Some hundred years ago, when there was no electricity, on a peaceful night, someone started with the words, “once upon a time, there was a…” to a group of bored kids. I think that’s the inception of cinema.

Cinema has seen a humongous growth. It ranges from developing the already existing departments to the growth of new departments. But, the intent remains the same – storytelling.

So, who stands tall when it comes to storytelling? The writers or the directors or the actors or the cinematographers or the editors, who among them? Nobody, because cinema works only when all these departments work in unison.

But, I think one of those countless departments is privileged to tell (tease) us about the story. They are lyricists, who are closely associated with the storytelling process.

“நெஞ்சுக்குள் பெய்திடும் மாமழை
நீருக்குள் மூழ்கிடும் தாமரை
சட்டென்று மாறுது வானிலை
பெண்ணே உன் மேல் பிழை.”

What writing!

This movie did crazy things to people. The impact was too high; it directed an entire generation to the cinema. One of the things it did to me was awareness about lyrics; I started to appreciate lyrics. The lyrics were simple and poetic and were easy to relate.

Okay, they are great lyrics. But are you sure they are closely related to the movie? Are you sure they can’t be placed in a different movie?
They could be.

So here, I’m going to recall the times when lyricists excelled in telling us the stories – The lyrics that can’t be placed in a different movie – The lyrics that were written exclusively for the respective stories.

  1. The first of the list comes from the same movie we were talking about:
    “என்னோடு வா வீடு வரைக்கும்
    என் வீட்டை பார் என்னை பிடிக்கும்!“

Any boy could sing, “nenjukul peithidum mamazhai…” But it isn’t the same with the above lines and I don’t think these two lines could be placed in a different movie as it is about where the guy comes from and what a family he has. One of the times when the lyricist didn’t just write something related to the story or situation but something that’s deep about the character.

Song:  Nenjukkul peithidum
Movie:  Vaaranam Aayiram (2008)
Lyricist: Thaamarai

Hail தாமரை!

  1. A boy and a girl from different backgrounds fall in love. They are well aware that their parents won’t approve of their marriage. Leave marriage, they won’t even like their kids sharing the same table. The lyricist summed up everything in simple language,
    “வாய்பேசவே வாய்ப்பில்லையே வலி தீர வழி என்னவோ! “

Song:     Kannalanae
Movie:  Bombay (1995)
Lyricist: Vairamuthu

He’s indeed a diamond.

  1. This movie is about a guy, who is also a sheep, strangled between the evil and the good. He’s someone who has never seen love in anybody. Now, a girl who wears white clothes all the time, someone who heals people, an angel, comes into his life, takes the guy to places and clears all the mess.

Now look at how the lyrics go,
“இந்தகாட்டுப் பய ஒரு ஆட்டுக்குட்டிப் போல
உன் பின்ன சுத்துறனே!
என்ன எங்க நீ கூட்டிப் போற? “

Song:  Adiyae
Movie:  Kadal (2012)
Lyricist: Madhan Karky

The musician was praised for introducing a new voice to the industry. But, I don’t think the lyricist received the appreciation he deserved.

Between why is he even thinking about lyrics writing software when he could do wonders?

  1. “Remember, hope is a good thing; maybe the best of the things and no good thing ever dies,” says Stephen King. Here is something from our Tamil cinema we all could relate to. Something we all hope to.
    ஒரு தருணம் எதிரினில் தோன்றுவாய் என்றே வாழ்கிறேன்.“

Song: Ninaithu
Movie:  7G Rainbow Colony (2004)
Lyricist: Na. Muthukumar

He’s immortal!

  1. Okay, there is a whole song that can’t be placed in a different movie. We have seen different versions of kings in various languages. I think this is the only time we saw a king in his fallen kingdom. A king in today’s world leads a miserable life where flowers or any greenery is nowhere to be seen but skulls of his people are abundant that even his chariot is decorated by them; people are dying.

“மண்டை ஓடுகள் மண்டிய நாட்டை
மன்னன் ஆளுவதோ மன்னன் ஆளுவதோ…. “

Song: Thaai thindra mannae
Movie: Aayirathil oruvan (2010)
Lyricist: Vairamuthu

  1. This is one of the craziest songs in Tamil cinema. I’m sure any lyricist would be super excited on hearing a situation like this. Leave professionals, even a normal man would be intrigued to write something.

It all started with a kiss.

“இரும்பிலே ஓர் இருதயம் முளைக்குதோ?“

He summed up the whole movie, but my personal favorite is,

“இரவில் நடுவில் ஃபேட்டரி தான் தீரும்!“

How crazy?

Song:  Irumbilae
Movie: Enthiran (2010)
Lyricist: Madhan Karky

  1. The wag of a dog’s tail, the face of a cat when it licks, a happy little girl, the light in a Mani Ratnam movie; the world is full of beautiful things!

People who are visually challenged don’t get to see anything. It only gets complicated when you think about the other things they miss.

Here’s a poet who thought about the simplest thing:

“தென்றல் வந்து தீண்டும் போது என்ன வண்ணமோ மனசுல?“

He is wondering about the colour of the breeze!

Song: Thendral vanthu
Movie:  Avatharam (1995)
Lyricist: Vaali

He’s branded as the naughtiest. But, he’s also someone who writes about the simplest things of complicated situations.

We have come to the end and here is the twist - the intention of all the talks we had isn’t to appreciate the works of the lyricist or the musician but the directors!

The musicians and the lyricists were able to produce those timeless songs because the directors had stories and strong situations. The magic happens only when there is a stage.

A recent incident forced me to write all this.

A lot of things went wrong with this particular movie, but the most criticized were the lyricist and the musician. Have a look at the situations they were given:

1. A song that comes from nowhere

2. A song that comes from nowhere.

3. A song that comes from nowhere.

They still tried to make those songs sound interesting with those north madras slang words and text language. They failed. The musician who always produces timeless songs had to settle with forgettable songs. You just can’t force a lyricist and a musician to do all these gimmicks.   

The same movie actually had an interesting song, because there, they had something to convey – Oru viral puratchiyae!

The same thing is happening to other musicians and lyricist too.
“Directors aren’t coming with situations these days. Instead, they are asking me to clone my super hit songs,” says Harris Jayaraj.

They are geniuses who produced great music even to mediocre movies. But that won’t happen anymore, because, now they are bored geniuses.

You just can’t produce great things without inspiration.

Look at the kind of crazy stuffs people have created when they were given strong situations and stories!

So, how timeless songs are made?

Just imagine, to what extent Gautam Vasudev Menon should have discussed about the characters with the musician and the lyricist duo to get something like,
“என்னோடு வா வீடு வரைக்கும்
என் வீட்டை பார் என்னை பிடிக்கும்!“

Mani Ratnam should have provided even the tiniest details of the story and shades of characters to get something that’s so connected with the movie like,
“இந்தகாட்டுப் பய ஒரு ஆட்டுக்குட்டிப் போல
உன் பின்ன சுத்துறனே!“

It all comes down to two points:

  1. Timeless songs are made when great stories are written with strong characters and situations; no movie with a great story had poor songs.
  2. Okay…storytelling and creating a world isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but at least directors should give them interesting situations or tasks, where they could sing,
    “மகுடத்தை தரிக்கிற  ழகரத்தை சேர்த்தோம்“ (Aalaporaan thamizhan-Mersal) “வேர்க்காதே எனக்கு விசிறிகள் கோடி இருக்கு“ (Kaadhal yaanai-Anniyan)
    “அடிக்கடி முடி கலைவதும் ஸ்டைல்.“ (Oru Koodai - Sivaji)
    “எல்லாச் சிவப்பும் உந்தன் கோபம்“ (Pachai niramae-Alaipayuthey)

The above two points may sound different but they are same;
“Directors are ought to inspire the musicians and lyricists.”

Timeless songs were produced only when the artists were inspired and jumped with excitement!

So, feed them.


Written By,

S. Arokiya Basil Raja

1 comment
Rebin ahamed March 22, 2019

Karumathur kaatukulle song from virumaandi indicates its story either.
But only after watching the film we got to understand petchiyamaa is pointing towords all the femal leads(appatha.annalatchmi and journalists)

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