Ode to a lyrical legend


A sparkling hello to my dear readers of ‘rekhs underscore’
I’d like to bring a feast to your eyes and ears, subtitled by yours truly from the film ’Pannaiyaum Padminiyum’. I have been wanting to share my thoughts on this from April 16th onwards, but couldn’t get the right quality video. This is a gem of a song and it baffles me how it escaped the minds of the national award jury last year. The person who penned this song is none other than ‘Vaali (born T. S. Rangarajan; 29 October 1931 – 18 July 2013) was an Indian poet and lyricist whose works were inTamil, had a five-decade long association with the Tamil film industry, wrote over 15,000 songs. He was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.’ Thanks a gallon, Wikipedia!
Shri Vaali is a five-time winner of the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Lyricist
1970 – Engal Thangam
1979 – Ivargal Vidhyasamanavargal
1989 – Varusham Padhinaaru and 
           Apoorva Sagodharargal
1990 – Keladi Kanmani
2008 – Dasavathaaram
I was disappointed considering he has penned these 2 beautiful songs just before attaining the feet of God and both films sent their entries to the national awards in time. 
1 is this song from the film Pannaiyarum Padminiyum’ and the other is from ‘Ramanujan’.  I’d like to add this in no way takes the credit away from Mr Na. Muthukumar who bagged the national award for his poignant lyrics in ‘Ananda yaazhai’ this year. But what pained me is Shri Vaali being the poet with flair and finesse has given us evergreen hits like:  
Naan parthadhilae and Rajavin paarvai - anbe vaa
Oray naal unnai naan - ilamai oonjal aadigiradhu
Poovae sempoovae - solla thudikkudhu manasu
Thottal poo malarum - padagotti
Nilavu oru pennaagi- ulagam suttrum vaaliban
Kannan oru kai kuzhandhai-bhadrakali
Valaiosai kalakalavena - sathya
Mustafa mustafa - kaadhal desam
Nilavae vaa and Mandram vandha thendralukku - mouna raagam 
Amma endrazhaikaadha - mannan
Chikkubukku rayile – gentleman
Endhan nenjil – kalaignyan
And to think this lovely song of his went unnoticed. I hope and pray he still gets it posthumously for director Vasantha Balan’s Kaviya thalaivan in our 62nd National awards (2014).  No doubt the songs listed above are mere drops in his vast lyrical ocean. 
Though well known for his philosophical songs, he attuned himself to the changing times and his lyrics flowed straight out of a very young heart. His contemporary and poet par excellence Shri Kannadasan attributed Shri Vaali to be largely responsible for Shri MGR’s songs becoming chart busters. One day out of the blue he arrived at Shri Vaali’s doorstep ‘without mincing words Shri Kannadasan took his gold chain and put it around Vaali's neck and blessed him. The latter was dumbfounded. He once remarked that his life time achievement was the endorsement given by Kannadasan to him as a lyricist” Thank you for the insight, Subbu
I came across a comment in my friend Balaji’s BBthots, ‘MGR and Vaali had a misunderstanding about the lyrics in one of his movies and MGR threatened to complete his movie without Vaali. To which Vaali in his inimitable way responded, “That is not possible without changing the name of your movie!” Of course the movie was Ulagam Chutrum ‘Vaali’ban!’ Thank you, Venkit.
Coming back to the song on ‘rekhs underscore’ today Pannaiyar is played by JP, a rich landlord in a village, happily married to Chellamma  (Thulasi) and the couple shares a 30+ years of blissful ‘give and take’ understanding.
In JP’s own words “When Director Arun told me there is a song for the senior couple in this film I thought he was joking. But when I heard the tune and when Arun shared his experience with the late legend Shri Vaali about this song, my excitement knew no bounds. I believe Shri Vaali said it is an incentive to reativity to think of an idyllic romance and rapport between a couple in their prime having travelled a journey of ups and down for 3 decades. These genuine simple words with a quaint enchantment pertaining to that age and village scenario cascaded as the link below from Shri Vaali’s gray cells. Believe me, the nonstop calls I got and the number of people who told me they could relate to this song with their own parents zapped me. The fact that Mrs Thulasi and I share a mutual respect and the fine artiste she is, made our bonding on the silver screen even more spontaneous. I may get many more films to work...but I don't know, if I will get one more like PP, which will always be very close to my heart”
You can watch and enjoy here: Unakkaaga Porandhaynay
I must thank my friends Mohan Nagaraj and M.J.Sriram who immediately sent me the song list.
And references that might interest you too:
Those who would like to treat themselves to more of this great lyricist’s work, can please do so and share with Non Tamilians.
I sign off with a spring in my step, a lilt in my voice and a sparkle in my eyes, my head held high, proud to be a Tamilian. 

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