented composers like V.Kumar, Shyam, Kunnakkudi Vaidhyanathan and a few others took the leftovers. Vijayabhaskar had to reckon with all these factors, and all he got in the years 1974-1980 were 22 films. Many of them were commercial disasters and two never saw the light of a silver screen. Yet, if today we remember most of these films, it is only for the eternally appealing musical score of Vijayabhaskar. Indeed his songs are gems of purest ray serene that the dark unfathom'd caves of those unremarkable films bear.

Vijayabhaskar was a born in a Tamil Mudaliar family. His ancestors hailed from Serkaadu, near Vellore. His father V.A.Krishnamoorthi had settled in Malleswaram in Bangalore. Even as a child, Vijayabhaskar learned Carnatic, Hindustani and Western music (he was a brilliant pianist). He started his career in Bombay, where he worked under great composers like Madan Mohan and Naushad. His first Kannada film was Sri Rama Pooja(1955). His first major hit was Santa Tukaram(1963), and there was no looking back since then. He came to Tamil through the dubbing route, this innings lasted 5 years, commencing with Anbe Deivam(1957), and ending with Arabu Naattu Azhagi(1961).

Save Anbe Deivam, many of these films were dubbed from Hindi and Vijayabhaskar's job was just to faithfully copy the original songs. However, the songs from those films like Jimbo (Kodaanukkodipperey-SJ, Nam aasai endra nalroja-PBS, En nenjam unnai-PS), Nagarathil Jimbo (Nenjil niraindha veera-Jamunarani, Pogappoga maarum-PBS&Jamunarani), Sathi Sulochana, Sri Rama Bhaktha Hanuman (Oru thirunaaley oru thirunaal-SJ, Maraiyaappuyalaai-AMR&Jikki), Veera Abhimanyu - not the 1965 one (Ezhil oviyam-AMR&PS) and Arabu Naattu Azhagi (Un anbai thedukindra & Kanneer thuli-both AMR&PS) became popular and were repeatedly featured in Radio Ceylon.

Meanwhile, he rose to great heights in Kannada films. After a long wait, Vijayabhaskar got an opportunity to work for a straight Tamil film. Chitramahal Krishnamoorthi, who was impressed with Vijayabhaskar's score in the Kannada film Nagara Haavu(1972), commissioned him to compose the music for his Kalyanamaam Kalyanam(1974). Ironically, when Nagara Haavu was remade in Tamil as Raja Nagam(1974), the music was composed by V Kumar. With the wondrous "Ilamai naattiya saalai" (TMS&SJ), Vijayabhaskar made a grand arrival in Tamil films.

He struck gold immediately and rapidly bagged a handful of films. In 1974 itself, Vijayabhaskar gave music for 4 films. In the next year, six films came out bedecked with Vijayabhaskar's scintillating scores. Chitramahal Krishnamoorthi and Panju Arunachalam made repeated collaborations with him. However, Chitramahal Krishnamoorthi's films weren't great commercial successes. Panju Arunachalam discovered Ilayaraja in 1976. And Vijayabhaskar was left with a few films from smalltime producers.

However, Vijayabhaskar was "too poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune; he had not the method of making a fortune". He did a film each for K.Balachandar and Sridhar. With an unforgettable swansong Soundaryame Varuga Varuga(1980), and with no regrets, he left the vicious portals of TFM forever. He continued making music of his own enchanting kind for Kannada films. He has left a lingering mark in a few Malayalam films as well. His songs in the Kannada film Neela won both critical acclaim and popular appeal. He had just completed the score for a film called Poorvapara, when he received a summons from the heavens above. Vijayabhaskar passed away peacefully on March 3, 2002.

I miss you Sir, as all your fans sorely will
You will be in our hearts, though your baton is still

Now let us look at Vani's songs for Vijayabhaskar in 1978. Vani was truly fortunate, for she became Vijayabhaskar's prima donna ever since she sang in Kesarina Kamala (1973) for him. I have listened to, with awe, the wonderful songs that Vani sang for Vijayabhaskar in Kannada films like Vasanthalakshmi, Subha Mangala, Upasana, Phalithaamsha, Makkala Bhagya, Bili Hendthi, Kasthuri Vijaya and Neela. In Tamil too, though Vijayabhaskar gave some memorable songs to SJ, PS, LRE and L.R.Anjali (who got most of her best ever songs from him), the dominant voice in his music was undoubtedly VJ. We too are fortunate, for whenever Vani and Vijayabhaskar worked together, the result was pure enchantment.

We have witnessed the magic in the previous years, from "Anbu megame ingu odi vaa" to "Kudumbathin thalaivi kulavilakku". Let us now look at the great songs that sprung from this partnership in 1978. I admit that I don't know much about some of these films. I would be grateful for any inputs. The songs, however, remain fresh in memory.

Vani Chitra's "Per Solla Oru Pillai" starred Muthuraman, Srikanth, Vijayakumari, Sripriya and others. It was a tried and tested tale with Muthuraman in a dual role of father and son. Srikanth played the other son. Though Srikanth is a rascal, and Muthuraman the good son, the father thinks otherwise. Son Muthuraman leaves the house and starts life from scratch. Meanwhile Srikanth's true colours emerge, and the father realizes how mistaken he was, but only after the family ends up in the streets. Son Muthuraman has made it big by the dint of his hard work and enterprise. Finally the family unites, but not before several heart-rending scenes and the mother Vijayakumari's death.

The other songs in the film were "Paar pooppola meni"-SJ and "Muthu nagai sindhi"-PS.

Kalaimagal uravum
Thirumagal varavum
Avaravar vidhippadi Iravanin parisu

Varuvathu vayadhu
valarvathu manathu
Tharuvathu kadhal
peruvathu shanthi
Kalakalavenum melaadai
salasalavena neerodai
Kalikkum kuruvi kulikkum aruvi
Orumurai sirithu
orumurai anaithu
Kulamurai inaippu
thalaimurai valarppu
Vidivathu varai sringaram
mudivaniloru bhoopalam
Irandu karangal isaikkum swarangal

Ithu oru ulagum
malar anai kalagam
Kanavugal adhigam
kalaivathu thilagam
Iravanil oru thenaaru
uravanil agananooru
Kalakkum iruttil vilakku edharkku

A song of singular beauty, a timeless testament of the genius of Vijayabhasakar, a melody crafted for Vani's voice alone. I would unhesitatingly rate it among the best works of Vijayabhaskar with Vani. Vijayabhaskar here selects the veenai as the chief musical accompaniment to Vani. And what a spellbinding accompaniment it is! The gentle plucking on the strings in the interesting interludes and the fluent movements on the frets at the end of the charanams fill the listener with a throb of ecstasy. VJ's song, as always, is a mellifluous blend of raga and bhava, and a masterful harmony of lakshana (grammar) and lakshaya (artistry) that has enthralled listeners over the years. Kalaimagal uravo endrum avarkku Iravanin parisu. She sounds so deliciously coy in "Orumurai anaithu" and gives a gentle chuckle whilst repeating "Orumurai sirithu". Could there ever be a more dignified portrayal of the joy and significance of cohabitation?

As a small boy, I have heard this exquisite song a few times on the radio in the late 70s, and it disappeared from air since then. Nevertheless, the bliss it gave me so many years back lingers, like the sepia tint on a fading photograph.

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Paada chollum nenjam - Per Solla Oru Pillai
Singers:VJ - Music:Vijayabhaskar

Another magnificent effort of Vijayabhaskar that went unappreciated.

Paada chollum nenjam nenjam
Ada chollum konjam konjam
Naanam kollum ullum ullam
Aasai vandhaal thullum thullum
Valibathin ennangal
serthanaithu kollungal
Mogam konda chinna ponnu vegam konduthu

Deepathai kannil vaithu
poojakku nalai cholli
Uravin malargalai nee sootu
kaadhal vilayaadu
Kaanatha sorgam indru naam kaanalaam

Aanukku pennai thandhaan
pennukku aanai thandhaan
Iraivan rasanaiyai paarattu
poley uravaadu
Thaenanna vaazhvai endrum naam kaanalam

Poovukku vaasam undu
Pennukku nesam undu
Kaman malarkkanai thandhaane
Neraana paathai ondril naam poogalam

A song with dainty phases and caressingly tender moments. VJ brings out with vibrant vivacity, the exuberance of a young girl in love. She entices one with the emphasized repetition of "Mogam" and "Vegam". The softened "Kaanatha sorgam indru" and "thenaana vaazhvai endrum" are inspired touches. She surprises one with the changed repetition of the pallavi, wherein she sings "Nenjam" and "Konjam" only once, and continues the pallavi in a saucy mien.

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Sorgathai paarkkiren unnidam - Aval Oru Adhisayam
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:Vijayabhaskar

No clue about the starcast, storyline etc. of Suchitra Films' "Aval Oru Adhisayam". Vijayabhaskar's songs, however, keep reminding one that such a film did get released.

The other songs were the fun-filled "Naan summa thodavey maatten"-Kovai Soundararajan&L.R.Anjali and the breezy "Adi kannmani vanna paingili"-SPB,PS&LRA.

SPB: Sorgathai paarkiren unnidam
Inbathai kondu vaa ennidam
Maanikka therey nee methuvaaga sellu
Kaanikkai ethu vendum kaathodu sollu
VJ: Sorgathai paarkalam ennidam
Sollamal sollava unnidam
Poo meni vaadamal medhuvaaga thazhuvu
Nee konda ennathai kannathil ezhuthu

SPB: Pachchaikkili kothamal pazham edharkku
Ichchaippadi konjamal azhagedherkku
VJ: Utharavu illamal thoduvathenna
Pathu viral lesaaga paduvathenna
SPB: Aasai vegam
VJ: Naalai theerum
SPB: Adharukkul avasaram
Vaa vaa vaa

VJ: Sattapadi kalyanam nadakkattumey
Anthapura sandhosham kidaikkattume
SPB: Othigai inneram nadakkattumey
Ondreerandu munnadi vilangattumey
VJ: Mayangumpothu
SPB: mounam edhu
VJ: Enakkum purindhadhu
Nil nil nil

An elegant Vijayabhaskar melody, with attractive romantic flourishes by the singers. The pallavi, with the strumming of the guitar as its backdrop, starts straight away, with no instrumental prelude. The humming by both singers in the middle of the charanam is refreshingly different each time. SPB's gleeful response to VJ's rebuke "Uththaravu illamal thoduvadhenna" is a delight. His "Vaa vaa vaa" is full of lusty pining. The second interlude has some arresting music. VJ pulls off, yet again, her captivating coalesce of dignity and romance. Hark at her "Nil nil nil", it will stop you in your tracks.

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Azhagaana ila mangai - Thappu Thaalangal
Singers:VJ - Music:Vijayabhaskar

Premalaya's "Thappu Thaalangal" starred Rajnikanth, Saritha, Sundar, Pramila Joshi and Kamal (in a special appearance). It was produced by R.Venkataraman and directed by K.Balachandar. I had always wondered at KB's choice of Vijayabhaskar for this film alone, in the midst of his unbroken innings with MSV. Why, in 1978 it self, as we have seen earlier, MSV gave two wonderful songs for KB's Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu. So this sudden shift to Vijayabhaskar for a single film remains a mystery. The only probable reason could be that "Thappu Thaalangal" was made in Kannada as well, and considering that Kannada was Vijayabhaskar's monarchy, KB went to him. But I am sure he must have had no regrets, for Vijayabhaskar, as usual, gave his best.

"Thappida Thaala", the Kannada version was released earlier, on October 6, 1978. "Thappu Thaalangal" was released on October 30, 1978. On the same day, Rajini had two other releases, Rudraiyah's "Aval Appadithaan" and Devar's "Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam".

"Thappu Thaalangal" marked the debut in Tamil, of that awesome artiste called Saritha. (Of course, she made a special appearance as the girl whom Kamal marries in the end in Aval Appadithaan). Saritha's first film, "Maro Charithra" smashed all hitherto held records in Telugu film history. Kamal recalled later that when she was first introduced to him as his co-star, he was repulsed by her ungainly appearance, but at the end of the very first day of shooting, he was beginning to understand the reason for KB's choice. At the end of the week, he developed a grudging admiration for her, and when the film was finally done, he couldn't find enough words to praise her.

Saritha, with her large eyes and expressive voice, made up for the lack of a perfect figure or dropdead good looks with her powerful performances. She brought to pulsating life KB's characters in a series of memorable films - Noolveli(1979), Thanneer Thanneer(1981), Agnisaatchi(1982), Achamillai Achamillai(1984) and Kalyana Agathigal(1985). She made a mark in some other KB's films, whether it was as the voice of Jayapradha in Ninaithaale Inikkum and in 47 Naatkal (in which, she also appears in a miniscule role) or even the dubbed "Aval Oru Thamizhachi", or the forgettable "Enga Oor Kannagi". Her tutelage in the Balachandar School served her in good stead even when she worked for other directors. Who can forget the triumphant way in which Saritha matched Sivaji Ganesan, scene after scene in "Keezhvaanam Sivakkum"? She essayed some brilliant roles opposite Sivakumar, apart from "Agnisaatchi", "Aaniver" and "Vandichakram" come to mind. She acted with almost every actor in her time - Prathap(Amma), Thyagarajan(Malayur Mambattiyan), Bhagyaraj(Mouna Geethangal), Sudhakar(Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu), Vijaybabu(Rusi Kanda Poonai), Mohan(Nalam, Nalamariya Aaval), Prabhu(Poo Poova Poothirukku), Vijayakanth(Oomai Vizhigal), Sreedhar(Poo Pootha Nandavanam), Sathyaraj (Saavi).

Her last memorable role was in Vedham Pudhidhu(1987). She made a mark in movies of all four South Indian languages. She won the TN Government's Best Actress Award thrice(1979-80, 1982-83 and 1988). She is also the recipient of Kalaimamani Award.

After her marriage with actor Mukesh, Saritha settled down to domestic bliss and a flourishing career in dubbing. She has dubbed for actresses ranging from Vijayashanthi to Sushmita Sen. She has two sons, Shravan and Tejas.

Saritha is back in the news. Her performance in the title role of a psychopath in Julie Ganapathi shows that she cannot be written off yet.

"Thappu Thaalangal" was a bold and brutal look at the ills pervading our society. What makes a man rebel and resort to unlawful activities, what forces a woman into the world's oldest profession, is there any deliverance from the vicious circle. The film had some stark moments, and when the turn of circumstances show a ray of hope, the climax shatters such dreams into smithereens.

Rajinikanth gave a brilliant performance and you could never guess that Saritha was a newcomer. Rajini and Saritha would work together in films like "Netrikkan", "Pudhu Kavithai" and "Sivappu Sooriyan".

Lyrics were by Kannadasan and the other two songs were "Thappu thaalangal, vazhi thavariya paadhangal" and "Ennada polladha vaazhkkai"-both SPB. The latter was very popular with school children, with its punch line "Idhukku poi alatikkalaama". I remember being sternly rebuked at home for innocently singing the first few lines.

Azhagaana ilamangai kattil koduthaal
adharkkaaga Maharajan thottil koduthaan
thaalaadha inbangaley
thaalattu sollungaley

Thirumana medai enbathil thodangi
pillaigal selvam kaanbadhu veedu
Pillaiyil thodangi thirumanamaagi
illaram kaanum ivaladhu vaazhvu
Deivam undu enbadhaithaane
Nee uraithaai
Kai koduthaai

Kanavugal ellaam oruvadivaagi
kai kaal mulaithu valarndhadhu pillai
Maladiyin vayitru maindhanaippoley
Mandalam aalum arasanumillai
Annai naan
Annaiyaaga aasaikondeney
Nee sirithaai
Kai koduthaai
Vaazha vaithaai

This song features Saritha. She is eagerly awaiting the birth of her child, though she is not married to Rajini yet, she is grateful to him for freeing her from her wretched living, and hopes that they will marry soon. Meaningful lyrics by Kannadasan, he always maintained that motherhood is a prize awarded by the man to the woman, remember the lines "Naan kaadhalennum kavithai sonnen kaatilin meley, andha karunaikku naan parisu thandhen thottilin meley"? Similar thoughts are expressed in this song as well.

Vani Jairam brings characteristic understanding in her song. The various hopes, the fervent prayers to God, the deep gratitude to the saviour, all these emotions tantalizingly find feeling in her voice. The short aalaap after "Deivamey" and "Annai naan" is the enchanting highpoint of the song. Another winner from Vijayabhaskar and VJ.

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Ammadi Ponnu ennamma kannu - Rajavukketha Rani
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:Vijayabhaskar

If I remember right, Velan Movies' "Rajavukketha Rani" starred Jaishankar and Sridevi. Sridevi was well on her way to becoming the most popular star. In 1978 alone, she had eleven Tamil films, and five of them were with with Jaishankar. Another song in the film is "Raja vandhaar, Rani vandhaal, Raajangam illamaley"-SPB&SJ.

SPB: Ammadi ponnu
ennama kannu
Udambengum enindha ragasiyam
VJ: Appavi ponnai
thappaaga paartha
Eppothum adhuthaane adhiyasiyam

SPB: Ponvandu pol
engengo selgindrana
VJ: Sendralenna
aan vandugal
pinnalae varugindrana
SPB: Thalaividhithaan Meenaalaam
thadathaivittu ponaalaam
Vayasu pona manushankitte manasa vittalam

VJ: Angey nindru
kanngal rendu
aarathi edupathenna
SPB: Azhagenbathu
penn meniyil
abishegam seivathenna
VJ: Arivu sollum rajavaam
azhagai kandal koojavaam
Padipadiyaa ippothu vazhukkivittaaraam
SPB: Arey-Thalathalakuthu thakkali
palapalakuthu pappaali
Thanimaiyile sendraale ulagum kettathadi

A song of fun and frolic where SPB and VJ sound playful and naughty. VJ's spirited rejoinders to SPB's amused taunts are thoroughly enjoyable.

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Aalaippaar azhagaippaar - Rajavukketha Rani
Singers:VJ - Music:Vijayabhaskar

On a superfluous listen, this song may sound like just another "Night Club" number but pray give it more attention.

Engengo parandhu sendru
ennai nee ninathathundu
Unnai nan marakkavillai, vaa arugey

Kannukkul padangal undandro
Ennathil pathintha mugam andro
Kinnathil nirangal undandro
Pennmaikkul vidhangal undandro
Athisayam ellaam nadakkutam
Avasara neram pirakkattum
Ragasiyam ellaam thodarattum
Avasiyam aanathu mudiyattum

Sorgathaai eduthu vaikkindren
Vetkkathai maraithu vaikkindren
Pakkathil vilakkai vaikkendren
Thookkathai maraikka vaikkendren
Vandhadhu vandhaai valaipodu
Vandha idathil vilaiyaadu
Kandadhu mattum podhaadhu
Kaaariyam seivaai mudivodu

She is masquerading as a vamp, in order to bring some villain(s) to book. Perhaps she was victimized by them in the past and now she is waiting to take revenge. "Kaalai pozhudhu oorukku vidiyum, kanni nainaikkum kaariyam mudiyum".

Vijayabhaskar shifts to exclusively trumpets, guitar and drums here, as befits a song of this genre. But the usage of these instruments is dexterous and imaginative, winningly bringing out an air of suspense, especially at the end.

VJ sets the mood of seduction in the intoxicating "Aah" before she commences with the whispered "Aalaippaar, azhagaippaar". Her "Vaa Arugey" sounds so inviting, but beware, it is akin to "Will you walk into my parlor" said the spider to the fly.

With this song, we come to the end of the Vijayabhaskar chronicle for 1978. Mortal man, who created immortal melodies.

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Udalenbaar Uyirenbaar - Puthu Cheruppu Kadikkum
Singers:VJ - Music:M.B.Srinivasan

"Pudhu Cheruppu Kadikkum" was never released, but I have seen the record, and it was dated 1978. So I am including it as part of the 1978 diary.

M.B.Srinivasan had gone to Lakshadweep islands to train a youth choir there, when he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away on 9th March 1988. I was studying for my +2 exams, when I read of his demise. In the midst of frantic last minute revisions, I still mourned his passing away, for many of his songs had brought me so much joy and many, many hours of listening pleasure. True, he had composed music for only 8 Tamil films, but he had created some songs of timeless enchantment in those few films. From the bewitching "Thennankeetru oonjaliley" to the moving "Amma undhan kai valaiyaai", songs that will live on to tell the tale of a genius. A great musician, and a great human being, a noble soul who strove throughout his life to better the lot of his fellow beings, while all the time creating songs of eternal allure.

Manamadurai Balakrishnan Srinivasan was born in 1925 in Chithoor, where his father was working as a Lecturer in an Agricultural College. Music was an integral part of his childhood, as both his parents had great love for it. MBS grew up in times when the freedom struggle was at its zenith. MBS, though hailing from an affluent family, was attracted to Communist thoughts and as a student of Madras Presidency College, joined the Madras Students Organisation(M.S.O.) Along with likeminded enthusiasts like S.Damodaran and Baladhandayudham, MBS was actively involved in garnering student support for imprisoned freedom fighters and conducting patriotic meetings, where Bharathiyar's fiery songs were sung with fervor.

For a while, MBS worked in the office of the Communist Party's Parliamentary Committee in Delhi. It was then that he got involved with Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and helped in bringing about plays and road shows highlighting problems faced by people in everyday life. Whilst going about this, he also got an exposure to musical influences from all corners of the country. He also formally learned classical music.

It was during this period that MBS met and fell in love with Zahida Kitchlew, who shared with ardor, the same passion for both music and people's causes. Zahida was the daughter of the great nationalist Dr.Saifuddin Kitchlew. In Zahida, MBS found a perfect soulmate and married her. He a Tamil Aiyangaar and she a Kashmiri Muslim, but what does religion matter, when hearts unite. Nabigal Quranum, Kannan Geethaiyum oru paadhayail angu sangamam. They named their son Kabir, after that wonderful poet, who was celebrated alike by both Hindus and Muslims.

Let us now take a cursory glace at the works of MBS in Tamil films:

1.Kumari Films' "Paathai Theriyuthu Paar"(1960) - MBS was among the stalwarts with Communist leanings who produced this offbeat film, directed by Nimai Ghosh and starring K.Vijayan, L.Vijalakshmi & Sahasaranamam. Songs: Thenankeetru Oonjaliley (PBS-SJ), Maasil veenaiyum (SJ-A.S.Mahadevan), Chinna china mookuthiyaam(TMS), Rasa magan polirundhen(ALR), Azhutha kannerum paalaguma(PS) and Unnmai oru naal veliyaagum(TL). Lyricists were Communist sympathisers like Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram, Jayakanthan and K.C.S.Arunachalam.

2.Kavya Chitra's "Dhaagam"(1974) - MBS had to wait for 14 years for his next Tamil film! Again an offbeat venture directed by Babu Nandhankode that starred Muthuraman, Nandhitha Bose, Rajkokila and Major Sundararajan. Songs were the thogayara Vaanemngum parithiyin jothi (KJY) followed by Urugidum velaiyilum (SJ) and Vaanam namadhu thandhai (SJ, Muthuraman & chorus).

3.NVR Pictures' "Pudhu Vellam"(1975) - K.Vijayan, who became a director with this film, remembered MBS with gratitude and entrusted him with the film's music. The film starred Sivakumar and Kannada Manjula. Songs were Idhu pongi varugindra pudhu vellam (TMS), Thuli thuli thuli (PS), Naan raja veettu kannukutti(PS) and Erumai annachi(TMS).

4.Sakthi Cine Arts' "Eduppar Kai Pillai"(1975) - The film starred Jaishankar, Srikanth, Bhanumathi, V.A.Nirmala and others. Songs were Azhagu rani kathai ithu(PS), Kiss me son Kanna perumaan aalapirandhaan(Bhanumathi), Meet my son (Bhanumathi) and Ponnum mayangum poovum vanangum (KJY,PS).

5.NVR Pictures' "Madhana Maaligai"(1976) - Directed, again, by K.Vijayan. The film starred Sivakumar, Srikanth, Alka, Manorama and others. The songs were Yeriyiley oru Kashmir Roja (KJY,PS), Oru Chinna paravai(SPB), Aaasaiyo suvaiyaanathu (PS), Under the mango tree (Usha Uthup), Valathu kaalai eduthu vechu vaangadi (VJ & chorus) and Paraparapara pattampoochi (PS & chorus).

6.John Abraham's "Agragarathil Kazhuthai"(1977) - The film had no songs, but had background music by MBS, who also acted as the chief protagonist, along with Krishnaraj, Swathi, Raman. Savitri and Veeraraghavan. The screenplay was by Koothuppattarai Muthusami. The fact that this film is considered a landmark in the history of Indian Cinema is evident from the fact that the film was screened in a retrospective of Indian Films in the Locarno Film Festival in August 2002 (the other Tamil films to find similar honor were Thanneer Thanneer, Iruvar and Kandukkonden Kandukkonden).

7.Rajaram Theatres' "Pudhu Cheruppu Kadikkum" - I don't think the film was ever released, but I have seen the record of the songs. It was dated 1978. The songs were Sithirappoo selai (SPB) and Udalenbaar uyirenbaar (VJ).

8.Nijangal(1982) - The film starred Menaka, Anandi, Kuladeivam Rajagopal and others. The songs were Amma undhan kai valaiyaai (VJ), Un kaadhodu kaadhoru seithi sonnaal (SPB,SPS) and Namma Indhiya dhesam kooda (TMS & chorus).

I know it seems incredible, but that is the total count of the Tamil films that came his way! A paltry 8, and that includes a film that had no songs and another that was never released! Can you believe that a genius who created a miracle like "Thennankeetru Oonjaliley" had to wait for 14 years for his next film? But then, our Tamil Film Industry has been a hotbed of malicious propaganda, cunning machinations, deep-seated intrigue, rampant favoritism, and has always looked with suspicion at change of any kind.

But the same destiny which closed the door of TFM for MBS, threw wide open for him the portals of Malayalam films, and there MBS found enchanting avenues to create his kind of music. Internationally acclaimed filmmakers like K.G.George, M.T.Vasudevan Nair, Adoor Goplakrishnan and Aravindan came to MBS repeatedly to set music for their films. MBS bagged the Kerala Government Award for the best Music Director four times. It was MBS who, in 1961, gave K.J.Yesudas his first ever film song, (a short verse by Narayana Guru) in the film "Kalpadukal". Jayachandran got the State award for the song "Ragam Sriragam", composed by MBS for the film "Bandhanam".

MBS gave his best to all his films, be it any language. The first film in Baduga language "Kala Thapitha Pailu" had memorable music by MBS.

MBS was the pioneer in Radio jingles. Many of the jingles heard in the early 70s were composed by him.

MBS was not content to rest his laurels in film music. Through music, he wanted to inspire in children the qualities of patriotism and National Integration. The beginning was made when he trained 25 students to sing 6 songs of Bharathiar for the Ilaya Bharatham programme of AIR in August, 1970. Under his guidance, the Bharathi Ilaignar Isaikkuzhu was started in 1971, which blossomed into the Madras Youth Choir in 1973. MBS was instrumental in setting up such choirs in many parts of India. Songs of Bharathiar, Bharathidasan, Tagore and Iqbal, when sung by hundreds of children in one voice, evoked rare emotional fervor in the listeners.

MBS loved children. Most of his serndisai programmes were by children from the Corporation schools and children from the slums. MBS headed the Madras Youth Choir right from its inception up to his death in 1988. After his demise, Zahida took over the responsibility with enthusiasm. Zahida passed away on October 23, 2002.

MBS was honored with the Award for Creative Music by the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1986. He galvanised the Cine Music technicians to form a Union and demand prompt payments and fixed wages. He was instrumental in the formation of the Indian Performing Right Society Ltd (IPRS) to give Copyright protection to Music Directors and lyricists.

MBS has left behind a rich legacy. Today performing artistes in every nook and corner of the world remember him with gratitude.

Even on the fateful day, when MBS left for his heavenly abode, he was engaged in training a Youth Choir in a remote island of Lakshadweep. Urugidum velaiyilum nalla oli thandha mezhugu thiri!

Some day, as you are driving along the rural pockets of Tamil Nadu, as you pass a hamlet, you may feebly hear for some fleeting seconds, a few lines from "Yeriyiley oru Kashmir Roja" from a radio in a tea shop, like "Violets by a mossy stone half hidden from the eye" and you will feel the presence of MBS.

Laal Salaam, Comrade!

Rajaram Theatres' "Pudhu Cheruppu Kadikkum" was based on a short story by Jayakanthan. The story was written in 1971, and came out as part of a collection of short stories, published by Meenakshi Puthaga Nilayam, Madurai.

The story revolves around three characters Nandagopal, Girija and Vatsala. Nandagopal enjoys his bachelorhood till he is 30 years old. He harbors bitter memories of his father physically torturing his mother day after day, and thus he develops an aversion towards marriage. He meets Girija, who works as a sales girl and also does various odd jobs to eke out a meager living. He is attracted to her cheerful disposition and caring ways. One day, when seeing her hungry state, he treats her to a square meal and buys groceries for her. She suggests that he move in with her, and pay her whatever he was paying his mess. He readily falls in with the scheme, and their friendship assumes new dimensions. He tells her of his mother's constant demands that he get married. Girija encourages him to take the step. He tells her of his cousin Vatsala who is very pretty. Girija masks her disappointment, and congratulates him on his decision. When the wedding day looms near, she suggests that he move out, as it would not be appropriate for them to share the same roof any more. There is a hint of tears in her eyes as she tells this.

Nandagopal finds marital life not at all what he had bargained for. Vatsala and he rarely see eye to eye, and arguments, unpleasantness and humiliations become a daily affair. One night, after some bitter exchanges, he suddenly remembers wistfully his carefree days with Girija. He takes a sudden decision to pay her a visit, even at that unearthly hour. Girija is surprised at his sudden visit, but gives him a warm welcome. To her eager queries on his married life, he responds by listing the complaints he had against Vatsala, and adds that he is suffering for the callous way in which he had treated Girija.

She gently admonishes him, and explains to him how Vtasala must have felt to leave all that is familiar and dear to her, and come to a strange place and that even the male species may appear strange to her. Girija adds that Nandagopal was "experienced" in the ways of women (in a wry refrence to their living together), and she too was "trained" in the ways of men, but men do not want "trained" wives! Nandagopal understands the truth. Presently, seeing that her foot is injured, tenderly enquires about it. She replies that she had bought a new pair of slippers, and was suffering from acute "shoe bite" Then come her punch lines "A new pair of slippers necessarily hurts, but would that make anyone go in for an old pair?". She smiles as she says this, he breaks down.

What a moving, stark story. I believe Jayakanthan had expanded it into full-length evocative black & white film but could not find any distributors. I can only sigh in helpless frustration, when I realize that "Jagan Mohini" ran to packed houses in the same year in which a masterpiece like "Puthu Cheruppu Kadikkum" slept in the cans.

The other song "Chithira poo selai" (SPB) is a gem. I hold this song the apotheosis of poetry in film songs.

Udal enbaar
enathuyir enbaar
Kadal enbaar
un kann enbaar
Miga unnmai

Udal ingey
athan uyir angae
Kadal ingey
karai puralum
ival kanneer

nalla kanavu varum
Thuyil neengi
antha ninavu varum
Athu thuyaram

thoodhu vittu
madal ezhuthi
Kaalamalleam kaathiruppaar
Ivar penngal

Has the sorrow of a girl whose love has gone unrequited, ever been depicted more poignantly! Each line is redolent of this suffering, the suffering that only people who have loved and lost can understand. The wait is endless, futile, yet still she waits.

MBS adds spellbinding sheen to the lyrics by his unobtrusive and masterful use of veenai, flute and violin. Each interlude is a short but effective statement .

VJ brings to the song a Ghazal like aura. How much hushed pain peeps out in her song. The song becomes a celebration of heart-rending sorrow.

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Aaana Kaanaa - Sri Kanchi Kamakshi
Singers:VJ - Music:K.S.Raghunathan

Chitra Productions' "Sri Kanchi Kamakshi" was a star-studded mythological (Muthuraman, Sujatha, Srividya, ...), directed by K.S.Goplakrishnan.

In 1954, both KSG and Sridhar submitted their stories to Saravanabhava-Unity Pictures, who were planning to make a film. Sridhar's "Ethirpaaraathathu" was selected over KSG's "Thambi". However, KSG wrote some songs for "Ethirpaaraathathu" (Kaathal vaazhvil naaney & Thinnu paarthu theerpai sollunga). He continued to assist Sridhar and also wrote a few songs in films in which Sridhar was involved. Memorable among them are "Thunbam soozhum neram"(Amaradeepam) and "Un azhagai kanniyargal"(Uththamapuththiran).

KSG made his debut as a director in Saradha(1962). The film, with a hitherto unexplored theme, went on to become a huge success. The success story continued with "Karpagam", "Kai Kodutha Deivam", "Selvam", "Panama Pasama", "Chithi", etc. Though many of his later films, with ponderous titles like "Kulama Gunama" and "Uyira Manama" were heavily melodramatic in style, "Iyakkunar Thilakam" KSG ranks among the great filmmakers of Tamil cinema. It was he who introduced K.R.Vijaya in "Karpagam", directed her 100th film "Nathayil Muthu" and her 200th film "Padikkatha Pannaiyar". Similarly, he introduced Jayachitra in "Kurathi Magan" and directed her 100th film "Nayakkarin Magal". KSG was the man behind the story/screenplay of "Padikkatha Medhai"(dir: Bhimsingh), but when years later he tried a rehash of the same theme in AVM's "Per Sollum Pillai"(dir: S.P.Muthuraman), it was rejected outright by the public. KSG's last film was Abhavanan's "Kaviya Thalaivan"(1992), starring Vijayakanth.

And at regular intervals, KSG came out with mythologicals. His first foray in that area was Aadhi Parasakthi(1971), which was a runaway hit. Dasavatharam(1976) didn't do too well. But "Kanchi Kamakshi", which followed in the wake of K.Shankar's "Varuvaan Vadivelan" did good business. Another film in this genre by KSG was "Deviyin Thiruvilayaadal"(1982).

KSG loved to experiment with different Music Directors. KVM and MSV-TKR (and later MSV), gave some excellent songs in KSG films. Others included G.Ramanathan (Deivathin Deivam), V.Dakshinamoorthi (Jeeva Naadi- story/screenplay: KSG), Kunnakkudi Vaidhyanathan (Vaazhayadi Vaazhai), S.Rajeswara Rao (Dasavatharam), S-G (many, many films), IR (Yugadharmam, Padikkatha Pannaiyar), Sidhartha(Kaviya Thalaivan) and K.S.Raghunathan (Sri Kanchi Kamakshi) .

I don.t know much about K.S.Raghunathan or HMV Raghu, as he is popularly known. But I have listened to some of his non-film works. Many of the Ramakrishna Math releases had music by KSR. Sample these ones: The Bhajan Series by Rajkumar Bharathi and Vani Jairam, Geetha Chanting series by Rajkumar Bharathi, Bhakthi Malar series by Jayachandran & Vani Jairam, Bhajans and Stotras by Swami Purushothamananda. Other KSR albums include Soundarya Lahiri by MLV, Sai Geetha Mala by Dr.Hiramalini Seshadri and Bharathiyar songs by Unnikrishnan. KSR is held in high regard as a technical expert as well. Recently, when Media Dreams wanted to digitally remaster some rare vintage works of great exponents from the original Grundig spool tapes, KSR.s assistance was sought for this highly specialized job.

Other songs in "Sri Kanchi Kamaksh"i include Vedhathin uchiyil-TMS, Manmadhan kai karumbu-Seergazhi Govindarajan and Aadhi sakthi naarani-Seergazhi Govindarajan, T.L.Maharajan and S.C.Krishnan.

The situation of this song is nothing novel. A dumb child gains the power of speech by the infinite grace of Kamakshi Amman, and starts uttering the alphabets, and the worshippers who have gathered in the shrine watch on in awestruck trance.

Minimum instrumental accompaniments. Need I say that VJ does a splendid essay. The sing-song uttering of the alphabets, each line is so enchanting, and how effortlessly she scales some high points, many times in an accelerated tempo, with some breathless passages, all the time keeping in tact the clarity of each syllable, that is a matter of ceaseless wonder. The peak-finish leaves a lingering taste. I dazedly wonder if ANY other singer could have carried off this song, so effortlessly, and so enchantingly.

An enthralling Tamil lesson by Vani teacher! Thank you Ma'am!

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Thamizh vendhan Pandiyanin angam - Ananda Bhairavi
Singers:VJ - Music:R.Ramanujam

Sri Vidya's "Ananda Bhairavi" starred Ravichandran, K.R.Vijaya, Jayadevi and S.Varalakshmi. I have not seen the film, so no clue about the proceedings.

Rangasami Ramanujam is the younger brother of Rangasami Parthasarathy (of Oriental Records fame). Before settling in the U.S. and embarking on a flourishing business in marketing music, Parthasarathy had composed memorable music for films like "Magadhalanaattu Mary", "Kalyana Mandapam", "Avan Piththana", "Paalmanam" and "Kalyana Oorvalam".

Ramanujam was born the last of five children and grew in a household where music was loved and nurtured. Unfortunately, he could not be as successful as his illustrious brother. "Ananda Bhairavi" was his first film, and he gave a brilliant account of himself. His next film was Annapparavai(1980). Annapparavai had that spellbinding SPB solo "Ponnenbatho poovenbatho". MV's "Gopala yen sir" became an instant hit. SJ's "Aadi padhinettu" was another catchy number.

Ramanujam's next film was the M.G.C.Sukumar-Vanithasri starrer "Aval Oru Kavariman", which doesn't seem to have been released. The film had some good songs like "Pallavi naan paada"(VJ) and "Poonthendral kaatraaga poonjolai vandaaga"(PS, Jolly Abraham?). Another stillborn film for which Ramanujam wasted his efforts was "Puththampudhunayagan". I have heard that in the aftermath of MGR's demise, Ramanujam brought out a cassette on the Puratchi Thalaivar, which did brisk business.

All the songs in "Ananda Bhairavi" are truly memorable. "Umaiyavaley Mariyamma" in the great S.Varalakshmi's brigha-laden tenor is an aural treat. And while "Sirithaai andha sirippil oru mogam" is an alltime favorite SPB-PS delight, "Kodi kodi ennam adhu kondu vandha sondham" is a breezy TMS-PS duet.

Let us look at this classical song by Vani:

Thamizh vendhan Pandiyanin angam
en thalaivanin thirumeni thangam
Pagaivargal munbu avan singam
Ennai paarthu vittaal kaadhal pongum

Devar kadal kadaintha amudham
Avan thirumaarbil naan malarum kumudham
Moovar vaditha thamizh padhigam
Andha mohanan thandha sugam adhigam

Raathiri pookalukku raja
En ragasiya thottam kanda roja
Saathira Geethai sonna Kannan
Ennai thazhuvugaiyil kaadhal mannan

Ennadi naanam endru anaippan
Naan ethum sonnaal medhuvaai sirippaan
Thannanthanimaiyiley azhaippan
Nalla samsaram pola enni nadappaan

Aalilai megalaigal aada
Ponarasilai nadagangal kooda
Naalu gunangaliley naan vaada
Adi nayagiyey endravan naada

A Bharathanatiyam song, drenched in Sringara Rasa, beautified with exquisite lyrics. Isn't that enough for Vani to simply scintillate?! Ramanujam must have envisaged this song in an inspired moment, the Ragamalika that he has so imaginatively created is full of surprises at every turn. And the loving way Vani arranges the trellis of the sancharas in the raga essays of Shanmugapriya and Sahana around the lyrics (Raathiri pookalukku raja and ennadi naanamendru anaipaan respectively) is something to cherish.

The song reverberates throughout to the Mirudangam and the anklets. The Venu and the Veenai herald the arrival of the Vani, and she makes a majestic entry. Listen to that bashful pride in "Ennai paarthuvittaal kaadhal pongum Ammamma". There are so many untold delicious secrets in Vani's whispered "Andha mohanan thandha sugam adhigam". Pray, hark at her prolonged "raja" and "roja". Who wouldn't be entranced? Ramanujam gives such an enticing bit on the flute after "saathira Geethai sonna Kannan" that we catch a fleeting glimpse of that divine flautist Himself. The laugh that Vani gives in "naan ethum sonnaal medhuvaai sirippaan" is filled with amused recollections of the lover's banter, while the alaap after "Naalu gunangaliley naan vaada" is another nostalgic moment.

It is when I listen to bejeweled classics like this that I regret my ignorance of classical music. I feel frustrated that I am not able to wholly appreciate the nuances and subtleties of Vani's song and consequently unable to do any justice to its review. It is a gratifying thought, however, that it has never occurred to this veteran of dignified sangita sampradaya to indulge in the cheap or the meretricious just to attract the laity. But then she doesn't need to. She is able to put across the real thing so tunefully that it earns her the respect of the Pandits and the awe-filled admiration of the paamarans.

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Orey Naal unnai naan - Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:Ilaiyaraja

The last two episodes of the 1978 trail were devoted to commemoration of and commiseration for those few, who despite their unquestioned talent could never make it big in the annals of tfm. This time, for a change, let us joyously celebrate a success story. A stunning success story called Ilayaraja. We have seen how Ilayaraja burst upon the scene with the wonderful songs of Annakkili in 1976, and how he rapidly ascended the throne of an unparalleled monarch of all he surveyed. In those early years, each film that had IR in its credits boasted of an enchanting set of songs. Songs that sounded so refreshingly different than the ones people were accustomed to hitherto.

Films of all types came IR's way. Trail-blazing landmark ventures by fresh and bold film makers or banal clichéd themes by fading veterans desperate for a success - all of them came to IR's hands, to have their appeal enhanced tenfold by his lilting compositions. 21 films came out in 1978 festooned with IR's music, and many of them are remembered today only for their magical songs.

As in the previous two years, in 1978 too IR showed his marked partiality for SJ by giving her the maximum number of songs, and SJ fully justified the trust IR placed in her by her remarkable vocal artistry. Jikki, PS and LRE were the other veterans who sang some memorable songs for IR this year. PS especially had some amazing songs. While Manorama and BSS too came under IR's baton, two singers whom IR introduced this year were Jency and Shobha Chandrasekhar.

Since we have already discussed in detail the songs that these singers sang for IR in 1978, let us proceed forthwith to recollect the songs that came VJ's way from the IR stable. We have to accept that the numbers were less, only eight, but instead of sighing over the measly number of songs that IR gave VJ, let us, like Pollyanna, jump with joy, thinking of those exquisite creations, and how Vani added lingering lustre to them. Each song is classic, and each one cast in a different mould, and Vani rendered each one of them with captivating grace and effortless élan.

Sri Chitra's "Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu" starred Kamal, Rajnikant, Sripriya, Jayachitra, YGP and V.Gopalakrishnan. It was produced by Kanniah and directed by veteran Sridhar.

It was a cloudy evening in the first week of April this year. The Mini Hall at Music Academy, was overflowing with people. The event was the release of "Thirumbi Paarkiren", an autobiography by C.V Sridhar. Dressed in a pale blue shirt and a white pant, Sridhar, frail and ravaged by years of suffering from a paralytic stroke, had to be brought to the podium in a wheelchair.

Directors from across the decades were present in full measure, for wasn't this the genius they looked upon their Guru, whose every film was a lesson in various nuances of film craft? KSG (who worked as Sridhar's assistant), Muktha Srinivasan, Sridhar's (cousin?) brother C.V.Rajendran, Balu Mahendra, Vasanth, Lingusami - all showered encomiums upon the trendsetting genius. Gemini Ganesh, PBS, Srikanth and others looked on, perhaps filled with memories of another day. Vairamuthu who shot to fame with his lyrics for Sridhar's "Ninaivellaam Nithya" was warm in his admiration. "Silarathu vetrigal kooda salanamillamal adangippogum. Aanaal, sila perudaiya tholvigal kooda sarithiramaagum. Ungal tholvigalum appadithaan". And when the entire hall stood up to give him a standing ovation, Sridhar's eyes brimmed with tears; his face became distorted with emotion, he unashamedly broke down.

Where would his thoughts have gone at that momentous moment? His childhood at Chithamoor, a small hamlet near Madhuranthakam, his school days at St. Joseph School, Chenglepet, his knocking the doors of various production houses for opportunities, his "Ethirpaaraathathu" unexpectedly getting selected over KSG's "Thambi" by Saravanabhava Unity Pictures in 1954, his involvement in the making of memorable ventures like "Yaar Paiyan", "Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi", "Uthama Puthiran", "Amaradeepam", "Punarjenmam", the big break with the landmark "Kalyana Parisu", his experiences with great musicians like A.M.Raja and Chalapathi Rao, his outstanding works with the Chitralaya team that comprised of stalwarts like Aloysius Vincent (camera), Gopu (script), P.Madhavan (his assistant in the initial years) and M.N.Shankar (editing), the countless hours spent with Kannadasan & V-R, squeezing the best out of them, the epoch making "Nenjil Or Aalayam", the runaway success of "Kaadhalikka Neramillai", the sorrow of failures like "Sumaithaangi" & "Kalaikkoyil", his calling the shots to giants like MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala, Padmini, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, and even Amitabh Bachchan, his vision that transformed a bubbly teenager into a seasoned actress overnight in the film Vennira Aadai, his refreshing experiments with the same eternal love triangle in film after film, but each with a different dimension, the unparalleled name he carved for himself in Bollywood with his brilliant remakes in Hindi, the numerous stars who were launched by him, right from Ravichandran & Kanchana to today's blue-eyed boy of Kodambakkam Vikram, his works with generations like Muthuraman and Gemini Ganesh to Karthik and Jiji, his family comprising of wife Devasena, son Sanjay & daughter Sripriya, who staunchly stood by him in success and failure. What a kaleidoscope of moving memories must he have been filled with... Nenjam Marapathillai...

Truly, Sridhar stands tall as the pathbreaking pioneer who explored human emotions in celluloid like no one else did. His long career is studded with records. The first Tamil film to be completed in record time, the first Tamil film to be made in Eastman Colour, the first Tamil film to be shot abroad, the first Tamil film that had its lead players appearing without makeup, I believe even the first Tamil film to be given an 'A' certificate (a dubious distinction!). Thinking back on his films, I wonder if Sridhar ever got the recognition he so richly deserved. Among the awards that came his way, I can recall that he bagged the prestigious Filmfare Award for the Best Story (Nazrana) as early as 1961. The Tamil Nadu Government honoured him belatedly in 1997, under its "Kalaithurai Viththagar" Award Scheme, Sridhar was honoured with the Arignar Anna Award, comprising of a Gold medal and a memento. Bharat Kalachar honoured him with its "Natya Kaladhar" award during its 10th Margazhi Mahotsav on December 13th, 1996. Priya Vision honored Sridhar with a Lifetime Achievement Award on July 21st 2002, to coincide with the first anniversary of Sivaji Ganesan's demise. Without meaning any disrespect to these awards, don't you all agree that Sridhar deserves much higher honors?

Don't you fret, Sir, Nenjirukkum Varai ungal ninavairikkum.

And beginning from "Neeraada neram nalla neram" (Vaira Nenjam-1975), Vani featured regularly in many of Sridhar's films, irrespective of who the MD was. MSV (Oh Manju, Meenava Nanban, Mohana Punnagai, Aalaya Deepam, IR (Ilami Onjalaadugirathu, Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren, Unnai Thedi Varuven), Vijayabhaskar (Soundaryame Varuga Varuga), SPB (Thudikkum Karangal), S-G (Kulirkaala Megangal), Ananda Shankar (Yaaro Ezhuthiya Kavithai). Vani sang songs of everlasting appeal in all of them.

Of course, Vani, with Jairam alongside was seated right in the front row that wistful evening, watching Sridhar being felicitated. Was she nostalgically reminiscing on those wonderful songs that she sang in Sridhar's films... Aagayam kaanaatha sooryodhayam, ennalum theyaadha chandrodhayam...

1977 saw Sridhar giving a hit with MGR in "Meenava Nanban" at the time when MGR became the CM of TN. The 70s, as a whole were not successful for Sridhar, save his two films with MGR. In fact, his last two ventures, "Vaira Nenjam" and "Oh Manju" were commercial catastrophes. Sridhar realized that he had to do something different, and decided to go all out to woo the youngsters of the late 70s. Unceremoniously shaking off his historical association with MSV, he went to IR for "Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu". And this marked the beginning of Sridhar's films with IR. Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu was followed by Azhagae Unnai Aaraadhikkiraen-1979, Ninaivellam Nithya-1982, Oru Odai Nadiyaagirathu-1983, Thendralae Ennai thodu & Unnai Thedi varuven-both 1985, Naanum Oru Thozhilaali-1986, Iniya Uravu Poothathu-1987 and Thandhuvitten Ennai-1991. Doubtless most of these films are forgettable, but can you say the same of the songs?

It is now nearly 25 years since "Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu" was released, it came out on 9th June, 1978. And the film was a stupendous success, proving that Sridhar's midas touch was still intact. It ran for over 25 weeks. The TN Govt, however condescended to bestow only the 3rd Best Film Award of 1978-79 to Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu. (1st-Mullum malarum, 2nd-Aval Appadithaan).

Sridhar brought it out in Telugu as well with the same lead players. "Vayasu Pilichindi" was released on 4th August, 1978, and was a big hit. But when he made it in Hindi with Rajesh Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Jayaprada and Smita Patil (Dil-E-Nadan-1982), the magic had gone stale.

The story revolved around 4 persons, their innermost desires, the turbulent human relationships, both emotional and physical, and bitter sweet moments of life. Rajnikant played the rich tycoon, and Kamal his poor bosom pal. Sripriya is Kamal's beloved, while Jayachitra is her friend, who is widowed at a very young age. With a cleverly crafted script and ensemble performance, the film made riveting viewing. Sripriya in the role of Padma, who finds her world going topsy-turvy when she finds that her lover has slept with her best friend, and Jayachitra, in the role of Jayanthi, the young widow, whose physical cravings lead her to seduce her friend's lover, and who is filled with guilt in the aftermath, brought rare understanding and dignity to their roles.

IR added to the attractive elements of the film with his set of fantastic songs. Other songs being "Kinnathil then vadithu"-KJY&SJ, "Ennadi Meenatchi sonnadhu ennaachu"-SPB and "Thanni karuthiruchu"-MV. Songs that are still immensely popular a quarter century later. Vaali wrote the lyrics for all the songs.

This song has Kamal and Sripriya seated in a restaurant. Another of Sridhar's innovative touches, the radio in the restaurant announces "Adutha paadal 'Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu' endra padathilirundhu...", and as the wonderful prelude music is heard, you can see Sripriya mouthing the words "I love this song!". We love it too.

SPB: Orey naal
unai naan
nilaavil paarthathu
Un ilamai thaan
VJ: Orey naal
unai naan
nilaavil paarthathu
un ilamai thaan

SPB: Mangaikkul kaathalenum
Gangaikkul naan midhakka
VJ: Sangamangalil
idam perum
idham idham
SPB: Manathaal

VJ: Nenjathil per ezhuthi
kannukkul naan padithen
SPB: Karpanaigalil
sugam sugam
nidham nidham
VJ: Mazhai nee
nilam naan

SPB: Panjanai paadalukku
pallavi nee irukka
VJ: Kannirandilum
orey swaram
Kai irandilum
orey layam
SPB: Iravum
isai muzhanga

There was something in the air that night, the night when he first espied her in the moonlight, and his life has never been the same since. What enticing lyrics, soaked in the magic of romance!

What am I going to say more about this song. The song that you all know so well and like so much?! IR gives a mesmerizing flute and guitar prelude, and a violin that keeps playing as the singers render the pallavi. The interludes are simply dazzling. My favorite is the second one where the guitar seems to come to life and follow a bewitched path of its own. The third interlude has the singers giving a lovely humming, a humming that seems more like a scintillating question-answer session! Among the best SPB-VJ duets ever! Bravo, IR! Iravum pagalum (indha)isai muzhanga...

The Telugu version "Ilaage ilaage saraga maadithe" was sung by SPB&PS. Khayyam composed "Chaandni raath mein ek baar tujhe dekha hai" for Dil-E-Nadan, sung by Lata & Kishore Kumar.

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Nee kettaal nnan maaten endra - Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

A great VJ solo. Sripriya and Kamal romancing in the Marina Beach, I vaguely remember that she snatches his cigarette packet, and when he demands it back, she breaks into this delightful song.

Nee kettaal naan maatten endra solven kanna
en kannum ila nenjum endrum undhan pinnaal
naan sathiyam kaakkum uthamiyakkum
sonnathai ketkkum pathiniyakkum haiyya

Anbe unai
seigindraval manathu
Pon pondrathu
poo pondrathu
ennangalo inidhu
Thamarai poovil then sidhara
thamarai poovil then sidhara
Nee konja konja
naan kenja kenja
Nam inbathin ellaigal kanna engo engo ammamma

kan jadaiyil payila
sollamale puriya
Nee oru kaathal nool nilaiyam
Pon maalai thorum
un leelai kaanum
En pennmaikkum menmaikkum kanna naanum nee thaan sondhamo

VJ ushers in an uncharacteristic air of deliciously nonchalant irreverence in the song, and this works overtime to add buoyancy to IR's imaginative composition. How much intoxication she drenches "sollamale puriya" with! And just when you thought the song had ended, VJ commences with a breezy humming, which leaps and bounds and returns triumphantly to another round of the pallavi, this time it is the end, unfortunately!

The Telugu version was also rendered by VJ and "Nuvvadigindi yenadaina" won VJ rapturous fans across the length and breadth of Andhra.

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Thaali ondru thevai enna - Thirukkalyanam
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Vasanthalaya Pictures' "Thirukkalyanam" starred Vijayakumar, Srividya, Radha Ravi and others. No clue about its story etc, but the lyrics of the songs suggest a theme of reincarnation/extra-marital complications.

"Thirukkalyanam" is one of the three films ever (Sollathaan Ninaikkiren and Ninaithaale Inikkum being the other two), to have songs by four great female singers of tfm (SJ, PS, VJ and LRE). "Alaiyae kadal alaiyae" is a lovely duet by JC&SJ. "Devathaigal vaazhthuvadhu devi endhan kalyanamae" is a remarkable SJ&PS duet, in which SJ makes an entry with the line "Ethanai piravigal eduthaalum" in the same tune as the charanam of "Alaiye kadal alaiye", which then seamlessly blends into the pallavi of "Devathaigal vaazhthuvathu"! LRE&MV had a blast in the comedy song "Nee mohiniya, illaatti Oorvasiya". Generally, IR gave very few songs to LRE, the other songs in the LRE-IR combination that I can recall are "One and two chachacha"(Nallathoru Kudumbam), and "Manappaarai sandhayilae"(Idhayathil Oru Idam).

"Thaali ondru thevai enna" is a solo steeped in melancholy, the plaintive resignation of the "other woman" to her unenviable lot. She seems to do a philosophical shrug, in the lines of the ABBA song that goes "The winner takes it all, the loser has to fall, It's simple and it's plain, Why should I complain?".

Thaali ondru thevai enna
maanaseega vaazhvil
Dharmamenum sannidhiyil
kaathal ondru podhumadi

Sevai seiyya ninaitha manam
verethaiyum ninappathillai
Deivam thandha vazhi nadanthaal
ennaalum thanimaiyillai
Parvathikku Gangai vandhaal
Deviyudan Valli vandhaal
naanum oru Gangai alla
Nayaganum Sivanum alla

Sindhanaiyil vaazhndhirundhaal
Deiva sugam kodi varum
Theraatha vaazhvinilum
kanneril kavithai varum
Ullirukkum kovililey
Or Iraivan kudi irukka
Ooraarkku katchiyenna
Unmaikku satchiyenna

Karpparasi neeyirukka
Kannagiyai polirukka
innum oru kaadhaliyaa
naan enna Madhaviyaa
Un nizhalai paarkkayiley
Kallellaam urugumadi
En kathaiyai vittu vidu
Ennodu mudiyumadi

Mythological parallels galore, she finds solace in her calm acceptance of her fate. She seems to console herself by stating that she doesn't need a formalized marriage, as she lives in a make-believe world where love will suffice.

Vani fetchingly brings in the defiant bravado of the character in her song. Each line is laced with just the correct measure of grief that is bound to move the listener's heart. The slow and emotion choked "En kathaiyai vittu vidu, ennodu mudiyumadi" gives the song a poignant ending.

IR gives some wonderful interludes. Whilst the first and third interludes are similar and have some haunting violin and veenai notes, it is the second interlude that must be savored, the amazing bits where you hear both the veenai and the guitar with some notes on the flute are verily enthralling.

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Thanakkoru Sorgathai – Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Sri Kamakoti Movies' "Vaazha Ninaithaal Vaazhalaam" starred Jaishankar, Sripriya, Jayadevi, Manorama and others. I have seen it long back on TV, and vaguely recall it as being another mundane love triangle. Jai loves Sripriya, but by a quirky turn of events marries Jayadevi. Domestic bliss prevails, till Sripriya enters his life again, the usual emotional upheavals later, all is well that ends well. Manorama's comedy track was particularly memorable. Her "Oru china maiii..." remains one of her best comic scenes ever!

Among the songs, SJ's enchanting "Veenai meettum kaigaley" was the chart topper. Manorama's "Kaanaangkurivikku kalyanamaam" was a great fun-filled number. "Iyarkkai rathangaley, ulagai marakkum manangaley" was a fast-paced TMS-PS duet.

Let us now look at this song by Vani. It is a very different song, composed in the Qawali style. Thinking back, you will realize that years later IR shaped the song "Aththi marappoovithu" (Sadhanai-SJ) in the lines of this VJ song.

Thanakkoru sorgathai amaitha devadhai
sandhegam irundhaal paarungal
Thadai poda
Manithargalae neengalaa
Oru vaanum nilavum sera yaarai ketppathu

Arasanin maganalla Ambikapathi
Amarakaviyam paadinaal Amaravathi
Iraivanin saalaiyil vidhitha vidhi
Arasan thaliyittaan
adhu thaan gadhi
adhu thaan gadhi
Pavalangal ellam malaiyil pirandhum
malaikkavai sondhamillai
Oru pandaram kooda anindhidakkoodum
adhiloru thavarumillai
Panamulla idam ulagai aattalaam
pagutharivulla uravum aadumaa
Nadhi sellum vazhithannai yaar sonnathu
Oru vaanum nilavum sera yaarai ketppathu

Kaathal enbathu devanin sannithi
thadaiyendru vandhaal mudivu thaan nimmadhi
Thandhaiyin perumaiyaa magalin nargadhi
Thaan endru ninaipporkku
ilaiyo sandhathi
illaiyo sandhathi
Kanivittathodu kadamai mudindhadhu
kaigalai kazhuvungal
Andha kaniyai azhagiya kili ondru rasikkattum
Kanngalai moodungal
Ulagamum ithu ulundhu pondradhu
Maranamum ithil kadugu pondradhu
Maranathil thaan ini pirivenbadhu
Oru vaanum nilavum sera yaarai ketppathu

The song, with its refreshing lyrics, seems to be a warning to parents not to oppose their children when they fall in love. VJ casts a spell in the breathless aalaap that the song opens with, and the spell lasts long after the song is over. The anklets, harmonium and tabla add to "Kotha" like ambience of the song. VJ's prolonged "Thadai poda... Manithargalae neengalaa", followed immediately by the brisk singsong "Oru vaanum nilavum sera yaarai ketpathu" leaves you dazed with its swift, yet soulful execution.

The first four lines of each charanam are rendered in a high-pitched, slow thogayara style, replete with gamakas that are truly astounding. IR himself must have felt it so, for he expresses his admiration by having only the sound of hands clapping and a muted Tabla as the accompaniment to Vani. The chorus voices are a distraction that IR could have avoided. Then the pace becomes more frenzied, the high-pitched and briga-endowed "Manamey..." being the breathtaking high point of the soiree. Top class!

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Nitham nitham nellu choru - Mullum Malarum
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Anandi Films' "Mullum Malarum" starred Rajnikant, Saratbabu, Shobha, Fadafat Jayalakshmi, V.A.Moorthi and Samikannu. It was produced by Venu Chettiayar and his son V.Mohan. It had innovative camerawork by Balumahendra. Based on a story by Uma Chandran (brother of Poornam Viswanathan), it was scripted and directed by Mahendran. "Mullum Malarum" (released on 15th August, 1978) remains a landmark in the annals of Tamil Film History. It won critical acclaim (TN Government Award for First Best Film-1978-79, and TN Govt's Special Jury Award for Best Actor to Rajnikant) and was a runaway commercial success to boot.

J.Mahendran (real name: Alexander) came up from very humble beginnings in Ilayankudi. His thoughts and ideas were far ahead of their time, and found few takers in the stereotyped corridors of the Kodambakkam Studios. He had to swim with the tide for survival and found himself writing the script for films like "Naam Moovar", "Panakkara Pillai" and "Sabash Thambi". The success of these films made him more dejected, and he felt ashamed that he was churning out hackneyed plots that he despised with all his heart. His stories like "Niraikudam" and "Thanga Pathakkam" were well received. He continued writing for films like "Vaazhndhu Kaatugiraen", "Vaazhvu En Pakkam", "Moham Muppadhu Varusham" (based on Manian's story) and "Aadu Puli Aattam".

When Venu Chettiar offered a chance to him to make a film, Mahendran chose Uma Chandran's moving tale of a winch-operator ruffian, Kaali and the special bond that exists between him and his sister Valli. He chose Rajni and Shobha for these memorable roles, and they both gave brilliant performances. Saratbabu, as the engineer who falls for Valli, and Fadafat Jayalakshmi as Manga, the village belle who loves Kaali, completed the excellent cast.

Balumahendra came, with Kamal's recommendation, to handle the camera. IR's score was a masterpiece - "Senthaazhampoovil vandhaadum thendral"-KJY, "Adi pennae ponoonjalaadum ilamai"-Jency, "Raman aandaalum Ravanan aandaalum"-SPB, L.R.Anjali & chorus, and "Maan inamae chinna poo vanamae"-IR are all spellbinding songs.

When Venu Chettiar showed the 'Double Positive' to the distributors while a major chunk of the re-recording was yet to be done, the response was very cold. But when IR's re-recording was added on, the film was elevated to unforeseen heights.

Mahendran shared a very special relationship with IR, and all his films would have awesome songs. Uthiri Pookal(1979), Johnny, Nenjathai Killathae, Poothatha Poottukkal(all 1980), Nandu(1981), Metti, Azhagiya Kannae(both 1982), Kai Kodukkum Kai(1984) and Kannukku Mai Ezhuthu(1986) all had exquisite numbers by IR. After many years, Mahendran made Saasanam (music by Balabharathi) for NFDC, but the film is yet to come out. Mahendran is now busy with his latest film "Uthiratha Pookkal". Mahendran's son, John Roshan is making a name for himself in Telugu.

"Nitham Nitham" features the late Fadafat Jayalakshmi. She was introduced by KB in "Aval Oru Thodarkathai" in the role of a bindaas modern girl whose constant refrain "fadafat" stuck to her name. She was immensely talented, but not many meaty roles came her way. Though she played the second heroine in many films, she stands out in memory in a few films like Annakkili, Avar Ennakae Sondham, Kavikkuyil, Naam Pirandha Man, Perumaikkuriyaval, Punniam Seithaval, Swargam Naragam, Aarilirundhu Arubathu Varai and Ivargal Vidhyasamaanavargal. She fell in love with her co-star of Kungumam Kathai Sollugirathu (1978), MGR's nephew M.G.C.Sukumar, and the stiff opposition from Sukumar's family led her to commit suicide by consuming an overdose of sleeping pills. Her death was a great loss to Tamil Cinema. Ironically, the other star of Mullum Malarum, Shobha was another promising actress who chose to end her life too.

This song has Fadafat Jayalakshmi, who comes as a glutton, savoring the thought of various delicacies that make her mouth water, and singing to her husband, who has not paid any attention to her since their wedding.

Nitham nitham nellu choru
nei manakkum kathirikka
nethu vecha meen kozhambu ennae izhukkuthayya
nenjukkulae andha nenappu vandhu mayakkudhaya

Pacharasi choru
uppu karuvaadu
Chinamanooru vaaikka
selu kanda menu
Kuruthaana molakkeera
vaadaatha sirukkeerae
Nenaikkayilae enakku ippo echi ooruthu
Alli thinna aasai vandhu enna meeruthu

Paavakka koottu
paruppoda serthu
pakkuvatha paarthu
aakki mudichaachu
sirugaalaam varuthaachu
patham paarthu eduthaachu
kezh varagu koozhukkadhu romba poruthamaya
dhenam kudicha udambu ithu romba perukkamaya

Pazhayadhukku thodha
pulichirukkum moru
Pottukadalai thengai
pottaracha thovayalu
Saambaru vengayam salikkathu thinnalum
adhukku enai ulagathilae illave illae
Aalli thinna enakku innum alukkavae illae
Ithanaikkum melirukku
nenjukkulae aasai onnu
Soosagamaa solla poraen pombala thaanga
soodaaga irukkarappo saapuda vaanga

Verily, IR performed a casting coup by making Vani sing this song. Such a song had never come her way before but Vani gives it her best and more.

IR uses only the Ghatam and the Morsing as accompaniments for this remarkable song, and Vani simply scintillates in the casual folksy way in which she has sung it. The unrefined rural song was supposedly SJ's stronghold at the time, but VJ shows that nothing is beyond her infinite grasp. (IR is supposed to have described VJ as a "computer"!) The laidback first lines of the charanams, with the quaint roll of the tongue, are thoroughly enjoyable. Hark at that slurping sound right after "Echi ooruthu"! Gangaiamaran's lyrics are simple and soaked in rural gastronomical marvels.

The surprise is at the end, just when you thought she is going back to the pallavi, she sings "Ithanaikkum melirukku nenjukkulae aasai onnu, soosagamaa solla poraen pombala thaanga, soodaaga irukkarappo saapuda vaanga", a hidden message of despair over her unconsummated marriage and an oblique invitation to her husband. How bashful Vani sounds in the last line!


While at an audit in Madurai some years back, the client took us to Thekkadi in the weekend. (The few luxuries of CA Articleship!). The way was filled with picturesque beauty. The sunflower fields, grape orchards, towns/villages like Veerapandi, Uthamapalayam, Theni, Cumbum, Bodi and Kumuli remain fleeting images in memory. In between I glimpsed a sign bearing the legendary "Chinnamanoor". I called the driver to stop the car, and stepped out. I saw a small roadside brook. I glanced with pleasure to see if I could spot any fish, much to the bewilderment of my friends who were looking askance at me. I didn't bother to explain. They wouldn't have understood anyway. We got inside again and the car sped on its way to Thekkadi, but my day was already made!

-Digression ends-

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Kannan arugae paada vendum - Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Vivekananda Pictures' "Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai" starred Sivakumar, Sumitra, Jaiganesh, Satyapriya, Sowcar Janaki & others. It was the second film of Satyaraj (he played the miniscule role of Jaiganesh's henchman), Sattam En Kaiyi (also 1978), being his first.

The film marked the beginning of Vani's long and memorable association with the films produced by Thirupoor Mani under the banner of his Vivekananda Pictures. She would be a regular feature in his films, irrespective of whether the MD was IR (Rosapoo Ravikkaikkaari), S-G (Aanivaer) or ARR (Vandicholai Sinraasu).

"Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai" had some alluring songs. While "Moha sangeetham, nilavae nilavae" was caressing PS winner; "Meghamae thoodhaaga vaa" was a heartening SPB-PS duet. Another short song was Bharathidasan's "Kaalai ilam parithiyilae avalai kandaen" rendered soulfully by SPB.

Kannan arugae paada vendum
Kaathal kili naan aada vendum
Itho ingae
Azhagiya vizhigalil ezhuthiya kavithaigal unakkenna puriyalaya

Oru moham mandhiram paada vandhavan paarvai verengae
Pudhu ragamaaligai pola vandhaval ennai paar ingae
Ilam paavai en manam unnidam
Ini thevai mannavan sammatham
Penmeniyo ponveenaiyo
Ennennedhaan sangeethamo
Anandha ragam indru paadakkoodaatho

Oru aanukkennadi naanam ippadi paarthu chollayo
Ithil anjum mamanai innum yenadi kettu chollayo
Siru aadai thottathu mellana
perum aasai thottathu nillana
soodamani nee soodalaam
themangani nee thedalaam
ammadi innum enna mounam ennodu

Iru kaiyil aadavum maiyal thedavum thoodhu vandhenae
malar kannil anjanam sollil anjugam yaendhi nindrenae
oru kaaval veliyai thaandalam
pudhu naaval meniyai theendalaam
thullum vizhi sendhamarai
killai manam venthamarai
samandhippoovum poovai aaga koodaatho

The song seems to be a seductive number. I cannot imagine Sumitra dancing for this one. So I presume it must have been Satyapriya, who played the gangsters' doll. Satyapriya specilized in these types of roles in the late 70s (Manitharil Ithanai Nirangala was an exception, wherein she played Kamal's pair). She is a busy TV actress today.

VJ carries off this fastpaced song of enticement with blasé grace. If the opening humming is inviting enough, the "Itho ingae..." scorches with sultry incitement.

The second interlude consists almost entirely of a passionate humming, and the charanams are breezy with just a slightest hint of debauchery. The last line of each charanam is especially of an irresistible appeal.

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Yaengum deivam angae - Sonnathu Nee Thaana
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Vijaya Raja Pictures' "Sonnathu Nee Thaana" starred Vijayakumar with Sumitra. Jaiganesh too perhaps formed part of the cast. No clue about the storyline.

The other two songs were immensely popular in their time. "Velli nilavinilae thamizh veenai vandhadhu" by JC and "Alankara ponoonjalae, azhagaadum pooncholaiyae" by MV (the latter embellished with a memorable humming by Jency), are classic creations that IR connoisseurs will always swear by with alacrity.

Yaegum deivam angae
thoongum selvam ingae
Oru niyayam
Oru dharmam
idaiyil naan engae

Thoondilo irandu pakkam
thudikkavo meenai vaithaan
Pasamo irandu pakkam
padhaikkavo nenjai vaithaan
Kennerin vellam
oru ullam
adhaiye sollum
Engae payanam
engae mudiyum
angae thunai thaan yaaro

Thaaliyum nilaikka vendum
thaaimaiyum vaazha vendum
Vendidum irandil ondru
vilaginaal enna undu
Thalaattum pillai
manam vellai
adhuvaa thollai
Kattil perithaa
Thottil perithaa
endraal bathil thaan enna

This song by VJ was seldom heard on radio, even in those days. The other two songs from the film had a fair share of airtime. I wonder at this discrimination, for this song is structurally mellow and lyrically moving. But, as Keats says, "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter".

Though the song seems, on a superfluous listen, a mundane nocturnal situation where a woman is torn between the husband and the child, both who simultaneously crave her attention, though for satisfying different needs, there seems to be more to it than what meets the ear. The lyrics are many shades forlorn to be just "Enakkaga iru nenjam thudikkindrathu" type of state of affairs. Perhaps he is her second husband, while the child is from her first marriage? Such a surmise explains the lyrics, and his displeasure at her preoccupation with her child.

The song is replete with the hallmarks of vintage IR. The opening guitar heralds the turmoil-torn state of her mind, while the succeeding veenai portrays the depth of her misery. The interludes are filled with soft and lilting music, that adds to the angst-filled ambiance of the song.

Vani's song, as always, is in perfect harmony with the mood. Her felicity of expression allows her to take on with ease the plethora of emotions that alternate in the heart of the heroine. The helplessness of being caught in between two demanding forces is so tellingly heard in "Paasamo irandu pakkam, padhaikkavo nenjai vaithaan", the fear of the uncertain end to the riddle unobtrusively peeps out in her "Engae payanam, engae mudiyum, angae thunai thaan yaaro", a glimmer of hope radiates in the line "Thaaliyum nilaikka vendum, thaaimaiyum vaazha vendum", and the incredulity in her husband's dislike to the child gets touchingly reflected in "Thalaattum pillai- manam vellai-adhuvaa thollai", her quandary is succinctly summarized in the last line "Kattil perithaa, thottil perithaa" are lingering moments of poetic poignancy.

A song of enduring enchantment.

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Kandaen engum - Kaatrinilae Varum Geetham
Singers:VJ - Music:Ilaiyaraja

Vijayabhaskar Films' "Kaatrinilae Varum Geetham" starred Muthuraman and Kavitha. It was directed by S.P.Muthuraman. Lyrics were by Panju Arunachalam.

I have seen it on TV long back, and have a dim recollection of Muthuraman being baffled by encountering different women having the same appearance (Kavitha), in places as far flung as Ooty, Cochin and even aboard a flight. All the while, he is searching for the tribal girl he fell in love with.

The camera work in vibrant colour was enchanting, and won Cameraman Babu the TN State Government's Award for 1977-78.

Kavitha was introduced by Sridhar in "Oh, Manju"-1976. She failed to make it big, and acted in a few films like Rowdy Raakamma, Aalukkoru Aasai, Aatukkara Alamelu, General Chakravarthi, Andaman Kaadhali, Neeya and Engal Vaathiyaar. She appeared in a dance sequence with Kamal (Onnum onnum rendu thaanae) in Ellam Inba Mayam. For many years, nothing was heard about her, till Bharathiraja brought her back, this time to act as Karthik's mother and Napolean's wife in Nadodi Thendral-1992. Since then, she has been acting in small roles in films and TV serials.

It was Ilayaraja who bestowed immortality upon this otherwise commonplace film. The songs are priceless treasures that are cherished to this day. IR brought JC to the forefront in this film. "Oru vaanavil polae en vaazhvilae vandhaai" is such a dreamy exquisite JC-SJ duet. "Chithira chevvanam sirikka kandaen" is a fantastic folksy number by JC and chorus. "Kandaen engum" came in two flavors, and each one was equally delicious! The other version by Janaki is another song of eternal enticement.

Kanden engum
kaatrinilae varum geetham

Thottu thottu pesum thendral
thottil katti aadum ullam
Kaadhalinaalae thullugindra pennmai ingae
allikkolla mannan engae
Ninaithaene azhaithaene
varuvaai anbe endru ingae nindru

Vanakkiliyae yekkam eno
Karunkuyilae moham thaano
thuvaluthu mullai
Thazhuvida thane
thavikkuthu pillai
Panivaadai vilagaatho
ninaithaal sorgam ingae kannil undu

I suppose I know more today than what I knew in 1978, and hence can at least pretend to talk knowledgeably about 'super-imposing' technique etc, but when this song hogged air time day and night in 78-79, I remember wondering with awe, how VJ (or for that matter SJ) could start another line, when she was still singing the previous one (the repeated Kaatrinilae varum geetham). We cousins used to attempt it bravely and end up breathless and panting. The only way out was another cousin would start with "Kaatrinilae" while one was still singing "varum geetham"! Ah, those naïve times! Kannmaniyae kaathal enbathu(Aarilirundhu Arubathu Varai) & En Kannmani un Kaathali(Chittukkuruvi) were other songs which had such super-imposed voices.

SJ's version has a third charanam. "Kallamillai kabadamillai kaavalukku yarumillai" which is conspicuous by its absence in the VJ version. And while the SJ song is a placidly bubbling brook in serene sylvan surroundings, the VJ version takes on the patina of a torrential cascade, swollen with the monsoons, with thunder and lightning adding to the fury. While the SJ song is the engaging call of a lass who is throbbing with the cravings of youth and aching for love, the VJ version is the plaintive wail of a bewitching banshee who bemoans her lovesick wretchedness.

The wonderful thing is that there is no change in the lyrics in the two versions. What sets them apart are the two great singers, and the magician called Ilayaraja who, with a nonchalant wave of his enchanted baton, ensured that each version became a distinctly unique and remarkable creation.

Accompanied with the sound-effects of an Ongole-destined cyclone, Vani casts a spell with the opening haunting humming. IR's violins work overtime and the sound of jingling anklets add to the sepulchral eerie effect. Vani sounds so fetchingly forlorn, that tantalizingly prolonged last syllable in "Thottil katti aadum ullam" even as the gale regales itself with a windswept downpour, the hypnotising humming that makes the second interlude so special, the depth of gloom that is so evocatively conveyed in "Thookkamum illai, thuvaluthu mullai", the dual Vanis heard simultaneously as the song nears its enthralling end.

Adhisayam... Anandam... Kaatrinalae Varum Geetham...

That completes the count of Vani's songs for IR in 1978, each of the eight songs is a hallowed memory of the resultant magic whenever she worked with IR.

IR composes music for films even today, and VJ retains to a great extent the voice that has held thousands in her sway. Wish the Maestro starts looking nearer home for a singer who would do ample justice to his compositions... Panivaadai vilagaatho... Ninaithaal sorgam ingae kannil undu...

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Madhanorchavam rathiyoduthaan - Sadhurangam
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:V.Kumar

We have, in the earlier years, looked at some wonderful songs that Varadharajulu Kumar had given to VJ, and we have also shared some thoughts on Kumar, the Mellisai Maamani. Though Kumar's baton first swung into action in 1965 and gave some enchanting scores to many Balachandar and Muktha films in the late 60s, it was in the 70s that Kumar blossomed into a fullfledged alternative to MSV. Most of his creations had melody as their mainstay, and that is perhaps why we remember him with gratitude to this day. Unfortunately, Kumar was perhaps the first casualty of the massive Ilayaraja wave that swept away many talented composers in its gargantuan tide. Kumar did continue valiantly for a few years, and gave some mellifluous songs, but the showers in his sky had petered down to a mere trickle. And by the 80s, Tamil film music as is its heartless wont, had all but forgotten him, the memorable songs of "Shankari" (1984) and "Meendum Mahan" (1987) notwithstanding.

However, in 1978, he had done remarkable work in films like "Annapoorani" (Unai parka vendum-KJY, Kannanukku kovam enna-KJY-PS, Aierandu thingalilae-PS), "Kannamoochi" (Ponnai naan paarthathillai-SPB, Iravil paarthen-SPB-PS, Kannae ulagamae-SPB)) and "Ival Oru Seethai" (Pallava naattu rajakumarikku-SPB).

Let us look at in detail two other films of his in 1978, and VJ's songs in particular.

Chitra Arts' Sadhurangam was released on 30.6.1978. This film starred Srikanth, Rajinikanth, Jayachitra, Pramila, V.K.Ramasamy, V.Gopalakrishnan, Pandaribai, Aalam, L.Kanchana and others. It was produced by N.Chandra and directed by Durai.

Durai was a director who was high in demand in the late 70s and early 80s. He was equally at ease in both mindless commercial themes and challenging serious subjects. He commenced his apprenticeship under veteran D.Yoganand whom he assisted in many Tamil and Telugu films.

He later worked as assistant director in G.V.Iyer's immortal Kannada film "Hamsageethe"(1975). In the same year, Durai directed two films, and both "Avalum Penn Thaanae" and "Oru Kudumbathin Kathai" won critical acclaim. He found himself flooded with offers and the following years saw him churning out films in quick succession. Some of them: Aasai Arubathu Naal-1976, Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram and Sonnathai Seivaen- both 1977, Aayiram Jenmangal, Pavathin Sambalam, Oru Veedu Oru Ulagam-all 1978, Neeya, Pasi, Paathai Maarinaal-all 1979, Kilinjalgal-1981, Thunai-1982, Nalanthaana-1982, Veli-1985, Oru Manithan Oru Manaivi-1986 and Palaivanathil Pattaampoochi-1988.

"Oru Veedu Oru Ulagam" looked at widow remarriage with refreshing candor. "Pasi" was a stark window to the life and times of the slum-dwellers, and Shobha's convincing performance in the role of Kuppamma, the rag-picker, won her the National Award for Best Actress. The film also won the National Award for the Best Tamil Film of 1979. In the State Level too, "Pasi" won the First Best Film Award for 1979-80 and Delhi Ganesh bagged the Best Actor (Special Award). Durai won the TN Govt.'s Best Director Award for 1979-80. "Kilinjalgal" was a runaway hit, perhaps because of T.Rajendar's awesome musical score. Durai burnt his fingers badly by making it in Hindi, "Do Gulaab" starring Kunal Goswami was a dismal failure. "Thunai" was a very different film with brilliant performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Saritha and Radha.

Gradually, Durai lost out to the new crop of directors who came up in the 80s, and faded into oblivion. Sometime in the 90s, in a magazine interview (Kumudam), I was saddened to read that Durai was running a small eatery in Alwarpet to make ends meet. But what impressed me was that even then he exhibited no bitterness, only a philosophical acceptance of the quirky turns of destiny.

1978 was a very important year for Rajinikanth, as he was standing at the threshold of his career as a hero. He had 15 Tamil releases this year. And it was from this year that he gradually cut down on his assignments as a villain, and concentrated on developing his new image as an angry young hero/a rebel with a cause. If "Bhairavi" marked a conscious first step in this direction, "Thappu Thaalangal", "Mullum Malarum" and "Priya" were the firm succeeding milestones.

As for the other hero in "Sadhurangam", Srikanth (incidentally, the names of the two sons of the Major in Major Chandrakanth were Srikanth and Rajinikanth!), 1978 was the highpoint of his career. He bagged the TN Govt. Award for Best Actor for his realistic performance in "Oru Nadigai Naadagm Paarkiraal", and his performances in "Karunai Ullam" and "Oru Veedu Oru Ulagam" also elicited appreciation. In "Bhairavi", Srikanth was the villain, while Rajini was elevated to the hero. The future years would be bleak for this actor, and he would gradually fade away from the scene, to make a modest comeback in the small screen. Even today you could probably see him on Sun TV in the serial Kungumam.

Sathurangam was based on a stage drama by Visu. (Visu himself filmed the story a decade later, albeit with slight modifications, as "Thirumathi Oru Vegumathi") The theme, in short, was "Aavathum pennalae, Azhivathum Pennalae", how a woman can make or break a man. Rajini and Srikanth are brothers in a conservative family. Rajini is a simple, innocent, straightforward and God-fearing man, who holds a responsible position in an office. Srikanth, on the other hand, is a notorious student in his college. Rajini gets married to Pramila, while Srikanth, by a turn of circumstances, is married to his rich college mate Jayachitra.

Jayachitra, with the backing of her father VKR, starts in earnest to reform Srikanth. Her single-minded determination bears fruit gradually. Srikanth is finally rid of all his vices, and turns into a model son and husband.

Rajini's story is not so happy. Pramila hails from a poor family, and wants her husband to be rich. She is disgusted with the honest simpleton she has married and goes all out to convert him. First she lures him with the pleasures of the flesh, and then eggs him to be corrupt in his office. Needless to say, he comes to a dismal end.

Pramila gave a memorable performance as the avaricious wife of Rajini. Pramila was introduced by KSG in the film Vaazhayadi Vaazhai-1972, but shot to fame with her winning performance in KB's Arangetram-1973. Her other films in the succeeding years were Radha, Gomatha En Kulamatha,Manitharul Manikkam, Sondham-all 1973, Thaaipaasam, Kai Niraya Kaasu, Thanga Padhakkam-all 1974, Balapareetchai-1977, Paavathin Sambalam, Thanga Rangan, Ullathil Kuzhanthaiyadi, Makkal Kural-all 1978, Kavariman-1979 and Rathapaasam-1980. Though a talented actress, she ventured into some infamous films in Malayalam, and unfortunately came to be bracketed with the likes of Y.Vijaya and Deepa, and earned money and notoriety, perhaps more of the latter. Later, she appeard in some DD Tuesday Night Plays. Her negative roles in Soorakkottai Singakkutti-1983 and Kettimelam-1985 failed to create any impact.

Other songs in the film were "Aarambam maalai nerathin leelai"-SJ&K.Swarna and "Ada abishtu nekkum nokkumaa kalyanam"-PS &K.Swarna.

I vaguely recall the situation of this lovely song as this: Pramila introduces Rajini to the physical pleasures of marital life. Not content with merely that, she goads him to book tickets for them both for a sleazy Malayalam movie. And while Rajini is standing in the queue at the Cinema, he is titillated by the posters adorning the walls there, and falls into a reverie, imagining Pramila and himself rewriting Vatsayana's famed treatise, and the song unfolds.

SPB: Madhanorchavam
Rathiyodu thaan
Rathi deviyo
Pathiyodu thaan

VJ: Uyiroviyam
unakkaaga thaan
Udal vannamae
adharkaaga thaan

SPB: Meen aadum kannil vizhunthu
naan aadavo
Then aadum sevvithazh thannil
VJ: Puriyaatha pennmai ithu
pooppondra menmai ithu
Ponnandhi maalai
Ennenna leelai

VJ: Kaarkaala megam thirandu
Kanna un kaiyil purandu
SPB: Alankara devi mugam
adangaatha aasai tharum
Ondraana neram
oru kodi inbam

The term "Madhanotsavam" can be traced to ancient Indian texts. It is by this term that Holi, the festival of colors and the herald of Spring, is referred to in the famous play "Mrichhakatikam" by Shudraka and in the 7th century play "Ratnavali" by Harshadeva. It also finds mention in scriptures like Dashakumara Charitha and Garuda Purana.

Here our Vaali uses this term to depict the frame of mind of our hero, all his desires surging as he is lost in a trance, his thoughts converging on the act of physical union, the copulative coalesce of Manmathan and Rathi.

And how imaginatively has Kumar translated these thoughts to spellbinding music! True he seems to have sought inspiration from Bappi Lahiri's "Maana ho tum" (Toote Khilone) however since that is only for the pallavi's sandham, we can certainly waive this irregularity. What, however, is irksome is that S-G adapted the same tune with a modified finish for their "Lakshmi vandhaal maharani pol"(Panam Penn Pasam), and what is unforgivable is that two decades later Aadityan thought it fit to plagiarize the beginning tune for his "Azhagoviyam uyiraanathu"(Roja Malarae).

The beginning notes usher in the mood of slow, leisurely celebration of love, it is to Kumar's credit that even in this sequence where baser instincts come into prominent play, he steers carefully off the lewd and the suggestive, no moans and groans here, and yet the soul of the song is so attractively soaked in sex, how dreamy SPB sounds as he begins with "Madhanorchavam". VJ sounds as though a Khajuraho figurine had come to life as she begins with "Uyiroviyam". Hark at both singers emote so well and give life to each line as though in the throes of passion. SPB's repetition of "Neeraadavo", VJ's "Puriyaadha pennmayidhu", again VJ's repetition of "Sathiraaduthu" and SPB's "Oh Alangara devi mugam adangaatha aasai tharum" - SPB, VJ, VK ondraana intha neram, oru kodi inbam!

The way Kumar has put the guitar to brilliant use throughout this song, especially in the scintillating second interlude, shows the stuff he was made of. I can think of only one other song where the usage of guitar was so prominently impressive, incidentally that too was by Kumar, though for an unreleased film called Vasantham Varum, the song "Thendral thaalattum neram" is a dazzling guitar driven melody.

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Andhiyilae sevvandhi jolikkudhadi - Annalakshmi
Singers:VJ&TMS - Music:V.Kumar

I have no information on the cast or story of Sri Jayagowri Pictures' Annalakshmi. However V.Kumar has tuned in a few good songs for this film as well. Another good song is "Yendi chinna ponnu eno mayangudhu ninnu" by K.Swarna, Padma & chorus.

TMS: Andhiyilae sevvandhi jolikkudhadi
adi ammadi unnaattam sirikkidhadi
Kannottam kaadhalukku vellottam
un kattazhagu pogudhadi theraattam

VJ: Atha maga pola vandhu
pakkathilae ninnukkuttu
aala vattam podariyae
artham ennavo
Sonnaalum puriyaathu
sondhamaavum theriyaathu
punna pogum veembu unakkedhukku
Udambu Punna pogum veembu unakkedhukku

TMS: Katharippoo kannazhagi
rathinamae muthazhagi
un azhagai seethanamaai koduthathaaradi
Kandaangi selaiyilae
vandaa mayanguraenae
Unakkum enakkum porutham jodi thaanadi

VJ: Aasai mattum koodaathu
avasaramum koodaathu
aambalaiyaa ponnakkelu attiyae illae
TMS: Kalyana pandhalilae
kacheri nadakkayilae
muraiya mudichu moonu unakku poduraen

Both: Un manasum en manasum oru manasaaachu
Namma oru manasil uruvaachu thirumanappechu

It was while the recording of the songs of "Ethirneechal" was in progress that a problem cropped up. "Aduthaathu Ambujathai" TMS-PS had already been recorded, and V.Kumar was acquainting TMS with the notes for the title song "Vetri vendumaa pottu paarada ethirneechal". TMS felt that the tune lacked the "verve" that the lyrics needed, and asked Kumar to change the tune. Kumar was upset, understandably, but he readily agreed to ask KB permission to change the tune, as KB had already liked and approved it. KB was against any change, he liked the tune immensely "The tune stays. If TMS does nt like it, then get it sung by another singer" was what he told Kumar. It was thus that Seergazhi Govindarajan came to sing that memorable song.

Now, tell me had this happened to any other Music Director, wouldn't he have felt insulted, his talent questioned, and wouldn't he have naturally avoided TMS like the plague henceforth?! But our Kumar was made of softer, humbler stuff, he quickly put the incident behind him, and went on to give many great songs to TMS even after this unpleasant incident. Truly a great man, our Kumar!

This song is a simple, folksy one with a breezy lilt. TMS coats his tone in a rustic hue. Kumar's interludes are short and melodious. VJ sounds playful in her "Udambu punna pogum veembu unakkedharkku". TMS continues the banter with a mock aalaapanai after "muthazhagi" and then proceeds to clear his throat in an exaggerated manner!

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Anna un idhayam - Annalakshmi
Singers:VJ - Music:V.Kumar

Anna un idhayam
naan kanda ulagam
naan paadum ragam
nee thandha paasam

Ninaikkaaatha pothum
marakkatha nenjam
Unakkaga indrum endrum
uravu kondaadum
Unnodu ingae
enakkulla bandham
Udanpirappae endru
azhaikkindra sondham

Thaai tharum anbil
un mugam kandaen
Thandhaiyin anaippilum
unnaiyae ninaippaen
Aayiram piravi
naan eduthaalum
aththani piraviyilum
annanaaga vendum!

A euphoriant song of singular beauty and perhaps the best among the solos that V.Kumar gave VJ. It is a doting sister's heart-warming paean to her affectionate brother, and Vani brings to her song, all the brimming emotions that the lovely lyrics call for. The soft, affection-filled call "Anna! Anna! Anna!" with which the song commences gives an enthralling indication of the caressing tone that the song to going to adopt. "Ninaikkatha pothum marakaatha nenjam" - what soul stirring sentiments, and how soulfully has Vani sung the lines! Hark at the tender repetition of the line "Udanpirappae endru azhaikkindra sontham" - evocative touches of a bygone era! The repetition of "Aththanai pirippilum annanaaga vendum", with an emphasised "Nee" interjected before "annanaaga" - rarely has a sibling's love so spellbindingly portrayed! Koyil vilakkondru kooda pirappendru paadum kural ketkkuthu! (to borrow from another great song!)

Ninakkatha pothum marakaatha paadal!

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Kannan angae Radhai ingae - Mangudi Minor
Singers:VJ - Music:Chandrabose

Aaya (!) Creations' Mangudi Minor (Release Date: June 2, 1978. Bhairavi was also released on the same day) starred Vijayakumar, Rajinikanth, Sripriya, K.Kannan, M.N.Rajam, S.V.Ramdas, A.Sakunthala and others. Screenplay, Dialogue and Direction by V.C.Guganathan. Guganathan is one of the two Sri Lankan Tamils, who made it big in Tamil Cinema, the other being Balumahendra.

I do not know much about Guganathan's early career. I remember that MGR's Pudhiya Bhoomi(1968) had story and dialogues by Guganathan. I guess he was also associated in films like Sudarum Sooravaliyum, Puguntha Veedu, Veetukku Vandha Marumagal, Petha Manam Pithu and Kanimuthu Papa. He is said to have married actress Jaya. He made a mark as a director in Madhura Geetham, which bagged the TN. Govt. Second Best Film Award, for 1977-78. He turned out to be a prolific film maker. The highpoint of his career as a director was perhaps Rajinikath's Thanikkaattu Raja(1982).

Guganathan's favorite MD was Chandrabose, whom he introduced in Madhura Geetham-1977. Some other films in this combination were Emaatrathey Emmaaraathey(1985) and Michael Raj(1986). I read that Guganathan's 250th film (!) Ethir Vaasal (Stg. Vignesh & Ranjit) is also to have music by Chandrabose.

On May 23rd this year, there was a dance ballet programme by local school children in Dubai, based on Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam, directed by danseuse Lakshmi Venkatesh. What was special was that the music was composed by none other than Chandrabose! He had composed 85 bits of songs set across 50 Ragas for the ballet. Chandrabose was present on the occasion, and though he spoke that this experiment was a "milestone in his career". I could not help remembering with a pang the time when he was among the busiest composers in tfm.

I believe Chandrabose and Deva started their career together by giving "Light Music" performances. Later Chandrabose got a break as a singer, and the song "Yendi Muththamma"(Aaru Pushpangal-1977 Music- MSV) became immensely popular. In the same year, he composed music for his first film "Madhura Geetham". Both "Kannan engae"(SPB-PS) and "Sugamana ragam suvaiyaana thamizh paattu"(TMS-Seergazhi Govindarajan) were good songs. (However, while "Kannan engae" was a lift from "Sapna mera toot gaya"(Khel Khel Mein), I recently heard that "Sugamana ragam" was originally composed by S.M.Subbiah Naidu!). Anyway, in the following year, Chandrabose showed his class in "Maampoovae siru mainave"(Machanai Paartheengala). He would go on to give some excellent songs in the coming years. In the early 80s, his opportunities were few and far between, but he made a strong comeback with "Ponnu Pudichirukku"(1984). There was no looking back since then. He became a regular feature in many films of Muktha Srinivasan, K.Balaji and later V.Shekhar. The crowning glory came when he became the "Aasthaana Iasaiamippalar" of AVM productions. I believe he scored music for eleven AVM films in this period. However this Spring soon gave way to an Autumn, when his films became less in number, and soon he was totally forgotten. He is still busy, however, composing music for TV serials. Since many of VJ's songs post 1978 were for Chandrabose, we will be seeing more of him in detail in the coming years.

Coming to "Mangudi Minor", it was a shoddy remake of Manmohan Desai's 1972 hit film "Rampur Ka Lakshman" starring Randhir Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha and Rekha. Vijayakumar played Randhir Kapoor's role of a country bumpkin coming to town. I think Rajini (playing Shatrughan Sinha's role) was the villainous long lost brother. Guganathan added an element of nativity by showing Vijayakumar as a big fan of MGR.

The other songs were "Eru pudicha kaigal"-TMS, "Anna neenga ninachappadi nadanthirukku"-TMS and "En kaiyil iruppathu"-PS.

Kannan angae
Radhai ingae
anbae vaa
unakkagave thandha
ullam engae

Thedum kannil devan varathathenna
thirudikkonda nenjai tharaathathenna
Vaadum poovai kaigal thodaathathenna
mannan thinnum annam peraathathenna

Ilamai konjum pathumai unnodu vandhaal
inaiye piriyaa nizhalaai pinnodu vandhaal
Thanimai thuyaram siruthum thaalaamal nindraal
Thalaivan ninaive manathil meelaamal nindraal
Naan vendum

Arresting guitar notes mark the short prelude, before VJ starts off with breezy "ra raa" humming. The stress on "Angae" and "Ingae" is a sweet touch. Again the humming towards the end of the charanams is memorable, with a short laugh before "vaaraano" and the lingering last lines are soft and seductive.

Having said all this, I must also add: This song is a direct lift from R.D.Burman's "Albela re albela re rook jaana" sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

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Ellaam un arulaalae - Radhaikketra Kannan
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:K.V.Mahadevan

In this part of the 1978 trail, let us first look at 3 songs that VJ sang for "Thirai Isai Thilagam" K.V.Mahadevan, and all three were from the film "Radhaikketra Kannan".

As we have seen earlier, the late 70s were not the best period for KVM, at least as far as TFM was concerned. The rapidly changing trends in TFM, and the emergence of V.Kumar, Vijayabhaskar and of course, Ilayaraja from 1976, were all causes for KVM getting very few Tamil films. However KVM was far from being idle. He had his hands full with Telugu films and along with Chakravarthi and Sathyam, formed the trio of leading composers in Telugu.

While in 1977, KVM had at least 3 releases in Tamil, in 1978, it was only Radhaikketra Kannan. When one realizes that 87 Tamil films were released in 1978, of which KVM composed music for only one film, one cannot help sighing for this great creator, who in the year 1963, had composed music for a whopping 23 films out of the total 42 films that were released that year.

Sree Murugambikai Arts "Radhaikketra Kannan" starred Sivakumar and Srividya. I have a hazy recollection of watching the film on TV as a child. I think it was a color film, and a village subject.

Srividya (born 1953), the daughter of MLV and Vikatam Krishnamoorthi was gifted even as a child. She learned classical music from T.Krishnamoorthi, and dance under Dhandayudhapani Pillai. When six years of age, she donned the role of the child Seetha in the Ramayana Ballet by the Travancore Sisters, who were MLV's neighbours on Edward Elliots Road, now called Dr.Radhakrishnan Salai in Madras. She had her formal Arangretram on 7th September, 1964 in Krishna Gana Sabha.

Though she was screen tested first for MGR's "Ragasiya Police 115", MGR rejected her, as she looked too young. Her first screen appearance was in APN's "Thiruvarutchelvar"(1967). She followed it up with films like "Moondrezhuthu" and "Neelagiri Express". KB brought her under his fold in "Nootrukku Nooru"(1971), and gave her an excellent break in "Sollathaan Ninaikkiraen", where she brought to sensitive life the role of Kamala, one of the three sisters who fall for Sivakumar.

At the age of 21, she daringly took on the role of mother to Jayasudha in "Apoorva Ragangal", and M.R.Bhairavi remains the best ever role she got to play in her career. Though she did ample justice to all her roles, (films like Kalangalil Aval Vasantham, Nalla Pennmani, Unarchigal, Avar Enakke Sondham, Madura Geetham (TN. Govt. Best Actress (Special Award) for 1977-78) Imayam, Ivargal Vithyasamanavargal come to mind), her career as a heroine never took off in Tamil. She was more successful in Malayalam, where a variety of challenging roles came her way. In the 80s, she returned to Kodambakkam to do character roles and she has not looked back since. She made her presence felt in films like Dowry Kalyanam, Punnagai Mannan, Aboorva Sagodarargal, Maapillai, Keladi Kannmani, Thalapathi, Kaadhalukku Mariyathai and Kandukkondaen Kandukkondaen (where Srividya made a "sensible" and original departure from the Mrs.Dashwood envisaged by Jane Austen).

I have a feeling Radhaikketra Kannan was a remake of some popular Telugu movie of its time.

SPB: Ellam un arulaae Venkatesa
indru engalukkum saatchiyae neeyae Thirumalesa
Aalilaatha araiyilae
naalilaatha naalilae
Thaalikkatta vaithaaye Srinivasa
VJ: Ellam un arulaae Venkatesa
indru engalukkum saatchiyae neeyae Thirumalesa
Aalilaatha araiyilae
naalilaatha naalilae
Thalikkatta vaithaaye Srinivasa

SPB: Kili koondin ullae or kaadhal jodi
summa kilukilikkum anandha paattu paadi
VJ: Oru kattil oru meththai uravaadi
ingae ulagathai marappoma vilaiyaadi
SPB: Ninaikkamal mudithaayae Malaivaasa
VJ: Nee neram paarthu serthu vaithaai Srinivasa
SPB: Venkatesa Thirumalesa
VJ: Thirumalesa Srinivasa

VJ: Meenaatchi tholilae Sokkesa
Valli thaanaalum deivame Murugesa
SPB: Ungalukkum saanthiyae ippadithaana
sondha ooraarkku virundhellam appuram thaana
VJ: Alamelu mangaiyin uyirnesa
SPB: Emai avasarathil serthu vaithaai Srinivasa
VJ: Venkatesa Thirumalesa
SPB: Thirumalesa Srinivasa

Listening to the song, my suspicion of a Telugu original gets stronger, for this song, as the other two, retains a distinct Telugu flavor. Perhaps KVM lifted the tunes from their Telugu original compositions?

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Ponna Porandhava - Radhaikketra Kannan
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:K.V.Mahadevan

VJ: Ponna porandhava engo oru naal pogapporava machachane
Macchanae Oh machchanae
SPB: Yengo ennadi adiyae sittu, enakkum unakkum vechaanae
Vechaanae vechanaae

VJ: Ayyo paavam athai pillai
aasai valaiyil vizhundhaachu
SPB: Adhilae vizhundhaal valiyaedhamma
adiyillamal ezhundhaachu
VJ: Aasai paartha theerathu
SPB: Appadi chonna pothaathu
VJ: Aasaiyai paaru adhukkulae yetho kanakkaiyum pottachu
Machchaanae Oh machchaanae

SPB: Kannilae pudichu nenjilae pottu
gappunnu adaichae sarithaano
VJ: Ponnunga nenachaa singathakkooda
pudaivaya pottu pudikkathao
SPB: Thaaliyai pottuttu paarthukkuraen
VJ: Tharisa naanum serndhukkiraen
SPB: Mookukkayirai podappogum aanpillai naan thaanae
Naan thaanae naanthaanae

Any doubt that these songs are lifts from their Telugu originals vanishes while listening to this song, for there is a short bit of humming in the first interlude, and the female voice for this humming sounds suspiciously like PS (who must have sung the Telugu original with SPB)!!

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Aadungal Paadungal - Radhaikketra Kannan
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:K.V.Mahadevan

SPB: Aadungal paadungal
Amman peril paattu paada koodungal
VJ: Athaipponnu vandhalaa
maman ponnu vandhaala
endhapponnu vandhaalum
indhapponnu aavaalaa

VJ: Maangalyam yaaralae
Kungumamum yaaralae
Manjal vandhadhaaraalae
Thaayaalae Thaayaalae
SPB: Andhapakkam ponaalum
indhappakkam ponaalum
Annaippotta saalaiyil thaan
Pogonum vaazhonum
VJ: Kanniranja purushanaiyum ava thandha
SPB: Ice vechi nice panni kaathal panna iva vandhaa

VJ: Aasai irukku manasoda
anbu irukku kannoda
pasam irukku nenjoda
Podhaadho ponnu vaazha
SPB: Maman veettu Mariamma
Idhu sami senja velaiyamma
Kannukkullae nikkudhaadi
Andhakalam indhaneram
VJ: Katti katti pudichathellaam vittu pochaa
SPB: Nee yengae naan engae paaradi vaayadi

VJ: Ammanoda arul venum
aayulukku vara venum
ponnporulum perugonam
sugamaaga padhamaaga
SPB: Bhakthiyoda kettaalae
alli alli tharuvaale
Sakthi ulla thaai thaandi
nam amma ponnamma
VJ: Kannagikku thangachi naan thaanae
en karppinai nee paarthaye sarithaane
SPB: Pona jenmam kannagi
Indha jenmam ennadi

Seems to be a grand Thiruvizha song, chorus voices and all.

I have not dwelt at length on these "Radhaikketra Kannan" songs, for I have to admit that they are not are not very impressive. One would expect much more from a veteran like KVM. Though SPB and VJ try valiantly to salvage the proceedings, the singularly unimaginative lyrics and equally uninspiring music puts paid to their efforts. Perhaps KVM and Pugazhenthi were hard pressed for time and were coerced into copying their Telugu tunes.

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Naan paadam solli koduppaen - Alli Durbaar
Singers:VJ,Kausalya&Chorus - Music:Shyam

In one of the episodes of Sangeetha Sagaram that featured Vani Jairam, she sang a lilting Malayalam melody "Nayaka paalaka manuja sneha gayaka" (Film: Lakshmi Vijayam) and as she lost herself in the leaps and bounds that the intricate notes took, we got to hear a classic creation that she brought back to life and just as we were wondering who could the composer be, VJ herself mentioned Shyam and in glowing terms of warm commendation.

Samuel Joseph was born on 19th March 1937 in Madras. He was brought up in a household in which Christian Music was both heard and sung with great devotion. He learned Western Music and soon embarked on a flourishing career as an instrumentalist in tfm.

When he was a violinist in MSV's orchestra, MSV found it simpler to address him as Sam, which in due course became Shyam! Besides MSV, Shyam worked in the troupes of various MDs like T.Chalapathi Rao, S.Rajeswara Rao, Pendiyala, T.G.Lingappa, TKR, Veda, Salil Chowdhry and Ravi.

His association with Salilda and Ravi when they were composing for Malayalam films enabled him to acquire a firm foothold in Malayalam films in the 70s, and he was a prolific composer there even till the late 80s. Some of the Malayalam films in which Shyam's works are still remembered are Maanyasri Viswamithra, Akkal Dhaama, Kama Krodha Moham, Gnaaval Pazhangal, Angadi, Daisy, Thammil Thammil, Nadodikkattu, Nirakkoottu, Love Story, Manu Uncle etc. Shaym has won the Kerala State Award for Best MD twice, in 1983 and 1984.

Shyam was working with Veda, when the latter passed away suddenly. Modern Theatres (Veda's regular patrons) did not have to look far for Veda's successor, and their Karunthel Kanniyiram(1972) saw Shyam making his debut in Tamil. The melodious "Netru varai vinnil inrundhaalo" (SPB&Vasantha) and the jaunty "Poonthamalliyile"(SPB&Manorama) made his debut a memorable one.

Though Shayam was not exactly flooded with offers, he did justice to the films that came his way, and many of them have at least a couple of songs that gained popularity.

Aaya Creations "Alli Durbaar" starred Vijayakumar and Manjula. Directed, in all probability by V.C.Guganathan. As the name suggests, it was perhaps another tried and tested rehash of "Taming of the shrew", with MGR veneration thrown in for good measure.

It was perhaps the only film to have Vijayakumar and Manjula in the lead (though they paired in films like Shankar Salim Simon, Kuppathu Raja and Neeya). It was around this time that they fell in love and got married.

Manjula had come a long way since she first appeared in Shanthi Nilayam(1969). Her rapid rise as MGR's heroine (Rickshawkkaaran-1971, Idhaya Veenai-1972, Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban-1973, Netru Indru Naalai-1974 and Ninaithathai Mudippavan-1975) thrust her into the top league very soon. She crossed over to work with Sivaji as well, En Magan-1974, Mannavan Vandhanadi, Anbe Aaruyire, Dr.Siva, Avan Thaan Manithan-all 1975, Uthaman-1976, Avan Oru Sarithiram-1977 come to mind. Though not endowed with noteworthy histrionic skills, she was easy on the eye, and a good dancer too. Her other films that are worth remembering are Maruppiravi-1973, Pookaari-1973, Raja Nagam-1974, Ellorum Nallavare-1975 and Sathiyam-1976. She had a long successful run in Telugu Cinema. After Nenjangal-1982 and a brief sabbatical, she donned the grease paint again to do character roles, and has taken to acting in TV serials too.

This is a fairly "run of the mill" song, a typical song in which the woman taunts the man. Of course, as the story progresses, the man would have the last laugh, and he would get to sing another version of the song, jeering at the woman (like the two versions of "Katta vandi katta vandi" from Sakalakalavallavan).

The male version of "Naan paadam solli koduppaen" was sung by TMS. The other songs in the film were "Singari sirikkum azhagu padhumai"-SJ, "Bhoologa penngalil naan pudhiyaval"-SJ, "Puratchi Thalaivarai ninaithaale veeram pongi perugudhada"-TMS and a surprise A.V.Ramanan-Uma Ramanan duet "Azhagiya thamizhin kavithai oru pennanatho".

VJ: Naan
paadam solli koduppaen
panthattam udhaippaen
enniyathai mudippaen
kanni vechu pudippaen
pombalennu ilichaa
pallu renda udaipaen
vaada raja
otta vaalai aruppaen

Kousalya & Chorus: Azhaginil naannoru Lilly
thirumugam vasanai malli
ponmagal en peyar Alli
porinil unakkival villi

VJ: Kottaikul maan koottam vaazhugindrathu
vettaikku naal paarthu vengai vandhadhu
Kousalya: Maangal thirala, vengai mirala
VJ: Mannippu ketkindra velai ithu
Kousalya & Chorus: Kattupattal Pizhaikkum
kuttuppaattal vilangum
VJ: Puriyum vannamaai eduthu eduthu
theriyum vannamaai padithu padithu

VJ: Ariyamal vazhi maari vandhavaradi
sariyana mariyadhai thandhuvidadi
ilamai murukku, ivaruku irukku
ethanai thandhaalum thaanguvaaradi
Kousalya & Chorus: innum konjam koduthu
mannan thannai thiruthu
VJ: Puriyum vannamaai eduthu eduthu
theriyum vannamaai padithu padithu

In Bharatha Venba and in Villibharatham, there are references to Chitrangadhai, a Pandiya princess, who married Arjuna. She was also known as Alli Rani, and was described as a domineering personality. This sobriquet has attached itself over the ages to females marked by an authoritarian tendency.

The song begins with the sound of a lashing whip, perhaps showcasing the Alli Rani in all her gory glory, and VJ sounds appropriately aggressive. Kousalya and the chorus voices form the booing brigade, and the poor hero seems to have a miserable time. VJ scintillates in "puriyum vannammaai eduthu edduthu" and that crowning "Sol".

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Ponnae Bhoomiyadi - Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala
Singers:VJ,SJ&Chorus - Music:Shyam

The works of man are but little worth;
For a time they stand, for a space endure;
But turn once more to your mother—Earth,
My gifts are gracious, my works are sure
Green shoot of herbage for growing herd,
And blossoming promise of fruitage sweet,
These shall not fail, if ye heed my word,
Nor the wind that croons in the ripening wheat
- (The Earth Mother by James Sandes)

VDS Productions "Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala" starred Kamal Hasan, Muralimohan, Major Sundararajan, Surulirajan, Sridevi, Satyapriya, Manorama and others. It was directed by R.C.Sakthi.

In the recently announced National Awards for 2002, the National award for the "Best Environmental Film, 2002" went to a 22-minute Tamil film titled "Urumaatram" directed by B.Sivakumar. And what is more special is the chief protagonist is played by Director R.C.Sakthi. His moving performance in this short film has won rave reviews. Acting is not new to R.C.Sakthi, he sparkled in a brief role in the award winning "Jameela"(aka Nadhikkaraiyinile), and has also acted in the few reels of Kamal's "Marudhanayagam" that has been canned so far.

R.C.Sakthi's association with Kamal dates back to the mid 70s. Unarchigal(1976) was a stark off beat film directed by R.C.Sakthi, with Kamal in the lead. Incidentally Shyam was the MD for Unarchigal as well. "Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala" followed next. RCS proved his mettle in mainstream cinema as well in the following year, "Dharmayudham" with IR's awesome score, was a thumping success. "Makkal Iyakkunar" R.C.Sakthi's career as a director has been a chequered one. If he rose to dizzying heights with his brilliant celluloid adaptation of Anuradha Ramanan's "Sirai", in the same 1984, he also sunk to abysmal depths with the woeful adaptation of Rocky ("Thangakoppai") starring Karate Mani in the lead. He reminded us through his Manakkanakku(1986) that the two sisters who dominated Tamil Cinema in the 80s were also capable of sensitive performances. His Koottuppuzhukkal(1987), also Anuradha Ramanan's story, brutally bared the ugliness behind the urban middle class facade. However, films like Santhosha Kanavugal(1985), Thaali Dhaanam(1987) and Varam(1989) were disappointing, to say the least. His sensitively crafted "Paththinipenn" proved too unhurried for the fast paced 90s.

"Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala" was released on Deepavali, October 30th, 1978. It could not face the stiff competition from the other films released on the same day (Sigappu Rojakkal, Thappu Thaalangal, Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam and Aval Appadithaan) and sank without a trace. Ironically the other Kamal-Sridevi starrer "Sigappu Rojakkal" released on the same day went to become a super hit, continuing to be screened for more than 25 weeks.

1978 was the year in which Sridevi scaled new heights. She had 18 releases in all this year (including Telugu and Malayalam), and had clearly become the most sought after actress in the South. It had been a long and arduous journey for this talented artiste.

Born on 13th August, 1963 at Sivakasi, Sridevi faced the camera at the tender age of 4 in "Kandan Karunai", and continued acting as a child star in many films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Moondru Mudichu(1976) saw her come out with flying colors, with a heavy role sitting lightly on her deceptively frail shoulders. "Padhinaaru Vayathinilae" followed in 1977, and Sridevi was perched prettily as the star of the South. Being equally at home with both glamor and glycerine, Sridevi had arrived, and was here to stay and rule.

"Manitharil Iththanai Nirangala" revolved around Sridevi, who played with precocious understanding, the central character, Shantha. Shantha undergoes severe tribulations and at one point, is even forced to offer herself to Major Sundararajan. He rebukes her sternly, and makes her see the error of her ways. Hounded by some villains, Shantha seeks asylum in the house of her friend Devaki (Satyapriya). Devaki is married to Velu (Kamal), the drunkard ruffian with a good heart. The Station Master (Muralimohan) is attracted to the demure Shantha, but she wards off his gentle advances being ashamed of her unsavory past. When she finally comes around to accepting him, her nemesis catches up with her, as Muralimohan turns out to be Major's son!

The other songs in this film are the treasured "Mazhai tharumo en megam" – quintessential SPB, with a great humming by S.P.Shailaja (she was heard for the first time in tfm herein), the tipsy "Mama manasu innaiki nallalae" - Kamal Hasan & Ceylon Manohar, and the boisterous "Aarumugane Vela Ummammai bala" - MV, Kousalya & Chorus.

"Ponne bhoomiyadi" has Shantha (Sridevi) and Anjalai (Manorama) engaged in an honest day's labor in the fields, singing reflectively on Mother Earth, Womankind and what life has in store for both.

SJ: Ponnae bhoomiyadi
VJ: Aah sari sari sari sari
SJ: Rendum thaaimaiyadi
VJ: Aah sari sari sari sari
SJ: Saadham oottum kaigal paaradiyo
VJ: Thaalatum pachai thottil
Chorus: Siru siru mani vidha vidha niramadi
VJ: Ponnae bhoomiyadi
SJ: Aah sari sari sari sari
Rendum thaaimaiyadi
SJ: Aah sari sari sari sari
VJ: Saadham oottum kaigal paaradiyo
SJ: Thaalatum pachai thottil
Chorus: Siru siru mani vidha vidha niramadi

VJ: Aanai paarthu cherndhaal thaandi bhoomi ponnagum
SJ: Anbai paarthu cherndhaalthaandi sengai seeraagum
VJ: Paayum kaneer vellamaanaal mannum thaangaathu
SJ: Adhiga thaneer vellakkkadu
VJ: Arivu ponaal maanakkedu
Chorus: Nijamadi ithu nijamadi nijamadi nijamadi ithu nijamadi nijamadi

SJ: Poovum pottum maniyimindrel mannil azhagillai
VJ: Pongum mangala vaazhkai indrel pennil azhagillai
SJ: Paarkum kanngal illaiendraal vaazhvil sugamillai
VJ: Endha mannil enna payiro
SJ: Endha thalaiyil enna ezhutho
Chorus: Varuvathu varum varavidu varavidu, varuvathu varum varavidu varavidu

When asked about SJ (Sangeetha Sagaram interview), VJ turned nostalgic as she recollected how, as an aspiring singer, she tagged along SJ to see a song recording, the recording of SJ's Award winning "Radhaiyai penn paarkka". She ended by saying simply "She's my friend!" and that spoke volumes of the wonderful relationship that these two gifted singers share. In another interview, years ago, VJ recalled emotionally how SJ was the first person who conveyed to her the glad tidings that she had won the National Award for "Shankarabharanam". VJ added that though SJ had also sung many songs in the same film, there was not an iota of ill feeling in her that she had lost the award to VJ.

These two singers had not sung together much, unfortunately. We have seen earlier in 1974, that their first duet was "Indha pennodu pirandhadhu nadanam"(Samayalkaran). Some other instances of their collaboration are "Machanai paaradi"(Thangamagan), "Chinnapoonnu chinnapponnu"(Aruvadai Naal, with MV) and "Vandhaalae"(Pondatti Sonna Kettukkanum, a rare PS-SJ-VJ song).

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" - I am always reminded of this haunting opening line of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca when I hear this exquisite song. This song has been among my most favorite songs since my childhood, and even now as I am listening to it, I am transported effortlessly to those untroubled days, and for a timeless time, I am a child again, coming home from school, rushing off to play, returning home and making some studious pretences, then dinner, followed by instant slumber... this song could be heard anytime, as we were playing in the street, from a neighbor's radio in Madhur Geetham (with the announcements in Hindi, Geethkar, Sangeethkar, Gayakalakaar et al), or as we returned home, in Ungal Viruppam, or as we were having dinner, or nodding off later, in Thenkinnam. This song is my magical escort to that memory window, and this magic never stales. Never.

Hark at how the two divas, one after the other, simply mesmerize you with their song, how well they complement each other, how one waits for the other to follow, and now the other gives way for the first, so willingly, so happily, how much respect and admiration they must have for each other to make this miracle possible... God bless them!

SJ starts off in her own enthralling way, and VJ catches on the humming, and SJ gives an appreciative humming nod, with the chorus joining the celebrated coalescence with joyous abandon. The pallavi starts off with SJ singing the words, and VJ agreeing with her "sari sari sari", and then the singers exchange places.

Thus the song progresses on its spellbinding odyssey, with the two lead singers singing one after the other, often accompanied by the chorus counterparts. Listen to that scintillating second interlude, where with they weave magic one after the other... we can only sigh in rapture.

Even had Shyam not returned to tfm after this song, he would still be enshrined in the hearts of thousands of listeners. This rustic rhapsody alone will suffice to ensure that his name never rusts in the pantheon of Melody Makers.

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Thalathalakkuthu minuminukkuthu - Mela Thaalangal
Singers:VJ - Music:Ramesh Naidu

Ashtalaksmi Pictures' Mela Thaalangal starred Jaishankar and Sripriya. I do not know much else about the film, though I recall listening to the songs on radio. There were 4 songs in all:

Enadhu Vilaasam - SPB & SJ (Kannadasan)
Thalathalakkuthu - VJ (Kannadasan)
Sendhoorappottu - MV & SJ (Poovai Senguttuvan)
Aananda veenai - SPB & SJ (Kannadasan)

Of these, "Aananda veenai naan meettum pothu" was the song that many may remember, as it was featured frequently on Radio Ceylon.

Ramesh Naidu's first film as MD in Telugu was Dhaampathyam (1957/ M.R.A Productions). Prior to that, he had composed music for some Hindi Films (original/dubbed) like Hamlet(1954), and later two films for R.R. Productions: Piya Milan(1958) remake of Marma Veeran(?) with songs like "yaad aake hardam sathaaye" by Lata, the other film Jaya Singh(1959), dubbed from Jayasimha, songs like "ye chand ye taare tu ho to lage pyare" by Manna Dey & Lata. His famous albums in Telugu include Swayamprabha(1957), Manorama(1959), Koothuru Kaapuram(1959), Amma Maata(1971), Thatha Manavudu(1972), Jeevitham( 1973), Radhamma Pelli(1974), Chandana(1974), Kavita(1975), Thurpu Padamara(1976), Chillarakkootu Chittamma(1977), Sivaranjini(1978), Anukkunadi Sadishta(1978), Kalyani(1979), Antuleni Vinthakatha(1979), Andala Rasi(1979), Hema Hemeelu(1979), Sangham Chekkina Silpalu(1980), Pasupu Paarini(1980), Sujatha(1980), Muddamandaaram(1981), Jayasudha(1982), Malle Pandiri(1982), Rendu Jella Seetha(1983), Srivariki Premalekha(1984), Ananda Bhairavi(1984), Sangeeta Samrat(1984), Suvarna Sundari(1985).

Ramesh Naidu won the National Award for Best Music Director in 1982 for his wonderful songs in Meghasandesam.

Despite his immense talent, Ramesh Naidu did not get many openings in tfm. Besides Mela Thaalangal, I can remember only two Tamil films for which he composed music: Pennukku Yaar Kaaval (1980) and Devan Sedhukkiya Sirpangal, probably the dubbed version of Sangham Chekkina Silpalu(1980).

Thalathalakkuthu minuminukkuthu samuthirakkara paravai
adhu saayankaalam paarthirukkuthu aiyyavoda varavai

Godavari nadhiya paartha manasilenna ninappu
Ada kulikkaththaane nadhiyai vechadhu Kadavuloda padaippu
Ayya paarthu sokki nippathu nuniyil ulla karumbu
innum adhigaama inikkum paaru adiyil ulla karumbu

Pambaratha suththi vidinga vizhura pothu vizhattum
oru payalai naanum thedi vaaren vararappothu varattum
Vayasirukkuthu ponnukkitte kaalaiyayum virattum
summa vambu panninaakka rathiriyile mirattum

Inbamaaga irukkalaame enga veetukkulla
ada indha naatil idhikku thaane velai nirutham illa
Aavaaniyil manamudicha aaniyile pulla
Ada adhukku neenga bayappattakka aambalayae illai

Seems like a song sung by a street dancer (Have never seen any such street dances in real life, I suppose they come alive only in reel life!). The flute, bolstered by spirited percussion support gives the song a jaunty opening. The lyrics suggest that this dancer, while merrily performing on the streets and trying to attract passers-by with her ill-concealed charms, is also hunting for a man who has perhaps wronged her. VJ fetchingly portrays this inner intention couched in the external titillations. The whisperingly rendered "adhigamaaga" in "Innum adhigaama inikkum paaru adiyil ulla karumbu" is charmingly suggestive of hidden delights. Ramesh Naidu appeals in his folksy percussions and breezy arrangements with seamless shifts in tempo.

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Srirangano Srideviyo - Meenakshi Kungumam
Singers:VJ&JC - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

Sri Devipriya Films' Meenakshi Kungumam starred Vijayakumar, Sripriya, Jaiganesh, Surulirajan and others. It was written and co-produced by Rama Narayanan, while screenplay and direction were by Karaikkudi Narayanan.

I remember watching the film on TV long back. It was crude and poorly crafted. Set in a rural milieu, it was a trite tale of Sripriya marrying Vijayakumar, and bringing to justice the scheming Jaiganesh. The film was an ominous indicator of the miseries that Ramanarayanan (who incidentally completed 100 films as a director recently!) was going on inflict on us in the coming years. Sripriya had a monkey as a pal!

The film had 3 songs:

Srirangano Srideviyo - JC & VJ (Kannadasan)
Penn ninaithaal - SJ (Karaikkudi Narayanan)
Muththamma chinna chittu - VJ (Kannadasan)

JC: Srirangano Srideviyo
Vadivelano Deivaanaiyo
yaar vandhu pirappaaro kannana en selvame

VJ: Haa...
ippothu neeye en pillai
inimele appavai pol thondrum pillai
Haa... haa...
appappo nee seiyum thollai
inimele avan seyya poraanae ennai
mundhanai melaakil kai pottu
amma paaramma paalamma enbaane

JC: Aan pillai theraadha thollai
penn pillai peranbin ellai
Sridevi vara vendum endru
Thirumaalai varam kelu indru
VJ: Magalakkatti koduppathum thaan selavayya
maganappetha paerum panamum varavaiyya
kannan thaan pillai mannan thaan

JC: Adi endhan maharasi kannae
adaindhaene thunaiyaaga unnai
angeyor Madurai Meenaatchi
ingey en manaiyaale saatchi
VJ: Unnai vittu ulagam onnu ethayya
oru pirappum maruppirappum neeyayya
ennayya thunbam edhayya

A joyous duet that vividly etches the bliss of expectant parenthood, with the man and wife (Vijayakumar and Sripriya) wondering if their little bundle of joy is going to be a boy or girl. As usual the man prays for a daughter, while his wife wishes for a son.

Shankar-Ganesh have nimbly blended melody and folksy themmaangu to give a song that appeals in its swift rhythmic shifts. Jayachandran starts off with his mellifluous pallavi, and VJ arrives with a bang with her breezy "Haa... ippodhu neeye en pillai". The charanams fall in line with the same pattern - JC treading the abstemious path, while VJ capers unrestrained in rustic exultation.

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Muththamma chinna chittu - Meenakshi Kungumam
Singers:VJ - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

An attractive solo soaked in rustic flavor.

Muthamma chinna chittu
munnae pinnae paarthu nada
muthamida ida poranadi akkam pakkam vetkam vara
ammadi ammadi nee aasaiyilla ponnaadi
ammadi ammadi nee aasaiyilla ponnaadi

moonu padi sakkarayil naalu padi thaen kalandhu
muththam endru allaivechchaandi
adi ammadi saththam pottu koduthuvittaandi
adi ennavo senjaandi yevarum kaettaa sollathae

kattillo kachidhama kayithukkattil vayithukkattu
ippa naan kandu vandhendi
adi chinnamma eppo nee kaana poraedi
adi ennavo senjaandi yevarum

Kasi Visalatchiyodu kai kalandha Paramasivam
Kaamatchi sangamam thaandi
ini eppothum Meenaatchi Kungumam thaandi
adi ennavo senjaandi yevarum kaettaa sollathae

With the sound of a village belle walking with her anklets jingling merrily, the song summons vistas of quaint rural landscapes, and VJ slips into the scheme of things so effortlessly. The lass is in love, and is wonderingly singing of the raptures that love brings in its wake, and the expectation of this love finding fulfillment in wedlock. Kannadasan sparkles as usual, especially in the last charanam, where he cleverly brings in the film's title into the lyrics. And "Kavignar vazhangiya Devarin" S-G go to town with this rural delight, temple bells added for good measure. VJ, while falling in line with the rustic ambience, enthralls in her each varied prolonging of the pallavi lines.

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Devadhai oruthi - Kamakshiyin Karunai
Singers:VJ&SPB - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

No clue about the cast/crew of Anand Productions' Kamakshiyin Karunai. We have earlier seen that KSG's Kanchi Kamakshi was also released in 1978. Did its modest success prompt a desperate producer to make another "Kamakshi" film in the same year?

S-G had given some good songs for the film, though:
Devadhai oruthi - SPB & VJ
Thoda mattum koodathu - SJ & Ganesh
Nee ariyadhadhalla - PS
Kannanukku thottil kattum - SPB & PS

SPB: Devathai oruthi bhoomikku vandhaal
kaadhal thenaatril neeraada vandhaal
oviya paavai kannukkul pugundhaal
endhan uyirodu uravaadugindraal
uyirodu uraavaadugindraal

VJ: Devathai oruthi bhoomikku vandhaal
kaadhal thenaatril neeraada vandhaal
oviya paavai kannukkul pugundhaal
undhan uyirodu uravaadugindraal
uyirodu uraavaadugindraal

SPB: maarbodu thaalaatum senthamarai
ingu naan oru moondraam pirai

VJ: Paarvaikku dhaagangal oraayiraam
ini naan oru andhappuram

SPB: neelakkanngal neendhum vannam
nenjil odum aasai vellam
paarvaigal aayiramo

VJ: kaadhal vanna gopuram
devan thandha kaaviyam
jaadaigal naadagamo

SPB: thendral thottum thingal suttum
kanngal pattum mullai mottu
kaadhalil aadiyadho

VJ: katti kollum kaadhalan
muththam angu thenmazhai
Kamanin oorvalamo

SPB entices with his nonchalant humming in the prelude, and begins the pallavi as well. His short humming after the third line is particularly delightful, and VJ follows with her soulful pallavi. The song is structurally singular, for it has a short first charanam, and a longer second charanam. Also both charanams vastly vary in tempo and tune. The song that was progressing unhurriedly till then suddenly surges in bursts of speed, yet deftly flows into the pallavi in the end.

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Kadhai sollum silaigal - Karate Kamala
Singers:VJ&JC - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

No information about Alankar Arts' Karate Kamala. I guess an ambitious producer wanted to cash in on the immensely popularity of martial arts films like Enter The Dragon & Return Of The Dragon. I remember seeing the wall posters of movies like Karate Kamala and Jeya Nee Jeyichutte in Luz Corner, but we were not taken to watch such films by elders at home. Perhaps they were not considered fit for our consumption!

On hearing the songs, I feel that our elders were right. Karate Kamala would have most probably been a story of a girl whose lover is killed and whose modesty is outraged by a group of villains. She recovers from the trauma, and swears revenge. Perhaps she learns Karate as well, and then gradually seduces and then eliminates the bad men one by one. And there must have been 'bits' and pieces of steamy sequences to cheer the front-benchers too!

The songs were:
Kadhai sollum silaigal - JC & VJ
Naane oru vaettai aada vandhaen - VJ
Thenaruvi adhiloru poonkuruvi - PS
L-a-i-l-a Laila, L-o-v-e Love - LRE

JC: Kadhai sollum
VJ: silaigal
JC: Manmathan vidum
VJ: Kanaigal
JC: moththam aruvathinaangu vagaigal
VJ: avai aann penn pazhagum aananda kalaigal
JC: kalaigal

VJ: oru maeni yaekkam kondu
perumoochu vaanga
maru meni kaigal kondu
thirumaeni thaanga
JC: saththamindri muththam ondru sindhu
nee innum konjam endham pakkam vandhu

JC: sringara leelai solli
sirikkindra sirpam angae
adharkkaana naeram kandu
malargindra pushpam ingae
VJ: ottikkandum kattikkondum konja
indha ullam rendum ondrai ondru kenja

The heroine and her lover are on a visit to Khajuraho, perhaps on their honeymoon. Stirred by the sculpted figures, they sing this song of passionate romance. They are lost to the world in their love, but they are being watched all the while, as the change of the mood in the second interlude indicates. Perhaps their joyous world gets shattered after the song ends? (guess work here by yours truly :-)

A dreamy prelude sets the mood, and JC and VJ euphoniously add fuel to the simmering passion. The "silaigal" and "kalaigal" repeated thrice is an added attraction. S-G have come out with a winner in this song. Kamala and her Karate skills may have found few takers, but this song lingers on in memory to this day.

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Naanae oru vaettaiyaada vandhaen - Karate Kamala
Singers:VJ - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

This time the heroine is on the hunt, she is seeking revenge.

oru vaettai aada vandhaen
oru vaengai thaedi vandhaen
vidivaelai thaangi vandhaen

padhungaamal paayaadhu
puli pola ila maadhu
irayaaga unnai enni
vilayaadum vilagaathu
natta nadu kaatil kooda unnai thodarum
ettiyadhai vittathillai katti thazhuvum

paniyaendhum rojappoo
nerungaathae mul undu
kani yaendhum kannam rendil
thigattadha kal undu
unna unna mella mella bodhai kodukkum
mannavane sorgam sella paadhai vagukkum

padammadum naagam pol
idai aadum kodi mullai
pidivaadham nenjil undu
adangaatha siru pillai
ennappadi vannakkodi thittam iduvaal
sathiyamai latchiyathil vetri peruvaal

The chorus voices accompany VJ throughout. It is apparent it is a "club song" where the heroine, disguised as a vamp, is trying to make the villain fall for her charms. As befits a climax song of this genre, S-G have filled the interludes with music that captures the suspenseful intrigue of the sequence. The "snake" music in the third interlude is an intelligent insertion, for the charanam begins with "padamaadum nagam pol". All the while, Ganesh makes merry on the bongos (he was playing the bongos for many years in MSV's ensemble), while VJ pulls of this one in style. The fuming inner feelings, filigreed in the flamboyant façade find evocative articulation in her voice.

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Kannaalam kattame - Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi
Singers:VJ - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

A.C.V. Combines' Ullathi Kuzhandhaiyadi was, in all likelihood directed by K.S.Gopalakrishnan. It starred Jaishankar and Sripriya. I seem to vaguely remember that Prameela and Thengai Srinivasan were also in the cast.

The Stedman's Medical Dictionary defines amnesia as "a disturbance in the memory of information stored in long-term memory, in contrast to short-term memory, manifested by total or partial inability to recall past experiences". And how much this amnesia has helped our filmmakers over the years! Amara Deepam, Koduthuvaithaval and Engiruntho Vandhaal, to name a few, are some instances where amnesia held centerstage. And though there seem to be numerous types of amnesia, our directors had a particular fondness for what is known as "Retrograde Amnesia", the inability to remember events that occurred before the incidence of trauma or the onset of the disease that caused the amnesia.

Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi had Sripriya suffering from amnesia and Jaishankar taking care of her. As usual she had the mental makeup of a child while being looked after by him. While Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi did not set the cash counters jingling, 5 years later, when Balumahendra adapted the same story and presented it as Moondram Pirai, it made history!

There were only 3 songs in the film:
Kannalam kattame - VJ
Mambuttiyai tholila vechchu - SJ
Kannukku neeyoru - Seergazhi Govindarajan & VJ

The lyrics for all the songs were by Maruthakasi. The veteran lyricist's tryst with tfm had all but ended with the 60s, but S-G kept bringing him back from hibernation every now and then. We haven seen instances of their collaboration in 1977: "Thayaakki vecha en thangame" (Rowdy Rakkamma) and "Aalamarathukkili" (Paalabishegam).

Maruthakasi scintillates in the lyrics here, for rural themes were his forte and his choice of words is appealing and apposite

Kannalam kattame kadhava thaappa podame
pullapperu paarkkaame butti paalum oothaame
en machaan pethaan pulla
avan manasu romba vella

Vaigai perugi vara
vaala meen thulli vara
thulli varum meenukkellaam thoondil podum rasavaa
en machaan pethaan pulla
avan manasu romba vella

Malaikku Mahalingam
Maamaruda sokkalingam
Sokkalingam pethedutha Surulimala Velanaattam
en machaan pethaan pulla
avan manasu romba vella

Seethaiamma thirumagano
Sriraman peththevano
Kannan mavan mammuthano kaalaiyinnu sollumbadi
en machaan pethaan pulla
avan manasu romba vella

The audiotape version has one more verse:

Naan mundhaana virikkama munnooru naal summakkama
sondha bandham sirikkama thondhi sariya pekkama
en machaan pethaan pulla
avan manasu romba vella

VJ sounds charmingly playful, as she essays this song. Her exaggerated 'r's add to the folksy backdrop.

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Kannukku neeyoru kannipponnu - - Ullathil Kuzhandhaiyadi
Singers:VJ&Sirkazhi Govindarajan - Music:Shankar-Ganesh

This is a song that I remember listening to a lot as a child. And like many songs of the elusive 70s, this one too vanished from the airwaves forever.

VJ: Kannukku neeyoru kannipponnu
karuthukku nee vaerum pachchai mannu
kannukku neeyoru kannipponnu
en karuthukku nee verum pachchai mannu
unnadiyo soru unnadiyo
ottaaram pannuvathennadiyo
nee ottaaram pannuvathennadiyo

SGR: Vanna chemba kuthi soraakki
vaala meen thundathai saaraakki
vanjam ariyaatha pennunakku
vanjara meenum porichirukku
nalla vanjara meenum porichirukku
VJ: unnadiyo soru unnadiyo
ottaaram pannuvathennadiyo
nee ottaaram pannuvathennadiyo

VJ: uruvathil neevoru senkarumbu
ullathil sinnanjiru arumbu
nee odiyaadi pannum akkurumbu
ulagam ariyappillai kurumbu
indha ulagam ariyappillai kurumbu

SGR: pinjil pazhukkura kaalaamadi
padhinanjil ithu ennakkolamadi
idhu pinjil pazhukkura kaalaamadi
padhinanjil ithu ennakkolamadi
nenjile un ethirkaalam vandhu
sanjalathukku aalaakkuthadi
enna sanjalathukku aalaakkuthadi

I think (not certain though, hazy 'oliyum oliyum' memories) that Thengai Srinivasan and Prameela worriedly sing this song to Sripriya, as she stubbornly refuses to eat. KSG must have remembered that SGR sang the folksy "Aathadi maariyamma soru aakki vechen vaadiyamma" for his Aadhiparasakthi, and hence called him to sing this one.

We have seen earlier that SGR and VJ had sung together "Oru kodi aasaigal"(Uravukku Kai Koduppom-1975), and "Neeyindri yaarumillai" (Varuvaan Vadivelan-1978). They come together again to sing this lovely song.

VJ commences by wondering at her childlike mental state and pleads with her to shake off her adamant stance and come to eat. SGR chips in by describing in tantalizing detail the lavish spread of delectable delicacies, and urges her to partake of it. VJ forgives her for all her pranks, as she is but a child in her thinking. SGR bemoans her strange ailment, and almost breaks down as he fretfully expresses his fears over what the future would hold in store for her. This song is a wonderful illustration of how such talented playback artistes verily lived the roles they were singing for.

With this we find that we have finally come to the end of the 1978 narrative. Starting from VJ's songs for MSV, we have now dwelt at length on her songs for S-G, and in between we have discussed VJ's songs for KVM, V.Kumar, Vijayabhaskar, MBS, IR, Chandrabose, HMV Raghu, R.Ramanujam, Shyam and Ramesh Naidu. And though we have covered 59 songs in this year, I still can't help feeling that there would be some more VJ songs in 1978 that we are yet to rediscover.

On refection, I feel 1978 must have been an immensely satisfying year for VJ, as she got to sing many wonderful songs for an assorted array of MDs, and she did justice to each one of her songs.

Many of the films we discussed were pedestrian fare, and many of the songs too are seldom heard these days.

However, as Wordsworth says,

And, when the stream which overflowed the soul was passed away,
a consciousness remained that it had left,
deposited upon the silent shore
of memory, images and precious thoughts,
that shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.

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