(A post by @atlasdanced)
Everybody who was anybody growing up in TN in the 90s will tell you that the album, that turned Rahman from being talked about as the “new kid in the block taking the industry by storm creating interesting music with computer generated sounds” to someone who everyone started taking really seriously as a guy whose success wasn’t going to be with defined by just ‘sound’, was “kizhakku cheemaiyilE”.
Bharathiraja was no longer the director whose movies were going to be box-office hits because it was “A film by Bharathiraja” (his previous 5 thamizh films, captain magaL, nAdOdi thenRal, pudhu nellu pudhu nAththu, en uyir thOzhan & kodi paRakkudhu were disastrous flops). I will stick my neck out here and say that had it not been for the album and the rage it created, the man’s career could’ve hit rock bottom with a 6th. But boy how much the success of the album turned everyone into finally believing that the kid wasn’t a one trick pony! “mAnooththu mandhaiyilE”, “kaththAzha kAttu vazhi” & “edhukku poNdAtti” were such brilliantly done folk numbers that have stood the test of two decades’ time.
There was another movie set in the village, “Uzhavan”, that released around the same time. But it was so damn insufferable that even a decent soundtrack from Rahman couldn’t save it. Although it had just one folksy number, it was enough to make us know what the guy was capable of. ‘mAri mazhai’, in the eminently likeable voice of Shahul Hameed is another number i go back to every now and then.
A handful of such brilliant numbers, picturised in a village backdrop, followed over the years – “senthamizhnAttu thamizhachchiyE” from vaNdichchOlai sinrAsu, “nee kattum sElai” from pudhiya mannargaL, “mazhaiththuLi” & “varAha nadhikkaraiOram” from sangamam, “thirupAchchi aruvALa” from tajmahal (i am obviously not including the few lovely melodies/ballads set in a village backdrop here), but none as supreme, as standout, as complete as my all-time favourite song among such songs one of my all-time favourite songs – “kAdu pottakkAdu” from kaRuththammA.
Everything about this song is well done, the picturisation (check out the video…the movie was centered on the ‘female infanticide’ theme…almost every stage of a woman’s life in a village is covered in 5 minutes of directorial/editorial brilliance…sigh, if only the entire movie had that kind of quality overall!).
The lyrics..ah the lyrics! Vairamuthu is in elements and shows you how much of emotional value lyrics can bring to a song. Every line makes you realise and even feel a bit awkward about the privileges of an urban life.
And what to say of the rendition by the third of the holy trinity of thamizh cinema’s male playback singing of my generation. SPB is a mad genius rockstar, KJY is gifted and should sing all our lullabies but ‘Malaysia’ Vasudevan is the voice that makes you appreciate the extraordinary art of (at the risk of sounding like a The Hindu katcheri review) – soulful rendition. Check out the “ada pOda vekkakkEdu” around 1:59-2:00. An entire life resigned to the tragicomedy of being a puppet in nature’s scheme of things brought out in half a second of nonchalant snigger while singing about it!
I have always thought it was a masterstroke to make Bharathiraja sing those opening lines…i mean, can it even get any rustic?
The minimalistic arrangement fits perfectly well with the mood of the song and one of those songs that i’ve probably heard a zillion times by now. It is *that* special.
“பட்ட மரத்து மேல…எட்டிப்பாக்கும் ஓணான் போல வாழ வந்தோம் பூமி மேல” (because some lines shouldn’t even be transliterated, leave alone translated.)
Am I a Rahmaniac? Let’s just say i’ll probably be the first guy who’d take a dig at a lot of those as ‘Rahmehniacs’. So why am i writing here? I’m just tired of reminding even my good friends that I am a fan of the man’s music too. Just because i take a dig (almost always in good humour) at some of his recent works, doesn’t make me dislike the other 100+ songs that i love. Does my opinion even matter? No. Then why?
I have been wanting to write in this blog for a while, primarily because the good folks who are managing this blog are two of the nicest folks you’d come across online. People whose ‘mania’ i respect & relate to. This is just for them and of course, the music we all love.