Friday, 22 August 2008


‘Kangalirandal, un kangalirandal’ - this is the song that is haunting me day and night now. And I can say it unabashedly. It is played daily on Vividh Bharati (the old faithful), and on all the Thamizh channels showing songs from new movies.

After a long time, a song the lyrics of which are, should I say, clean enough to be sung loudly without causing any embarrassment to the singer.

I have loved film music, both Thamizh and Hindi from the days of G. Ramanathan and Naushad. It was the melody that caught the imagination then, words had to be learnt, (singing even ‘kaadal’ or ‘pyaar’ in those days was frowned down upon!) and the ultimate pleasure was seeing the song in the movie. And of course, it was not always possible to see all that caught your fancy. TV today has filled that void now with its telecast of old songs.

The music has always been the first thing to attract one to a song – right through Shankar Jaikishan, R. D. Burman, and here in the South, through Viswanathan Ramamurthy and Ilayaraja. And then A. R. Rahman, and a host of others – all very creative.

From the 1980s there was this phenomenon of the words being drowned out by the instruments – now that isn’t always a bad thing, I feel, considering the words of today’s songs. What respectable 60 plus grandma can sing beautiful melodies however sweet they are when the lyrics border on the obscene. Is this what Keats meant when he wrote, “Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter”?

Now here is this song from Subramaniapuram,which is set in the 1980s, in a Carnatic raga with a lilting rhythm by James Vasanthan, romantic words by lyricist Thamarai (she also wrote ‘vaseegara’) and singers Belly Raj and Deepa Mariam (new, I think). The melody is rather like the Ilayaraja number ‘Chinna Kannan azhaikkiran’, possibly because they are both in the raagam Rithi Gowla. The picturisation is pleasing, creating a romantic scenario in which the hero’s endearing smile (despite the bushy beard), and the heroine’s expressive eyes are bonuses.

See if you agree!


Resmi... said...

Hey even I love the song and so do most of my friends. I guess its very soothing and nostalgic. But I have to admit that I don't understand tamil, and so jus listen to it and keep humming. The visuals are also very interesting and simply nice.

Kat said...

That haunting song must've been due to some wish some admirer must've sent on Birthday... about twinkling eyes etc., etc., ?? :-)))

Anonymous said...

Talking about listening to old Hindi film songs:
Perhaps it is all very well now to listen to any Hindi songs played loud in a house in Thiru Mu Ka and Thiru Stalin's Chennai?!! Thiru Mu Ka, the Dravidian now has his representative in Central ministry supporting Sonia and Singh, the archetypical northerners, the Aryans who they pilloried in 1960s. During mid 1960s, the DK and DMK annas and thambis ran amuck in streets of cities and villages of Tamil Nadu in the name of anti-Hindi agitation burning theatres which showed Hindi Films. The Tamil fanatical thugs in Tanjore and Trichy districts (Tamil fanaticism was and perhaps is like Islam fanaticism these days) entered houses where the radio played Hindi songs, broke the radios and cut the sacred threads of old brahmins sitting piously in verandas. There were those DK and DMK thugs who smashed my cousin's car in Mandevellipakkam because his teenange daughters were listening to Hindi songs in the car while it was approaching his house. They were seriously injured. Those were the days RD and SD Burmans, Shankar and Jaikishens had the best lyrical outputs and Hindi Cinema produced some of the best movies. I had to invite my teenage relatives to Mysore to visit Hindi movies without mortal fear and to listen to Vividh Bharathi keeping the radio volume up as loud as they wished. I had no sympathies left when Shiv Sena terrorised in return the Tamils of Matunga.

That was wonderful Tamil Nadu and Chennai in 1965 when Sanskrit in Schools were discouraged and Sanskrit pundits were retired.

Even in the West where I live, these fanatics have never forgotten their Tamil fanaticism which Tamil leaders tap into when they visit these shores. I once pointed out to these fanatics that the great music Trinity of Shyama Sastri, Dikshitar and Thyagaraja were born in Tamil Nadu and composed in languages other Tamil.
The answer was that I a brahmin, an Aryan naturally likes them and the Hindi songs!! I had been to Ujjain , spoke in Kalidasa's festival pointing out how Kalidasa influence Kannada poets, gave some recitations without fear, something I will never try in 'wonderful Chennai'.

Anonymous said...

Is this what Keats meant when he wrote, “Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter”?
There is a misconception that Keats refers to melodies per se. Keats, the young poet suffering from consumption(TB) refers to the world unknown or yonder to him. I am not sure how this quote applies to what you articulated about not singing with the words.

About Riti Gowla and compositions by Illaya Raja. I do not think Illaya Raja and for that matter any composer of light music handled well this 'Gana Raga' which requires as the name implies erudite treatment ('Janani Ninuvina' produces both elation and profound obeisance to the Goddess because of its pure rendering in a strict swara framework)and not amenable to lighter setting which requires Hindustani-style delineation of the raga (raag).

Referring to RD Burman, he was the only one composer who understood the classical music ( Hindustani)well and was a master in handling raag Malkauns. In its Caranatic equivalent Hindolam I wonder whether it is as flexible.

Anil P said...

Absolutely. The joy of listening to them over the radio, with static et al :) By the way I'm getting a new radio.

I agree, melodies would score anyday. I particularly enjoyed Amol Palekar's films and the songs from those movies.

Anonymous said...

Anil P,
Well said. I live in the West for over 30 years and always listen to the radio. For me a computer scientist, technologies have their place, and listening to music (or discussion) over the radio is the best hobby I ever learnt. I agree with you about those old movie songs and best that radio can sqeeze out of them.

Webradio said...

Hello !

Do you like sing ???

Rinkly Rimes said...

Here in Australia we hear a lot about what we call 'Bollywood' films but I've never seen one. However, they're so popular that a recent TV Dance show had a segment in the Bollywood style. I was surprised to hear that Indian songs have dubious lyrics! I always thought it was just the decadent West that had songs so explicit that one had to cover ones ears!!! By the way, I couldn't make the sound of the video work. I would have loved to have heard the song. I'll try again another time. I must say the hero looked very dashing!

Karthik Narayan said...
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Oh, Brenda, hope you are able to listen to the song the next time. I had a similar problem, and when I turned up the volume indicated in the video, it was resolved. Hope it works for you.

As for lyrics in Thamizh movies, most of them are just this side of obscene. I will see if I can get a translation of this to you.

Yes, Resmi, apparently it is the caller tune in many mobiles!

Kat, yes!

Anil, radio is my first love when it comes to listening to music. Hope you have many happy hours of listening on your new radio.

Webradio - thank you for stopping by. Yes I like to sing, too, but whether others like to hear me remains a big question!

Swarna said...
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Salil said...

Hi Raji:
Melodies rule! I think that has been established over the decades by various musicians. I agree that it is become tougher to find good melodies among the barage of songs that comes our way these days.
Nice blog. Would like to hear your views on Malayalam musicians like P Bhaskaran, Baburaj, Ravindran, Ousepachan, etc.

Viji Venkatesh said...

You could not find a more fanatic follower of Hindi film music than moi - but I have always maintained the most melodious and endearing songs are from Tamil films. My all time favourites being Kal ellam Manikka Kal and Eri karayil melai puravale .On can sing them and revel in the sheer pleasure of the lyrics simply flowing from some memory bank deep in the recesses of one's mind - how many of the newer songs can one actually sing without any of the (moslty racous )accompaniment that comes along with them in the name of music? So much dependance on beat and rythym if one cn call them that at all and no melody whatsoever ....a few A R Rahman numbers included I am afraid .

Suchitra said...

You are welcome :) I really enjoy visiting your blog ! And yes, I heard this song and loved it.

Indrani said...

I love listening to music(soft volume), it helps me concentrate.


Salil, Welcome first timer. I do know some Malayalam movie songs, but not many - my own favourites are rather old!
Viji, sometimes our passion for music makes us deaf to the words!
Suchitra , glad you share my taste.
Indrani , yes it helps.

Gurooji said...

I love the song too. Heard it first furtively, when a colleague had downloaded it on her office computer (obviously frowned upon in our uber-secure office), and called me over to listen to it :)

Oh, and belated birthday wishes!

kallu said...

Raji, lovely song... truly and nice to hear it all over again though it is often on Tv and radio..
but in interviews both the hero and heroine look so modern and un-shy.. all credit to the director to see the potential
What's happening on your blog-- so many unwelcome comments.. getting very popular?