Song of the Day: Two Songs from kaatrukkenna vEli.
2 songs from kaatRukkenna vEli. Music by Sivaji Raja.
‘Rekha…Rekha’ by Jolly Abraham & P.Suseela. Lyrics by Panju Arunachalam.
‘kadal meethilE’ by SPB. Lyrics by Vairamuthu.
kaatRukkena vEli (Bobby Films/ 1982) starred Mohan, Radha and Geetha. It was produced by S.Pappa. Dialogues were by Ananthu. The film was directed by K.N.Subbu.
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For many of the current generation tfm enthusiasts, kaatRukkena vEli is the recent (2001) film directed by Pugazhendhi that ran into trouble over its controversial theme.
But for some of us who grew up in the 80s, the name tugs at even frayed memory chords, for kaatRukkenna vEli was among the finest albums that the decade could offer. And surprisingly, it was not by IR!
Even more surprising is the fact that it was Panju Arunachalam, the de facto head of the proceedings, who gave a talented musician a well-deserved break by inviting him to compose the score. Indeed it is still a riddle to me as to why Panju interrupted his bonhomie with IR to pamper Sivaji Raja.
Not that he would ever regret his straying, for Sivaji Raja, who had earlier sung ‘yaarO oruthi ezhuthigiraaL’
(anbulla athaan) for MSV, worked painstakingly to weave together an album of infinite allure. And to this day, if we still remember ‘kaatRukkena vEli’
it is on account of Sivaji Raja’s splendid efforts.
There were 5 songs in all.
The irresistible ‘chinna chinna mEgam’
(SPB & Anitha) is easily the pick of the lot. It has been featured as SOTD earlier:
was hugely popular in its time, and a regular feature in both vividh bharathi and Radio Ceylon. The opening guitar notes herald in the mood of languorous, leisurely wooing. PS sounds good as ever, while Jolly Abraham does a neat essay. The accordion has been put to fetching effect in the winsome interludes, and the charaNams, conceived with care, flow so beautifully to the pallavi.
Likewise ‘kadal meethilE’
abounds in some arresting accordion moments. The song is soaked in the puzzled hurt at the unexplained disappearance of a lover, with SPB depicting the anguish in just the right measure. Listen to each rendition of ‘engE un kaal pOna paadhaiamma’, and the infinitesimal pause before he yells “Rekha!” Vairamuthu’s lyrical lines enhance the song’s appeal manifold.
Perhaps the usage of the accordion brings a whiff of the North, for the songs are reminiscent of the Hindi style.
Another song where the hero expresses his disenchantment with love is the ‘kaadhal ondRE iLamaiyin bhoopaLam’.
SJ begins the song singing joyous paeans to love (with Vairamuthu going the whole way with ‘saharavil engum poomaram’). SPB puts an end to this soon enough with ‘kaadhalilE kidaippadhu kaNNeerE’. Violins are put to subtle use to convey the despair and sardonic resignation of the hero.
‘bhoomi kattaLai ittadhu, pookkaL kummigaL kottudhu’
, armed with a catchy cadence and the charm of SJ, is another winner in the album.
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With a dazzling debut as this, Sivaji Raja ought to have been inundated with offers, but as is its wont, tfm chose to ignore him. After a gap, two films came out in 1985 in his music.
(R.B. Creations) starred Vijayakanth in a double role with Jyothi and Vanitha. ‘kanni thendRal veesum nERangaL, sandha thamizh paadum kaalangaL’
(SPB/PS) with its breathtaking ascent in ‘vinnai thodum eNNangaL engengO’
is a delectable duet. In an inspired moment, Sivaji Raja summoned VJ to render an uncharacteristic nightclub number, and the fascinating ‘rOja raathirikku poothirikku kaathirukku thEnaadavaa’
has VJ sounding so wickedly uninhibited.
(Amara Creations) starred Rajesh, Srilakshmi and Manorama. ‘vizhiyengum aaduthu iLamai, vazhi ondRu theduthu idhayam’
is a great PS solo. ‘dhaagam edukkuthu adikkadi, ithu mazhaikku yEngum malarkodi’
is a sultry, seductive number, again going to VJ. ‘paapa china paappa, paartha mella paartha’
is a jaunty MV dappankuthu. 'aasaiyulla rOja cheNdu, adhil thEn edukkum kaadhal vaNdu’
is a MV/VJ duet in which Sivaji Raja’s oriental flourishes delight in their unpredictability.
I don’t know any other Tamil film of Sivaji Raja, but I have read somewhere that there was one more (perhaps unreleased) film- nenjil oru taj mahal
, having a KJY/PS duet ‘kodi maram saaivadhuNdu’
in Sivaji Raja’s music.
* * * *
“But he looks so young even now!” was my wonderstruck thought when I was sitting in Sivaji Raja’s house and talking with him.
It was one afternoon in 1999, that on a visit to my aunt’s house, she happened to casually mention that her new tenant (the house next door too belongs to her) was a person called Sivaji Raja who seemed to earn his livelihood by teaching music. She added vaguely that he said that he had once dabbled in film music as well!
Needless to say, I rushed excitedly next door. Sivaji Raja himself invited me in when I had introduced myself. When I made it clear that I didn’t want to learn either the veeNai or the guitar, but simply wanted to talk to him, he seemed rather surprised. He also seemed initially reluctant to talk of his film career. But the ice thawed gradually, and he was soon talking animatedly of his songs. He was so simple and unassuming in his manner. He even expressed naïve incredulity at his works being remembered! He said that he was barely 21 when ‘kaatRukkenna vEli’ came his way, and that the songs fetched him instant popularity. He even sang ‘kanni thendRal veesum nErangaL’
for me! And with a disarming smile, he answered my unasked question- he was no match for the vicious intrigues that tfm thrived in, and so he couldn’t make it big. He said he was doing some programmes for AIR and was also teaching music.
I left his house promising myself that I should have a long, unhurried chat with him one day. But as it happens, I could never find the time to call on him on my subsequent visits to India. The assurance that he was there, and I could meet him anytime was a comforting thought though. But the last time I went, I came to know that he had vacated my aunt’s house two years back, and gone to another house in the same area. I did manage to find that house, but a few months back he had gone from there too, and no one knew his current whereabouts.
The trail ended there, and I can never forgive myself for not meeting him again. yengE un kaal pOna paadhai ayya?