Category Archives: Tamil Film Music

A Voice for the Stars

‘Oh no, he has passed away!’ I read the news item with sorrow. I know that he has been in critical care for a while. But it still hits hard. I go about my day but it is there at the back of my thoughts….this passing of a voice which has been so familiar and so dear for so long.

Browsing the internet, I see that ‘Ayiram Nilave Va‘ was one of his earliest songs. Oh! I remember the radio blaring out this song from when I was just a young girl! One doesn’t forget the songs of one’s childhood and youth, does one? I listen to his songs in the background as I read the eulogies which flood the internet. His voice is like velvet, enveloping me in a zone of comfort. What can I say that so many others have not already said? Only that I love his voice, and that I am grateful for the many gems that he has given us over the years. He may be a public figure but I grieve his loss as if it were a personal one. My respects to the great S.P.Balasubrahmanyam.

It is very difficult to choose just one song from his repertoire of more than 40,000 recorded songs. But I have chosen one, a song which appealed from the first time I heard it and still does. More importantly, it features a glimpse of SPB in a role that he has played all his life with such excellence.

Here’s a link to a totally light hearted song in which his singing prowess shines brightly as always. I hope it makes you remember him with a smile just as I do 🙂 Thank you SPB.


Filed under S.P.Balasubramaniam, Tamil Film Music

Ninnai Charanadainthen

Subramanya Bharathi

It has been in my mind for sometime to mention the poetry of Subramanya Bharathi (1882-1921). There is so much of his poetry that I like that it is difficult to decide where to start! A prolific writer of prose and poetry, he is one of the National Poets of India. He was also a Nationalist who fought for Indian Independence and a social reformer. I can not begin to say how important he is to the Tamil people; he is part of their identity. His songs are sung often in Carnatic Music concerts; they also make an appearance in Tamil films.

I am sure that this wonderful poet’s work will appear again and again in my blog. For today, I have selected the song Ninnai Charanadainthen (see footnote), set to music and sung by the incomparable Ilayaraja for the film Bharathi (2000). I believe that it has been set to Raga Puriya Dhanashree of the Hindustani tradition. I love this soothing rendition by Ilayaraja, whose genius I salute. 

Footnote (Lyrics) :


நின்னைச் சரணடைந்தேன் — கண்ணம்மா!
நின்னைச் சரணடைந்தேன்!


பொன்னை உயர்வைப் புகழை விரும்பிடும்
என்னைக் கவலைகள் தின்னத் தகாதென்று (நின்னை)

மிடிமையும் அச்சமும் மேவியென் நெஞ்சில்
குடிமை புகுந்தன, கொன்றவை போக்கென்று (நின்னை)

தன்செய லெண்ணித் தவிப்பது தீர்ந்திங்கு
நின்செயல் செய்து நிறைவுபெறும் வண்ணம் (நின்னை)

துன்ப மினியில்லை, சோர்வில்லை, தோற்பில்லை,
அன்பு நெறியில் அறங்கள் வளர்த்திட (நின்னை)

நல்லது தீயது நாமறியோம் அன்னை!
நல்லது நாட்டுக! தீமையை ஓட்டுக! (நின்னை)

Translation :

I surrender to thee, the Ultimate
I surrender to thee!

I, who yearn for riches, status and fame, 
do not wish to be eroded by these yearnings..(I surrender to thee)

Cowardice and fear spread in my heart and
make it their home. To let these perish (I surrender to thee)

May my revelling in conceit end here and
may I fulfil what you destined for me.. so (I surrender to thee)

No more sorrows, no more despair, no defeats!
So as to nurture noble things by Love (I surrender to thee)

I lack wisdom to differentiate evil from good [Oh mother]
Let good prevail and evil perish! (I surrender to thee)


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ilayaraja, Subramanya Bharathi, Tamil Film Music

Listening to: Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)


Successful Tamil films often get re-made into Hindi films. I am not sure why this wasn’t, for this was a superbly made film. But in a way, I am happy as remakes often spoil the flavour of the original. And this flavour should not be spoilt. I would encourage newcomers to the Tamil film world to borrow/buy a copy with subtitles and watch this vastly entertaining film. Based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, it has been ‘indianised’ to a degree that it doesn’t feel alien at all. Well done S.Rangarajan – ‘Sujatha’ for the story and Rajiv Menon for the screenplay.

There are many good reviews online for those who are interested. As usual, I’ll just remark on whatever caught my attention..

  • Tabu is both beautiful and talented – for me this film showcased her to perfection!
  • I have seen Srividya as a leading lady many years ago; she impressed me then with her expressive face and she does so again as an older but still beautiful woman
  • I am not a great Aishwarya fan but her beauty is spellbinding in this film. The role suits her well.
  • Mamootty has more presence in the nail of his little finger than many ‘heroes’ one is forced to see…what a personality!! I need to get all his older films and give myself a treat..
  • Ajith is charming and very good in this film.  I was introduced to him at a restaurant by our host 4-5 years back; he is even better looking in person!
  • I took a dislike to Abbas even before the role made him out to be a weakling..wonder why..

But I am here to talk about the music and it is truly wonderful!! This is A.R.Rehman in his melodious years; an album to fall in love with, an album to listen to again and again. The lyrics by Vairamuthu are excellent.

  • Konjum Mainakkale – Sadhana Sargam. A very imaginative picturisation with a lovely dance by Aishwarya. I enjoy seeing it. I also love all the instrumental interludes. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kannamoochi – Chitra. I can’t see this without remembering my niece who bought the exact same pavadai-thavani, jewellery et al and who looked as pretty as Aishwarya does in it ! Great Bharatanatyam moves integrated into the dance routine, very well choreographed. Open-mouthed smile
  • Enna Solla Pogirai – Shankar Mahadevan காதலின் கேள்விக்கு கண்களின் பதில் என்ன மௌனமா ? says the lyricist, how apt! Is the answer to the question posed by my love only silence? And later, the song goes on to say ‘ it takes only a second to say No, but it would take me a another lifetime to bear that’.. A beautifully written and sung song. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  •  Enge Enathu Kavithai – Chitra, Sreenivas. I have always loved Chitra’s voice and she sounds divine in a song which seems written for her! A.R.Rehman’s stamp is there with beautiful background chorus and instrumentals. A song which touches one’s heart. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Smiyai – Clinton Devan, Dominique Cerejo. A good dance number with great beats. Some sixties sound incorporated into a 90’s sound… Smile
  • Suttum Vizhi – Hariharan. An absolutely brilliant rendition of Bharathiyar’s classic poetry, I was addicted to this song for a time. My dislike of Abbas is what keeps me from seeing on youtube all the time! Thank you AR Rehman, the classic sounds beautiful in your hands! Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Kandukondain – Hariharan, Mahalaxmi Iyer. Shot in Scotland, the settings are beautiful yet I do not like the picturisation at all! That said, the song is still lovely. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

With three songs I love, and two other colourful dances which will make great viewing, I have to admit I am stumped as to what to present in this blog! I recommend again that you see this film, if only for the music. Well, ok, I’ve made my choices – it is Enna Solla Pogirai for the beauty of the song and Tabbu’s loveliness.

And Kannamoochi for the dancing :


Filed under Bollywood 00's Music, Chitra, Shankar Mahadevan, Tamil Film Music

Honouring Kamal’s Versatility

I do not see many Tamil films. That being said, I have seen a small percentage of Kamal Haasan’s impressive oeuvre, some of his most successful films. He is a brilliant actor and when he is well cast in a film with a good script, magic happens. One of the most decorated and award winning actors in India,  he has won awards for acting in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films. He has been at various times producer, director, scriptwriter, singer and choreographer. Versatility indeed!

I went to see his debut in a leading role in Apoorva Ragangal (1974) with my family; I remember my mother not approving of the theme of the 21 year old Kamal falling in love with a much older but gorgeous Sri Vidya! I loved the music and I listened to it today with a great deal of pleasure, especially ‘Adisaya Ragam’ (Yesudas). Some music can be truly timeless!

In my school holidays, when our family spent the summers in hot Chennai, the melodious ‘Ore Naal Unnai Naan’ (S.P.Balasubramaniam, Vani Jayaram) from Ilamai Oonjal Adugirathu (1978) would play non-stop in the radio.  Later on, when his foray into the Hindi film world with Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981) became a super hit, it was ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’ which was sung in every street corner in Delhi. S.P.Balasubrumaniam sings this brilliantly but with a strong Tamil accent which doesn’t matter only because the character in this film was Tamil. In the same year, it was the Tamil film Raja Parvai which gave us the gem ‘Andi Mazai Pozhigirathu’ (S.P.B) a song I’ll always love.

‘Sundari Neeyum’ in Michael Madana Kamarajan (1980) sung by Kamal and Janaki is memorable, especially because its his own voice. And one mustn’t forget the beautiful ‘Chinnanjiru Vayathil’ in Menndum Kokila (1981). It still feels fresh and beautiful to me. The female voice (Shailaja) sounds very shrill to me but wait until Yesudas comes up. He sounds fantastic! And check out pre-plastic-surgery Sridevi, she looks lovely. Why do they stress about nothing and go under the knife?

Moonram Pirai in 1982 was a wonderful film and ‘Kanne Kalaimane’ (Yesudas) is a song I remember with pleasure. But the song I truly hold dear is ‘Thenpandi Cheemayile’ (Ilaiyaraja) from Nayakan (1987). I bow to Ilayaraja !! What a composer!!  A deeply moving film which I have never forgotten, Nayakan (Nayagan)  was listed in the Time Magazine All Time 100 movies, along with the Apu Trilogy and Pyaasa, the only other Indian films to have the same honour.

I never took to his later films, I did see a few but they didn’t leave an impression. I think that after Nayakan the quality of his films in general took a downward slide.

Album : Salangai Oli (1983)

Music : Ilaiyaraja

Lyrics : Vairamuthu

My favourite film of Kamal remains Salangai Oli (1983) where he acts as a Bharatanatyam dancer and a critic. It showcases not only his acting talent but his skills in dancing. There are many Indian actresses who have training in Classical Indian dancing but I am not aware of any actor with such skills. I shall indulge myself and present a number of songs from this movie today.

‘Mounamana Neram’ (S.Janaki, SPB) is my favourite song from this film. Jayaprada is so stunningly beautiful!

Mounamana Neram–S.Janaki, SPB

The song below is purely for Kamal’s dancing skills.

Bala Kanaka–S.Janaki

Indian Classical dance admirer must see the clip below from 01:29 onwards – Kamal shows you how its done!

And finally, the final song of the film :

Vedam Anuvilum–Shailaja, SPB

For those who would like to go down memory lane with me and listen to all the wonderful songs that I have spoken about, here is a playlist that I created in youtube. And if you haven’t seen Salangai Oli, do watch. Even with subtitles, you’ll appreciate Kamal’s talents. Enjoy!

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Filed under Bollywood Music, Classical Dance, Tamil Film Music

Music in Mythological Films

I admit it. Indian Mythological films are often made for the lowest common denominator. Their special effects aren’t in the least special. There is a fair bit of melodrama. I watched the excruciatingly slow-moving Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and though I looked askance at the amateurish way many things were represented, I never thought of giving up.  And recently, when I was sick in bed, I turned to a number of my childhood favourites in Tamil. I cannot be critical of them, even though in certain bits they deserved criticism. When I watch them, I am transported once more in childish delight. So what draws me (and others with the same affliction)? Is it the familiarity of stories learnt from childhood? Is it just our ‘Harry Potter’ – a world of magical powers? Is it a form of piety? No answers…

So to celebrate the power of Mythological films, I present the following song from one of the best in this genre, a beloved & iconic film for Tamil viewers:

Album : Thiruvilayadal (1965)

Music : K.V.Mahadevan

Lyrics : Kannadasan

Song : Pattum Nane Bhavamum Naane

Singer : T.M.Sounderarajan



Pattum Nane–T.M.Sounderarajan


Sivaji Ganesan’s performance in this song makes me understand exactly why he was so well admired.

Below is the equally beloved other song from the same film, sung superbly by Carnatic music stalwart Dr. Balamuralikrishna :

Oru Naal Poduma–Balamuralikrishna


If you want to watch this old Tamil favourite, you can do so here.


Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Carnatic Music, M.Balamuralikrishna, T.M.Sounderarajan, Tamil Film Music

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