'Kaviyarasu' Vairamuthu

His name brings special meaning to practically any film in Tamilnadu today.  But Vairamuthu has considerable accomplishments outside of tamil cinema, that has earned him a distinct place in the larger arena of Tamil language and literature.  What follows is not only a summary of Vairamuthu's achievements, but also a closer look at the motivation of a man who continues to be Tamilnadu's most favorite film song lyricist and poet even today.

Kaviyarasu VairamuthuVairamuthu was born July 13, 1953, in a farming community of Vadugapatti village, Theni District near PeriyakuLam.  His father was Ramaswamy Thevar and mother AngammaL.   The ambiance of the village inspired him to write poems.  He could compose poems even at the young age of twelve.  Tamil and Rationalist movements if the sixties stimulated the poetic zeal in him.  The speeches of Periyar & Anna, the writings of Karunanidhi and the works of eminent poets like Bharathi, Bharathidasan and Kannadasan and the life in the countryside shaped the young poet's thinking.  While he was fourteen, he acquired the ability to write Yappu type of Venba poetry.

In his school final exam in Tamil, Vairamuthu stood first in the entire Madurai District and won a silver cup.  He won many prizes at the district level.  After completing his school education, he joined Pachaiyappa's college in Chennai where he was acclaimed as the best speaker and poet.  In inter-college competitions, he won more than 20 prizes.  Even while a student, he had the opportunity to participate in a poetic forum chaired by Karunanidhi.  When he was in his second year of B.A. and barely nineteen years of age, Vairamuthu published his maiden anthology, Vaigarai Megangal.  It was prescribed for study in the Women's Christian College.  Thus, he achieved the distinction of a student poet whose work was taken into curriculum while he was still a student.

Receiving President's awardHe studied M.A. Tamil Literature and won a gold medal in the exam.  His second work, Thiruththi Yezhudhiya Theerppugal, in pudhu kavidhai form was published in 1979.   He made his film debut in the succeeding year when he set lyrics for Bharathiraja's Nizhalgal.  His compositions to date are nearing 4000.  He received the President's award for the Best Lyricist for his compositions in Mudhal Mariyaadhai, directed by Bharathiraja.  He received this award a second time in 1993 for Roja, directed by Maniratnam.  He was bestowed the honor of receiving this award for the third time, for his lyrics in the film, Karuththamma, another film directed by Bharathiraja.  He remains at the only lyricist to receive this award thrice at the national level.

Among regional awards from the Tamilnadu Government, he received one in 1981 from the then Chief Minister, M. G. Ramachandran, a Best Architect of Films award in 1989 alongside the prestigious Kalaimaamani award in 1990.  The Tamil Development Society of Madras conferred on him the title of Kaviyarasu in 1986.  He has brought out a cassette in which he has rendered his songs under the title, Kavidhai KelungaL.  For the first time, he gave graphical form to his poems, was telecast under the title, Kavidhai Paarungal.  His Kaviraajan Kavidhai narrating Bharathi's life in Pudhu Kavidhai, was a commendable effort.  It earned him the Bharathi Literature Prize of Rs. 10,000.

He has also introduced some foreign poets and their works to Tamil in his Ella Nadhiyilum En Odum.  Some of his works are translated into Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam.  The trend continues into hundreds of his film lyrics are translated into Hindi.  His Chinna Chinna Aasai fascinated a Japanese troupe touring India so much, that they broke language barriers by singing the song during their shows.  He opened Tamil schools in Bangkok and Hong Kong promoting Tamil children living there to develop an interest in learning the language.

Vairamuthu made his debut in film scripting in Natpu and has since scripted for over 30 Tamil films.  On the literature front, his notable works include Innoru Desiya Geetham, Indha Pookkal Virppanai-kkalla, Sigarangalai nOkki, Vairamuthu-vin Thiraippada Paadalgal, Villodu Vaa Nilave, Thaneer Desam and many others numbering to 28.

He is the Tamilnadu President of Indo-Russian Friendship Society.  At the invitation of the Russian Government, Vairamuthu has visited Russia to participate in an Indian cultural event in 1987.  In response to invitations of various Tamil groups, he visited the U.S.A, United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malayasia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. 

His dream is to hold aloft the language and culture of Tamils in the world.  Similarly, his works have the underlying themes of humanism transcending barriers of space and race.   

It is Tamil Thirai Valai's distinct pleasure and honor to have had our Chennai correspondent, D. Tamizh Selvan conduct an interview with 'Kaviyarasu' Vairamuthu.  This interview will appear in Tamil Thirai Valai shortly.

Special Thanks to 'Kaviyarasu' Vairamuthu for providing us this profile.

A very special thanks to Mr. A. M. V. Alagappan and Mr. A. Nallappan for their time and tireless efforts in translating this profile for us.