Another year... another set of many memorable songs. And as is our wont, before getting down to brass tacks, let us, for a while, indulge in some thoughts on tfm in 1979, recollecting the landmark songs and their creators.
Ilayaraja continued his spell of success, and a spellbinding success it was, he composed music for 25 Tamil films this year, 4 more than his count in 1978. Of these 25, some were super hits, some did average business, some sank without much ado, one failed to turn up at the hustings. Yet Ilayaraja's music was uniformly enchanting in each one of them.
Following the stupendous success of Ilamai Oonjaladugirathu the previous year, Sridhar and Ilayaraja joined forces once again in 1979, and the songs of Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren soared to dizzying heights in the popularity charts.
And Sridhar was not the only oldtimer who shifted his loyalty to IR. Chinnappa Devar had passed away the previous year when Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam was being made. Though Thayillamal Naanillai which followed continued to have S-G's music, R.Thyagarajan and C.Dhandayudhapani who took over the reigns of the venerable production house, shifted to Ilayaraja for their next venture Annai Or Aalayam.
IR composed music for 5 films of Sivaji Ganesan in 1979 (Kavarimaan, Nallathoru Kudumbam, Vetrikku Oruvan, Pattakkathi Bhairavan & Naan Vaazhavaippen). Sivakumar's 100th film Rosapoo Ravikaikkaaari was a runaway hit, with IR's songs therein becoming immensely popular.
Needless to say, the "renaissance" filmmakers like Mahendran (Uthiripookal) and Bharathiraja (Pudhiya Vaarpugal, Niram Maaraatha Pookal) continued their triumphant teamwork with IR. In short, it was a great year for IR!
Let us now look at MSV's works in 1979. 23 films came his way this year. He won the TN Government's Award for Best Music Director in 1978-79. The Mellisai Mannar glittered in all his glory in KB's musical "Ninaithaale Inikkum". The film's tag line was "Ithu oru innisai mazhai", and innisai mazhai it sure was. It was a fantastic album by MSV, and it was powerful proof that his infinite capacities were undiminished in the least. His music for other films like Sivaji's 200th milestone Thirisoolam, Noolveli, Kizhakkum Merkkum Sandhikkindrana, Suprapaadham, Orey vaanam Orey Bhoomi, Neela Malargal, Imayam and Thisai Maariya Paravaigal won both critical acclaim and mass approbation.
Shankar-Ganesh continued their prolific assembly-line products; with some brilliant exceptions as evidence of their seldom employed creative skills. Thayillamal Naanillai, Neeya, Maanthoppu Kiliye, Kannipparuvathile, Adukku Malli and Ennadi Meenakshi were among their better offerings this year.
KVM's music for the mythological "Gnanakkuzhandhai" was highly appreciated; and his songs for Enippadigal (remade from the Telugu hit Seethamaalakshmi) stayed put in the popularity charts for a while. V.Kumar inconspicuously went about making mellifluous music for 3 films: Nadagame Ulagam, Alankari and Nangooram, the last mentioned being a memorable collaboration with the Sri Lankan Maestro Khemadasa. Vijayabhaskar composed music for 2 films, unfortunately for him; both Vizhippu and Neethiya Niyayama were not destined to ever see the inside of a projector room.
The remarkable Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi composed music for Appothey Sonneney Kaettiya. Kunnakkudi Vaidhyanathan created some scintillating semiclassical songs for Kandhar Alankaram, a film that he co-produced along with Gemini Ranganathan. Shyam continued to impress with his music in films like Devadhai, Panchakalyani, Nee Sirithaal Naan Sirippen and Naan Nandri Solven. Singer Tharapuram Sundararajan composed some good songs for Neechal Kulam. Jaya-Vijaya's excellent work in Paappaathi went mostly unnoticed.
It was in this year that the multi-faceted Gangai Amaran made his debut as a Music Director. Though his first film Malargalile Aval Malligai proved to be a nonstarter, Radio Ceylon ensured that its songs came alive on its airwaves. GA's next film was Karai Kadantha Oruthi. Suvar Illatha Chithirangal and Oru Vidukathai Oru Thodarkathai were the other films that came out in GA's music this year.
G.K.Venkatesh gave spellbinding music for Malligai Mohini. Salil Chowdhry's album Azhiyaadha Kolangal has rightfully earned a place of pride in the annals of tfm. The revered V.Dakshinamoorthi ("Swami") composed some lilting songs for Oru Koyil Iru Deepangal. Veteran G.Devarajan bagged I.V.Sasi's Alaavudeenum Arputha Vilakkum. A.T.Ummer and K.J.Joy were the other composers from Kerala who ventured into tfm this year, scoring music for Anbin Alaigal and Yarukku Yaar Kaaval respectively. Rajan-Nagendra repeated their success story in Veetukku Veedu Vaasappadi, the remake of their Telugu hit Intinti Ramayanam.
That wraps up our cursory look at the various MDs and their works in 1979. Now let us focus on the female singers (apart from VJ, whose works we"ll presently take up one by one) and their songs in 1979:
We have to, of course, commence with S.Janaki, for her glorious innings continued uninterrupted this year too. Firmly established as IR's prima donna, she sang so many wonderful songs for him this year - "Azhagiya kanne" & "Naan paada varuvaai" (Uthiripookkal), "Thaamthaa theemtha" (Pagalil Oru Iravu), "En ragangal" (Mudhal Iravu), "Ninaithaal inikkum" (Kalyanaraman), "Chinna china paathi katti" (Chakkalathi), "Engengo sellum en ennangal" (Pattakkathi Bhairavan), "Vaan megangale" (Pudhiya Vaarpugal), "Aagaaya gangai" (Dharma Yuddham), "Kannmaniye kaadhal enbathu" (Aarilirundhu Arubathuvarai), "Naan oru rani" (Mugathil Mugam Paarkkalaam), "Kodi inbam meni engum" (Nenjilaadum Poo Ondru), "Maalai nera kaatre" (Agal Vilakku), a small sample from the precious IR-SJ kitty of 1979.
Her songs for other MDs were no less enthralling: "Engey unnai kandaal kooda" & "Indha paadalai paadipaar" (both Chithira Chevvanam), "Angatha naattil vaazhnthirundhaale" (Neela Malargal), "Ninaithaale inikkum" (Ninaithaale Inikkum), "Raja vaada singakkutti" (Thisai Maariya Paravaigal), "Adhukku piragu thaan adhu" (Velli Ratham), "Coimbathooru kozhunthu vethalai" (Porter Ponnusami) were some of the songs that she got to sing for MSV this year. S-G happened to compose for a stupendous hit called Kannipparuvathile, and SJ was the only female singer in the album - "Aaavaram poomeni", "Pattu vanna rosavaam" and "Adi ammadi chinnapponnu" were songs that hogged airtime all day long. "En raajaathi puthu rojaappoo" (Panchabootham), "Oru kodi inbangal" (Neeya), "Kaalaippozhuthu vidindhadhu" (Rajarajeswari) and "Maanamaruthaiyile" (Inikkum Ilamai) were her other popular works for S-G this year. Like IR, GA too gave SJ some memorable songs in his very first year as MD. "Poove malligai poove" (Malargalile Aval Malligai), "Odathile thaneeru" (Karai Kadantha Oruthi), "Nayagan avan oru puram" & "Vidukathai ondru" (both from Oru Vidukathai Oru Thodarkathai) and "Kaadhal vaibogamey" ( Suvar Illatha Chithirangal). Shyam gave SJ a wonderful song this year: "Galeer galeer" (Devadhai). Other MDs with whom SJ worked this year were V.Kumar ("Aalayam nayagan"/ Nangooram), Salil Chowdhry ("Kedacha unakku sugam" / Azhiyatha Kolangal), GKV ( "Naan ketten" & "Sringara sangeethame" /Malligai Mohini), Tharapuram Sundararajan ( "Aadi padhinettu" /Neechal Kulam), A.T.Ummer ( "Magane kelada" / Anbin Alaigal), and Rajan- Nagendra (Aadal paadal kaadhal enbathu/ Veettukku Veedu Vasappadi). Kunnakkudi Vaidhyanathan entrusted her with the lovely "Senthoor nayagan thirukkolam" (Kandhar Alankaram) and SJ did ample justice to that long song punctuated with intricate passages.
P.Suseela too got to sing some remarkable songs in 1979. Her songs for IR this year included some unforgettable ones like "Raja china raja" (Poonthalir), "Aasai nenjin kanavugal" (Mugathil Mugam Paarkalaam), "Sindhu nadhikkaraiyoram" (Nallathoru Kudumbam), "Manjal nilavukku indru" (Mudhal Iravu), "Thirutheril varum silaiyo" (Naan Vaazhavaippen), "Thenna marathile thendral adikkuthu" (Lakshmi) and "Nadhiyoram" (Annai Or Aalayam). MSV continued to give her some good songs this year - a sample: " Madurai Meenaatchi manikkarathil" (Chellakkili), "Yaadhum oorey" (Ninaithaale Inikkum), "Sorgathile naam adiyeduthom" (Orey Vaanam Orey Bhoomi), "Aasaiyulla maapillaikku" (Neethikku Mun Neeya Naana), "Kalaimagal alaimagal" (Velliratham), "Maadham oru poo malarum" (Neela Malargal) KVM gave her the brilliant "Osai kodutha nayagiye" and the fervent "Thodudaya seviyan" (both Gnanakkuzhanthai) and "Poonthenil kalandhu", "Yenunga maapillai" & "Kannizhandha pillaikku" in Eanippadigal. Her songs for S-G this year included "Vadivelan manasu vechaan" (Thaayillamal Naanillai), "Unnai ethanai murai paarthaalum" & "Naan kattil mele kanden" (both Neeya) and "Enakkoru kadhai sollu kanne" (Nenjukku Neethi). The other MDs whom she sang for this year were Salil Chowdhry ("Poo vannam"/ Azhiyatha Kolangal), V.Kumar (" Saami Sathiyam" / Nadame Ulagam & "Penngal pol" /Nangooram), GA ("Sindhu nadhiyoram" & "Isaiyinile ragam"/ both Malargalile Aval Malligai), K.J.Joy ("Sippiyin ulley"/ Yaarukku Yaar Kaaval), V.Dakshinamoorthi (Muthu muthu punnagaiye"/ Oru Koyil Iru Deepangal) and Rajan- Nagendra (Veetukku Veedu Vaasappadi)
L.R.Eswari struck gold with "Ananda thaandavamo" and "Inimai niraindha ulagamirukku" (Ninaithaale Inikkum). MSV gave her some more songs like "Yendiyamma vetkam enna" (Porter Ponnusami), "Chittalu chittalu" (Chithira Chevvanam), "Adra melathai raja" (Thisai Maariya Paravaigal), "Seettattm podhum" (Chellakkili) and "Kodikkatti parakkudhada" (Kuppathu Raja). She sang her second song for IR this year- "One and two cha cha cha" (Nallathoru Kudumbam). KVM made her sing "Kollimalai kaattukulle" (Gnanakkuzhanthai). Ganesh (of S-G) sang a duet with her - "Kaal odiya" in Urangaatha Kanngal. V.Kumar too gave her a song this year - "Krishnayya Ramaiyya" (Alankari).
Among the other veterans, the Soolamangalam Sisters Jayalakshmi & Rajalakshmi sang "Kandhanukku alangaram Kandharalangaram" in Kandhar Alankaram. IR paid a rich tribute to the legendary S.Varalakshmi by making her sing "Sollavallayo kiliye" in Kavarimaan. Varalakshmi also sang a short devotional verse in Suvar Illatha Chithirangal. Bangalore A.R.Ramani Ammal sang "Modhakamum adhirasamum vaikkindrom" in Velum Mayilum Thunai.
Jency Anthony had made a grand arrival the previous year and her success story continued this year too. Her songs this year were "Thamthana namthana" & "Idhayam poguthey" (both Pudhiya Vaarpugal), "Iru paravaigal" & "Aayiram malargaley" ( Niram Maaratha Pookal), "Geetha Sangeetha" (Anbe Sangeetha), "Mayile mayile" (Kadavul Amaitha Medai), "Thottam konda rasave" (Pagalil Oru Iravu), "Hey masthana" (Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren) and "Akka oru rajaathi" (Mugathil Mugam Paarkkalaam) – her success ratio was something astounding!
1979 was a very special year for S.P.Shailaja. Having entered tfm the previous year humming for her brother"s "Mazhai tharumo en megam", she became a full-fledged singer this year. And with IR taking her under his fold, the songs that came her way were many and varied. "Solaikkuyile kaalaikkathire" & "Saamakkozhi" (Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu), "Yetho ninaivugal kanavugal" (Agal Vilakku), "Malargalil aadum ilamai" (Kalyanaraman), "Malaiyaruvi manikkuruvi" (Annai Or aalayam), "Manathil enna ninaivugalo" (Poonthalir), "Aayiram malargale" (Niram Maaraatha Pookal), "Ada poyya poyya ulagam perisu" (Dharmayuddham), "Appavoda kalyanam paaru" (Uthirippookal), "Maaman oru naal malligaippoo koduthaan" (Rosappo Ravikkaikkaari)—these are a representative sample of the songs that IR gave SPS this year. Shailaja, then just in her teens, had the enviable record of singing with two great singers in 1979: TMS ("Muthamizh sarame" /Vetrikku Oruvan/ IR) and PBS (Maalai mayanginaal iravaagum"/ Inikkum Ilamai/ S-G). GA gave her the haunting "Aadidum odamaai" (Suvar Illatha Chithirangal).
B.S.Sasirekha got to sing a great song for IR this year: "Melam kotta neram varum" (Lakshmi), and the song remains among the very best in her long career. Her other songs in 1979 were: "Aanpillai endraalum" (Aarilurundhu Arupathuvarai), "Nee kannil vaazhum" (Agal Vilakku), "Kozhi potta kozhi" (Chakkalathi), "Sevvaname ponmegame" (Nallathoru Kudumbam), "Imayam kanden" (Imayam), "Endhan karpanai theril" (Sri Ramajayam), "Vennila vellithattu" (Kali Koyil Kabali) and "Paalukku aadai" (Rajarajeswari).
Kalyani Menon made her debut in tfm in 1979 with "Sevvaname Ponmegame" (Nallathoru Kudumbam). Usha Uthup "pop"ped in this year too: "Dial me dear" (Nadagame Ulagam). Poorani sang 2 songs for GA this year: "Adi ennoda vaadi" (Oru Vidukathai Oru Thodarkathai) and "Vaanam poo sindhattum" (Malargalile Aval Malligai). K.Swarna sang "Illai illai nee illamal" and "Oru paarvai paarkkumpothu" (Nangooram) in her husband's music. S.Sarala got to sing "Unakenna thane innerama" in Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu. Manorama sang a few songs this year too - "Azhutha pulla sirikkumaam" (Panchabhootham), "Maambalathu poosari dabaikkiraanya" (Aasaikku Vayasillai), "Josiyam nalla josiyam" (Sri Ramajayam) and "Kodikkatti parakkudhada" (Kuppathu Raja).
It was in 1979 that B.Vasantha sang what is perhaps her only song for IR: "Thamthana namthana" (Pudhiya Vaarpugal). Her other songs this year were "Pattathu raja" (Malligai Mohini) and "Anjaaru vayasu" (Inikkum Ilamai). T.K.Kala gave humming support to SPB in "En kannin maniye" (Rajarajeswari). In the same film, she sang another song "Mariamma Mariamma". TKK also sang "Hai dil mushkil" & "Kannimalai kaattukkulle" in Paapathi. L.R.Anjali was heard humming in songs like "Naana paaduvathu naana" (Noolveli), "Kannile kudiyirundhu" (Imayam) and the Aasaikku Vayasillai title track. She also sang "Annaiyum Pithavum" in Chellakkili. Abhayambika Balamuralikrishna sang a short Sanskrit verse in Thisai Maariya Paravaigal. Other obscure singers who sang this year were Latha (the Radio Ceylon favourite "Nallavar solle naam ketppom"/ Anbin Alaigal), and Maharani ("Thennamarathin palakkulle"/ Adukku Malli).
So, that was a bird's eye view of tfm's MDs and female singers in 1979. It is also worth noting that in the midst of these films having memorable songs, the year also saw two films that had no songs: Pasi and Kudisai.
It was a year of challenges and competition. Youthful newcomers were proving their mettle alongside senior singers who were still going strong. The arena was crowded and the adept players many. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and VJ made sure that she enriched the plentiful songs that she got to sing with her inimitable artistry. Almost all the leading MDs came to her to breathe lingering life into their diverse compositions. And as a crowning glory, VJ was awarded the T.N. Govt's Best Female Playback Singer Award for 1978-79, for her soulful "En kalyna vaibogam unnoduthaan" (Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren/ IR).
Aayiram aandugal aayiram piravigal - Adukku Malli
Meena Art Pictures" Adukku Malli starred Vijayakumar, Sujatha, Thengai Srinivasan, Y.G.Mahendran, Vanitha, J.Lalitha and others. It was scripted and directed by "Iyakkunar Thilagam" K.S.Goplakrishnan.
The film had 3 songs:
It was a usual heart-rending family story. The eldest brother Vasu (Vijayakumar) and his wife Radha (Sujatha) take loving care of the entire family. Their happiness is shortlived, for Vijayakumar is diagnosed with terminal cancer and soon breathes his last. The college-educated second brother marries his beloved, and goes his separate way. How Radha, with the help of the loyal family friend Ismail (Thengai Srinivasan) manages to bring up the family forms rest of the story. Nothing new in the proceedings, but KSG's moving emotional dialogues and Sujatha's understanding performance ensured the success of the film. And KSG had the last laugh, for many were his detractors who had earlier scorned him for daring to take a black & white film in 1979, with no saleable hero to boot.
This song finds place in the earlier portions of the film, when the tranquil home has no foreboding of the storm that is soon to strike at its roots. It is the 8th wedding anniversary of Vasu and Radha, and the family celebrates the occasion in a grand manner. And when Radha is cajoled by all to sing a sing, she sings shyly of her desire to be born again and again, and prays to be blessed with the same family and friends in each birth.
She lovingly mentions each member of the family - her children, sister-in-law, brothers-in-law, her husband, the faithful Ismail; and implores the Almighty to keep all of them by her side forever.
VJ paints a heartwarming picture of serene domestic bliss; her tone brims with tender affection. This song has now become a rarity, though I can vividly recall the time when it was asked for so often by listeners of Radio Ceylon and Vividh Bharathi. Listen and feel VJ"s magic come alive.
Saramsaramaai shenbagappoo - Porter Ponnusami
We had started with 1979 with an enthralling S-G song. However, as we usually complete enumerating Vani's songs for MSV before proceeding to her works with other MDs, let us do the same this year too. We'll continue with her songs for S-G after looking at the MSV-VJ collaborations in 1979.
Jeppiar Pictures' Porter Ponnusami starred Thengai Srinivasan in the lead role, supported by Vadivukkarasi, Kanthimathi, Adiyaar & others. It was produced by Jeppiar, who was an important member of the MGR coterie. He is now an acclaimed educationist, having established a group of colleges in Chennai.
I have seen the film many years back on TV. Usual story of a Good Samaritan, Ponnusami, who faces many ordeals, yet never wavers from his principled path.
The songs in the film were:
"Saramsaramaai" (Lyrics: "Ilakkia Thendral" Adiyaar) seems to be a joyous song sung by a girl in the threshold of wedlock, and is bubbling with buoyant dreams of her happy future.
VJ mirrors with perfect understanding, the thoughts and feelings of a maiden excitedly awaiting her marriage. If she sounds delightfully coy in "thottu vittaal pani vadhanam", she seems to burst with feverish joy in "sadaiyile manakkuthu shenbagappoo". Her varied repetitions of "maname--maname--maname--" succinctly summarize the kaleidoscope of surging emotions!
Naana paaduvathu naana - Noolveli
Kalakendra Movies' Noolveli was adapted from the Malayalam film Aa Nimisham(1977, Directed by I.V.Sashi Stg. Sridevi, Ravikumar).
Noolveli starred Saratbabu, Sujata, Sarita, Ramanamoorthi, Narayana Rao, Anumanthu and others. It was directed by K.Balachandar, and he was ably assisted in its screenplay and dialogues by the late Ananthu. It was a color film and had cinematography by B.S.Loknath. It was produced by Kalakendra Govindarajan & Duraiswami.
A rather bold theme of a married man who, in a mad moment of weakness, seduces a girl who is their ward. His wife unexpectedly witnesses the despicable act. The reactions, feelings, happenings in the aftermath form rest of the story. The film was strengthened by KB's seasoned handling of a sensitive theme, and powerful performances by the three lead players: Saratbabu in the role of the remorse-torn architect Babu, Sujata in the role of his wife the writer Vidya, and Sarita in the role of Baby the innocent girl nextdoor who grows up overnight to a woman wrecked by guilt.
MSV and Kannadasan, as usual for a KB venture, came up with a set of memorable songs:
"Naana paaduvathu naana" finds place in the happier early segments of the story. The two neighbouring families have come for a picnic in VGP Golden Resort, and they spend the day in fun and frolic. One of the games they play involves drawing lots and fulfilling the commands prescribed therein. The servant Thirupathi (Anumanthu) is asked to attach a false moustache, Baby's mother, Sreemathi is asked to dance, Baby is asked to do sit-ups, and Vidya in her turn, is asked to sing a duet. Though she demurs initially, she commences this song after enthusiastic encouragement from Babu.
"Naana paaduvathu naana
"Very good!", says Babu (SPB) approvingly, and Vidya giggles self-consciously, with Babu joining in her amusement. He further encourages her thus:
isaikkolam un mangalam
Vidya, who has never tried singing before, explains the priorities in her life, and laments her ignorance of music:
Kothai en nenjile
Babu laughs off this candid admission of her musical limitations, and disproves her statement by gently reminding her that a mother"s lullaby is also music, and being a mother, she was inherently musical!
Not quite convinced by his contention, Vidya continues:
Babu explains that the desire to sing is motivation enough; the song will flow by itself:
Neendhum neram vandhaal
A heartwarming husband-wife banter, with SPB, VJ and LRA (who hums for Baby in the interludes) singing with perception and characteristic aplomb. The song was immensely popular in its time, and even now ranks among the very few songs from the 70s that somehow manage to find airtime.
Veenai sirippu aasai azhaippu - Noolveli
To the best of my memory, this wonderful song didn't make it to the film. And after having watched the film, I wondered where it could have possibly found place, for the story had no space left for any other song, especially a breezy romantic duet like this. Perhaps it was a dream song for Vidya's brother Mouli (Narayana Rao), who falls for the mischievous Baby. (But he too had a great SPB solo "Therottam" ). Or was it a duet between Babu & Vidya after all?
SPB begins his essay with his infectious gusto:
VJ's late entry, like an unexpected guest, with "vizhiyorangal kathai pesumo" makes one sit up with a sigh of contentment, and call for another round!
Padhinaaru vayathinile - Sri Ramajayam
RM.Subramaniam's Sri Ramajayam starred Thengai Srinivasan, Sujata & Manorama. I haven't seen the film, but remember clearly a pious old neighbor's disappointment. Beguiled by the religious title, she went to watch the film, and came back with chagrin writ all over her wizened visage, apparently Thengai's name was Ramu, and Sujata's name was Jaya, and that was all there was to the title!
MSV's score was noteworthy (Lyrics by Kannadasan & Netaji):
Endhan karpanai theril ulla karpoorappove - T.L.Maharajan & BSS
VJ's song seems to be that for a reluctant vamp:
Going by the lyrics, it seems to be a usual cabaret number, but there is an unmistakable undercurrent of angst that peeps out in VJ's tone, and this leads us to conclude that the sequence is that of a girl whom circumstances coerce into doing this. VJ effortlessly pulls off this racy high-pitched song, her voice displaying a judicious mixture of the varied emotions that the situation warrants.
Thinthom thinthom endru - Kuppathu Raja
Kuppathu Raja starred Rajinikanth, Vijayakumar, Padmapriya, Manjula, Manorama, Asokan and others. It was produced by Nalini & Aarumugalakshmi, and directed by veteran T.R.Ramanna. Ramanna tried to cash in on Rajinikanth's rapidly growing popularity, but the film's hackneyed story line, and lackluster screenplay put paid to his hopes. The film, released for Pongal 1979 (12.1.79) in Devi Paradise and Maharani theaters in Chennai, could muster only average business. Perhaps this was the only film in which Rajini's pair was Padmapriya.
Kannadasan and MSV teamed up once again, and given the constraints of a clichéd concept, they came up with some good songs. The two VJ songs were perhaps the only mellifluous moments in a largely strident and violence-dominated film. The other two songs were "Puli varuguthu puli varuguthu kaatta vittu nattukkulle" (SPB/SJ) and "Kodi katti parakkudhada kaalam kudisaikku porakkudhada" (TMS/MV/LRE/Manorama).
This song brings in the ambience of a "kotha" - a North-Indian concept, but cleverly juxtaposes it in a southern milieu. In the 19th century and earlier decades of the 20th century, feudal aristrocrats in the North (Nawabs, Zamindars, Rajas) were great patrons of art and leisure, and nurtured the growth and development of the institution of tawaifs, ustanis or baijis (musician-courtesans) who were "class musicians and paragons of high etiquette and culture". They were groomed in dhrupad, dhamar and kheyal styles, and thumri and tappa, dadra, hori, chaiti etc. were their forte. Native rulers had their "jalsaghars" (concert halls) where on auspicious occasions mehfils were held and tawaifs were invited for their "mujra". Gharanedar tawaifs known as "deredars" had their own "kotha" (salon) where "mujra" presentation before a distinguished gathering of music loving rais and landed aristocracy was a routine evening event. Lucknow, Patna, Gaya, Benaras and even Calcutta were the centres famed for such soirees.
Hindi films abound in such songs, (mostly a crass portrayal of a girl dancing, an avaricious "madam" looking on and nodding enthusiastically, while leering men loll on the cushioned floor, smoking the hookah, drinking from multicolored goblets, throwing money in the air, generous with their "waah—waah" exclamations!) while films like "Umrao Jaan" revolved around such legendary characters.
Though this concept seems quite incongruous in a South Indian setting (with the possible exception of Hyderabad), we have had many Tamil film songs depicting a Kotha - a clever filmmaker would make it happen in either Bombay or Hyderabad! Of course, the dubbed Anarkali and Akbar had such songs in abundance. (Radha) Jayalakshmi startled many of her ardent fans when she sang a lilting "Kotha" number "Kaaya pazhama sollu raja" in Anbu Engae (1958, MD: Veda). PS had a poignant moment in "Sithariya sathangai" (Paavai Vilakku-1960, KVM), and again in the short "Kavathaiyil ezhuthiya kaaviyathalaivi", where S.Varalashmi recites the jathis in the prelude (Kaaviya Thaliavi- 1970, MSV). SJ gave a soulful essay in "Ragasiyam kelada" (Koodi Vaandhaal Kodi Nanmai-1959, T.Chalapathi Rao) and a joyous number in "Vandhavargal vaazhga matravargal varuga" (Engirundho Vandhaal-1970, MSV). We have earlier had VJ singing "Aadab arz tere salam" (Anbu Roja-1975, S-G)
This song, like many of its kind, seems to be sung by a nautch girl who is forced by circumstances into the trade, she pours forth the agony of her profession into the song. What a wonderful alaap VJ commences the soiree with! Another authoritative female voice then commands her to continue to sing, and VJ, after a stifled sob of a helpless anguish, continues with a scintillating classical exercise, before the lyrical and rhythmic Pallavi commences:
Thinthom thinthom endru aadinaal
How fetchingly Kannadasan brings to life the sense of shame and despair that the dancer experiences, as she wryly reflects on her life, and the lecherous men who frequent the house to satisfy their lust. She forlornly details the despicable acts of the men who having paid for her services, force her into shameful submission. Even then, her faith in the Almighty remains undiminished, as she implores Him to rescue her from her appalling plight.
MSV provides an excellent tabla support to VJ throughout the song, as she weaves magic on the captivating canvas, making this among their memorable collaborations of 1979.
Ammamma aasai pogum vegam - Kuppathu Raja
Another song from the same film. I vaguely remember Padmapriya singing it in a drunken stupor, with a tipsy Rajini looking on.
ammamma aasai pogum vegam
VJ gets into the inebriated mood that the song demands, but never compromises on the clarity of the syllables, and doesn't let even a semblance of crudeness creep into her delineation. The repeated "pogalaam" is such an irresistible summons! The tremulous "Naalai mudhal unnidam kaathal ennum sangamam" is another delicious moment.
Ullam urugaadha - Thisai Maariya Paravaigal
Every morning while driving to work, at a particular interchange, I observe a flock of white birds that come flying towards the North, but suddenly change their course and veer towards the East. And noticing this unfailing sight day after day, I often wonder what makes them do this at that particular point of their flight—are they obeying a summons that only they could perceive? And this film's poetic title keeps popping up invariably!
P.S.V. Pictures' Thisai Maariya Paravaigal starred Saratbabu, Sumalatha (debut), Major Sundararajan, G.Srinivasan, M.N.Rajam, V.S.Raghavan, T.V.Kumudini, Veeraraghavan, P.S.Veerappa and others. The film was produced by P.S. Veerappa. Story, dialogue and direction by S.Jagadeesan.
It was an engrossing tale that raised caste-related issues in a refreshing manner. When Ganga (Sumalatha) and Rangamani (Saratbabu) are about to get married, the truth comes out that Ganga is not the daughter of the Unchaviruthi Brahmin G.Srinivasan as supposed, but the child of a low-caste convict Kaali (Major). The subsequent pandemonium that erupts, and Ganga's voluntary conversion to Christianity and becoming Sister Mary, and how she saves Rangamani's life in the end while making the supreme sacrifice herself were all told in a befitting manner. The delicate caste and religious issues needed tight rope walking, and S.Jagadeesan pulled it off successfully.
MSV's score was an important ingredient in the film's success recipe. Kannadasan narrates the twists and turns in the story in a single song "Kizhakku paravai merkku parakkuthu" and TMS is ideally placed in the role of the raconteur. The wonderful JC-SJ (with some kids joining the fun) song "Raja vaada singakkutti" (also by Kannadasan) was a Radio Ceylon favorite. Listening to Abhayambika's short Sanskrit verse, followed by Balamuralikrishna's soulful rendition of Vallalaar's "Arutjothi deivam ennai aandukkonda deivam" is a moving experience. Pulamaipithan's "Adra melathai raja" (Kovai Soundararajan/LRE) is a bold attempt to expose some of society's hypocrisies.
The situation of "ullam urugathaa" is an arresting irony. Kaasi Paati (T.V.Kumudini), who had valiantly waged a doomed war for society's acceptance of Ganga, is now on her deathbed. She expresses her dying wish to her grandson Rangamani – as in earlier, happier times, she wants to listen to Ganga play the veenai and sing a devotional song. Rangamani hesitates, for Ganga is not Ganga of yore, she is now Sister Mary. But when Kaasi Paati herself entreats Mary ("Karthar melae paada vendiyavala, Kandan melae paada solrennu thappa ninaikkadhe"), Mary cannot refuse this request of the beloved Paati.
And so we get see the remarkable sight of a Sister of the seminary singing an emotional paean to Lord Muruga. The Maadha Koyil mezhuguvathi goes back to glitter as an agrahaarathu agal vilakku, albeit for a brief transitory moment, and who else but VJ to masterfully enact this definitive moment, penned by Kannadasan, and crafted by MSV.
Neeradi paatuduthi nindravargal yaavarkkum
This is soulful recitation with which the song commences. The fast movements on the Veenai, followed swiftly by the somber church music bring out the paradox and this juxtaposition is interspersed throughout the song.
What a fervent appeal to the Lord! VJ scintillates in this stirring song, surcharged with emotion. "Kanda azhagu thirukkumara, Senthil amudha vadivazhaga", what a moving rendition! Exquisite!
The distant tolling of the Church bells is heard, even as Mary plays the veenai at Kaasi Paati's bedside. And as she bends over the veenai, the shadow of the cross that hangs from her chain falls on the framed picture of Muruga. Kaasi paati's eyes brim with tears of bliss, and as the song ends, her soul is freed from the shackles of human bondage and passes on, her last wish fulfilled. Mary prays for her soul to repose in peace, and leaves the house. Love and affection know no restraints of religion or caste.
En kanngal seiyum kaadhalile - Karunamoorthi
VC Enterprises' Karunamoorthi was a celluloid adaptation of the story of Jesus Christ, starring Vijayachander in the title role. It was directed by Fr.Christopher Coilo, who had written the screenplay as well. I have hazy recollections of the seeing the songs on TV at the time when the film was released. The record cover shows the Telugu actor Jaggiah as well, leading to the surmise that the film may have been dubbed from Telugu.
The lyrics were by Kannadasan and the songs were:
Varugirathu karunai ratham - SPB
Joseph Krishna was the chief assistant of MSV in the 70s, taking over the privileged place of illustrious musicians like GKV, Henry Daniel and R.Govarthanam. JK was highly talented, and said to be a wizard on the piano and the (western classical) violin. He was in charge of the orchestrations/ arrangements in the Mellisai Mannar's troupe. I have heard an interview of JC wherein he had words of high commendation for Joseph Krishna, and said that akin to Pugazhendhi for KVM, in MSV's ensemble it was JK who jotted down the notations, taught the instrumentalists, and coordinated their pieces. You can hear JK's voice humming along with LRE in the song 'nee ennai sandhithadhundo' (Unakkaga Naan-1976)
I don't think JK composed music for any other film (no info on Goplan, btw). However, I have listened to some of his Christian devotional songs that used to be aired on AIR.
This song seems to be for a vamp of ancient times; the music has imposing Arabian flourishes, and fast paced arresting interludes. MSV's influence is palpable in places, and VJ's grand essay enhances the song's appeal manifold:
En kanngal seiyyum kaadhalilae
The opening humming is an early indication of the banquet that is sure to follow, and the VJ's seductive pallavi is persuasive. Breathtaking are heights at which VJ soars so gracefully throughout - adhae oru vindhai!
Ellam avan seithathu - Appothae Sonnaenae Kaettiya
Sashti Films' Appothae Sonnaenae Kaettiya starred Jaiganesh. I have no further information on this film, but I guess it must be produced/directed by V.T.Arasu, who earlier produced films like Manam Oru Kurangu (1967), Karpooram (1967) and Magizhampoo (1969) under the banner Sashti Films and Dharisanam(1970) and Tiger Thathachari (1974) under the banner Sendhoor Films.
Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi was the VT Arasu's sister-in-law, and perceiving her exceptional music skills, he must have given her an opportunity to compose music for his film Dharisanam (His earlier 3 films had music by D.B.Ramachandran). And SR winningly justified the trust that was placed on her by coming out with an immortal number in 'Idhu maalai nerathu mayakkam' (TMS/LRE). The other films that she composed music for in the later years were Tiger Thathachari- 1974, Appodhae Sonnenae Kaettiya- 1979 and Pillaiyar- 1984.
For more on the remarkable Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi: http://tfmpage.com/forum/7420.20880.03.21.22.html
All things bright and beautiful,
Kannadasan echoes the same sentiments in this captivating song. He enumerates the wonderful creations of the Almighty, and the song takes on the hue of a fetching sermon by a mother and father to their tiny children, detailing the infinite grace of the Supreme Lord, and praying for their well being and bright future.
Ellaam avan seidhadhu
I have loved this song ever since I first heard it as a child. It is so fervently appealing in the lyrics, so soothingly serene in its music, and so enticing in the singers' rendition, that the charm is as spellbinding as ever even now.
Thirumaalin thirumaarbil - Thirisoolam
Rajkumar's Kannada film Shankar Guru (1978/ Dakshayani Combines) was a mammoth success. Directed by V.Somashekhar and having catchy songs tuned by Upendrakumar, the film starring Rajkumar in a triple role and co-starring Padmapriya and Jayamala, made box office history.
Wishing to make his 200th film a memorable milestone, Sivaji Ganesan set about remaking Shankar Guru in Tamil under his own Sivaji Productions banner. Thirisoolam, besides having the thespian playing 3 roles, starred K.R.Vijaya, Sripriya, Reena, Jaiganesh, Nambiar, V.K.R, Pushpalatha and others. Directed by K.Vijayan, the film was released on 27.1.1979. Despite a clichéd story line and Sivaji's garish coats and preposterous wigs, the film celebrated an uninterrupted 200-day run all over the state. The celebrations were particularly boisterous in Shanthi, Crown and Bhuvaneswari theatres in Madras, where Sivaji's films were usually released.
Sivaji played 3 roles, that of the patriarch Rajashekhar, who to escape facing the gallows for a crime he did not commit, runs away deserting his wife Sumathi (KRV), and those of his two sons, Shankar and Guru who are separated at birth. How the sons unite to bring the real criminals to justice forms rest of the tale.
The repeat success of the story emboldened S.Ramanathan to remake it in Hindi but Mahaan (1983/Sathya Chitra International) starring Amitabh Bachchan, Waheeda Rahman, Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman didn't fare as well as its South Indian versions.
Kannadasan and MSV ensured a superb set of songs this landmark venture. MSV assigned TMS to sing for Rajashekhar, KJY for the sedate Shankar and SPB for the mischievous Guru. Thus we had TMS singing 'malar koduthEn' (both happy and pathos versions), KJY singing 'thirumaalin thirumaarbil sreedEvi mugamE', and SPB crooning 'en raajaathi vaarungadi' and 'kaadhal rani kattikiaNaikka', and as a fitting finale KJY and SPB proclaiming in unison 'iraNdu kaigaL naangaanaal'. VJ had the singular honor of being the only female singer to find place in Sivaji's 200th film. (Of course, she had sung in the Kannada Shankar Guru as well, 'Yaeneno aase nithanda baashe' with Rajkumar himself!)
This song had Sivaji and Reena romancing in the picturesque locales of Kashmir.
"Ghar firdaus bar ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto" - Loosely translated, this famous Persian couplet declares of Kashmir "If there is heaven anywhere on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here". This song showed in glorious color the couple cuddling together in a beautiful Shikhara on the placid Dal lake, strolling amidst sylvan tree-lined avenues of the magnificent Shalimar Gardens, stealing an intimate moment as the snow-capped mountains impassively look on, lost in quite another intimate heaven of their own!
It is said that Sivaji was so enchanted by MSV's 'ninaivaalE silai seidhu unakkaga vaithEn' that was part of the Andhamaan Kaathali album the previous year, that he requested MSV to come up with a similar melody for Thirisoolam, and the result was this delightful duet. There are 3 charanams, and MSV ensures that each interlude in equally enticing. KJY and VJ add to the allure, making this song a memorable creation. The delectable way in which VJ renders her lines "pudhu malar thaalattu, thazhuvidum poonkaatRu, manmathan rathidEvi viLaiyaadum kOlam, naanum.. neeyum.. avvaNNamE', and hands over the charanam to KJY, who in turn picks it up with a dreamy 'maalai ragathin ananda mayakkamE, mangala thEn sindha vaa' is of lingering appeal.
Gangai Yamunai - Imayam
Mukta Films' Imayam (released on 21.7.1979, its exactly 25 years today!) starred Sivaji Ganesan, Srividya, Jaiganesh, Meera, Reena, Thengai Srinivasan, Manorama and others. Imayam was scripted by A.S.Prakasam, produced by Mukta Ramaswami and directed by Mukta Srinivasan. If the Andamans were the backdrop of Mukta's Andhamaan Kaadhali the previous year, in Imayam, the proceedings were set in scenic Nepal.
Mukta added an innovative touch by naming all the characters after the major Indian rivers. Thus Sivaji played Ganga(dharan), Srividya played his wife Yamuna, and so on. That was the only interesting part of the movie, the story was humdrum. Sivaji tries to disclose the true colors of the wily Jaiganesh whom the world thinks to be a paragon of virtues, and how Jaiganesh thwarts his bid each time fills the reels.
Kannadasan and MSV came up with some good songs again:
gangai yamunai inguthaan sangamam - KJY,VJ
This song has Sivaji sporting a Gurkha cap and romancing with Srividya at the foothills of the towering Himalayas:
MSV ushers in the majesty of the mountains with an arresting prelude, and the pallavi continues the enchantment. When I heard the song as a child, I particularly remember enjoying the overlapping of voices; VJ begins with 'yamunai' even as KJY prolongs the last syllable of 'gangai', and they continue thus. The charanams consist of only two lines each, but a careful repetition of each line makes them seem longer. Kannadasan's poetic flourish is evident in 'oorgOla mEgangaL thaalaattu paadamal pinnalE neLigindRa kOlam enna' and the clever rejoinder 'kaarkaalam maaRaamal kalyaNam aagaamal thaaLadha nilaikaNdum kELvi enna!'
Rajaathi kungumam - Mangala Vadyam
Sarigamapadhanee Films' "Mangala Vadyam" was MSV's own production, directed by K.Shankar. The film starred Kamalhasan, Sripriya, Kanthimathi, V.K.R, Srikanth, Nagesh, YGM and others. A clichéd story of a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law standoff, with the stammering Kamal in between, the film was a massive flop. Strangely enough, MSV's score, and that too for his own film, was largely disappointing, despite Kannadasan's lyrics.
veLLaikkakka mallakka paRakkudhu - TMS
And save "raajaathi kungumam", no other song is worth recollecting today. "rajaathi kungumam", a dream song filmed on Kamal and Sripriya is a dainty duet. And notwithstanding the film biting the dust, this song was popular in its time.
rajaathi kungumam singaram
A grand prelude, nadhaswaram being employed imaginatively in the interlude to suit the title, and VJ entering with "mannanavn madiyE simmasanam".
Idhu irava pagala - Neela Malargal
Sabari Cines' "Neela malargal" starred Kamalhasan, Sridevi, K.R.Vijaya, Major Sundararajan, Nagesh and others. It was directed by the veteran duo Krishnan-Panju.
Neela Malargal was the Tamil adaptation of Shakthi Samanta's Hindi film Anuraag (1972/Shakthi films). Anuraag starred Vinod Mehra, Moushmi Chatterjee, Nutan and Ashok Kumar. The story revolved around a small boy who wins everyone's heart with his good nature, and is suddenly diagnosed with cancer. The heartrending sequences in the aftermath of this discovery, leading to the inevitable end fill rest of the reels.
MSV and Kannadasan came up with some good songs for neela malargaL:
pEsum maNi muthu rOjakkaL - SPB & chorus
Kamal played a young doctor, and Sridevi, a blind artisan, whom Kamal falls in love with. (Of course, in the end, Sridevi gets back her vision, thanks to the little boy whose dying wish was that his eyes be donated to her!).
This song is memorable duet, sung wonderfully by KJY & VJ. The Hindi equivalent is the Rafi/Lata duet "tere nainon ke main deep jalaoonga" (woh kya hai? ek mandir hai!).
idhu iravaa pagalaa
Unable to see, she asks him various questions, to which he responds with love-filled counter-questions! To cap it all, when she queries "ingu kiLi thaan azhagaa", he declares unhesiatatingly, "un azhgE azhagu". Lilting interludes, charanams that flow so beautifully…the mellisai mannar in his elements here.
Naan ramanaippOl oru avathaaram - Aasaikku Vayasillai
I have tried in vain to get information about Shanmugam Cine Enterprises' "Aasaikku vayasillai". I have not seen the film or even its songs on TV. I have heard that Muthuraman played a middle-aged married man who suddenly falls for a younger woman. Hope someone can give more details.
The songs however, were popular and were often heard on radio.
aasaikku vayasillai adhai adaikkiya manasillai - MSV/L.R.Anjalai & chorus
In "naan ramanaippOlru avathaaram", he proclaims his steadfast loyalty to his wife, who in turn reciprocates with affection:
naan ramanaippOloru avathaaram
A mellifluous, semi-classical composition. JC and VJ, once again, do full justice to the song; hark at their enticing humming that leads back to the pallavi.
Kuzhaloodhum kannan - Aasaikku Vayasillai
A bewitching VJ solo.
An unforgettable instance of VJ's consummate artistry, the soulful beginning of the charanam "neela nilavil neelambariyil", the slight tremor as she sings "aNaithida vandhaan thudithEnE", the ache of love that is evident in "kodhithidum mEni", evocative moments to be treasured and savoured.
Kannanai ninaithaal - Suprabatham
We had earlier seen how K.Shankar had tasted success in varuvaan vadivElan, by rediscovering the magical combination of mythology laced with social themes. In the following years, he kept repeating the formula, setting his themes against a diverse range of mythological lore.
PVT Productions' "Suprabatham" was the next in the series. The film dwelt on Vaishanavite shrines and beliefs, set against the backdrop of some common people and interesting happenings in their lives. The film was produced by P.V.Thulasiram. K.R.Vijaya, Saratbabu, Muthuraman, Nambiar, Latha, Jaiganesh, Sripriya and many others were in the cast.
Kannadasan wrote the lyrics, which were set to tune by MSV. VJ found place in 4 of the songs. The 5th song was "unnaithaan nee aRivaai, ulagengum naan aRivEn" by TMS & PS.
This was perhaps the most popular song from the film; a classic duet filmed on Jaiganesh and Latha. If I remember right, Jaiganesh appeared as a sculptor, and MSV intelligently incorporates into the prelude the action of Jaiganesh's busy chisel.
kaNNanai ninaithaal sonnathu palikkum
VJ and KJY present a splendid essay; there are scintillating nuances in each turn. And the reverberating refrain "kaNNa..gOpala" lingers on.
Thirukkoyil katta enni - Suprabatham
A stirring song, sung evocatively by Seergazhi Govindarajan & VJ. Going by the lyrics, he is striving to raise a temple for the Lord, but is beset with disheartening hurdles. Disconsolate, they appeal to Him to help them in their endeavour.
thirukkOyil katta eNNi poruppOdu vandha ennai
VJ makes a fetching entry with
dhinam thOrum sEvai seiyya varavaa
They pray to the Lord in His various glorious abodes (Kanchi, Kumbakonam, Srivilliputhoor, Srirangam, etc). MSV adds a native touch by employing the chendai when they pray to the Lord at Guruvayoor. Chorus voices join the fervent petition.
The long song soars to a cascading crescendo, where he gives the Lord an ultimatum to take their lives if He cannot grant their wish.
Then, like the calm after the storm, VJ calls resonantly "narasimha.. vaikuntaa.. sriranga..", and continues the soulful prayer.
Adi radha, sri krishNan vandhaan - Suprabatham
I seem to remember Sripriya dancing for this scintillating song.
adi radha sri krishNan vandhaan ragasiyam pEsa adi naan avan poojayil ennai marandhEn aanandamaaga poovai eduthEn maalai thoduthEn punnagai vairam aLLi koduthEn sEvai purindhEn thiruvadi meedhu thirumagan azhagukku eediNai yEdhu
The intricately conceived charanams consist of twice-repeated winding lines, filled with beautiful thamizh. And VJ, as usual enjoying the challenge posed by the exacting mellisai mannar, comes out with yet another exquisite rendition at a breathtaking pace.
A marvelous song from Kannadasan, MSV and VJ.
Unmai therindhirukkum oruvanaiyya - Suprabatham
Another soulful VJ solo, this time a poignant plea to the Lord:
uNmai therindhirukkum oruvanaiyya
Her innocent husband has perhaps been wrongly accused of a theft in the temple. She is indignant that ardent devotees like them should be subjected to such an injustice. She confronts the Almighty, accusing Him of turning a blind eye to the travesty. Being omniscient, He is aware of the identity of the true culprit. So why does He put them to such hardships? She vows to cut off her hands if the Lord does not step in and free her husband.
It is a matter of wonder how VJ manages to portray the plethora of varied emotions - chagrin at being let down by the Lord, anger at His continued unperturbed inaction, anguish at her husband's predicament, and steely determination to stir the Lord into coming to their rescue. The cascading emotions, one after the other, parade in glorious nonchalance.