Corporate lessons from Vaali – Part1

Corporate lessons from Vaali – Part1

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Sipping the morning cup of tea, these very words were playing in background in TV. “Vetri Vendumaa Pottu Paarada Ethir Neechal” means “If you want victory then you have to swim against the tide”. These are the lines from one of the master piece “Ethir Neechal” by director K.Balachandar. Channel was changed and another “Ethir Neechal Adi” song was being played from the movie carrying the same title. This is circa 2014.These prophetic lines written by Vaali symbolize him and mantra for attaining success.


An active career spanning 55 years and more than 13000 songs is a testimony to the fact that he was a genius lyricist. Some of the well known companies follow the same qualities which have been exhibited by Vaali over his life time which has enabled him not only to survive but compete against the best and come out successful.


Born as Rangarajan, Vaali moved to Chennai in 1950’s to secure opportunity in Madras film Industry as a lyricist. As they say “Talent without opportunity is nothing”. At that time Kavignar Kannadasan was the undisputed king as lyricist in Tamil cinema. Differences between M.G.Ramachandran (MGR) and Kannadasan led to the search for a poet/lyricist who can fill the void created by the great lyricist Kannadasan. Vaali got the opportunity to write for MGR and rest is history.


In the Corporate India’s’ context, history suggests that every big corporation started with businesses which were then the need of the hour in the eyes of the presiding Government i.e. British or Indian establishment. In British era, it was mostly jute mills/trading houses, etc which were established in erstwhile British presidencies (Madras/Bengal). In 1950s, The Dravidian politicians were the torch bearers of using Cinema as a powerful medium for furthering their propaganda. MGR was one of the foremost stars who carried this propaganda during its zenith. Songs and more importantly the lyrics of the songs were of utmost importance and weightage. Vaali capitalized on the political and social situation prevailing during those times and forged a great working relationship with MGR and MSV(M S Viswanathan) to create magic on celluloid which was never seen before. Tunes set by MSV, sung by TMS (T M Soundararajan) was ably mouthed by MGR. Songs like “Moondrezhuthil En Moochirukkum - Adhu Mudindha Pinnal Enn Pechirukkum“- in ‘Deiva Thai’ (1964), “Naan Aanai Ittal-Adhu Nadandhu Vittal “–in ‘Enga Veetu Pillai’ (1965) penned by Vaali created a social image of a Robinhood hero who gave social justice to the downtrodden and poor. This period saw him write many fun songs too like pakkathuveettu paruva machaan, kaatru vaanga ponen, Avalukku enna, Punaggai mannan. Vaali’s pen played a significant role in MGR’s political ascent.


                                                       -                        To be Continued

Prashant Bhaskar

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