Thillana Mohanambal

Album : Thillana Mohanambal (1968)

Songs : Marainthirunthu Parkum and Nalamdana

Music : K.V.Mahadevan

Lyrics : Kannadasan

Singer : P.Susheela

Form: Tamil Film music

In my list of personally meaningful music, this album takes precedence over many others. As a very young girl, I had just started learning Bharatnatyam dancing when this film was released. Dancing was my passion at that time and the film based on a dancer connected immediately with me. How do we Indian film viewers separate the love of the music from its picturisation in a film? Possibly, I loved the dancing more than the music or the story, but no matter, I still loved these songs. I practised endlessly in front of mirrors each intricate step, each expression, each mudra (hand movement), lip synching the words, until I could do all the dances perfectly – or so I thought ! Thank God there was no home videography at that time; I do not wish to sully my memories with reality!

The song above in raga Shanmukhapriya is a classic, never to be forgotten. To know more about the raga, click here. The dance sequence displays Padmini’s mastery over bhava (expression). As a number of people arrive on my site in search of lyrics, I tried to find them online to provide a link.  On checking, I found they all had errors so I have scribed them myself.

மறைந்துருந்து பார்க்கும் மருமம் என்ன
மன்னன் மலை அழகா இந்த சிலை அழகா என்று

முகத்தில் நவரசமும்
மலர்ந்திருக்கும் முகத்தில் நவரசமும்
செக்கச் சிவந்திருக்கும் இதழில் கனி ரசமும் கண்டு

மறைந்துருந்து …

எங்கிருந்தாலும் உன்னை நானறிவேன்
உன்னை என்னையல்லால் வேறு யார் அறிவார்
பாவை என் பதம் காண நாணமா
உந்தன் பாட்டுக்கு நான் ஆட வேண்டாமா
மாலவா வேலவா மாயவா சண்முகா

மறைந்துருந்து …

நாதத்திலே தலைவன் குரல் கேட்டேன்
அந்த நாணத்திலே என்னை நான் மறந்தேன்
மோகத்திலே என்னை மூழ்க வைத்து
ஒரு ஓரத்திலே நின்று கள்வனை போல்
மாலவா வேலவா மாயவா சண்முகா

மறைந்துருந்து …

மான் ஆட மலர் ஆட மதி ஆட நதி ஆட
மங்கை இவள் நடனம் ஆட
நான் ஆட மண் ஆட கொடி ஆட இடை ஆட
மங்கை இவள் கைகள் ஆட
சுவையோடு நான் ஆட என்னை நாடி இந்த வேளை
விரைவேனில் துணையாட ஓடி வாரவாய்
தூயனே மாலவா மாயனே வேலவா என்னை ஆளும் சண்முகா

As an aside, I am thinking that the concept of Indian beauty has changed since those times but for me, Padmini (the actress, the dancer) still represents the classical Indian beauty. Her face !! Her eyes !!! She looks like a temple sculpture come to life !! My eyes, which have become accustomed to the sylphlike figures of the current generation and the western idea of ideal beauty, find Padmini to be refreshingly well-formed as a woman, more close to the idea of an Indian Beauty than any famous beauties of today.


Nalamdana is the other song from this film which I like very much. Based on Carnatic Raga Nilamani, it is so beautifully soulful!

நலம்தானா நலம்தானா
உடலும் உள்ளமும் நலம்தானா

நலம் பெற வேண்டும் நீ என்று
நாளும் என் நெஞ்சில் நினைவுண்டு
இலை மறை காய் போல் பொருள் கொண்டு
எவரும் அறியாத சொல் இன்று

(என்) கண் பட்டதால் உந்தன் மேனியிலே
புண் பட்டதோ அதை நான் அறியேன்
புண் பட்ட சேதியை கேட்டவுடன்
இந்த பெண் பட்ட பாடை யார் அறிவார்

நடந்ததெல்லாம் மறந்திருப்போம்
நடப்பதையே நினைத்திருப்போம்

This film and my Bharatnatyam dancing at that time was also instrumental in setting the foundations of my love for Carnatic Classical music (Bharatnatyam is set to this music). There is a beautiful version of ‘Nagumomu’ (Composer : Tyagaraja (1767 – 1847) , Raga : Abheri), played on the Nadaswaram by Madurai Sethuraman in this film. Unfortunately I cannot find an audio for you to listen to, you just have to see the movie! For those interested, there is a recent interview with the artist here.

Last year I watched the film again. There were parts of the film which I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed many years ago (the train scene for example), yet there were parts which felt dated for me. Thankfully, the music doesn’t age at all; it still feels beautiful and therefore today, I pay homage to this foundation stone in my love of Indian music.


Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Tamil Film Music

4 responses to “Thillana Mohanambal

  1. Jayanthi

    what a pick! such a fantastic film ! Thanks Suja. I watch it at least once a year and every time discover something new. The role of women in a historical context, the pains of unrequited love, the beautiful innocence of male-female relationship (between Manorama and Shivaji), the kinship that goes in the performing arts, the endearing vulnerability of a macho looking man, the quiet resilience of his woman….the list goes on.
    Also after I heard about the off screen romance between S & P, their scenes together became even more interesting 🙂 (like LT and RB in Cleopatra).
    But how come it has become dated for you !! BTW I also love the screenplay…quite poignant really !

    • I agree, it is a fantastic film.I had such perfect memories from childhood and then last year I saw it again for the first time after an elapse of decades. And it wasn’t ‘perfect’ like I wanted it to be. That disappointment is the reason for my comment but then my expectations were too high. Perhaps I need to see it again:) I absolutely loved some bits, the comic scene in the train for example still made me giggle non-stop. And both SG and P are wonderful and I absolutely love Manorama. But there were some bits, too old-fashioned perhaps? the show down after SG mistakes what happens with Padmini and the zamindar…i found it objectionable.

  2. shoote

    while browsing for Abheri i stumbled upon this post. When i was studying in college Isaw the movie. I was mesmerised by the songs, danse by Padmini and superlative performance by Sivaji. You know i read the novel week by week when it was published in kalki. What a great days! i miss those days. Even in strict environment I had a secret girlfriend in my native place. We planned it in such a way that we both saw the movie simultaneousely but in separate enclosures with our parents. This post brought me tears in my eyes but i loved it.

    • Oh hello again! Ever so rarely there are films which are very iconic to an era of film-goers, influencial in their lives and with long lasting effect on their tastes. This was one such film. I was still a young child when I saw this film, yet I define Indian beauty by Padmini and my tastes in dancing and music also stem from here. I was not old enough to understand the intricacies of the story so it did not leave much on an effect on me. You were older and so perhaps the effect on you would be even more intense. And then to have such wonderful memories associated with the film – the company of one’s parents, the love of a girl – all this would make the movie even more special! I am glad I made you remember such wonderful memories with my post 🙂

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