Like the audience for most other Indian movies, Tamil film lovers are used to song sequences that thrill them for any number of reasons - music, singing, dancing, location etc. Until recently songs used to be a part of story telling. Some of them refelect the central conflict or theme of the film. Yet others highlight some of the main character(s) and bring out his/her characteristics more effectively than any length of dialogs could. There would be ample scope for the lyricist to enhance the story and/or the character(s) in it. Some songs capture our attention because of the clever touch on the part of the director in picturizing that song. Of late, a lot of songs appear to be sort of generic - mostly love songs by the leading pair- that you can cut from one film and incorporate into any other without affecting the flow of that film. Although the sets and locations (a trip to Australia just for the song 'Telephone mani' in INDIAN - and here I should say that the lyricist has done his part by writing 'Melbourne malar pol'- or the breath-taking South African coast as back-drop for 'Kaadhalaa kaadhalaa' in AVVAI SHANMUGI) get more elaborate (therefore, more expensive) and impressive, one does not see picturization that enhances the main story as often as one would wish. Here I present a list of songs that have stayed in my memories for various reasons as described. If you have any favorite ones, please share with us...
Ninaithadhellam nadandhuvittaal (NENJIL ORR AALAYAM)
A hit film by Sridhar, this movie is where Muthuraman makes his debut and gives an impressive performance as the husband of Devika and a patient in the clinic of her former lover (Kalyan Kumar). Devika is afraid that her husband might find out about her past connection with the doctor. The suspense and her guilt peak when Muthuraman sings this song. An apprehensive doctor also listens. Muthuraman, for all one knows, might be singing about his terminal illness. However, each character's emotions appear different as shown by the facial expressions of these seasoned artists. The lyrics by Kannadhasan of course, are a beauty unto themselves.
Yaar andha nilavu (SHANTHI)
In this film Shivaji is forced by circumstances to pretend to be the husband of his best friend's (S. S. Rajendran) wife (Vijayakumari). He grows more and more uneasy as he experiences Vijayakumari's love and affection. How this predicament eats away his soul and destroys his peace of mind is described by the song. What appeals to me is how the director handled the song. He does not have Shivaji emotional or hysterical nor does he try to wring pathos from it. It is a very realistic portrayal of a man caught in an exremely akward situation and it is wonderful to watch Shivaji's facial expressions as he paces restlessly puffing on a cigarette. The music by Viswanathan-Ramamurthy capture the character's mood perfectly.
Junior, junior (AVARGAL)
AVARGAL is a movie that will stay in our minds because of the poweful performances by Sujatha, Kamal amd Rajnikanth. The picturization of this song by K. Balachandhar brings out the very essence of Kamal's character - too shy and unsure about verbalizing his love and he eventually loses it. In the same picture, Sujatha's acting to the song Kaatrukenna veli earned a rare praise from K.B. The imagination of K.B. in picturizing the song, Sujatha's acting and Kannadhasan's lyrics about the feelings of a woman who feels liberated from a cruel and unkind marriage have made this song a classic.
Illakkanam maarudho (NIZHAL NIJAMAAGIRADHU)
This song in this hit Balachandhar movie highlights the emergence of new dimensions to two characters, that of Sumithra and Anumandhu . It also depicts how the other two main characters - Kamal and Shobha - realize the hitherto unknown emotional traits in them. The song is full of K.B's touches. The way Sumithra rubs away the 'kolam', a self-imposed line which personifies her denial of her love for Kamal... Shobha's realization of Anumandhu's unconditional love that is child-like in its simplicity yet great in reality...Yes, this song bears K.B's 'mudhirai'.
Maapillaikku maman manasu (NETRIKKAN)
NETRIKKAN is a film that illustrates the talent of Rajinikanth as a character actor. In this song sequence, a marriage is being proposed for Rajni's daughter. The would-be son-in-law (Sharath Babu) is as much a womanizer as Rajni. The song is sung by Rajni's son (Rajni again) who pretends to be married to Saritha ( a woman that father Rajni has cheated in the past) to teach his father a lesson. Saritha and the son sing this song and its sarcasm hits only father Rajni. Director S.P. Muthuraman deserves a 'sabhash'. Notice the expressions of Lakshmi who plays the mother, innocently enjoying the dancing by her daughter, the singing of her son and 'daughter-in-law' and shaking her head to the rhythm of the song.
Chippiyirukkudhu (VARUMAIYIN NIRAM SIVAPPU)
This is another classic K.B. film with excellent performances by Kamal and Sridevi. What is more appropriate than picturizing this song the way it has been done! The way a 'Kavithai' is created and its union with music becomes the means through which the hero (Kamal) who is a lover of poetry, expresses his own love for his lady. Really, a very poetic touch to the song and the scene!
Kaadhal rojaave (ROJA)
A.R.Rehman made a sensational debut in this film and this song is an example of his special way of applying a classical raga to film music. Director Manirathnam's picturization of this song is memorable. It is an audio-visual interpretation of a man 'looking into the past'. It reminds me of Gulzar's picturization of 'Dhil dhoondtha hai' in MAUSAM - the slow version where Sanjeev kumar goes back to the mountain village looking for Sharmila Tagore and is haunted by his past encounters with her. You feel an inexplicable sadness, a mood the raga captures perfectly. In the same movie the picturization of Chinna chinna aasai also deserves a special mention.
Anjali, anjali (DUET)
A film full of hit songs by A.R. Rehman, this song stands out mainly because of its poetic beauty and excellent music. The hero (Prabhu) is a poet-musician. The heroine (Meenakshi Seshadri) appreciates 'kavithai'. The lyrics by Vairamuthu represent a beautiful 'kavithai' expressing both Prabhu's love for Meenakshi and how he dedicates his song and music to his love as well as Meenakshi's love of poetry. The pity is that she thinks that the poem is written and set to music by Prabhu's brother (Ramesh Aravind).
Rehman's splendid music makes this song a classic, one that would remain in my memory for ever - especially the flute in the second interlude is 'charkarai pandhalil thaen mazhai pola'. SPB's rendering does full justice to the lyrics and music and is like a clear brooke effortlessly flowing. This song certainly adds value to the story which describes the love struggle between the brothers and enhances Prabhu's character.
Ezhudhugiren oru kaditham (KALKI)
This song is the means through which director K.B. chooses to reveal to the audience the turn the story is going to take and results in heroine Kalki's most important (however impractical?) decision of her life. Geetha expresses a longing for a child she cannot conceive and her life is otherwise empty. Kalki, a bold champion of women, especially those subjected to domestic abuse, decides to fight for Geetha's happiness by trying to conceive the baby herself through Geetha's abusive ex-husband Prakash Raj. Chithra's rendering of the lyrics substantially adds to the beauty of the song.
There are obviously many other songs that are memorable to each person for any number of reasons. Some of these songs may not appeal to you. I will be happy if you share your thoughts on the subject.