– What good are they anyways?
hour into Raavanan, two songs appeared in rapid
succession. And another half hour barely passed
before yet another song made its entry. In all,
there were three songs (each probably of 5 minutes
duration) before the movie reached its interval.
Agreed the songs were exemplary and shot neatly,
but the fact that they marred the flow of the (not
to mention, already sagging) narrative needs no
That the movie had another couple of songs post
interval is a different story altogether. Raavanan
will never go down in the history of Tamil cinema
as a movie that ran successful since it had fabulous
song sequences. In fact no other movie will or should.
So what good are these songs for a movie’s
standing anyways? How significant are they for the
flow of the movie? In the first place, why do we
need them at all? Is there a way to do away with
them? Or should we?
Being the only film industry in the world to have
songs embedded in its narrative format in movies,
Indian films often tend to take the song and dance
routine way too seriously. In
of publicity, songs eat into the movie’s space
so much that the movie’s significance is diluted
in the process.
It’s not as if there are no examples of successful
movies in Tamil that had no songs. There are, but very
few. Starting with the 1954 Sivaji Ganesan movie Andha
Naal (though it was not commercially successful, the movie
made it up with its critical success) to the recent thriller
Or Iravu, there have been few movies that defied the universal
rule. Kurudhipunal and Kadamai Kanniyam Kattuppadu are
probably the only two other movies that immediately come
to mind that had no songs and still ran successful.
Same way, there are a few examples on how songs are masterly
integrated in a movie’s narrative. Gautham Menon’s
Vaaranam Aayiram, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu, Pandiraj’s
Pasanga and Sasikumar’s Subramaniapuram are such
movies released in recent times. Vaaranam Aayiram’s
‘Anal Mele’ is so much a part of the movie’s
narrative that you wish the song doesn’t end at
An interesting study about the movies Muthu and Kuruthipunal
might throw light into the thriving world of songs and
how important they, probably always, are for a movie’s
success. They released around the same time. Muthu had
catchy chartbusters scored by Rahman. The songs became
instantly famous and rendered the movie immense popularity,
besides the Rajini quotient. Needless to say, the movie
was a runaway success. Although the movie’s success
can’t be attributed to its songs, the fact that
they provided unbelievable reach to the movie’s
run is indisputable.
Kuruthipunal, on the other hand, is a gripping action
saga and has world class cinematic excellence. It was
one of the breakthrough movies in Tamil cinema and it
had no songs. Sadly, not many people in the rural parts
of Tamil Nadu were even aware of the movie when it was
released. No matter how vigorously it was publicized,
it could never reach the hinterland for the sole lack
of songs. As a result, the movie’s success was limited.
As it turns out, it could be that the songs serve no purpose
in any Indian movie. But the evident business benefit
it renders to a movie is undeniably enormous: ring tones,
downloads and the popularity the movie gets from the songs.
So there is no way we are going to have movies without
songs. We are going to have to learn to live with it.
Until somebody pulls the plug on them, but that seems
Meanwhile, my music player is playing the Raavanan songs
in loop. Usure Pogudhey, in particular.
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