Thamizh Talkies: Two tracks for the soul
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
I always get skeptical when words like pooranam and panjavarna bhootham peep out of a film song. Add to that a haunting hum that buzzes through the melody and I went, “What is this new noise in the pretext of a love song?” But when the song settles on 'Kaanbadhellaam kaadhaladi', I got hooked. The line reminded me of my favourite Tamil poet Bharathi — the way this phrase acts as the last line of the stanza (the whole song is like a sonnet) and lingers on the word kadhaladi had the dhwani (sound) of my Mahakavi’s affinity to love. There was no looking back thereafter! The whole song became a beautiful waltz in my head.
Tuned and penned by names I hadn’t heard before (music composer Govinda Vasantha, who I later came to know is the founder of my favourite band, Thaikkudam Bridge, and lyricist Krishna Netha), the only recognisable contribution in the song, when I heard it for the first time, was Chinmayi’s mellifluous voice. The chorus had lingered from when I saw the teaser of the film to which this song belongs: 96, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha Krishnan. The teaser stayed on for other reasons too: The shots of the hero as a photographer, the heroine’s yellow salwar and smile, the shot of their hands on the metro rail pole, as if they were holding on to the pole to balance their aura.
The charanam of Kadhale Kadhale has the flourish of a symphony as the instruments blend with the female voice and sends us into an eclectic high: Kadhaley kadhaley, Thaniperumthunaiye, Koodavaa koodavaa Podhum podhum.
Each time the Koodavaa line plays, my eyes well up. Something about the way the lines fall into the lower notes and settle down like sand on a river bed while the still waters of the melody run deeply, silently, makes my heart swell up with an emotion I didn’t realise had existed inside of me. Seldom has a new song captured me by my gut and put me on a spin like this! If a film song does so much within me, it’s always by an MSV, Ilaiyaraaja or AR Rahman.
Another recent song that held me to ransom is a Telugu number, sung by my current favourite singer, Sid Sriram, for the film, Geetha Govindam. The lyric video has already clocked in 30 million views; so I’m not going to squander column space in introducing the song to you. I first heard it when it was shared by a cinematographer friend. The opening swing of the first line, 'Inkem inkem inkem kavaley', goes up, and further up, before coming back to settle mid-ground and lilting its way back and forth, like a swing. The Anandha Bhairavi lifts the chorus which reminded me (and I’m sure it reminded anyone who’s heard it) of the famous Malaysia Vasudevan number from Kozhi Koovudhu tuned by Ilaiyaraaja — Poovey ilaya poovey — which remains an evergreen hit. To have a 2018 Telugu song hark back to a 1981 Tamil composition, is heartening to hear. And it goes without saying that anything Sid Sriram sings is an immediate iTunes purchase for me.
That’s how much music the last week gave me — between Kadhaley Kadhaley and Inkem Inkem Inkem Kavaley, which translates to, ‘What more do I need?’ with the second line, ‘Chaale idhi chaale’ meaning, ‘This (love) is more than enough’.
Has this happened to you with songs, where the lyrics speak to you and the tunes makes you sway? I know your answer. The myriad songs that engulf your mind right now as you read these words stand proof of what art can add to our lives. Can you imagine a world without music or painting or moving images? A world which has no record of its changing times or human emotions? Unthinkable, isn’t it?