Sorry, this post has been invalidated because the video I featured has been removed from Youtube for copyright infringement and I cannot find a replacement. I would like to note how disappointed I am with the copyright owners for this. Surely there is no great loss in revenue for them if extracts from old TV programs are recorded and shown by others? What use are they making of this video now? It is just gathering dust in some archive, and will remain unseen forever. Instead it could have given pleasure to so many. Disappointing! The lyrics are still valid and I suggest you listen to Bombay Jayashri’s extraordinarily beautiful rending here.
Seeing that I have not featured a dance song for a long time, I have selected this lovely Padam to present to you today.
Padams are a form of Telugu and Tamil musical compositions which are romantic and beautifully descriptive. As with Bhakti music, the songs are written from a female perspective, the Nayika representing a devotee with God as her lover. While Bhakti poetry tends to be about the viraha bhava, the grief, the torment and the desperation of a woman who waits for union with her love, Padams are about a woman who has experienced an erotic union and expresses it boldly. She might be a courtesan or a woman having an extra-marital fling or even a wife but she is always sensual and passionate, more open and powerful than the nayika of Bhakti music, more in control. In fact it is God, the nayaka, who seems less in control. While the Padams from 16th-17th century tend to be openly erotic, the Padams from 18th-19th century tend to be less explicit.
Generally Padams are sung in a slow tempo with a lot of emotion. They are ideal for Bharatnatyam; the dancer has the opportunity to display her skills in the Nritya aspect of dancing i.e. focusing on expressing sentiment and mood.
Netru Varen Endru is a Tamil Padam by the late 19th century poet Subbarama Iyer. It is set to one of my favourite ragas, Pantuvarali, also called Kamavardani. In this Padam, the Nayika is talking to her female friend and confidante. She says ‘He who told me so sweetly that that he would come yesterday, has yet to come even today! How I regret not taking full advantage of his presence the other day, my friend! At dusk the other day, when I was beside the stream, he came and surprised me in an embrace. On seeing his flawless red-gold body, I was enchanted into ecstasy, my friend’.
To know more about this raga, click here.
I present you with Bhargavi Gopalan’s interpretation of this song in the video below. For the sake of those not versed with the symbolisms of Bharatanatyam, here is a description of the dance.
The Nayika is stringing together a garland of flowers, and garland in hand, she awaits her lover. Garlanding a man is a symbol of a woman choosing her mate; this Nayika has chosen her man. It is dusk, she sets a lamp and waits. Why hasn’t he come? She puzzles. Evening has come and the birds are flying past, and he is still not there. Remembering the other day when they met, the dancer takes in turn the part of the Nayika, a little shy and sweet, her head shaking a ‘no’ but her eyes saying a ‘ yes’, and the Nayaka, confident, direct, seductive. She remembers asking him to promise to come back, holding out her hand, and he claps his hand on hers, sealing the promise. She remembers when she went to the stream, holding a water-pot to her side. Pushing away the stagnant water with her foot, she bends to fill her pot. She is distracted with the lotuses and is playing with the flowers when he comes from behind and embraces her. On seeing his beautiful body, she rubs her eyes in disbelief – how flawless is he! She embraces him and and loses herself in ecstasy. As she awaits him today, she thinks that when he comes, she would draw him to sit down, fan him and give him a drink. But why isn’t he coming? She waits.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
(As I did not find a reliable reference, I have transcribed from the performance above and verified with Bombay Jayashri’s detailed rendition. As always there are differences and I have transcribed both versions below.)
நேற்று வரேன் என்று நயமிகப் பேசினவன் ( /பேசி அவன் )
இந்நாளும் வரக் காணேனே – என் தோழி
காற்றுள்ள போதே நான் தூற்றிக் கொள்ளாமலே
தோற்றம் மறைந்த பின் திகைக்கின்றேன் (/திகைக்கிறேன்) – என் தோழி
ஆற்றம் கறை தனிலே அந்திப் பொழுதினிலே
யாரும் அறியாமலே அணைத்தான் என் தேவன் (/அணைத்தார் அடி என் தோழி )
மாசில்லா (/மாற்றறியா) செம் பொன் மேனியைக் கண்டு (நான்)
மயங்கி பரவசம் அடைந்தேன் (/அவர் கைவசம் ஆனேனே ) – என் தோழி
nETru varEn endru nayamigap-pEsinavan (/ pesi avan)
innALum varak-kANEne, en tOzhi
kaTruLLa pOde nAn tUTrik-koLLAmalE
tOTram marainda pin tigaikkindrEn (/tigaikkiren) en tOzhi
ATram karai tanilE andip-pozhudinile
yArum ariyAmale aNaittAn en dEvan (/aNaittar en dEvan)
masilla (/maTrariya) sempon mEniyaik-kaNDu (nAn)
mayangi paravasam adaindEn (avar vasam anEnE) en tOzhi
Having said that he would come yesterday, he has yet to arrive, my friend.
Not having taken advantage when he was here, (literally : instead of winnowing when the wind was there ie. making hay when the sun shines) how I suffer now!
At dusk, beside the stream, he came and embraced me without anyone knowing.
Seeing his flawless red-gold body, I lost myself in ecstasy (alternate : I became his)