Corporate lessons from Vaali – Part2

Corporate lessons from Vaali – Part2

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Any new venture thrives on the back of distinct product or service which differentiates it from others who are operating in the same arena. Vaali was able to establish his separate identity in the presence of stalwart like Kannadasan due to his talent and his successful partnership with MGR and Sivaji.


The biggest challenge which he could foresee and overcome was when the generational shift was happening. By 1970s, MGR took the political centre stage and progressive directors with fresh ideas and new comers like K.Balachandar and C.V Sridhar came along. In the case of Vaali, there were never any uncertainties on his talent but quite a few talents have lost their way because they could not transform and expand their boundaries by working upon their limitations positively.


The second phase in Vaali’s career merged with the meteoric rise of Isaignani Ilayaraja and singing legend SPB. Annakkili ('The Parrot')-1975 saw the emergence of music director who would rule the Tamil film music for decades. He was one of the first to blend western harmonies, folk music and classical/Carnatic music and create a niche sound and explore new possibilities. During the 1980s’ he enjoyed a near monopolistic status in Tamil film music. This period also saw Vaali penning songs for the next generation of heroes (Rajinikanth, Kamal and so on) who were climbing the ladders of success.


Ilayaraja worked with other lyricists during this period notable being Pulamaipithan, Muthulingam, Kamakotiyan, Mehta last but not the least Kaviperarusu Vairamuthu whom he was instrumental in introducing in Nizhalgal (Shadows) in 1980. After Kannadasan, Vaali and Vairamuthu went on to dominate the Tamil film lyrics scene. Split between Ilayaraja and Vairamuthu after Punnagai Mannan-1986(King of Smiles) ensured that Ilayaraja work more closely with Vaali for whom he had the highest regard which can be gauged from the sheer collection of songs where they have jointly collaborated.


His amazing work with Ilayaraja spread across different genres ranging exhibiting Love (Ore Naal Unnai Naan- Illamai Oonjalladhugirathu), aagaya vennilavae (Arangetra Velai), Pathos (Ennadi Meenakshi- Illamai Oonjalladhigirathu, Mandram vantha – Mouna Ragam, Nilave mugham- Ejaman, Nalam Vazha - Marupadiyum), Mother (Amma) sentiments( Amma endru azhaikatha- Mannan, Amma Amma- Uzhaipali), Folk songs( Amman Kovil- Sakalakala vallavan), Gaana songs (Thanni Karuthiruchi, Singaari sarukku- Kaaki Sattai), Devotional (Om siva Om- Naan Kadavul), Janani janani- Thaai Moogaambikai without which no live show of Isaignani is complete. These songs depict only few drops from the ocean of gems which they have created. Their relationship was based on mutual love, admiration and respect for each other which is poignantly reflected in following verses.


In Nizhalgal (1980), there is a situation where actor Chandrasekhar is a music director and is giving a demo to producer and director. For this situation our beloved poet wrote Madai thiranthu which was the one of the two songs he wrote in that film. In the 1st charanam he writes

 “Puthu Ragam Padaipathale Nanum Iraivane,

Viralalim Kuralilum Swarangalin Nattiyam Amaippen Nan “

(Creator of new raga is also god, I will make the swaras dance through my fingers and voice).Not many would have the positivity and acumen to write such prophetic lines about a genius who was going to rule the music world.


In Dalapathi, He purposefully writes “Chinna Thayaval Thantha Raasaavae”. (Chinnathai who gave birth to Raja) Ilayaraja’s mother name is Chinnathai. In Valai Oosai (Sathya), there is a line” Raagangal Thaalangal Nooru, Rajavin Paer Sollum Paaru’ (See hundreds of ragas and talams speak out the name of raja).In Apoorva sakotharargal, he has penned a fun song “Raja kaiya vacha athu wronga ponadhula) (If Raja touches a thing it will not go wrong). These are simple words but carry deeper insights.


Vaali being a master of words never let go any chance where he can show his love/admiration for artistes/actors through his lyrics. This brilliant weaving of words which is his exemplary attribute will be apt to the situation depicted in the song as well as to the individual to whom he wants to address.


His fondness towards Kamal Hassan is well known. One such instance can be heard In Kallai mattum kandal song in (Dasavatharam)


“Raja Lakshmi Naayagan Šrinivasanthaan
 Šrinivasan Šei Intha Vishnuthaasanthaan
 Naatil Undu Aayiram Rajaraajar Thaan
 Rajanukku Raajan Intha Rangaraajan Thaan”


(Raja Lakshmi is Kamal’s Mother and his father’s name is Srinivasan- In the 1st two lines he writes about Kamal and his parents. In the next 2 lines, poet in him indulges in some well-deserved self-praise where he says there are lot of kings around but king among kings is Rangarajan which is the original name of Vaali)


This period also saw the exploration of other facet of his personality i.e. acting in (Poi Kaal Kudhirai) directed by K.Balachandar and Sathya.


He is also known for his literary pursuits which laid emphasis on simple Tamil. He has authored  Tamil literary works such as ‘Avatara Purushan,' ‘Pandavar Bhoomi,' ‘Ramanuja Kaviyam,' ‘Arumuga Andhadi' and  ‘Tamizh Kadavul,' which was published for the first time in the writer's own handwriting.


It will be an understatement to state that in Vaali’s dictionary words like “limitations” “boundaries” don’t exist. In physics, three dimensions of space and one of time is the accepted norm. Vaali’s realm of work attempts to introduce us to more dimensions and break away from the accepted norm.


Prashant Bhaskar

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