Can an entire story be embedded inside a song? Surely, It can.. The Title track Song (Kadhai Kelu) of Michael Madhana Kamarajan embeds the entire gist of the movie. The lyrics are clear and crisp and easily decipherable. But, what if the song is nothing, but rhetoric, like slapstick comedy? Sometimes, the sole function of lyrics is to only sit along with the tune, and it is the job of the director to bring the song to light visually.. The lyrics, really do not matter..
One such song, is from the movie ‘Pathinaaru Vayathinile’. Superficially, on the face of it, the lyrics of the song make absolutely no sense.. They are designed to only fit in Ilaiyaraja’s tune, and the lyrics would have to be funny enough, to get Sappani to make Mayilu laugh? But what if the lyricist was competent enough to embedd a story, or some portions of the movie, which were never told on screen?
Off course, the interpretation is purely subjective. But, in Sappani’s words, i see, a lot of things..
Village Simpletons are usually perceived as stupid. The classic example is how ‘Sappani’ in ’16 Vayadhinile’ and ‘Sembattai ( Sivakumar)’ in ‘Rosapoo Ravikaikaari’ are perceived by several characters in their respective movies. Now, let us see what this song has to offer.. Is this just a stupid rhetorical song , a slapstick comedy or is Sappani a misplaced genius?
Mayilu is still coming out of the shock of her mother’s death. She is alone and the only support she has is Sappani. Obviously, She doesn’t love him, but knows that Sappani does and has only a feeling of sympathy towards him.. The movie is released in the 70s depicting a very rural village with hardly anyone knowing English.. ( except the famous doctor).. Most people here live in poverty, and one can see in various scenes that one of the major forms of entertainment in the village is Gossip.. Another thing is that theatres are not much in the village..( except a Tent kottai, a scene where Mayilu asks her mother for money to go to a bench seat, but is blasted and is finally Sappani gives her the money)
So, in those days, Drama (Koothu) was not only a common form of expression, but a regular feature integrated along with other customs and rituals. in villages. Unfortunately, it is slowly becoming a dying art, as depicted in the movie ‘Avathaaram’. With this background, i want to go into the nuances and my interpretation of the song..
In the first stanza.. “Aatu Kutti Muttai yittu.. kozhi kutti vandhadhu innu….ippo kaanudhu bhoomi.. ”
Sappani is telling Mayilu that strange things are already happening in the world ( their small world)..
“Koothu Meda Raasavukku Noothi Oru Pondaatiyaam..
Noothi Rendu Pondaatiyum Vaathu Moota podathuvaam..
Pattathu Raani..Adhiley Pathinettu Peru..
Pathinettu Perkkum..Vayasu irupathi Aaru.. Motham Irupathi Aaru..”
Observe the shocking expression ‘Aangh?’ by Mayil?
So, there is a man, a stage artist who regularly plays the king, not just king, he also plays with women, not one, but lots of them..
Each of them bore children ( Vaathu Muttai potathuvaam)..
The women who plays the role of ‘City Girl’ or who came from the city, has born eighteen children..
And all of them are aged 26, which means that she bore all of 18 of them in a single pregnancy..
And if these children are aged 26, how old must the pattathu raja be?
Is this story unbelievable, didn’t i tell you, that strange things are happening in the first paragraph?
Sappani then also mentions that this has been mentioned in Valluvan’s Ettu.. So, i suppose such a story has been recorded in ancient mythology (Dasaradha King had 60,000 wives? Thanks to Netrikann movie 🙂 )
IInd Paragraph :
“Kaakai Illa Seemai ille..Kaaterumai mekkaiyile……
Sandaiku pona.. Naanum.. Saatchikku varava..?
Sambandham panna.. unakku Sammadhama?..”
Mayilu and Sappani are walking towards the town now.. So, he speaks about the Seema.. to which they now going to..
In village terms or thanks to Tamil cinema, we may have heard this dialogue ‘ Sandai Kaaran Kaal le vilalana.. Saatchi Kaaran Kaal le vilu..”
So, typically, the Sandai kaaran..and the Satchi Kaaran are enemies., and in a worst case scenario, you can bank on the Saatchi Kaaran to bail you out.
So Sappani tells her, that even if you go for a Sandai in the Seemai(town) with anyone, i will come as the Saatchi kaaran ( to support you..).. So, now that i have told you, that i will support you.. Are you ready to marry me?
By now , we here the heroine telling Sappani, I am going to Sandai, you come as Saatchi ( support me).. Now, give me your acknowledgement to marry me..
Only for Sappani to be broken from his dreams.. to hear an old lady tell him, to stop living in fantasy world .. ( Mayilu doesn’t love Sappani yet..)
In the next verse, he talks about S.G. Kittappa, a popular stage artist, ( K.B.Sundarambal’s husband), who passed away in the early 1930s.. Kittappa passed away before sound cinema became main stream.. n 1931, Sound had come to cinema.. Kalidas was released.. And Sound based cinemas, subsequently started becoming a part of Tamil culture.. P.U.Chinappa became a cine star ( the second star after M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar.. However, P.U.Chinappa died young due to a heart attack in the early 1950s..)
So, Sappani tells that he has heard Kittappa ( you can hear some of Kittappa’s songs on YouTube) .. Since Chinappa lived around 2 decades after Kittappa and also starred in Films, Sappani may have seen P.U.Chinnapa perform one of his romantic movies in the village kottai.. That ais why he says Kittappa paata ‘keten‘ and Chinnapa va nerula ‘paathen‘.. The music is flowing in me .. If i go to the stage.. There is no girl equivalent for me.. If i start singing, I am ‘1 in a 100’.. Shall i show you my talent? Shall i sing a couple of sangathis?
And then he starts singing classical music to which a donkey responds, which leaves Mayilu in splits.. After all, isnt that what Sappani wanted in the first place?