Posts Tagged ‘Music’

The Jukebox plays… (1)

When all else fails, there is music.

I’ve always wanted to make a list of the music that touches my heart – the kind of music that makes me laugh, that makes me nostalgic and gets me teary eyed,  the music which gets me tapping my feet and singing along with eyes closed, the songs that I turn to for solace when nothing seems to be going right, the songs that echo into the depths of my ears as I battle to bridge the space between sleep and wakefulness at nights. This is the first of many posts to follow, on the music that I live with. These are ten songs that are ALWAYS part of my playlist, irrespective of mood and time. Songs that I can never ever skip through to listen to the next number or change the channel when they play on television. These Thamizh melodies are some of the songs that I grew up with and I’m sure these will remain with me till I die.

Exactly in order of my preference, here we go…

Paartha nyaabagam illayo

Music: MS. Viswanathan

Singer: P. Susheela

Lyrics: Kannadasan

Film: Pudhiya Paravai (1964)

அந்த நீல நதிக்கரையோரம்
நீ நின்றிருந்தாய் அந்தி நேரம்
நான் பாடி வந்தேன் ஒரு ராகம்
நாம் பழகி வந்தோம் சில காலம்

A charming, debonair Sivaji, gracefully elegant,divine looking Sowcar Janaki, wistful lyrics with a touch of mysticism that seem to denote the torrential events to unfurl, sweeping melody and above all, the magical voice of P.Susheela. What’s not to love about this song? The outstanding orchestral arrangements at the time of minimal technology, the sounds blending into each other in layers without cluttering, but adding beauty as embellishments, the stylised singing befitting a stage singer, the song is perfect in every conceivable way. Every time I listen to this song, it makes me feel like I’m floating somewhere, weightless, nameless and ageless. This is the song of my lifetime.

Thenmadhurai vaigai nadhi

Music: Ilayaraaja

Singers: Malaysia Vasudevan, S P Balasubrahmanyam , P Susheela

Film: Dharmathin thalaivan (1978)

தேய்கின்றது பொன்மாலை நிலா

தேயாதது நம் ஆசை நிலா

இது வானம்போலே வாழும் பாசம்…

My playlist is never ever complete without this song. I’ve listened to this 40 times on loop once. Right from the piano bit that the song begins with, to that short and sweet cameo sung by Susheelamma at the end, to the seamless juxtaposing of the voices of SPB and Malaysia Vasudevan, to the simple yet lovingly earnest lyrics, I love every single note of this number. In fact, my love affair with Ilayaraaja’s music began with this song. For long, this remained the only Raaja song on my playlist. I was painfully ignorant of the Maestro’s other works and like a horse with blinkers, stuck to Rahman and the English music of my growing up years. The night this song played endlessly on my loop, it struck me as weird that I never tried discovering the music of the man who gave me this song that I love so much. That was the night I actually discovered Raaja and his music. The song remains all the more closer to my heart for that reason. And also, I loved Rajni in this song . He looked oh so dashing!!


Pennala pennala

Music: A.R.Rahman

Singer: S P Balasubrahmanyam

Lyrics: Vaali

Film: Uzhavan (1993)

தென்றலைப்போல நடப்பவள் எனைத்தழுவக் காத்துக்கிடப்பவள்

செந்தமிழ்நாட்டுத் திருமகள் எந்தன் தாய்க்கு வாய்த்த மருமகள்…

One of Rahman’s earlier numbers, this belongs to that age when his music was uncluttered and not too complicated to have to listen to it a million times before liking it. A man is about to wed and he describes his soon-to-be-bride to another woman in a fun, yet lovable way. I simply love Vaali’s lyrics, more so ever after seeing how women are described these days (case in point:  Kai thodum dhooram kaachavale. Yen pasi theeka vandhavale). SPB owns this song and how! This might be one of the very few instances when Rahman used minimal layering to great effect. A simple tune, some captivating lyrics, graceful, elegant singing and you have a bouncer of a song. My favorite lullaby, I’m always half asleep with a smile on my face by the time this song ends.


Thoda thoda malarndhadhenna

Music: A.R.Rahman

Singers: S P Balasubrahmanyam, Chitra.

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Film: Indira (1995)

இலைமூடும் மலராக இதயத்தை மறைக்காதே

மலர்கொள்ளும் காற்றாக இதயத்தை உலுக்காதே…

The song opens to sounds of the forest, chirping of birds and flourishes mellifluously under the always awesome SPB-Chitra combination. Right from SPB’s magical voice starting to croon thoda thoda following a wispy flute note, this song is a lilting winner all the way. The entire song has a reminiscing tone, the mood shifting from love, passion, trepidation and sensuousness as the lyrics flow by. The sharp violin turns in the second interlude with the flute playing in between, when the grown up child-lovers kiss on screen is sheer genius. It’s almost like we hear their hearts beating fast with fear tinged passion. And most of all, the layering in music is not overdone and fits the song like a glove. A perfect midnight listen.


Raasaathi unna kaanaadha nenju

Music: Ilayaraaja

Singer: P. Jeyachandran

Film: Vaidehi Kaathirundhaal (1984)

யாரோடு இங்கு எனக்கென்ன பேச்சு

நீதானே கண்ணே நான்வாங்கும் மூச்சு

வாழ்ந்தாக வேண்டும் வா வா கண்ணே…

The ultimate pathos song for ages to come. The true beauty of the song lies in the fact that it has quite a cheerful melodic ring to it yet manages induce a sense of loss every time it’s heard. There is no sonorous single violin weeping in the background. No dragging choruses.  Instead all we have is some fabulous heavy duty opening orchestration and the crystal clear voice of Jeyachandran evoking bygone memories of a loved one. What I love about the song is that it brings out the very essence of Gabtun (err.. palakka dhosham)  Vijayakanth’s character in the movie. He isn’t wilting in the memory of the girl he so loved with all his heart. He isn’t singing sad ballads and waiting to die. He revels in the memories he has of her, of the anklet clad feet, jasmine flowers , the smile and the scent, he knows she lives within him and sings for her, with her, each night. If at all anyone feels the magnitude of his loss when he sings ‘vaazhndhaaga vendum, vaa vaa kanne’ it’s us, the listeners. That, my friends is the magic of the man called Ilayaraaja.


Minnale ni vandhadhaenadi

Music: A.R.Rahman

Singer: S P Balasubramanyam

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Film: May Maadham

பால்மழைக்கு காத்திருக்கும் பூமி இல்லையா

ஒரு பண்டிகைக்குக் காத்திருக்கும் சாமி இல்லையா

வார்த்தைவரக் காத்திருக்கும் கவிஞனில்லையா

நான் காத்திருந்தால் காதல் இன்னும் நீளுமில்லையா…

The only other defining pathos song in Thamizh cinema in the last three decades. Magician SPB working wonders with his malleable voice yet again. Unlike ‘raasaathi unna’ which reflects an almost stoic , unconditional love that stands untarnished even with death, this number portrays the yearning and dejection of a young man who’s seen a sliver of sunshine in his petty life, only to be plucked unceremoniously off it just as he starts to bask under its warmth and glory. She is gone. He won’t accept it. The memories haunt him not to give strength but only to tear him apart. With lyrics like ‘kanneeril thee valarththu kaathirukiren, un kaaladithadathil naan poothirukiraen’, the pain is raw and immense. The agony of separation brought out in deep lows in the lyrics and the soaring waves of sadness in the stanza interludes, coupled with the dark visuals that complement the music, this song makes sense to anyone who has loved and lost. No, it makes perfect sense to anyone who’s loved.


Maraindhirundhe paarkum

Music: K.V.Mahadevan

Singer: P.Susheela

Film: Thillana Mohanambal

பாவை என் பதம் காண நாணமா?

உந்தன் பாட்டுக்கு நான் ஆட வேண்டாமா?

மாலவா வேலவா மாயவா சண்முகா…

Being a sucker for classical song-dance numbers (this love affair was extinguished unceremoniously after watching the visuals of that beautiful number ‘sowkiyamaa’ in Sangamam. The least they could have done is use an actress who could *dance* and not just pose.), it’s no surprise that I love this Mother of all classical dance numbers. Padmini overshadows anybody else on screen with that most dazzling screen presence, dance and expressions (for once even the man of a million expressions, Sivaji Ganesan is reduced to a side show behind a pillar), but if there’s someone who manages to even outshine the queen of dance, its none other than  P. Susheela. What Padmini does with a hundred mudras and all the swirling dance moves, Susheela  manages to do better with a honey laced voice that textures itself to wrap around the song like a fresh coat of warm fuzzy chocolate over melting ice cream. Especially when she sings that almost-a-whisper-almost-a-caress ‘Shanmugaa’ at the end of each charanam, one can’t help closing the eyes and just enjoying the divine rendition. Yes, I close my eyes even at Padmini. Susheelamma deserves that.

Sundhari, kannaal oru seidhi

Music: Ilayaraaja

Singers: S P Balasubrahmanyam, S Janaki

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Film: Thalapathy (1991)

கோடி சுகம் வாராதோ நீ எனைத்தீண்டினால்

காயங்களும் ஆறாதோ நீ எதிர் தோன்றினால்…

A love ballad. Poetry in sound and motion. A gem of a composition. Starting with the sound of ringing bells and the sound of approaching men and horse hooves with a flute playing raw bamboo sounds in what seems to be a somewhat distant land, this song is magical to say the least. The opening orchestration which throws up a million tiny details before giving way to the first pallavi, never fails to give me goosebumps every time I listen to it. I’m not much of a fan of S.Janaki but I love her in this song and I’m already tired of writing about how wonderful a singer SPB is. If I could grant immortality to one man, I’d choose this honey throated gentle giant. I have no words to describe the ease with with the pallavi and charanam blend into each other at the end of each stanza. All I know is this is how a song should sound and feel like. Just perfect.


Anal mele paniththuli

Music: Harris Jayaraj

Singer: Sudha Raghunathan

Lyrics: Thaamarai

Film: Vaaranam Aayiram

எந்த காற்றின் அளாவலில் மலரிதழ்கள் விரிந்திடுமோ

எந்த தேவவினாடியில் மனஅறைகள் திறந்திடுமோ

ஒரு சிறுவலி இருந்ததுவே இதயத்திலே இதயத்திலே

உனதிருவிழி தடவியதால் அவிழ்ந்துவிட்டேன் மயக்கத்திலே…

The only Harris Jayaraj number I call a favorite. If this song sounds as haunting and old-worldly as it does, I think a major chunk of the credit should go to Sudha Raghunathan. Being sung by a renowned classical singer, the song might have become a showcase for her sangadhis and become gimmicky but she sings the song with so much restrain and charm, allowing the trained singer in her to surface only when required, that you can’t help marveling at the beauty of it. Also this is one of the very few songs where Harris doesn’t arrange the music to sound like a church choir song. And on top, the lyrics are a dream.  Who thinks up stuff like a dewdrop on a flame and  raindrop in search of a tree these days? Thaamarai is the woman and she rocks this song big time.



Music: Vidyasagar

Singers: Sriram Parthasarathy, Sadhana Sargam

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Film: Anbe Sivam

ஒரு வானம் வரைய நீலவண்ணம் நம் காதல் வரைய என்ன வண்ணம்?

என் வெட்கத்தின் நிறம்தொட்டு விரல் என்னும் கோல்கொண்டு

நம் காதல் வரைவோமே வா…

Vidyasagar does melodies quite well. Earlier there was malare mounamaa, another lilting melody, but Poovaasam belonged more to my times. The singer Sriram Parthasarathy (For a long time I thought it was Vijay Prakash) holds the song with his amazing singing right from the first few notes and never lets attention waver from him. Sadhana Sargam has no choice but to play second fiddle in this number, and she deserves it for her blasphemous mispronunciations of Thamizh here. In fact, Sadhana’s singing which gets slightly shrill when she touches the higher notes is the only dampener for me in this otherwise beauty of a song. And oh, Kiran Rathod also dampens the visual effect a bit but what the heck, when Kamal Hassan scorches the screen as the dignified Nalla Sivam, who dares looking at anything else?


So then, just writing about these numbers spread a warm glow to my heart and a cheer to my face. Until I meet you again with my favorite dance hits, dappankuththus, item numbers, thathuva paatu etc etc, Live with the Music.


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